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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

San Francisco Part II: Foodbuzz Street Vendor "Fare"

Part II of our San Francisco journey took Eusebio and I to Hotel Vitale on The Embarcadero right across from the famous Ferry Building and Pier 2 (Click here to go back and read Part I).  We mingled with many other food bloggers during an extended cocktail hour with free California sparkling wine, vodka drinks provided by Skyy Spirits, and a couple of beers from the Speakeasy Ales and Lagers.  The first beer that I sampled was the Untouchable.  This American-style pale ale was rather delicious.  It retained a slightly hoppy taste while still delivering a smooth and malty finish.  The second beer that they provided for us was the Big Daddy IPA.  Unlike the Untouchable, this beer has a full hops taste and there is no denying its pale ale style.  I continued to drink beer at the bar on the rooftop overlooking the market area and the bay until they ran out of malted barley and hop beverages.  I then asked the bartender to make something with the flavored Skyy vodka that were promoting.  It was ridiculously sweet and I couldn't handle it after all of the delightfully hoppy beer, so I put it down and walked across the street to the Ferry Building for our evening dining at the street vendor "fare".  This event was put on by FoodBuzz specifically for our Blogger Festival so we were free to walk around, sample food, drink more drinks, mingle with other bloggers, take pictures, and really do as we pleased.  Naturally, since it was Eusebio and I, we went straight to the beer!  Jay drank beer cause, well, Jay drinks beer (name the movie - although my name is added of course).

ThirstyBear's Polar Bear Lager and Valencia Wheat

The ThirstyBear Restaurant and Brewery, a San Francisco Brew Pub, provided the libations this time around.  They had their Polar Bear Lager and Valencia Wheat on tap for us to imbibe upon.  The Polar Bear Lager is a pilsner style beer though it tasted more like German of Belgian pilsner than an a macro-brewed American one.  Its hue gleamed with gold while the head was nothing serious, but enough to leave a bit of foam around the lip of the glass.  The Valencia Wheat was in similar style to the macro-brewed Blue Moon or possibly even Hoegarden.  It was a Belgian-style white beer with a hint of orange and coriander.  The flavor balance was nice and the beer had a refreshing aroma and taste on the tongue.  But enough about the mass quantities of booze that I consumed (for now).  Let's get on to the street vendor food!

Bay Area Raw Oysters

These raw oysters were the definition of fresh.  Hog Island Oyster Co. pulled them out of a local bay adjoining the Pacific Ocean in the morning and we were eating them that evening.  While they were quite fantastic, I have to say that they were incredibly different than the Gulf oysters that I am used to.  In my opinion these west coast oysters were on average smaller and cleaner, which to me meant less flavorful.  I had four of them in all.  The first one I ate was completely plain, the next oyster I added a little lemon juice, then a little hot sauce to the next.  I finished with the last one in its pure, unflavored form. They made me miss Gulf oysters, but it's not like I'd ever turn them down!

Fresh Pizza Dough Getting Ready for the Wood-Burning Brick Oven on Wheels

A Few Slices of Wood-Oven Baked Pizza Pie

This pizza from Pizza Politana, cooked on location in a wood-burning brick oven on a trailer, tasted absolutely sensational.  The dough had such an old school flavor and the toppings, which featured eggplant, dry-cured olives, feta, and parsley, were fresh and delicious.  I only ate one slice because there was so much food to sample, but man, it was good!

Steak and Gruyere Pie

Speaking of amazing, I got to try one of these meat pies as it came fresh out of a mobile oven!  The buttery, flaky pie crust, created by The Pie Truck, was filled with slow-cooked, seasoned and cubed all-grass-fed beef and cave-aged Swiss Gruyere.  The pie was succulent, savory, and salavitingly splendid!

The Glenrothes Select Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Back to booze for a second.  I had this Scotch in a drink called Blood and Sand that was created by the good people at Skyy Spirits.  The drink contained The Glenrothes, Cinzano sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice.  The drink was much better than the incredibly sweet cocktail that I had at the meet and greet earlier, but it still was not quite my cup of tea.  I did taste the Scotch on its own.  It had an earthy peat flavor but was not too dry on the finish.  Not bad, but certainly not my favorite.

The Good People and Rotisserie Pork at RoliRoti - I Heart Crispy Skin!

For me, the winning dish of the street vendor "fare" was the rotisserie pork at the RoliRoti truck!  The Porchetta Sandwich that they turned the pork into featured a pork belly rolled into a loin with crispy skin and fresh organic herbs.  It was cooked right in front of our eyes on a rotisserie grill that was built onto a truck and driven around to different events.  The concept was original, creative, and the product couldn't have been more perfectly executed!

Pork Loin with Pork Belly, Organic Herbs, and Crispy Skin

The meat itself had an indescribable flavor.  The pork's succulent and juicy flesh made me (and everyone else there) giddy with excitement.  But the loin was not all they did!  RoliRoti sliced the pork on the cutting boards and loaded it onto a magnificent piece of sliced artisan bread.  Every sandwich was packed full of pork loin, pork belly, and, most importantly, the taste and texture of the crispy skin!  They added a little sauce, a touch of onion marmalade, some fresh curly cress, and a side of rosemary roasted French fingerling potatoes, and you were not looking at food, but rather a work of street vendor art!

Porchello Sandwich with Crispy Skin Pork Loin and Rosemary Potatoes

There were many more food items and tasty treats that I did not photograph, mention in this post, or even get to eat!  Foodbuzz immersed us in a truly great culinary experience that will not soon be forgotten.  Even though Eusebio and I drank so much San Franciscan beer that we probably shouldn't remember it, the evening really would be impossible to forget.  The kickoff cocktails filled my belly while I enjoyed meeting other food bloggers from around the world.  The street vendor "fare" showed off some of the best of what San Francisco has to offer from the culinary side.  It truly surpassed all expectations and at the end of the night I couldn't be more excited about the next couple days of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival!


RoliRoti on UrbanspoonSpeakeasy on UrbanspoonThirsty Bear Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Hog Island Oyster Company on Urbanspoon

The United Way's Jambalaya Jam Jams on October 9th!