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The Street Faire eating experience

David Boylan

Encinitas Street Faire food
An oversized sausage, fried chicken, and sweet corn make for a nice street faire meal. Photo David Boylan

For those that subscribe to the 80-20 eating guideline of keeping it healthy most of the time and allowing for occasional indulgence, street faires are a perfect place to let loose. With the Encinitas Street Faire being held this past weekend, I took a few hours to walk it and see what was new and do a bit of eating.
I am almost instinctively drawn to the sausage vendors first. There is something about a booth called The Sausage King with and an oversized grilled bratwurst loaded with grilled onions and peppers with yellow mustard that does it for me. The sausage vendors usually have a variety of offerings that include Polish sausage, smoked sausage, Philly Cheesesteaks, kabobs, and falafel. There is always a line at these vendors which speaks to their popularity.

Next to my go-to sausage vendor this year was a new, or new-to-me anyway fried chicken truck that served up four nice size pieces of crispy chicken for a very reasonable $7 and an ear of corn that was unexpectedly sweet and crisp. Our 12” bratwurst, 4 pieces of chicken, corn and some fresh squeezed lemonade made for a nice lunch that we enjoyed on a grassy patch and enjoyed the parade of humanity that makes people watching at a street faire so enjoyable.

Sticking to the savory side of things, I noticed the sustainable, farm-to-table folks have worked their way into the street faire mix. That was just a matter of time and whatever, I’m sure they have their audience and it’s good to have that available, it’s not why I’m going to the street faire.

The folks grilling up the tri-tip are always slammed as well and have the added advantage of the aroma of grilled meat wafting through the streets to lure people in. Tri-tip was a term I was not familiar with until I moved to California as the name originated here. The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin and usually weighs in at 1.5 – 2.5 pounds. In the U.S. this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when Otto Schaefer marketed it in Oakland, California. Shortly thereafter, it became a local specialty in Santa Maria, rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and other seasonings, grilled slow and low over red oak wood, the term Santa Maria style BBQ was derived from their style of cooking tri-tip. After cooking, the meat is normally sliced across the grain before serving. I’ve mentioned it before in a column about Seaside Market as they have created their own unique marinade and it’s been coined “Cardiff Crack” as a result of its addictive nature. Now that we have that brief history of tri-tip, you can imagine why it’s so popular at a street faire.

Another savory offering are the Ono Grinds Hawaiian BBQ that features kalua pig, huli huli chicken, and various other island quick treats. They were right next to Fat Boyz Pizza, and another new discovery, pupusas. A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla usually filled with cheese, pork, or refried beans. There were long lines at all of these booths and I made a mental note to expand my horizons next time.

Of course it’s not all savory goodness at these events, the funnel cakes, dippin dots, kettle corn, chocolate covered strawberries and Italian licorice provided many sweet options as well.

Even the beer gardens have upped their game with the likes of Stone Brewing Company providing their craft beers. Besides the plethora of food and beverage options, I always make a bee-line to the sunglass vendors. For $10 I can pick up a pair of backup glasses that look just like my $60 pair from the surf shop that I will inevitably lose. This year there were also a bunch of vendors selling high thread count sheets for around $35. I got suckered in on a set of those too…we’ll see how that works out.

Most of the vendors at the Encinitas Street Faire seem to make the circuit around North County and many of the faires are produced by Kennedy & Associates. Check them out at www.kennedyfaires.com and enjoy the street faire experience.

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