Friday, September 28, 2007

A Chat with Beverly McClare of The Tangled Garden

About a week ago I received this fantastic invitation to a Movable Feast at The Tangled Garden in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia . It's in the Annapolis Valley and is one of my most favorite places - anywhere. The feast takes place this Sunday and I won't be able to make it. And I can't tell you how disappointed I am. Glorious setting, delicious food prepared by Chef Michael Howell of The Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville and, even better...the launch of Tangled Garden's newest line...liqueurs flavored with Annapolis Valley fruit and herbs!

Plus I can't tell you too often how much I love going to visit, bringing home delicious edibles (mostly their unbelievably delicious jellies) and using the image of Tangled Garden as my "close your eyes and imagine a peaceful place" when life is too crazy and you need a five minute vacation - at least in your mind.

It's a love affair that started for me in Toronto a number of years ago when my daughter took me to the One of a Kind Show and we pushed our way through the crowds because Sharron told me I had to taste the best Apple Sage Jelly in the world. It's still my favorite on a toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast (and today was no exception).

And of course, I love to use Horseradish Jelly on Roasted Salmon.

Every time I'm out there I tell Beverly, the lovely owner and visionary behind The Tangled Garden that we have to do a "Chat". So here's just a bit of our recent conversation....

R: What did you do before The Tangled Garden?
B: Well, I've been involved in the restaurant business since waitressing in university. Then in the '80s I started my own little restaurant where The Tempest is now and started to grow tarragon and dill in a little patch of a garden. It was a challenge to find fresh herbs and I wanted to make a tarragon, dill & garlic vinegar, which actually was the first Tangled Garden product.

R: I always thought that jellies were the first line.
B: Well, I always wanted to do jellies, but back in the '80s, seasoned vinegar was the "hot" item. It actually took a decade to educate our customers (with lots of tastings) about the jellies.

R: So what is your favorite vinegar?
B: Hard to say, but I guess the Hot Lemon in the Summer and Hearty Spice in the Fall.

R: And what about jellies - which are your favorites (I know I can't choose just one)?
B: True, although horseradish jelly and ginger lime thyme are right up there and I couldn't think of doing lamb without garlic rosemary jelly. It really depends on what I'm planning on preparing.

R: You started with one acre and now are up to five acres of beautiful gardens and a labyrinth. In fact, I was there last fall, after apple picking and there was a wedding taking place. What a wonderful place for an event. Do you hold them often?
B: We're just starting to do some differnt events, a few weddings and in the Spring we had a Slow Food Group meet out here with different tasting stations throughout the gardens.

R: Which leads me to the Movable Feast. How did that come about?
B: Well, Michael (chef at The Tempest) and I had lunch in the garden and he had done a number of 8 course meals for some of the local wineries. I was excited about launching our new line of liqueurs and we came up with the idea.

R: Let's talk for a minute about seems like quite a leap from vinegars, oils, mustards and jellies to liqueurs.
B: Actually, it's not really. I've always loved learning about the history of herbs and there's been a connection to natural cures and elixirs throughout the ages. Did you know that Chartreuse is a blend of 151 herbs?

R: Wow! I must say, I love the packaging and the names of the liqueurs - so magical....

DAZZLING DAMSON PLUM LIQUEUR- with a shock of sweet basil
SENSUAL STRAWBERRY LIQUEUR- with hints of luscious blue lavender
RADIANT RASPBERRY LIQUEUR-with heavenly rose geranium
COOL CRANBERRY LIQUEUR-with a tang of orange mint
B: And actually there are two more..Passionate Pear & Rosemary and Love Potion with lots of seeds and roots.

R: Well I am sorry I won't be able to make it to the party this Sunday, but you can be sure I'll be by in the next few weeks to purchase some of the liqueurs.

If you are interested in attending (I'm not sure of the availability) here's the info...
Small Groups on the Half Hour. Please Call to Reserve Your Tickets: $75/person
Contact Harvest Gallery at 902-542-7093 or Tangled Garden at 902-542-9811

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