Event Recap: SF Chocolate Salon 2014

30 03 2014

I was kindly invited to this year’s Chocolate Salon held at Fort Mason. It consisted of dozens of vendors, each with their own table displaying their goods and with samples for patrons to try. Since I was invited as a judge, I was requested to vote on my favorite vendors after the event. All the winners are listed on their website — click the blue circular award in the right margin (why no link, guys?).

chocolate

chocolate display

florentines

I generally had a good time. I was in good company (my chocolate-loving friend Mala accompanied me), the event was free for us, and it was a beautiful day. I did have a few qualms with the arrangement and execution of the event itself, which I will turn into suggestions for the event organizers below. But first, let’s talk about the best chocolate (in my opinion, at least).

As I did not review the myriad of award categories before the event (one of my qualms, see below), I was more thinking general 1st, 2nd, 3rd place overall as I was judging the entries. So, in my mind, I came up with these favorites:

1st Place and very very very best: Smitten Artisan Truffles. They had four dishes filled with truffle filling, and the owner herself would scoop a tiny spoonful of the truffle for you to try. She was sweet and bubbly and generous with her samples. The flavors were amazing, though I believe they were a bit different than they sell on their website (which you should totally check out because the online ordering is rad).

smitten artisan truffles

smitten artisan truffles at sf chocolate salon 2014

The cacao caramel vanilla bean was amazing, and the one infused with raspberry vodka was also so good (and I’m not often a fruit and chocolate person). Mala loved the one infused with bourbon… and I even bought an adorable package of four for my man friend to enjoy later. Just really really really good. Love.

2nd Place: Cowboy Toffee Company. Great packaging, great flavor options, and very very yummy. They had a s’mores flavor – need I say more?

cowboy toffee company

cowboy toffee company at sf chocolate salon 2014

cowboy toffee company

cowboy toffee company at sf chocolate salon 2014

3rd Place: Toffee Talk. Now, I’m not traditionally a huge fan of toffee. It’s always rock hard and makes me feel like my teeth are going to break off. So I generally stick with caramels. But, both Toffee Talk and the Cowboy (above) were a softer toffee. Still crunchy, but not jaw-jarringly so. And the flavor was amazing. Toffee: you’re back on my list.

toffee talk

toffee talk at sf chocolate salon 2014

Runner Up: Scharffen Berger Chocolate. Ever since my man friend surprised me with a bar of their semi-sweet chocolate, I’ve been digging it. They’re not doing anything extreme, there’s no crazy flavors or textures — it’s just good chocolate. Me likey.

scharffen berger

scharffen berger at sf chocolate salon 2014

So, those were my favs. I basically scattered those four names (and a few others) all over the scoring survey they sent me. And most of them won some prize, so good job, chocolate makers.

sf chocolate salon 2014

sf chocolate salon 2014

Now, on to my suggestions on how to improve this event:

  1.  Better vendor-to-space ratio. This event was held in a huge open warehouse and the number of vendor tables was highly disproportionate to the size of the space. I’ve been to other events here that filled out the space much better and it makes the event seem a lot more legit.
  2. Savory vendors*. I love chocolate. I can eat it for a long time. But you know what I want after a while of eating nothing but chocolate? Some bread. Or pretzels. Or french fries. Or pretty much anything else. They had a couple other types of vendors (beef jerky and kettle corn come to mind), but I think they could have stood to add more to change things up for my weary palate.
  3. WATER. Good lord. It was like a desert island of chocolate in there. Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink, and all that. They had these nice hand wash stations scattered around the space, but no water (not even for sale)! I was parched, and it was unnecessary.
  4. Check in procedure. Check in consisted of me giving my name to a woman at a table, and her putting a bracelet on my wrist. No map of the event, no list of vendors, no printout of the intense survey I would take afterwards to complete my judge duties. Any or all of these would have been extremely helpful. They should take some lessons from La Cocina event planners.

 

claire's squares

Otherwise, the presentation of each individual vendor table was generally excellent (great packaging, cool logos, nice marketing materials), and the quality of the samples was very high. I think with minimal changes by the event planners, the Chocolate Salon could be easily raised to the next level.

