Eat Real Festival 2011

by foodhoe on September 26, 2011

Despite overcast skies and intermittent showers, we enjoyed eating our way through the Eat Real Festival this weekend at Jack London Square.  The Eat Real Festival celebrates all things tasty, fresh, and handmade with a focus on street food, local wines, handcrafted beers, and traditional food craft – all featuring sustainable, local ingredients. And the best thing is that no dish or drink costs more than $5.  There are demos and activities to learn how to make and grow things like home cheesemaking to backyard chickens along with bands, butchery contests, lit fest, and then there’s all the food…  It seemed to be well organized and since we were there early, the lines seemed very reasonable, way less chaotic and aggro from last year’s event or this year’s SF Street Food Festival.

I stood behind this fellow who came prepared…  what an awesome idea!  Many of the food booths do not provide eating utensils because the food is apparently finger food, like the tacos, so it is a good idea to hang onto one when you get one.

I made a point of tracking down the Brass Knuckles Truck, which arrived late and was located in an obscure corner.  Despite this, once they showed up, a line formed instantly.  They are known for their stylish cuisine with explosively simple flavors, each item has been carefully crafted to rattle and grip your tastebuds.   I ordered the Snoop Dog ($5) which was a gorgeous bacon wrapped hot dog, garnished with a squiggle of rich terimayo, paper thin tendrils of shaved bonito, topped with savory slaw, and sprinkled with furikake, which is a Japanese umami bomb mixture that is normally sprinkled over rice.  The kaiware (daikon sprouts) added a subtle pungent kick and nice vegetal  crisp.  The very plain bun was soft and smeared with a very generous coating of spicy sriracha chili sauce that paired perfectly with the crazy, madly delicious mixture on top.

But I really was there for the Crack Bar ($4).  The menu described it as peanut butter, salted caramel, cocoa dust, OMG! OMFG!!  Who can resist such words?  Damn you Brass Knuckles!  It’s all gone and I need more….

Nuts are one of my favorite snack foods, so I hunted down Oren’s Artisan Nuts, this is the chef/founder Arnon Oren on the right.

I picked up a bag of the Macadamia Nuts with coconut and chili ($5).  Just the right balance of flavors, a little sweet, salty and spicy…

Mr. K loved the Smoked Paprika Pecans, Oak-wood smoked, a liberal dusting of Spanish paprika and hint of sea salt.

Wild Rosemary Almonds, locally grown almonds are lightly roasted in extra virgin olive oil, dusted with salt and mixed with fragrant fresh rosemary.  So gorgeous!

Mr. K’s coworker Geri recommended that we try Senor Sisig.  And we inhaled the Sisg Taco  ($5), which was a soft corn tortilla, topped with a mountain of spicy meat, onions, lettuce and cilantro cream sauce.  We silogged it (added an extra egg) for extra $1, which was fresh from the griddle and was perfectly cooked with delicately crisped edges and golden yolk spilled out onto the taco.  It was so good we wanted another, but remembered to save space for dessert…

Wow Truck, W.O.W. is ‘Window On Wheels’ – owned by Tim Lluym, chef of the Attic Restaurant in San Mateo and the now closed Poleng Lounge in the city.  The Wow Silog Truck serving traditional Filipino silog style meals with a modern day spin by way of a food truck.  Of course I had to try the Crispy Pata ($5) Niman pulled pork trotters with grilled onion aioli, pickled papaya, chicharrones, and parsley on a mini baguette.  The meat was wonderfully tender with rich and funky flavor, I could see bits of chicharrones and wished there were more crispy bits.

The Fried smelt with lemon aioli ($5) from Forage SF was crispy hot and fresh from the fryer.

I was intrigued by the Meat Whip from the Whole Foods Truck.  Mortadella mousse with arugula salad, pistachio and crostini ($4 -$1 for subscribing to the whole foods newsletter) served in a cone.  It had an airy fluffy texture and delicate flavor that grew on us as we piled scoops of it on the addictively crunchy crostini.

From Belcampo Meat Company, Wagyu Hotdog topped with spicy daikon kimchi ($5) served on a delicate brioche bun that refused to behave and made my hands greasy. They must be commended for practicing responsible land and animal stewardship in their food production, but the hotdog was thin and lumpy, the texture was a bit dry and chewy…

But I couldn’t get enough of their Beef Tallow Fries $4, which nestled at the bottom of the cone.  They were deeply flavorful and despite being slightly soggy, I loved them with all my heart…

And since it was there, Mr. K made the pilgrimmage for the pork belly bun at the Chairman Bao truck.  The line was surprisingly short, perhaps the rain kept the hordes away and he came back carrying two buns, the Pork Belly with pickled radish ($5) just melts in your mouth and the Tofu was battered and fried so that it had a spicy crisp coating and creamy tender interior that was surprisingly good.

For dessert, I had to track down the Sabor del sur booth for their Alfajores ($2), which are ethereally flaky, buttery cookies filled with a rich creamy dulce de leche caramel and dusted with powdered sugar.  So gorgeous and so delicious!

The Eat Real Festival an awesome way to sample the Bay Area’s best street food vendors all in one location, and offers a variety of information for those interested in learning more about food crafting, gardening, pickling, even butchering.  It’s also conveniently spread out over several days, so you don’t have to try to eat it all in one day like we did…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cookie September 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Everything looks so good! Too bad the weather was kinda gross!


Rowena September 27, 2011 at 3:50 am

Holy cow those NUTS! You do us all a good deed by sharing your eats at this festival and I was really into that Snoop Dog at first look. Total bliss!!!


Carolyn Jung September 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Meat whip? OK, they must rename that. Hah. But Crack Bar? I am soooo all over that one. 😉


Ben September 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I do like the Brass Knuckles truck. I tried the crack bar too and thought it had too much cocoa powder for me (if there’s too much, it gives the dessert a chalky texture, IMHO). Good marketing, though, to sell a “crack” bar. 😉 I went on Saturday, which was super crowded, so sounds like Sunday might be the better day. I might do that next year.


foodhoe September 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm

cookie, at least it wasn’t pouring!
rowena, that hog dog was amazing. I have most of the fixings at home…
carolyn, yeah that name is really lacking some creative oomph.
ben, hmm, I didn’t notice chalky at all, in fact I would have liked a more pronounced chocolate flavor… but yeah I enjoyed going up to the window to order a snoop dog and some crack.


grace October 1, 2011 at 8:26 am

my goodness. i’d have to be rolled off the premises, i believe–i’ve never seen so much tasty stuff! crack bar and nuts galore–great pictures!


Bonnibella October 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm

OMFG is right! You and Mr. K are a great team fighting those crowds and lines. The Snoop dog is hilarious with a good combo of flavors. I’m inspired to make my own sisig tacos at home!


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