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Riverhead farm hosts pungent garlic fest

Garlic ice cream is among the delicacies offered

Garlic ice cream is among the delicacies offered at the Garden of Eve Garlic Festival in Riverhead. (Sept. 29, 2012) Credit: Johnny Milano

After eating 13 cloves of garlic in three minutes Saturday, Mike Malave was looking for Tums and some gum.

"It was tough," said Malave, 51, of Wading River, who confessed to nearly packing it in halfway through. "It was burning on the way down, and I feel like I'm emanating garlic -- it's all coming back out."

He hung on to pocket $50 in prize money, which he intends to use to buy more of the pungent plant, as the winner of the raw garlic-eating contest.

The aromatic bulbs were the real stars at the ninth annual Garden of Eve Garlic Festival, held at a 50-acre Riverhead organic farm.

On display and for sale were a dozen varieties, including elephant and Turkish red. Hundreds of fans lined up to order garlic-inspired dishes, from pasta and mashed potatoes to, well, ice cream.

"It probably is the only place on Long Island where you can taste and buy more than 12 different kinds of organic garlic," garden owner and farmer Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht said.

With dozens of local vendors, carnival food, live music and pony rides, there were events and snacks for non-garlic lovers, too. Each day of the weekend festival usually draws about 2,000 people, with a total of about 2,500 garlic bulbs consumed or sold during the festivities, Kaplan-Walbrecht said.

She joined the handful partaking in the garlic-eating contest, but came up short -- downing only five cloves.

Phil Barbato, who owns Biophilia Organic Farm in Jamesport, has come to the festival for four straight years, selling several varieties of garlic.

He loves sharing his favorite crop that way.

"One of the most satisfying things about growing things," he said, "is selling them to people."

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