Lily Belli on Food: Gilroy Garlic Festival canceled, Phil’s Fish House moving and mountain markets reopen
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… While many festivals and local events are returning this year, one beloved local institution’s future is uncertain. The Gilroy Garlic Festival Board announced Friday that the annual festival has been canceled indefinitely. The organization cited lingering concerns from the pandemic and prohibitively expensive insurance required by the city of Gilroy, to the tune of $1 million. The festival is normally held over the last weekend in July to celebrate the stinking rose in all its delicious iterations, from classics like garlic fries to unconventional creations like garlic ice cream. This is a sad end to an event that families have cherished for more than 40 years and has earned the small farm community of Gilroy international recognition. We all remember the tragic mass shooting at the 2019 festival, when a 19-year-old Gilroy native killed three people and wounded 17 others before turning the gun on himself. It would be extremely difficult for an event to hold the same place in the community’s heart after such horror, but after canceling the festival in 2020, the organizers gamely held a drive-through version over three weekends in July 2021.
“The festival is part of our heritage. Now we must ensure that it is part of our future,” the organizers said in the announcement. While they believe that the festival will never be a massive event, they hope to create a smaller, more intimate local iteration. Several companion fundraisers will be held throughout the summer, including a golf tournament, a concert at Clos La Chance Winery and a farm-to-table dinner. Visit gilroygarlicfestivalassociation.com for more information ...
… Next week, we welcome back the seasonal Felton and Scotts Valley farmers markets. Located off of Highway 9 in downtown Felton, the Felton farmers market reopens a week from Tuesday, and will run every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. through October. In addition to organic fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, artisanal bread, seafood, meat, eggs and other staple foods, the market has expanded its food truck rotation with an emphasis on highlighting cultural, hard-to-find foods. Scrumptious Fish & Chips will be there every week, and Dos Hermanos Pupuseria, Mattia Pizza Truck and Rogue Pye will rotate.
The Scotts Valley farmers market starts up again next Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will run every Saturday morning through Thanksgiving. Find it at its new home, off Scotts Valley Drive in the Boys & Girls Club parking lot. Visitors will find an abundant selection from regional farms and food businesses, and regular pop-ups by Chicken Foot and Dos Hermanos Pupuseria. New this year, Watsonville-based Hidden Fortress Coffee will sell breakfast favorites like French toast, pancakes, bacon and sausage in addition to its small-batch, organic roasted coffee and espresso.
Both markets will celebrate opening day with free strawberry shortcakes to visitors, made with fresh local strawberries and whipped cream on Beckmann’s Bakery shortbread. Doesn’t that sound like a sweet way to kick off summer? More info at santacruzfarmersmarket.org ...
… Concerned community members took to social media when it was revealed that Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery will be leaving its current location in Moss Landing. Fans feared that the beloved restaurant and fish market would be closing for good after news broke that the neighboring Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is planning to expand and will demolish the restaurant in order to build a new two-story, 33,000-square-foot marine research facility in its spot on Sandholdt Road. But the reports of Phil’s demise were greatly exaggerated, with Phil DiGirolamo himself clearing the air. While it is true that the establishment is planning to move, “We will not be closing,” DiGirolamo insisted in a Facebook post. DiGirolamo and MBARI are working together to find another suitable location before the move, so no one has to say goodbye to Phil’s famous cioppino, clam chowder or crab cakes.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, I highly recommend stopping by Blossom’s Farmstand & Coffeeshop next time you’re in Corralitos. The rose-colored adobe building is full to the brim with local goodies, including fresh produce, eggs, local art, Blossom’s own line of fermented foods – I adore its vegan kimchi – and its herbal apothecary. The coffee shop serves warm drinks, baked goods and homemade savory snacks. Discover why this local spot is so special in last week’s Eaters Digest.
- Events & Food Drives Project Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank
- Program Assistant at Positive Discipline Community Resources
- Senior Instructional Technician at Cabrillo College
250,000 — The estimated number of T-shirts Pizza My Heart sells every year via its $7 shirt-and-a-slice combo. In the latest installment of my colleague Wallace Baine’s Icons of Santa Cruz series, he traces how the Pizza My Heart T-shirt became a symbol of Santa Cruz. Read it here.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
This might be appealing to only a small portion of readers, but if you, by chance, are looking for an easy and delicious way to prepare beets, I have a great recipe for you. I love beets when I eat them in restaurants, but until recently rarely prepared them at home because I couldn’t find a preparation that gave me the results I wanted – beets with a tangy, pickled flavor, free from their ruddy skin with a tender, rich texture – that was also easy. I finally found that recipe, and it’s so simple. To make it, wash your beets and trim off the stem end, then poach them in a mixture of one part vinegar with four parts water until you can pierce them easily all the way through. Poaching is a fancy way of saying to cook them in liquid at a low temperature. In this case, the beets should be submerged or nearly submerged in the vinegar/water mixture, and kept at a low simmer, covered with a lid, for about an hour. Feel free to mix up the type of vinegar and add some aromatics, depending on what you’re using them for. I used a cup of red wine vinegar and added a clove of crushed garlic, a palmful of peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.
Once they’re done cooking and have cooled, you can slough the skin off with a paper towel. You will definitely make a mess – and beets stain, so be prepared. Chop them up and they’ll keep in a closed container in the fridge for a week, ready to liven up your office salad. I actually blended some into homemade tomato soup and it was surprisingly good. The sky’s the limit!
THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING …
… to a recent episode from the local podcast “Paid The Cost,” featuring business owner Eric Kennedy. Kennedy is a San Lorenzo Valley native and new owner of Zayante Creek Market & Deli, which he purchased during the pandemic. His path to business ownership zigged and zagged, from his days starting a wine club featuring Santa Cruz Mountains wines to his days at Looker. He shares his plans for the little market in the mountains and many words of wisdom in the episode. And keep listening for a familiar face — host Nativo Gonzalez kindly invited me on for his 100th episode, out tomorrow.
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FOOD NEWS WORTH READING:
➤ Buzzy restaurants are heading to this mall — is it the Bay Area’s next hot dining destination? (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ Is the future of restaurants grassroots-funded? (Eater)
➤ How foragers are reconnecting with the land (Good Times)
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Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.