We Ate Real


    Last weekend we went to the annual Eat Real Festival in Oakland. They had it for three days, we went two. And we still couldn’t stuff everything down. The idea is to show that real, good food can be affordable like fast food. The reality is no matter how small each portion was, we ended up walking slow.


    Some things were delicious. Like the Korean BBQ tacos from Seoul On Wheels. Ebony loved the chicken, Mudpie swooned about the spicy pork, I adored the bulgogi, all served on a corn tortilla with some lipsmacking sauce for $3. Follow their tweets to know their locations.


    Near Seoul On Wheels were Curry Up Now and a Whole Foods‘ truck. Mudpie just couldn’t resist a chicken tikka masala burrito ($5), then drank a whole bottle of water afterwards. I was enticed by the hiramasa (hamachi) ceviche and grilled figs from Whole Foods, $3 each, served in a cone with tortilla chips for dipping.


    The ceviche is on the right. It had cubes of hiramasa fish marinated in lime juice, vegetable and spices. The texture utterly resembled boiled fatty pork, so refreshing in a sunny afternoon. This was also my first time having a whole fig. It’s sweet and gummy, pretty similar to prunes. The higo asados (grilled figs) were smothered in a balsamic reduction sauce, fresh goat cheese, and topped with almonds, said the menu (but they tasted more like peanuts).

    Speaking of goats…


    They had some walking around leisurely in a sandy pen and refusing to show their faces to my camera. There were mommies and babies, goat milking and goat-milk-ice-cream making on Saturday afternoon, just before we arrived. The goats spoke Spanish. 😀

    There were also fuzzy headed white chickens, a big children attraction nearby. And Jack London‘s old cabin (looking real cozy), because hey, we’re at Jack London Square.


    And boy was it sunny both days. But amidst the heat and smoke from humans and grilled meat did we find something refreshing. The Raw Daddy Foods‘ truck was facing away from the setting sun, and offering only, well, raw foods. In cones.


    Pilgrim’s cream cone. $5. Maple cream filling, with carrots, cashe, extra virgin coconut oil, and candied pecans, which ended up tasting like pumpkin pie! Not my favorite flavor, but it was good.

    It’s worth noting that the festival was full of tacos (and other Mexican foods). There must have been at least ten trucks with the crunchy half moons. But this one has the most catchy name:


    I actually had my eyes on the looking for this truck since I saw the list online. And I actually hate am troubled by the cheesy-advertising-trend-following usage of the word “Kung Fu” in anything, like Kung Fu Panda (hate have an aversion to the movie too, just from watching the trailer). Think “Vampire Burrito” and you may see my point? Anyhow, the tacos from Kung Fu Tacos looked shiningly attractive.


    It was either Chinese-style chicken or pork, I can’t remember, on two tiny corn tortillas for $4. The taste was well worth the price, though. Besides, the line was quite short, much more so than Kara’s Cupcake two trucks over, however longer than Ebbett’s Good To Go, who should win Best Decoration with flower pots on bright blue:


    We opted for vegan banh mi ($4) with tofu, Thai basil pesto, and pickled carrots. It was nowhere near banh mi, as they spelled it “bahn mi” anyway. Nice try.


    BUT, it was still pretty acceptable. Tummy filling at the least. I wish I could say the same about Le Truc‘s one-bite-sized hoppy cheesecake, delivered fresh and fast from a big cheddar school bus:


    Look good, eh? Taste like hop. Now maybe it’s good if you’re into beer, but none of us liked it. It’s not the sweet luscious cheesecake we expected. It was stinging bitter at first, then if you haven’t expectorated it already, thick and salty like old cheese on the tongue. The shiny brown sauce was even worse. Consider $4 flipped into the trash.


    On the other hand, what was good was excellent. Like the fried plantains ($3) from Soleil’s African Kitchen.


    No need for words. The line was fifty persons long under the blazing sun, and kept on growing. But I would do it all again for these salty sweet little beasts. My only complaint: they don’t have a restaurant that I can frequent!

    To conclude the day, what’s better than some ice cream?


    Nieves Cinco de Mayo let you sample their colorful snows before committing to the scoops. Guava was unexpectedly similar to strawberry, both in hue and in taste (unlike the green apple guava Vietnamese school kids munch with chili pepper salt). I opted for the rose petal flavor, which was more exuberantly rosy than Ici’s cardamom-rose version. It’s the pleasant awakening of every taste buds for merely 3 bucks.

    Things we didn’t do at Eat Real Festival this year:


    Eat paella;


    Eat ice cream from a classic colored ice cream cart;


    Learn how to grow mushroom and buy fresh fruits;


    Get better pictures of the butchery contest – the guy on the right was superfast with his pink carcass;


    And learn the name of the kitchen that made Scotch eggs – $4 a hard-boiled egg coated in meat and batter, deep fried. Overpriced, but yummy.


    There’s always next year.

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    5 comments to We Ate Real

    • Jackie Ewing

      You seem to have a passion for food, so I was wondering if you have a some healthy recipes of your own that you make. If you do, you should send them into this contest I know of that’s making its way around the country, the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. It’s coming to San Antonio on October 2-3 and Houston on October 9-10! I noticed your blog and thought you would be interested. You could get great exposure for your recipes and meet celebrity cooks (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). All you have to do is go to healthyfoodfight.com to submit one of your healthy recipes. Deadline to sign up for San Antonio is September 15th and Houston is September 22nd so hurry! Good luck if you decide to enter, and if not, keep posting! 🙂

    • Mai

      Thank you, Jackie! I’m not much of a cook myself, and I don’t even eat healthy, but this sounds like fun. So I’ll definitely look into it! 🙂

    • Hi Mai–

      Aetna has been spamming food blogs to promote this event- I am responding to each one in memory of my friend’s fingers, which she lost due to Aetna denying her claims repeatedly. Saving money by spamming their promotions is one thing. Denying writers and teachers and mothers their digits and appendages is another…Leave or delete this comment, but definitely delete the Aetna post as they are only using your site as a damage control platform.

      Google in quotes: “All you have to do is go to healthyfoodfight.com to submit one of your healthy recipes”

    • Hi Mai,

      I really like this post – it all looks amazing! The bulgogi and pork tacos look particularly good – just out of interest, was the meat barbecued or pan fried?

    • Mai

      Hi Danny,

      Thank you! I didn’t see how they cooked the meat, they did it in a closed truck, but the texture felt more pan fried than barbecued to me. It didn’t have those charred edges. I could be wrong, of course.

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