Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gilroy Garlic Festival - Obsession with the Stinking Rose

Today was my first experience with the Gilroy Garlic Festival. To think I've lived here most of my life, and never tried to partake of this infamous experience is almost shocking. George and I (George my boyfriend and garlic lover) headed down to Gilroy in moderate traffic to partake in a festival that has been around for generations. Note: the walk from the car to the entrance is not for the faint of heart or short of breath, as it was an 8 minute walk from the car to the entrance.

We walked into the festival and proceeded immediately to Gourmet Alley, home to the standard faire of the festival. We each got a combo platter which ended up giving us the following list of items:

Garlic marinated mushrooms
Garlic bread
Penne con pesto
Garlic chicken stir-fry
Garlic sausage roll
Garlic pepper steak

Here’s the run-down on my recommendations. The mushrooms were very good, with a nice balance of garlic and vinegar, and fresh, local mushrooms. George liked the penne, but I thought the pasta was well over-cooked, and the pesto was too creamy. He just loves pesto, so he’s not the most critical of anything in his favorite oeuvres. The chicken stir-fry was awful, with linguine noodles in the mix, and not enough ginger. It felt lacking on salt as well. The sausage roll was pretty good, with a solid garlic and pork sausage with lots of flavor. The pepper steak wasn’t as good, with a bad balance of meat and peppers. The scampi is something I’d eat again. The sauce was a bit creamy, but the flavor and texture were both good. The calamari was sautéed, much to my surprise, not fried, and had a red sauce on it. The calamari just did not work for me. The texture left something to be desired.

From there, we went to watch some of demonstration cooking, and I did end up buying a cookbook of garlicky recipes. They were offering a $900 Le Creuset set as a raffle prize, and far be it for me to not try and win Le Creuset cookware. After a bit of relaxing, and watching the show, we grabbed some wonderful beignets, and munched on those. Light, fluffy pillows of dough with just the right amount of powdered sugar. A light crispness on the outside, and soft, airy pockets of goodness on the inside. These were very good. The Crawfish I took home were not so good. A little too much boil seasoning on them made them spicy and too anise and clove tasting. The seafood also tasted a bit off. The stuffed mushroom caps were good. Again, great mushrooms, and a good blend of parmesean cheese, breadcrumbs, seasoning, and lots of garlic.

It was definitely something to do, but not something to do every year.

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