March 23, 2015

Seattle Vegfest 2015 (nachos included)


I've been told that Vegetarians of Seattle was the first group to coin the name "Vegfest." Now, it seems everywhere you turn there's a vegfest going on, one more bountiful than the next. I'm not complaining; the more vegfests there are, the more people are exposed to the idea of following a plant-based diet, and the fewer animals have to suffer. Of course, I'm not sure I've ever seen an actual vegetable at Vegfest, but rather a mind-boggling array of edible products made without the use of animal-derived products. Seattle Vegfest wasn't entirely vegan, but it seemed that more items than ever were vegan this year. And a large number of the products were gluten-free as well.



This year our plan was to attend two cooking demos, then wander the hall tasting the products that were most appealing to us. Miyoko Schinner did a demo on vegan cheese, of course. She made two things — a butternut squash nacho cheese sauce, and a cream cheese and lox spread. I have actually made the smokey chipotle no-queso nacho sauce before (recipe on page 63 in Artisan Vegan Cheese, or by following this link) and it's delicious, and I've made the cashew cheese (Artisan Vegan Cheese) but haven't turned it into a lox and cream cheese spread ... yet. Miyoko was very entertaining — even singing to us. I had no idea she was a singer, but apparently, at one point in her life, she sang jazz in clubs! Huh. You can watch her make the nacho sauce in a video from her TV show, above.

I've written more about making cheese from Artisan Vegan Cheese, here.

Similar to, but not exactly, the spring roll from the demo.

Our second demo was by Chat Mingkwan, who has written a whole slew of Asian Fusian cookbooks. He made fresh spring rolls and a spicy dipping sauce. I thought I knew how to hold my chef knife, but now, thanks to Chat Mingkwan, I know I've been doing it wrong. What a difference it makes to hold it correctly. Tonight as I type, my husband is in the kitchen making pho from the new Vietnamese Fusion cookbook he bought at Vegfest. I wish he were making spring rolls to go with it.


Here are a few of the vegan foods we sampled at Vegfest. I'm not really a great fan of vegan cheese — maybe it's because I never was a big dairy-cheese eater except for mozzarella and sharp cheddar. Maybe a little brie. Or maybe it's because I've been vegan so long I don't crave dairy cheese anymore. But, I always taste the cheese offerings at Vegfest, just to see if any of them can change my mind about vegan cheese. I LIKED the Punk Rawk Labs cheese — a lot. Punk Rawk Labs is owned and operated by three women who make fermented nut cheeses in Minnesota, and if you want vegan cheese, try some of this.


I also liked Vtopian cheese. And Miyoko's Creamery double cream chive, which had a lovely sweet and mild creamy taste.


I was curious about the new Follow Your Heart block cheeses. Follow Your Heart has always been the vegan cheese I liked best in the past. The provolone I sampled at Vegfest wasn't bad, though not as flavorful as dairy provolone, but the mozzarella was spot on. I'm not comparing it to fresh, artisan mozzarella, but to a standard cheese you might buy in the supermarket. Eating it plain was appealing in both taste and texture. What isn't appealing to me is the ingredient list. You may not feel this way, and I respect that, but I can't see any reason (for me) to eat it when there are so many delicious, real foods to eat instead. I'd rather eat a fermented nut cheese, but if you are absolutely craving a mozzarella fix, try Follow Your Heart. The factory is solar powered, and the company is extremely ethical in all its practices.


What you're looking at is sipping broth. It's meant as a satisfying snack instead of a mug of tea. It was really delicious, and maybe I could get used to sipping broth.


If you're into vegan meats, you would probably like Beyond Meat. It had a very good taste and texture.


Might as well include the Sorta Sausage here, too. I'm sorry to say I have no memory of eating it, but my husband says it tastes sorta like sausage and is sorta good.


