Tuesday, August 16, 2011

La Cocina & SF Street Food Festival - Part 2

I'm reposting this story to encourage you to go to the SF Street Food Festival this coming Saturday.

The best parts of having a media pass to the SF Street Food Festival was that we were allowed to go early, talk to vendors, taste some food, and learn.

As I mentioned yesterday, the SF Street Food Festival is hosted by La Cocina, which promotes startup food businesses. The press was led around an hour before the festival by Caleb Zigas, Executive Director of La Cocina. He explained that last year was the first festival and it was just the 20 La Cocina businesses on one city block. Apparently it was chaos. There were about 13,000 people that showed up. Vendors ran out of food and the lines blocked the small street area.

This year there were 40 vendors. They had their supported La Cocina businesses but also opened it up to some restaurants, some food trucks, and a few informal businesses. The area was increased to about four street blocks and they added some music by the beer gardens.

We press were there an hour before start and so when business started at 11 a.m. it was still relatively easy to get around. By noon the lines were beginning to get really long and by the time I left at 1, forget it. I heard that by around 5 the first vendors were running out of food. In the end, though, it shows that this event is popular, isn’t going away, and will only get bigger.

So what did I eat and see that are worth mentioning?

I could not resist my love of Roli Roti and their porchetta sandwich. You can read about that love in my post on them here. La Cocina was having a silent auction to raise funds and Roli Roti had given a great donation for their fans - a VIP pass. It gave the owner the ability to cut to the front of the line for a year. If you ever see their truck at the Ferry Terminal and the line, you appreciate the value of this pass.

The one vendor that fascinated me the most was Sweets Collection and their 3D edible art. What you are looking at is gelatin, like Jello. All of these beautiful creations are done with gelatin, milks, fruit juices, and incredible artistic ability. Just looking at them holds you entranced for minutes.

I had fabulous Strawberry Thai Refresher from Dezy’s Drinks. This super drink was pureed strawberries infused w/ keffir lime, Thai basil, and lemongrass. I LOVED it.

One of the restaurant vendors that was really popular was Nombe. I tried to look up their items on their restaurant menu, but apparently they were special for the festival. One was a bowl full of chicken wings fried and tossed in a citrusy marinade. Their other was Takoyaki, or octopus balls. They were cooked in ebelskiver style pans with dough filled with a piece of octopus and then with a teriyaki-ish sauce. I had asked a guy with a bowl about them and he generously offered me one. It was delicious. The wings I got and tossed in a ziploc to take home with me. They were OK cold, but I think I lost something by not eating them while hot.

I liked that the booths had information about each vendor and what area of the world they represented.

The major corporate sponsor of the festival was Pepto Bismal who brought in Eating Champion Johnny Chestnut for a taco eating contest at the end of the day.

I also met the founders of Foodspotting. Below is Ted and Fiona and I met Alexa later. I wrote about Foodspotting earlier this year. Read it here. It is a social networking site/application focused on food instead of restaurants.

Now some readers may be disappointed that I am not showing more food here. But I was full quickly, the lines were long, and it was just time to bail. But another food blogger tried more things and you can read his report here.

Now to bring this back to our Sacramento efforts, wouldn't you like to see something like this here?
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