Appetite: Outside Lands, as seen by a food writer

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This year's Outside Lands, the three-day extravaganza of some of the top musical acts in the world and quality food and drink (this is SF, after all) in the beauty of Golden Gate Park, felt more packed than ever. But despite throngs descending on SF from all over the country that turning Golden Gate Park into a sea of trash -- thanks clean-up crews! -- Outside Lands magic happened each day.

For example on Sunday, when performer Jack White popped up for an impromptu set, surprising fans who happened to be traversing the eucalyptus groves near Choco Lands. It was magic eating local foods in a festival setting, like dreamy Italian Del Popolo (although hour-plus lines and daily sell-outs were a drag) or everything from Ryan Farr's two 4505 Meats stands sustaining us on those long walks between stages with the perfect "damn good cheeseburger" and "yum yum" fried chicken sandwich. You could feel the magic in the new-this-year Beer Lands, where one could sip craft beers while taking in the Foo Fighters, Regina Spektor, or Beck (Although the training given to those pouring beers was far from magic. One pourer for The Bruery on Saturday told me confidently that this incredible brewery from the O.C. was from San Diego.)

Magic occurred when Metallica, flames, lasers, and all, delivered the tightest, hardest-rocking set of the weekend. Not long after the noon hour, fun. swept up the entire Polo Field in their rousing anthems. Magic reigned at Stevie Wonder's set on Sunday night. His voice sounded as tight and beautiful as ever, even at age 62. His joy and wisdom radiated from the moment he took the stage, streaming out to a field full of thousands basking in waves of pink, blue, and green lights, foggy Pacific Ocean air, and the voice of a legend.

Full captions: 

1.  Ryan Farr's ridiculously good Chicken "yum yum" sandwich was one of the festival's best eats. Watch for it at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

2. 4505 Meats' chicharrones bars were like rice krispie treats made with Ryan Farr's unparalleled chicharrones, puffed rice, marshmallow, and Apple Jacks or Cocoa Puffs

3. Misty, dreamy lighting changes colors, illuminating Golden Gate Park trees at night

4. The hilarious, improvisational Reggie Watts rocked comedy and music Friday afternoon (and here, in the media tent following his set)

5. The Wine Lands tent impressed once again with 49 wineries. 2012 highlights included Villa Creek, Robert Sinskey, Qupe, Kermit Lynch, Palmina, The Scholium Project, and Wind Gap 

6. Beck keeps the crowd happy at the Land's End stage on Friday

7. The new-this-year Beer Lands hosted 16 California breweries selected by brewmaster Dave McLean of Magnolia Pub. Highlights included the Bruery's brilliantly bitter Humulus APA and Sierra Nevada's Outside Lands saison 

8. Under faux Victorian facades, chef John Fink of The Whole Beast grilled eight to 10 whole lambs per day at Lamb Lands, an excellent 2012 addition to Outside Land's food selection

9. Michael Mina's RN74 and Bourbon Steak served whole roasted lamb gyros, lamb poutine, sweet corn in lamb sausage crumbs at Lamb Lands

10. Thousands swarm the Polo Fields

11. Saturday in the media tent, Magnolia and Alembic brewer Dave McLean (center) talks Beer Lands and The Whole Beast's John Fink dishes on lamb

12. Choco Lands was an enchanted, Tim Burton-esque fantasy in the eucalyptus groves, with Day of the Dead accents and an array of chocolate carts and treats

13. Outside Lands ends with best set of all: Stevie Wonder exudes joy and life to thousands in the Polo Field, his voice in top form

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