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.

A Quiz: Are You Hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

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

 
 

Gilroy's Glorious Garlic Festival is Here!

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…

 
 

GARLICIA’S TIDBITS – VIVA LA DIVA!

 

Christopher Ranch is excited about the debut of its new diva - Green Garlic. Our first few plantings have been harvested, packed, and shipped– so get ready to roll out the green carpet! This tender beauty will make your favorite foods sing.  

There are only a couple months left until the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s the diva of all food fests, the largest and most spectacular of its kind in the world. Set the date, July 23-25, for three days of fun, cook-offs, music, friendly people, and the number one reason 100,000 garlic lovers show up every year – delectable, garlicious, food, food, food. Christopher Ranch is the Official Garlic of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, natch! 

If you’re ready to wash down these tidbits, and celebrate your inner diva or divo (you know who you are…), try this tasty little beverage. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present:

THE DIVA COCKTAIL – GARLICIA STYLE

 

 

 

 

1½     oz. vodka

½        oz. fresh lime juice

1          tbls. cherry juice

½       oz. passion fruit juice

Club soda or 7-UP

Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic Cloves

Fill a tall glass or Collins glass with ice and add the first 4 ingredients. Top off with club soda or 7-up. Garnish with a cherry, lime wedge, and at least 2 Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic Cloves. Oooh, I can taste it… diva-licious. 

 
 
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