I don’t think it’s a coincidence that vampire sightings in Burlington County are down at the same time food vloggers-turned-farmers Eric and Katie de Grandmont decided to plant their first crop of garlic at the Agriculture Center in Moorestown last year.
Known locally on social media as the Cultinary Road Trip, this duo, along with special appearances by their kids, has been hitting the Facebook-food-groups circuit with entertaining videos supporting Jersey eateries.
In November, they made the decision to expand their brand when they sowed a half-acre of land and started their Cultinary Family Farms. Now, a little over eight months later, they are ready to harvest their first 22 rows of garlic and scapes.
I get it. A story about garlic growing in New Jersey isn’t exactly breaking news. We are the Garden State after all. But did you know that over 80% of the garlic we eat is imported from China? Mass farming produces a dulled-down flavor and ultimately a less nutritious vegetable. But it’s super affordable.
Nowadays, with restaurants needing to focus on the bottom line just to stay afloat, inferior products are often used. Eric and Katie believe their boutique pungent bulbs not only taste better, but are also better for you. And they won’t break the bank.
Meet the Farmers
The de Grandmonts are a love story worthy to be written about, in fact the NY Times already did. With seven kids shared between them, this twice-married “American Gothic” couple could really have their own reality show. Eric is native to Quebec. Be careful not to call him a French Canadian. (That’s a conversation meant to be had over a few pints of Labatt Blue.)
Katie (née Armitage) is a Jersey girl who grew up in the suburbs of Trenton. The two met online and shared a long-distance courtship that often involved Eric driving from Quebec to South Jersey.
He made efficient use of his trips, often stopping off to sample the regional foods along his voyage: Abeetz, in New Haven; Michigan Dogs in New York; Italian Hot Dogs, in Newark. This ultimately gave birth to their vlog and proved that the couple had something else in common: their love of food.
After the birth of their twins, plus Katie’s three and Eric’s two from prior marriages, the Cultinary Bunch came to be. Looking for a way to share their appreciation of food with their children, they did what any of us would do: they started a farm! Kidding aside, self-taught Eric had done farming in Canada. And they found two lots of land to lease near their home.
Vampire Killer, Qu’est-ce Que C’est
Garlic is a versatile plant with two unique harvests. Everybody knows about the traditional bulb, with its individually gift wrapped cloves. But the scape is sometimes overlooked.
Typically ready to be picked in early spring, garlic scapes are the curly stem and bud that grow from the neck of the bulb. These green-bean-esque shoots have a taste halfway between traditional garlic and scallion. They’re perfect for pickling, cooking with eggs, or pulverizing into a zesty condiment.
Cultinary Family Farms hopes to introduce many people in New Jersey to scapes through with their zesty and delicious homemade Vampire Killer pesto. It’s a perfect accoutrement on a chargrilled steak and a welcome addition to any creamy pasta sauce. Spread it on a baguette and bake for one heck of a garlic bread experience. But make sure you keep a tin of altoids nearby because you are will have dragon breath.
They also make a unique black garlic, with fermented cloves that turn dark. With notes of balsamic glaze and a nutty, earthy aftertaste, this is the perfect addition to any charcuterie board. And it pairs great with a nice cabernet.
Find Cultinary Family Farms
If you are in South Jersey, you can find their products at Capt’n Chucky’s Crab Co. in Cinnaminson. The local family farm also sells garlic bulbs, scapes, and pesto online through their Facebook page and at local farmer’s markets. Make sure to follow them for pop-up spots at other South Jersey restaurants throughout the summer.
Still wondering about the name? The “cult” is short for culture…maybe not what you were thinking?
Recipe: Garlic Confit
Now that you have your garlic, consider making this incredibly simple, low-calorie confit that gives you all the delicious taste without the bitterness in the raw and makes adding tender, cooked garlic to everything as easy as opening the fridge.
- 2 garlic heads, peeled into individual cloves
- 1 cup of your favorite extra virgin olive oil. Go for the good stuff. And use enough to cover all the cloves.
- Bay leaf and/or fresh thyme (optional)
- Sea salt
- Add the cloves into the extra virgin olive oil (optional bay leaves or sprigs of thyme can be added at this time too). Simmer over a low flame for 45 minutes.
- When the garlic turns a golden brown and is soft to the touch, remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard herbs.
- Add a sprinkle of salt (optional) and transfer to a clean jar.
- Spread over a toasted baguette, or add to your favorite pasta dish for a nutty, sweet bite.
- Add to broccoli rabe or any other veggie dish where an oil-and-garlic combo can save the day. The oil alone is amazing!