Rochester is a town that is known for the numerous festivals held throughout the summer months and, even though there are a great number of them, they are embraced as part of the fabric of the community. One of the newest and most ambitious festivals is Greentopia which is now on its third year of existence. I was exposed to Greentopia for the first time at a Yelp Elite Event I went to at The Revelry and shortly after at a Rochester Blog Network event held at Greentopia headquarters. The scope of their week long event covers documentary films, musical performances, fashion design, educational speaking events to a 2 day EcoFest held right next to High Falls area. The events I had a chance to go to this year were the Greentopia sponsored Food Truck Rodeo on Friday 9/13 and the EcoFest on Saturday afternoon. Since this is a bit on the longer side, the quick overview is that I’m first going to go into the Rodeo, then hit the EcoFest and then at the end cover a couple of issues I heard about and give my overall thoughts of the festival.
Greentopia Food Truck Rodeo
I was pretty excited to hear during their spiel that there was going to be another Food Truck Rodeo added to the monthly calendar at the Public Market sponsored by Greentopia. I’m a big fan of seeing a big selection of the trucks out at the same time and the creativity that can come from them on the menus even with the typical big crowds. Unfortunately, even though the trucks were out in full force, the crowds didn’t really follow this time. I’m not sure if this was due to the foreboding weather forecast or a lack of publicity, but for the first hour and a half or so there was only a smattering of people around and no lines whatsoever. Bad for the trucks, but good for me in that I was able to hit up three trucks in short order before I had to head out for a critical curling team meeting.
Brick N Motor served me up a half order of their coconut curry black eyed peas that really hit the spot on a fall like evening with some rich curry flavors and a good balance of acidity from the preserved lemon. The fresh veggies and curried peanuts offered some needed crunch to go along with the well cooked peas and beans. I would have liked to have seen a bit of heat from the curry, but I’d call that a minor personal preference issue in an overall tasty dish.
I ran into Breanna, our local Yelp community manager, and we split up some meatball sliders from The Meatball Truck Co and a Pittsburgh style sandwich from the Roc City Sammich truck. I’ve had my most fun at the Rodeos when I am with other people so I would highly recommend going to the Rodeos with at least one friend so you can share dishes and try more of the field without completely stuffing yourself. The meatball sliders were as fantastic as the first time I had them and was pretty happy with my first taste of the pastrami Pittsburgh style sandwich.
The Primanti’s like sandwich was a bit lighter on the meat and fries compared to the ones I’ve had before, but more manageable because of it and a solid version overall. The bread was lightly toasted and the coleslaw was crisp, but I wish there was a bit more toast to the bread and a touch more balance between sweet, salty and acidity in the slaw. I know that is kind of the style of the sandwich so I can’t fault them too much on those two fronts. A touch pricey for me but I’ll be back to try them again. That wrapped up my time at the Food Truck Rodeo and my next Greentopia experience was at the EcoFest late on Saturday afternoon.
Greentopia EcoFest – Saturday
Having not been there before, I was happy to find free parking at the big garage next to WXXI and strolled over to the festival. The selection of food related vendors was more focused on the local and sustainable which was a good change of pace from most festivals I’ve been to this year. Ouzon soda was giving out free samples of their locally produced lightly anise flavored drink and I got my first look at Fruition Seeds. They are a company out of Naples, NY that is working on the proliferation of organic, regional seeds specifically for our area with a lot of passion for their cause. This seems like a cool idea and a valuable new contributor to the food community and I wish them the best of success. I also ran across the Good Food Collective that was advertising their fall CSA style offering. If you missed out on trying out a CSA this summer, theirs seems like a decent option for fall time local goods. Check out their website for more details including pick up locations and what an average base share entails week to week.
Sweet Beez was another food related activist group at the event and they were focusing on promoting the well being of honey bees and informing school children about their importance among other community outreach efforts. They had a vibrant portable hive with them along with some local honey for sale. Very much an interesting effort and one done on their own time because they have a passion for bees and community. Cool stuff. I’m planning on talking to them at some point in more detail about their efforts and why they got into bees as a topic. Other noted food related stands included the Abundance Co-op, Rochester Area Vegetarian Society and Wegmans Organics.
The food court area was populated with food trucks including Brick N Motor (where I grabbed a small snack) and a host of others (check pictures for details). My dragon bean salad from Brick N Motor was pretty fantastic and hit every note I want in a salad. Well seasoned with salt and pepper and dill dressing with plenty of crunch from Mexican gherkin cucumbers and some creamy goat cheese. Top notch stuff as usual!
Of note, I did hear about a situation that happened with the Lettuce B Frank food cart that left me a bit dismayed. They were made to not set up among the other food trucks in the food court area and instead were placed at the complete other end of the festival where the traffic for lunch was significantly less. It is disappointing that they weren’t given the same area as the other trucks and struggled because of it.
I’m still intrigued about the potential that Greentopia offers as an alternative festival in Rochester, but was put off by the situation mentioned above along with some of the prices of their events. I had some interest in one of the days of talks and the Short Courses dinner but at $100 for both things they seemed a bit over priced from my perspective. Also, it seemed like the Food Truck Rodeo was under promoted leading to an off night for everyone involved. I hope that things improve next year and the organization of the event get better so that everyone involved can be more successful and attendees are left with a good feeling.