Picks and Pans from Outside Lands 2011
There were too many vendors and not enough time for anyone to take in and review all the food options at Outside Lands 2011. So lets take a team approach to the task. What were your favorite tastes of the festival? How did it compare to previous festivals. What did the organizers do well and what improvements would you suggest?
My personal favorite was the sweet potato fries from Pacific Catch. Nice and fresh and crunchy with great dipping sauces (wasabi ginger aioli and sweet chili). I loved Memphis Minnies - for me it was just as good as at the restaurant and I had a good time chatting with the owner. We also had a peanut butter/candied bacon/chocolate/caramel thing from a place in ChocoLands, which was tasty but very rich, we only finished half the plate. The bacon was way too sweet to balance out the sweetness of everything else, I would rather have just had regular bacon or none at all.
The BF was also disappointed by the falafel shawarma cone - when we saw that we decided we had to try it for novelty alone, but it really didn't live up to expectations.
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while a "no sysco" rule wouldn't quite work , it was really disappointing to see Straw and Q selling tater tots that were being fried right out of the frozen cardboard boxes they came in - the whole point of inviting all of these restaurants to do the food is to give concertgoers an improvement over typical festival food.
the little chiuhaha burrito was pretty refreshing. disappointed in falafel sno cone (too weird, skimpy portion) from straw and the po' boy from criolla kitchen (unbalanced, too much lettuce), although their gumbo was good
Yeah, the tater tots were a dissonant note. I thought maybe they were some gourmet re-invention of the original, but no. I also had a Sysco letdown in the form of a generic pulled pork sandwhich from the vendor by the Sutro stage. Definitely the loser in my pork sandwich sampling.
Friday night, in the fog, Memphis Minnie's brisket plate with their mustard sauce on the side was the winner in my sampling. It was a tad less smoky than what I'm used to from the restaurant - not sure if that was just normal variability or some difference with the way they served the festival - but it was actually welcome to my palate. That sent me on a pork sandwich binge in which Maverick's came in a close second. Nice tangy crunchy slaw on a nice bun. Flour & Water's nascent Salemeria offered a porchetta sandwich that was tasty, but needed something - more crunch? more sauce? - to offset the lardiness. Rosamunde's beer sausage was a better fit for "festival food", perfect with a large beer -- too bad it had to be Heineken.
Wine Lands was a fun idea. I liked that K&L offered different pours on different days. Would have been nice to have a few choices of bubbly - the Gloria Ferrer brut was a nice way to start the day's drinking. My favorite acts were mostly playing on the Twin Peaks and Pandhandle stages, so the Wine Lands tent was convenient too. Frankly, being on the older end of the festival demographics, Wine Land drew more of my "tribe", plus it was nice to have some shade every now and then.
As for problems, I entered the festival on Friday headed to Speedway Meadows and walked through Choco Land and the Mission -- and the smell of manure was really offputting. If I had paid good rent to set up shop there I would have been pretty pissed. As it was I avoided that part of the festival and as a result missed some good trucks. Oh well. I did not go hungry, that's for sure.
My favorite were the Arepas which coincidently were the most overpriced. 9 bucks. The sweet potato tater tots were a big letdown as were the shwarma cones. Wish I'd tried the BBQ. The Flying Saucer desert was a little over the top but at least I was moving around and burned off a few calories.
I really think the food trucks should have been placed around the track of the Polo Fields. They were getting business up in the trees but it was kind of isolated.