Porcini doughnuts, artisan pizza, wine tasting: is this the future of festival food? - Joseph Cettina

Porcini doughnuts, artisan pizza, wine tasting: is this the future of festival food?

Festival-goers credit Outside Lands with pioneering the fancy treats now offered at Coachella and Glastonbury: We come for the music and bide for the food

It was hard not to notice the porcini doughnuts. Groups of people were staggering around clutching platefuls of them. The fried dough-puffs, dusted with a coating of dried porcini salt and served with a raclette cheese dipping sauce, were all over Instagram.

Some people seemed to be going to Outside Lands, a summer music celebration in Golden Gate Park, just to eat them.

One of the largest independent festivals in the country, this event attracts 200,000 people with two of San Franciscos great loves: outdoor concerts and high-quality, obsessively prepared food. If hoovering a gourmet burger while hiking a dusty trail in search of the next to be prepared by Metallica seems incongruous, Outside Lands has managed to make it run. Believe summertime of love fulfills food porn.

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Porcini doughnuts at the celebration, made by the San Francisco restaurant Rich Table. Photograph: Charlotte Simmonds for the Guardian

Many credit the event with pioneering high-end feeds in a down-and-dirty festival atmosphere. You might find concept waffles at Coachella or sushi at Glastonbury, but organizers and longtime attendees will tell you Outside Lands tried it first. Locals jokingly call it a food festival that also happens to feature some music.

Food has never been an afterthought, said Anna Weinberg, a well-known San Francisco restaurateur and curator of the festivals food offering this year. We want this to be a place where people can discover the best new food, just as they would discover the best new artists.

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A margherita pizza from the food truck Del Popolo. Photo: Charlotte Simmonds for the Guardian

San Francisco is an ideal laboratory for such an experiment. Ambitious cooks are happy to trial bold dishes from the back of a food truck, while affluent, middle-aged hippies milling around the VIP lounge wouldnt blink at a $22 burger. In a city that calls itself the home of sourdough and craft beer, festival-goers are at ease with ingredients like pork belly, jackfruit and cold-brew coffee.

Evan
Evan Bloom, co-founder of the Jewish deli Wise Sons, at Outside Lands. Photograph: Charlotte Simmonds for the Guardian

Its a very San Francisco thing, told Evan Bloom, co-founder of Wise Sons, a Jewish delicatessen thats had a place at the celebration for the last five years. People have an expectation of quality. They want their waffle fries and pizza but they also want their lamb burgers and 15 -hour slow-cooked ramen stock. People come here with a scheme, a little tic-tac-toe board of what they want to eat.

Bloom, who started volunteering for other food vendors at Outside Lands eight years ago, says doing festival food inspired him to open up a restaurant of his own. This was definitely the first place, anywhere, to do gourmet food at a music festival. Its always been a good group that takes food really seriously.

For a young brand like his, which serves up hefty Reuben sandwiches and pastrami-loaded cheese fries, the festival is critical to business strategy. Visibility is really important. Theres the potential to make good money, but beyond that we do it because its great marketing.

Last weekends three-day bash the festivals 10 th anniversary featured 81 restaurants, more than 70 local wineries and breweries, a private four-course dinner with the celebrity cook Roy Choi, and a GastroMagic stage that brought together culinary artists and musical acts. In between situateds by Lorde, Solange and The Who, concertgoers snacked gleefully on raw oysters, ice cream tacos and doughnut cheeseburgers( yes, thats a cheeseburger sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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