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Slow Food Nation not-to-miss?

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david kaplan Aug 19, 2008 03:20 PM

The schedule of events is here: http://slowfoodnation.org/events .

What are 'hounds most excited about seeing, tasting, and doing?

(Apologies if this isn't appropriate for the local board.)

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  1. Xiao Yang RE: david kaplan Aug 19, 2008 06:33 PM

    I'ts easer to start with what is missable. Definitely the $80 Rock Concerts; what is this, the Summer of Organic Food Love? Some of the symposia are missable **because they are sold out** and the most interesting, to me, of those that aren't, would be the one on Climate Change and Food. As far as the food goes, it might be worth $45 (the equivalent of $35 plus tax & tip) to eat the El Bulli-meets-Americana (50 bites from 50 states) spread.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Xiao Yang
      c
      chutney RE: Xiao Yang Aug 20, 2008 10:57 AM

      okay, perhaps i'm being slow today but where did you find the 50 bites from 50 states? i can't seem to locate "el bulli-meets americana"......

      thanks!

      1. re: chutney
        Xiao Yang RE: chutney Aug 30, 2008 08:00 AM

        Just noticed your question, sorry. The second paragraph in the text you get clicking on the "Taste Pavilions" link at the very top states:

        "The Taste Pavilions present an unprecedented opportunity to sample the regional foods of America, with products from every state hand-picked by ‘curators’ who are nationally recognized experts in a particular type of food."

        I made up the "el bulli-meets americana" characterization.

        As one disgruntled poster noted, the festival backslid on the promise, and subsequently limited ticket-buyers to 20 tastes each for their $65.

    2. Robert Lauriston RE: david kaplan Aug 20, 2008 10:34 AM

      The "Taste Pavilions" sound sort of interesting, but $45-65? I dunno. In any case, the online ticket-sales widget seems to be broken, prompts me for a password but doesn't offer any way to get one.

      I'll probably just go to the free Civic Center thing.

      1. Robert Lauriston RE: david kaplan Aug 28, 2008 09:54 AM

        The Taste Pavilions and most other events have sold out, so I guess in that sense at least the event is a success.

        1. j
          jmconcierge RE: david kaplan Aug 28, 2008 10:38 AM

          From what I understand, Armandino Batali will have some of his cured meats from Salumi in Seattle at the Civic Center Marketplace. Hopefully he brings some of his lamb prosciutto!

          1. Robert Lauriston RE: david kaplan Aug 28, 2008 06:39 PM

            I read in the Chron that the 60 purveyors at the free Civic Center thing will each be selling only a single item: squash from Catalan, Elephant Heart plums from Blossom Bluff, Dry Jack cheese from Vella, and so on. There's a list on the SFN site:

            http://slowfoodnation.org/events/the-...

            I'd been planning to go, but now I'm not sure it's worth the time and BART fare.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              b
              benjieats RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 28, 2008 10:18 PM

              I think you may be right. The items at the Civic Center sound like the same things we already enjoy at our local farmers markets and specialty stores. The Taste event sounds more what I am interested in.
              That ticket price doesn't really make sense to me but I did go to a wine tasting that was nearly that expensive. I recall that was for charity though...?

            2. t
              Tobias RE: david kaplan Aug 28, 2008 09:55 PM

              I was at the dinner at Civic Center Plaza tonight, and it was terrific. It's no mean feat to serve 500 people, but the grilled chicken, potato and green bean salad and greens were fantastic. As were the Tartine cookies and amazing pluots. This bodes well for the taste pavilion at Ft. Mason, so I suggest you check it out.

              The Civic Center single item food stalls should be great as well. I know there's been some skepticism on this board, but this event is off to a good start.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Tobias
                Robert Lauriston RE: Tobias Aug 29, 2008 08:45 AM

                The Taste Pavilion tickets are sold out except there might be some left for Sunday night at Whole Foods stores.

                1. re: Tobias
                  Robert Lauriston RE: Tobias Aug 29, 2008 09:02 AM

                  Why do you think single-item stands are a good idea?

                  I'm dubious about the selection, as well. One of the stands is from G & S Farms, whose main claim to fame is being the first in the nation to grow the Brentwood Diamond variety of hybrid super-sweet corn.

                  1. re: Tobias
                    k
                    kresge86 RE: Tobias Aug 29, 2008 09:41 AM

                    I went to the Mexico DF Slow Food Dinner last night and it was absolutely amazing! We were seated at a communal table, and everyone at the table was blown away by the food. Especially amazing to me, since Mexico DF has received such mediocre reviews generally. However, the food last night was delicious, and the wine/tequila pairings perfect. My personal favorites were the corn tamalitos with huitlacoche (‘05 Capitan Zita, Flor de Guadalupe) and the grass-fed goat tacos with cactus salad (Don Julio silver margarita w/cointreau float). I've griped about the costs of the Slow Food events, but this dinner was well worth the money.

