Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gilroy Garlic Festival

Every place has their own local festival.  San Antonio, Florida has the Rattlesnake Festival.  Plant City, Florida has the Strawberry Festival.  Gilroy, California has the Garlic Festival.

I saw a segment on the local news about it and thought that this was one of the things any local should do - if only just once.  Most of the people we talked to about the 'fest before going said that they'd gone once and that it was hot and stinky.  Conery and I love a challenge, and these people don't know the meaning of the word hot.

As luck would have it, it was unseasonably cool that weekend.  We wore shorts and tshirts, but we weren't sweaty.  It was actually a little chilly in the shade.  You could smell the garlic initially, but after being there for a bit, you hardly noticed it.

We got there around noon and jumped on the shuttle buses that were lined up taking people to the entrance.  We figured that it was going to be a hike if there were buses.  It turned out to be a 5 minute ride, and we could have easily walked.  Like many events we've been to in California, things ran pretty smoothly.  There wasn't a lot of drama in the queue for the bus, and there were LOTS of volunteers working the parking area.  They had a really good system.

After our tickets were scanned, we got our tickets for the combo meal Conery purchased online.  We stopped at security (i.e. a guy).  He asked Conery is he had a pocket knife.  It was kind of odd that he asked him about a pocket knife specifically, but we were in farm country and having pocket knives is pretty standard.  Conery had his multitool in his purse from Tinkering School.  So the guy said that Conery could either put it in the car (notgonnadoit) or put his name on it and put it in a box for later.  The guy was totally nice about it and thanked Conery for his honesty.  When Conery put it in the box, there were like 12 knives.  When we left, the box was full!  

We entered the festival grounds and headed to the beer tent.  There were loads of vendors, but it seemed like the hat vending was doing gangbuster business.  Ever notice how people love to buy wacky hats when they are on vacation?  I'm not sure how practical this garlic bulb hat is, but there were loads of them being sold.  

There was a children's area where there were rides, activities, and face painting.  As we were walking through that area, there was a kid wearing a garlic mascot costume.  I can only assume that he was affiliated with the festival.  A family near us thought that too because they chased him down to get their picture taken with him.

Obviously, there were lots of booths with food, but we headed to get our combo plates.  They offer two, and we got both so we could try a bunch of different things.

My combo plate

Let me say that I could have easily just eaten garlic bread and been happy, but it was good to try it all. My plate contained garlic bread, garlic shrimp scampi, garlic mushrooms, garlic sausage (that's the thing in the plastic wrap), and garlic stir fry.  Conery's plate had this awesome pasta con pesto, garlic bread, garlic mushrooms, and garlic pepper steak.  While eating, we hung out in the shade, while listening to some local musicians.  

A garlic feast like that needs to be followed by walking around to prevent slipping info a food coma.  We checked out some of the other events and grabbed another beer.  As we sipped on our second beer, we caught up with Lisa Lee after playing some phone tag.  We regaled her with our tales of garlic.  It's a good thing she couldn't smell our breath!  

Next on our list was the garlic ice cream.


The longest line in the place was for the free ice cream.  The line went pretty quickly as there was no need to figure out what to order or to pay for it.

With great trepidation...

Both of us figured the ice cream would mostly just taste like vanilla soft serve with a hint of garlic, but it really packed a spicy, garlic punch.  It was pretty tasty.  Not sure that I'd eat a pint of it, but it was a cool treat.

There were some top chef cooking demonstrations and competitions, but we weren't interested in planning ahead to catch them at their scheduled times.  Our adventure was all about being in the moment and seeing where our noses, ears, and stomachs took us, and we had a great time!

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