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Eat Real Fest [2013, Oakland]

I'm back in town briefly looking for good food to eat and I know the Eat Real Fest is coming up this weekend. Surprised to see no discussion here. Can anyone advise on why I should or should not go? If you're familiar with the schedule, are there any not-to-be-missed highlights?

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    1. Two years ago my friends went to jsut check it out for lunch and came home with a chicken coop and three hens!
      So clearly they had a great time ;)
      I have heard that the butchery contest is excellent to watch and very educational if you can keep up with what they are doing....

      3 Replies
      1. re: jupiter

        The chicken coop anecdote truly made me laugh out loud :) Had 'adult beverages' been consumed prior to the purchase???

        1. re: c oliver

          probably ;) but the chickens have really paid off for them and now are considered part of the family.

          1. re: jupiter

            Oh, I totally get it and think it's great!

        1. The only thing I can add is go early on Friday or early on Sat/Sun, or plan on spending the afternoon there because the lines can be crazy long.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            The lines were so long it was a huge turnoff for me, and for many others I assume. Not sure if I'll go back.

            1. re: vincentlo

              Last year I arrived on Friday afternoon about 4pm and there was lots of street parking and you could have shot a cannon down the aisle and not hit anyone.

            2. re: ML8000

              yup, what's fun about standing 2 hours in a line in JLS for restaurants you can walk into most days without a wait? they should sell tickets for food entries and restrict the supply. otherwise it's just a mess.

            3. This year the line-up of prepared food vendors seems to be all local, mainly food trucks, and since I can seek them out whenever I want, it is not compelling. In prior years there was also a smattering of non-local vendors (my favorite was a bbq/small chain from the south, whose name I do not recall) that made it much more interesting/worth the crowds. As you are from out of town, it could be worth it to try different items, but heed the advise to go early or be prepared to have long waits.

              5 Replies
              1. re: foodeye

                That would be Jim n Nick's from Alabama, and it's on the schedule all three days.

                It's my one "must" as well for whole hog barbecue. And I'm trying my best to get back in time today.

                Jim n Nick's were out here for last month's street food fest in SF, and I was embedded as a volunteer in the barbecue pavilion. Guess I should post about the last food festival before heading to the next one! Anyway, they brought out their own pigs. They are raising a Mangalitsa/Berkshire cross. The meat is wonderful. I hope they're supplying the pigs again this weekend.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks a lot for this info....maybe I do need to go!

                  1. re: foodeye

                    I believe that Jim n Nick's has participated in each ERF since the first one in 2009. That year, they used a Marin Sun Farm hog. While Nick had been thinking about switching to a more sustainable meat source, the back story I've been told is that the fuller flavor of that hog compared to his usual convinced him to take the plunge.

                    Even if the hog isn't brought out from Alabama and one from a local farm is used instead, I'm sure it will be very tasty.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      the pork we eat at home is Marin Sun heritage breed (their shop almost always has both heritage and normal). it's both lean and full of flavour, better than what most restaurants serve in their fanciest pork dishes.

                      1. re: moto

                        Is there really such a thing as lean heritage pork?

              2. So we're going, lines and local picks I can get any old time and all.

                Want to highlight the part of the OP's query that's not been addressed: "are there any not-to-be-missed highlights"?

                7 Replies
                1. re: sundeck sue

                  For me, the vendors in the marketplace have been a good place to sample wares and discover new products. The festival has an increasing amount of demos going on and those make this stand apart more than the trucks that as others have pointed out are mostly local. But "local" San Francisco vendors might still be of interest to someone who's in the East Bay and doesn't get to the City much and vice versa.

                  I hope that those who are attending, especially today, will post their picks and pans.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I was there around 7PM. I enjoyed the Whole Beast lamb poutine. The fries were crisp and the lamb tasty. About 10 minutes wait in line to order and another 5 - 10 minutes to wait for the food. Not too bad. Also enjoyed my cucumber soda from SodaCraft.

                    1. re: Martin Strell

                      That lamb poutine had a big buzz at last year's ERF. I remember trying to get some late on Saturday then and it was sold out. Whole Beast served it at last year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, maybe it will reappear next month.

