At the J. Rusten Furniture Studio, the table saws were quiet. That Friday evening, justice was served. Literally. Films goers and local foodies arrived at the tiny furniture studio hosting The Disposable Film Festival, a film festival centered around films created with consumer electronics. Just Food: Dining with Justice Dinner and Screening, highlighted the current practices in America’s food and restaurant industry.
Inside, a table saw had been transformed into a well-equipped cocktail bar. Massive slabs of wood towered over the woodshop turned bar. These 18 foot giants were stunningly cut and still somewhat resembled the trees in which they came from. The opposite wall housed another army of giants, the great state of California, stencils that would ultimately overpower the organic shapes of the wood. As a proud “out-of-stater” and a minuscule apartment renter, I would never have a gigantic California table in my house, but the craftsmanship of these tables was extraordinary. Excited and talkative strangers packed around the tables and waited for a tasty cocktail from bartender Christopher Jurach of Mobile Libations. He worked at the makeshift bar and expertly crafted each cocktail while chatting up the guests.
When the sawdust covered wall clock hit 8:30, large barn doors slid open, revealing a small enchanting dining room. Strings of exposed bulbs were strung from the naked rafters, illuminating the three large communal tables filling the space. The tables were set with wine, craft beer and brown paper bags of popcorn. We sat with some new friends and glanced at the menus before us: a dinner menu and a film menu. These short documentaries would be paired with a delicious-sounding, innovative meal from Pie Ranch and Chef Karl Holl of Perbacco.
The lights dimmed and the front wall sprung to life as our first course arrived, The Garden – baby spring vegetables, sprouted soil, amaranth with capezanna olive oil. No earthworms or glass shards here, the “sprouted soil” was heavenly. Crunchy, earthy and slightly toasted. Some sort of quinoa was my guess. All of the shorts featured that evening were centered around food justice. A broad topic encapsulating immigrant farm workers, travels to Vietnam, wine making war-veterans, and working conditions behind the kitchen doors. Plates were brought out between the films, by local Mission high schoolers who worked at Pie Ranch, giving us time to discuss what we had just seen with our neighbors. The dinner was comprised of; chilled asparagus passato with meyer lemon crema, marinated spring peas with pickled black chanterelles and house made sheep’s milk ricotta salata, Pie Ranch “Goat-chetta” – smoked belly wrapped goat loin, bean cassoulet with mustard flowers and finally smoked goat milk tart with compressed rhubarb, pickled green strawberries, tiny celery. Delicious does not even being to do this meal justice.
The evening was elegantly closed by the Disposable Film Fest organizers, La Cocina, Young Workers United and Saru Jayaraman each speaking about their causes and how we, as consumers could impact the food world. The energy of the intimate evening was so invigorating and intellectually stimulating, that I blabbed all the way home about how I needed to somehow slide into that mix. And a good five minutes of that blabbering were spent dedicated to the “sprouted soil”.
Check out the following organizations who are doing justice in the food industry:
Marin Roots Farms
Sebastopol Growing Greens
Bi Rite Market
Young Workers United
ROC – United
11th Hour Project