Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Portland Eats n' Vegan Conference

For my readers who weren't at the Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference and who don't currently reside in Portland (Hi Mom and Dad!), I'm going to give you a re-cap of the conference, my impressions of Portland, and discuss stuffing my face.

(This is brunch at Sweetpea Vegan Bakery. It was transcendent, and I ate only the biscuit portion of this offering to the Gods. Clearly, we have to move to Portland.)

We stayed with our friend Bernie, who began a string of awesome host actions by picking us up at the metro station. Although we'd had all sorts of dreams of exploring Portland together by bike, Jon had unfortunately broken his toe boogieboarding so instead was relegated to one of those embarrassing knee scooters.

Before I arrived in Portland I printed out my list about 90 restaurants in Portland, and didn't even bother including food carts. I don't know if you've ever been to a food cart in DC - a tiny rectangular tin coffin with gummy oversalted soft pretzels and hot dogs - but I was entirely prejudiced against food carts - how could good food come from them? Thankfully, my yelp-loving husband convinced me to try the highest yelp-rated food cart in all of Portland Kitchen Dances. H-O-L-Y S-M-O-K-E-S, that is some GOOD FOOD.

We feasted on the tempeh Reuben, the raw beet ravioli, and then bought tacos not due to any hunger or actual room left in our bellies, but because that's just how good the food was. We then said 'boy, we should have photographed this food before we wolfed it down like savages'. I kind of felt like with a conference of 200+ vegan bloggers, someone else would probably do the heavy lifting and take better photos than I would have anyhow.

At the conference I got to try two new products which I'm super excited about.

1. Earth Balance's new coconut oil based margarine, cuz it doesn't taste like coconut people, it TASTES LIKE BUTTER!! I totally went back for a few extra samples.

2. Upton's Seitan Italian Sausage style seitan. I'm not much of a sausage person, even when I ate actual sausage, but I really like this product.

3. Is it even possible that I didn't even try the new greek yogurt despite my husband being an old friend of Ken's who MADE the greek yogurt himself? Yes, somehow I didn't realize it was even there. I probably spaced out during an important conversation in which Ken stated "we will have samples of the Greek Yogurt there". Instead of hearing this important information, I was off in Vegan Lady Land..."OMG Isa is here, she is like at the same bar I am at. She is my hero but I can't be a complete fan girl and say anything stupid to her. Okay, think of something not stupid". So as you can see, I was unaware of the greek yogurt being available for tasting.

Our friend Bernie got us two loaner bikes to bike around Portland with! Although Jon couldn't use his too much, I was able to bike to the conference and all around town - hardly getting lost at all, which is unusual for me. I'm lucky Portland is basically a grid - it was designed with the map challenged like me in mind :)

I had a total bikegasm when I encountered my first street sign that indicated that cars HAD to turn left or right, despite the fact that a perfectly full sized street lay ahead, but bikes, and bikes ONLY, could proceed straight. I can't tell you the amount of joy it brings to a cyclists' hard and leathery heart (yes, we cyclists are all very tough and leathery from exposure to the elements and hard bike seats) to see things like a big fatty green painted bike crosswalk with a flashing light that says "yield to cyclists" on a big high speed bridge. Yes you motorist, with your eco-disaster death machine, YOU must stop for ME! (Oh, by the way in case you wondered if I am sometimes an eco-disaster death machine driver, yes I am) anyhow, BikeJOY.

Back to food. Yeah, we had the vegan donuts. They were okay, but I was spoiled long, long ago by the best donuts in the universe, to which none can measure up. My family who eats non-vegan donuts agrees with me that this one bakery in Wildwood, NJ has the best donuts they have ever tasted, and no other donut can ever measure up. Next time I'm there I'm going to do some outreach and see if I can get them to make me a vegan donut. Wish me luck!

Portobello: a fancy vegan restaurant in Portland. Jon is making me write about it, but I'm not a fancy food lady. I don't think I can give P. the proper treatment in writing, but I'm pretty sure Jon will wake up masticating and moaning 'Gnocchi' for several months to come. For the potty minded out there, masticating means chewing.

I highly reccomend a food tourism trip for any vegan who has the cash to spare. Would you like to eat a vegan caramel, a vegan danish, a vegan donut, a vegan _______? <----fill in the blank. Go to Portland.