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The Tasting Pavillion: Slow Food Day 2

By Jasmine · September 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Jasmine: Joe and I showed up early. REALLY early. 10 am. The doors opened at a 11. We assumed we would have to stand in line. We were the first ones there.

There were too many things to taste, too many people, and not enough time. At the last minute, we were told we were going to get “slow dough” to use inside instead of having unlimited tastes, which I think is a pretty dirty trick to spring on someone after they’ve bought nonrefundable tickets. I spent my first hour there stressing over using my “dough” carefully, only to realize that I was going to have plenty left over since half the places seemed to overcharge while the other half didn’t even bother to stamp it.

The wine pavillion was chaos. I couldn’t even tell what wine was there until I elbowed my way up to a counter. Ridiculous. I only had one glass.

My favorite area, though, was the Coffee Pavillion. At the entrance, you could choose to go to the coffee or to the espresso. Door #1 or door #2? I chose door #1 the first time. There Joe and I stood at a counter while a knowledgable server poured us tastes of 3 different kinds of coffee from 3 different countries: Kenya, Brazil and El Salvador. Each was distinct from the other 2, but all were delicious and suble.

Later, in a last ditch effort to use up my dough, I chose the espresso. I was lead in immediately to a barista at an espresso machine, who brewed me a fresh cup while telling me about it. I found the espresso overdone, however. It was so citrusy and so acidic I couldn’t finish it. Espresso, like beer, is one of those things that some people seem to think “the stronger the better”. But it can destroy a lot of the best flavors this way. Still, I enjoyed tasting it, and maybe a diehard espresso drinker would disagree with me.


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Joe: The Slow Food Nationtaste pavillion has passed. There were ups and there were downs. Overall I had a great time. The slow dough and the fact that they gave you so many things to try but only 4 hours to get to it all was annoying. I kept feeling torn to try more of the food stuff, but also make sure I try a bunch of the beers. In the end, the beers I did get to have did not disappoint.

Dave McLean, of Magnolia Pub and Brewery, created an exciting beer pavillion. It was very relaxing and jam packed with good brew. My favorite was Little-Opal from Firestone Walker. It was a hazy and light but flavorful small beer. The hops come out at you right away which is great for such a low alcohol beer. The cask from Firestone, 100% oak aged double barrel, was also a favorite of mine. Tasted a lot different then the usual double barrel. The oak was there but not too much at all. Another cask was Drake’s IPA which I liked but not as much as the regular draft version. Finally we had Goose IslandBourbon County Stout which makes you very aware that it is a pretty hight alcohol stout. I am excited to try more Goose Island beers. I almost forgot, Jasmine rushed when we only had 10 min left and got me two more beer tastes while I watch David Chang, chef at Momofuku in NY, make yuba. She got me Lost Abbey Witches Wit and Jolly Pumpkin La Roja – now that is a good girlfriend.

Besides the beer, it was great to see beer given a place to shine. People were asking questions of the pourers, a good sampling of brewers and bay area beer people, and you could tell that some people were learning about good beer for the first time. A women next to me was asking a few of us in line what a barley wine was. We pushed her to try it – why not!

Back inside, while Jasmine waited in the ice cream line, I wondered over to the spirits section. Out of everything you could taste there, the spirits were the best slow dough deal. For one slow dough point (worth about $3) you could drink anyone of about 8 drinks being made at the bar. It was a good idea and executed very well. Bartenders around the bay area were there to make you a drink or two. There were people who came up and were like, bourbon neat please – but overall they were there to impress with different kinds of drinks that people might not have had. I tried a Northern California Collins and it was so good I might try to make it myself. The seceret was local 209 gin. There was a thorough demo of proper absinthe, La Fee, that tasted pretty smooth with all the anise you expect. After a rum punch and a sazerac, I had my favorite cocktail – the August Sun, made with Square One Vodka (and I don’t usually like vodka at all). This was summer in a drink. The tomato and basil mixed with the cucumber vodka was intoxicating.

Was Slow Food Nation a success? I think so. This was the first year and overall they did an admirable job. Now all I have to do is track down all the beers I didn’t have time to drink. Ah never enough time.

Tags: Beer & Food · Non-Beer Beverages