If you've followed along at home you know that OTG = Off The Grid and that Off The Grid = delicious food cart food. What you may not know is that in addition to providing lunch to the masses at 5th and Mary near the SF Chronicle building, they also have night time events. Last Friday, April 1, 2011 was such an event at Fort Mason near the wharf. It's like a lunchtime OTG event on steroids... and they serve alcohol.
Although we needed no excuse to join in the festivities, we got one anyway in the form of Traci's former coworker from Florida Sean, and his boyfriend Rick. They were visiting San Francisco for the first time and also drove to and from LA to visit with some other friends. They had just gotten back to SF that afternoon and went on the Alcatraz tour so they were tired and their mental faculties may have been slightly reduced (i.e. "travel-head") - this will come into play later. Traci had to drive home from work to let our dogs out and feed them before heading to the city to pick me up. Since I was already in the city, I took the opportunity to have a beer with some work friends while I waited, which was a first.
|Traci and Sean Outside the Ft. Mason Bathroom|
Having completed operation dog take care of (we're working on a catchier name), Traci headed to pick me up. After some navigation assistance from Con Con ( no one is as shocked as I), she picked me up and we headed to Pier 39 to pick up the boys. It's not a long drive from The Chron to the Wharf, but two beers plus a 10 minute drive had me about to burst. Once we got Rick and Sean safely in the car, I ran to find a restroom while they tooled around the block. I once again proved my theory that you can get away with going almost anywhere if you just act like you know where you're going and that you're supposed to be there by walking right past the greeters at the Hard Rock San Francisco and into their bathroom. I came out and Traci was just rounding the corner to retrieve me.
We drove around until we found the fort area and parked. The wind was really picking up and the temperature was dropping dramatically (like it does) and I was very glad that Traci had brought along a hoodie for me. Sean was not as lucky as he was in shorts! That was fine for the gorgeous spring day they'd experienced so far, but everyone was shivering before the evening was over. The OTG event at Ft. Mason happens every Friday night once Spring arrives and April 1 was the second one this year. Some of the usual suspects were there including Senor Sisig, CupKates, Izit Fresh Grill and Chairman Bao (probably my favorite) as well as a host of new vendors. They once again had live music with several bands sharing the duties that night. This was a great event with massive turn out and a bit of chaos. I feel as though this event wouldn't work as well in other places because there are myriad moments when you just have to "work it out" with your fellow man. For instance, since they serve alcohol, they have to have a closed off area which means that all of the trucks and booths are set up as a perimeter with all of their lines of people converging toward the center of the square made up by the perimeter. We could hardly walk and there was no way to tell which cart's line you were in without a little recon - mostly saying things like "are you in the creme brulee line?". Everyone was really accommodating and friendly and not once did I see the usual eye roll that comes along with excusing yourself to pass through a line to get to another line. Unfortunately, some people would just join a queue and have no idea what they were there to buy. Fortunately, I don't think you could get a bad plate here so those people were probably just fine. We settled on some Satay to get our evening started and the four of us got in line for what turned out to be a 15 minute wait. This is when I decided to spring my April Fool's trap on Rick as requested in advance by Sean.
Sean had told us that he is often the butt of Rick's pranks and being a bit of a prankster myself, I am always up for getting someone back when they least expect it. So we just sort of naturally split up into twos because of space, with Traci and Sean catching up on old times in front of Rick and I. I turn to Rick and I start my spiel. I'm going to try and reenact it for you as closely as possible...
Me: "Rick, I know I hardly know you, and this is a little awkward but I feel like I need to ask you about this." "You see, I'm sterile and Traci and I would like to have a baby." "Traci really likes Sean and enjoyed the time she spent working with him and well, we'd like to use his sperm so we can have a baby."
Rick: "Umm... ooo k... wow that's a lot to take in, I'm going to have to process that a bit."
Me: "I know it's an odd request, but good stock is good stock and Traci thinks Sean's DNA would make for a great baby"
Rick: "Did he (Sean) know about this?"
Me: "Yeah, I think so, he is a little shy about it so I just wanted to get it out in the open so we could discuss it"
[Rick's head is about to explode at this point and the look on his face is an awesome mix of shock, outrage (at not being told about this before a perfect stranger hit him with it), sympathy, concern, etc.]
Rick and Me: Awkward silence
So while this is going on, Traci and Sean have overheard me starting to spring the joke and are trying their best to continue their conversation while intently listening to ours all while attempting to not crack up so much that Rick notices. Also listening in was the hipster dude standing in line behind us. I'm not sure he stuck around for the reveal, but now he knows I'm sterile. I take this opportunity to step to Traci's right ostensibly to find out what we're ordering, but really to make sure she knows that I've sprung the joke on Rick. She knew, and that is why she could not turn around and look at me while I was delivering the news to him, or the subterfuge would have quickly crumbled. At the same time, we overhear Rick saying "I AM SO PISSED AT YOU RIGHT NOW" and "Why didn't you tell me about this!?". I'm pretty sure that was accompanied by an arm punch. Sean can't take it anymore and starts asking Rick what day it is (April 1) but Rick isn't getting it (remember the travel-head I mentioned earlier?). I think I sold it a little too well as it took a little convincing, and all of us laughing for him to realize that he'd been had. I told Sean and Traci that they let him off the hook too early as I was going to keep it up and insist that the insemination had to be the real deal, no artificial turkey baster job. Alas, no. It's probably just as well as Rick was far less amused by the whole thing than the rest of us. Isn't that always the way though? He was a great sport though and we found out after that there was really just one prank that Sean felt deserved retribution, and it was perpetrated not by Sean, but his sister.
|Sean's Sheepish Grin|
So we continued trying out some other carts, but there were far too many people at the really good ones like creme brulee and Chairman Bao. We did have the best dumplings I've had since moving to CA though. They were saucy and a little spicy, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, packed with plenty of ingredients, not doughy like the others I've tried thus far and to make it even better, they were reasonably priced! We found a spot to sit down and I ate a Spammer (musubi which is like Hawaiian sushi with pan seared Spam and seasoned rice wrapped in seaweed) and a taco from Izit Fresh Grill. Musubi is surprisingly good, even if you're not a Spam fan. Once we had filled our bellies, we turned our eye to dessert. Sadly, we just couldn't muster the line-waiting energy for creme brulee and settled on CupKates for our sweet ending. We just missed the Mexican Chocolate cupcakes and were limited to salted dulce de leche or lemon meringue. OMG, settling never tasted so good. Traci and I each had a dulce de leche and it was out of this world. Similar reports on the lemon meringue, and it was gone in seconds. Now we were sticky, full-bellied, and apparently full-bladdered again because we all agreed that it was time to find a restroom.
We asked one of the OTG people where the facilities were, and he pointed to a brick building. "Half way down the building, second floor." were the directions. We went halfway down the building with me in the lead (big mistake) and I took the long ramp back around the corner where we'd just come from, and up the fire escape stairs where we were met by an Asian guy poking his head out the door. I told him we were looking for the restroom and he said there was one up there, but that we'd have to walk through their "club meeting". I told him I didn't want to do that to him and that we'd go back the way we'd come, but he kindly offered to let us walk through since we were already up there. We walked into the room and were inundated by sights and sounds of an auction. There were little chemistry kits and other science projecty type things - who knows what all - and an auctioneer taking bids. We slipped around the back of the room so as not to disturb the goings on and found the restrooms at last.
Back outside, we huddled together with me in the front (as a wind shield for the shivering crew) and walked back to our car. It was a fun event, but I think it needs more space, more organization, or both to make it top notch. We'd go back, but probably only if we were taking out of town guests.