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Christopher Ranch’s garlic harvest is continuing, and the precious cargo is arriving by truckloads at our Gilroy “home ranch” to be graded, packed and shipped out. You can always tell it’s harvest time when the road into the ranch is strewn with the garlic chaff that flies out of the trucks. We’re at the height of our favorite season when it starts snowing garlic skins.
Garlic isn’t the only thing we’re harvesting right now. Sweet corn, yellow and white, is coming in from our fields – and how sweet it is. It’s so tasty, in fact, that you can hold the butter and save the calories! We’re also harvesting our crisp and crunchy red and green bell peppers. Garlic, corn and bells – what a perfect trio of summer flavors.
Speaking of flavor, it was the hot topic at the recent Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA. Our attending sales squad, Amber (L.A. Division), Justin (Gilroy) and Anthony (New Jersey) listened to discussions focusing on flavor, safety, sustainability and consumer education, topics that Christopher Ranch is deeply invested in and has been for many years. Amber reports that PMA President, Bryan Silbermann even opened the session talking about the importance of flavor, but her favorite quote of the day (and mine) came from another attendee, “we need to make our tongues smile.” We couldn’t agree more. Flavor is what our California Grown Heirloom Garlic is all about.
Leaders of Pack: Anthony, Amber, Justin run PMA 5K, Monterey, CA
In closing PMA news… Kudos to Amber, Justin and Anthony for running the PMA FIT 5K race that kicked off the PMA Conference. Justin and Amber both finished 3rd overall in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, and Anthony finished in the top 25. Congrats to all for going the distance! Further kudos to Justin for “making tongues smile” with his Green Garlic Vinaigrette – it was a hit at the conference.
Our Green Garlic packaging has been updated with large lettering to make it easier to find in the produce section. How-to-use info and Justin’s recipe are on the back of the bag. If you don’t see it at your local market, please ask your produce manager about our new Baby!
We’ve also been getting lots of thumbs up for our new Peeled Garlic bags. They’re recyclable, re-sealable and tamper proof. The best part: they contain 100% natural California Grown Christopher Ranch Garlic with no additives or preservatives. FYI: always keep Peeled Garlic constantly refrigerated at cold temps (34º to 38 is best) for longest storage life.
Well, so much for writer’s block. I’ve gone on way too long, but when it comes to garlic, I just can’t say enough. Now, go out there, pick up some Christopher Ranch California Garlic (Green or otherwise) and make your tongue smile!
Posted by Justin
@ 02:34 PM PDT
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
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
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.
Posted by Justin
@ 10:09 AM PDT
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is here and you’re still irresistibly drawn to it every year for reasons you may not even comprehend. This simple test will confirm if YOU are hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival:
1. You’ve arrived at the Festival and it’s 101º out there so you:
a. Go home
b. Consume mass quantities of Fruit Friz and Garlic Ice Cream
c. Cruise the Mist Tent and then hang out in the Wine Tent
d. Enter the Garlic Topping contest to take your mind off the heat
2. The Pyro Chefs in Gourmet Alley have a 5 foot blaze leaping out of the calamari pans and you:
a. Run for your life and jump in the creek (it’s probably dry so look out…)
b. Take lots of pictures to send to the relatives back home
c. Take bets on which chef will singe their eyebrows
d. Scream WOOHOO and stare in amazement like a first time tourist
3. You’re waiting in line for the Scampi in Garlic Butter and you:
a. Take a Pepcid Complete because you already have heartburn
b. Become best friends with the person behind you
c. Become engaged to the person behind you
d. Break up with the person behind you (but refuse to give up your place in line…)
4. You go the Great Garlic Cook-Off and tell everyone within earshot that you:
a. Think the contestants use too much garlic
b. Think they don’t use enough garlic
c. Wish you were one of the cook-off judges
d. Have tried every one of the winning recipes from every Cook-Off
5. The band is starting in the Amphitheatre and you:
a. Try to head away from the crowd and all that noise
