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.
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.
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.