I had a little shock when I picked up and consumed a small cup of probiotic drink at the Firefly table. It was exactly like drinking sauerkraut juice. I probably won't be buying any, but I like other Firefly products a lot — especially the kimchi. It's made here in Seattle. Do you see the book in the photo? It's a book about fermentation written by the people who make Firefly cultured foods, and I have a copy sitting on my pile of books I'm supposed to review. One of these days. One of these days.


I don't know how much squash is actually in a serving of chips, but they sure tasted good!


GT's is our favorite brand of kombucha, and ginger is our favorite flavor. We went back to the GT's table quite a few times to sample the kombucha in between our other indulgences. The citrus tastes a lot like the ginger, and also is an excellent flavor.


The Purple Sunrise breakfast cereal was a pleasant surprise. After indulging in chips, cheese, ice cream, etc., the little cup of cooked mush required will power to consume, but I'm glad I made the effort. It's made on Camano Island, not far from Seattle, and I'm going to include a blurb from their Web site rather than try to describe it myself.
Product Description
Purple Sunrise™ – The hot cereal that tastes like cookies.
Whole Grain Gluten-Free, an exotic blend of rare ancient grains, nuts and rices. It is a SUPERFOOD powerhouse with knock-your-socks-off taste.

This isn’t your mother’s oatmeal. In fact, it is great for people who may want an alternative to oatmeal. Purple Sunrise contains an ancient rice that only Emperors were allowed to eat, hence the name “forbidden rice” and the purple color. You can have this incredible superfood and 9 other grains or seeds in one powerhouse cereal with taste that will knock your socks off.

Take the best certified organic ancient grains and rices, mill them and package them in just minutes from the process, add an oxygen absorber and put it all in a high-barrier foil bag and you will have the freshest tasting cereal available.

If you like the taste of Mandel Bread, you will love this cereal.

100% Certified Organic Grains and Seeds, Non-GMO, Vegan, Non-Oat, and Gluten-Free. No wheat or animal products are used or have ever been used in any part of the production process.

Almonds, Amaranth, Brown Basmati Rice, Short Grain Brown Rice, Canahua, Forbidden Rice, Buckwheat, Chia, Flax, Millet, with vanilla and almond flavors. No preservatives added.


What would Vegfest be without So Delicious. Seriously, I would have been mighty disappointed if I hadn't had my ice cream treat. I was hoping to try the new cashew milk ice cream, but had to settle for an coconut almond mini bar instead. Poor me. So delicious.


Here's a snack I really liked — flavored nori. I tried the chipotle. The excess packaging is the main problem, though I was told the nori is also available in full sheets in family-sized packages. I don't know exactly how much the packages contain or what they cost.


I tasted quite a few of the Way Better chips, and they were excellent. There were several flavors available, and I didn't really have a favorite. They were all good.


I'm getting fatigued writing this post, and you're probably tired of reading it, if you've gotten this far, so I'll leave you with one last oddity. When I stopped by the Someday Farm Vegan B&B table to chat with owner, Jill, I was confused by a large poster she had laminated and put on her table.

Last year.
 I had created a tee shirt with this design on the front many years ago, and I knew Jill owned one, because she wore it to Vegfest last year. I asked her where she got the poster, and she said she'd had it printed at Cafepress, where my tee-shirt is for sale. Lots of people who stopped by her table wanted one! I felt bad that I hadn't made a more decorative poster, but I had originally intended the design to be on a shirt, and it was a lot to fit on as it was. I'll have to think about this and come up with a more poster-friendly design.

By the way, if you're ever in the Pacific Northwest looking for a fabulous place to stay for a couple of days,  I highly recommend Someday Farm B&B on Whidbey Island for wonderful accommodations and excellent breakfasts! I posted about my visits here, and here.

20 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of the Punk Rawk Labs cheeses and I can't wait to try both Miyoko's and the FYH cheeses when I'm in Austin this May.

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    1. Mostly, when I want something cheesy, I make my own, but I just might buy some of the Punk Rawk cheese!