*The vendors themselves need not be savory, nor would I know how to evaluate that distinction, but they should offer savory foods.





Upcoming Event: SF Chocolate Salon

5 03 2014

Chocolate. Just say the word in your head. Chocolate. Aren’t you just a little bit happier now?

I love chocolate. Chances are, so do you. Which is why you might want to make room in your busy schedule for the upcoming 8th annual SF Chocolate Salon at Fort Mason on Saturday March 15, 2014.

SFSalon14image-posterWeb

Per their website, activities include: chocolate tasting, demonstrations, new product launches and flavor combinations, fair trade & organic offerings, celebrity chef & author talks, wine pairings, Chocolate Art Gallery, games, ongoing interviews by TasteTV’s Chocolate Television program, and book signings. Not to shabbs, if you ask me. And yes, I bolded the words “chocolate tasting”. I felt they needed to be bold.

You can get tickets on their site for $20 (adults, advance purchase) and $10 for kids up to 12. (Children under 6 are free.) The price goes up to $25 for adults who get there early, and $30 if you just wanna rock up whenever you want that day.

And the best part (for me) is that I’ve been invited to be a judge! My name is on their website and everything (under “award judges”). The invite said this of the task: “As a Judge, you simply attend when you want, taste what you want, then afterwards vote on your top picks using our confidential online voting form. You will also be listed on the Salon’s website.” Um, yes please. I like all those things, including the laissez faire judging style and free chocolate.

Yeay chocolate! See you there!





SF Street Food Festival 2013 — Preview Dinner

31 07 2013

It’s that time of year again. Time for the San Francisco Street Food Festival sponsored by La Cocina. This year’s main event is on Saturday August 17, 2013, in the Mission district of SF. And like years past, it will be filled with great local vendors. I was invited to the media preview dinner again (year three — w00t!). My personal highlights are listed below.

st street food festival 2013 flier

Let’s just start with the winner. The best thing at the preview dinner, IMHO, by a long shot. It sounded gross, but it was incredible. Most interesting, delicious food ever. The winner is: Hella Vegan Eats with their Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger. A beet patty, pickled onions, pickles, kale, tomato, and secret sauce, all between two sugar doughnuts. Amazing. Believe it.

Hella Vegan Eats - Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger

Hella Vegan Eats – Mini Vegan Doughnut Burger

Next on my list of favs was Bini’s Kitchen’s Momos. They are Nepalese dumplings (meat or veggie) with spicy tomato cilantro sauce. They were so good! The skin of the dumpling was thicker than I was expecting, and the whole thing was just really delicious. Good sauce, too.

Bini's Kitchen - Momos

Bini’s Kitchen – Momos (Nepalese dumplings)

My plus one’s favorite was a roasted plantain bread pudding by a vendor that we can neither remember nor track down online. What, the internet does not know an answer to a question I pose? How is that possible?! Anyway, perhaps the responsible parties will come to light. In the meantime, all we have is this glass slipper — uh — photo of the dessert. Cue Mala’s mouth watering:

Roasted Plantain Bread Pudding -- who made these??

Roasted Plantain Bread Pudding — who made these??

Sugarfoot Grits also gave us some yummy grits to nosh on, Onigilly was there in typical good form, and there were also some Russian Vodka-chasing snacks from Anda Piroshki that were pretty fun.

Sugarfoot Grits -- grits!

Sugarfoot Grits — grits!

Anda Piroshki - vodka chasing snacks

Anda Piroshki – vodka chasing snacks

The festival itself has a good lineup this year, including participation by the ever-coveted State Bird Provisions, offering their hand-pulled garlic bread with burrata, which was my favorite during my first and (so far) only visit. Very enticing, guys…





Nespresso

24 01 2013

Nespresso. Have you heard of it yet? It’s like espresso, but with an “n”. It’s a Swiss brand of single-serve coffee makers that markets to high-end clientele. Starbucks has gotten on the single-serve bandwagon, but, come on, they’re not Nespresso.

