Field Trip: Food, Wine, and Music at San Francisco’s Outside Lands
August 31, 2009
The weather defied everyone’s expectations—80-degree days are a real rarity in San Francisco. Perhaps that’s what had everyone in such high spirits at Outside Lands. Of course, it could also have been the amazing music, great food, and stellar wines. Music might have been the main draw, but we were content to spend our Festival days at the Outside Lands wine tent, sampling California wines and pairing them with some of the great food offerings (think Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, Hog Island oysters barbecued or on the half shell, and Fatted Calf sausage sandwiches). The dish that had everyone talking was Namu’s Korean taco, a flavorful combination of kalbi short ribs, daikon and kimchi salsa, kimchi remoulade, and more, all wrapped up in sheets of toasted seaweed. The wine tent itself was a richly appointed retreat, with a billowing fabric ceiling and decidedly atmospheric lighting. Each winery presented their wines from roughly hewn wood stations, where revelers could fill their glasses and learn about what they were drinking. Some of our favorites included Robert Sinskey’s Abraxas, a crisp white that was perfect for the heat on Friday, and Long Meadow Ranch’s Cabernet Sauvignon, an elegant and complex red that warmed us up on the chilly Sunday that closed the weekend. The A Estate Syrah from Alfaro Family Vineyards had a great spiciness and a long finish. We spoke to their winemaker, Richard Alfaro, about his experience at Outside Lands: Looking for more an in-depth wine experience, on Saturday we took in a private barrel tasting of Pahlmeyer’s second label, Jayson, in an intimate rounded structure right in the middle of the tent. We tasted each of the label’s three wines, learning about the winemaking process from the winery’s representative, Cleo Pahlmeyer. We loved the Bordeaux blend, simply called the Jayson Red, for its balanced, earthy finish. Afterwards we asked Cleo why Pahlmeyer was pouring at the Festival: The wine tent wasn’t the only place at Outside Lands featuring great food. Throughout the grounds there were dozens of stands from some of the Bay Area’s best restaurants. People lined up for a scoop of Three Twins Mint Confetti ice cream, Let’s Be Frank grass-fed beef hot dogs with grilled onions, and Little Skillet’s fried chicken, waffles, and macaroni and cheese. The Festival even had its own farmers’ market, featuring Frog Hollow peaches and plump, juicy raspberries, perfect for snacking on while enjoying the music. We sipped, sampled, and savored everything Outside Lands had to offer. It was a great weekend filled with the best of the Bay and beyond. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.