aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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picnic at the presidio

Picnic at the Presidio

Picnic at the Presidio

It sounded too good to be true: good food and drinks, stunning views overlookign the Golden Gate Bridge, baby friendly, and completely free.  But, Off the Grid's Picnic at the Presidio in San Francisco met all our expectations and more.  In fact, it was one of the best foodie events we have been to this year.

Off the Grid ups the game for the food truck lover.  They organize and work with hundreds of food trucks and food vendors across San Francisco to organize and coordinate food trucks at different locations.  They've got a brilliant constantly updated map that shows the location of food truck vendors across the city.  And, they run special weekly events throughout the year, including a twilight event at the Presidio and a Friday weekly market at Fort Mason Center.

Dogs at the Picnic at the Presidio Picnic at the Presidio
Picnic at the Presidio
Picnic at the Presidio Picnic at the Presidio

Views of Picnic at the Presidio, including the bar and Bubbly Bar

We headed to Picnic at the Presidio on a glorious Sunday afternoon, sun and warmth replacing San Francisco's usual buffeting wind and fog.  We flung aside our fleeces and meandered through the Presidio's Main Lawn, unsure of which of the thirty vendors we should visit.  People sipped on champagne and mimosas, purchased from the Bubbly Bar, and beer and wine from the main bar in the center of the lawn. 

Amara trying pierogis Amara trying pierogis
Pierogi truck at the Picnic at the Presidio Pierogis at the Old World Food Truck
Creme Brulee cart Creme Brulee Cart
Amara trying creme brulee Patrick and Amara at the Picnic at the Presidio

Picnic at the Presidio

Behind me, a group of food lovers debated the respective merits of Napa Valley Merlots and Rieslings, while we tasted and judged our own food.  Funny thing is that we're definitely raising a foodie.  This kid will clamp her lips shut if you try to give her frozen fish nuggets but will happily devour an adult's portion of $12 per pound North Georgia smoked trout.  And, truth be told, most of her food choices are the exact ones that we would have picked.

Her winners at the Picnic at the Presidio were our winners, as well.  Amara was so delighted with Patrick's pierogis from the Old World Food Truck --- creamy, soft, and delicately spiced potato dumplings --- that we barely got bites. She wasn't impressed with my lemongrass tofu on a vermicelli salad from the Little Green Cyclo Vietnamese truck and I agreed that the flavors were bland and uninspired, lacking in punch and spice.  We rounded out our meals with vanilla and nutella and strawberry creme brulees from the Creme Brulee Cart and all of us preferred the cleaner and lighter vanilla option.  The fresh strawberries in the nutella creme brulee muddied the texture and flavor of that creme brulee.

But, honestly, those are just nitpicks.  I would suggest Picnic at the Presidio even if the food wasn't good, and, for the most part, it was good.  It was one of those lovely events --- full of good food, drinks, pups, babes, and happy people in the bright sunshine --- that I wish every city had.


Picnic at the Presidio

Off The Grid's Picnic at the Presidio is located at the Main Lawn on the Presidio.  It is a seasonal event, running from April until Octoberish.  Food trucks line one side of the lawn and food vendors, primarily from local restaurants, line the other side.  The main bar and bubbly bar are located in the middle of the lawn.  There is also a truck that provides dog supplies and a tent that has picnicking gear.

The food is a bit pricey, but most meals are under $12. Picnicking supplies are very expensive so I would suggest bringing your own.

The views of the bay are beautiful and, if you walk a bit to the end of the Presidio, you get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's cold at the Presidio, so bring a jacket or blanket.  But, on sunny days, the sun hits hard and there's no shade, so bring sunscreen and possibly a pop up tent to keep out the sun.  As with all weather in San Francisco, prepare for every season in one day.

The grass is nice and lush, perfect for baby feet and dogs.  This is a very kid-friendly event .  We brought Amara in a stroller, which was convenient since we were able to keep her a bit shaded and also put food on her stroller tray.  If possible, I suggest bringing a small bottle of bubbles with you for the kiddos because the breeze is perfect for bubbles.  The picnicking station sells bubbles for $10 for a bottle (!) which we thought to be ridiculous.  Many people bring games, such as bocce balls and such, up to the picnic.

This is a great dog-friendly event and we saw many adorable dogs around.  Dogs must be on leash but there is lots of space to spread out so if your dog is a little shy, you can still find a bit of space for him to spread out.


This post was brought to you by Hoot Holidays, which provides holidays across Asia, the Pacific, and the United States.

