Eat Real Festival 2011
I'm surprised not to see any posts on ERF 2011 yet. Did people go/are they going? Any favorite items?
I went last night and today, and while it was fun, I think the festival was better last year. They cut from 90 vendors last year down to 60, which they say is to cut down on how crazy it can get, but to me, that just made the event less rich and diverse. Maybe it's because I've tried many more of these vendors over the past year, but I remember being more excited about the array of offerings last year than this year.
None of the lines were absurdly long besides the Chairman Bao line.
I found Jim 'N Nick's quite disappointing compared to last year. The corn was delicious, but neither the beef nor the pork sliders had great flavor. Chop Bar roasted with three pigs this year; $5 got you a rather small chunk of pork with a similarly small piece of cornbread. Liked it better last year when they butchered it more nicely (thinner slices rather than a chunk) and served it with pita bread.
Despite this, I had a good time. There were some nice presentations and DIY opportunities. Starter Bakery offered a pie dough workshop, where participants all got to make their own mini apple pie and take it home (or bake it on the spot). I also liked Vesta Flatbread's grilled chicken with harissa flatbread.
I went to Eat Real last year and the year before, and I think last year was much better. The lines were much longer this year, and there didn't seem to be as much variety. I got there around 12:30pm or so today and there were long lines everywhere...the worst I saw were for Sam's Chowder mobile (it was pretty cold, so I imagine that soup was a hit), Chairman Bao, Seoul on Wheels, and Señor Sisig. Even Curry Up Now, which was pretty quick last year had a line pretty much the whole time we were there.
I dunno if it was me, but the prices seemed a lot higher this year too...probably because they knew people would line up anyway ($5 for 5 pieces of cross-cut fries in paneer sauce, really?)The wine selection wasn't that great either, I went to two different kiosks and they each only had one red wine and one white wine...supposedly there was one tent with more selection but I couldn't find it. The beer selection was pretty good, but since it was a pretty cold day today, I just wanted a nice glass of red wine to help keep me warm.
In any case, I still had a good time. My favorites were the silog tacos and "sushi" from the Wow truck and chicken tikka masala burrito from Curry Up Now. I hope that for future years they can make sure they have enough vendors for the amount of people attending the event.
Seoul on Wheels
San Francisco, CA, USA, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Curry Up Now truck
Shaw Rd, South San Francisco, CA
San Mateo, San Mateo, CA
I am a bit confused about reports of not many long lines. I was there from about 1:00 to 4:30, and lines were crazy long. Very hard to get a bottle of water. Next time I will bring my own for refilling, but I was dying of thirst for a while. The highlights for me were being able to try the amazing Standard Bakery and lime sorbet from Scream Sorbet for the first time. Both items are the stuff of dreams.
5030 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA
I went late Friday afternoon figuring I'd miss the crowds. It was still pretty crowded. The Nicaraguan place had the longest line by far. A lot of the venders had not arrived or were just setting up. That was disappointing since the hours were advertised as starting at one o'clock. Many of the venders were "the usual suspects" that show at other fairs. I really wanted to try The Whole Beast's stuff but it wasn't ready. I noticed the guy kept jabbing thermometers in the food and looking unhappy.
I don't see how they figured cutting down on the number of food booths would make it less crazy. All it did was make the lines longer for what was there. Last year when I came at opening, there were NO lines. This year 10 minutes before the booths even opened, there were probably 30 people already in line at Sam's Chowder. It was just a walk up last year for probably the first hour. I missed the Creme Brulee guy this year.
I heard that Friday only had a subset of vendors. Wasn't that crowded on Friday when I was there, but less choice too. The paella was my favorite.
Ici was there, and while the line wasn't long, it was very slow. Someone remarked it was the entire Berkeley experience, with the wait and all. (The molasses ginger ice cream was worth the wait)
the whole beast does something with a whole pig, they had long lines but didn't start serving food until 12:30. most vendors present at eat real fest 2011 have affiliations with either off the gird, la cocina, or foragesf(underground market). the lesser known vendors have virtually no line.
my fav was the gelato bar (2) that is available at whole foods. tried the tcho chocolate and single malt whiskey.
closed 2nd is the "prawns & roses"(4)(similiar to fish & chip but with slaw) at brass knuckle. snoop dog available at 5, most (off gird) vendors have lowered prices, some have lowered portions (kasa).
alicia's tamales (3.50) gets an honorable mention. fresh chicken meat with veggies in a small tamale. salsa verde a little mild.
rib whip (bbq) had some interesting q but didn't try.
to be coninued.
when we were there in the early afternoon Sat the whole beast roasting stand was serving lamb, cooked about medium to med. rare, served on something like a flat bread (only saw some cooked beasts waiting to be carved, and one being carved up) with some veg and dressing. we considered waiting in line for it, but passed; thought about the possibilities if one of the Indian food vendors had collaborated and roasted one with a tandoori roasting paste on the lamb.
the Chop Bar, on the other hand, was roasting whole pigs and had four 'china boxes' [they looked like mini-models of shipping containers, efficiently mounted on wheeled carts] to handle the roasting. servings came with a small square of good corn bread and three different sauces -- both the veg/green and the pink/mojo were quite tasty, the pork itself somewhat bland other than the crackling which my spouse had to request and gobbled up without leaving me any to taste ; pretty similar to what often gets served as kahlua pig in Hawai'ian eateries.
Oaktown Jerk had a stand and both varieties we tried were tasty enough to purchase [maybe 7-8 variations offered, we got Thai basil and Habanero - star anise]. their product is very similar to the thinly sliced, tender rather than chewy, Chinese dried beef, and not like the conventional american style that requires mandibular calisthenics and dries out the palate.
Pietissierie offered Okinawan sweet potato and beet pies; both are excellent. the beet initially tastes much like any well executed sweet potato pie, but then the beetiness comes through on the palate so it's as if someone squirted some nice fresh beet juice in your mouth as you were eating sweet potato pie. their little info card claims they will offer eighteen different varieties, but only specified choc. cream, "pecante", spiced apple, choc. cream pretzel, and pumpkin/chocolate in addition to the two they were serving at the fest.
some of the longest lines we saw were for Sam's Chowder, the better known empañada vendor (we spotted a competitor with nearly no line) who offered one with a mushroom centric filling and another with meat, Chairman Bao as mentioned above.
Thanks for reporting.
I forgot about it until last night during a bike ride. Wasn't hungry, the other riders weren't into it because it looked crowded and I had to agree. There was no simple way to get a quick bite.
ER is great idea and they're obviously successful if there's big crowds but the lines just make it less appealing. I might go tomorrow if I can get there right when it opens but otherwise not going to do the lines.