Top chefs get their cloves out at Gippsland’s annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival

Garlic gurus and top Victorian chefs will be celebrating the flavoursome bulb and the best of Gippsland’s produce on Saturday 16 February at the annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival.

Festival ambassador and executive chef at Pastuso Alejandro Saravia will be joined by Trevor Perkins from Hogget Kitchen and Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table, and an array of other talent and garlic aficionados. These world-class chefs will be stars of the festival kitchen, hosting demonstrations with a variety of local pickled and smoked garlic, and garlic infused oils.

Expect surprisingly delicious garlic ice-cream, lunch with a garlic twist at the Meeniyan Hotel, garlic gusto pizza at Trulli Woodfire Pizzeria, an array of musicians and family-friendly fun. Kids activities include The Great Garlic Quest to find the ten cartoon garlic characters, egg and spoon races, mini golf and bubble soccer in a Zorb Ball.

As part of the extravaganza, guests can also learn about the medicinal benefits of garlic from local naturopaths. The Garlic Institute will provide a full day of talks on growing garlic at home, the nine different garlic families (with 300 varieties) as well as tips and tricks from a “start-up” grower. Hands-on workshops will teach garlic plaiting, smoking garlic, fermenting garlic and making your own garlic oils and pastes.

While most of the festivities are on the Saturday, garlic lovers are encouraged to stay the night and make the most of the whole weekend to check out some of the special events. On Sunday 17 February Tamsin Carvan will host one of her acclaimed long table lunches: Tamsin’s Table is a delicious garlic-inspired lunch to celebrate the food she grows on her 45-hectare farm. Local winery Lucinda Estate will serve up Sunday lunch on the terrace overlooking their stunning vineyard, and Jaci Hicken will host a six-course dinner highlighting Gippsland garlic.

 In 2018 Alejandro Saravia was made the food and beverage ambassador for Gippsland and also announced plans for his new venue Farmer’s Daughters with Mirboo Garlic Farm’s David Jones, which celebrates the produce of Gippsland. Alejandro said: “Mastering the art of using this humble ingredient has been the quest of many. Nowadays we know more and more about garlic and the different ways of using it, extracting more subtle elements than just a strong flavour. It’s used in savoury and sweet recipes, to brew or ferment. The traditions of the different cultures in the Americas gave garlic an important role – not only in cuisine, but also as a medicinal agent, bringing it up to a higher status in the kitchen.”

The annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival has been running for three years and celebrates locally grown garlic and outstanding produce of the region. “We bring together the best local foods, wine, craft beers, cheeses, arts and craft of South Gippsland,” says organiser, David Jones. “The Garlic Festival shines a spotlight on the array of produce and vibrant food culture in our region. Our growers will bring 4000kg of new season’s garlic – so it’s a great place to learn about garlic – to talk to growers and stock up for cooking or planting your own crop.”

Meeniyan Garlic Festival                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Meeniyan Recreation Reserve, Hanily Street Meeniyan, Victoria 3956                                                                                                                                                                                              Entry $10 adults. Kids free. Dogs welcome                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://meeniyangarlicfestival.com.au/