                    1. re: kresge86
                      f
                      Fine RE: kresge86 Aug 29, 2008 08:17 PM

                      I was there (MexicoDF) too and agree it was quite good. And I agree re faves.

                      I spent a lot of time reading about the various dinners and finally choosing and was quite startled and disappointed to see on the menu (almost impossible to read in darkish room) that gratuity was NOT inculded. This made a prepaid $170 event an unexpected $200 for two (and it was lucky for the staff we had cash with us!). Other venues made clear in their info whether or not gratuity was included, also what portion was a donation.

                      I would go back except for the fact that conversation required shouting (even the quite young man across from me complained that it was one thing to have a noisy bar, quite another a dining room--at least that's what I think he said!).

                  2. drmimi RE: david kaplan Aug 28, 2008 10:07 PM

                    From what I read and hear about slow food nation (listened to several interviews on KQED)...
                    The pompous and privileged "educating" the simple masses about what food is really about...AS IF
                    Major disconnect-- just another frivolous past time for those who want to feel superior and show how they are "in touch with the land."
                    I know so many working class and poor folks (especially of the 70+ age)-- that could teach some of these devotees about real slow food- the kind that grow in containers on fire escapes and in backyard gardens.
                    Just another bright and shiny "pruppie" (progressive yuppie) dynamic goin' on.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: drmimi
                      b
                      benjieats RE: drmimi Aug 28, 2008 10:25 PM

                      I really don't understand the huge backlash against this event. The people we buy cookbooks from and whose restaurants we dine in are now "pompous and privileged?" I don't get it.

                      Maybe this isn't the best analogy but how is this different from Macworld? A group of people trying to educate and excite others about a product or way of thinking.

                      1. re: drmimi
                        Shane Greenwood RE: drmimi Aug 28, 2008 10:38 PM

                        I bet some of those 70+ people you are talking about will be there to do exactly what you say. That's kind of the whole point of this event. I'm not sure what your complaint is or what the disconnect is.

                        1. re: drmimi
                          Robert Lauriston RE: drmimi Aug 29, 2008 08:54 AM

                          Seems to me from the topics of the panels and the ticket prices that it's more about educating the relatively privileged attendees to get more involved or become more effective in fighting to change the status quo of corporate farms, rubber supermarket tomatoes, and factory foods.

                          The movement started in Rome as a backlash against McDonald's. There's more to it than old hippies.

                        2. i
                          iwantmytwodollars RE: david kaplan Aug 29, 2008 12:26 AM

                          I heard from organizers that the pickle lady is the bomb and is THE GO-TO-SEE seminar speaker. Course her talk is sold out.

                          I live in Hayes Valley near Civic Center and think the Victory Garden is great, but I find it hilarious that they have hired security guards (I s*it you not) for the gardens. I'm wondering if the dudes who usually sleep in front of city hall were bribed with organic tomatoes to stay away or what.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: iwantmytwodollars
                            Ruth Lafler RE: iwantmytwodollars Aug 29, 2008 09:45 AM

                            Security guards? If they really want to be revolutionaries they should take a leaf from Abbie Hoffman and have signs saying "steal this vegetable"!

                            I was thinking about going, but then I realized I didn't know what to wear that wouldn't cause Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini to heap scorn on me. I will say, though, that being reminded of Victory Gardens has inspired me to grow more vegetables in my own back yard. You could probably feed America if you grew fruits and vegetables on half the area dedicated to lawns (not even including golf courses), with their massive water, fertilizer and upkeep requirements.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                              Xiao Yang RE: Ruth Lafler Aug 29, 2008 11:04 AM

                              You are absolutely right. When I was growing up, all the families in the neighborhood had back yard gardens long after victory was achieved, and our small plot provided all the vegetables a family of eight could consume during the months it flourished, with plenty of surplus for canning. In particular, the ugly tomatoes (which now would be called "heirloom" tomatoes) grew so prolifically that there was always a surplus of over-ripe specimens on the vine at the end of the summer for our highly anticipated tomato fights.

                              I was in Book Passage yesterday, and there was not one, but two books by individuals about their experience with growing "heirloom" tomatoes. What exciting reads they must be!

                          2. augustiner RE: david kaplan Aug 29, 2008 04:04 PM

                            i enjoyed my two hours at the civic center marketplace event today with a friend, even with its limited scope. i was mainly excited to have an excuse to break in my new bright as hell raspberry collapsable tote bag. with the lovely weather, it was easy not to feel snarky at the time, but in retrospect it felt like an expensive preview of a lot of what our farmer's markets already offer on a weekly basis.

