August 30, 2011

Vida Vegan Con, day 1

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 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.

A beetburger.

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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 for sponsoring my ticket.


  1. It sounds like such a great time!

    The food all looks spectacular. I love P & T's tattoos. They're gorgeous!

    Now I really want to try a beetburger. I love beets. :)

  2. Ok, Portland is awesome...won't some of it rub off on Seattle...pleease? Even just the first night is spectacular. Looking forward to more...:)

  3. Awesome that you went! I will not get sick of all this coverage; it sounds like a great time.
    Love the beet burger, and the mocktail sounds amazing!

  4. Oh - and - how great that you got to meet Dynise! I tested for that book too and it was so much fun. I'd love to chat with her!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing, since I couldn't go. I wish the tiramisu pic had turned out better. But that beetburger was a work of art!

  6. Molly,
    It WAS a great time — but I'm still tired. And I still expect my meals prepared and I WANT COOKIES! I hope I recover soon. :)

    Portland does seem to have a lot of vegan food and "other" things going. And vegans on every corner. But Seattle isn't far behind. I think Sidecar is just as good as Food Fight, but an Herbivore would be nice. And maybe Homegrown Smoker and Native Bowl food carts. And Blossoming Lotus. And ... Sigh.

    The mocktail was perfect — gingery to the max and so delicious. I remember that you tested recipes, too. Dynise is extremely nice, and she lives in my hometown!

    I'll take another look at the tiramisu pic and see if I can print it. I've never had non-vegan tiramisu so I can't compare, but my one forkful taste was perfection. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Yeah, I was thinking of Sidecar as I typed that comment and thought that maybe I'm being over critical...but still: vegan food carts? Yes, please!

    I think Homegrown Smoker would be my first stop in Portland...I've seen so many people blogging about it and it makes my mouth water.

  8. Rose,
    I guess we'll just have to plan a vegan blogger food excursion to Portland! There is a Seattle vegan blogger meetup in the planning stages, if you're interested — just local, I'm afraid.

    p.s. I posted the tiramisu. It was pretty, pretty, good. :)

  9. How fun, all that just in the first evening! Love that beet burger! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrea. This is a bad time at work for me to travel, but I expect to increasingly regret not being there as your posts continue. Hope all is well in your world!

  11. Beautiful pictures. Glad you had a great time. I love the tattoos! And many thanks for sharing all the links to other bloggers. I'm just getting started on my vegan journey and looking for lots of people to follow. Cheers!

  12. WOW! I am loving everyone's posts about the foodfest!!
    Yes, the only downside is that everyday isn't like that!

  13. Chow Vegan,
    It's hard to believe how much we packed into three days! I wish you could have come.

    You're welcome. There were quite a few bloggers from your part of the country. It would have been fun to meet you!

    Thanks for your comment, Jess. There's certainly no shortage of talented vegan cooks in the blog world — I'm sure you'll find lots of inspiration!

    Get Skinny,
    The next one will be in 2013 — you should come!

  14. Oh that gnocchi. It was something to behold.

    Lovely recap!

  15. If you weren't such a wonderful, lovable person who deserves all the good things that come your way, I would be gnashing my teeth with jealousy over your amazing Vida Vegan Con adventure! Just getting to go to Portland would be enough, but the swag, meeting those vegan bloggers, and all that phenomenal food - I want to be you!!! :-)

    Those tats are really something, and I'm swiping your stuffed portobello on polenta dish and fighting Molly for the beetburger. Oh, and you can consider that Ginger Rawgers (cute!) cocktail history too. ;-) It's all so tantalizing and fun and fantastic, I'm so glad they put on such a great event and that you got to go! Thanks for sharing Day 1 with us, can't wait for the next installment!

    (And don't think I'm not going to be eavesdropping on conversations between you and Rose about the Seattle blogger meetup that's being planned - I might just have to crash that party!) :-)

  16. Gena,
    The gnocchi — little pillows of melt-in-your-mouth perfection!

    It was a pleasure to meet you at VVC.

    Oh, you — too sweet you are. I thought of you while I was there, thinking how great it would be if you could have come. I don't know where it will be held, but in 2013 you must try to come! We can get some tats together. :)

    Anytime you want to crash the blogger party — or any party in Seattle — just let me know!

  17. yet another VVC post to be jealous of. glad you made it down and enjoyed it!

  18. I swear, every recap I read of VVC is better than the last one. . . how could I have missed it?? And I'm agape that your ticket was sponsored by Wellsphere--who knew?? Now I have to think about finding a sponsor so I can go in 2013! ;) Looks amazing, from the food to meeting those cool bloggers to being in Portland itself. Yeah!

  19. Andrea! What a lovely post! tee hee... we're such "hams" for lack of a better vegan word. :) We had so much fun with you guys at Portobello and through the weekend! Could you send me the pic of us all at Portobello?

  20. Bitt,
    I've been thinking about you and wondering how you're liking your new home. I wish you could have come to Portland for VVC — maybe next time!

    None of us are lying or exaggerating, either. And, yes, my ticket was indeed paid for by Wellsphere in exchange for posting about the conference — a pretty fair exchange, don't you think?

    The post was all the more colorful thanks to you two. And more fun! I sent the photo to your contact address on your blog. Let me know if you don't receive it.

  21. I've really been wanting to try a beet burger!

  22. Ha! It was so great meeting you! I love all these pictures. I feel like such a dork because I forgot my camera nearly every single day.

    Such a fun time. I cannot wait until 2013!

  23. Jenny,
    Ricki has a recipe for one on her blog Diet Dessert and Dogs. Beets aren't a favorite of mine, but I do like them raw — especially golden beets.

    I wish I'd taken MORE pictures. I always get shy when it comes to taking pictures of people. And I hate having pictures taken of me. Thanks for letting me take yours!


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