I was invited to the grand opening of Nespresso’s newest flagship boutique in Union Square in SF a few months ago. When I showed up, the place was still sorely under construction. I later found out that I was somehow not on the list when they told everyone about the cancellation of the event. I was sad. They sent me a $200 Nespresso machine and probably another $50 worth of accompanying paraphernalia. Apology accepted.

My very own Nespresso U machine

My very own Nespresso U machine

I recently went to the real Grand Opening Event which went quite a bit better than the first one. Indeed, it was most certainly one of the best media events I’ve yet experienced. Let’s discuss.

The sched:

5.30 – 6.30: Press Preview & Executive Remarks

6.30 – 9pm: Evening Event

Based on this description, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that there would literally be a red carpet out front. That they would be renting a cable car (the kind on wheels) decorated in Nespresso banners to be parked out front of the store as a photo op spot and gift bag storage location. That they would have wine, roving photographers and videographers, demonstrations, and a huge spread of food. I was woefully unprepared and pleasantly surprised all at once.

Upon check-in at the red carpet, I received a pre-printed, magnetic, uber-plush name tag. There were only a handful of them; the “Press Preview” was apparently relatively exclusive. The woman informed me that I should come by to receive my gift bag at the end, and to fill out this form to receive my very own Nespresso machine. My first mistake: painfully detrimental honesty. “Oh, I already have a Nespresso machine! You guys sent me one.” Smart, Angie, very smart. You can’t just accept a free thing and give it to one of your deserving friends? No, your first instinct is to be honest, barring all consequences. Like an idiot. Good work. Empty handed, I proceeded into the boutique for the event.

Do excuse this exquisitely awful photo, I let my phone do the photographs this time. Never again.

Do excuse this exquisitely awful photo, I let my phone do the photographs this time. Never again.

As I walk thorough the front doors, a series of waiters holding trays awaits to my left. I take a champagne flute from one tray, the next server pours a bit of raspberry liquor in the flute, the next champagne. The final server puts a finishing raspberry in my glass, and now I have a super fancy cocktail served by no less than four people. There are more employees and PR people than guests. I would estimate there were probably 30 staff total in a room the size of about two large Starbucks cafes. It was ridiculous.

The staff were all dressed up. Hair, makeup, ties. Nametags. Smiles. They would approach me and offer to show me things. “Shall we step downstairs to the boutique? Our President will give you a tour of the store.” Except they most certainly had a fancier name for the store, I just don’t remember it. They had flown in Nespresso higher-ups from Switzerland and a PR team from New York for this event. I received a private tour of the extremely swanky purchasing room from the President of Nespresso USA. In showing me how the place worked (super techy-rad — self-refilling shelving, check out stands that automatically detect what items are in your bag, super speedy digital self-check out), he let me pick out a half dozen boxes of Nespresso capsules which he then bought for me and let me take. It was kind of amazing.

High-tech self check out area at the Nespresso SF boutique

High-tech self check out area at the Nespresso SF boutique

There were then three short speeches by the president, head of marketing, and the president of the America’s Cup, of which Nespresso is a sponsor this year, followed by a few brief and unintentionally fumbly tours of the products. I had been there for an hour thus far and was already pretty overwhelmed.

Then it was time for the real party to start; 300 people were expected for the “Evening Event”. People started pouring in the front door. Everyone is dressed to the nines. There is complimentary valet. I feel like I’m at some sort of movie screening. I’m wearing slip-on shoes and my North Face fleece; I came straight from work. And I have no one to talk to because I had a bit of a plus-one snafu. So I started to feel kinda awkward. And hungry.

The food was coming out, but it was getting so crowded that I couldn’t move anywhere. I wished I had been better prepared (dressed nicer, brought friends, had somewhere to put my jacket, handbag, and Nespresso bag), and decided to head toward my gift bag instead. Since I was leaving as most people were arriving, I had to ask about the gift bag, which is always a classy move. “Can I have my free things now? Remember, I’m the one who turned down the free machine, but now wants other free things. Gimme!”

The newest Nespresso machine, debuting in the US later this year. Yeah, we got a preview.

