Vida Vegan Con 2013: Day Four

Firstly, here is the winner of the first installment of the Summer Giveaway Series: Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero:

Comment #15: The Peace Patch! I will be e-mailing you shortly. Congratulations! Everyone else: look forward to more giveaways coming up this summer.

Have you checked out my recaps of VVC Day One, Two, and Three?

Our second official day of the conference began with a spectacular breakfast showcase of numerous local businesses who serve vegan brekkie food. I made sure to mentally prepare myself for the feast about to follow.

Present was Portobello, serving a wonderful potato-veggie concoction with a pesto sauce... truly fabulous. Surprisingly flavorful, it felt like I was having a very fancy breakfast. I have yet to make it to Portobello in any of my trips to PDX, but this encouraged me even more to make sure I make it there.

Back to Eden - all vegan, all gluten free, baby! - served lemon coconut doughnuts, broccoli cheddar and smoked tempeh mini quiches, and smoked tempeh mozzarella fig scones...

The quiche and the scone were incredible. The scone, especially - what an interesting combination of savory and sweet! It was just moist enough for a scone, also not too sweet and not too salty. Perfection.

Divine Pie offered tastes of their gf cheesecakes - pictured here is Key Lime and Chocolate Hazelnut Cream. Yum!

Portland Juice Press offered some nutritious samples - wish I could’ve ordered a full glass to balance some of the starchiness of my other bites!

I also snagged 1/4 of a (non-gf) Blackheart Bagel with za’atar seasoning and garlic cream cheese. Haven’t had a bagel in ages!

And, just when I thought I was stuffed, I noticed that Peanut Butter and Co. were offering samples of peanutty smoothies... I simply had to partake.

Here is my spread. Also pictured is walnut-meatloaf and tofu scramble from A.N.D. Cafe - a MUST try. Kickass breakfast, right? The organizers really did a swell job of rounding up some of the best places to showcase.

After a morning of some more fabulous panels and speakers, I rummaged through my belly for some more room - for it was lunchtime! Build-a-Bowl, in fact. A plethora of vendors donated foods ranging from vegan proteins (quinoa, brown rice, tempeh, tofu, seitan, black beans, chili, oh my!), greens, hummus, vegan cheeses, hot sauces, garlic sauces... an impressive array of toppings, for sure.

I created the above bowl. Some stand-out flavors were the garlic sauce (“It’s a condiment, NOT a dressing!” shouted one of the organizers as I continued to stuff garlicky greens into my face hole) and the chili. I feel as if I made a moderate sized lunch for myself... always thinking ahead to the next meal to savor.

To show you how truly magical this event was, picture this: staff walking around with trays of Coconut Bliss bars, offering them willy-nilly to starry-eyed vegans, their stomachs already bursting with cruelty-free goodness. Gluttonous in the best possible way, my friends.

While we munched on ice cream bars, Amey of Vegan Eats and Treats, Mo of Mo Betta Vegan, and Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars prepared the stage for the famous Vegan Battle Royale! This was one of the most exciting events of the last conference (and so very exclusive), now being extended to invite all of the attendees to participate in audience trivia (name that recipe! name that cookbook author! name that blog!) and to compete on a team (taste-testing! vegan cheese naming contests!). It was enthralling, hilarious, and filled me with camaraderie as I wondered to myself: “What other large group of people would find this so wildly entertaining, listing the ingredients of kimchi and testing cookbook recipe knowledge?!” We’re a weird bunch, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

After completing the afternoon with some more panels and speakers (upcoming post devoted entirely to the panels I attended!), we all departed from the museum to get all gussied up for the... Galarama Silent Auction!

A one-of-a-kind event put together by the organizers to benefit Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, all of the attendees and many additional guests, including local supporters, arrived at Staver Locomotive, a giant space in the warehouse district. The place was absolutely gorgeous. Decked out with winding railroad tables adorned with silent auction items and decadent vegan treats, aglow with ambient lighting and wide open to invite the evening’s cool breeze, the space was perfect for the night’s event.

Upon arriving, we beelined for the bar to check out the cocktails, beer, wine and vegan jello shots (yes, jello shots!) being offered.

While mingling and admiring the building, my friends and I noticed an unassuming plate with what looked like... no... it couldn’t be. Fancy vegan cheeses?

YES. Miyoko Schinner was an attendee and prepared some of her renowned recipes from Artisan Vegan Cheeses for all to enjoy! It was seriously like watching hungry zombies feast when observing everyone hunkered over the table with their cameras and curious eyes inspecting the offerings before diving in.

With gf Oregon Crackers for topping, I tried each and every one of the flavors and damn. Damn, damn, DAMN. I just... damn. There’s no way to adequately describe how sinful, how creamy, and how complex each of the cheeses were. This book is on my must-buy list and you *will* see future cheese experiments on this blog, so help me...

To satisfy everyone’s ever-present sweet tooth, So Delicious set up a decadent ice cream bar with toppings galore! Including none other than Capital City Bakery’s moist and fucktastic brownies. You guys, listen... you guys. Best brownies I have EVER had! Not gf, but my sweet holy hell were they out of this world. If you’re ever in Austin...

Right outside were two food carts offering vegan Mexi-fare, hot dogs, and nachos. I did not partake, but it sure did smell good out there!

All in all, this was probably the most incredible experience of the conference (and it’s hard to narrow it down, trust me). The night flew by so fast and, before I knew it, they were announcing that the auction was closing! I spent most of the evening sipping wine and chatting with some of the most beautiful and inspiring people I have had the good fortune to meet. Many laughs, hugs, surprised and awe-some introductions, and heartfelt connections... I plan on devoting an entire post to the unforgettable vegans I met during the trip, so stay tuned.

By the way, the silent auction raised around $4,000 for the sanctuary! Isn't that incredible?! There were many items up for bidding, but the attendees surely showed their generosity through their purchases. I bid on a collection of t-shirts and an Erik Marcus book about meat production (I guess I'm morbid when I'm tipsy?) and felt good about where my money was going. Excellent outcome!

All liquored up, goofy, and not at all ready for the night to end, a group of us walked over to... brace yourself... the vegan strip club! What?! Casa Diablo offers a vegan food and bar menu, places vegan brochures on their tables, and asks guests not to wear animal products into their establishment. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for sure!

After returning back to our host home and doing some late night, light-up hula hooping, it was time for bed. And time to prepare for the last day of the conference!

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