A gourmet fete; of all things Garlic

Less than an hour’s drive from the Capital of Silicon Valley* is the Garlic Capital of the World – Gilroy. Gilroy and garlic are almost synonymous. Gilroy, California is...
Gilroy Garlic Festival, California

Less than an hour’s drive from the Capital of Silicon Valley* is the Garlic Capital of the World Gilroy. Gilroy and garlic are almost synonymous. Gilroy, California is known for its garlic cultivation, garlic processing and its famous Garlic Festival that takes place in the summer.

Gilroy Garlic Festival, California
















Come last weekend of July and the city gets all set to welcome crowds from all over and treat them to all things Garlic. Last year we thought of the festival ahead of time, then missed it when it came. This time around we made it to the Gilroy Garlic Festival and returned impressed by the event, its magnitude, its organisation, the spread of garlicky dishes, processed garlic and all the fanfare that comes with it.

The event which first took place in the summer of 79, is said to be an initiative to raise funds for local non-profit organisations. Since then it has been growing bigger and better and has become an event that brings together the residents of Gilroy and attracts visitors from all over the country.

The 34th Garlic Festival that just wound up, took place at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, and featured all kinds of food, music and wine, arts and crafts, a children’s play area and everything that a summer event is supposed to have. But it was obviously the the garlic-based foods that pulled the crowds toward this gourmet event.
There were garlic cook-offs too.

We treated our garlic-loving palates to some Garlic French Fries, Garlic battered Shrimp, Garlic Bread and Garlic Chicken over rice (Thai). We thought we’d try the must-have garlic ice cream for dessert but were too full for it. Sad! However, I know there a few other places in Gilroy that sell Garlic ice cream, so I will have to check it out sometime soon; hopefully this summer itself.

Garlic Fries, Gilroy Garlic Festival, California
Gilroy Garlic Festival, California
Garlic Bread, Gilroy Garlic Festival, California
Gilroy Garlic Festival, California

*San Jose, California

Also see:  pictures from the 100th Alameda County Fair


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55 Comments on this post.
  • R.Ramakrishnan
    10 August 2012 at 1:49 am

    Mmmmmm….Mouth watering garlic dishes.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 6:04 am

      For people who like garlic, this event is one great garlicky treat. 🙂

  • Kishan P
    10 August 2012 at 5:17 am

    Ewww! That must have been one smelly festival 😀

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 6:13 am

      That's exactly what it would be for people who don't like the smell — Eww! Last year when the event was on, I remember hearing on local radio that the stalls were giving away mouth fresheners too. But this year I don't think they were; we didn't get any.
      We love garlic so it was fine. 🙂
      Thanks for coming by, Kishan.

  • Rajyalakshmi Vathyam
    10 August 2012 at 7:40 am

    My mouth is so badly watering :((( I love garlic too… by the way, I heard there is a food festival coming up in SFO… please post some shots of that too… (or if already did, I will love to check it!).

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Hey Raji, long time… 🙂 Saw your Disney pics; love those night shots.

      The Gilroy Garlic Festival was a really interesting event. If you plan to visit this side in summer, try to do it around the last week of July, ok.

      Are you talking about the SF Street Food Festival happening next week? This week in SF there's something else called the Outside Lands Festival, an event of food and music and I just heard that it's been all sold out.

      If I go to the Street Food Fest, which does sound like its going to be a great event, I'll surely write about it and put up lots of pics too.

      If its summer, there's so much happening, right? If only it wasn't so hot. 😐 🙂

  • Sudhagee
    10 August 2012 at 7:53 am

    Eeew ! I don't like garlic. But for those who do, this must be an opportunity to indulge in something they love.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:09 pm

      😀 😀
      Definitely not a place for people who don't like the smell of Garlic. :)I was amazed by the spread of dishes they had.

