Thousands ate real, learned, and ate some more at the 2nd Eat Real Festival in Oakland’s Jack London Square. My highlights:
The simple act of making butter by shaking up a jar of Organic Valley whipping cream. 5 minutes later – soft butter! Talk about cheap and easy entertainment for a children’s party. And for me of course.
I’d always wondered why if Organic Valley sourced from local farms why I saw them in cities all over the country. It turns their model is to source locally. The cartons indicate where the milk is from. Who’s your farmer? (dude) Great slogan.
Avedano’s goat butchering demo drew throngs of people who wondered if the goat was starting out alive or had already kicked the bucket and was merely present to be parceled into cookable parts. (The latter)
In fact, this scene is an everyday occurrence at Avedano’s market in Bernal Heights / San Francisco where they butcher your meat just behind the registers, old world style.
Happy Girl Kitchen‘s hands on sauerkraut making demo left many satisfied makers with jars full of freshly chopped cabbage full of spice and vinegar, waiting their “surface phenomenon.” Left with instructions to press it daily, for weeks, it was the perfect “eat real” example of what goes into good food. Would be fun to know the result of everyone’s krauting!
James of Blue Bottle Coffee and his able Chemex-brewing team entertained a crowd of coffee aficionados, toasting coffee beans at 400-500 degrees to show how you too can instantly start roasting coffee…preferably outdoors due to smoke.
Crowds descended on the dixie cup coffee samples.
For green beans, he recommends Sweet Marias locally. Which reminds me of when I was looking into home roasting 10 years ago…still to be done!
On the first beautiful evening, Friday, it seemed 8 ice cream makers lined Jack London’s path, each with their own twist. Smitten’s home made dry ice contraption machined out of cool steel parts will be sure to please crowds of kids when their store
And another benefit of eating food from small companies: A few weeks ago I wrote to Straus Creamery about their ice cream. At the fest I met the girl who wrote back to me. How cool is that. (A: That she wrote back. B: That they’re so small she was wo-manning the booth.)
Long Chairman Bao lines persisted throughout the weekend. Sunday morning before they opened at least 30 people stood in line. I even met repeat customers. If only Chinatown’s bao / dim sum makers a few blocks away had seen this. What is the magic?
Larry from Let’s Be Frank shared his travails of sourcing sustainably produced pork. Very few slaughterhouses remain and getting fewer everyday. A big business opp for anyone who is up to the task!
Why Eat Real was Great
- Wonderful mix of farmers (highlight was a new peach variety discovery), food makers, mobile food trucks, demos, beverages. Something for everyone.
- Volunteering to survey event goers, it was interesting to get feedback firsthand. One guy hit it on the head: the Eat Real fest seemed truly like a community event – without standard commercial sponsorship messages. Any sponsors like Whole Foods integrated well and added interesting educational components through demos and workshops.
- Changing vendors over the 3 day period kept the festival interesting with a reason to come back.
- Water filling stations provided a nice way to get clean water without the bottles.
- Free! An utterly diverse group of people in age, ethnicity, and demographics clustered together discovering and learning, which was the ultimate goal for Eat Real.
And the weather surely cooperated and showed off Jack London Square in all its glory.
Next year: Did everyone from San Francisco know what a perfect experience it would be to ferry over from the ferry building? Even though I live in the east bay the idea of approaching this festival from the water sounds so luscious I may ferry for fun next year!
The Pop Up Store table tempted me to sign up to set up a shop for 1/2 an hour, like an “un-food fest” underground style setup. I love this idea, for people who have proof they’ve made their food in a safe way, to be able to share or sell it in this random way.
What were your highlights or what you’d like to see?