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Chowing Down at 2010 Eat Real Fest in Oakland

This year's Eat Real Fest at Jack London Square in Oakland kicked off a few minutes ago and continues through Sunday. Chowhounds will be there in force, so I wanted to start off this topic so that we can swap tips and reports. Please chime in with your top picks and pans.

An earlier advice thread for tackling the weekend, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/728691.

The link to the festival site map that "betterbeheaven" provided shows which vendors are participating each day and how to find them.
http://eatrealfest.com/medias/docs/10...

Chow's suggestions, http://www.chow.com/digest/57666/what...

Tonight's Lit Fest features chowpals David Boyk, Chez Pim, and others talking about street food experiences from 7 to 9pm.

The organizers' twitterfeed is posting updates, http://twitter.com/eatrealfest. E.g., 51st State and Le Truc will not be there today but will show up on Saturday and Sunday. And the twitterverse is using the hash tag #erf2010 to track tweets.

Ok, I'm off to Oakland, see you there!

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Jack London Square
70 Washington St # 207, Oakland, CA

51st State
, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I talked to the BBQ guys, Jim n Nick's, and they handed me a piece of hickory smoked crackling.
    http://twitpic.com/2irqtx

    Loved salted caramel ice cream, nitrogen frozen on the spot. As good as the buzz.

    Delicias Elenitas truck excited to be here from Santa Rosa.

    Venga Paella, very good rice texture. Preferred seafood version to meated.

    Enjoyed macadamia nut gelato from Noci.

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    Venga Paella
    453 66th Street, C Oakland, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I emphatically second the Jim n Nick's BBQ guys. They are here from Denver, I think? Great pink smoke rings on the pork; even the corn was tasty. Hands down our fav from Friday.
      Also loved Chairman Bao's pork bellly buns (other flavors were good too).

      Can't wait for tomorrow to see all the trucks that aren't there today.

      1. re: chickenluv

        Jim n Nick's is based in Alabama, but i believe there are a couple branches in Colorado. The staff manning the rig and sales counter came from several different locations (Atlanta, Memphis). Pulled pork was a little dry, looked like they tried to include some of the coarser dry meat with the smoother, dark parts. The roasted corn was great. The butter used to swab it had a little bit of smoky bbq sauce in it, I think, as well. I liked both the original and the habanero sauces.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

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        Jim 'n Nick's Bbq and Catering
        1810 Montgomery Hwy S, Birmingham, AL 35244

        Smitten Ice Cream
        Octavia Blvd Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2. re: Melanie Wong

        Where did you get the salted caramel ice cream? I had a hot link and pimento cheese from Jimn Nicks, good link and my first experience with pimento cheese, very tasty. I also had a cochinita pibil taco from Chaac Mool (great tortillas, oh wow), a paneer tikka masala burrito from the Curry Up Truck (interesting, good quality paneer, but I'm not dying to go back for more), some sour cherry ice cream and a mint chip ice cream sandwich from Ici. I wanted Chairman Bao but the line was crazy, so after waiting in it for a while we left. I'm excited to try more places this weekend.

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        Chairman Bao
        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        Chaac Mool
        Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1. re: JasmineG

          I wasn't willing to wait in the Chairman Bao line even when it was shorter. The chef who started it left last week, so I'm wondering if quality has changed.
          http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

          Salted caramel ice cream from Smitten was a whole new kind of ice cream experience. While I was miffed that some of the vendors who were supposed to be there on friday and had figured into my plans to start off early, Smitten was only there yesterday and made up for the loss of the others. Here's the liquid nitrogen equipment used to make the ice cream on the spot.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

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          Chairman Bao
          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          I was there early, as in out of there by 6:30, and the lines weren't so bad. I think if I'm working Fridays this time next year, I feel a sick day coming on.

          I got in and out of Chairman Bao in 15 minutes before it exploded into Trendyville. The pork belly bao was definitely good, but then, how do you go wrong with pork belly? $3.50.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692... (sorry, shadowy pic

          )

