It had been a stressful week so I was glad to get off the grid. I was on the road home by early afternoon and I was out of my white shirt and tie by 3:30.
My family and I were headed to the Fort Mason Event Center in San Francisco for our first trip to Off the Grid. Off the Grid’s Friday evening event runs from 5:00-9:00 and is a “mobile food extravaganza…bringing all your favorite gourmet food vendors together to create a market like you’ve never seen before.”
We pulled up at about 6:00, found a parking space, and launched ourselves into a sea of people circumscribed by nearly 20 food trucks (Didn’t we use to call them roach coaches?) and tents. There were a few carts with over 50 people in line for their delectables, several hundred other adults and children checking out the other vendors, eating, listening to the jazz band in the middle of the crowd.
My wife got in line at the Salvadoran cart and walked away to eat papas (potato masa pancakes) with bacon and cheese, paired with a shredded cabbage and jalapeno salad in vinaigrette. She loved the papas, left the salad for me. My son and I shared a serving of paella with shrimp, calamari and halibut – it was tasty, but needed a bit more saffron – while we joined the queue at Señor Sisig (finely-diced fried pork). He ordered sisig fries, I bought sisig nachos.
While my wife and son sat in the van and ate, I hopped out and stood in line at the crème brulee cart. They had a reputation for running out early. I returned with three foil cups: vanilla bean, lavender and Mexican chocolate. My son and wife stood in line at the Kara’s Cupcakes truck and returned to the van with three blackberry cupcakes. We ate the brulees and stowed the cupcakes to eat at home.
We ventured out one more time. I picked up two onigili sushi rice triangles – one paired with eggplant and the other with tuna. My wife chose a pulled pork slider. Together the three of us picked out some organic and sustainable dimsum. My special treat from the dimsum cart was a sesame ball – crispy, sesame seed-encrusted rice dough shell with a red bean paste center.
We were sated and done by about 8:15 or so. The crowd had not abated and had actually gotten a bit larger. Throughout the evening, everyone in the crowd and at the trucks and carts were courteous, giving the gathering a positive, light-hearted vibe. Everyone was there to enjoy the food. As we drove away, we all agreed we would be back and that we would try the other street food events around the city.