      Nice to see you here, Sudhagee. 🙂

  • Jay Singh
    10 August 2012 at 8:28 am

    Wow nice post about the festival DN 🙂
    Although, we went right past Gilroy to visit San Francisco, we didn't visit the town 🙁 🙁 🙁 That ways we didn't get a chance to go on PCH1 as well 🙁 🙁 🙁
    I feel sad not to have done that but the aroma of garlic was definitely present in the atmosphere there 🙂
    Quite a colorful post 🙂

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks Jay. Welcome here. I saw that aerial shot of LA that you put up. Cool one.
      Gilroy is said to have the most number of Garlic processing plants in the world, hence the aroma you were talking about. There's Garlic written all over the place, right? 🙂
      If you drove by Gilroy, you didn't to do Highway 1, right. :(. Never mind, you should do it next time. We haven't seen the whole stretch of 1; just parts around CA Central Coast until last week when we drove into Highway 1, North of SF. It was as scenic as it's supposed to be. Shall do a post on it, soon.
      Hope to see you here again, Jai. 🙂

  • R Niranjan Das
    10 August 2012 at 9:01 am
    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Yeah, if you like Garlic, it's a great event. 🙂

  • jaish_vats
    10 August 2012 at 9:44 am

    Everything else sounds yummy…but garlic icecream? Seriously? Just cant seem to relate 🙂
    Thanks for the share Divya…That was a very interesting read 🙂

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Seriously, Jaish. I'm still wondering what it tastes like. It's one of the specialties here, I'm not sure I'll like it but I really wanted to try it out. It was so hot that I had to have a tall smoothie and it filled me up terribly. So I didn't get to try the ice cream.

      But I hope to taste it soon and tell you about it. Let me see if I'll be able to describe it once I'm done.

  • Subhorup Dasgupta
    10 August 2012 at 10:49 am

    your blog is an endless journey of discovery, divya. i had never heard of gilroy before. i have heard about black garlic, though. maybe the festival covered that too…

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you, Subho. I'm learning a lot too. It's such a pleasure to share it all here.
      Gilroy is said to have more garlic processing plants than anywhere else, hence the nickname – Garlic Capital of the World.

      Black Garlic? I never heard of that before. 🙂 I don't think I saw any of that at the festival. I'm curious now. I'll have to look that up. :)Thank you.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:50 pm

      I see that it's fermented and tastes like dry fruit. And it's super food also! Interesting. I should check that out. Thank you for telling me about it.

  • sunil deepak
    10 August 2012 at 11:48 am

    How is it that I love garlic but I don't want other persons who have eaten garlic to come close to me! 🙂

    Very nice pictures.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:54 pm

      hahaha! :D.
      Italian Food uses a lot of garlic, right? I'm guessing a lot Garlic is grown around your part of the world too.
      Doc, have you tried the Black Garlic that Subho was talking about?

  • Rahul Bhatia
    10 August 2012 at 1:59 pm

    A lovely dekko of the Garlic festival! I envy you for the indulgence of that spread Divya:)

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 8:57 pm

      This was an interesting event. Really. I'm glad I got to experience it. I didn't eat a lot thought. Wanted to try out more garlicky dishes but couldn't. If the temperature's high, I have a bad appetite. 🙁

  • umashankar
    10 August 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Garlic, garlic everywhere!A spicy post indeed.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 9:02 pm

      Really — it was garlic, garlic everywhere. And incidentally, Gilroy's slogan is: A community with a spice for life.
      They were not kidding. I was amazed by the volunteering that the community did a the event. It was a really huge and well-organised event.

  • Rachna
    10 August 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Yummy! I love garlic. Muh mein paani aa gaya.

    • dNambiar
      10 August 2012 at 9:03 pm

      🙂 You'd have loved this, then.
      Didn't try this event, when you were here, Rachna?

  • Meoww
    11 August 2012 at 2:30 am

    I have been in CA for 8 years. But missed this event everytime. Missed all the wonderful garlicky food and garlic ice cream!

    Nice Pictures!

    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:04 am

      Meow, I didn't get to try the ice cream too. I'm so curious about it. I'll just have to find out what it's like, soon :). The food, I must say, was great.
      Thank you. 🙂

  • muthu
    11 August 2012 at 2:51 am

    That looks delicious.. 😛

    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:05 am

      Not much of a garlic person, Muthu?

  • AmitAag
    11 August 2012 at 4:49 am

    ..an absolutely unknown event for me..I love garlic..thank you Divya, your posts keep me informed about the happenings in that part of the earth:)

    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:07 am

      Me too, hadn't known about it until I moved this side. And when I did hear about it, I was curious; just had to find out.
      It really is such a pleasure to report from here. 🙂
      Thanks Amit.