                      I didn't make it back to the Bay Area in time. Friday was my one time window, so no ERF for me. This is the first one I've missed.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        I didn't really see anything that struck me as being much different from year's past, so I don't think you really missed anything big, though it was well worth a stop on my way home yesterday (on bike - didn't have to deal with parking). Fairly crowded last night, but not insane. I think we'll go back again this morning before they get busy. Maybe see you next week at HSB. :-)

                        1. re: Martin Strell

                          In years past, folks have said that Sunday had much fewer crowds than Saturday.

                      2. re: Martin Strell

                        I wanted to get some cheese from Bleating Heart, which had a stand there, so I went first thing this morning (wanted to beat the crowds and parking hassles). In keeping with the sheep theme, I got the lamb poutine (first order of the day!) and it was pretty damn delicious with juicy, smoky lamby-tasting lamb and decent fries. The cheese curds were just a sprinkle, though, so I think calling it poutine is a bit of a misnomer. I'm glad you pointed me towards it!

                        I hadn't been since the first year, and it's much bigger and better organized. I liked the way they had some of the vendors inside what is supposed to be the market hall. Most of the vendors I've seen at one farmer's market or another, but there were some unfamiliar ones.

                        Finally, I like that nothing is more than $5. A lot of trucks I see, the offerings are in the $8-10 range, and some are even over $10.To me, that's not what street food is all about. These prices made it feel a lot more wallet friendly, even if the portions were downsized (which just allows you to try more things!). I thought the lamb poutine was a perfect size and worth the price.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          We went back again this morning, like Ruth, first thing when they opened. Seemed like there was more on offer Saturday than Friday. Some of the trucks I'd wanted to try which rarely make it to the East Bay were there: Old World Food Truck (great!) and Casey's Pizza (nothing special). No line for Jim n Nicks. Juhu Beach was there, with an off-menu lamb slider in yogurt sauce. Even by the time we left around 12:30, most of the lines were still manageable. Either the crowds are less than in years past, or they've gotten better organized. I suspect a combination of the two.

                  2. 2nd year for me to Eat Real Festival 2013. I was looking forward to this all year, had it on my calendar to not plan anything except this.

                    Took Bart to 12th Street & walked down to JLS. First stop was Blue Bottle on Webster/3rd. Got a latte "for here" for $4.09, get it Togo only $3.75. Then thought I could just wait for the Roastery Tour but they said I had to sign up at Eat Real, so had to find out where to sign up. Found out it was in Coffee Pavilion in the vending indoor bldg. Signed up & had to wait for that at 11:30am.

                    Went on Roastery Tour at Blue Bottle - it's once a yr so had to go this yr. Just ok for me, got a tiny sample of their coffee - way too strong for me. Lots of talking from the guy, no roasting being down on Sat. so no machines running. About 1hr tour. No tours Sun.

                    Went back to Eat Real to get food.

                    Juhu - got Lamb burger $5 - tiny thing, just ok, kinda dry.

                    Garden Creamery - pb crunch daddy $5 - very sweet ice cream sandwich.

                    Toyota - got silk screen apron FREE, registered & did dice game got tiny tote bag & later lunch bag. Wanted hand sanitizer too. Got photo of self in a Toyota - 2 poses suppose to be 3D.

                    Got a Stoopie Caramel $4 - like a thin gingerbread cookie w/ a tiny amount of caramel inside - just ok.

                    Jim N Nick BBQ from Alabama - Just one slider & small corn for $5 - If you want both meat sliders & corn it's $10, so I only got one since I was full anyways. Pulled pork was fine. Hot sauce is good. Corn average.

                    Bought Starter Bakery kouign Amann - traditional was $3.5 * $4 filled, no discount (last yr they gave $1 off if u buy 3.)

                    I left about 2pm. Might go next yr.

