Yahoo! Food was kind enough to send us to Outside Lands 2014, a three-day music festival from notable not just for the big names featured in their swoon-worthy musical lineup, but also for showcasing some of San Francisco’s other rock stars: chefs. We took over Yahoo! Food’s Instagram for a day and covered the much-talked-about food scene.
San Francisco has had a long, colorful, musical history since before ushering in the revolution of the ‘60s. The city’s food scene has been equally innovative, with restaurants such as Chez Panisse pioneering a cooking style focused on local, high-quality ingredients. Outside Lands was the perfect setting for both foodies and music lovers alike to feast on the best of both worlds.
And feast we did. First off, the food at Outside Lands was not even in the same stratosphere as your typical fair food. The four food sections boasted booths from such impossible-to-get-into restaurants as Rich Table and noted localvores like the Woodhouse Fish Co. Beyond enhancing the sheer awesomeness of the festival, these booths gave many festival goers a chance to sample food from restaurants that would otherwise seem intimidating. “There’s a different demographic [here] that we really never see,” says Mark Liberman, chef/owner of restaurants AQ and TBD. “People associate AQ as a really hoity-toity restaurant. We’re really not, but people have that assumption. [This] allows people who generally wouldn’t come to our restaurant to see we have nice, approachable food that’s not super expensive.”
Food that’s not just approachable, but downright incredible. Mark served up a Spaghetti Sloppy Joe: a sandwich born of a late, whiskey-infused night in the kitchen with some leftover spaghetti and bread. “We took something that’s really familiar and very Americana and made our version of it, he says. “With really nice, organic, local tomato, basil, and mozzarella cooked down until it’s really rich and tasty.” The result was a showstopper. We lost track of how many people just HAD to know where we got this visually stunning dish.
Evan Rich of Rich Table also decided to change up a classic with his Porcini Doughnuts, by far one of the best things we’ve ever put in our mouths. One of the most popular items in their restaurant, the Porcini Doughnut is a marriage of fried dough dusted with dried porcinis and seasonings in a heavenly mass finished with a raclette cheese dipping sauce. As Evan puts it, “It’s the simple things people love.”
“It’s the simple things people love.”
Ryan Farr showcased another thing people love: burgers, fries, and ingredients that shine. Bringing only the best from 4505 Meats, Ryan’s “Best Damn Cheeseburger” features a grass-fed patty, gruyere cheese, lettuce, onions, secret sauce and a side of spicy garlic chimichurri fries. The beef is the true star of this ensemble. Says Ryan, “Claire at Mindful Meats does a great job of sourcing grass-fed meats. It’s got good flavor, good fat. It’s really important to us we use quality meats and good products.”
If anyone is fanatical about good products, it’s August Schuchman of Woodhouse Fish Co. Knowing full well seafood is best when devoured only miles and minutes from its watery origins, he strives to keep it as local as possible. In addition to clam chowder and fresh oysters straight from Drakes Bay, his Lobster Roll was a hit. Fresh lobster mixed with celery, chives, and lemon aioli tucked inside a roll brushed with clarified butter and toasted on the griddle. As he puts it: “It’s a happy place for the lobster to be.”
“It’s a happy place for the lobster to be.”
If August has the surf down, Ian Marks has the turf, bringing that same focus to the meats and charcuterie served at the Beast and the Hare. While they featured mouth-watering, slow braised pork shoulder and chicken thighs, Ian’s true calling is the art of the cure. “It’s cool when you see [a cut of meat] that’s identified as one thing, and you turn it into something else. Like, turning pork shoulder into coppa. You spent a month curing it into something else. I’m really into that idea of cooking.”
As much as we enjoyed chowing down on some of the Bay Area’s finest, every chef we visited, without exception, seemed to be having just as much fun. Ryan said it best: “We love cooking outside. It’s great to be outdoors, hearing the music. So many good food vendors here right now. It’s good to see all of our friends we see every year. It’s something we love to do. It’s pretty amazing. It’s Outside Lands, man, it’s awesome, it’s the best thing every year. The whole team looks forward to this particular weekend.”
Outside Lands - San Francisco, CA
Website | Twitter | Facebook