Get Ready for the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

The 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is coming up on July 29, 30 and 31, 2016! We hope you can join us for “summer’s ultimate food fair,” a three-day celebration that draws visitors from around the globe to enjoy great garlicky food, dramatic Gourmet Alley flame-ups, live entertainment, cooking competitions, and unique arts and crafts. And don’t forget the FREE only-in-Gilroy garlic ice cream!

The toughest part of the day is deciding which garlic-laced dishes you want to eat first. Gourmet Alley is the best place to start. This is where the world-famous “Pyro Chefs” put on their spectacular flame-up show while cooking up garlic-laced calamari in huge iron skillets. Other Gourmet Alley favorites include pepper steak sandwiches, scampi, pasta con pesto, stuffed mushrooms, zesty garlic fried calamari, and sausage sandwiches, as well as garlic fries and garlic bread. Fortunately, two different Gourmet Alley combo plates are available, so you can sample all the dishes and decide which ones you like best. And more than 60 other booths spread across the Festival grounds offer a wide variety of other food and beverages, from crawfish and kettle corn to frozen lemonade and mimosas. 

If you enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Gourmet Alley Test Kitchen and the Garlic Cook-Off Stage. There will also be cooking demonstrations and competitions going on all weekend long. Local firefighters and EMTs will compete in the new “Champions for Charity” cooking contest on Friday. Amateur cooks from around the country will compete for the coveted garlic crown (and $5,000!) in the Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday. And at high noon on Sunday, local pro chefs will do battle in the iron chef-style Garlic Showdown.

This year, for the first time ever, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is also hosting the “Gilroy Garli-Que BBQ Challenge,” which combines an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society contest on Saturday with a Backyard BBQ Ribs Challenge for amateurs on Sunday.

There’s also live music going on at three stages throughout the weekend. There really is a little something for everyone, including rock ‘n roll, country, jazz, blues, reggae, and swing. KRTY 95.3 will present hot country music stars Brooke Eden, Drew Baldridge, and The Last Bandoleros, all appearing on Saturday on the Amphitheater Stage. And kids have their own entertainment stage, featuring singers, magicians, puppeteers and more. 

The Garlic Festival Arts and Crafts areas showcase unique, high-quality creations from over 100 artists, while the Garlic Mercantile stores offer shirts, gourmet products, cookbooks, wine glasses, and many other Festival souvenirs. Younger guests will find live entertainment, rides, and hands-on arts and crafts activities in the Children’s Area. Visitors can even learn how to make their own garlic braid and take it home as a unique souvenir!

This year visitors can take Caltrain to the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 30, or Sunday, July 31. Round-trip tickets must be purchased online in advance for the special event “Garlic Train,” which departs from the San Jose Diridon Station at 10:00 am and includes shuttle bus service from the downtown Gilroy station to the Festival entrance.

Hope to see you July 29, 30 and 31 at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival!

EXPLORE MORE>>  Go to and book a hotel room today so you can stay and explore Gilroy Gardens, Lumination, award-winning wineries, Gilroy Premium Outlets, and more!

Join us for the 2016 Pop-Up Breakfast Series at the Santa Cruz County Farmers’ Markets

Innovative – Fresh – Delicious – Culinary – Community
These are just some of the words that describe the Pop-Up Breakfast Series that will grace our Santa Cruz County Farmers’ Markets this season. Top chefs from around the county (and from some of your favorite eateries) are set to roll up their sleeves to create a multi-course breakfast masterpiece. See the schedule below and visit the Farmers’ Markets website for detailed menu information and to purchase tickets for this one-of-a-kind Santa Cruz culinary experience! (VSCC Insider Tip: Order tickets early as they sold out last year!)


May 28, Westside Market
Chef Kevin Kobel of Local FATT

June 25, Scotts Valley Market
Chef Brad Briske of La Balena in Carmel

July 23, Westside Market
Chef Mark Denham of Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar

August 27, Westside Market
Chefs Kendra Baker and Carlo Espinas of the Penny Ice CreameryPicnic Basket and Assembly

Rock Stars, Royalty, Artists and Chefs Wanted for the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival

We’ve still got several months to go until the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 29, 30 and 31, 2016. But there’s already a lot going on behind the scenes to get ready for this year’s event!

To start with, we’ll need to crown a new Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen. Young ladies ages 18-24 who live in Gilroy, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, San Martin, Morgan Hill, or Aromas are eligible to compete for scholarship prizes and the opportunity to represent their community at all three days of the Festival as well as other events. Contestants are judged by a panel of five judges on personal interview, talent, garlic speech, and on-stage question. Applications are due on March 4; the Queen Pageant will be held on May 1, 2016. 

The quest for this year’s winning art poster is on as well. Talented artists across the country are invited to submit original masterpieces that capture the spirit and flavor of the Festival to the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival Art Poster Contest. The winning entry will be reproduced as a high-quality, limited-edition poster to be sold at the Festival – and the winning artist takes home a $500 cash prize. Additional prizes are awarded for second and third place and the “People’s Choice” award (to be selected by Festival visitors in July). Entries are due March 18, 2016.

Vendors and performers who want to be part of the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival must also submit their applications by March 18. Each year, the Festival hosts 100+ Arts and Crafts booths featuring original fine arts and crafts, as well as food, beverage, and merchandise booths selling everything from Cajun crawdads to tie-dye t-shirts. A special Children’s Area features family-friendly entertainment, activities, food, drinks, and merchandise booths.  Festival guests also enjoy live entertainment on three stages in a wide variety of musical styles, including rock, country, blues, swing, and more. 

