From its inception in 2008, the promoters of Outside Lands set out to create a festival food experience that would equally match its stellar music lineup and other delights—and it just gets better every year.
Focused on local businesses (whether or not they have a brick-and-mortar location—some have even used the festival as a launch pad for that), the ultimate vision of “Taste of the Bay Area” is to emulate the region’s culinary diversity (especially that of San Francisco). The festival was the first of its kind to offer gourmet local food from local restaurants and vendors and has inspired many others to do the same in the years since.
“People have started to follow the food as much as the music,” says curator Ari Feingold, who first became involved as a food vendor, then took the reins of the festival’s food scene in 2010. “We’re treating it as an attraction rather than just a solution for being hungry,” he adds.
This year, there will be close to 80 different food experiences, including booths, carts and trucks. “We have amazing chefs and restaurants onsite,” says Feingold. “Some are difficult to get a reservation at or to afford. So to be able to have the chefs provide affordable bites to people who might not otherwise have access is great to see.
“We’ve upped the ante yearly to include more craft beers, wines [we all know the North Bay is well represented there!], cheese [Cheese Lands is curated in partnership with Napa Valley’s Long Meadow Ranch and Culture magazine], the “Gastromagic” stage [entertainment with a foodie twist], ice cream [Three Twins will be there] and more. We want to have as much food out there as possible,” he says.
Feingold says it’s a year-round job creating the festival’s food experience—and he enjoys it immensely. “I feel fortunate,” he says. “The promoters have such a commitment to constantly improving the fan experience. It’s exciting to be part of the process.”
Some of the other North Bay food vendors this year include Pacific Catch (absolutely do not miss its Hawaiian Ahi poke), El Huarache Loco (huraraches, gorditas, quesadillas), Pica Pica (arepas, sweet plantains, yucca fries) and Up & Under Pub & Grill (waffle fries with “crazy” toppings). NorthBay biz is also excited to try Suite Foods Waffle Shop’s maple bacon waffles stuffed with fried chicken and to revisit Woodhouse Fish Co.’s Maine lobster rolls (a favorite last year).
Outside Lands Music, Food, Wine, Beer, Art and Comedy festival takes place August 7 to 9 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We hope to see you there!
Beer Lands first appeared at San Francisco’s Outside Lands music, food, beer, art, wine and comedy festival four years ago, offering concertgoers a selection of 32 beers from 16 local, craft breweries. This year, it will feature 32 breweries, for a total of 64 beers and ciders, and a central location in Golden Gate Park’s Polo Field. The experience is spearheaded by curator Dave McLean, founder/brewmaster of Magnolia Brewing Company (which has two locations, Magnolia Pub & Brewery and Smokestack). He also owns The Alembic Bar.
“I’ve known some of the folks at Superfly [which produces the festival along with Another Planet Entertainment and Starr Hill Presents] for a while, and they asked me to curate the beer component,” says McLean, whose original pub opened in 1997 on Haight Street, where specialty and seasonal beer is brewed in the basement (Smokestack is a newer, larger facility, located in the Dogpatch neighborhood, where the majority of his beer is brewed).
“With Beer Lands, I want to showcase California brewing and offer as many different styles as possible,” he says, noting that the process of choosing who’ll participate is an organic one. “There are so many craft breweries out there. It can be hard to choose,” he says. “I reach out to good fits and those who’ve been there before. We have a strong lineup returning this year.” That lineup features quite a few North Bay brewers (including hard cider) such as Ace Cider, Bear Republic Brewing, Anderson Valley (Mendocino County), HenHouse Brewing Company, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Lost Coast (Eureka), Mad River (Humboldt), North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg), Napa Smith, Sonoma Cider and St. Florian’s Brewery.
McLean says he includes as many Bay Area and San Francisco brews as possible to complement the festival’s strong sense of place. “We mirror the food programming that way,” he says. The Beer Lands area is a stand-alone space featuring two beer tents and a beer garden feel, where people can relax and enjoy everything from lighter beers to mixed-culture fermentation (tart/acidic) and beyond, including food from nearby vendors (The Monk’s Kettle will be adjacent, offering pretzel knots and sausages in pretzel buns—a perfect beer pairing for sure).
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..