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  2. Wow, sounds like a great day! We have three flavours of Miyoko's cheeses in Australia now (arrived last year) and I think they're delicious. It's great to see so many new cultured nut cheeses on the market! Hopefully we get to see some more like Punk Rawk Labs. I finally got to try one of those So Delicious ice creams too - at about $14 a box I can't usually justify it but a shop near my work was selling them as singles so I just had to give it a try. We have a company here called Botanical Cuisine that does some cultured nut cheeses (in jars, more like spreads than Miyoko's) and they also do cashew yoghurts and frozen yoghurts/ice creams. Soooo good. I love where we are heading with vegan treats ;) Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Miyoko's cheeses are in Australia? Wow. I spent five months in Australia many years ago, and I was amazed at how expensive everything was even back then. You may have to get her book and make the cheeses yourself! The cream cheeses are really easy. and you can press them if you want then firm. Check her Web page for updated recipes.

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  3. How fun! So many great products, the sipping broth looks really interesting. I like how it's the veggie's answer to bone broth that's so popular nowadays. A more decorative poster would be awesome, especially since people are asking about it. :-)

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    1. The sipping broth seems like a good idea — once you get used to it. Why not sip broth instead of tea on occasion? I'm definitely doing a more decorative poster!

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  4. Got to love a good VegFest! I really need to haul myself down to the London one next time it's on. The So Delicious really caught my eye, but it's lovely to see so much tasty, interesting vegan food out there. The UK really is light years behind when it comes to vegan cheeses.

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    1. A good vegfest is an eye-popping view into the latest vegan products, and I only showed a very few on my post. You'll just have to go yourself to see what I mean. And just make some vegan cheese yourself — it's not hard with Artisan Vegan Cheese.

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  5. Thanks for all the reviews! Now I'll be on the lookout for some Punk Rawk cheese!

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    1. I'm going to be looking for some Rawk cheese myself!

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  6. Such fun! I did not know Miyoko used to be a singer. Multi-talented lady! I actually haven't met a vegan cheese I did not enjoy.

    Beyond Meat crumbles are the BEST! I prefer the beefy ones because the feisty ones are too spicy for me. I hope they come out with more products soon.

    I think I would have thrown myself on the floor and thrown a big fit I hadn't had a chance to try the cashew ice cream there! I am counting the days until we can go to Whole Foods just so I can buy a pint!

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    1. I wish you had been with me when I asked about the cashew ice cream. It would have been interesting to see if you could find a spot on the floor to throw yourself onto. The So Delicious display is one of the most crowded areas of Vegfest — barely enough space to grab a sample, let alone land headlong on the floor. :D

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  7. We love Punk Rawk here in Mpls and they're always a hit at Twin Cities Veg Fest, so I'm glad you liked them! I will totally have to try Firefly Kimchi next time I'm in Seattle. And Way Better Snacks is another company I love here - their Sweet Chili is my fave. :) Great pics!! onegirltwocities.com

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    1. I think I liked Punk Rawk better than any other vegan cheese I've tasted, though Miyoko's double cream chive was pretty darn good, too. I used to live in Madison, Wis.

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  8. That's cool Follow your Heart has good ethics in the production of their products. I'd love a spicy sipping broth! I also always think of trying Punk Rawk cheeses when I'm in the States but never follow through cause my visits are so short and I end up eating out the whole time. I just need to bring freezer packs to take it home with me. I think I remember Cadry showing how she packs perishables for flights home.

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    1. The idea of a sipping broth is growing on me. The last one I tried (in teabag form) tasted very weak and watery — not so appealing. The broth I tasted at Vegfest was strong and delicious. I wonder how long an ice pack will last?

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  9. I've never tried Punk Rawk Labs cheese, but now I really want to! Looks like you got to try so much stuff!!

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    1. There were so many products, and I only highlighted a few, but I'm sure it was small potatoes compared to Expo West!

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  10. Wish I could have been there! And really, is there no end to Miyoko's talents? I didn't know she was a singer either.

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    1. Miyoko is a Renaissance woman! I wonder what she'll do next when she gets tired of making cheese? :)

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