                            for example, the fatted calf stand was only selling their italian sausage on a bun with grilled peppers. i paid too much ($6) for two delicious little bite-sized biscuits with heritage USA country ham slices and blackberry preserves: a scott peacock recipe. imperial tea court was selling "hand pulled noodles" but i skipped past the line and checked out what people were eating, and i question whether these were hand pulled. they looked kind of rough, but rather flat. hand-made, maybe, but...out the door had grilled pork bun cha, primavera offered "yucatecan tamales" and tlacoyos. however, i'm seriously irritated at them, because the tamales that i bought were NOT the ones advertised. they gave me pork instead of the one supposedly stuffed with pepitas and hard boiled eggs. maybe they sold out and simply neglected to tell me? or is this just an instance of the terrible service i've read about? i should've noticed right away, since these were not wrapped in banana leaves, but i didn't until i was on the BART. there were healthy lines for vik's, but i didn't check out their offerings.

                            the market was nice enough for picking up some fruits, and fresh soybeans! i won't really go into the different stands, since they're all pretty familiar. i definitely enjoyed the water stations on this lovely, sunny day, and the victory garden made me muse on how i spent an afternoon a couple years ago in that space indulging in questionable or even illegal activities for pride, and how that did not seem incongruous with this slow food event. san francisco....ah.

                            i don't know. as long as it's beautiful out, i say go check it out. you can spend as little money (or none, if you like), as opposed to the other events. if you don't live in the city though, i could see finding better ways to spend this weekend.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: augustiner
                              s
                              skimc RE: augustiner Aug 29, 2008 04:17 PM

                              I visited the market this morning and agree that it's probably not worth coming in from out of town or dealing with parking. I didn't get a chance to try any of the prepared food because I was there right at 9a and none were open. I was disappointed that the bread vendor wasn't there even by 10. I thought it was interesting that there were baskets of strawberries that were sold for $2 at one vendor, $3 at the next and $4 at the next. None were as good as the ones I buy at the Wed civic center market.
                              If you go early and are looking for a cup of joe, Blue Bottle is serving only New Orleans style iced coffee. One thing I couldn't pass up were the fresh peas and the smokey sauerkraut. I'll be going to taste pavillions tomorrow so I figure I'll be able to get a lot of the other things for "free".

                            2. f
                              Fine RE: david kaplan Aug 29, 2008 08:37 PM

                              I've been checking the site for many weeks. We originally planned to go to the tasting pavillions but decided it was more than likely there would be long lines for each one.

                              I was completely shocked yesterday to receive an email saying those who had paid $65 for the highly touted tastes would be limited to a TOTAL of 20 tastes. Talk about bait and switch!

                              Here's the exact paragraph pasted from the email, errors and all.

                              "Those of you attending the Taste Pavilions will receive a Slow Dough
                              card once you turn in your ticket. Slow Dough are the currency of the
                              Taste Pavilions – they can be “spent” throughout the Pavilions on
                              tastes of food and drink. Given the limited quantities and the rarity
                              of many of the products featured, Slow Food Nation developed Slow
                              Dough to minimize waste and assist our producers and partner in
                              accurately preparing sufficient quantities of food and drink for the
                              Pavilions. Slow Dough are printed cards that is used to “purchase”
                              tastes within the Taste Pavilions. When you enter Pavilions with your
                              ticket, you get 20 Dough. Every taste costs either one or two Dough,
                              and your Dough card is enough to taste something from each and every
                              Taste Pavilions. Once you’ve used your first dough card, you can
                              purchase additional Dough with cash, check or a credit card at two
                              sales points at the Pavilions. Extra Dough cards have five Dough each
                              on them and cost $10. When you purchase extra Dough, you will need to
                              show your spent Dough card as proof of purchase."

                              It's my very strong suspicion that the folks putting this together (whom I already suspected of more enthusiasm and good intentions than competence from previous communications) oversold and panicked.

                              There was absolutely no hint in the earlier material that one would not get to taste one of each item offered--however many varieties of pickles, breads, etc. Indeed, quite the opposite.

                              I will be fascinated to see if others feel as ripped off as I would have if I'd purchased a nonrefundable ticket then found the rules had been dramatically altered. Food fights? I hope no riots.

                              My interest in this entire event is/was far more philosophical than food oriented. I'm passionate about organics and sustainability (and ironically the first two days of events were Spare the Air Days!). My impression at the MexicoDF dinner was that most of my tablemates were more interested in the "foodie" aspects of the weekend than those principles, but one hopes some of the planet-friendly parts will rub off.

