Chicharrones two ways, in one evening. It was a good omen. This was going to be one great eatfest of a weekend.
The 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival kicked off at Fort Mason Friday evening with streetfood from some of my old faves, including Roli Roti and Namu. Before we even made it through the door though, we got sidetracked at Off the Grid, which oh-so-conveniently was going on at Fort Mason at the same time. Coincidence? I think not.
It was like trying to get to the Emerald City with intoxicating poppy seed fields seducing you at every turn.
I tried to hold out, but my will power quickly deflated once I caught a glimpse of the taco from Adobo Hobo that Elaine (VirgoBlue) made a beeline for. Total food envy. I had to get one of my own before I ate it out of her hands.
The Filipino-Mex Pork Sisig Taco creation hit the spot, and the crispity crumble of golden chicharrones? Totally brilliant. The entire package worked, from the juicy, tender, vinegar-seasoned pork, to the jalapeno kick, cool crema, and chicharon crunchies, right down to the warmed tortilla.
Arnold (Inuyaki) gave me a little history lesson on how sisig came to be. Traditionally made from parts of the pig’s head (cheeks, ears), it was invented as a result of all the surplus pig heads that Clark Air Base (a former US Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines) used to give away to intrepid local cooks in the 1970s. Interesting, huh?
Hand down the best thing I tasted all night was a ri-dic-u-lous sandwich from Ryan Farr at 4505 Meats. Seriously unreal. It shut me up for a good 10 minutes as I was totally entranced by pleasure sensory only fried pork can produce.
This dish was masterfully constructed. Farr makes his own pickled jalapenos, so this dish started with pork tenderloin (with the fat cap left on) brined in jalapeno pickling liquid. The brine not only made the meat incredibly juicy and tender, it also infused it with a subtle tang and heat. Farr then sliced the meat thin, using a sashimi knife, and crusted each delicate piece in cornmeal before frying it up to a crisp. He garnished it with brightly flavored pickled green beans and onions (whose acid cut the grease nicely), and a creamy coriander aioli. The bun was somehow rich and light at the same time, made from brioche dough seasoned with parmesan and chives, sprinkled with sesame seeds, then buttered and grilled (the key to any great sandwich as far as I’m concerned).
And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…there laying next to the sandwich was a side of Farr’s famous chicharrones. Sweet baby Jesus, if you haven’t tried these yet, you need to figure out how to get your hands on some stat. Salty, sweet, spicy, all at once. They hit all the pleasure points. Unlike more traditional chicharrones that have a hearty, hard crunch (like the kind used in the Sisig Taco), the texture of these are light as air. So delicate, they are a translucent color, and literally melt on your tongue, leaving just a trace of bacon-y flavor, spiked with a touch of chili powder and a kiss of sugar.
The next day, bright and early, I joined the lovely Damaris (Kitchen Corners) and Tina (Carrots â€˜N’ Cake) for a panel moderated by Ryan at Foodbuzz on Food Blogging Guide to Success (Whatever That Is!). Thanks to everyone who came! I was a bit nervous and was just glad I didn’t get total stage fright and go mute. In the end, it was fun and I hope it was helpful
I celebrated my very first speaking engagement (!) with a big Bloody Mary and some good eats at Zero Zero.
Once the food paparazzi simma’d down now, we chowed down. Lots of interesting toppings, but call me a purist, my favorite is still the classic, simple Margherita. Didn’t get a chance to stay for dessert, but I’ll be coming back for that Straus Soft Serve with Olive Oil and Sea Salt. Obsessed.
After going home and passing out from food coma, I pulled myself together and took a much needed
walk waddle down to the Ferry Building for the night festivities. The gala dinner took place in the upstairs part of the building, with the vaulted ceiling sparkling with starry lights. Gotta hand it to Foodbuzz – you sure know how to pick a party spot.
The food was great…
But the company was even better.
Greg (Sippity Sup) playing with his food.
More than anything though, this weekend reminded me once again, how wonderful this food community is. It is so full of interesting, smart, funny, talented people…who really know how to pack it down.
I respect that.
2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival
November 5-7, 2010
San Francisco, CA