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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Davis Dirt’s Street Food Rodeo brings unique treats to Davis

Do you enjoy food? Or music? What about both at the same time? Can you handle that concept?
This weekend, folks at The Davis Dirt will put on the Street Food Rodeo, which will take place Friday, June 1 from 4 to 10 p.m. on 6th and G street. Nine food vendors will be serving their own fresh-cooked and affordable culinary creations, five local bands will be playing reggae, folk and jazz and there will be opportunities for rodeo-themed face painting. Best of all, admission will be free.
“We are anticipating a crowd of at least a thousand people,” said Annie Meckstorck, one of the co-founders and editors of The Davis Dirt, a monthly publication that brings news of local music, food and art events to the community. “We know the town wants good food. This is a way for us to bring something delicious to Davis to benefit a good cause.”
The proceeds from the event will go toward the Davis School Garden Program which aims to educate youth — through garden-based learning — about how food choices can connect with personal health and their community.
“Every school in Davis has a garden program. It helps kids keep in touch with where their food comes from,” Meckstorck said. “We wanted to benefit a program that involved food so it sort of happened all at once.”
Providing the context for all the the culinary excitement, five local bands are lined up to play 45-minute sets, including Jenny Lynn & Her Real Gone Daddies, Tha Dirt Feelin’, Belle Francisco, Zuhg and The Souterrain.
Consistent with the goal of bringing tasty and unusual food to Davis, Rodeo will serve items such as tacos made from fresh, handmade tortillas, pizza baked on a mobile brick oven, handmade churros (with gluten-free options), fresh paella and kombucha. Wondering where these unique food stands are on the regular and why they’ve never been in Davis?
“The vendors are excited to come to Davis because food trucks aren’t usually allowed here,” Meckstorck said.
An article of the City of Davis Municipal Code prohibits any vehicle with food items for sale from staying in the same location for over ten minutes. So, unlike cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, which have a thriving community of truck owners and devoted customers, food trucks have yet to become a part of culture in Davis and the surrounding community.

Davis Dirt has attained the necessary permits to allow the vendors to stay for the Rodeo.

“Many of the vendors that are coming are locals but also ones we didn’t even know existed,” Meckstrock said. “We hand-picked several vendors to come after lots of research, but many came to us that we had never heard of.”
One vendor, Cava Gourmet Funnel Cakes has put a unique spin on the funnel cake made popular by carnivals and county fairs alike.
“We’ve shrunk it, so that it’s only four inches across, making the portions easier for one person to eat alone,” said Anthony Padua, master of funnel cakes and the founder of the business he’d been conceptualizing since his sophomore year in college. “It leaves room to make them more personable than just a huge-ass dessert.”
After finding the best batter mix for the funnel cake itself, Padua directed his focus toward toppings. Each funnel cake, which costs $6 or two for $10, is accompanied by such an array of flavor combinations that the funnel cake itself turns into more of an edible plate.
“The Strawberry Blitz has fresh strawberries on top with a citrus cream cheese filling,” Padua said. “Then we added a vanilla cookie crumble and some Ghirardelli-chocolate covered bacon.”
Sold? Not yet?
“We also have one called the Baked Alaskan,” Padua said. “We took a cupcake mold and made a parfait of half-cappuccino and half-vanilla yogurt then covered the whole thing with an almond meringue so that it forms an igloo — hot on the outside and cold on the inside. It’s then drizzled with caramel sauce.”

Oh, and the funnel cake is underneath all of that.

Another vendor coming to the Rodeo is Fuzion Eatz which serves gyros in a non-traditional fashion.

“We make it a point to make things irregular,” said Jeremy Lopez, co-founder. “We combine foods that usually don’t go together. For instance, the Kamikaze has romaine, grilled tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, lamb, sprinkled with scallions and topped with pickled mango ranch sauce.”

Lopez’s business is relatively young, only having been around since July 2011. Like many young food businesses, he and his partners pay close attention to customer feedback and try to incorporate their ideas and opinions into the menu.

“Once in a while we taste something and think, ‘That would be really good with something I thought about last week,’” Lopez said. “So we’ll try it and see what response it gets. Our menu has five items that are concrete and every so often we’ll add something new.”

Also at the event will be the Davis Food Co-op’s Saturday beer tasting which will be moved outside to be included in the festivities.

“This way, you can get your food and enjoy a cold beer in the beer garden at the same time,” said Melanie Gentles, co-founder and editor of the Davis Dirt along with Meckstrock. “Also, there will be free valet bike parking in the same area. There is space behind the Co-op’s teaching kitchen which will be blocked off and turned into bike parking.”

In addition to serving tasty food, the Davis Dirt plans to make the Rodeo a low-waste event. Visitors are asked to show up to the festivities with their own reusable dishware.
LANI CHAN can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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