Guest blog post from Navina Bartlett of StrEAT
I love the UK’s street food movement so much. And I love what Petra’s been doing. She’s one of the visionaries, one of the ‘slog your guts out’ type people, who are passionate about street food. I wanted to find out where this movement was first cultivated, so I decided to head across the pond to check out Off the Grid first hand.
Off the Grid is the San Francisco equivalent of Eat.St – but on a much bigger scale.
Founder Matt Cohen and his team have been running regular food truck gatherings for over three years now. And they’d just mailed the spring schedule for the first weekly Fort Mason shindig when I arrived.
Friday night shenanigans include a congregation of over 30 independent food vendors from countries like Peru, the Philippines, Mexico, India and Korea. Crème brûlée experts and purveyors of gourmet cupcakes are thrown in for good measure. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and was lucky enough to have local blogger, @garysoup, as my knowledgeable guide.
Let’s start with the trucks. The bigger the better and they’re ALL custom wrapped.
Little Green Cyclo is a Vietnamese beast of mammoth proportions, with 27 items on the regular menu + another 10 specials available on and off. I personally opted to share a Masami lemongrass grilled pork banh mi with my new bezzie mate Dave (more about our fated paths crossing in the StrEAT blog post out next week).
Some of the other ‘big guys’ at Off the Grid include well loved veterans of the food truck scene – Chairman Bao (Chinese steamed pork buns) and Curry Up Now (with their veritable mix of dosa fillings including chilli gobi to ‘Am-ree-kan’ a combo of egg, ground beef & bacon (holy cow!). Then there’s Hapa SF which serves refined Filipino/Californian cuisine, by ambassador and head chef William Pilz. He conjures up beautiful dishes like sour diced pork sisig & marinated chicken adobo, all sold from the front of his truck.
There are smaller vendors too – my personal favourite was Don Bugito whose specialty is pre-Hispanic snacks. Crispy cricket tostadas are served with mashed avocado, toasted sunflower seeds and pickled red onion (they also have a wax moth larvae option). The food is factually correct. How do I know this?
From CBBC’s ‘Horrible Histories’ of course – a credible source of ancient history as parents will know well!
Hmm, I look a bit like a bug, and I’m eating bugs
I loved Off the Grid. It has the same camaraderie as the UK scene and shows street food gatherings are here to stay. It’s perfect for bringing communities together under the auspices of sharing and trying food. I’m really glad it’s catching on in the UK. Let’s just hope the rain doesn’t spoil our fun!