Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Real Food Festival

Bike-powered blender in use!

During our first weeks in Berkeley, especially if we have no car, we often go to Oakland by public transport, to its interesting Chinatown or to whatever street festival is on, or maybe to get the ferry to San Francisco from the terminal on the waterfront  in Jack London Square, as we did when Maguie was here last year. This year we took in the Real Food Festival at Jack London Square, vastly expanded this year after an apparently successful launch  last year.  As an outing, it was bound to be pretty much a write-off for someone on Weight Watchers.  Although there was not so much as a fried Oreo in sight, and not much seemed to be deep fried at all, at a festival devoted to food it is very difficult to be abstemious (not only that, but it's also hard not to eat too much!)

If you look at the photos and video on the link below, you'll see some of things that caught my eye: the endless tacos, various hot dogs or other sausages in rolls, pizza etc. were old hat and mostly not worth photographing, let alone eating.  Some of the queues were very long and even if we quite fancied the food, we didn't fancy the wait. What we had to take the edge off our hunger was billed as "Bhel Puri".  Years ago we ate at the Bhel Puri House somewhere near Euston Station in London. The food came with very large puffy bread of some kind - Ben, then about eight years old, famously remarked that it looked like a satellite dish! No bread in sight here: they tossed a mixture of crispy puffed rice, lentils, finely chopped tomato, onion, cucumber, and a kind of green salsa with coriander and mint and some chili, made in a blender powered by a stationary bike driven by volunteers from the crowd. It was like a savoury breakfast cereal, very fresh and tasty with wonderful crispy crunchy textures. (It takes a very long time to upload a video direct to this blog, but now it seems Picasa can upload a video to a my photo website website much faster, so I've put one there showing the guy mixing it all up .)  I followed with a potato and spinach knish, the very thin dough containing the filling fried crispy on a griddle rather than deep-fried. 

Heirloom tomatoes featured in this Panzanella
Barry had assorted steamed dim sum, and later on, tried a panzanella with a variety of heirloom tomatoes, fragrant fresh basil, really good parmesan, and chunky garlicky croutons made from excellent dense bread. He also managed several glasses of wine (I had a Naked juice, rather like the Nudie Juices at home, not sure which hit the market first), and he finished with some melon  ice-cream which I had tasters of.

There were demos of cooking , brewing beer, butchering, milking goats - see a partial list here:

A poster listing the demonstrations (click to see it enlarged)

At one of the stalls where they were selling barbecued pork there was a guy Barry spotted in the queue with a tattoo which looked to us like a pig marked out into butcher's cuts - I couldn't manage a photo and thought it might not be altogether wise to ask him to pose for me. You can see all the photos I took on Picasa:

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