July 27, 2011
It's a side dish that deserves the main spotlight. It's what I dreamed of most when I first did the master cleanse. It's my favorite thing to make, particularly with farm-fresh bulbs and backyard herbs. And it's what my dear mama once tried to budget my intake of since she was concerned I was eating too much of it.
It is…garlic bread.
Last year at the Gilroy Garlic Festival's Gourmet Alley they served 15,305 servings of it. If you put each slice of garlic bread end-to-end, it would stretch into a really long line of garlic bread.
My kind of party.
Other serving sizes on the alley last year, where chefs ratchet up already-scorching summer temps higher with massive flaming woks:
Garlic Fries • 10,277 Calamari • 4,696 Garlic Italian Sausage Sandwich • 5,716 Stuffed Mushrooms • 9,719 Scampi • 6,610 Garlic Chicken Stir Fry • 4,179
Pencil that type of intake over 32 years (this is the fest's 33rd) and you get incredible tonnage. The pyro-chefs on Gourmet Alley have served nearly 4 million visitors in that time with:
• 396 tons of beef • 126 tons of pasta • 75 tons of scampi • 56 tons of calamari and • 76 tons of fresh California garlic
That's 729 tons, son. Or about 121 elephants' weight worth of caloric yum.
The Garlic Fest (408-842-1625), which runs this Friday through Sunday (July 29-21), is where I fell in love with garlic-stuffed shrooms, where I had my first escargot, and a place I recommend everyone go at least once. It's down-home, family feel breeds conversation and community, the endless vendors and relentless live music mean there is ample distraction to keep your metabolism going between tastes, and it raises big bucks for Gilroy's underserved.
It's $17 for adults, $8 for kids and seniors and lil' ones under 6 are free.
Some other tempting tastes:
Thai garlic pork over rice, garlic salmon, garlic hot wings, garlic mustards, garlic escargot, mushrooms garlic almonds, garlic pistachios, garlic sauteed mussels, garlic popcorn, garlic fried green tomatoes, roasted garlic and clam pizza, fried garlic, shrimp/chicken quesadillas, garlic ice cream with cantaloupe.
And while your garlic saliva glands are going, here's some more flavor inspiration in the form of the eight finalists for the Garlic Cook-off Finalists (the showdown happens 10am Saturday, July 30):
Garlic & Lobster Curry Corn Chowder with Sweet Potato Bites & Thai Garlic & Hot Chili Swirl Judy Reynolds / Bloomington IN
Spicy Tuna Towers with Garlic 3 Ways Derick Thurman / Charlotte NC
Garlic Infused Tilapia, Beet, Parsnip & Sweet Potato Stacks with Watercress Aioli Emily Falke / Santa Barbara CA
Christopher Ranch Pesto Chicken with Garlic-Laced Stone Fruit Sauce Mary Shivers / Ada OK
Garlic-Covered Pork & Pork-Covered Garlic with Roman Gnocchi & Paprika Cream Sauce Wendy Hector / Sacramento CA
Tomato Glazed Veal Chops with Roasted Garlic & Sage Spatezle Michaela Rosenthal / Woodland Hills CA
Stacked Steak Napoleon on Garlic Paper with Asparagus, Radicchio, Shiitakes & Stilton Jamie Brown-Miller / Napa CA
Lime in De Coconut Garlic Tarts Susan Mason / Milton WA