Wednesday, August 22, 2012

4th Annual San Francisco Street Food Festival pt. 1

For the third year in a row, Angela, J.K., and our friend Mel went to the San Francisco Street Food Festival (Saturday, August 18, 2012) sponsored by La Cocina. This was such a massive event that we're going to have to tell you about it in several posts. We purchased the $100 Passport, which gave us $115 of food tickets and 4 soft drink tickets. (We were expecting more people, but knew we could make it work out if they didn't show.) Tokens ($4 each) were available for alcoholic beverages, but at one token for beer and two tokens for very small drinks, we decided to forgo the adult beverages.

The day was glorious. Hot, but not too hot, so we could spend the whole day outside, eating, people-watching, and generally enjoying ourselves. We arrived early, picked up our passport and two flavors of Hint water (watermelon and pomegranate-tangerine). This brand has hardly any flavor at all, but good smells waft around every time you open the bottle. If you're looking for a sugary soft drink you won't like it, but it's a refreshing change from the “raw water” taste of most bottled waters.
This year's arrangement was much better than last years festival. Instead of a “square” of streets, the whole festival ran along Folsom, from 20th to 25th, with limited use of cross streets for non-food booths, so it was easy to find all the vendors, who were lined up on one side of the street. There was plenty of table and seating space, much of it under trees, so there was shade for those who wanted it.

State Bird Provisions was by far the most popular booth at the Festival. They just won Bon Appetit's 2012 Restaurant of the Year, so people were eager to try them out. There was already a substantial line at 10:45, but the line moved fast, and we had to wait only 15 minutes after the Festival opened at 11:00 to get our delicious garlic bread with cheese and tomato giardiniere. The giardiniere was delicious, but not what we expected. Instead of having a tangy vinegar flavor, it was sweet.We paired the State Bird selections with sweet potato fries from Liba Falafel. Also delicious. Actually, almost everything was delicious, so we're going to stop using that word. We'll just let you know if we didn't happen to like something, and why.

Next we tried the grilled leg of lamb and and lemon verbena lemonade from Radio Africa Kitchen. Mel and J.K. grabbed some table space while Angela went to get a tinga tostada from L's Caffe to go with it. The lamb was rare and tender; the veggies were good, especially the carrots. We liked the tostada with its creamy mexican cheese and crunch from the 'shell.' The lemon verbena lemonade was a surprise pink, but we learned that comes from the root of the plant. The flavor was subtle and yummy.

On the way back to eat Angela spotted the watermelon ice at the Bi-Rite Creamery stand and couldn't resist getting that, too. The popsicle tasted like summer, a yummy watermelon puree. We could have cheerfully eaten another one, but knew from past experience to save room for more culinary delights.
We hope you enjoyed reading part one of our adventure. There is much more to blog about the Street Food Fest and we are delighted to share it with you. You'll notice following the links that this festival is about everything from well-established restaurants to food trucks, catering and even food businesses just getting started. This helps make the venue fun and brings together a wide (tasty) variety of choices for the consumer. The tiered pricing allows people to try a variety of  foods even on a budget. (small bites $2-4/large bites not allowed to cost over $10) Viva La Cocina! Next year let's figure out how to make a tequila jello shot NOT cost $8, eh?

P.S. Angela also hopes they adopt this pricing structure if they continue forward with the charity event Night Market, which was Friday night. I attended and was disappointed by the prices vs. small unimaginative portions at some booths. The lack of preparedness at other booths made me hope it was just first year wrinkles that will be ironed out by next year!