Kim Westerman Senior Contributor, Forbes
One of the things I miss most about the freedom to leave my house — don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply grateful to be able to safely shelter-in-place — is my weekly visits to wineries in Napa and Sonoma. But many creative folks in the wine industry have figured out how to replicate tasting room experiences in the comfort of your own home. Here are three wineries to help you get your party started.
The Wine Foundry & Anarchist Wine Co.
Want a virtual tasting of wines you hand-select? Just purchase four wines from The Wine Foundry (usually allocated, but now open to all) or Anarchist Wine Co. (the retail cousin of the custom winemaking operation), and you can schedule a 45-minute tasting session with Stuart Ake, a wine educator with a down-to-earth style and deep wine knowledge. To purchase wine and schedule a tasting, email firstname.lastname@example.org (This is an ongoing program available year 'round, but especially apropros during a pandemic.)
Off the Grid (OTG), champion of the mobile food movement in the Bay Area and beyond, is preparing to launch the tenth season of its original event at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco; the well-loved Night Market: the largest weekly night market in the Bay Area. Every Friday from March 6 to October 30 between 5-10 p.m., more than 30 innovative food creators will delight visitors and locals alike with their diverse offerings.
The 2020 season welcomes new creators including Taco Thai SF, a La Cocina SF participant; EaterSF pop-up of the year, El Garage; OG Tacos!, whose “quesabirria” style of taco has amassed a cult following; The Golden Marrow, known for re-inventing bone marrow; and the return of award-winning Capelo’s Barbecue, which has been delivering locally sourced, wood-fire smoked meats since 2012. Many popular creators will return with crowd-pleasing menus, including Bini’s Kitchen, who returns for her 8th year and will continue to serve her mouthwatering Nepalese MOMOs; Bombzies BBQ’s Asian-style specialties; Curry Up Now’s Indian style street food, crowd-favorite Jeepney Guy with his infamous lumpia; Senor Sisig’s Filipino Fusion street food, and The Chairman, voted best food truck by San Francisco Magazine will continue to serve their award-winning baked and seam buns.
“The passion for creating unique experiences and commitment to building powerful community spaces continues to fuel Off the Grid,” said Matt Cohen, Founder and CEO. “We are honored to serve as a launchpad for prominent Bay Area food entrepreneurs and help them refine their offerings within a welcoming environment of adventurous diners. We’re proud of the magic sauce that we’ve co-created with this incredible community of innovators.”
Since 2010, Off the Grid has been involved in activating more than 400 locations from San Jose to Sacramento, bringing food creators together with Bay Area’s foodies and experience seekers in unique, engaging settings. OTG is also involved with nonprofits such as La Cocina and has mobilized during emergency situations like the north bay fires to provide food and support. More than 700 creators have benefitted from the organization’s support, helping create a sense of community around the movement. Throughout the entire Off the Grid ecosystem, more than 3.4M meals were served in 2018 and 5M meals in 2019. The OTG team anticipated 10M meals would be served in 2020.
Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center New Creator Lineup
New creators for the FMC market will include:
AdoboS N' More (@adobosnmore), Bacon Bacon (@baconbaconsf), Bred's Nashville Hot Chicken (@bredhotchicken), Bun Bao (@bunbao_official), Churreria SF (@churreriasf), El Garage (@el_gaaarage), Fresh Catch Poke (@freshcatchpoke), Kolobok Russian Soul Food | @kolobokfood), Little Skillet SF (@littleskilletsf), Llama En Llamas (@llama.en.llamas.food), Lomo Libre (@lomolibre), Mazzeh Grill (@mazzehgrill), Mestiza Taqueria (@mestizasf), Miss Subi (@miss.subi), Mister Bomboloni (@mrbomboloni), NISSA Espresso & Gelato Bar (@nissatruck), Ocean Malasada (@oceanmalasadaco), OG Tacos (@ogtacos), Papalote Truck (@papalotetruck), Rice Bucket (@ricebucketfoodtruck), Smooch Tart Shop (@smooch_tartshop), Sushi Shoubu (@shobufoodtruck), Taco Thai SF (@tacothaisf), The Golden Marrow (@thegoldenmarrowla), The Sarap Shop (@thesarapshop), and Uji Time Dessert (@ujitimedessert).
