A celebration of real food

(Photo: Phillip Yip)
Equal parts foodie paradise, county fair and DIY depot — that’s Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, Sept. 27-29 at Jack London Square.

Now in its fourth year, Eat Real has always drawn crowds to its stellar selection of street food vendors, ranging from all manner of ethnic foods to all-American barbecue and mac and cheese. With items topping out at $5, diners can choose to enjoy a bargain lunch or an affordable smorgasbord.

But Eat Real is about more than eating (on site, that is). Mosey over to the Urban County Fair, which showcases backyard farmers and their animals in one of the densest urban areas in the country. Beekeepers and city chicken farmers tell about their exploits, while urban agriculturists show and tell how to grow crops in the concrete jungle.

Also reminiscent of the traditional county fair: DIY food contests. Amateur food crafters can aim for a blue ribbon in Eat Real’s most popular categories: home-brewed beer, jam, pickles, alcoholic infusions and condiments. Here’s your chance to show off your tastiest spreads and fantastic fixin’s. Visit the site for entry information.

If your skills aren’t up to contest snuff, check out the food craft lessons. Learn how to make sauerkraut, sausage, homemade bitters, jam, fresh cheese and more. Onstage, master food crafters demonstrations range from making barbecue sauce to brewing kombucha (a fermented tea beverage). Butchers will show off their skills, dismantling a hindquarter of steer, carving half a pig and performing other meat magic.

— Terri Hunter-Davis

If you go

The Eat Real Festival is open 1 to 9 p.m. Sept. 27, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 28 and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29 at Jack London Square, the foot of Broadway, Oakland. Admission is free.

Avoid parking grief by taking the free Broadway shuttle bus to Jack London Square. The shuttle also serves BART’s 19th Street and 12th Street stations. Or take the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which docks at the foot of Clay Street, just steps away from the festival. Coming from a longer distance? Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor stops a short walk away at Oakland’s Jack London Square depot.