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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 Gourmets.

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 knowledgeable and 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 health.

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 beyond.

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 creating.

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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