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Table Talk: September Is Full of Great Food Events…and Tequila!

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Magic things like brûléed Humboldt Fog happen at the SF Cheese Fest. (Ellen Cronin)

Your September calendar is going to fill up with some fab food events, including the SF Cheese Fest, Eat Real Festival in Oakland, a special INFORUM talk with chef José Andrés, an Agave Girls night of tequila with Joanne Weir at Copita, and you can recover from all the over-indulging with some khao mun gai (chicken fat rice).

Oakland’s Eat Real Festival Returns September 14–16

Eat Real Festival
Jack London Square
Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland

Friday September 14, 3pm to 10pm
Saturday September 15, 11am to 10pm
Sunday September 16, 11am to 6pm

General Admission (Free)
Ticketed Events ($5-$35), purchase on Eventbrite

The Eat Real Festival knows how to feed a crowd.
The Eat Real Festival knows how to feed a crowd. (Lincoln Chu)

September is close, which means it’s time for the return of the Eat Real Festival, now in its tenth year! This street food festival and block party will host more than 50 Bay Area food vendors, all serving sustainably sourced food, in addition to over 40 craft beers, wines, and cocktails. Some confirmed vendors include Gerard’s Paella, Southern Comfort Kitchen, Frozen Kuhsterd, Clove & Hoof, and Aburaya, plus vegan offerings from VegeNation, Core Kitchen, and No Worries. Eat Real’s mission is to help revitalize regional food systems, build public awareness and respect for the craft of making good food, and encourage the growth of American food entrepreneurs.


The festival is free, but there are a handful of ticketed food experiences ($5–$35) including a Brews + Bites pairing class, a Fermenting Rainbows class on fermenting vegetables kids will love, a cheesemaking class on how to make Two Cheeses in Under 10 Minutes at home, and a culinary class on Tea Leaf Salad with Grocery Cafe. A portion of event proceeds benefit the Food Craft Institute.

There will also be DJs playing Sat–Sun, live mural painting, and a Family Zone at Harrison Street with face painting and a circus workshop for kids of all ages. The entertainment schedule can be found here.

Release the Cheese! Don’t Miss the SF Cheese Fest September 15–16

SF Cheese Fest
Cheesemaker Celebration
Social Hall
1270 Sutter St., San Francisco
September 15

Sunday Seminars
The Cheese School of San Francisco
900 North Point St. k201, San Francisco
September 16

The array of cheeses at the SF Cheese Fest are lovely to admire, but even better to taste.
The array of cheeses at the SF Cheese Fest are lovely to admire, but even better to taste. (Ellen Cronin)

The fourth annual SF Cheese Fest returns, bringing over 20 artisan cheesemakers from across the state for a special walk-around tasting. On Saturday, September 15, you’ll taste beauties from Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove Cheese, Di Stefano Cheese, Point Reyes Farmstead, along with some of California's newest producers, like Folly Cheese Co., Wm. Cofield Cheesemakers, and Moonside Creamery. You’ll also enjoy bites, plus samples of cured meats, pickles, jams, and chocolate from local makers, courtesy of The Cheese School of San Francisco, GreenLeaf, Mission Cheese, and Canyon Market.

You’ll refresh your palate with beers, wines, and ciders from Bay Area makers (they know exactly what you need after eating goat cheese), while enjoying live music by SF-based gypsy jazz band Gaucho. One more bonus: all attendees will receive a free one-year subscription to Culture Magazine.

New this year are the educational Sunday Seminars, in collaboration with The Cheese School of San Francisco, on Sunday, September 16. Ticket proceeds benefit the California Artisan Cheese Guild, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to the education and support of artisan cheese making.

Comfort Food at Its Finest: Khao Mun Gai (and a New Place to Find It)

Rooster and Rice
San Francisco: multiple locations

What the Cluck
1782 Haight St., San Francisco
Open daily 11am–8pm

Sometimes you need to take a break from the cheese, the pizza, the cacio e pepe, the burgers, the tacos, the spice, the sandwiches, and get down to basics. You just need some simple gingery chicken deliciousness, especially when you’re sick. In Asia, there’s a famous chicken and rice dish known as Hainan/Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore (it’s considered its national dish) and Malaysia, also known as khao mun gai in Thailand (you’ll find it in Vietnam and Cambodia as well).

Its origins are from the Hainan province in southern China, and the dish basically consists of poached chicken served over chicken fat rice with a side serving of broth, but depending on where you have it, there will be additions to how the chicken and rice are prepared, plus different garnishes, to a gingery side sauce or a spicier one. It’s a casual dish, an affordable one that is meant to sustain you but brings some comfort too.

