9.04.2008

slow food nation- taste pavillions


slow food nation

The Fish Pavilion at Fort Mason

I am continually in awe of those who speak eloquently. You know the ones- always able to effortlessly find the perfect turn of phrase at the perfect time, managing to articulate a thought or an idea with both precision and poetry. Regrettably, I simply ain't one of those people. During my first 2 days at Slow Food Nation’s ‘Food for Thought Speaker Series’ I was usually so overwhelmed by the inspired speakers, I spent more time teetering on the edge of tears than I did able to construct a sentence.

Sunday's Taste Pavilions provided quite a departure from all them there big thoughts.....not to mention a rip snortin' good time. Imagine 15 distinct pavilions within the 50,000 square foot pier at Fort Mason (on a spectacular sunny day): Beer, Bread, Charcuterie, Cheese, Chocolate, Coffee, Fish, Honey & Preserves, Ice Cream, Native Foods, Olive Oil, Pickles & Chutneys, Spirits, Tea and Wine.

…..“The Taste Pavilions present an unprecedented opportunity to sample the regional foods of America, with products from every state hand-picked by ‘curators’ who are nationally recognized experts in a particular type of food.”…..they weren’t freaking kidding! Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. In addition, over a dozen of the Bay Area’s most celebrated architects worked pro-bono to design each of the Taste Pavilions. The end results not only provided backdrops to the unique and delicious foods- each thoughtfully created environment also contributed enormously to the experience of the space at large.

The ‘Wall of Bread’, which housed the Bread Pavilion, was basically a global bread museum, complete with a comprehensive history and illustrations on the subject. It also included 4 massive outdoor wood-burning ovens which cranked out literally hundreds of pizza slices and Indian breads each hour, plus a 7’ tall SF Snail sculpture made entirely from loaves of real bread. The outdoor Beer Pavilion offered 100’s of artisan beers to sample. My favourite visual detail of this space was the material used to make the bar’s counter tops- crushed beer bottles set into concrete. The Fish Pavilion served a trio of samplers, including a fantastic calamari, bread and basil salad. The Wine Pavilion offered 454 American made options to taste (and yes, you could take your wine to the cheese and your beer to the charcuterie), while the Cheese Pavilion handed out a fantastic artisan cheese sampler and provided hay bale seating and lots of great dairy related quotes such as “Cheese; Milks’ leap into immortality”- (Clifton Fadiman). In the 4 hours that I was there, despite my steady consumption of food and drink, I still managed to work my way through only half of my $45 punch card. It should be noted that, despite the bad rap events like this get for being elitist and inaccessible, over a 3 day period I was able to partake in 4 sessions of the speaker series, the 'Best of Slow Food on Film', linger each day through the Victory Garden at Civic Centre (free) plus enjoy the day's grazing and sipping at Fort Mason for a total cost of $175.

slow food nation- beer pavillion

Bar counter made from crushed beer bottles

slow food nation

Dairy wisdom at the Cheese Pavilion

slow food nation

Honey and Preserves Pavilion

slow food nation

Wall of bread at 'The Hall of Bread'.

slow food nation

Charcuterie wallpaper! (prosciutto and salami)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Diane, your blog is the best around...
Everyone's bloody at it, but few do it well.

And the photography...

SF Trip looked great!
Nick (at Duthies)

Anonymous said...

I'll second the above comment. As a newbie foodie, I really appreciate your musings, your pictures and the recipes too! Smokes, what a yummy pie!!!

diane thompson said...

Thanks, Nick. Your encouragement arrived at the perfect time, as blogging can sometimes be a lonesome pursuit.

Anne said...

Agreed! What great coverage of Slow Food Nation. It's so great to vicariously live through your informed travels.

And on a more shallow note, can I just say that I want that charcuterie wallpaper for my dream (and drool-inducing) home. And when I say want, I mean BADLY.

diane thompson said...

Thanks, Anne. Honestly....I think you could make it (the wallpaper) quite easily- though you might want to take the Palmolive to your scanner after.