After missing it last year, I was able to attend the Gilroy Garlic Festival this time. And I can safely say that it was a good experience.
Gilroy is known for its garlic farms and garlic flavoured food. If you pass Gilroy on 101, you will see lots of garlic farms and restaurants. This festival, held in July last week every year, brings all food creators together under one roof. On one ground, actually. The festival is held on a huge barren land. There is dry grass and dust as far as the eye can see. More on that in a little while.
This festival has attributes of a typical summer fest – music, food, shopping, kid stuff and fun sights. It can be a family outing or a chill out excursion with friends.
Of course, the highlight is food. All foods have one thing in common – an obvious tinge of garlic. Garlic egg rolls, garlic mussels, garlic pasta pesto, garlic veggie wrap, garlic popcorn, garlic pistachios – garlic is an intrinsic part (and not in a bad way) in everything. If you are allergic to or have a dislike for garlic, there is not much you can eat there.
I delved into some stuffed garlic mushrooms and garlic bread, both of which were heavenly. Must try for everyone. But mind you, the garlic bread was super heavy. I was done with just these.
I tasted samples of garlic pistachios and popcorn. Both were really good. Worth buying and stocking in your house.
Now for the tricky parts.
There is an entry fee of $20. I think that’s a bit too much.
The parking lots and the main festival area are far away. You need to park your car in the parking lot and take shuttle buses to the ticket counter. And if it is as hot and dusty as yesterday, that experience won’t be pleasant.
Some exits from the freeway may be choked up. I took the Monterey exit on 101S and experienced slow moving bumper to bumper traffic. Do not follow your GPS. As the website recommends, many roads will be blocked. Only some main exits are allowed. Cop cars and signs will lead the way to the parking lot. I suggest taking the Masten Ave exit on 101S. It was deserted (I took it on the way back and sailed through).
If it is going to be hot like yesterday, be prepared. Hats, bottles, tissues and if possible, your own mats, chairs and umbrella to put up under shade. There were 2 free water service counters. Keep an eye for them; they will not be easily discernible.
I would love to visit this festival again next year and try more food items.
I said interesting fun sights, right?
Garden sticks being sold at a stall. This place was swarming with parents and kids. I did pick 2 for my balcony garden.
Strawberry+Banana+Peach smoothie from Fruit Fritz. Without this, I would have been dehydrated. This was yummy. $9 for this big glass; $4 for refill. Worth it.
Sauteed mushrooms, shrimp and garlic bread (uh-uh, that’s not my plate!)
Flat bottle trays. To be used to serve cheese, sushi, starters, etc. Some interesting labels on these.