May 31, 2013

I went to Vida Vegan Con in Portland


I've taken a few days to digest (both literally and figuratively) the weekend of Vida Vegan Con. It's almost too much to write about coherently — so many experiences jammed into so short a time — that I may just opt for one review post, and a post to highlight a few of the samples from the mind-boggling number of vegan items I tried. You really just have to go yourself next year because it's too hard to encapsulate and share with mere words. Just go.

VVC officially began on Friday morning, but there was a meet and greet Thursday night that we missed. My husband and I took the train from Seattle to Portland and arrived Thursday evening in time to check into our hotel and find a place for dinner, but too late for the meet and greet and movie. After the exciting hubbub of last year's venue where everyone stayed in the same place, the small, empty hotel lobby area seemed strangely quiet and devoid of vegans when we arrived. Most likely, all the early arrivers were still at the film or headed out to dinner. We were hungry and took Kittee's advice to eat at the wonderful Bette-Lukas Ethiopian restaurant. Every item on the plate (pictured above) was so delicious I wanted to eat all our meals there, but of course that couldn't happen.


The next morning we left the hotel to walk to Prasad Cafe for a late breakfast and were almost there when I realized I'd left my phone charging back in the room, so we turned around and walked back to the hotel to retrieve it. I didn't think we had enough time to go back to the cafe and then to the Art Museum conference site, so we headed directly to the conference to check in. We were each handed a huge, heavy bag of swag, and after realizing that I'd miscalculated the time, we headed back to the hotel again to leave the bag in the room. There was a full-sized box of Erewhon supergrains buckwheat and hemp organic gluten-free cereal in the collection of samples so I had a little impromptu breakfast before heading back to the art museum. Once there, we tasted our way around the vendor sample tables, and it was clear that there would be no hunger at the conference. We gathered yet more swag and slurped everything from ice cream to chocolate-peanut butter to kale chips. I have a little confession to make. During the VVC weekend I believe I ate my weight in ice cream and cake.

Stuffed in spite of not officially making it out to breakfast, we went to our first session — Blog Writing as Writing: Take Your Blog to the Next Level presented by Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw. If you read Gena's blog you know how articulate she is, and her ideas and suggestions for improving blog narratives were insightful and enriching. Next I attended a session on Monetizing Your Blog offered by Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin. I've never been particularly good at monetizing anything, so listening to two successful women who are earning a living from their blogs (and other related activities) was inspiring. I've always had mixed feelings about monetizing my blog but the way they explained it made a lot of sense. For example, if someone uses an Amazon link on your blog to make a purchase, they encounter no extra charges or other inconvenience — it just means that Amazon is forced to share a small amount of their profit with you instead of keeping it all. Susan always goes though a blog link to make purchases so a fellow blogger benefits. I like that idea.

My third session was Why and How to Expand Your Message to Include Animal Rights, offered by Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan. These two dynamos are so good at what they do even an animal-hating crud who wouldn't spend a second of chew-time pondering the miserable life and sad death of his lunch would find himself heading to the nearest vegan restaurant before he knew what had hit him. Did you know that 1,000,000 animals are killed for food per hour in the U.S.? Seriously. Check them out.


At 5 we attended a welcome address and a reception sponsored by Veggie Grill. I had a small plate of tasty gluten-free kale salad and my husband had kale salad and whatever you see on the plate to the left. He said it was delicious. After the reception we headed back to the hotel for rest, meditation and to get ready for dinner for 12 at Blossoming Lotus.


Remember my ice cream and cake confession? A friend of mine whose goal seemed to be to visit every vegan bakery in Portland while I was dutifully attending sessions, kept bringing me back cake presents. I only meant to taste the chocolate cake a little before dinner but damn, I ate the whole thing. As you can imagine, I wasn't starving at dinner even though we were eating kind of late, and this turned out to be a good thing.