The newest Nespresso machine, debuting in the US later this year. Yeah, we got a preview.

I was given a gift bag that literally came up to mid-thigh if you set it on the ground. It wasn’t full or anything, it was just giant. I suppose they expected me to stow it gracefully in the ample trunk of my valeted vehicle. They likely did not expect me to be walking 25 minutes home with it in tow, trying hard not to let it scrape on the ground the whole way. Why do I seem to always have the privilege of feeling like a goon even when things are supposed to be nice?

Regardless, the event was relatively amazing. It was well-executed, professionally done, and totally gave off the high-end, fancy swank vibe they were going for. And all the people who looked totally prepared for it seemed to be having a great time. The only thing I want from that event is a do-over.

Either way, now we can have a Nespresso party at my place. I have all the flavors. Booya.





Thorny Rose Wine – Media Event

18 12 2012

Dear purveyor of every other brand of everything, ever:

Hi, thank you for coming to my website. I hope you get a moment to look around before racing to my contact page and immediately emailing me about events and products that may only be mildly relevant, if at all, to my blog topic. I will try to respond, but only because I’m sort of anal-retentive about responding to emails. I will probably say no thank you politely. For those of you in the food and restaurant industry, thank you for your email; I really appreciate the invitation to your event, tasting, or product trial. You guys rock. Now, listen up.

thorny rose logo

You’re having a media event. For one reason or another, you’ve invited me! Yeay! I have no idea what to expect from this invite. I will probably ask you. Can I bring a guest? Will there be food suitable for a pescatarian? I won’t ask the 589 other questions that my over-planner brain has thought of, but I will decide whether to go or not. And if I’m very very lucky, your event will be like the Thorny Rose bowling night a few weeks ago. And then I might even blog about it. I present my case:

Exhibit #1: The invite to the Thorny Rose event:

Thorny Rose Event Invite

Thorny Rose Event Invite

This invite is rad. Look at the fonts! Aren’t they fun? Read the content. Cheesy puns, Instagram-esque pictures, reference to The Big Lebowski. I mean, I suppose this is really a marketing lesson in catering to your audience, but dang, well done. Also, I love bowling. And The Big Lebowski. And I don’t even hate wine anymore. And they said I could bring a plus one (they even said “or two”!), which makes most media events wayyyy less awkward. Rad.

Exhibit #2: The event:

thorny rose

Look at everyone having fun!

They rented the entire Mission Bowl facility. Private party, biatches! My name wasn’t on the list for some reason, but someone who seemed important waved me in after asking me my blog name. I’m sure they had no idea who I was, but since I knew to give a blog name, they probably knew I was invited. So I felt vindicated and welcome. Good move TR.

Exhibits #3-12: Free wine at the bar. In rad custom plastic cups a la Wine Lands. And free bowling. And t-shirt prizes if you got a strike (I got FIVE — yeah, I was in excellent form). And roving appetizer attendants. And a necklace making station. And silly props to use for the photos that the prof photog was taking of you while you had an awesome time. And Jenga and other board games at the tables. And the Creme Brulee cart — yes, they rented the Creme Brulee Cart — for your personally crafted dessert enjoyment. Do you see how this was successful?

Also, they happened to take this awesome pic of my +1, Ms. Smalls.

Also, they happened to take this awesome pic of my +1, Ms. Smalls. Look at that form!

In conclusion, this was obviously the Best Media Event Ever. I mean, maybe these rad events happen all the time and I’m just not invited. Fair enough. Either way, this was pretty much perfection. And then they followed up by sending out the professional pics, and even sent me a free bottle of wine. Nicest. People. Ever. Thank you Thorny Rose, you really know how to show a girl a good time. I would go on a second date with you, fo sho. Everyone else: take note. And don’t forget to invite me.

Sincerely,

~broccoli and chocolate~





Foodbuzz Blogger Festival 2012

7 11 2012

Oh, wow, did I really not blog about the festival last year? That’s sad. Well, some shit was happening in, like, my real life right around then. Do excuse me.

So… though I only have a 2010 blog entry to prove it, this was my third annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. This year’s fest was by far the best in my opinion, and I say that not only for rhyming purposes.