b. Get in the beer line fast so you can have a cold one with the music
c. Beat everyone there because you got online yesterday to see who was playing and when
d. Are the first one on the dance floor, waving wildly at your friends to “come on down”
6. You go to the Christopher Ranch Garlic booth and you:
a. Buy one bulb of garlic
b. Get into a heavy discussion with the staff about the benefits of California garlic
c. Buy the biggest braid they have so you can wear it around your neck all day
d. Buy as much garlic as you can possibly carry hoping it will last you at least a month
7. You’re leaving the Festival grounds and you’re:
a. Hot, tired, hungry and cranky
b. Hot, tired, full and happy
c. Hot, tired, full, happy and broke
d. Hot (you probably lost 5 pounds!), tired (you’ll sleep good tonight!), full (yay, you don’t have to cook dinner!), happy (you loved every minute!) and broke (you sure got some cool stuff!). You’re also carrying a bag of pepper steak sandwiches for later…
Your Score: If you picked only A. statements, you are not hooked and live a bland life free from garlic breath. (You’re safe for another year unless your new neighbor is a vampire… Blaahaha!) If you picked B.,C.,and especially D., you’re addicted for sure… to fun, friendly people and great, garlicky food. Your tastebuds are poised and ready for the gastronomic gala that is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I’ll see you there!
Breathfully yours, Garlicia
Posted by Justin
@ 10:06 AM PDT
The 32nd Gilroy Garlic Festival is upon us and Christopher Ranch, like most of Gilroy, is scrambling to get ready for a great gastronomic garlic gala. Our garlic harvest is in full swing with loads of white bulbs coming in fresh from the field, our packing sheds are packing and our braiders are braiding so we’ll have plenty of ajo for all the garlic lovers descending upon Gilroy. The co-founders of the Festival – Don Christopher is one of them – knew that July’s garlic harvest was the perfect time to celebrate Gilroy’s claim to fame!
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is the largest food fair of its kind in the world, and it serves up the best garlic dishes found anywhere: garlic scampi (my favorite), pepper steak sandwiches, Festival calamari in red sauce (my other favorite), garlic stuffed mushrooms, pasta con pesto (who am I kidding, they’re all my favorites!), even ‘gator gets the garlic treatment and for dessert… garlic ice cream. You have to try it at least once just to say you did. I love watching kids eating it for the first time – their initial unmitigated joy at the first lick of vanilla ice cream and then their utter surprise, or should I say shock, when the garlic aftertaste hits! The look is photo contest worthy.
Every year the festival feeds and entertains over 100,000 guests during the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July. Gourmet Alley serves up 10 tons of beef, 4 tons of pasta, 4 tons of calamari, 2 tons of scampi using 2 TONS of Christopher Ranch California garlic, and 4,000 volunteers happily donate their “hourly wages” to 150 non-profit charities. The festival is also going green this year using compostable utensils and cups and locally sourced food and products. 100 artisans sell everything from pottery to paintings, and over 50 food booths have something garlicious and/or refreshing for every taste. You’ll find fresh bulbs, bags, braids and jarred garlic products in CR’s booth – and ALL of our garlic and garlic products are California grown, California made and California fresh.
Chef Fabio Viviani (right) with 2009 Chef Showdown winner, Ryan Scott
Four stages present entertainment (even yours truly will be performing with The Corvairs) and premier cooking events including The Great Garlic Cook-off where 8 amateur chefs from across the nation compete for cash prizes and a crown of garlic bulbs, and the Garlic Showdown which pits four prominent Bay Area cooking professionals in an Iron Chef type competition. The contestants are given a “secret ingredient” and will have two hours to prepare, plate and serve their creations to a select panel of judges including our own Bill Christopher! Chef Fabio Viviani, from Bravo Network’s “Top Chef” show is hosting again this year. He’s a crowd favorite with a personality as spirited as the food being prepared. The Great Garlic Cook-Off Finals willbe streamed LIVE on the internet?at www.gilroygarlicfestival.com on July 24, 2010, at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Catch it if you can!