07/19/2014 07:14
Lakshmi sankarl
That is my grand daughter!! Loved the post!
07/24/2014 02:10
It seems you have done a nice outing. The pics are also very beautiful. and Lakshmi, you grand-daughter is very cute... :)
07/24/2014 21:12
Sounds like foodie heaven! The day seemed perfect such a delicious occasion as well :)
08/13/2014 08:14
Food gatherings are the best!!! It reminds me of Smorgasburg in Brooklyn (go if you ever get to NYC!). I'm headed to San Fran in a few weeks and i will be sure to check this out!
08/15/2014 15:10
Ooooh! I love Brooklyn (it's my favorite borough in New York ---- shhhh, don't tell the Manhattanophiles) and a foodie event there would be amazing. Will definitely check it out next time I'm in NYC.
05/19/2015 06:36
Good Suggestions Traveling from world Trip.
05/19/2015 06:36
Good Suggestions Traveling from world Trip.
05/19/2015 06:36
Good Suggestions Traveling from world Trip.
05/19/2015 06:39
Adventure picnic spot in Presidio.
06/16/2015 04:03
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06/22/2015 02:27
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07/01/2015 08:44
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07/15/2015 01:49
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07/25/2015 00:49
Hi, I got intrigued by your blog site as you mentioned you travel with 2 dogs and a kid around the world. I'm currently expecting my first child-6 months pregnant and I've started to wonder how new parents travel with kids for extended periods of time. How do they manage the babies' feeding (for fussy eaters especially), laundry with 3-4 changes per day, sickness and sleep cycles.I've been an avid traveler myself and have been to over 25 countries (9 in the last 3 years) and don't want to give that up yet. All advise would be welcome!
08/10/2015 02:03
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08/10/2015 03:11
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08/15/2015 05:58
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08/17/2015 02:54
You can never find too many fun activities for toddlers. This is an excellent list and I love that some of them are free!
08/20/2015 05:54
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09/07/2015 04:28
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07/28/2016 02:31
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09/07/2015 11:00
Wow, I can't wait to see the place.

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the atlanta food and wine festival

Peach sliders at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014

Peach sliders from Revolution Donuts

Recently, I was telling a friend about how I was at Ben & Jerry's on a press trip and heading to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for media coverage.  They laughed and said that it didn't sound like "work." 

It is work.  It's just that I happen to have a great job.

Every now and again, I pinch myself to make sure that this is real.

Andouille sausage with polenta Crab benedict
Peach and ricotta dumplings
Pancakes Empire breakfast at AF&WF

Empire Breakfast at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

I landed head-first into this whole writing thing, because a passion for food, travel, and writing came together on this personal pet project, and people liked what I had to say.

Passion rules the world, yes?  And, when, we are passionate, we produce great things.  It's the story of humanity. 

And, it's the story I heard over and over again at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

French Broad Chocolates Olive & Sinclair chocolates

                                                                                                                                 French Broad and Olive & Sinclair chocolates

Dan and Jael Rattigan quit law school and business school to hit the road and head to Costa Rica where they started a small chocolate shop and bakery that quickly became popular with the expats.  After a few years, they moved to Asheville, North Carolina to open up the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, one of the best chocolate shops we've ever visited.  At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, they presented a talk on Sipping Chocolates, and we tasted a maple and smoked sea salt Liquid Truffle.  The silky smooth ganache floated on the tongue and the smoked sea salt contrasted beautifully with the velvety sweet maple syrup. 

Olive & Sinclair chocolates

Olive & Sinclair chocolates

Like French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Cacao Atlanta and Olive & Sinclair are bean-to-bar chocolate makers, starting with finding high quality cocoa beans across Central and South America, importing those beans, and producing their own beautiful chocolate.  They are working to change the way we look at chocolate, developing something purer and more complex than the typical Hershey bar.  I took a Raw Chocolate class with Kristen Hard of Cacao Atlanta and we learned how to taste chocolate as the master chocolate makers do; it's an intense process where we compared and contrasted quality, style, flavor, and texture.



Bacon wrapped duck Barnsley Resort shrimp dish
Frito pie in a Frito bag Ribs from Central Barbecue
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Chef Rivers with brisket
Pulled pork sandwich Smoked chicken wing
Brunswick stew at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Ribs

                                                                                                                  Barbecue and meats at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

And, as with the chocolate, there are other chefs who focus entirely on smoking and barbecuing the best meats out there.  Like John Rivers of 4River Smokehouse who taught a class called "De-Regionalized Barbecue" and created what Patrick called the perfect brisket rubbed simply with salt and pepper.  At the Tasting Tents, we talked to chefs who had spent years perfecting a recipe for brunswick stew, ribs, or pulled pork.  Their eyes lit up as they raved about a certain producer or a type of technique. 

In one of my favorite classes on Cheese & Fermentation, Chef Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas confessed that he has rented an apartment across the street from his restaurant and crammed it full of refrigerators so he can store all of his extra cured meats and pickles.  That's 1500 square feet of refrigerators.  That's passion.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Barnsley resort
Tomato meringues Cheese and pickles
Sassafras ice cream Drinks
Pimiento cheese Bean salad

Scenes from the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

 It was a weekend full of passion.  Passion for food.  Passion for drinks.  Passion for all of the good things that make life sweet.


