Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eating My Way Through
The Portland VegFest
A Celebration of Food, Friends, and Fun!

What can you say about a day filled with meeting lots of old and new friends and grazing away at a seemingly endless array of fabulous-tasting vegan fare? This year's Portland VegFest, which was held at the Portland Convention Center, was truly a day of delicious fun.

Unexpectedly, the exhibitor floor presented itself as a chocolate-lover's paradise, completely destroying the myth that vegans don't eat chocolate! There were more chocolate tables than you could shake a stick at, featuring chocolate truffles, chocolate candy bars, even raw chocolate and raw chocolate syrup!

One of my favorites was Stirs the Soul Raw Organic Chocolates. With flavors like Lavender, Spiced Chai, and Rose, I was in chocolate heaven!

Missionary Chocolates makes dark chocolate vegan truffles that are melt-in-your mouth delicious. Sadly, they were all out of Sweet Raspberry and Coconut Silk samples by the time I reached their table, but their Myer Lemon Explosion truffles were out of this world! I'd definitely send a box of these to someone on Valentine's Day.

I was delighted to see Sweet Pea Baking Company there again this year, as their cupcakes are among my all-time favorite baked treats. This time they came with dozens of samples of mini cupcakes and mini bundt cakes. Y-U-M!

Food Fight Grocery brought along lots of tasty treats. I finally got to taste my first Mahalo Bar. It was even better than the way I remember the classic dark-chocolate-wrapped-around-coconut Mounds bars, which I enjoyed so much as a kid! In fact, it was so good, I didn't even mind shelling out two bucks to buy the bar.

Of course, I had to stop by and visit with my favorite ice cream company, Turtle Mountain. Their table was really popular with attendees, who all seemed to be blown away by the samples of coconut milk ice cream, beverages, yogurt, kefir, and creamer they were giving away. Their So Delicious coconut milk ice cream sandwiches were a big hit with everyone!

Something really interesting and new for me was a product called Oregon Dukkah. I'd never seen or heard of dukkah before, and it looked intriguing. It's a mixture of nuts, seeds and Middle Eastern spices that originated in Egypt, and it comes in varieties like Zesty, Smoky Hot, and Coconut. They even have a Sweet flavor, which I wish I'd tasted. But I went for the Zesty served up with a little olive oil on a bit of bread. The combination of spices, hazelnuts, and seeds was enticing and exotic! And you gotta love their motto: "Dip like an Egyptian"!

I finally got to taste two items I'd heard so much about, but heretofore had never tasted: Dandies Marshmallows and Daiya Vegan Cheese. Though they dwarf in size compared to Sweet and Sara's vegan marshmallows, the Dandies tasted quite good. And Daiya cheeses had a surprising "cheesy" bite to them. I'd love to sample them heated and melted sometime. That's when they're supposed to be most impressive as a dairy-free, soy-free cheese substitute.

And just in case you think I was there only to satiate my sweet tooth, I did taste some "meatier" fare. I quite liked Field Roast's Classic Vegan Meatloaf, The blend of carrots, onion, garlic, and tomato paste hinted pleasantly at the real thing, without tasting overly flesh-like.

And Tofurky's Marinated Tempeh Strips were a flavorful surprise.

Believe it or not, after all that grazing, I found that I was still hungry for dinner. So I made my way to one of Portland's most talked about vegan food carts, Homegrown Smoker on 23rd and Alberta.

Here I treated myself to a Smoky Tempeh BBQ sandwich. Because the street was closed off to traffic for a street fair yesterday, I had to park a block away, and I could smell the smoker from that distance. The gals were really delightful, and my sandwich was decadently delicious. It was one of the tastiest BBQ sandwiches I've ever enjoyed.

I tasted their Mac and Cheese, too. Sorry no photo—I ate it too fast! ;) I gotta say that it was without a doubt, the BEST vegan Mac and Cheese I've ever had.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that all I did was eat all day! I actually attended inspiring lectures by Dr. John McDougall, Kathy Freston, and Rip Esselstyn. Dr. McDougall's talks motivated me to take my vegan life to the next level. More about that in my next post. For now, just enjoy the food!


Anonymous said...

I'm envious beyond belief, but so glad you had a great time!

Mary said...

Gail, you sure know how to make a girl hungry!!! I wish we had a place like Homegrown Smoker here. That looks delicious!

Helen said...

Lavender, chai, and rose organic raw chocolates? How delicious! Thanks for sharing all the great photos, descriptions, and links! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.

Linda said...

We go every year when it comes to Seattle and the new products are always fabulous finds.

Great photos - thanks for the reviews, too!

Batty said...


Eatiing Raw Foods Info said...

Boy, it would be nice to have something like that here in NY.

Everything sounds so good. I'd love to try the ice cream and the meatloaf. And everything's vegan? What a treat!

Paul said...

If this is a religion, I'm signing up!

PSpende said...

Thanks for the great comments. As one of the organizers of the Portland VegFest, I don't get much of a chance to attend our own event, so it was great reading about some of the things I missed. I did hit the Equal Exchange chocolate right off though and that was good. I missed Rip Esselstyn's talk too, but he talked again tonight at a different venue and he was fantastic. If any of you get a chance to hear him somewhere, don't miss it.

Pam said...

You have a very nice blog and Congrats on the Foodie Blogroll!

Vegiegail said...

Wow, thanks for pointing that out, Pam! I hadn't noticed that I was one of today's random 5!

The Vegan said...

I should never read your blog when I am hungry! This one in particular. Wonderful photos and descriptions of all of that delicious food. I wish I was there. Thanks for sharing this!
Now I have to go eat something. :-)