While poached chicken is not the most photogenic item (some people have a hard time with the poached skin, but really, give it a chance), some of the most delicious foods far surpass their homely appearance. A San Francisco favorite for khao mun gai is Rooster and Rice, with three fast-casual locations around the city. I love the way they prepare their chicken and rice (seasoned with the perfect amount of chicken fat), the mix of juicy dark and white organic chicken meat, and their bright side sauce of fresh chile, ginger, garlic, and soybean is tops. The deeply flavorful broth is also like an elixir. Their basic KMG is $11.95. If you can’t make it to their three locations, they also deliver on Caviar.

The latest place serving khao mun gai in San Francisco is What the Cluck.
The latest place serving khao mun gai in San Francisco is What the Cluck. (tablehopper.com)

There’s a new khao mun gai outpost in the Upper Haight called What the Cluck, from Bangkok native Koonz Vannasetta. Here you also get organic breast and thigh (it’s tender and juicy) for $10.95, and another option is to order your KMG with riceberry (a jasmine and black rice hybrid). For your first time, I’d recommend you stick with the traditional jasmine rice (which gets zhooshed with chicken fat), and skip the brown rice option (the side I ordered was mushy). If you want to go all out, there’s “The Ultimate” ($15.95), with poached egg, chicken liver, and extra sauce (their sauce is on the milder side, with fermented soybean, garlic, and ginger). There’s also a version with tofu for vegetarians.

You can also opt for the restorative chicken soup at What the Cluck.
You can also opt for the restorative chicken soup at What the Cluck. (tablehopper.com)

You’ll additionally find a restorative chicken and rice soup with spinach leaves ($10.95), which I doctored up with some extra ginger at home to help keep a cold at bay (and boost up the flavor a bit). It hit the spot and the mushy brown rice was perfect in the soup. The food travels extremely well with delivery (there are a few tables and a counter but the place is pretty bare bones), and do note they close a little early. You can order for delivery on Grubhub (and new customers, take $10 off your first order with that link).

You’ll also find KMG at nicer sit-down restaurants Hawker Fare and Kin Khao.

Don’t Miss This Moving INFORUM: Feeding Puerto Rico with Chef José Andrés

Marines’ Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter St., San Francisco
Monday September 17
5:30pm check-in, 6:30pm program
Tickets: Members $25, Non-Members $40
Premium (includes a book and seating in the first few rows): Members $50, Non-Members $65; Students $10 (with valid I.D.)
KQED readers get 10% off with this link

Listen to chef José Andrés at this special INFORUM.
Listen to chef José Andrés at this special INFORUM. (Ryan Forbes)

In September 2017, many of us were in awe of chef José Andrés as he sprung into action to help the people of Puerto Rico when they were in dire need of assistance after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the Caribbean. This was mere weeks after Hurricane Irma had swept through the islands, leaving millions without food or water and the largest power outage in American history.

On Monday, September 17, it’s your chance to hear from the man himself at a special INFORUM at the Commonwealth Club: Feeding Puerto Rico with Chef José Andrés. Joining him is Tom Philpott, Food and Agriculture Correspondent, Mother Jones. You will hear how Andrés managed to serve 3 million hot meals during his time in the country with #ChefsForPuertoRico and passionately rallied for disaster relief, helping to provide a framework for what humanitarian relief should look like.

He founded his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti with the belief that food can be an agent of change. The organization has expanded globally and developed into a group of chefs creating solutions to hunger and poverty, from providing food and aid during disasters like the Northern California wildfires to distributing meals and gas masks in evacuated areas on Hawaii’s Big Island after the Kilauea volcano erupted.

José Andrés has a new book: We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time.
José Andrés has a new book: We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time. (HarperCollins Publishers)

He will also be discussing his book, We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time. As a special offer to KQED readers, enjoy 10% off tickets with the link above.

Calling All Tequila Lovin’ Ladies (or Those Who Want to Learn More)

Agave Girls Dinner
Copita Tequileria y Comida
739 Bridgeway, Sausalito
Tuesday September 18
$80 per guest (plus $11.61 fee and tax), tickets available on Eventbrite

The tequila will be flowing at the upcoming Agave Girls night with Joanne Weir.
The tequila will be flowing at the upcoming Agave Girls night with Joanne Weir. (Copita Tequileria y Comida)

PBS chef and author (Kitchen Gypsy and Tequila) Joanne Weir is hosting an upcoming Agave Girls event on Tuesday, September 18 at her restaurant Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito (which she opened with Larry Mindel). 25 guests will enjoy passed appetizers and a tequila tasting flight from the evening’s sponsor, Dulce Vida, followed by a three-course dinner paired with tequila cocktails.


Weir first debuted the Agave Girls series in 2006, offering women a celebratory environment to enjoy and appreciate the flavor and history of tequila. It’s assuredly going to be a fun and enlightening evening.

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