                    1. late Sat. afternoon the crowd and lines for food weren't bad at all. the inside market had plenty of artisan goodies, jams and preserves and such particularly well represented. the tastes of the Sosu catsup and sriracha-catsup blend were vivid and the quality of the tomatoes very evident -- commented to the owner about it, and her source is Frog Hollow. they're what you'd love to have on your high end burger or frites if you go to the places that feature those things, $7. for a small nine oz. jar. a Berserkley hot sauce shop offered samples of four or five of the hundred or more they sell -- a tiny drop of their ghost pepper stuff (greenish yellow) was incendiary and very stimulating, for those with a high tolerance only.

                      some of the foods outside we tried -- pulled pork slider from Jim and Nick, from Niman ranch pigs, good but not compelling. perhaps just the style of food -- their habanero sauce, medium hot, gave it a lift, but nothing with/on the slider added anything to the meat, the bun contributing little in flavor or texture. the other bites of pork we enjoyed had as much in flavor and more interest for the palate ; best of these was the sopes with cochinita pibil [Chaac Mool] with every element on the plate contributing, from the freshly griddled cake of organic masa to the homemade habanero salsa to the fresh micro greens and tomato. the Hapa Filipino fusion truck had an interesting interpretation of the a burrito, built around a 17 hour lechon. Chairman Bao offered a choice of four different proteins, each with specific condiments and preps of precisely cut greens or pickles (daikon for the pork belly, carrot for the chicken).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: moto

                        also noteworthy in excellence was the tamale wrapped in a banana leaf (the other style was also offered on the menu), chicken mole filled, from Tamales la Oaxaquena. came with a fresh, acidic garnish of a curtido-like slaw. we enjoyed some small bites of two different vegan snacks from Onigilly, who offered triangle bundles of nori wrapped brown rice with different fillings and flavors for three dollars each. we tried the hijiki and the grilled eggplant.

                      2. I just got home from a short visit on Sunday. My take is: too many people, bad music, not enough food I wanted to try, long lines for the few things I did, and not nearly enough places to sit down. Fortunately I had eaten something before going. Eventually the line for paella got short enough to stand and wait for some. A small portion, I thought, for $5, and it was nothing special. Merely adequate for stand-up food.

                        The best thing about the event is that there is no admission fee, so one can hardly complain that it isn't worth it. It's easy for me to get to, so I would go again. But not for long and it wouldn't matter if I missed it.

                        1. I forgot about Eat Real so went down planning to shop at the farmers market. Cars backed up at all intersections, no street parking anywhere in the area.

                          1. We had a great time! A big Sun. afternoon crowd (parking karma: someone pulled out of a street spot a block away from the festivities, just as I rounded the corner). Despite the numbers, lots of booths/trucks had short lines; and the long lines mostly moved (good crowd control--one guy takes the order half way in, another the $$ at the front, you move over and another gives you the food).

                            Jim 'n Nick's pork roll didn't hit it outa the park, but it was good--the meat tasty and tender, sauce fine, ditto roll--corn was....late Sept. corn (always excited to see corn on a grill at these things; and it always disappoints; and I know I'll order it next time).

                            My husband liked his lamb poutine @ Whole Beast just OK, wished for more meat, wasn't wowed by the combo. I loved their lamb rib w/ slaw--a good amount of meat for a lamb rib and good lamb-y flavor--slaw was delicious w/ pomegranate and persimmon. And because the poutine was far and away the sexier pick, I got mine quicker!

                            A friend and I have been trying to get to Pie-tisserie and never made it--so was delighted to see their booth--adorable little pie-lets in sweet tiny brown boxes--I got lemon ginger--filling creamy and lovely balance of flavors--crust wasn't my favorite, wanted a denser texture, more butter-y flavor (de gustibus....)

                            I was done--and then saw another long line. Frozen custard (Frozen Kuhsterd). Immediately homesick for my Milwaukee relatives and Kopp's custard, had to get some. The family I was missing might rightly have called some of the offerings (Dynamo donut w/ ice cream w/ .....) "un-ge-patchked"--Yiddish for gussied up/over-done. But my single scoop of vanilla bean w/ burnt caramel sauce and toasted almonds was simple and good, though to my taste, the caramel stayed on the burner a minute too long.

                            I had fun, checking out the booths in the inside space, some w/ little tastings; and it was good to get out of the sun. The Sosu tomato water--the one made from yellow tomatoes--may have been the best thing I put into my mouth the whole afternoon--fresh and alive and popping w/ flavor.

                            And we returned to that perfect parking space to turn on KNBR and hear the Giants tie things up in the 9th in the last game of the season and go on to a walk-off win. Who could ask for a better fall Sunday in the Bay Area?