The Eat Real Festival in Oakland celebrates (primarily) regional, sustainable food, much of it dispensed from the food trucks that have become a ubiquitous highlight of our Bay Area culinary landscape. Now in its third year, Eat Real, held last weekend, continues to get bigger and better. More than 100,000 people were expected to flock to Jack London Square to enjoy small plates of food from nearly 100 vendors. Live music and food demonstrations entertained the throng as people lined up for buns from Chairman Bao, pork on flat bread from Chop Bar, lobster rolls from Sam’s Chowdermobile, paella from Gerard’s and a lot more.
Beer from local breweries was also featured in a “beer shed” with craft beer from the East Bay (Pyramid, Trumer Pils, Pacific Coast, Linden Street, Triple Rock, Drakes, Ale Industries, Black Diamond); the north (Lagunitas, Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Iron Springs, Marin Brewing, North Coast, Eel River); San Francisco (21st Amendment, Social Kitchen & Brewery, ThirstyBear, Beach Chalet, Speakeasy, Magnolia, Anchor); and Sacramento (Ordonata, Rubicon).In addition, the beer shed featured guest brewers like Brian Thorsen from Drakes, who was pouring the San Leandro brewery’s excellent 1500 pale ale. Other standouts included Ordonata’s delicious saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, which was perfect for the warm weather.
Despite the abundance of food and beer, enjoying them together can be a challenge at Eat Real, with food and beer seldom located in the same vicinity. The lines (especially for beer) are prohibitively long and seats can be hard to come by. I did manage one tasty pairing, however, matching 21st Amendment’s Back in Black with a delicious dark chocolate brownie. 21A’s black IPA is more toasty and malty than it is IPA bitter, and was a perfect complement to the brownie.
Eat Real Festival founder Anya Fernald has tapped into the rich vein of our local food culture, and the annual late-summer event reminds us just how lucky we are to share in the Bay Area’s bounty of craft beer and fantastic food. You can read Fernald’s food manifesto here.