Thursday, August 16, 2012

EAT REAL 2012 - Oakland’s Jack London hosts Food-a-Palooza! Sept 21-23, 2012


I met a reader recently who told me she wished she had my life.  While reading my blog I suppose one could be led to believe that I lead this idyllic existence, blithely roaming from restaurant to restaurant, meal to meal, cocktail to cocktail. It certainly seemed to her that my world was one of constant fine dining and never-empty glasses of champagne.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But since it isn’t the first time I’ve left folks with this impression, I have to assume its something about the way I recite my adventures that convinces others that my life is an effortless one of food and fun times.  That’s not to say I don’t eat out more than most, though my eldest daughter’s recent nuptials have me brown bagging it more often than not.  Not that I’m complaining.  I find a meal of home-cooked succotash or soup as enjoyable (well okay almost) as a meal prepared by an artiste like David Kinch, whose Michelin-starred Manresa provided the backdrop for a recent triple birthday celebration.  (That details of that particular adventure, however, will have to wait for another blog).

I think it’s because I believe in thoughtful eating.  If a meal is experienced and savored, even a meal prepared at home from fresh but simple ingredients has as much opportunity to spread the love as a more formal repast.  Eating well is less about spending money or dining out, than it is about eating attentively.  Be present in the experience.  Take a breath.  Sit down.  Savor each and every bite.  Lastly, share your meals with someone whose company you truly enjoy.  That’s my recipe for great dining.  If I can pass on anything worthwhile, it is that our lives are too short to pine away for whatever it is you think yours may be missing.  Enjoy what you do have with those who love you, be it over a flute of French champagne and a plate of foie gras — or a glass of Two Buck Chuck and a burger.


The perception that dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant is the only way to enjoy a brilliant bite of food is something of a fallacy.  Though I hope I am fortunate enough to continue to dine with the best Chefs this country has to offer, I am no food snob.  One of my readers who owns a food truck once remarked “You eat so well, I’m jealous” I had to laugh a little at this.  I replied to her “But I am eating well because I am eating this” and pointed to the sandwich she had just handed me.  I was actually jealous of her, up in her truck window, handing out the tasty magic.  To me that is a charmed life indeed.  But that’s my point.
Senor Sisig's magic is well worth
the wait.  In the long, long,
long long line...

The fact is, I like to eat much too much to confine my culinary entertainment to something I can only enjoy three or four times a year.  Fortunately for me, there are many levels of fine food, and not all come at Michelin prices.

ENTER, EAT REAL FESTIVAL, OAKLAND.  September 21, 22, 23, 2012

The staff at Tamarindo will
serve up nothing less than perfection
Held at Jack London Square in Oakland every September Eat Real is a celebration of so much of what it is I enjoy about the Oakland dining scene these days.  All that is vibrant and vital and good about my little home town.  Oakland may be San Francisco’s under-appreciated baby sibling, but these days she’s got as much to offer as her Big Sister City, especially when it comes to less expensive establishments, and that includes the proliferation of food trucks (although she still needs a giant clue when it comes to allowing the trucks a bit more leeway to serve up their wares).

A Chef doesn’t have to have a Michelin-star to rock my world, or even my tastebuds.  All he or she needs is good ingredients, imagination, and most importantly --- skills.  Like any other art form, cooking with enough inventiveness to create a point-of-view is a skill that can’t completely be taught, so not every culinary school graduate can make the magic happen.

Eat Real has vetted its participants the best way possible, happy customers.  This food festival is jam-packed with the best-of-the-best of all the aforementioned food trucks, local brewers, as well as representatives from some heavy-hitters in Oakland’s bustling restaurant scene.  Every participant brings their A-game in eats, many offer classes in all manner of food-related curiosities.  Cheese-making, bread-baking, you name it.  This array of talented culinary artisans coupled with California’s gorgeous Indian Summer weather all comes together to create that which is at the heart Eat Real—  a three day journey to a heavenly food-centric Mecca.

I suggest you make time to experience it.  Chop Bar of Oakland will be serving up some (whole roasted) pig; there will be crepes from Brittany Crepes and Galettes, roasted corn and yams by Ear-Good Corn Roast, Indian street food from Curry Up Now! and, if memory serves me right, Little Green Cyclo and Senor Sisig will be serving up the longest lines (and some of the most amazing grub) ever to be experienced.

Admission is free.  Food is inexpensive (though it does add up) and cash is best.

For a full schedule of participants visit

Check it out.  Make a memory, and learn to make a loaf of bread.  Or make a memory about making a loaf of bread with a loved one!