“Spiked” watermelon at the Starlight Room. They were weird.

This year they condensed the festival to two days instead of three. Good move. I don’t need my entire weekend monopolized. And the upped the quality of each event, save the Tasting Pavilion, which is still my least favorite event, I’d say.

The event consisted of:

I have never been to the Starlight Room. It looks hokey and for old people. That may be the case, but I loved it. The decor was ridiculous but awesome, the view was great, and there was an open bar. Also, my good friend, Mr. M. Quinn Sweeney, accompanied me thusly:

Quinn eat food!!!

After the Starlight, Q and I made our way to Baker and Banker for our dine around town experience. I think the idea was that you go in some sort of group and get to know people. If you’ve met me, you know this is not likely my first choice. Though, Q did point out that talking to a stranger at a Foodbuzz festival was indeed how we met two years ago. (Side note: we are not a couple. This was confusing to people at times throughout the festival.) Basically, this was Q and my friend-iversary. Adorbs.

The spread at the Starlight Room.

Baker and Banker will receive its own separate regular b&c entry. We had a good time though, fo sho.

Saturday morning’s scavenger hunt was at 8am. WTF? That is too early for a Saturday morning even though it sounded fun. I slept through that biz, then cleaned my house so that I was suitably “omm” for the Tasting Pavilion in the afternoon.

The Tasting Pavilion is a fixture every year, it seems. The venue is rad, and some of the food is good, but mostly, it’s just a big gauntlet of generic vendors giving out food samples. There are some local places (Kika’s Treats!!!), the ubiquitous Three Twins Ice Cream, and a few more good things, but generally it’s just a lot of packaged food and lots of repeat vendors (how much biscotti does a person need in one session?). Anyway, not my fav, but I went anyway.

Saturday night was the Gala dinner. They rented out the entire Cal Academy. It was unnecessary. It was ridiculous. It was amazing. I only wish we could have frolicked around in the aviary in our socks. Alas, that will have to wait for another time.

Q, M, and me in the aquarium tunnel at the Cal Academy. Notice the lack of people elbowing us in the face and children screaming. Private party, biatches.

The reception was downstairs in the aquarium. Drinks and appetizers in the aquarium! Best ever! Dinner was upstairs in the back directly across from the main entrance to the building (but before the albino crocodile enclosure… you know what I’m talking about, right?). There were a dozen or so round tables set up and we seated ourselves freely. I brought the Mala-monster to this event because she’s awesome and they let me.

This gala was buffet style, which I much prefer. Some peeps were saying the sit down dinner is classier, but I thought the buffet was much more appropriate. And I didn’t waste nearly as much food because of it. Still open bar, pretty good catered food, and good company at our table.

Yummy ravioli and squash soup was served hot and fresh in individual servings cooked to order at the buffet.

The night went quickly and was over before we knew it. We had a really good time. Then my other friends came and picked me up and I went bowling in Pacifica. Because that’s how I roll sometimes. Thanks again, Foodbuzz. See you next year.

 





SF Street Food Festival 2012

20 08 2012

Ok, I didn’t actually go to the SF Street Food Festival this year. Yeah, fine, call me a jerk. Especially since they were so kind to invite me to the preview dinner last month. Which was awesome. But I went last year and, honestly, it was such a cluster that I wasn’t super excited to go again. Because I don’t like billions of people congregated in one area, not because I don’t like food, obv.

But, based on the preview dinner this year, I believe I would have liked much of the food at the festival. Here are a few of my favorite vendors who participated this year and the ridiculously delicious dishes they fed me a couple weeks ago:

  1. Onigilly. I met Onigilly for the first time last year. I love them. I love rice balls with meaty or veggie filling inside. They’re even opening a real restaurant on Kearny just near my work! I can’t wait!

    Onigilly…mmm…

  2. Esquites from El Buen Corner. Esquites are “corn in a cup”. The corn is boiled then sauteed with butter, onion, and chiles. Then the lot is topped with mayo and salt and lime juice. Honestly, they had me at mayonnaise. So. Good.