And long before the pyro chefs in Gourmet Alley start flaming up calamari and scampi for Festival guests, home chefs around the country will be fine-tuning on their own original garlicky recipes to enter in the 2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off Recipe Contest. The Cook-Off has become one of the country’s most prestigious amateur cooking competitions and will be held this year on Saturday, July 30. Eight finalists will be selected to prepare their dishes on stage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival for the chance to win a grand prize of $5,000. In the 2015 competition, Jodi Taffel from Phoenix, Arizona won the coveted garlic crown with her winning dish of “Shakshuka with Deep Fried Garlic.” Recipes for this year’s competition must be submitted by May 1.

In addition to all of these contests and other special events, volunteers are already hard at work getting everything in shape for the 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival itself, to be held on July 29, 30 and 31, 2016 at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy. If you’ve never been – or haven’t visited in a while – make this the year you come and get your garlic on!

Hotels do fill up fast for this world-famous event, so check the “Where to Stay” page at and book your room today. And be sure to stay for a few days, so you can also enjoy Gilroy Gardens and the nighttime Lumination festival, shop at Gilroy Premium Outlets, go wine tasting along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail…and discover lots more fun things to do right here in Gilroy!

Find Your Inner Peace at Carmel Valley Lodge

By: Allyson Thommen
Blog Monterey

Carmel Valley– known for its grassy rolling hills, award-winning wines, ample sunshine and now a revived and rejuvenated Carmel Valley Lodge. The countryside lodge located just off of the Carmel Valley Road has recently just changed ownership; coming with it revamped rooms, outdoor fire pits and the introduction to their complimentary breakfast known as Rainbow Ssambap (more on that later).

The 31 room resort is sprawled out over 3 acres full of well-manicured gardens, an array of flowers and stunning views of the valley. Fully renovated rooms stay true to their cozy country roots with upgraded modern amenities including secluded outdoor patios and furniture, gas fireplaces, mini-fridges and free Wi-Fi.

Quite possibly the most integral selling point of the retreat is the crystal blue pool and stone outdoor fit pits, both a necessity in sunny Carmel Valley. You simply can not top this gorgeous setting with the rolling hills in the distance; a perfect area to bask in the abundant sunshine, enjoy a glass of Carmel Valley’s finest Pinot Noir and at night congregate around a cozy outdoor fire with your loved ones.

The nearby gazebo and meditation tent are also new additions to the pool area where guests are encouraged to reflect and tap into their inner creativity.

The most unique feature about this property is their complimentary breakfast created entirely by Carmel Valley Lodge’s owner Tong Kim. After his own personal research and exploration he has crafted a raw vegan concoction known as Rainbow Ssambap (Korean for burrito); he even has an entire book on this stuff!

The meal (which Mr. Kim eats exclusively for breakfast, lunch and dinner) is full of over 20 different ingredients including beans, berries, nuts and fruit. I had the pleasure of trying this interesting mashup and to my surprise was delighted with the combination of tastes and textures. Mr. Kim notes that the most important ingredient for the flavor is a Meyer lemon, so important in fact that he has planted over 100 trees around the property.

The cornucopia of fruits, veggies and legumes is certainly a nutritious way to start off the day. I am not sure I could eat this dish all day everyday but Mr. Kim’s youthful energy and appearance may have turned me into a believer.

Want to try this Rainbow Ssambap yourself? Book a room at the Carmel Valley Lodge of just follow the easy recipe below.

Rainbow Ssambap Recipe:

You will need


  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts

Fresh Vegetables

  • 1 beet
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Any other vegetables that you want to eat


  • Beans


  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Meyer Lemons
  • Avocados

1) Make a base – Put five sliced tomatoes the bottom of the blender, put one sliced beet, one carrot, two bananas, one avocado, 20 almonds, 20 cashews and five walnuts on top of it and blend them all together.

2) Pour it into a large bowl up to 1/3 of the bowl.

3) Add blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, one chopped apple, half of a lemon, some lettuce and any other vegetables, nuts or fruit you want to eat.

4) Mix and eat it.

Oxnard Tamale Festival: Making Holiday Traditions with Handmade Tamales

By: Brandon Swanson
VenturaCountyWest Blog

There is nothing quite like a tamale; moist and spicy meat enveloped in a layer of warm masa, which in turn, is wrapped in a corn husk. It’s like a flavorful, nicely-wrapped holiday gift. And because of this, making tamales and giving them to family as presents has become a holiday tradition for my wife and I. It wasn’t always that way. It took years and a lot of help from friends, the Food Network and a pieced together recipe but I finally fine-tuned my tamale making skills. The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you that long because my special gift to you is my tamale recipe! Head over to VenturaCountyWest to get the full handmade tamale recipe.

The Oxnard Tamale Festival

If you don’t have the time to make your own tamales as holiday presents, but still want to enjoy that handcrafted goodness, head over to Oxnard this weekend for the Oxnard Tamale Fest. The event will be from 9am to 6:30pm and will feature a variety of handmade tamales by tamale-making pros. The food is not the only attraction during this event, there will be holiday festivities, such as, pictures with Santa Claus and an arts and craft area will be present.