I'm not typically a festival or street fair-goin' gal, but when there's this quality of food involved -- I'm more than willing to brave the crowd and wait in line to get my nom on!
Eat Real held its third annual food fest this weekend with the same success that they had in the previous couple of years. The set up is a win-win situation for all. Located in Oakland's Jack London Square, adventurous eaters can enter the festival free of charge and nosh on a fantastic variety of food -- a lot of which are of the gourmet, natural, organic and/or local variety. The best part? Every food item is priced at $5 or less. On the vendor end -- they get to expose their business to about 100,000 festival goers.
The portions at Eat Real are larger than a sample, but not large enough to be a full dish. Even so, those portions will sneak up on you. So to combat the issue that I had last year of not being able to try as many things as I would've liked since I got so full, I came up with something super genius... Split everything with a friend. Stomach space is valuable real estate when it comes to the Eat Real Fest.
There were dozens of food and drink vendors there, so ground rules needed to be set about how to go about choosing vendors. The one that we were most strict about: the food has to be something that would be hard to get anywhere else. That means not going to the Chipotle stand (they, and Whole Foods, were some of very few non-independent business vendors there), and not going to any vendors that have restaurants close by that I can go to any old day (that didn't stop others though! ;).
Between one other friend and I, we split over a dozen different things. Here's some of what we had...
Pizza Politana Wood fired pizza -- Housemade garlic pork sausage, county farm arugula, mozzarella and tomato sauce. Roasted mushrooms, parmesan, caramelized onions, thyme and truffle oil.
Ebbett's Good to Go Cuban sandwich -- Niman Ranch slow roasted pork, gruyere cheese, ham, chipotle, aioli and jalapeno relish on Acme roll.
Noci Gelato Salted chocolate with caramel and plum jalapeno sorbetto
Fat Face Popsicles
Plum basil green tea, and lime and avocado
I split all of this amazingness (and everything was truly amazing), and then some, with one other friend, who's also a girl who's around 100 pounds. Needless to say, we were both stuffed. I, in particular, felt like I was going to explode. My friend and I had taken public transportation to the event and afterward, were offered a ride back to the BART station, but we opted to walk instead to aid in digestion and to burn off some of those calories that we had just consumed. In fact, we were so full and felt the need to walk it off so much that we walked past two BART stations before finally boarding at the third one.
So was this food worth feeling like I was going to explode? Um, heck yes!
Tips for those of you planning on visiting next year:
Don't eat breakfast or lunch beforehand. Heck, don't even eat the day before.
Take public transportation. Parking is near impossible. Even the paid lots are full.
Survey all of the vendors before making wise decisions on what to get.
Only get foods that would otherwise be difficult to get. Avoid the Chipotle stand.