Hundreds of local fruit fanatics flocked to Goleta’s 20th Annual Lemon Festival this past weekend in Girsh Park to delight in one of the region’s most abundant crops.
Among carnival booths, live music and pony rides, the abundance of lemon-laced dishes took center stage at the event and left all other dining options — including teriyaki bowls, bulging burritos and hotdogs — in their zesty dust.
The lemon fare started off with Bacara Resort chef Ben Galang’s petite lemon tarts, which packed a ton of tang in every tiny morsel.
While the younger crowd sipped on fresh squeezed lemonade made by the Santa Barbara Rotary Club, older festival-goers splurged on a specially brewed lemonade beer. The hearty body of the brew mixed with a squeeze of the citrus pleased all the bingers’ sweet teeth.
The ice cream table was the next stop, featuring Santa Barbara’s well-known McConnell’s Ice Cream Parlor’s California lemon zest à la mode. Just as sensationally creamy and light as the local shop’s additional 37 premium ice cream flavors ranging from Russian Nesserlode to Swiss Chocolate Chip, it left taste buds wanting more.
Kids were flocking to the festival’s cotton candy booth, which swirled up the fruit into a perfectly spiraled fluff of fun and flavor. The treat did taste surprisingly tangy, but the sweetness of the crumbling candy did not quite last on the tongue as long as one would hope.
This sugar-low left everyone heading to the event’s hit table — Anna’s Bakery spread of lemon bars and lemon pies.
The lemon bars were just as connoisseurs dreamt them to be, with a flaky, crispy lemon crust and rich lemony paste inside, topped with just the right amount of powdered sugar.
The bakery’s lemon pies were the cream of the lemon crop — served as a tower of jelly-like lemon center with a whipped topping that was lighter than air and a graham cracker-like crust that was as savory as it was satisfyingly crunchy; needless to say, the pie-eating contestants were targeted with lustful eyes amidst the lemony sunlight. Those who snagged a piece were among an elite few — the pies sold out as they usually do early Sunday afternoon — clearly a testament to their addictive tangy taste.
The cornucopia of citrusy delicacies packed enough lemon flavor to last attendees until next year’s festival — or at least until the next trip to McConnell’s.