The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is held each spring in Midtown Atlanta.  Tickets start at $100 for Tasting Tents only up to $3,000 for the full Connoiseur experience.  I would recommend a day pass or a multi-day pass which gives you the ability to attend both classes and the Tasting Tents.  It's an amazing event and the best Atlanta food festival I've attended.  It's worth every penny, especially since the Tasting Tents are all you can eat and all you can drink, and everything taste was excellent.

For lots more information on the 2014 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, check out my posts at About Food Travel on:

* I received a media pass to attend the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival but, as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

06/06/2014 09:23
YUMMMM. Love your food photos. I covered Charleston WF last year and am going for Savannah WF this year! Just need Atlanta next :)
07/14/2014 15:19
You would have loved it! I think I'm going to try and do Nashville Food & Wine this year, too. Lots of yummy Southern food.
06/06/2014 12:39
Oh my goodness. I want to eat ALL. THE. FOOD.

Saigon doesn't have many of these food festivals, unfortunately. Time for someone to start one!
06/13/2014 15:46
You tried Olive & Sinclair! Yesssss. Love it so much. Next year, I'm definitely going to Atlanta Food + Wine. So many people I know and adore were there, and the Instagrams were giving me a serious case of FOMO!
07/14/2014 15:18
Yes, you need to come here! And, as it turns out, I am thinking about doing the Nashville Food & Wine festival this year. It looks too yummy to miss. :)
07/14/2014 15:25
I'll be there!
07/04/2014 13:19
These are great photos, and looks like an awesome festival to attend. Definitely worth scheduling any trips to Atlanta around this festival!
07/14/2014 14:47
Absolutely worth attending! It's a lot of fun and the food is sensational.
07/07/2014 10:28
I've ran into three food posts back to back and it's not helping my hunger. Must. Cook. Food. Now!
07/14/2014 14:47
07/26/2014 16:26
It all looks so amazing ... the peach slider doughnuts look like they would be the most fun to eat!
12/04/2014 16:22
OMG!! I am such a foodie and looking at all of these pictures has made my mouth water. If I could eat food for a living please tell me where to sign up. I guess I would be signing up at a gym as well however:). How wonderful for you:). Probably not but can that bourbon nib brittle be ordered online?
12/22/2014 15:34
It can. You can order it directly from Olive & Sinclair's homepage!
06/02/2015 05:43
Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.
09/07/2015 11:03
Wow, I can't wait to see the place.

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balsamic glazed cipollines

Balsamic glazed cipolline onions

Venice is still busy in November.  There are tourists everywhere in the bright and sunny days.  (Though, is there ever a time when the tourists leave Venice altogether?  Probably not.)  We like the November evenings better than the summer evenings.  There's less heat, humidity, and stench.  I pull my fleece jacket close around my shoulders and Patrick zips his up to his neck. 

We walk away from the Grand Canal, into small narrow alleyways, away, away, away from the noise.  We see a small door against a wall, light shining out as the door opens and closes, and men with half-filled wine glasses and burning cigarettes standing right before the entry, ushering us in with wafts of noxious smoke.  The decor is minimal, with a few wooden benches and tables crammed against the corner of a wall and men and women standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the long bar. 

Balsamic cipollines

We immediately see the attraction.  Cichetti are arrayed in platters and bowls across the bar.  There is a good variety at this one: peperoni grigliata --- grilled and peeled red bell peppers; baccala --- pureed salted dried cod; carciofi grigliata --- artichoke hearts, marinated and grillled; mozzarella e pomodoro --- fresh balls of mozzarella with sliced tomatoes; bruschetta with prosciutto; calamari; and more. 

Balsamic cipollines

Cipolline onions Cooking cipollines

And, there are the cipollines al aceto balsamico, or balsamic glazed cipolline onions.  The first bite surprises us.  Our mouths pucker from the vinegar and then relax as we taste the underlying sweetness of the reduced balsamic vinegar.  We try another bite.  This time we are prepared for the sensations of vinegar and sweet and we feel the texture.  Soft, billowing layers of onions melt against our tongue and we catch hints of rosemary and butter.  We go back to the counter and order them all.

And, we return the next night and order all the cipollines again.

balsamic cipollines

When we came back to the United States, I tried a whole host of balsamic glazed cipolline recipes including ones from Mario Batali, Deb from the Smitten Kitchen, and Bon Appetit magazine.  None of them had the puckering sweetness of the cipollines we tried in Venice and I realized that the problem is that every single one of these recipes relies on sugar to enhance the flavor of the balsamic vinegar.  I dropped the sugar and simplified the recipe.  The result has a less thick glaze than what you might get if you make Mario Batali's recipe but it is, I think, a purer and superior version of the dish.  It is a fundamentally Italian recipe --- very few ingredients of extremely high quality --- so that the cipollines take on the strong flavors of red wine and balsamic.  We serve it often in the winters, with rich casseroles and soups, as a small plate or side dish, sometimes for the holidays, to remind us of Venice's meandering canals.

Balsamic cippolines



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