Where do I even begin to ruminate and report on the fabulous fermented events of the weekend? First, the Fermentation Symposium with Sandor Katz, Dr. Charles Bamforth and Jenny McGruther. Then the Fermentation Feast with all sorts yummy beverages and edibles directed by chef John Ash. And of course the Fermentation Festival itself – a now very popular day party celebrating all things fermented and featuring an amazing variety of fermented food and drink, exhibits, classes, speakers, live music, and even awards for best kombucha. Wowza.
Recap of awesomeness:
- Wild West Ferments has really got it going on in the wild yeast soda pop department. I could NOT get enough of the Currant Cardamon soda. I need to make this.
- Japanese Kasu-Zuke pickles are so good (but expensive for a jar)! Everything that Cultured Pickle Shop does is excellent, but kasuzuke are my favorite.
- I can now eat Natto without the “eww” factor thanks to the brilliance of Natto sushi rolls.
- Sweet and salty flavored miso paste on tofu – who knew? This was so simple yet so inspiring.
- I’ll risk lactose intolerance any day for Bellwether Farms Ricotta cheese (no worries, I was fine).
- Sandor Katz is gracious, down-to-earth and totally amazing. I’m full of state pride after he said “California is doing things with Kombucha that I’ve never seen before”.
Also, mind is blown after: “Some microbiologists are starting to think that bacteria don’t have separate species, but are a superspecies that is genetically fluid, not unlike humans using tools.”
- My kombucha palate rocks. I blind-tasted nine kombuchas, then hours later after sampling many others, I recognized the one I voted for. I blurted out “You’re number 8, I voted for you!” and Bern Galvin of Bucha gave me a complimentary bottle of winning (2nd place) Verbena Rose. Woot!
- I was happy to see the fine folks at Cleansing Ministries and get some fresh replacement water kefir (SKG) grains, as mine petered out last year. And they had Guayaki Yerba Mate water kefir again, which was a great pick-me-up during the fest.
- Eatwell Farms is producing some very tasty lacto-fermented soft drinks using herbal hydrosols, branded as “Drinkwell Softers”. I tried a Rosemary soda and a Lavender soda, er softer, and loved the lavender. I would really likw to get my hands on some herbal hydrosols and experiment – they actually sell them so that might be a start.
- There’s a local Fermentation Club the meets at Merritt College in Oakland. Neat.
- Charles Bamforth (master brewer/UC Davis) had a lot of really interesting things to say about beer, so much so that I want give gluten-free beer another try. “Beer is good for you in moderation! Beer has more assimilable silicon than any other food.”
- I met friendly Hannah Crum of KombuchaKamp.com and we had a brief chat about continuous brewing and tea options. She has a great DIY guide on her website if you haven’t downloaded it.
- My new favorite krout peeps, Kathryn and Peter from Farmhouse Culture, and Kirsten of Mellonia provided excellent dinner table conversation during the feast.
- I missed the talk by Mary Sheila Gonnella on “The Edible Effect of Fermented Foods in Your Digestive System”, but lucky for me I already got to participate in a “cafe chat” exercise with her at the symposium. I’ll have to keep my eye out for her classes at Bauman college. Also in our cafe chat, the lovely Virginia of VML Wines. We had a wonderful conversation that I wish lasted longer.
And the People’s Choice award goes to….GT’s Synergy (1st Place), Bucha (2nd), House (3rd) and runner ups were: Revive, Culture and Kombucha Botanica.
I was not clear on the results of the judge’s panel and hope they get posted on the website or facebook page. It sounded like “most unique” was a tie between Mother Knows Best and Cultured Pickle Shop.
Michael Stusser, the founder of Osmosis Enzyme Baths, turns out to be a festival organizer. A big shout out thank you to him and the folks at Ceres Community Project. I think I might volunteer to help next year, they are going to need it if this fermentation thing gets any more popular…