I sat at my desk, staring at my laptop for hours thinking about how I could even begin to explain the plethora of food and beverages available at Outside Lands. I procrastinated by uploading pictures from the fest to my Instagram and Facebook page, but only because I was so overwhelmed with just how much there was to tell you. I also wanted to make my Instagram and Twitter followers jealous, obviously.
Outside Lands can easily double up as a food & drink festival. And for me, it might as well have been because I spent 90% of the time chowing down on amazing food from some of the best restaurants that have ever existed. Paul, who?
There is absolutely no way one person can sample everything at Outside Lands. I tried and failed. Feeling ashamed, I realized that it’s just not humanly possible (sumo wrestlers, not included). Even if I tackled 3 booths an hour and had gone on a hunger strike the days leading up, I still would have missed something. Nevertheless, I tasted as much festival food and drank as much drink as I could… for you. This food baby is ours.
It wasn’t the prettiest arepa around, but Pica Pica proved that good looks don’t always mean good taste. These gluten-free beef arepas were simply delicious. The meat was juicy, flavorful, and melted in your mouth. The corn dough was sweet, and contrasted perfectly with the savory stuffed filling of meat, avocado and black beans. I could have had more, but I needed to leave room for all that came next.
Global Gourmet rocked their version of a Po’Boy with this sandwich, loaded with battered cod, spray rock shrimp remoulade and lettuce. The battered fish was perfectly deep-fried and surprisingly, wasn’t oily at all – a problem typically associated with deep-frying fish. I’m not usually a fan of mayo-based sauces, but I enjoyed the subtle touch of shrimp remoulade as it wasn’t overpowering, completing this already awesome dish.
Outside Lands also introduced festivalgoers to Outside Lambs – a series of food stations offering a variety of dishes full of, you guessed it, lamb. There was lamb paella, lamb gyros, lamb poutine, and lamb curry soup. We opted for the lamb gyros and the lamb poutine, and weren’t disappointed. It’s hard to mess up poutine, but Americans have been getting it wrong for years. Luckily, this lamb poutine was spot on. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, twice fried fries topped with lamb, gravy, more lamb, and sheep’s milk cheese curd. If that’s not a party in your mouth, I don’t even want to know what is. The lamb gyro was also impressive, with chunks of the savory meat, cucumbers, onion salad, and harissa on lavash (a type of flatbread).
If you had enough room after all that lamb, you’d do what I did, and head to Choco Lands. Choco Lands was as magical as it sounds: huts offering a bunch of desserts made out of chocolate (love these punny names). And man, did I ever luck out at Sharona’s Chocolate Shop. In fact, I like to think that I’m the reason they sold out of S’mores. Myself and my friends stood there, literally stuffing our faces with these giant S’mores and chocolate covered brownies. Passersby were amazed at our ability to shove those things in our mouths, completely unfazed. Person after person would stop and ask us if those were THE S’mores. Nodding our heads, a lined began to form and suddently, everyone was stuffing their faces with giant s’mores. We brought people together: they were the marshmallows, us the chocolate, and Sharona’s the graham cracker.
What also brought people together was a gigantic funnel cake topped with whipped cream, caramel, and bacon. Rather, it brought people to it, like moths to the flame. From the moment I saw people inhaling it like it was the last meal they’d ever eat, I had to have it. Endless Summer Treats, you were smart to have this gluttonous bacon version available. As I walked from Summer Treats to the media tent, people were puzzled by the idea of salty meat bits, sweet whipped creamy, and savory caramel towering atop a soft deep fried batter. But later, the image of the funnel cake must have burrowed itself into their minds, because I saw a snobby onlooker who squeamishly judged my bacon dessert with a bacon funnel cake of his own. Not so squeamish now, huh buddy?! If it were the last meal funnel cake eaters devoured, they would have died happily.
But wait festival foodies, don’t die yet! You have yet to try what day three at the festival brought in to my life: porcini doughnuts with Gruyere sauce. These doughnuts are the reason why I’d suffer gluten induced stomach pains for hours, without minding. Soft, pillowy, and dreamlike, these fritters were doused in porcini powder and whipped raclette cheese. It was with great distress that I shared these porcini doughnuts from Rich Table – a James Beard Award 2013 nominee – because while they are definitely rich, it’s the kind of “rich” where you’d joyfully keep on eating until your stomach reminded you to quit horsing around and call it a day.
Next year, I definitely suggest a quick hike to Wine Lands, where there’s loads of wine (catching on?). Serving local favorites, it’s a happy place for wine lovers, much like Beer Lands is a happy place for beer fans. I’d then skip on over to Cheese Lands and try some cheese, cause I’m classy like that. My suggestion for next year? Candy Lands. But why stop there when you can have Pasta Lands, Lobster roll Lands, and even Gluten-Free Lands!
Finally it came time to me actually calling it a day. I unbuttoned my pants (not so classy) and listened to some Red Hot Chilli Peppers as my stomach happily danced along. It was quite the festival – music, food, and art all bunched in to one mega weekend of awesome. I even got to meet Phoenix! But like any Gemini gourmand, my mind slipped away and thought about all the food I hadn’t gotten too. My regrets include not having enough stomach space for the food trucks that boasted some seriously scrumptious offerings – namely, fried pickles and green tomatoes from The Fabulous Frickle Brothers. I will find you Frickles, and then your fried pickles will be mine.
If I were a legit conspiracy theorist, I would be highly suspicious that the music fest that is Outside Lands is a colossal cover-up for one of the greatest food festivals that has ever existed. I’ll keep this theory to myself, the line up for food is already long enough.
By: Angelique Picanco
Follow me @Angelique_P