Here we are in San Francisco for the weekend. Slow Food Nation was the original impetus for the trip, but since I botched my chance to get tickets to the Tasting Pavilion -- which were being sold on Craig's List for upwards of 5X face value, apparently -- and other events, that wasn't happening. So, no tasting pavilion for us, but our font-of-SF-food-tips friend Tracie told us over delicious, perfect cocktails at Bourbon & Branch that it was like, ridiculous waits for a few bites of food. That made me feel a lot better.
Instead we're spending a lovely, relaxing, pre-birthday, friend-filled, child-free, food/coffee/booze-soaked weekend up north, albeit one with a little too much time being spent along Market Street. But the open-to-the-public SFN Marketplace gave us enough of an idea of what the whole festival thing is about. (Proximity to Blue Bottle just around the corner helped get me over the initial disappointment, and it totally kicks Ritual and definitely Four Barrel's asses.)
To summarize: it was basically like a big farmers' market with better graphic design and lots of maps. Plus a nearly oppressive amount of geographically detailed information. I can't say the selection of products totally blew me away, since a lot of it was familiar: Weiser Family potatoes, Far West Fungi that I visited at the Ferry Building this afternoon, Let's Be Frank, etc. But we had some tasty bites of edifying eats, including the hand pulled noddles made with unbleached organic flour from Giusto's of South San Francisco (you get the idea about locational specificity overload) from the Imperial Tea Court.
Certain design elements were the highlight, like the shipping container turned info booth, the convivial group tables that used scaffolding components, and the awesome earthworks-y outdoor garden. Food plus public space is the most pleasing type of formula, and this one added up to something pretty cool.