                              40 Replies
                              1. re: Fine
                                d
                                david kaplan RE: Fine Aug 30, 2008 07:48 AM

                                Further evidence of panic? Volunteers have been told not to eat anything at the taste pavilions and either go buy food (at Civic Center) or get a snack offered by Whole Foods "as available." Food from the taste partners at the pavilions "are intended for our paying guests and we will run out."

                                1. re: david kaplan
                                  e
                                  Earl Grey RE: david kaplan Sep 1, 2008 09:23 AM

                                  I assume the "taste partners" had to pay to be there and supply the masses. Or did Slow Food pay for the tastes?

                                  1. re: david kaplan
                                    RWCFoodie RE: david kaplan Sep 1, 2008 11:36 AM

                                    I can tell you that the workers at the pizza venue at the Taste Pavillions were eating the sausage and rapini pizza - I saw this as I was told that they had run out just as we finally reached that point after standing in the line for at least half an hour...

                                  2. re: Fine
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Fine Aug 30, 2008 10:20 AM

                                    Wow, sounds like the really hot ticket was last night's preview.

                                    1. re: Fine
                                      aadesmd RE: Fine Sep 1, 2008 10:36 AM

                                      As per my other note, which was written at a time after feeling violated, I think again that the entire taste pavillion event hurt the movement far more than the money generated helped it.

                                      1. re: aadesmd
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: aadesmd Sep 1, 2008 10:44 AM

                                        How is giving slow-food enthusiasts a chance to taste a lot of sustainable / artisanal / endangered foods hurting anybody?

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          Ruth Lafler RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 1, 2008 11:34 AM

                                          Aadesmd said "hurt the movement" -- I can see lots of ways it could hurt the movement. For one thing, the price for the taste pavilions was exclusionary. Basically, the only people who could afford it and who would want to spend that kind of money on it are people who are already interested in and familiar with the movement and with artisanal foods, although perhaps not all of the specific producers in the pavilions. For another, the poor organization -- the last-minute announcement that tastes would be limited, the long lines, the purveyors running out of or rationing their wares -- caused resentment among people who were otherwise supportive of the movement.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                            Robert Lauriston RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 1, 2008 02:02 PM

                                            It would be very hard to get people who aren't interested in that sort of thing to go regardless of price, and at a lower price the tickets would have sold out to those interested even faster.

                                            The Civic Center event was free, and for the Taste Pavilions they had "scholarship" tickets for students, community activists, farmers, chefs and artisans.

                                            Poor execution, well, this was a first-time event, I think most supporters will cut them some slack. I'm surprised it came off as well as it did.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              aadesmd RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 1, 2008 02:43 PM

                                              I find your response rather haughty. I only attended the Fort Mason tasting, and so I cannot comment on the other venues. In talking to the few people who were volunteers for the movement, few got free tickets, and two told me that they were not to partake in the food. The explication of foods, nearly missing from the cheese and beer section, was overwrought and overbearing in the coffee section. Too many tickets were sold, and now, from what I understand, little of this money will ever provide for sustainable agriculture or scholarships.

                                              This was simply not "poor execution". This was a fraud in the name of a movement that deserves every bit of support we can muster.

                                              Also, to limit the event to 10 tastes, if one is lucky, was also a fraud.

                                              I hope the movement realizes what they accomplished- nothing or worse- and truly hope they get it right the next time.

                                              I thought the whole point of the movement was not to preach to the choir. In this case, they disbanded the choir.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                Ruth Lafler RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 1, 2008 03:17 PM

                                                The Civic Center event was basically a glorified farmers market: you could walk around free, but you had to buy anything you were interested in. Really, not significantly different from Ferry Plaza, although I bet Ferry Plaza gives more free samples. In fact, a poster above said ot felt like "an expensive preview of a lot of what our farmer's markets already offer on a weekly basis."

                                                The taste pavilions had a limited number of tickets and they knew they'd sold out, so they knew exactly how many people were going to be there. If they couldn't figure out how to deal with a crowd of a known size, then I don't have much respect for their ability to run any kind of organization or movement.

                                                Really, the only part of the event that seems like it was worthwhile to the community rather than a ticketed few was the Victory Garden, which I have to admit was a cool idea.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                  f
                                                  Fine RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 1, 2008 04:35 PM

                                                  Visited Victory Garden yesterday and really dug it (sorry). Beautiful day, beautiful garden.

                                                  As a backyard gardener, I did have one quibble: Few plants were labeled beyond a generic name, e.g., "broccoli," though we would have loved knowing varietal names.