Come Friday, you can find me at the Scampi booth. I’ll be the one licking garlic butter off my chin and laughing out loud. Jeeps, I love this time of year…
Posted by Justin
@ 10:37 AM PDT
Talent comes in many forms and if you’ve ever seen “America’s Got Talent” you know what I’m talking about. On a recent trip to Chevy’s for fajitas and a watermelon margarita (delish if you haven’t tried) my co-worker, Roggie, and I ran into one such talented person – Ben, the balloon guy. Gilroy’s Chevy’s has had a balloon person, on and off, for many years creating animals, hats – you name it – for squealing numbers of kids, but this night I wanted the balloon guy to make something for me.
Being an equal opportunity balloonista, meaning there was no age limit on his making anyone look juvenile, Ben was ready to grant my wish. “What would you like me to make?” he asked. My immediate answer: “a garlic bulb!” Even with a margarita in my hand, garlic as usual, was on my mind. Ben’s reaction to this request surprised me: “I’ve been working here for 7 years and no one has ever asked me to make a garlic bulb!” Really? I thought it would’ve been number one on the Garlic Capital’s top ten balloon list – or at least a close second to the little doggie with the puffy legs.
Well, it was Ben’s time to shine and, with a big smile, he sprang into action, stretching white balloons, blowing them up, tying them off, even biting off pieces of balloon to make small sections (these were to be the roots of the bulb*) in a virtuoso performance. Rog and I were amazed and delighted when, in a matter of minutes, he whipped out an adorable, chubby Christopher Ranch (of course)) garlic bulb, complete with a little green stem on top. A one-of-a-kind! I happily tipped Ben, finished my marg, and out the door we went with Little Ben; the name just seemed appropriate.
LB sat in a place of honor on my desk for a week or so until, sadly, it started to deflate, becoming a mere shadow of its former glory. Only the good die young, I guess, but I’ll always have my memories… I think it’s time for an encore performance by the balloon guy – and another margarita for me! Thanks to Ben at Chevy’s in Gilroy for making us smile!
*Always look for some roots when buying garlic! Garlic from China has the roots completely shaved off.
Posted by Justin
@ 12:50 PM PDT
The Earth Day celebrations are over, Oprah’s on to another topic and disparate headlines crowd the internet and prime time news, but as I see it, it’s the days after that count. The sun may have set on Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, but now is the perfect time to rise up to the challenge of making the earth a priority – every day.
It’s easy to think about going green, especially at this time of year when the Ranch is enveloped by that most perfect of colors. The cherry trees have dropped their riot of white blossoms in favor of verdant leaves, the forerunners of late May’s luscious bounty. Sixty acres of Bings, et al, stand against a velvet backdrop of emerald hills to the west. Broccoli has been harvested, and another wave of new green garlic is awaiting harvest at just the right moment. But apart from what’s visible to the eye, Christopher Ranch’s roots also run green and deep.
The Christopher family has been farming in California’s Santa Clara Valley since the 1880’s, and has always held the Earth in high esteem. How else could they continue to work with her and reap her benefits year after year, nurturing crops and sustaining jobs to keep the garlic growing, flowing and perfuming the air.
But more work is always needed and Christopher Ranch does its utmost to be green in all aspects of its operations – from the ground up with stringent field rotation programs, drip irrigation, pesticide residue free garlic, increased organic production, to the packing facilities with reduced energy use, eco-friendly packaging and preventative maintenance, to transportation with more economical fuels and shipping procedures. Every one of the staff are encouraged to practice the other 3 R’s (bear with me, I have to repeat it… reduce, reuse and recycle) and the recycling bins are full on Friday afternoon – a positive sign that we’ve gotten with the program.
The Ranch is ever implementing, updating, installing and even experimenting in a concerted effort to produce the best garlic in the world in the most earth-friendly way possible. We’re in it for the long haul, at least another 50 years, and we’re putting our resources toward a happy, healthy Earth day, after day, after day, ad infinitum.
Posted by Justin
@ 09:00 AM PDT
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