    Really, really good corn.

  3. Jacked up hush puppies from Zella’s Soulful Kitchen. These were so good. Deep fried corn things with sauce on top. Tender and moist; yum. Granted, I didn’t know what a hush puppy was (you: you write a food blog? wtf?), but still. Good.

    Hush puppies. Good.

  4. Deep fried caramel pops from Clairesquares. Yeah, I know, it looks like a meatball. Or worse. I was hesitant to eat one, kinda. But it was pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I ate two. Shouldn’t have, but I did. Burned myself on one, they were so fresh and hot. And gooey. And sugary. Amazing. Caramel battered and deep fried. Just amazing.

    Deep fried caramel pop from Clairesquares. So. Good.

So that was my experience of this year’s SFSFF. Can we abbreviate it like that? The whole name is far too long. Like the lines at the actual festival. Zing! Kidding — thank you La Cocina for inviting me to your preview dinner. I had a blast and ate wayyyy too much.





SF Street Food Festival

5 09 2011

After attending the preview dinner for this event, K and I actually left our house on the weekend (gasp!) and went to the full festival. Here were our thoughts:

SF Street Food Festival 2011

Pros:

  • Lots of vendors means lots and lots of food.
  • Helpful, well organized, uniform signage throughout the festival and at each booth helped to communicate information and make sure it was obvious what was offered at each booth.
  • Varied vendors made for a wide range of food offerings.
  • Extremely well organized arrangement, complete with information booths at appropriate intervals.
  • An entire event where food is the main deal instead of the sideshow. Brilliant idea.

    SF Street Food Festival 2011. Good lord there were a lot of people.

Cons:

  • Way, way to many people in attendance.
  • Immensely long lines for nearly every vendor.
  • While the signage was good, some of the dishes were listed in Spanish. This is not helpful to me.
  • Descriptions of each dish would have been good, but this may have been present in the festival guide that I did not pick up (which I should have). Descriptions were not present on the signs at each booth.

Basically, it seemed to us that the idea of the festival was great, the execution was pro, but there were just too many people there to make it wholly enjoyable for hermits like us. Lots of people seemed to be enjoying themselves, evidenced, indeed, by the magnitude of the populace. But we weren’t having it. We were hungry, damn it. We wanted to eat now, not in 45 minutes when we arrived at the front of the line. But that was our problem. So we went to Cafe Gratitude instead.

The 25-minute line we waited in to get to Onigilly.

We did manage to seek and eat one particular dish at a food cart called Onigilly. I love this place. It serves little triangles of rice which contain a bit of something savory in the middle (teriyaki chicken, spicy shrimp, eggplant, etc.) and are covered in seaweed. See?:

Onigillys

They have these in Japan and sell them at 7-Elevens, which is awesome. They’re small, healthy, and a really great snack. Onigilly makes them fresh to order so they’re warm and delicious when you get them. Their roving food cart (which I must find) makes a meal out of them by offering three onigillys, edamame, and miso soup. I want to go to there.





SF Street Food Festival – Preview Dinner

14 08 2011

Next week on Saturday August 20, 2011, the San Francisco Street Food Festival kicks off it’s third annual event from 11am-7pm on and around Folsom Street between 22nd and 26th Streets in the Mission district of SF. I believe that I, and friends, will be attending. These desserts will be there:

South American sugar cookies that are fabulous on the left, "cake pops" on the right that are magical.

This event is created and hosted by La Cocina, a “business incubator” non-profit organization that helps local low-income food entrepreneurs gain the experience, knowledge, and resources needed to become successful and sustainable small businesses. What does this mean? These guys provide stuff like education and rent-able small kitchen space (and more) to your local food cart lady who makes kick-ass tamales so that she can buy a food truck, start a catering business, or open a full scale restaurant to get her business off the ground. This is just an example, of course, but basically they support local and typically minority and low-income women to give a leg-up into the food industry. So that everyone can enjoy Tamale Lady’s tamales or Hummus Lady’s hummus. Sounds good to me.