  • Sabyasachi Patra | Tales from Wild India
    11 August 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Garlic is good for health. So it is better to have it even if you don't like. 🙂 Never knew there was a garlic festival.

    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:13 am

      I'm glad I developed a taste for garlic, a few years ago. So I got to do try out a few items at the event. For those people who do not like Garlic, this festival may be a little too much to take in.
      Garlic is big in Gilroy. 🙂

  • magiceye
    12 August 2012 at 3:34 am

    Slurpicious post!! Lovely pics!!

    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:13 am

      Thank you, Magic Eye. 🙂

  • Bikramjit
    13 August 2012 at 4:08 pm

    oooh yummyliscious , I am drooling all over now .. this is torture now putitng pictures …


    • dNambiar
      14 August 2012 at 1:17 am

      Just go to a corner and eat up this post. :D.
      Thanks for coming by Bikram. Have a great week ahead.

  • gunjan kumar
    15 August 2012 at 2:45 am

    delicious post…ha ha ha

    • dNambiar
      16 August 2012 at 6:03 am

      If you like garlic, it's a delicious event too, Gunjan. 🙂

  • Arti
    15 August 2012 at 8:37 am

    Wow! This is unique! Would love to try out some of those garlic vegetarian dishes and Garlic ice cream?! Do try it out soon and let us know how it tastes, to me it sounds really inviting 🙂

    • dNambiar
      16 August 2012 at 6:04 am

      I will Arti, I will. Soon. 🙂 I 'have to' try it out.

  • Ashwini
    16 August 2012 at 5:26 am

    Looks like a delicious festival…. yummmmy!! But garlic icecream??? Sounds interesting!!

    • dNambiar
      16 August 2012 at 6:06 am

      Hmm…yes it does. It's one of the biggest attractions at the event and I didn't taste it. How sad :(.

  • SSQuo
    16 August 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Ive seen this on TV on an episode on food Network and always wanted to go! Garlic is one of my most favorite things – btw if you in SF have you gone to Stinking Rose, and had the garlic ice cream? I know it is a touristy thing to do, but its actually quite yum!

    • dNambiar
      16 August 2012 at 6:05 pm

      You should visit. It's a great event, put together really well. The food's good too. You'll love the fries. We brought some home coz we couldn't finish it and it was still crisp late in the evening, unlike the fries we pick up from the fast-food joints in town.
      I haven't been to Stinking Rose, only passed by it a couple of times. It's yum you say? Then I'm going. 🙂 Thank you SSQuo. I'm desperate to check that ice cream out.

  • Sneo
    17 August 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Thats quite amusing. Garlic festival! Lol, I would have hogged loaves of garlic bread. I'm sure you did 🙂

    • dNambiar
      18 August 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Yeah :D. Great idea, right? 🙂
      Unfortunately, I had only one slice and I was kind of full. I'm a bad eater if it's a hot day. 🙁
      But I must say it was the best garlic bread, Sneha. So, so good!! 🙂

  • ashok
    18 August 2012 at 5:01 pm

    yummy post!

    • dNambiar
      18 August 2012 at 11:01 pm


  • Rupertt Wind
    19 August 2012 at 8:31 am

    Yummy! I never believed that things made of garlic would look so scrumptious, I have had a bad experience with garlic all my life but these dishes are so beautiful! I am practically salivating like a dog!

    So D! did you learn any recipes after the visit!?

    • dNambiar
      20 August 2012 at 3:37 am

      The food was interesting; I'd never seen so much garlic-based food in one place. Maybe if you visit an event like this one, there'll be some good garlic experiences, too. 🙂
      Recipes? Nope. :D.

  • shooting star
    19 August 2012 at 3:13 pm
    • dNambiar
      20 August 2012 at 3:39 am

      If you like garlic, it's a great event. I'm sure you'd enjoy this, Sush. Does Delhi host a lot of food fests?

  • Shrinidhi Hande
    13 September 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Hmm.. didn't know Garlic had an event of its own

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2012 at 1:28 am


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