                                                  I kept saying that, for the first time in a long time, I was proud of SF getting something right! (I sound like Michelle Obama.)

                                                  Virtually every stand seemed to be offering samples (for health reasons I won't accept tastes unless they're doled out the way the--great--sauerkraut was).

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                    Alice Q RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 2, 2008 12:16 AM

                                                    I think the Civic Center market was intended to be an exemplar of a farmers market for visitors to the event - some of whom may have never shopped in one. I'm not sure why you are criticizing that? Do you think they should they have skipped it altogether? Given away the produce for free? I don't get it.

                                                    I don't believe they knew they would sell out of Taste Pavilion tickets - they gave free tickets to press, including bloggers - so obviously they thought they had plenty ;-) They handled the crowds just fine, and I personally didn't encounter any shortages of food - it was a little hectic and a little overwhelming, and the lines were sort of annoying - but if anything it was just a victim of it's own success in that regard. The coffee station was fascinating, and they didn't charge anything for coffee or espresso samples (they didn't punch cards) so I don't see how anyone can complain about that!

                                                    Not sure what you mean by the "ticketed few" - anyone could buy tickets if they went on line and hit purchase. Lectures were $20. and workshops were $10. The meals at the Slow on the Go in the Civic Center were under $10. for some excellent food, and the market was selling fantastic produce and local products at the same price as any other market. The garden was indeed beautiful, and I think the designers of all of the displays, etc. did a fantastic job. Thegarden will be around until November. It won't quite be the same without all the activity on either side - but it's still worth seeing.

                                                    1. re: Alice Q
                                                      k
                                                      Karen_Schaffer RE: Alice Q Sep 2, 2008 07:23 AM

                                                      It would be great if the garden is around until November, but one of the garden volunteers told me that they had to be out of there in 2 weeks, that that's all the longer they had a permit for. That will be a shame because much of the produce won't be mature by then. Though I realize the point of the garden was more demonstration of concept than production of food. I'll be curious to see what happens.

                                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                        Alice Q RE: Karen_Schaffer Sep 2, 2008 08:56 AM

                                                        This is what I'm basing it on -

                                                        http://slowfoodnation.org/blog/2008/0...

                                                        also - check this out - http://slowfoodnation.org/blog/2008/0...

                                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                          Xiao Yang RE: Karen_Schaffer Sep 2, 2008 09:21 AM

                                                          Those who have lived so sheltered a life that they have never seen a vegetable plot can benefit from the resources of Alemany Farm.

                                                          http://www.alemanyfarm.org/

                                                        2. re: Alice Q
                                                          Xiao Yang RE: Alice Q Sep 2, 2008 09:14 AM

                                                          "I think the Civic Center market was intended to be an exemplar of a farmers market for visitors to the event - some of whom may have never shopped in one"

                                                          I can't believe that people attracted to the even have never shopped in a farmers' market. Not to mention that there's been a twice-a-week famers' market across the street from the site for many years.

                                                          1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                            Alice Q RE: Xiao Yang Sep 2, 2008 09:50 AM

                                                            What's the point of making a bunch of snotty comments when you weren't even there? You act like the only people who attended were from San Francisco, which is not, in fact true. Even so, lots of kids, young adults, etc. from around the area were also there, and the educational aspects are intended to motivate them to commit to farmers market shopping and conservation. Lots of people wandered by the Civic Center, and stopped in - maybe their minds were changed or they were influenced. Not everyone in SF is a die hard environmentally conscious foodie.

                                                            Alemany farm is great - but it's not in the middle of the City of San Francisco where everyone will see it. The Victory Garden is.

                                                          2. re: Alice Q
                                                            Ruth Lafler RE: Alice Q Sep 2, 2008 10:20 AM

                                                            I guess my issue with the Civic Center market is, why have an exemplar of a farmers' market when we already have real farmers' markets? You think anyone who was going to come to a Slow Food event has never been to a farmers' market? Ferry Plaza is just down the street, and the Civic Center farmers' market is just across the street. It's a little patronizing, almost insulting, to suggest that people in the Bay Area need to have their hands held to experience a farmers' market. Why not just point people to the real thing, especially since on Sunday it was going on right there? If they wanted to make sure visitors got to experience them, they could have worked with the existing markets to extend their hours, instead of setting up a competing market.

                                                            I can see having an "exemplar" farmers' market in a part of the country where they aren't already ubiquitous, but in San Francisco they're old hat, not educational or in any way novel. In addition, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini was really snotty about the Ferry Plaza market, so it's a little hypocritical for them to set one up and bring in many of the same vendors.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 2, 2008 10:29 AM

                                                              They got vendors from 29 counties around the state, so it wasn't like any regular market.

