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Time to Perfect Your Recipe, Garlic Fest Fans

The 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival is six months away, but you'll want to jump into the recipe contest before May 1.

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    The 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival is six months away, but you'll want to jump into the recipe contest before May 1. (Photo by Ross Land/Getty Images)

    MAYBE, FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON, you turned to other flavors from the pantry and refrigerator and spice shelf while cooking. Maybe you began to incorporate more peppermint, and more chocolate, and more nutmeg, and the sorts of seasonings that bring to mind stuffing or mashed potatoes or the other classic sides of a major celebratory meal. But even as you were ladling on the minty sugar, and even as you were folding in caramel and maple and turkey gravy into the dishes that go well with those seasonal staples, you likely had one thing on your mind: When can I return to my beloved bulb? When can I again use the greatest of cloves, the zingiest of ingredients, in every dish I make? When can I bring garlic back into my world, fully and completely? Well... perhaps it never actually left your holiday cooking, and hooray to that. Perhaps every meal you made over the holidays was in preparation for one of the most famous recipe contests in California, the one that takes place in late July each year but actually opens to entries in the spring. Perhaps, over the holidays, you were testing out possibilities for the...

    GREAT GARLIC COOK-OFF, which'll be back at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July. If this is you, and you're eager to enter your garlic-piñon lasagna or garlic cupcake casserole, know this: You can't wait for the festival itself, which is on in 2018 from July 27 through 29, to do so. You'll need to enter by May 1, at 4 p.m., so get cooking, trying, experimenting, and sharing your garlicky bites with your buds. The grand prize? It's five thousand bucks, oh yeah. How many cooks'll join the on-stage showdown at the festival? Eight. What won the top spot in 2017? Smoky Salsa Roja Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Cotija Grits from Naylet LaRochelle of Miami, Florida. Read over the rules before you grab your microplane grater and peeler, and take time to eye the past winners, and what they cooked/baked, for further inspiration and cuisine-cool can-do. Six months is a good bit of time, but not for a gourmet set on taking the garlickiest crown around, at one of the best-known food festivals in the country.