Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gilroy Gaaarlick Festival

We're the garlic-teers, you can be one too! Eating lots of garlic is what we do!

I know not everyone is a fan of garlic (and I don't think I will understand those garlic-hating palettes) but I was thrilled to hear about the annual garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. Located about an hour away (or 45 minutes if your friend drives like a bat out of hell) from Mountain View, Gilroy is famous for its fields and fields of garlic. If you ever take the 101 down to LA, the smell of garlic will hit you far before you reach the city limits.

Garlic mushrooms + pesto + garlic bread + garlic fries = Garlic coma (and crazy delicious). ;)

Gilroy has held this annual 3-day summer festival in honor of this pungent member of the Alliacea family (aka the onion fam) for the past 31 years. Vendors serve up everything from the traditional garlic dishes like pesto and shrimp scampi to the highly unusual - garlic ice cream.

Garlic Fries.

I was particularly excited to try the pesto and the garlic fries. The place was packed and the lines were long, but they moved rather quickly. The vendors did a great job of feeding everyone, and quickly at that! The garlic fries smelled so wonderful and they were all that and more. The crisp fries are cooked to perfection. The minced garlic, oil, and parsely coated these potatoes packing a potent punch. I could have eaten just these and been satisfied.

The creamy pesto had the right basil to garlic ratio, with enough cream to mellow these flavors. The garlic bread served with the pesto overshadowed the pasta dish. The combination of bread, butter, and tons of slightly sweet yet spicy garlic left me yearning for another slice.

Garlic ice cream?!!!

After filling our bellies, we walked around to check out the crafts and music. Garlic paraphernalia was available in mug, key chain, and hat form (garlic bulb shaped caps). We stopped to take some pics with Garlic Man. While I enjoyed checking out the scene, I was still intrigued by the concept of garlic ice cream. Friends who had visited the festival in previous years had given conflicting reviews. "Stay away at all costs," said one friend warily. Another opined, "You have to try it!"

Curiosity got this cat, and I stood in line to check it out. The vendors were giving this treat away for free (maybe because no one would pay to eat it?) When I finally got to the front I was handed FOUR mini cones. The first lick was intense, an odd combination of spicy, pungent garlic and sweet cream. AJ gagged and refused to eat anymore. Me and my more adventurous friends continued licking. The more we tasted, the more the garlic mellowed in our mouths, leaving a mostly sweet creamy flavor. While I wouldn't necessarily order this, I was surprised at how well this worked.

We c-LOVE garlic!

The Gilroy Garlic festival combines amazing garlic cuisine with kitschy festival fare. Enjoy!


Gastronomer said...

I have always wanted to attend the Gilroy Garlic Fest to try the garlic ice cream. Sounds like something I might actually enjoy! I love weird stuff ;-)

Ellen said...

You are my hero! I've always wanted to go! I'm calling you up if I can ever make it.

Ariel said...

You are always welcome to visit Ellen!

Anna said...

Please post more often. Thank you. :)