Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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Gilroy Garlic Festival Over, but the Flavor Lingers

1st Place Cook-Off Winner, Margee Berry beat out 7 other contestants with her "Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup."

The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been over for a week, but I still miss it… no more garlic scampi, no more wine tent, no more Elvis (E loves a good festival), no more running into long lost friends, no more selling California garlic braids hand over fist in the CR booth, and no more banter by Chef Fabio Viviani on the Cook-off Stage, who was in stellar form again this year throwing anecdotes, commentary and vegetables (you had to be there) at a standing room only crowd. 98,000 garmands* and I had a glorious time!  (*garmand: Garlicia’s word for someone who’s a glutton for garlic as opposed to garmets who are a taste more subdued about their obsession.)

The festival, as usual, was alive with happy people, great music and beautiful arts and crafts but, as always, it was all about the food. Throngs lined up at dozens of food booths, and the Cook-Off area overflowed with crowds waiting (with garlic breath) to see who would win the cooking contests. The stage bustled for three days with incredible chefs, both amateur and professional, whipping up stunning dishes in the open-air kitchen. Like all the GGF chefs before them, these were serious garlic lovers who blew everyone away with their imagination, focus and, most of all, their passion for food and cooking. The chefs and the Gilroy Garlic Festival never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Roggie, Garlicia and GARZILLA - fired up and ready for the garty, uh, garlic party!

Check out www.gilroygarlicfestival.com and www.gilroydispatch.com (click on NEWS then Garlic Festival) for Cook-Off and Showdown winners, recipes, videos and festival information. You just might be inspired to join us at next year’s festival…

WARM WEATHER WATERMELON CRABMEAT-KISSED SOUTH SEAS SOUP

1st Place Winner – Gilroy Garlic Festival Cook-Off – Serves six

Ingredients:

5      cups cubed small seedless watermelon, rind removed

1       tbls. mild olive oil

1/4   cup chopped shallots

2       tsp. minced peeled ginger

2       tsp. minced trimmed fresh lemongrass*

1        tsp. minced Thai chili or other hot chili, such as Serrano

1        tbls. minced Gilroy garlic

1        cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice

2        tsp. rice vinegar

1        tsp. fish sauce

1/2    tsp. sea salt

Crabmeat topping:

2         cups cooked lump crabmeat

1/4     cup finely chopped green onion

3          tbls. chopped cilantro

2          tbls. chopped fresh mint

2          tsp. fresh lime juice

4          tbls. grated radish

1.         In a blender, purée the watermelon, then transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

2.         Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add shallots, ginger, lemongrass and chili; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Transfer to blender along with juice, vinegar, fish sauce and salt; purée until smooth.

3.         Stir mixture into watermelon mixture, then strain and press through a fine sieve, discarding solids. Chill soup at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Soup can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

CRABMEAT TOPPING: Toss crabmeat with the green onion, cilantro, mint and lime juice.

TO SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls, then top each with a mound of the crabmeat mixture in the center. Garnish crabmeat with grated radish.

*Note: Trim root end off fresh lemongrass stalk, then remove two outer leaves. Finely mince with either a micro plane zester or knife. Ginger and garlic can also be minced on a micro plane.

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