Usually at Blossoming Lotus I always order the Crispy Thai BBQ Salad but I was kind of forcing myself to try something different, so I ordered a special — a live green curry. It was very beautiful, and the veggies were crisp and fresh, but it was mostly air, and the sauce was almost too rich and spicy for me. I wasn't very hungry so it was enough food, but I probably wouldn't order it again. I know it looks big in the photo, but like I said, lots of air.


I'd order this — the Thai Barbecue Salad that Bethany got. (She always orders it.) Or the Channa Masala. Let me see if I can remember who we had dinner with.


It was so dark in the restaurant that taking photos was a challenge so I only managed a couple. From left to right we have the From A to Vegan duo, Mauro and Lydia; my husband; Tofu Mom, Martiand Bethany from Spotted Devil Cat. Not in the photos are Bethany's husband Andy, Marti's friend Shaun, Dan from The Gay Vegans; Howard Jacobson, co-author with T. Colin Campbell of "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition;" two Seattle bloggers, Molly and Megan, and of course, me.

Saturday started with a Portland Vegan Breakfast Showcase sponsored by several revered Portland restaurants. I ate something wonderful and savory — nutloaf with pesto-tofu scramble and Hollandaise sauce — that I believe came from A.N.D. Cafe. I guess I ate it without thinking about photographing it. I must have really been slacking or really hungry.  We were with Dan, Lydia and Mauro — I remember them telling me about a fabulous Portobello quiche that was already gone when we got there, and I told them to get the little square of coffee cake, but I can't remember the bakery. Oh well.

After breakfast I tried to get into Fran Costigan's class but it was full. The first Saturday session I attended was Privacy Lines and Oversharing presented by Sayward Rebhal, Dreena Burton, Joanna Vaught and Susan Voisin. The panelists were quite different in their personal blog privacy rules, and the discussion gave me much to think about. In fact, as soon as I got home I changed the photos in my last post, and will consider more carefully what I post in the future. Maybe. Then it was time for lunch, and once again I forgot to take photos. After lunch was the fabulous Vegan Battle Royale hosted by Amey, Kittee and Mo. Two teams and numerous members of the audience tested their food and blog trivia knowledge for stacks of prizes. Hilarious!


My husband and I played hooky for a little bit and walked to the Chinese Garden. It had finally stopped raining, the sun was shining and we wanted some fresh air. It was peaceful and beautiful.


Anyone know what any of these plants are?

When we returned to the conference I attended a very lively and creative presentation by Cadry called Incorporating Your Other Creative Talents into Your Blog. It was the perfect way to end the day's sessions on a high note.


Saturday night was the Galarama — a dress-up (or not) party and silent auction. (The auction raised $4,000 for the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest) The venue was kind of outdoors but under a roof and even though I got dressed up, I didn't ever get my coat off. I must have talked too much, too, because the next morning I woke up hoarse, but the evening was a lot of fun. Here I am with Cadry and Dreena.




Amey took a one-handed self-pic of us that turned out great so I tried to do it too, with her tutoring. As you can see, I'm not so good at the selfie thing, but after trying multiple times since I got home, I have to conclude it's not due to a lack of skill, but a lack of arm length. Amey is supposed to send me her version and when she does, I'll share it.


I apologize for posting this photo but by the time I remembered to take a picture of the gorgeous cheese platter created by Miyoko Schinner, this is what it looked like. Turn a huge roomful of vegans loose near a board of Artisan Vegan Cheese and what can you expect? Still, you can imagine it in its earlier glory, can't you? Can you? Sorry, sorry. Miyoko told me that the cheeses she served at the Galarama aren't in her book. She's constantly experimenting and her refrigerator is always filled with new cheeses.


So Delicious provided sundaes to top off the evening, and shortly after is where I really went astray. As we were leaving, one of the So Delicious people was standing next to a small mountain of leftover ice cream cartons and she asked me if I had a freezer and if I wanted one. Did we have a freezer in our little hotel fridge? I had no idea but I took a pint anyway.


After a bit of a cab snafu, we finally arrived at the hotel and no, there was no freezer, so instead of wasting good ice cream, I ate half a pint — maybe more. Probably more. My husband ate a little too. I thought I wouldn't be able to eat ice cream again for a long time, but of course I was wrong ... (to be continued.)