                                                              The intent is discussed at some length in the press release:

                                                              http://slowfoodnation.org/press/press...

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                celeste RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 3, 2008 01:48 PM

                                                                I went to the market on Sunday. I really enjoyed myself and sampled many many things for free and had great interactions and conversations with the producers. More sampling than I usually can at the Ferry Plaza for sure, especially of prepared products. Many of my favorite items from sampling on Sunday are not available at local farmer's markets and exposed me to several new producers of foods that I look forward to enjoying in the future. And it was free!!

                                                                I also did one of the all-day Slow Food Journeys on Monday to the grass fed dairies in Merced with a Joel Salatin talk afterwards in Turlock. The docent and hosts were wonderful and it was a day well worth the money. I would say over half the people on the bus to Merced were not from San Francisco and seemed pretty thrilled with the experience.

                                                            2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                              Melanie Wong RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 3, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                              I bet Ferry Plaza gives more free samples. In fact, a poster above said ot felt like "an expensive preview of a lot of what our farmer's markets already offer on a weekly basis."

                                                              * * *

                                                              I don't believe either statement to be true other than to the extent that the market offered seasonal produce --- peaches, strawberries --- that are readily available in Calif now. The majority of vendors do not sell at the SF farmers markets.

                                                              If you expect perfection in organization, then you'd better not attend any of the many food and wine events available in our area. None are crisply managed, but they're better in that respect than the ones I've been to in Europe and London by far. The food and beverage industry is not known for great project management. This one sounds like par for the course . . . but with better and more unusual food that hopefully compensates. To me, it actually sounds like things ran more smoothly than I would have expected from Slow Food.

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                JasmineG RE: Melanie Wong Sep 3, 2008 02:45 PM

                                                                Agreed -- I went to the Civic Center event on Saturday, and was impressed by the wide variety of producers who were there, ones that I don't see in the markets that I go to every day. I tasted products and picked up business cards and information for a few different vendors that I hadn't known about, and am no on the mailing lists for a few. I'll also say that all of the vendors who were there seemed delighted to talk to people about their products. I got there relatively late (around 2pm), and while a few things were sold out for the food lines, most everything that I wanted was still around (those Bi-Rite popsicles certainly hit the spot). I also really loved the Victory Garden, and am thrilled that it will be around until November.

                                                            3. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                              y
                                                              yellojello RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 1, 2008 03:18 PM

                                                              I agree - cut them some slack! For a first time event things went very well I thought.

                                                              We arrived at the Taste Pavillion at last evening, to greet a huge line. We were initially irritated but it moved very quickly. Inside we found the same - the lines were often long but generally moved very quickly. The people working at the tasting sites were also mostly very friendly, helpful, and engaging, even though clearly tired out after the weekend. We also met lots of random people enjoying themselves at the different seating areas, which is always cool.

                                                              We were also initially annoyed after paying the hefty ticket price that our tastings would be limited - but found this was not a problem in the least. In fact we couldn't make it through them all, because we were getting so many "free" aka non-marked tastings. In part this may have been since we were in the last slot - but in talking to friends this happened throughout the weekend too, a free beer here or there, extra cheeses, an extra slice of so and so.

                                                              There were glitches, running out of things by the end, sometimes awkward positioning, and, sure, could have used less lines, etc. But by and large, one of the smoothest festivals I've been to, and very impressive for a first time. Would have been nice to have the price lower, but a fun and unique event, so worth it, at least in my mind. So I think the complainers, with all due respect, need to acknowledge that sure, a few things were off, but mostly fun and interesting and raising great national awareness (a story on Marketplace on NPR last week, for instance), and should stop their griping. Just my two cents, thanks...

                                                              1. re: yellojello
                                                                free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: yellojello Sep 1, 2008 04:29 PM

                                                                yellojello, I agree with your assessment. I went to the taste pavilions too I had the same misgivings about the slow dough, lines and the potential of food running out. However, I am an old pro at events like these (hence my handle) so I arrived an 1/2 hr early so the lines I did encounter weren't bad and like yourself the people I found plenty of people in the seating areas having a good time and I left with the same overall observations. Did anyone attend the concerts? The concert tickets seemed steep but it lasted from 11-5:30 IMHO if the line up of performers is to your liking then compared to other outdoor music events it was a pretty good value.

                                                                Next year, I'll avoid the victory garden/marketplace and opt to spend my $ on a workshop and the taste pavilion.

