August 22, 2010

SF Street Food Festival...And How I Ate My Way Through It

I spent a better part of my weekend at the San Francisco Street Food Festival. I have to admit that I was a little on the fence as to whether or not I should go--taking BART into the city on my only day off this week, jostling with crowds of ravaged people, and spending money didn't exactly appeal to me. But then I realized that if I stayed home then I would wind up cleaning the apartment, and I could not live with myself I if passed up a food festival for housework.

So I ponied up $25 and bought myself a passport that got me $29 worth of food, a free surprise snack, and drink. Knowing that 20% of my purchase was going to La Cocina, an amazing organization that helps incubate small, culinary entrepreneurs and works to create policies that support street food vendors in San Francisco really helped me take the plunge as well. Plus, I got to spend some time with my aunt and uncle.

Ma passport: each ticket = $1 and was SO much easier than dealing with money. Plus it came with a nifty double sided map and tickets for a free Honest Tea and a "mystery" snack.

Tamales! Que casualidad!

Folsom & 25th: an intersection of culinary least for the day.

Le Menu

Vegetarian samosa from Curry Up Now, a taco truck that sells Indian food. A perfect warm up for the day ahead...and only $1. My aunt and uncle split their Tikka Masala Chiken burrito. $7 of glorious Indian goodness wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Kung Fu Tacos definitely evoked the spirit of Bruce Lee with their tasty tacos.

Check out that line! It was like that just about everywhere, but the lines moved pretty fast and the food was totally worth it.

Asian spiced chicken, sliced red onion, cilantro and pureed carrots (I think). The chicken was very good and I liked the carrot puree, but it did dilute the flavors a bit. $3 each, courtesy of my aunt.

Opportunistic street musicians (they were quite good) and very innovative--much needed-- temporary counter tops.

Next up: DESSERT!

We didn't care that it was 12:30, or that we had only tried a fraction of the food vendors, but we just had to have some smores from Kika's Treats. Homemade graham crackers, smooth chocolate and torched marshmallows. The only thing missing was a glass of milk!

A tasty, tasty beef tamale from Alicia's Tamaleria/Tamales los Mayas. Very savory and homey in the best way...almost as good as homemade. I have to admit I was starting to get full at this point.

The ubiquitous Azteca dancers. They migrated from intersection to intersection. I rather like blurry one. Artistic, no?

When I saw the Bepto Bismol booth on the map, I thought that it might be a very cleverly (or ironically) named food booth. But, no, they were there to provide Peptol Bismol cocktails to anyone who might need one. I definitely saw a number of people walking around with plastic cups filled with iced Peptol Bismol. I, thankfully didn't need any.

A quick break and a stroll down Folsom Street and I was ready for some more. So I got in line for some Filipino food from Adobo Hobo and the Lumpia Cart. The line was quite substantial, but my order was filled instantly and the food was definitely worth the wait. I got adobo chicken and a thai basil lemonade. And my uncle was kind enough to share some lumpia with me. The adobo could have been more vinegar-y for my taste, but the meat was uber tender and literally fell off the bone. $4 for the chicken and $2 for the lemonade.

After lumpia and chicken adobo we doubled back to Treat Street--an aptly named street--to see if we could get some mini cupcakes from La Luna Cupcakes. La Luna had sold out of cupcakes, so we got some brady caramel filled chocolate squares from Clairesquares ($5 for 3) and chocolate chip cookies from Sweets Collection. The caramel chocolate squares were really good, and we bagged the remaining squares and cookies for later.

I also picked up a 2 lb. bag of all purpose flour from Giusto's for $2. The Giusto's girls were really sweet and I'm looking forward to using my flour the next time I bake.

Next stop: 25th Street for something savory.

Enter: Flour + Water and their Melon, Duck Prosciutto and Lardo Salad. I was tempted to try their pork sausage plate, but I didn't think I had enough room for a larger portion. Besides, I was really curious about the duck prosciutto and lardo, both of which I've never tried. I have to say that my adventurous inclination paid off: the salad was quite tasty and the duck prosciutto was the best part.

We then (slowly) made our way back up to Folsom Street for one last sweep. I was intrigued by Purple Hibiscus and their beef skewers. I thought that it was Korean fare, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that they feature Nigerian cuisine.

The skewers were a bit pricey and there was a 15 minute wait, but I had a ton of tickets left over and was very curious to try Nigerian food. So I handed over 8 tickets and when I stepped aside to wait for my skewer the next door stall, Hapa Ramen, caught my eye. They were sold out of their soba and ramen noodles, but had cold somen noodles for $5. I have to admit that I was getting full, but a bowl of cold noodles with pulled pork and spicy chili oil sounded really, really good. So I stepped right up to their counter, handed over 5 tickets, parked myself on the sidewalk, and dug in.

I am so glad that I got those noodles! They were by far the best thing I ate the entire day: velvety cool noodles, sweet and savory melt-in-your-mouth pork, crisp green beans and spicy chili oil.

I finished my noodles just in time for my suya skewer: hot, beefy and super spicy. And then I was done. My tummy was full, my lips were burning and I was happy.

I can't wait for next year.

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