San Francisco’s Outside Lands three day festival is known for its musical acts, but this year food sales from vendors hit a record high. Boasting a roster of more than 50 food vendors, approximately 65 thousand festival goers had their pick of food vendors, wine, and beer samplings. This year an official festival ice cream flavor was concocted for patrons to enjoy.
I arrived a little late to the festival’s opening day, Friday, August 8, but naturally I headed to my go-to-food when I can’t decide what to eat-pizza. Never underestimate the power of the pie, some patrons even waited an hour for their orders to come out of the oven. Ever since my trip to Italy as a junior in high school, I’ve had a slight obsession to find a slice that would match the slice I ate in Naples. I ordered a $12 margherita half pizza, (yes, half, I was ready to munch), from Casey’s Pizza food truck, which specializes in Neapolitan style. Kudos to you Casey’s Pizza, you’re the closest pie to Naples that I’ve ever eaten. For those unfamiliar with a margherita pizza, it’s main toppings, are simple: tomatoes, light cheese, and basil. The folks at Casey’s didn’t drown or overpower my pizza in basil and seasonings, keeping it light and airy, which I much appreciated.
One of my guilty pleasure foods is french fries. Once the festival food vendor list was released, the first thing I looked for is what french fries I need to try first. Pastrami fries from Wise Sons Deli, came into my life that weekend. Chives, meat, relish, and cheese sprinkled over hot fries took a different twist to the fries with meat concept that SoCal has so graciously embraced.
Most food vendors present have their own local restaurant or food truck, but one of the festival’s breakout stars, the highbrow spaghetti sloppy joe actually comes from a higher end restaurant, AQ. The sandwich is the brainchild of restaurant co-owner and chef, Mark Liberman. Liberman said the creation came when hunger struck at the end of a late shift. The sandwich fixings were created from an odd combination of the night’s leftovers, the rest is foodie history. The insides include: spaghetti, pork, mozzarella cheese, and vegetables on the side. Pork isn’t my favorite, but this time the well seasoned swine complimented the spaghetti well.
I heard of festival talk of a sushi burrito, sadly I just couldn’t wait in the line long enough to be served a mainly rice composed roll. I wandered a few food tents over to discover an arepas vendor. An arepa is a South American flatbread usually made from maize dough stuffed with any filling from meat, cheese or jelly (breakfast style). San Francisco-Mission District’s, Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen, sold Venezuelan style chicken, veggie, and pork arepas for $10. Again, I opted for the pork version. If they had a carne asada arepa that day, I would have fallen in love. Thank you, Pica Pica for being my quickest food service experience of the entire festival. The arepa bread was fresh, warm, and reminded me a bit of cornbread mixed with what Central American’s like myself consider a quesadilla (hint: this type of quesadilla looks like bread).
Finally, dessert. Earlier, I mentioned a special craft ice cream, “chocolate gold rush,” was created for Outside Lands by Guittard Chocolate Company and Humphry Slocombe.
For those that know me personally, I dislike chocolate ice cream since it never tastes chocolatey enough for me. This was not the case that day. The extreme chocolate flavor is credited to the long running, reputable, Guittard Chocolate Company. The ice cream was infused with chocolate covered waffle cones.
All in all, I wish I had more room in my belly and an infinite amount of time to hit each and every booth. This year, bay area food vendors fell in love with the pig, and served an array of odd or classic pork dishes, like Bacon Bacon’s chocolate covered bacon. Latin-Asian fusion food was also a food trend this year. Nobe served up Ramenburgers, sushi burritos and Namu Street Food mixed Korean food and created their own taco, just to name a couple fusions. Food vendors this year became more gluten conscious, as more gluten free menu items were widely available. If you didn’t spend some time this year sampling food, carve out some time in your festival schedule and arrive with an empty stomach next time.