                                                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                                                  r
                                                                  Rapini RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Sep 1, 2008 06:48 PM

                                                                  I went to the Saturday concert, but not in time for the first two acts...The remaining three--New Pornographers, Ozamatl, and Gnarls Barkley were all outstanding...my only qualm: New Pornographers and Ozamatl were given 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 for their sets, but Gnarls B was scheduled for only an hour---he played about 45 minutes, left, but used the balance of the time for an encore...

                                                                  The concerts were well received, but under-attended...I think the line-up of groups didn't match up with the demographic for the Slow Food event itself--i.e., bands skewed younger than the age of the foodie attendees...also, after the recent Outside Lands, and people out of town for Burning Person, they may just have run out of people...

                                                                  Any reports on Sunday?

                                                                  1. re: Rapini
                                                                    Xiao Yang RE: Rapini Sep 1, 2008 07:21 PM

                                                                    I don't see any connection at all between the rock concerts and the rest of the event, other than to make a few bucks. If the concerts appealed to the same demographic as the food component, they would have siphoned off part of the market, anyway. It was an easy add-in, since it was done by a turnkey festival promoter, but one has to wonder how much of a cut SFN got.

                                                            4. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                              Alice Q RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 2, 2008 12:28 AM

                                                              $65.00 is not exorbitant for a tasting event, by any means - especially a fundraiser. Yes, it is exclusionary - it excludes people who didn't want to buy tickets! Not to be a smart ass, but really - I don't know what people expected. I have my own issues with the event - but I can't complain that it was outrageously overpriced.

                                                              I don't think there was any widespread resentment caused by the inconveniences associated with waiting for samples, etc. I certainly didn't see any evidence that people were leaving the movement in droves. If they did, I'd have to question their commitment in the first place.

                                                              The idea that something like this "hurts" the movement is a reactionary overstatement. Part of Slow Food's mission is to promote food as a craft, and to promote enjoyment of artisanal foods and products made by people who deserve to be paid a living wage. Critics seem to forget that people make this food - it's their business and how they make their living. Would you have that die out? Or do you think it's ok for people who can afford it to enjoy it, and have some of the money go to a good cause while they're at it?

                                                              The Slow Dough cards were a little bit of a hassle, and kind of stupid IMO since there were such long lines for everything - but they allowed 20 tastes, and personally I didn't know of anyone who used all of theirs. People were passing them along to others to use up, and offering them to others when they left - so I really don't think anyone suffered as a result of the limits.

                                                              1. re: Alice Q
                                                                Ruth Lafler RE: Alice Q Sep 2, 2008 10:27 AM

                                                                It was exclusionary in that the minimum price was $65 -- that's way beyond my budget, especially these days, and I'm what you'd call "middle income." If they were going to use "Slow Dough" anyway, they could have had a much lower entry fee and then had people buy as many (or as few) tastes as they wanted.

                                                                I have no problem with people getting paid a fair amount for what they produce -- that's why I'm a long-time supporter of farmers' markets and artisanal products. I don't need Slow Food to pat me on the head and explain it to me.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                  Cookanddog RE: Ruth Lafler Sep 2, 2008 10:07 PM

                                                                  I work at a farmers market booth and every week we have a lady who comes by, asks how much something is and then tells us she can get it cheaper at Safeway. You probably can, but its not as fresh, not organic and not from 2 miles away.

                                                                  My point being that there are sacrifices to eating "slow food." Yes, it generally costs more money, if it were cheaper, it would be the way we ate all the time. There have to be sacrifices. Turn off your cable, give up your blackberry, make your own coffee, drive a smaller car, walk more, we can all sacrifice something if something is important to us.

                                                                  I understand that $65 is alot for this event but if you ate out two less nights in the next month, there you have it, plus the money would be going to support a cause.

                                                                  1. re: Cookanddog
                                                                    e
                                                                    Earl Grey RE: Cookanddog Sep 3, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                                    What is the cause it supports? Italian wine trade shows like the Golden Glass?

                                                                    1. re: Earl Grey
                                                                      Cookanddog RE: Earl Grey Sep 3, 2008 05:33 PM

                                                                      I assume you are being sarcastic but I didn't visit the wine booth and have no idea what the Golden Glass is. I went to the event to sample artisan products that were produced by small companies or restaurants and need the additional consumer support.

                                                                      The event is put on to support local or artisan producers so people can understand the alternative options to their every day purchases. If you think this event was put on to make money, you are sorely mistaken.

                                                                      1. re: Cookanddog
                                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Cookanddog Sep 3, 2008 05:47 PM

                                                                        Few of the people who attended the Taste Pavilions needed much education on that score!

                                                                        The purposes of Slow Food Nation probably best summarized in the initial press release as to "build momentum and demand for an American food system that is safer, healthier and more socially just."

