I just got back from the famous Gilroy Garlic Festival. Today is the first day, and apparently the best time to visit if you want to beat the huge crowd. For years I vicariously read about the garlic festival, but never gathered the courage to venture down down to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. This year I finally decided enough is enough and I should go and check out this 3-day celebration of stinking rose that takes place right in my backyard. And for heaven’s sake we use garlic in our cooking on a regular basis. It was about time to find out a little bit more about Allium sativum, an intensely pungent bulb that you can alway find in our kitchen.
The festival was quite an eye-opener. It was both interesting and educational to see how creatively garlic is used – right from garlic infused wine to garlic fries. I tasted the wine and quite liked it and I can see that wine paired with a nice plate of pasta. Since this was my first time I did not make it to all the events and missed out tasting that famous garlic ice-cream that is served free. Here is a tip if you get in early make a beeline for the garlic ice-cream stand since that is the number one question that folks will ask you. Trust me on this one.The other thing I missed out was the cook-out competition, which is a big crowd pleaser. Next time I know what I need to taste and see.
I spent my time either dawdling or running around interviewing people. For example, I stood transfixed by the culinary antics of the famous pyro chefs. It was quite fascinating to see how these chefs worked their magic and barely flinched when the flames leapt a couple of feet into the air as they were cooking their dishes. I got to meet the famous Mr. Garlic, who is the ambassador to the festival. There was a special wine tent with local wineries from Santa Clara Valley and one of them had that garlic infused wine, which I had to try.
And did I mention the food that is served there? What is your recommendation I asked a bunch of folks and most of them mentioned the garlic scampi and garlic fries. I skipped the fries, but tried the scampi, which was pretty good.
I managed to walk around and see most of the booths at the festival and realized that the next time I should be better prepared and arrive a little earlier so that I can beat the heat.
If you go to Gilroy’s Garlic Festival do check the weather and how hot it is going to be. Don’t be fooled by the weather in the bay area. It gets pretty hot down in Gilroy and it is best to wear a hat or carry a brolly. And remember to carry a bottle of water.