Original pasta con pesto back in the G-Fest saddle again

The original pasta con pesto recipe, deliciously drenched in
garlic, will return to the Garlic Festival’s Gourmet Alley this
The original pasta con pesto recipe, deliciously drenched in garlic, will return to the Garlic Festival’s Gourmet Alley this summer. That’s the news flash from incoming Garlic Festival President Kurt Svardal who does not live in Sveadal, the beautiful and historic Swedish “village” tucked away in the foothills west of Morgan Hill. But I digress … “Crazy Legs” Svardal also announced the next community project at the annual G-Fest dinner at the Elks. Energy and resources will be focused on renovating the amphitheater at Christmas Hill Park. Svardal is two-for-two out of the gate. Now all he has to do is rehire, the glib, the dashing, the debonair smooth-talking machine who emceed the event – the man who courted his wife by going down to the pool at the apartment complex and saying, “I just wanted to see what you looked like in a bikini.” Well, direct flights are often the best way to go …

“Money.” That’s how Guy Fieri, the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives guy on the Food Network, would have described the whole meal but especially the calamari Chef Dave Bozzo served up for the G-Fest dinner. That’s also what Dave won in a weekend football pool so if you see him at Westside Grill or Stubby’s, well, that beer should be on him …

At dinner over the hill, we met a couple at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing who hailed from foreign shores but had been living in Morgan Hill for the last three years. Astrid and Bob’s observations about how much they thought Gilroy’s downtown was moving forward nicely compared to downtown Morgan Hill were fascinating. They spoke of the uniqueness of downtown Gilroy compared to the cookie-cutter “just a bunch of restaurants” feeling in Morgan Hill. For Christmas and New Year’s dinners they bought wonderful meat downtown at El Charrito Market, and commented on the great customer service at Bruce’s Tire Shop on Monterey and how they could easily walk downtown after dropping their car for service. On one visit, they took an old English clock to Clocks and Collectibles – “a wonderful, interesting shop” – for repairs and walked about afterward. Point is, part of what Gilroyans have to do is change their attitude about downtown. Sure, there’s work to be done, but there’s value already and it’s key that we retain our city’s unique charm.

Uniquely uncharming and roundly devoid of leadership is the City Council’s agenda for the annual “retreat” this weekend. It’s a smorgasbord of study session or extended workshop issues – no room for vision or strategic thinking – and the leadership vacuum just hums along as Gilroy hurtles toward its mish-mash destination … it’s no wonder the mayoral candidates declared so early, November 2012 can’t come soon enough.

Sooner rather than later, the City Council should not only fund the Economic Development Corporation, but add a part-time downtown events coordinator to the roster under interim EDC Director Tammy Brownlow, too. The EDC has travelled through some rough waters with the last two directors and the economic meltdown, but it’s not time to abandon ship. On first impression, Brownlow is the remedy the EDC needs. She’s getting the EDC website back in shape and gathering and re-packaging the base profile info about our community that the EDC needs to be able to provide to potential new businesses in a heartbeat. The back-to-basics approach – devoid of the “bio-tech and green technology” fantasy fluff dished out in recent years – is what Gilroy needs. The Council should take the lead and make a three-year funding commitment, doing even more than what the EDC asks. Two caveats: Chamber funding should stay at or above the current level and the Council should require monthly updates from Brownlow. An independent EDC is a true asset that will pay off for this community in the long run.

It’s been a long and happy run for a pair of salt-of-the-earth Gilroyans, Erwin and Barbara Boggs, wonderful former neighbors of ours. They happily told me at the G-Fest dinner that they just celebrated 55 years of marriage. Congratulations and many more …

Many pictures from District 1 to decorate the walls in his office is what new County Supervisor Mike Wasserman is looking for. So, here’s a shout out to the wonderful South County photographers like Raquel Aceves, Frances Huang, Chris Stuker, Heide Unger, Deborah Schwarz and David Barton who send us beautiful area photographs. Email your color photos (less than 1 meg but not too small) to [email protected] Deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1. No prizes, but prestige.

Dubious prestige in Mayor Al Pinheiro’s endorsement for mayor, but at least he should be honest … At a public Chamber lunch Wednesday, this came from the mayor’s lips: “Pinheiro reiterated he would not be running for mayor in 2012, but said he would endorse a candidate at some point in the future. He did not say whether his endorsement would go to either Dion Bracco or Perry Woodward …” Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention (and many aren’t) knows Al is backing Dion, which is fine, but why play games and be disingenuous? And before the MayorAl potshots begin anew about “newspaper coverage,” yes, I believe Perry would be a good mayor. But I believe, also, that Dion has a genuine “heart for Gilroy.”

Mark Mikkelsen and his wife Teri have a heart for Gilroy’s high school choir groups and are running the annual GHS/CHS Spaghetti Dinner, pasta prepared by Chef Majid Bahriny of Mama Mia’s, which is on Wednesday, Feb. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Gilroy High School cafeteria. (Note: put in phone calendar now). It’s a perfect time to take a midweek cooking break and donate $8 at the door. Over spring break, the fabulous Chamber Choir under Phil Robb’s tutelage will be headed to Austria, Bratislava and Hungary while other choir groups will be going to festivals in San Luis Obispo and southern California. Mangia for the music!

Golfers are devouring the $5 after 3 p.m. green fees at the Gavilan College Golf Course. Since Don DeLorenzo has taken over and started making changes, players are coming out again. On the $5 green fee, DeLo said, “My father taught me … he’d say, ‘fast nickels are better than slow dimes.’ ”

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