Best Festival 2007 | Delray Beach Garlic Festival | People & Places | South Florida
When Rachael Ray makes a special trek to your annual food fest, you know you've hit prime time. The 2008 bad-breath bash will herald nine years' worth of celebrating the stinking rose, as it were, and it's finally come into its own. Once an unabashed novelty — and let's all pray that garlic ice cream stays a novelty — Delray's Garlic Festival has blossomed into a chef-driven cooking competition bringing South Beach/Palm Beach culinary stars to town. Some of the creations go full-tilt boogie on the crazy train, like Roasted Garlic Covered in Chocolate. But the best part of the festival is going overboard with your own bad self, devouring a Garlic Portobello Sandwich and the Grilled Garlic Argentine BBQ and the Roasted Garlic Bruschetta and the Garlic Vegetable Tempura. Nobody's kissing you tonight anyway, so just go for it.
Rino's is one of the most expensive restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard, and for good reason: Chef Rino Balzano serves some of the most mind-bogglingly savory fare in the world. Though the meats get a lot of attention — and it's a pitiable beast who hasn't seen what the man can do with a lamb shank and some risotto — budget-conscious gourmands should be aware that Rino's is not exclusively for folks willing to shell out $70 for a veal entrée, an appetizer, and a glass of wine. You can eat here for under $30, if you're willing to go semi-veggie. Here's how: When you arrive, order the Funghi di Bosco appetizer. Defer ordering your main course for a moment. Your server will soon bring you a mound of hollow, golden bread, crackly in places and soft and pliant in others, brushed with garlic, cheese, and oil. Eat this. By the time you're through, the appetizer will emerge from the kitchen: Twin mounds of soft, fresh mozzarella, sitting in a veal reduction with piles of wild mushrooms of various geographical derivations, accompanied by mixed greens. The reduction and mushrooms are warm and earthy, the cheese is cool and impossibly light, and the combination is shockingly sensual. You'll likely close your eyes as you chew. Just as the Funghi di Bosco arrives, place an order for more bread and a second appetizer, this one a half-order of Tortelli di Zucca Alla Salvia e Pinoli, which translates from the Italian as "an orgasm disguised as pumpkin ravioli with pine nuts." And so it is. Tender tortellini stuffed with fresh sage and pumpkin, in an oil-parmigiana sauce and dotted with pine nuts, the dish has a flavor that isn't comparable to anything. Unless you've had pumpkin ravioli before, the Tortelli di Zucca is truly something new under the sun. A half-order of this stuff is a measly $10, the Funghi di Bosco is $12, and the two orders of bread are free. You have just saved a lot of money. Tip well.

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