34 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for recapping the event! I hope to attend next year's VVC, providing it coincides with my work schedule.

    I feel your pain about Blossoming Lotus; that Crispy Thai Salad looks amazing and I still haven't tried soy curls. I was a newbie blogger when I visited Portland and I didn't take many pictures (I know), but everything we ate was amazing. I try not to have a "regular" at vegan restaurants, but sometimes it's still overwhelming to choose from an entire menu! Now you know what to do at BL.

    PS I love that you used the word crud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! What I have to do is keep ordering my regular at BL and convince my husband to order something new so I can taste it. Crud is one of those words that should come back in style — it's so descriptive.

      Delete
  2. (Sorry about my boo-boo deletes, I'm havin' a day. Maybe the third time will be the charm!) :-)

    Wow!! What a fun post! The way your wrote it sure gave it the breathless, overwhelmed-by-all-the-great-stuff-going-on feeling that it must have had in reality. Vegan stimuli overload (what a happy thought!) No wonder you neglected to take photos of every dish you ate, I know I would have done the same thing.

    My favorite paragraph you wrote is the one about Jasmin and Mariann (I love their blog, I Pin from it all the time). What a great riff on their eloquent powers of persuasion!

    A bit of constructive criticism - maybe next time you shouldn't go into QUITE so much detail about the plate of Ken's food beside his kale salad. (That "and whatever you see on the plate to the left" line really tickled me! I think in part because I wasn't expecting such nonchalance from you, given your usual food descriptions!) :-)

    The presentations you attended all sound very interesting, and I'm especially glad you got to see and enjoy Cadry's. Too bad about your dish at Blossoming Lotus, I'd have gotten that Thai BBQ salad too, I think, from your photo of it!

    The vegan cheese carnage aftermath photo is classic (I'm frankly surprised there was even that much left!), as is my image of you discovering your lack of a freezer (oh, darn) and therefore having to eat the entire pint+ of So Delicious. Hey, waste not, want not!

    Very fun recap ~ a real treat for those of us who didn't attend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vegan stimuli overload is really all I needed to say. Thanks for pinpointing the crux of the post. The dish at BL was good, but it wasn't Thai BBQ salad, dang it. next time.

      I really do feel bad about the cheese carnage but when I realized I'd forgotten to photograph it, what could I do? Seriously. And the ice cream, well, couldn't help that either. Thanks for your enthusiasm. :)

      Delete
  3. So glad I got to catch up with you for a second during Cadry's presentation! I woke up hoarse on Sunday, too!

    xo
    kittee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was fun to see you, too. LOVED the Battle Royale! Wouldn't it be fun to have a gala where we could talk without shouting? Maybe classical music and candlelight. :)

      Delete
  4. Looks like you had a super fun time in Portland - so much exciting things to see and do and eat. It all looks great! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Portland is a fun city — especially when invaded by vegans. Though I get the impression it's always invaded by vegans.

      Delete
  5. oh my gosh how FUN!! wow, i wish Portland was in my backyard! haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I lived in Portland! It's such a pretty and accessible city.

      Delete
  6. ha ha, I was totally hoarse on Sunday morning! All that joyous chatting!! I was really really happy to meet you after so many years of following your blog. I look forward to future meetups!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Amey, I was thrilled to meet you! I love your blog and your illustrations. (I bought lots of copies of the cooking zine to give out as souvenirs.) I think the next VVC should be in Santa Cruz. :)

      Delete
  7. Wow, what a time you had! I would have completely overindulged, too, and also been very overwhelmed with all the goodness! How terrific that they gave you a huge bag full of goodies.

