The 32nd Gilroy Garlic Festival is upon us and Christopher Ranch, like most of Gilroy, is scrambling to get ready for a great gastronomic garlic gala. Our garlic harvest is in full swing with loads of white bulbs coming in fresh from the field, our packing sheds are packing and our braiders are braiding so we’ll have plenty of ajo for all the garlic lovers descending upon Gilroy. The co-founders of the Festival – Don Christopher is one of them – knew that July’s garlic harvest was the perfect time to celebrate Gilroy’s claim to fame!
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is the largest food fair of its kind in the world, and it serves up the best garlic dishes found anywhere: garlic scampi (my favorite), pepper steak sandwiches, Festival calamari in red sauce (my other favorite), garlic stuffed mushrooms, pasta con pesto (who am I kidding, they’re all my favorites!), even ‘gator gets the garlic treatment and for dessert… garlic ice cream. You have to try it at least once just to say you did. I love watching kids eating it for the first time – their initial unmitigated joy at the first lick of vanilla ice cream and then their utter surprise, or should I say shock, when the garlic aftertaste hits! The look is photo contest worthy.
Every year the festival feeds and entertains over 100,000 guests during the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July. Gourmet Alley serves up 10 tons of beef, 4 tons of pasta, 4 tons of calamari, 2 tons of scampi using 2 TONS of Christopher Ranch California garlic, and 4,000 volunteers happily donate their “hourly wages” to 150 non-profit charities. The festival is also going green this year using compostable utensils and cups and locally sourced food and products. 100 artisans sell everything from pottery to paintings, and over 50 food booths have something garlicious and/or refreshing for every taste. You’ll find fresh bulbs, bags, braids and jarred garlic products in CR’s booth – and ALL of our garlic and garlic products are California grown, California made and California fresh.
Four stages present entertainment (even yours truly will be performing with The Corvairs) and premier cooking events including The Great Garlic Cook-off where 8 amateur chefs from across the nation compete for cash prizes and a crown of garlic bulbs, and the Garlic Showdown which pits four prominent Bay Area cooking professionals in an Iron Chef type competition. The contestants are given a “secret ingredient” and will have two hours to prepare, plate and serve their creations to a select panel of judges including our own Bill Christopher! Chef Fabio Viviani, from Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” show is hosting again this year. He’s a crowd favorite with a personality as spirited as the food being prepared. The Great Garlic Cook-Off Finals willbe streamed LIVE on the internet at www.gilroygarlicfestival.com on July 24, 2010, at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Catch it if you can!
Come Friday, you can find me at the Scampi booth. I’ll be the one licking garlic butter off my chin and laughing out loud. Jeeps, I love this time of year…