August 26, 2008

It’s the time of the year when San Francisco is precariously low on bottled gallons of water, halter-tops, and beef jerky. While I’m definitely bummed to not be heading to Burning Man this year, I’m definitely excited for all the Slow Food Nation festivities this coming weekend. Oh, and I’m still fired up from my Friday night at Outside Lands, quite the double play of Beck and Radiohead. Compliments to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who ran the smoothest part of the event: the bike valet. Kudos! And it was a treat to be able to easily ride over to Namu for a post-show late-night bite. Their menu is bigger and badder than ever. (Prices for proteins are also quite a bit higher than on my last visit, so I gotta update my review, but the food is just so good.) Oxtail and dashi-braised daikon, uh huh.

I might as well have called this the weekend of wood-burning ovens: Saturday afternoon, A16 hosted a kick-off party celebrating their new book, and while it would be cruel for me to discuss the veritable islands of burrata they put out, and the joy of meatballs on a Saturday afternoon, oh wait, I should shut up. It was a nice party.

But Sunday, whoa, it was probably one of the coolest culinary events I’ve attended in SF, and one that could only happen here, really. A group of talented folks have been building a wood-burning oven for the bread pavilion at Slow Food Nation in artist Jeff Burwell’s workshop on Valencia Street, and Sunday night was the christening party. The event was a remarkable group effort, including produce donations from Mariquita Farm, Alemany Farm, Knobke Orchards and others; pizza dough (and a pizzaiolo) from Pizzeria Delfina; wine from a bunch of folks, including SCRIBEwinery and Bi-Rite (plus ice cream from the Creamery); beer from Magnolia; and a whole crew o’ chefs and cooks from Chez Panisse and Serpentine and more, who were choppin’, braising, and sweating it out.

It was a magnificent group dinner, with pizzas, goat three ways, wood-fired ratatouille, roasted potatoes, just a perfect meal. Dag. As Andy from Mariquita put it, it was a very “loaves and fishes” kind of event—seriously mind-blowing how many people got fed, and all the food that kept coming out of the oven. It was a rocking celebration, and a fitting renegade kick-off party for Slow Food Nation (and kind of a groovy bohemian homage to Alice Waters, but circa 1971 Alice), all about love and respect for food and people and coming together. I know, I totally drank the Kool-Aid. (Thanks for the invite, gang. It was an honor to be there.)

Want to take part in another event with some key folks from this talented group of culinarians and builders and artists? Check out and be a part of the upcoming event from the OPEN crew, OPEN City, in the socialite.

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