Saturday, August 29, 2009

Eat Real Under the Summer Sun

It was another weekend of eating on the streets as I checked out today's Eat Real Festival at Oakland's Jack London Square.

The event was significantly different than last weekend's sister street food festival in San Francisco. It felt less crowded, the lines didn't snake for hours, and the weather was extreme summertime heat.

I walked in amazement of how I easily could try different food without having to spend nearly an hour in line. I thought how could Oakland get it right over San Francisco? After spending nearly three hours checking out the various vendors and booths, I realized that this larger event benefited by several points: 1) larger location in the lovely Jack London Square by the waterfront, 2) a variety of events like cooking demos and a farmers market to provide distractions if you didn't feel like standing in line for food, and most importantly 3) this is a three-day event over the weekend, spreading the crowds over several days compared to the San Francisco event where every food lover bombarded the Mission streets on one Saturday.

Despite the extreme heat, I was grateful for the easy crowds. At least on Saturday when I checked it out with my friend Vera.

The food were served mostly in trucks, really giving it a street food flavor. One of the first trucks we saw when we arrived was Sam's Chowder Van that was serving up clam chowder and mini lobster rolls. It was too hot for chowder, but we really wanted to try the lobster rolls ($5). Vera and I liked the lump lobster meat that tasted fresh, but Vera thought it was a bit overcooked and I felt it needed some kind of dressing like an aioli. But I appreciated how the roll was lightly toasted.

Then we went on to try some pizza slices from Pizza Politana, which trucked in its pizza oven to make the pizza on the spot. They served up a margherita pizza and a special "eat real" pizza ($5) that was made with goat cheese, lettuce, red onions and bacon. Vera got the margherita and said she liked the basil taste but the tomato sauce was a bit weak. I liked the "eat real" pizza because of the mixture of flavors. It was also a nice thin crust pizza.

Poleng Lounge from San Francisco was here after working last weekend's street food festival in San Francisco. But they served up a different menu, mostly ramen and some fancy gyoza. Vera ordered the cold vegetable ramen and she said the ramen was good but the broth needed more flavor.

I got a plate of turkey BBQ sliders ($5) from Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q. They're actually from Birmingham, Ala., but came for the festival and purchased all their ingredients from locally sourced providers. The meat was tender and I really like the sauce, which was tangy but not too sweet. The grilled corn was a bit odd, though, because it was too smoky, with a kind of petroleum flavor.

We took a break from the heat by heading into the indoor farmers market in the spot where a future food plaza is planned. Makeshift booths were set up with some of the regular sellers like Straus Creamery, Blue Chair jams, and Masa Organic rice. One of the booth with the longest line was Tcho Chocolates, which were giving free tastings of their chocolates.

Speaking of chocolates, Vera and I tried this gourmet 'smores ($3) from Kika's. We really liked the biscuit part, but I thought the marshmallow part was a bit weird, too gummy in a way.

Vera tried some mango sorbet from one vendor but I forgot his name. I walked around a bit and found this gelato place from Marin called Cici and tried their basil gelato. I loved it, although it was suffering from the extreme heat as my cup of gelato was almost a shake. Still, it was good.

Even though people had to wait in line, you still got a beautiful view to check out. Like I said, the line wasn't that long and moved relatively smoothly. So it was a fun day to be out in the sun. Here are more shots from the day. If you're reading this on Sunday, you better hurry and get out to Jack London Square for the last day of the Eat Real Festival, which wraps up at 5 p.m.!

A long line for free water.

The Sexy Soup Lady from the Mission District serving up her soups.

Ryan Farr grilling up his 4505 Meats' sausages.

People waiting in line (and one guy posing) at the Seoul on Wheels truck for some Korean tacos.

Related street food posts:
Taking it to the Streets (San Francisco Street Food Festival)
Lunch on the Road: Jon's Street Eats
On the Trail of the Crème Brulee Cart


Unknown said...

Great post, and nice pics of the event. It was hot out there today, but we enjoyed the festival a lot. Big thumbs up!

Mrs. L said...

Wow, I'm impressed you braved the heat. Think the heat had something to do with less folks at the event?

Single Guy Ben said...

Thanks Gene!

Mrs. L, sounds like they did get a good turnout over the three days. So I think it really was just spreading people out over the three days, plus competition from other events like Outside Lands. Yeah, the heat was brutal! And I'm from Hawaii so you know it was hot!

foodhoe said...

Ooh, I'm so jealous you got to both events... but so glad you did so I can read about it. I'll only hope they do it again next year. That lobstah roll looked delicious and for a pretty good price too.