If you’re driving through the Northern California town of Gilroy with the windows down, you’ll likely catch a whiff of garlic. The self-proclaimed “Garlic Capital of the World” is home to stores, farmers’ markets, and an annual festival devoted to the aromatic bulb. Shelves and stalls feature many creative culinary applications, including garlic hot sauce, fries, kettle corn, and even adorable, bulb-shaped hats. If it’s particularly hot, you might find yourself reaching for a cone or cup of garlic ice cream.
The dessert divides ice-cream lovers. Fans say the hints of garlic offer a subtle savoriness on top of the vanilla base, which is far more prominent. As one reviewer notes, “First it tasted like plain vanilla, then I get garlic on the back of my tongue, and it expands as the ice cream melts down my throat.” The slight taste of garlic can be sweet (Saveur notes that roasting garlic brings out this quality) or rich and buttery. Critics, however, find the aftertaste of garlic disturbing and unwelcome.
Whether or not you’ll enjoy the ice cream largely depends on where you buy it and, of course, how much you like garlic. And if you’re not a fan of vanilla, there are other options. Even though vanilla is the most common base, other garlic-infused flavors include chocolate, roasted almond, pistachio, and pecan praline.
Where to Try It
Gilroy Garlic Festival7050 Miller Ave, Gilroy, California, 95020, United States
The annual summer festival features three full days of garlic-inspired food, crafts, and cooking competitions. There's usually a stall giving out free tiny cones of garlic ice cream. Get there early to avoid lines.
Pacheco Pass Farmers Market5600 Pacheco Pass Hwy, Gilroy, California, 95020, United States
You can stop to sample garlic ice cream while shopping for vegetables or other garlic items in this small roadside farmers' market.