The Street Food Festival is a showcase of La Cocina success stories and works-in-progress and features food from 30 La Cocina micro-vendors, in addition to 25 owner-operated restaurants, a handful of mobile food trucks, a few select nationwide vendors, and more. Sounds like a day of food, drink, and fun to me. :)

And I was privileged to be invited to the media preview dinner a few weeks ago to enjoy some of the food, learn about the vendors, the festival, and La Cocina, and to meet some nice folks. See photos below, and see you at the SFSFF!

Welcome to the preview dinner...

Food they fed us at this dinner! It was pretty awesome. Click to enlarge and further scrutinize. You know you want to.

Plus we got sweet badges... notice that Boyfriend's name on his badge is "GuestAngie". Indeed.

Plus, they gave out these sweet temp tattoos of their birdie logo, which made me feel badass for about a week. (Ok, fine, two weeks.)

 

 





SF Underground Market

19 01 2011

SF Underground Market isn’t exactly a restaurant. Actually, it isn’t anything close. But it’s a foodie event like no other and broccoli & chocolate just attended last Saturday for the first time.

Event Summary: “A venue where you can taste and purchase the food that is being produced in backyards and home kitchens in the Bay Area. Think a farmers market, but at night, with music and drinks.”

Sounds fun, right? It was. But it wasn’t everything I was hoping for. Here’s why:

  1. It was super crowded. Half hour wait to get in (at 7.30 p.m.), shoulder to shoulder once inside (in the evening). Like a concert where you have to shove past all your fellow event-goers to get a decent dinner.
  2. It’s expensive. The $5 cover didn’t phase me, but the $6 grilled cheese sandwich did. K and I spent a cool $43 on admission, a plate of rice and beans, a grilled cheese sandwich and fried pickles, a bowl of vegan daal, water, a tiny cup of soda, one beer and four miniature brownies (= 1 normal sized brownie). For $21/person, I was still hungry when I got home.
  3. It’s too cool for school. While the concept is rad: homegrown fare for sale without pesky government oversight, it’s a total hipster haven. So many folks there were so cool I could almost puke. Or maybe I’m just grumpy that I don’t fit in. Who knows.
  4. What the hell was up with the music? While there were some cute little buskers about with guitars, accordions and keyboards, at about 10pm a girl took the main stage with her cello in hand. Imagine an echo-y cello blaring on a single note for 10 seconds at a time before switching to another dull, droning note. And then repeat for an hour. What happened to the rest of the band? If this doesn’t encourage drug use, I’m not sure what does.

    Vegan, not gross sign

    A sense of humor.

Complaints aside, I didn’t have a bad time. It was fun to go with some friends — there was a decent variety of food stands selling everything from vegan lemon cakes (above) to pulled pork sandwiches and most of the food wasn’t what you’d call mainstream. Oh yeah, we’re all so alternative. Totally.

Daal

Sorry for the terrible pic (I only brought my phone) -- Vegan Daal with rice, raw lintels and cilantro on top. $5

The food we had was tasty and, had it been less crowded, I would have been happy to partake in more. There were pizzas (half hour waiting list to receive your order) that looked fab, I totally saw a girl with a tray of mac ‘n cheese (that stand packed up and left around 8pm), and if I could have gotten a waffle without the chicken, I would have been down.

Man makes food

Taking the good with the bad: guy smokes a cigarette as he makes our grilled cheese sandwich. Yum.

It seemed like a “sell food until you run out” type of vendor listing, and about half of the stalls were closed or closing by 9 or 10 p.m. Which was unfortunate because the event was slated to continue until 2 a.m. I hope you aren’t hungry if you’re coming late.

Also, I’ve noticed some food trends lately: in “super chic” food culture bacon seems to be very “in”. As in, putting bacon on weird things is super cool. At this event there were bacon wrapped mochi and bacon infused biscuits (among other biscuit flavors). At a Yelp Event I attended a couple months ago, there were bacon flavored cupcakes. Good times.

All around, I would totally go back, but I would show up earlier in the day for the “take-homeables and gifts” (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.) part of the fair, or get there right at 6 p.m. to skip the crowds coming by for dinner.








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