Gilroy Garlic Festival newcomers and veterans alike knew where to start their day Friday, July 27, just hours after the three-day event opened for its 40th anniversary. Gourmet Alley, the volunteer-run food court of freshly prepared garlicky cuisine, is often the main attraction—or at least the first stop—for anyone who shows up at the fundraising festival hungry.
“We’re not rookies,” Andrea Trujillo Yafai, a Gilroy resident, said while balancing a bowl of scampi in one hand and clutching a bag of garlic bread in the other. Yafai has been going to the Garlic Festival for 30 years, and she planned to attend all three days of the event this weekend.
She and three of her relatives were hanging out under Gourmet Alley’s shade structure at lunchtime Friday, deciding what to eat next while each sipped a glass of the festival’s signature cocktail.
The group said they enjoy the Garlic Festival not just for the food and their “love of garlic,” Yafai said. They like the idea of supporting the community and area nonprofits that benefit from the festival proceeds. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, they said.
“It’s like our Mardi Gras,” Priscilla Cabrera, of Gilroy, said.
A few yards away, Pamela and Ruben Ochoa were chowing down on Gourmet Alley’s Gilroy Garlic Fries with their daughters, Kaylee and Asia, and niece Leslie Barajas. The family from Redding has never attended the Garlic Festival previously.
“The food is awesome. There are so many choices,” Ruben Ochoa said. They had already tried Gourmet Alley’s calamari and stuffed mushrooms, and talked about choosing the shrimp scampi as their next course.
Offerings at Gourmet Alley also include a garlic sausage sandwich, garlic pepper steak, pesto pasta and marinated mushrooms. Patrons can opt for one of two “combo plates,” each of which combines a different variety of samples of Gourmet Alley’s signature dishes onto a single plate.