          Next up, the Maui Taco from Taco Guys: cod, pickled onions, slaw, pico de gallo, sriracha mayo. I enjoyed Ensenada-style fish tacos during my time in LA and I enjoyed this more upscale version, too. The fish preparation seemed more lightly fried, and the portion was more manageable for a day of grazing. And I looove pickled onions! $3. (A readjustment for me in comparison to the Mexican tacos I usually eat!)
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          Then I hit Hapa SF and got some lumpia. I'm only recently getting familiar with Filipino fare and I'd never had lumpia before, but I was intrigued by the posted review where someone called Hapa's the best they've had here. (Presumably "here" meaning the US or the Bay Area.) They hit the spot with either dipping sauce provided on the table. Mixing the sauces together worked, too. $3.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          I was feeling pretty full at this point, and I'm not big on sweets, so I was all set to leave without any ice cream when I passed the goat cheese ice cream people and they selling ice cream sandwiches. Okay, I haven't had an ice cream sandwich in years. It was tiny, which was actually perfect at that moment. It was mellower than the ice cream sandwiches of my youth, but I don't know if that was due to the goat's milk or fresher, better ingredients and/or less sugar than the mass-market stuff. $1.50.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          In short, a successful first day. I need to fast before returning on Sunday so I have more belly room! I'd return to any of those trucks again if I saw them out and about, though I'm not big on sweets so I'm not sure when I'll need another ice cream sandwich this decade.

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          Chairman Bao
          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        3. was there at 2ish. lines not too long.
          foodnotes:
          -delicias elenitas: al pastor chicken & beef taco (1.50) had spicy sauce, dry meat
          -ici : not impressed with flavors, sorbet was my favorite (3.85/2 scoops)
          -scream sorbet: phenom pistachio & melon flavors (5/2 scoops)
          -hapa : sisig taco, fresh tasting meat. only taco truck i saw grilling in the back. $4 though.
          -kung fu taco :nun chuk chicken taco(3): chicken had a little taste, mostly dry
          *sells simply mochi: peanut butter with chocolate (2/3) ok for mochi lovers.
          -whole foods : "hamachi ceviche(3)lots of fish, not so tasty but worth it.
          -let's be frank: pc correct dog (5): bland, should have gotten the spicy.

          1. I actually didn't care for the paellas. They were okay, but a little bland, I thought and the flavors hadn't really come together. Not something I would get again.

            Tacoguys -- Kurobuta pork chile verde taco -- it was a very good taco, but not much chile verde about it. The fish taco was also excellent.

            I liked the lumpia from the HapaSF truck, although I would have missed the sauces if Celery hadn't gone and brought some back.

            Ice cream/sorbet:
            Smitten -- salted caramel with almond brittle was worth the wait
            Noci -- macadamia nut gelato was smooth and delicious; the lime-ginger sorbet was refreshing but the ginger was barely discernible
            Nieves Cinco de Mayo -- I love the purity of their flavors, in this case the yerba buena and the curdled milk
            Scream sorbet -- we were trying to concentrate on the places we don't have access to regularly, but I couldn't resist the Scream nectarine sorbet, which tastes like they pureed a nectarine and froze it (only better); the pistachio is also outstanding

            Chaac-Mool -- conchinita pibil, like the Tacoguys chile verde taco, was deliciously moist and porky but was light on the anchiote and completely missing the vegetal flavors from being cooked in banana leaves that I think are distinctive about this dish. The thick handmade tortillas were delicious.

            The lines at the Chairman Bao truck were ridiculous!

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            Nieves Cinco de Mayo
            3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

            Chairman Bao
            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

            1. back from saturday visit. highlights:
              dim sum truck (Tru Gourmet) all very tasty, although preferred the baked bun to the steamed one.
              empanadas by Primo's Parilla - the beef one was pretty killer. moist. buttery crust. Yum. COuld use a little more cumin, but otherwise perfect. Tried the steak too (ribeye); good quality meat and nice cooking, too bad they forgot the salt :(.

              Went to Chop first given all of the hype from last year... not impressed (lacked seasoning, skin not crispy, just not interesting given all the smoky porky BBQ available elsewhere). Maybe I am missing something?

              Line for Gerard's Paella was ridic.

              Overheard someone talking about mac-n-cheese... anyone see that?

              3 Replies
              1. re: chickenluv

                I am so living vicariously through this thread. Smitten is on my list! mariacarmen told me she was working at the mac'n'cheese stand -- it is a friend of hers who is opening a new resto in November called Home Run. I'm really hoping it will be ready in time for our trip.

                1. re: chickenluv

                  Mac and cheese was from Homeroom, they were up by where the Barnes and Noble used to be.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Oops, silly brainf*rt, typing Home Run instead of Homeroom. And I don't even watch baseball! Did you try it, Jasmine?

                2. I went to day around 11:45 and some lines were just nuts, like the paella and the chowder truck (waited 10 mins but decided to bail on it...very slow moving). Other lines were fine. I had Jim n Nick's pull pork slider which was good...and a good value w/ the piece of corn, zero wait. Also had the 4505 burger...excellent, looked like 1/4 lb, med-rate and no line. Finally had their chicharrones...not to my liking, was too similar to shrimp chips to me.