                                                                      2. re: Earl Grey
                                                                        s
                                                                        SteveG RE: Earl Grey Sep 4, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                                        >trade shows like the Golden Glass?

                                                                        1) Producers who poured at Golden Glass paid $600 to take part in the event
                                                                        2) Producers who poured provided their own wine and airfare (minimum of 18 bottles per the producer application)
                                                                        3) Golden Glass was billed as a fundraiser for Slow Food Nation, but based on the ticket price it couldn't have raised much money. The similarly sized Family Winemakers tasting in the same venue for a similar ticket price is a money loser that is subsidized by the winery dues to the organization. I know this because my parents own and operate a family winery that is part of the organization.

                                                                        I know people think $60 bucks for a ticket to a tasting event is expensive, but I can assure you that the location fee, insurance, organization overhead for ticket sales, setup, storage between event days, cleanup, and staff during the event itself to keep the venue clean, dump buckets emptied, water pitchers filled, and security to keep drunks from falling in the bay all adds up really quickly. To me, the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines is well worth the entrance cost, especially if it means I can easily compare wines from similar types of producers or regions.

                                                                        1. re: SteveG
                                                                          e
                                                                          Earl Grey RE: SteveG Sep 4, 2008 09:17 PM

                                                                          I just asked where the money goes, which is a valid question considering all the volunteers and corporate sponsors and how expensive everything SF does seems to be.

                                                                          I was poking fun at the Golden Glass because for the life of me, I don't see how an all-Italian wine expo helps spread the word about local, sustainable food. It's why Slow Food has the rep it does. I don't know about the Family WInemakers event but it sounds like it makes more sense.

                                                                      3. re: Cookanddog
                                                                        swag RE: Cookanddog Sep 4, 2008 10:11 AM

                                                                        The problem is that people don't know the shortcuts they're making with buying cheap at Safeway. We're so disconnected with our food production that price often becomes the only differentiator for some folks, because they're unaware of the artificial and questionably ethical tradeoffs being made in the name of cheap food. Just as we don't know the same about cheap fuel, but the reality is finally coming home to roost.

                                                                        And anyone who complains about the $65 entrance fee for a non-profit because they're expecting some all-you-can-eat Sizzler really has no clue.

                                                                        1. re: swag
                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: swag Sep 4, 2008 10:19 AM

                                                                          I doubt many of the people who went to SFN events do much of their shopping at Safeway.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            JasmineG RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2008 01:33 PM

                                                                            Why do you doubt that? Not everyone who enjoys these kinds of events is someone who has completely bought into the ideals of Slow Food, and does all of their shopping at farmer's markets and Berkeley Bowl and Rainbow. There are plenty of people who are intruiged by the idea of tasting from lots of small producers and seeing what there is, but who still do their grocery shopping in the way that the vast majority of Americans (and even Northern Californians) do their shopping.

                                                                            1. re: JasmineG
                                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: JasmineG Sep 4, 2008 03:53 PM

                                                                              The events sold out so quickly that it's hard for me to believe that many people other than serious foodies had a chance to buy tickets.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                JasmineG RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 4, 2008 08:45 PM

                                                                                The events didn't sell out that quickly, there were a number of events that were still open into the weekend. And there are a lot of people who consider themselves to be serious foodies, who love to go out to eat, etc, but who still do their personal shopping at Safeway. Shopping at Safeway is easier and more convenient to a lot of people, and in the end, that's often how people make their shopping decisions.

                                                                              2. re: JasmineG
                                                                                Xiao Yang RE: JasmineG Sep 4, 2008 06:59 PM

                                                                                The thing that keeps food-aware shoppers going to Safeway is pricing, and someone who would drop $65 on a Taste Pavilion ticket obviously doesn't have that constraint.

                                                                                In any event, in this day of Big Organics, Safeway is well on its way to having as many organic lines as the likes of WF, for what that's worth. Food aside, Safeway is also more PC than WF. Rainbow is another matter, however.

                                                                                I'll leave Berkeley Bowl to the Berkeleyans. In my Berkeley years, we had the Berkeley Food Conspiracy, and residents of University Village (which my wife and I were) had free garden plots in a University-owned tract next to Albany Village for growing our own. They were both obvious practical solutions to student poverty, not a stroke of brilliance from some academic foodies.

                                                            5. Robert Lauriston RE: david kaplan Sep 3, 2008 09:22 AM

                                                              The Chronicle's Inside Scoop column today has a brief interview with the event's director.

                                                              The widespread assumption that Slow Food Nation was a fundraiser is incorrect. The event cost $1.8 million and ticket sales recouped only a third of that.

                                                              http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

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