SF Weekly Dish 2011 [Review]

The SF Weekly Dish happened on Sunday, October 2. It’s now Friday, October 7. If you’re wondering why this review is coming out so late, it’s because this is how long it took me to digest just how FANTASTIC this event was.

Papalote showed me hella love. Photo by Laura Knight.

Let me break down for you just why this event was so perfect.

  1. Proceeds went to La Cocina, an organization that helps low-income food entrepreneurs get their start in the business. They also run the SF Street Food Festival.
  2. Check-in was a breeze.
  3. The gorgeous SF Design Center was an enlightened venue.
  4. 3 hours of non-stop eating featuring 35 food vendors.
  5. Open…wait for it…BAR.

The food vendors were chosen by SFoodie’s editor, W. Blake Gray, and SF Weekly’s restaurant critic, Jonathan Kauffman, and they set a spread that reflected the diversity of San Francisco’s enormous food scene. Among the vendors present were Turtle Tower, Shanghai Bund, Papalote, and Chabaa Thai. Oh wait, there was also dessert. Mission Minis and Let’s Cupcake each had platters of cupcakes, and Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous had two flavors of ice cream–pumpkin ale and chocolate malt–by the tubful.

Some vendors, I think, deserve a special mention.

  • La Mar Cebicheria – I could drink your leche de tigre for breakfast.
  • Good Foods Catering – Your roasted pork belly sandwich alone–paired with a beer–convinced me I definitely had done good in choosing this event over Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
  • Slow Hand BBQ – smoky BBQ with fig jam – I’m still thinking about it to this day.
  • Palomino –  Summery tomato gazpacho=happiness!
  • The Plant Cafe Organic – Your bruschetta was a lovely surprise.

Because you only need to pay an entry fee and then go crazy on the food inside, you don’t really have to plan what you want to eat. Unlike the SF Street Food Festival or the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, money, tummy space and time aren’t causes for concern. First of all, you’ve already paid for entry, so you don’t have to worry about budgeting. Goldstar and Pinchit actually had some great deals for the event, so many people didn’t pay full cost for entry. All of the samples are just the right size, so you can try everything. And finally, Gray and Kauffman have impeccable taste, so you can trust that anything you try will be delicious. Surprisingly, lines were also not that big a deal, since everyone at the event was well prepared and efficient. The way the booths were set up, there was just enough room between vendors for you to grab something from another vendor and eat it while standing in line for the next booth. Also, if the line for the vendor you really wanted to try was too long, you could just go get something else and come back after the wait died down. My friend and I actually waited in lines on purpose, so we could have some time to digest what we’d just eaten before going in for the next round.

Overall, this event was simply food festival magic. When I walked into the design center, I was greeted by a picturesque view of blue sky and white clouds from the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows in the back of the venue. With four floors spiraling upwards, I felt like I was in the middle of a carousel, slowly winding my way up and back down through something out of my food fantasies (I think the alcohol may have already been getting to me at this point).  There was also a wine/vodka vendor on each floor in addition to a bottled water stand, so you could rehydrate/top up on drinks while you were sampling food. The variety of dishes and perfectly portioned samples also meant that you wouldn’t tire of eating because there was just so much to try and so many different flavors to experience. This factor may not be good for your diet, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of everything, the element of food discovery was probably what I loved most about this event. I got to try things I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to taste. One of the most surprisingly delightful food bites was from The Plant Cafe Organic, which served a flavor-packed bite of bruschetta. The crispy bread was topped with a dollop of creamy cheese, a slice of fig and a piece of mushroom for an intriguing combination of pungent, rich, earthy and sweet flavors. If I had any complaints, it would be that vodka seemed to be the spirit of choice–I would have killed for some gin.

Since I was too busy loading my plate with food and pounding Blue Moons, I wasn’t able to get any food porn for your viewing pleasure. If you want to see how good everything was, just go to their next event and experience it all for yourself. Or, you can see the SF Weekly‘s photo slideshow here.

RELATED LINKS

SF Weekly Dish

La Mar Cebicheria Official Website

Papalote Mexican Grill Official Website

Good Foods Catering Official Website

Slow Hand BBQ Facebook

The Plant Cafe Organic Official Website

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About Lucia Chung
When Lucia Chung isn't at a Muni stop waiting for a bus that in all likelihood isn't coming, she's sprinting to a Caltrain station so as not to miss a train that will probably be late. Otherwise, you'll find her, tall and hungry, looking for food and fun all over the bay.

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