August 30, 2011
Where do I begin? Intense, delicious, exciting, invigorating, wonderful — Vida Vegan Con was all of this and more; so many kind vegans, so much great food, no explaining why I choose to eat only plants, no asking what was in the food, wonderful attendees, interesting food demos and panel discussions. And the swag! Did I mention the mountain of swag we received? Holy queso — everything from the aforementioned Queso, to pepper grinders. I arrived with a manageable half-empty suitcase, and left with an overstuffed one — and the suitcase wasn't the only thing that was overstuffed. At Sweetpea Bakery on Monday morning, I couldn't even bring myself to consume more than a cup of tea, though I did buy a gf chocolate chip cookie for later — you know, just in case.
Each day felt more like a week, but I'll attempt to summarize the activities/festivities, with a possibly slanted emphasis towards food. We were, after all, in Portlandia, vegan food capital of the world.
We took the train from Seattle, and arrived at our lovely hotel in Portland about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. The first VVC event was an early evening champagne and cupcake reception in the convention center ballroom.
I didn't really want to fill up on cupcakes before dinner, but I couldn't exactly sip champagne on an empty stomach, especially since I get lightheaded just looking at champagne. So I enjoyed a 'small' chocolate cupcake with my flute of champagne.
Along with the cupcakes, there were platters of very delicious nut cheese cubes from Heidi Ho Organics. I ate quite a few of those.
One of the most amazing parts of the conference (if not the most amazing) was recognizing bloggers whom I had only met on the Internet. I spotted Mo from Mo Betta Vegan, and immediately went in for a hug. Cool. I'll never be able to remember everyone I met the first night, but it was so much fun. I got to meet Dynise from Urban Vegan, for whose upcoming book I tested recipes, and lots of wonderful local, Seattle bloggers, like Samantha from Novel Eats, and Helen from vegtastic.net. I was also excited to meet Julia, the snarky vegan, Marika from madcap cupcake, and P and T from vegangelical.
After the reception, at 8 p.m., we went to dinner at Portobello, a well-loved Portland vegan institution. Bethany, organizer extraordinaire and writer of spotted devil cat and his vegan assistant, made (and constantly updated) reservations, and served as transportation navigator. In the photo, from left to right are: snarky vegan, the vegangelicals, madcap cupcake, spotted devil cat and his vegan assistant, moi, and Mr. easy vegan.
I think this is a photo of my Ginger Rawgers, a non-alcoholic (unless you are a government agent and count kombucha as alcohol) cocktail, which was sublime.
After cocktails, ahem, we had a little tatt show where P and T showed off the gorgeous new tattoos they'd gotten at the vegan mini mall.
The left arm belongs to P and the right arm belongs to T. Pretty spectacular, right?
The food was quite wonderful, as you'll see, but unfortunately won't be able to taste. Above you see Bethany's tomato soup.
Several diners ordered the gnocchi, and all were swooning.
Last but not least, my stuffed portobello on top of polenta, entrée, which was delicious.
There were also desserts consumed, salted caramel ice cream and tiramisu are pictured above. I've never had the non-vegan versions of either of these two delicacies, as I may have become vegan before they became so popular. And I've never been big on desserts anyway. However, my forkful taste of the tiramisu was amazing. I don't think I could have eaten the whole thing, but I sure enjoyed my taste to the max. As for the salted caramel, it wasn't a favorite of the people who tried it. It was too coconut-y and not very caramel-y, and I didn't detect the salty accent I was expecting. But it was still good, just not what we expected. Overall, our experience at Portobello was elegant and amazing.
All this was just one evening's worth of VVC. More to come.
I'd like to thank Wellsphere.com for sponsoring my ticket.