German Red
German Red
Typical Rocambole: umbels, cloves, and bulbs

Rocambole

Allium Sativum Ophioscorodon

The garlic of choice for gourmet chefs the world over. Rocamboles may not be the easiest to grow, but they're worth the effort to at least try. Rich and complex in character, with aromas and aftertastes that raise eyebrows wherever they go.

The name Rocambole has created a bit of confusion over the years. Here we are using it to refer to a specific horticultural group, or sub-species under allium sativum ophioscordon. In some parts of the world the term Rocambole is used interchangeably with the term garlic itself, which leaves those people who use the term in this way at a loss as to what the distinction is. Among botanists and most growers, however, it's understood that Rocambole refers to this incredible family of outstanding garlics and while it isn't synonymous with garlic itself, it is nearly synonymous with great garlic.

Tongue: As stated above, many people feel that Rocamboles offer the most sublime experience of garlic available. You'll notice in our descriptions of individual cultivars that our French Rocambole literally tastes as though it has been, through some miracle of nature, pre-buttered; appropriate given the French proclivity to include beurre in as many dishes as possible. Heat varies widely, but overall a Rocambole will more complement a meal than define it.

Garden: A bit more finicky in the field and garden. Rocamboles don't like "wet feet." Good draining soil is a must in very wet climates. 8 to 12 cloves on average and a good number of what we call "double cloves," or cloves which have not entirely separated from their neighbors. When planted, "double cloves" end up becoming a "double-bulb" or even a "triple-bulb." We've seen as many as four pseudostems emerge from a Rocambole clove, and all four of the resultant misshapen bulbs taste just as good. Large bulbils and medium to large bulbs are the norm, with scapes that tightly curl in two or even three small loops before unfurling.
 

Alex's Ukrainian
Striking purple streaks in the cloves and a distinctive flavor. We were told this was a Purple Stripe when we acquired it, but we believe it's actually a Rocambole.

 
Doukhobor Russian
The real deal, straight from a Doukhobor colony in Glade, BC. A fine example of Rocambole brought from the old country at the turn of the century. We're growing this up from bulbil and won't have any bulbs for sale until 2015.

 
French Rocambole
Can you say "beurre"? Yes, a buttery tasting garlic. We sacrificed one clove before putting our new French Rocambole into the earth and, wow. Three people independently verified detecting a buttery flavor to this cultivar.

 
German Red
A "middle of the road" Rocambole with an apple-like snap and aromatic character. Cloves practically peel themselves and bulbs are typically large. On our farm, German Red bulbils produce a full bulb with 5 to 6 cloves in their very first year.

 
Korean Purple
 

 
Puslinch
A creamy, aromatic garlic with a strong start and long finish. Comes from the Puslinch Lake area of Ontario.

 
Spanish Roja
The prototypical Rocambole: rich, sweet, complex, full-bodied. Ranks among the top two or three cultivars in just about any taste competition.

 
Spicy Korean
We don't yet have first hand experience with this one, but if it lives up to its name, we may have a hot one.

 
Ukrainian
A fine specimen of Rocambole grown for years by a member of the Rasa Garlic Grower team. Delicious old world flavor and reliable in the field.

 
Uncle Ray's Rocambole Russian Red
Uncle Ray was so fond of this bulb that he slapped his own name on it. Great clove count. Great Rocambole flavor. And potential GREAT big bulbs when they get to know you and your soil.

 
Uzbekistan

 
Ponson - author of Rocambole
Just for fun: French author Ponson du Terrail, created and penned the saga of Rocambole a.k.a Les Drames de Paris (The Dramas of Paris), which was a series of novels published between 1857 and 1870.

Rocambole - the book
Rocambole was an adventurer who began on the wrong side of the law, but ended up doing good, just like his literary descendants, Raffles, Arsene Lupin and The Saint. As was the case with Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow and Doc Savage, Rocambole eventually gathered around him a group of dedicated assistants, selected from various slices of society, ready to drop everything to help their "Master." He often operated in the shadows, pulling strings from behind the scenes. Finally, he mastered the skills of the Orient and inherited the secrets of ancient Tibetan (or equally exotic) civilizations. In short, Rocambole became more than a mere man, he was the first modern, literary super-hero.