Outside Lands: Festival for the Foodie

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To assume that Outside Lands is simply a music concert would be a grave mistake. Don’t get me wrong – listening to the performances is the main attraction, but Outside Lands has plenty to offer to the other senses.

The smell of the weekend? The nice wafting smell of weed that comes in intense waves but doesn’t fully depart until you leave Golden Gate Park.

The sights of the weekend? The people of course – while you can find your fair share of expected San Francisco hippies and yuppies, Outside Lands attracts everything from entire families to eccentrics in costume to shrieking teenage girls.

And the food – oh, the food.

Outside Lands collects a wonderful variety of good food from all around San Francisco on one plot of land. Think Off The Grid, but you’ve got food trucks and fancy restaurants and street carts and a whole lot of other food vendors.

On Saturday, the Grizzly Bear front man called out into the crowd: “You guys have the bougiest food stands of any music festival I’ve ever seen.” Bougie. And proud. And delicious.

As my friend Maddie commented:Image

There were two main planning struggles for me this past weekend: 1) how to see all the bands I wanted to see (sometimes sacrifices are necessary because of simultaneous scheduling), and 2) how to eat all the food I wanted to eat (no excuses, the stomach expands). The only excuse that stands in terms of food is the pricing – the prices (although it’s not unexpected, it still surprises me) are a bit outrageous for all of the food and drinks at Outside Lands.

And so, I shall commence with the records of what I consumed.

Charles’ Chocolates Gourmet S’more. Yes, please. A definite crowd favorite.

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American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Grilled Cheese with a whole lot of bacon:IMG_2015

I had a bite of the Breakfast Grilled Cheese as well (with fried egg and bacon). Also delicious.

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This photograph does not do it justice, but the Artichoke & Ricotta Sandwich from Luella was wonderfully simplistic.

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I can guarantee you that these Tater Tots from Q were better than Napoleon Dynamite’s. I get it now though, I did not realize how scarily addicting tater tots are. Another crowd favorite.

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Wild mushroom grits from 1300 on Fillmore:IMG_1977

Gilroy Garlic Mac N Cheese. The SECOND best mac n cheese at OSL.

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The BEST Mac and Cheese at Outside Lands. The Crispy Mac and Cheese from Andalu. Whoever thought of frying mac and cheese was genius. The Mac and Cheese from Andalu almost had a grilled cheese texture to it (the outside breading of the mac and cheese was substantial). Perfectly crispy on the outside, perfectly soft and cheesy on the inside. The Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette was also key.

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To add on to the wonderfully healthy food I had at Outside Lands, I also had a huge slice of sausage pizza from Spicy Pie. I was starving, and it was gone in a few minutes.

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Last but not least, the beef and pork arepas from Pica Pica. Although my sister was excited to try Pica Pica’s arepas, I had no clue what they were. They were a delightful surprise and the best dish I had at Outside Lands.

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Until next year, Outside Lands.

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Tastings in Tulum

I spent the last week in Tulum, or rather, Akumal, a small town 15 minutes North of Tulum (South of Playa del Carmen and Cancun) in Mexico. The attraction, of course, wasn’t the food, but rather the scene, the surf, and the sights. The food was simply an added bonus.

Here are some samples of what we ate:

Starting the morning off right with an açai smoothie with granola from Turtle Bay Café in Akumal:

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Tacos and Mixed Seafood Ceviche from Los Aguachiles in Tulum:

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I actually preferred El Cammello Jr., which is just down the block from Los Aguachiles in Tulum. The restaurant was less tourist-y, the servings were larger, and the seafood seemed fresher. Unfortunately, I have no photos – contrary to popular belief, I don’t take photos of everything I eat. This time around, I regret this fact.

Dinner at La Cueva del Pescador in Akumal (this is my recommendation for dinner in Akumal):

Octopus cooked Veracruz style. The octopus was more tender than any other octopus I have tasted, and the flavors were simple and fresh. This was the best dish.

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Mixed seafood – fresh, and simply seasoned and grilled:

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A refreshing Jamaica (Hibiscus) Agua Fresca:

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The scene at La Buena Vida in Akumal, where we sat on swings to enjoy Happy Hour:

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One of the local Mayan dishes, Cochinita Pibil, slow-roasted pork colored with a sauce made red by annatto seed:

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Homemade Flan. Perfecto.

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And finally, CHURROS. For those who know me, you may also know that I have been obsessed with churros since I was a small child. Everywhere I go, churros seem to call out to me. These were by far the best churros I have ever had. Surprisingly (to me, at least), they were from the local supermarket, the Soriana in Playa del Carmen. The churros are freshly made and laid out for customers to douse in cinnamon-sugar themselves. Thin, and perfectly crunchy on the outside. Pure heaven.

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Adios, Tulum. It’s been real.

Taking on Thomas Keller’s Apricot Flan Tart

When I decided to take on the task of baking recently, I immediately went to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book. I am a firm believer in all or nothing; if I was going to bake, I was going to bake something delicious.

With experience baking from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book under my belt, I knew to take out my über-precise, scientific scale before starting this recipe. As some may know, Thomas Keller prefers using grams and weight to measure his ingredients. Although it may seem excessively precise, I must say that Keller has me converted. I love trying to get the perfect amount of weight on the scale so that it reads, for example, exactly “100.00g.” The measuring is pretty easy on an electric scale, but measurements do become more complicated when it comes to ingredients like eggs.

Thomas Keller, for those who are unaware, is a famous chef and restaurateur, known for The French Laundry in Napa. Keller’s father was a Marine drill sergeant, and you can see how influences of precision and order play a part in his sophisticated desserts and recipes.

After much debate, I decided to make the Apricot Flan Tart from the Bouchon Bakery book, which is described as “one of the simplest of all tarts.” The tart, I later (too late) discovered, really requires three days to make. The first to make the dough, the second to make the cake, and the third to be served after a night of chilling. I made it in two days: one for the dough, the second for making the cake and serving it too. It turned out great.

Measuring eggs:

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Apricots and Tahitian Vanilla Beans:

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The Pâté-Brisée is rolled-out and ready for baking (the dough is made the night before and chilled in the fridge overnight):

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Making the custard with vanilla seeds scraped from the centers of the vanilla beans – only the best and most fresh ingredients for Mr. Keller:

Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart

Straining the custard the first time around (out of a total of two times) before cooking it:

Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart

The tart, ready for baking:Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart

I made a shortcut with this recipe and did not chill the ready-made cake overnight before serving. It was fine. The tart crust is meant to be cut off very precisely at the edge of the custard; my cutting was less precise. C’est la vie. It was still delicious.

The baked tart, ready for serving:Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart

Mmmm…

Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart

Mmmmmm….

Thomas Keller's Apricot Flan Tart  

Mmmmmmmmm.

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