Does a sublime glass of Napa Valley’s Scribe Pinot Noir go with carnival-themed restaurant Straw’s delicate falafel “snowcone” and sweet potato tater tots with blackberry BBQ sauce?
On a conceptual level, perhaps not. But better to not overthink these things. In its second day, this weekend’s Outside Lands festival is all about the “pursuit of pleasure,” according to Scribe’s 29-year-old vintner, Andrew Mariani, who finds such things in drink, food, and music — without prejudice. (For the record, yesterday’s Shins and Foster the People sets were particularly awesome. As was the falafel-Pinot combination, thank you very much.)
Tens of thousands of music fans have descended on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Friday night’s biggest draw was Phish, a band that continues to put on shows that are, “just epic,” in the opinion of one young guy in the crowd. And the food and wine here can be equally transcendent — but you have to find it. With 50 food venues and 40-person lines (at times), that can be difficult. But we discovered it in the most conventional of things — a grilled cheese sandwich. As unlikely as that seems, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s simple offering, with fresh cut japaneños, was not too refined, but not greasy either; this is one sandwich that transcends itself. (And can come with a tomato soup that has a sour spiciness that sneaks up on it like a best friend.)
The next morning, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s Nate Pollak doesn’t describe his sandwiches as gourmet but will allow that his ingredients (from the tomatoes to the cheddar cheese, bread, peppers and bacon that can go on a sandwich) are.
He was still absorbing Friday’s “insane” experience of serving up more than a thousand sandwiches, which ran out by 7 p.m. (in the middle of the Phish show). Pollak adapted with the scraps, coming up with ‘butt bread’ cheese sandwiches. No word on whether the (reportedly great) improvisational sandwiches will be served again, but we’ll make sure to scour the overwhelming festival menu for other offerings.
It continued Saturday night and tonight’s lineup features headliners Arcade Fire (to say nothing of the food selections).
Look for the full Food Republic roundup from Outside Lands on Monday.