Eat Real Festival 2010

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baker at Eat Real Festival
Mike Zakowski of The Baker

Will 2010 be the year we all learn to love the goat? You could have easily drawn that conclusion during this weekend’s Eat Real Festival in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Peer over the rapt capacity crowd squeezed thigh to thigh across rings of haybales: it’s Dave the Butcher from Avedano’s, taking apart a skinned whole goat joint by joint and offering cooking advice on every part from shank to tongue.

Over by the square’s historic log cabin, hold out your taco-smelling fingers to be sniffed by the posse of nonchalant urban goats, corralled ankle-deep in hay as they (and their pendulous, hairy udders) wait for the hands-on milking demonstration. Stroll past the pupusa and popsicle stands to the crush around Laloo’s, where smiling young women dole out goat’s-milk ice cream at $5 a cup. Or take a long, smooth swallow of A Donkey & Goat’s Mendocino Syrah, crafted by Berkeley winemakers Tracey and Jared Brandt.

Anywhere else, this much goaty goodness would qualify as a bona fide celebration of all things caprine. But at the massive Eat Real Festival, these goats on the hoof and on the hook were just one gustatory, backyard-livestock trend among many.

chicken coop
Ken Kirkland of Woolly Egg Ranch

Considering adding a few chickens to the tomatoes and zucchini in your garden? Mario Klip of Holland Hen Houses had three elegant chicken chateaux set up near the goats, each filled with a clucking, pecking selection of common and heritage breeds from Marin’s Woolly Egg Ranch. Also on display: a egg box packed with dozens of eggs, each from a different type of chicken, shells representing every shade of white, ecru, champagne, toast, seafoam and turquoise.

Curious about bees? Talk to the folks at the SF Beekeepers’ Association, buy a jar of city honey, or just get mesmerized by the glass-fronted hive rife with squirming, humming bees.

Or perhaps you just want to put your toaster oven to work as in-house coffee roaster; no problem, here’s James Freeman of Blue Bottle to tell you how to do it, as easy as “throwing a weenie on the grill.” Gardening, beer-brewing, pickle-making: all the au courant urban homesteading skills were being served up by local experts on this breezy, blue-sky day.

Of course, to many, the seed-saving demos, jam competitions, fermentation workshops and kiddie cooking contests were just icing on a big, fat, curried, hot-sauced, kimchee-piled fusion taco of street-food tastiness. Because, of course, the heart (or belly) of the Eat Real beast is found in the mobile food offerings, dished out for five bucks or less from row after row of booths, carts, and trucks.

crowd at eat real festival
Crowds on Saturday

As we discovered last year, the only way to fill your belly (and make a dent in the dozens and dozens of multi-culti offerings) was to run a recon team, supplying those waiting in the extra-lengthy lines with provisions from the less trafficked carts. It was common to see lines stretching 40, 50 folks deep or more, with half the line already holding plates of sliders, buns, or tacos from their previous queue.

There were countless ways to eat something open-faced and taco-ish, or rolled and burrito-ish, from Namu’s seaweed-based, daikon-laced Korean tacos to Curry Up Now‘s chicken tikka masala wraps (made not with naan but rather tortillas from La Palma) and newbie Vesta Flatbread’s Mediterranean-inspired, pita-like rounds piled with carrot-hazelnut pâté and beet salad with orange vinaigrette.

gerards paella
Gerard’s Paella

But if you searched around a little, you could find shorter lines for things off the beaten track of meat n’ dough. Like the delectable, mussel-topped paella scooped from the pond-sized pans of Gerard’s Paella, or Radio Africa & Kitchen’s succulent saffron-gold shrimp with peppers-and-corn salad.

radio africa
Chalkboard Menu at Radio Africa & Kitchen

The tag-teams of local farms and local chefs in the Farmstand Cookstand booths produced some of the festival’s prettiest and most seasonal dishes, like flaky peach and almond galettes (with Frog Hollow Farm organic fruit) made by Robert Dorsey III, of the Oakland Museum’s upcoming Blue Oak cafe, or Nicole Lobue’s peach-and-arugula salads, sourced from Abeni Ramsey’s City Girl Farms and Novella Carpenter’s Ghost Town Farm.

dorsey
Robert Dorsey III of Blue Oak

The Eat Real Festival continues on Sun., 8/29 from 10:30am-5:30pm in Jack London Square, Oakland.

chalkboard eat it. make it. grow it

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, DIY, foraging, urban homesteading, events, gardening and urban farming, street food and fast food

About the Author ()

Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen is a longtime local food writer, author, and cook. Her books include The Art of Vintage Cocktails (Egg & Dart Press), World of Doughnuts (Egg & Dart Press); Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food (Williams Sonoma); Honey from Flower to Table (Chronicle Books) and The Astrology Cookbook: A Cosmic Guide to Feasts of Love (Manic D Press). She has studied organic farming at UCSC and holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She does frequent cooking demonstrations at local farmers’ markets and has taught food writing at Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Continuing Education program at Stanford University. She has been the lead restaurant critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian as well as for San Francisco magazine. She has been an assistant chef at the Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists' residency program located in the Marin Headlands, and a production cook at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe in Pt Reyes Station. After some 20 years in San Francisco interspersed with stints in Oakland, Santa Cruz, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, she recently moved to Sonoma county but still writes in San Francisco several days a week.