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The Garlic Guy in Los Olivos
Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011
By: Thom Glyder (Expired article) Los Olivos, CA -
Have you ever heard about the Garlic Guy? Over the recent years Poul Palmer of Los Olivos has grown a solid
reputation of being the number one destination for Central Coast Garlic
Every year professional chefs, local restaurants, private
caterers and the average housewife rally around his stand on the corner of
Grand Avenue in Los Olivos to sample from his selection of about 55
different varieties of garlic and fill their bags to take these rare
treasures home and enrich their culinary creations.
While your average garlic can be distinguished as hardneck or softneck, or
maybe elephant and regular, the Garlic Guy's selection includes rare kinds
like Shantung Purple from China or the pearl-sized wild Garlic from Canada
(which is actually 10 times more potent than regular garlic).
A visit to
Poul's Garlic Stand may very well turn out to be an educational endeavor
since he has studied the Art of growing Garlic and is extremely
eager to lecture in detail.
After years of growing around 40-60 000 pulps on about 3 Acres of land in
his hometown of Los Olivos Poul has developed a unique way of preparing
water and soil, recently starting to implement the use of macrobiotic tea
and various other techniques to improve the quality of his highly
acclaimed produce. The Garlic, of course, is grown organically, a fact
that Poul and his family are very passionate about, especially since the
use of Garlic is long known to be beneficial in various aspects of overall
It seems like a little known fact that there are over 600 different
varieties of Garlic from 10 different families in the world, also there is
Northern Hemisphere Garlic and Southern Hemisphere Garlic. Some are mild,
others are hot and spicy, some retain heat when cooked and some taste just
as good when eaten raw. Most strains loose whatever health benefits they
may contain when cooked too hot and according to the Garlic Guy purple
stripe varieties, like Telk and Belarus are best suited for roasting,
since they contain the most "candy" and caramelize nicely.
The Garlic Stand in Los Olivos has gained it's reputation virtually
without any advertising, although Poul Palmer aka "The Garlic Guy" has
become a household name on the Central Coast over the last years and
people come from all over the county (or maybe the world) to get their
gourmet ingredients right from the source. The stand now offers additional
merchandise like T-shirts (Got Garlic?) and posters and Poul Palmer is
currently working on a book that will illustrate the subject in depth and
The one man operation is making headlines as well, last year The Garlic
Guy was featured in the Santa Barbara News Press and his stand has become
a local attraction. The second generation danish-American, whose
grandfather set the flagpole in Los Olivos, is living with his children
and his brothers, all of them entrepreneurs in their own ways be it
musicians, artisans, engineers, they all share a love for farming and
The annual opening of the stand has become a big party, the Garlic Fest,
that kicks off the season in late spring, attracts locals and tourists and
is a fixture in the Santa Ynez Valley. Poul's Family is heavily involved,
his brother Frank is providing the Soundtrack with his band "The
Grasshoppers", who are the local favourites and his brother Tom operates
the famous BBQ grill, a huge cast iron structure that resembles an
oldschool steam train. The attractions around the homegrown gourmet
produce add to the overall experience and in the middle of it all there is
Poul always with a friendly smile. "Got Garlic?"
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