Instrucktional Training Programs for Food Entrepreneurs
Off the Grid's mobile food incubator in partnership with Google, will highlight a rotating lineup of budding entrepreneurs completing six-week open-market stints as part of their training. Since it's 2015 inception, Instrucktional concepts have prepared more than 650,000 meals for Google employees. Five graduates have successfully completed the two-year training program with two more nearing graduation. The first graduate, Liz Miranda, was the first person to serve food from a Cubert at OTG: Fort Mason Center.
Renowned Beverage Partnerships
San Francisco’s renowned craft beverage culture is alive and well at Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center with craft cocktail bar operator Rye on the Road serving mixed drinks with premium spirits, micro-brews such as Elysian Space Dust IPA, Cider from Sincere Cider and wine from Anarchist Wine Co. at multiple bars throughout the market. This year, a dedicated Anarchist Wine Bar will feature a selection of premium wines.
Cubert Spaces: Innovative Design, Diverse Experiences
In 2018, Off the Grid first launched the Cubert modular pop-up kitchen and retail space for creators. The Cuberts are now licensed through San Francisco as a Mobile Food Facility, with the largest gathering at Fort Mason Center where they provide food entrepreneurs with mobile kitchens featuring everything they need to serve guests efficiently. The low investment alternative to a more traditional food truck offers more branding capabilities along with running water, electricity, and stainless-steel countertops in a clean, licensed space. Cuberts allow purveyors to activate a comfortable temporary environment for guests with style and ease at the Fort Mason Center Night Market.
Night Market Ambiance + Local Artists
Sheltered Cubert lounge spaces provide weather-stable environments while heat lamps throughout the market, and communal fire pits are some of the thoughtful touches to keep guests warm throughout the market. In 2020, a limited number of bookable VIP spaces will be available within the event. In addition, well-known artists Jeremy Fish and Fnnch, as well as other local artists, will create unique art installations throughout the Night Market along with merchandise. FMC will also incorporate elements of San Francisco’s illustrated art and graffiti scene.
Special Programming for Humans (and Dogs!)
Celebrating San Francisco’s character at every opportunity, every third Friday beginning March 20 will be Fido Friday. Guests are encouraged to bring their dogs to the party, where Yappy Hour specials will be offered from 5:30-6:30 p.m. (10% off Rye on the Road drinks with your pup in tow), including a featured “Hair of the Dog” cocktail. Special treats and “Paws for a refresh” doggie bowl and bag stations will be made available for canine guests.
Activations and Applications
Throughout the season, OTG FMC will incorporate various themes into the market. April 10 will feature a Taco Takeover; May 8 will be Creole Night, June 19 OTG 10-year Anniversary Party. On June 26 a Pride Block Party ensues, while July 24 will be all about Phood. On August 26, Fog Appreciation returns and October 2 will feature a Mid-Autumn Festival. Finally, on October 9 Off the Grid will throw a Fleet Week celebration during the San Francisco Fleet Week, welcoming all our service members to join the fun.
True to its innovative roots, Off the Grid will be launching two new apps in March that focus on improving both the Guest and Creator experience. Stay tuned for more details.
For the complete lineup of 2020 mobile food creators at Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center (including new additions through the season) visit offthegrid.com/fort-mason-center. Admission is always free. OTG is rain or shine. For a complete schedule of year-round Off the Grid markets, visit offthegrid.com/events. Follow OTG on Instagram to receive market updates and RSVP via Facebook to stay in the know for themed events.
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About Off the Grid: Founded in San Francisco in 2010, Off the Grid (OTG) has championed the mobile food movement, connecting people over a shared love of food and community. As a mobile events platform, OTG recreates public and private spaces with curated food experiences, innovative event production and corporate dining. Credited with reviving and cultivating San Francisco’s street food scene, OTG sets the stage for culinary discovery by creating multiple opportunities for entrepreneurial food vendors to access authentic community experiences within intentionally designed public spaces in more than 15 locations and 60 events weekly that serve more than 100,000 people. Off the Grid Catering provides a private markets experience with turn-key event production and planning. For more information visit https://offthegrid.com/ and follow OTG on Twitter: @OTGSF, Instagram: @OffTheGridSF, and Facebook: @OffTheGridSF.