Apparantly many – as we found out at a media preview for the upcoming Secret Ingredient Recipe Cook-Off.  Yes, the ingredient is GARLIC! The cook-off event is the brainchild of Howard Kotliar and Ken Barnes of and will take place on July 31st at Danza Del Sol Winery.

Five Star Chef, Michael Cragg of Temecula Catering Company and Danza Del Sol winemaker, Mike Tingley prepared a stunning preview pairing to show us just a hint of what might be in store at the actual event.  The food was stellar as were the wines. But neither overpowered each other and the liberal use of garlic just enhanced the experience.  We started with Espumosa, a dry Chardonnay brut sparkling wine paired with roasted garlic mushroom caps filled with bruschetta and chiffonade basil. The tasty little bites went down very easily with the lightly bubbling wine.

Once seated we moved on to a refreshing cabbage salad with parsley, carrots, hearts of palm and a delicious garlic-cilantro dressing. This was paired with a 2009 Dos Blancos blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay.  The dressing would also make an excellent dip for raw vegetables or topping for just about anything edible.  The wine held it’s own with the creamy flavors of the dressing and refreshing salad components.

Temecula WineA 2008 Syrah paired with grilled spiced garlic skirt steak with manchego pomm pureee , veggie Napoleon and chimichurri sauce. The varied flavor sensations almost danced on my palate.

We ended with the most unusual and most delicious offering – a garlic mojito sorbet with spicy honey garlic brittle. What do you pair with this tasty treat? Mike Tingley chose his 2010 Sabrosa, a late harvest Viogner which was not too sweet but a definite complement to the citrus-brittle combination.  I am now fantasizing about all of the fabulous garlic dishes I have ever tasted with visions of garlic brittle dancing in my head.

How can I join in this culinary experiment you ask? First you need to come up with your ORIGINAL garlic recipe. Chef Michael suggests that it contain garlic as more than an afterthought or sprinkle of powder – think starring role.  Submit this recipe to: by JUNE 30th, 2011.  Chef Michael will choose 2 finalists from the email entries to square-off at 6pm on july 31st.


Mike Tingley Danza del Sol

Mike Tingley

If you don’t want to compete but do want to eat, purchase a $25. ticket to attend the event. Enjoy appetizer tastings prepared by the finalists, a garlic masterpiece and exquisite dessert prepared by Chef Michael. Mike Tingley will share wine pairing tips. Diego Mondragon will entertain.  Plus you will be a participant on a history-making wine country event.