Garlic Fest & Unique Corkage Fee Program

Gilroy Garlic Fest:

It will be a most pungent time at the 32nd Gilroy Garlic Festival, July 23-25, in Christmas Park.

Yes, that’s Mr. Garlic front and center above, with the two goofy Foster Imposter Chickens, who also will be putting in appearances as Foster Farms is the official chicken provider for the fest. The portly birds also will be on handΒ  to get the word out against salt water-plumped chickens, which contain more sodium and end up being more expensive with the added water weight.

At this year’s festival, enjoy live music, children’s entertainment, and a plethora of food booths selling everything from garlic chicken sandwiches to garlic steak tacos to garlic ice cream with cantaloupe.

July 24 at 10 a.m., eight amateur chefs from around the country will vie for the $1,000 cook-off prize. Locals will no doubt be cheering for the two California contestants: Jamie Miller of Napa, who will be making “Deconstructed Beef Wellington with Garlic-Tarragon Aioli” and Michael G. Labrador of Newhall, who will be whipping up “Garlic Paella with Garlic Aiolli.”

July 25 at noon, four chefs will take to the stage for a $5,000 cook-off. “Top Chef” contestant Fabio Viviani will host the cook-off featuring another “Top Chef” alum and the defending champion from last year, Ryan Scott, who will go up against Jerry Regester of C Restaurant in Monterey; Jesse Llapitan of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco; and another “Top Chef” alum, Mattin Noblia of Iluna Basque in San Francisco.

New this year is a commitment from festival organizers to make the event as green as possible in the next three years by featuring local ingredients and products, as well as sourcing re-usable materials.

General admission tickets are $17; children ages 6 to 12, and seniors, are $8; and children under 6 get in free.

Tickets are available at Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods. They also are available at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Web site, where you can take advantage of a $2 discount through July 22.

Annual proceeds — topping $500,000 — go to more than 150 local non-profits.

Farmstead Restaurant’s Unusual Corkage Program

Instead of a usual corkage fee, Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena charges a diner $2 for every wine bottle brought in — then turns around and donates that money to community organizations.

How nifty is that?

The “Corkage for Community” program has raised $5,500 in just the past few months. The first grant of $2,000 was presented to the Future Farmers of America agricultural education program at St. Helena High School in April.

A second grant of $1,300 was given to the Rutherford Grange in April to help support its various programs that include a healthful eating series, a children’s chorus, and various arts programs for kids in Napa County.

A third grant for $1,200 will be presented July 19 to the St. Helena Community Pool, the only public swimming facility in the city. Located at St. Helena High School, it provides recreational and competitive swimmers a place to practice, as well as the Silverado Chapter of the Red Cross a spot to teach swimming lessons.

Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead, which opened in January, is a sustainable food, wine and agriculture center that features a wine tasting room, a seasonal farm stand, organic nursery, and vegetable gardens. Its Farmstead Restaurant features farm-to-table cuisine made with Long Meadow Ranch’s all-natural grass-fed beef, and organically and sustainably produced eggs, produce, honey and extra virgin olive oil.

So, go ahead and tote your favorite wine to the restaurant — and do a good deed for a local not-for-profit at the same time.

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