    As far as the plants, I have no idea what either of them are. I thought the first one was a marijuana plant at first glance! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt that the plant in the Chinese Garden is marijuana. If it were in Seattle, maybe, but not in Portland. :)

      Delete
  8. Love the recap, Andrea. And it was so great to finally meet you in person! I'm sorry we didn't have more time to spend together and chat. . . it really did fly by and before I knew it, I was back on a plane! Thanks for extending VVC a bit for me, though, with your post. It really was quite an amazing experience. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ricki. It was wonderful to finally meet you, too. I think we need a less distracting place than VVC if we want to have a conversation. :)

      Delete
  9. It was such a delight to meet you and your husband, Andrea! I wish we could've made it to the Ethiopian restaurant you suggested. We just ran out of time! Great review of VVC, though. And I would've done the exact same thing if given a pint of ice cream with no freezer to put it in. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved meeting you, too. It was especially fun the way we recognized each other without an introduction — vegan blogging isn't as anonymous as it used to be! I know what you mean by running out of time. There were several places we wanted to go but weren't able to. And about the ice cream ... I probably would have done the same thing even if we HAD a freezer.

      Delete
  10. What fun! I am jealous--it looks and sounds like such a fabulous time! I think it is cool that you took the train to Portland--how long did it take?

    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Courtney, you should come to the next conference — not everyone was a blogger! It took about 3-1/2 hours by train.

      Delete
    2. I don't think I could afford to get to Portland, but if they relocate to the Midwest... :-)

      Courtney

      Delete
    3. I have a feeling it might be on the East Coast next time, which is a little closer. Maybe Chicago.

      Delete
  11. everything looks so good, sounds like a great time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A conference celebrating vegan food and bloggers can't be bad! :)

      Delete
  12. SWAG and Jealous. Looks like so much fun in all the coverage I'm seeing. The shot of you, Cadry, and Dreena is sweet! You all kind of look alike.
    The food all looks mighty fine too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard rumors that VVC might be in NYC next year, or Chicago or Austin. Start saving your pennies so you can be there in person!

      Delete
  13. I'm bummed that I missed it – and missed seeing so many of my vegan pals. But there's always next time. I'm so glad you had another fab experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was sure you would be there! Next time.

      Delete
  14. I'm so envious that you got to try Bette-Lukas. I adore Ethiopian food and really wanted to sample Kittee's favorite place, but they were closed on Sunday, when we planned to visit, for some kind of upgrades. Such a bummer! We don't have any Ethiopian restaurants in our town, and it's one of my very favorite cuisines.

    Thank you for your kind words about my session! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!

    It was such a treat getting to meet you at last! It really felt like we already knew each other from all of our online interactions, but very cool to make it official! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too bad about Bette-Lukas — next time you're in Portlandia you'll have to go.

      Your session was a lot of fun, Cadry, and contained some important messages about authenticity.

      It was wonderful meeting you two, too. Next time you should bring a piece of pottery for the silent auction. :)

      Delete
  15. I'm so loving everyone's VVC recaps! It makes it feel like it was just yesterday, rather than (sob!) over a week ago, and I'm delighted to be hearing/learning from the sessions I wasn't able to make it to myself. Oh, that Ethiopian looks good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm loving the recaps, too! It was too much for any one blogger to take in so it's great to see the event from other perspectives. I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to meet but at least now I'm aware of your beautiful blog!

      Delete
  16. You made me chuckle with the eating all that cake and ice cream - that would be my idea of heaven.

    It looks like such a great weekend - I would have love to gone there (and not just for the cake, which is high praise indeed!) Looks like you have an amazing time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not exactly sorry I ate so much, but am a little sorry my clothes are a bit tighter than they were. I will be a tad more cautious next time. :)

      Delete

Thanks for visiting Andrea's easy vegan cooking. I love, and read, all of your comments! Please share your thoughts.

There are a few Amazon links in the posts. Thanks in advance if you click on one.

Note: ALL THE IMAGES FROM THIS BLOG WERE ACCIDENTALLY DELETED ON 1-21-12. I'M RESTORING THEM, POST BY POST, BUT IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME. Recipe pages you visit may be missing photos, but all the text in intact. If you find a post without images, let me know so I can fix it. Thanks!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails