SFN: A Visit To The Taste Pavilion, Vol. 2

I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit to being pretty darn impressed with the Slow Food Taste Pavilions this weekend. Menupages’ own Adam Martin joined Sweetie and I for the Saturday evening session, and we were all impressed with the general pageantry and spectacle of the event in addition to the genuinely great food with which we filled ourselves over the course of four hours.

The only complaint? You weren’t able to buy anything at the pavilions, just collect check marks on your “Slow Dough” card to indicate that you’d been to a station. Of course, I’m not sure how the pricing would have worked if they had decided to sell goods at the pavilions, because we couldn’t help question the seemingly arbitrary “price scale” employed at the event. The Spirits pavilion was two check-marks, but you got unlimited cocktails all night. On the flip side, one sample of pork confit on small slice of toasted bread was three check-marks. Huh? Maybe pork is particularly expensive compared to a bottle of organic vodka.

And so we pressed on.

With each of the pavilions promising the best of what a particular industry or ingredient had to offer, I went into the evening thinking I’d see lots of familiar names and faces, like Blue Bottle Coffee, Cow Girl Creamery or Niman Ranch. But we were pleasantly surprised to see so many new or under-promoted names holding their own among the heavy hitters.

For instance, Counter Culture Coffee Roasters from North Carolina had us at hello with the El Salvadorian roast we sipped mid-flight at the Coffee Pavilion. We were all over the Wild Nunavut Arctic Char, available for the first time in the States, which was prepared by sustainable fish company CleanFish at the Fish Pavilion.

The pork pate from Café Rouge in Berkeley gave the charcuterie sampler some girth. And even the folks over at the Spirits Pavilion had new tricks up their sleeves with Shane McKnight, mixologist extraordinaire at Globe and founder of Urban Lunch SF, going through an elaborate process to create one very special cocktail: Pureed cucumber and lime, lemon juice, muddled cucumbers, St. Germain, Prairie Organic Vodka, mint and soda.

It was great to discover and rediscover food and the people responsible for making it. What’s more, in the spirit of slow food, localism, and sustainability, it’s great that so many food purveyors were able to share the spotlight and let the food, rather than the branding, do the talking.

And now it’s picture time. See you after the jump…

A snail made of bread. Slow Food. Get it? Heh.

The Charcuterie Pavilion display

This is the three-check-mark pork confit…

…whereas the Beer Pavilion was only one check mark. “And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer.”

The architecture and pavilion design was all done pro-bono and was spectacular. We loved these “floating” mason jar lids at the Pickle and Chutney Pavilion.

[Photos via Bobby “Sweetie” Rullo]

SFN: A Visit To The Taste Pavilion, Vol. 2