Vida Vegan Con 2013: Days Five & Six

My last day in Portland began with a hangover. A house-ful of hangovers, really, and exhaustion from the busy weekend. We slept in and ended up missing the provided breakfast and then dragged ourselves to Paradox Cafe for some morning fuel.

Despite the long wait (and loud, grumbling tummies), Paradox really delivered with their menu. I chose a corn cake, home fries, and a fruit bowl. Slammed it within a matter of minutes! The corn cake was... corny, but still tasted pretty good with syrup. The home fries were perfection - nice and crispy. And the fruit? Spot on. Never thought I’d rave about a fruit bowl...

We arrived at the last day of the conference in time to visit the vendor tables before they packed up and left - this was an optimal time for increasing our swag! I picked up some coconut and almond milk from So Delicious, gluten-free flour from Bob’s Red Mill, extra coupons, and a few shots of Kevita to settle my tummy before lunch. Kevita offers an array of probiotic drinks that taste absolutely spectacular. Never having been much of a fan of traditional fruit juices or other probiotic drinks (too sweet!), these were surprisingly light and only mildly sweet. The carbonation was also light. All flavors I tried tasted scrumptious - including their greens flavor!

During this time our lunch was being set up. Only during VVC would someone go directly from breakfast to a lunch buffet. Today’s was sponsored by many different vendors present, providing tofu, tempeh, and seitan treats to top wheat and gf breads for a picnic-style luncheon.

Also, lettuce roll-ups with raw walnut taco meat! I was not able to make as big a dent on this meal as I would have liked... but my taste buds were still excited.

Did I scrounge up enough room for the premiere of So Delicious’ new coconut cookies & cream flavor on a gf cone? You bet your sweet ass I did.

Following the final panels, we all gathered back in the main room for a thank-you speech from our organizers (as if they don’t deserve 1000x more gratitude from us!). Looking around the mostly emptied room - the tablecloth-less tables made my heart sad! - I felt the slightest twinge of panic as I realized that we wouldn’t all be gathered together like this again until VVC III. I made my rounds saying hellos and goodbyes to the bloggers with whom I hadn’t spent much time with and made preparations with my close group of veg-heads for dinner and after-dinner plans.

Brit, Simar, Jared, and his friend Veronica and I headed over to Los Gorditos for dinner. A complete, separate vegan menu! Be still my heart.

After placing our orders we noshed on some chips and the variously heated flavors of salsa and pickled veggies as we recapped our favorite moments and discussed our most passionate motivations for becoming vegan.

We sat next to open doors as we chatted... Portland truly treated us well on our last days regarding the weather. Beautiful!

I chose to go somewhat light, knowing that we had other plans that night, which would mostly likely again involve food! An onion taco and a soy curl taco with refried beans accompanied a vegan chili relleno with red sauce. Yum! Topped with the salsas and some fresh guac, these really hit the spot. The refried beans were especially yummy, holy cow - I’d recommend stopping there just for the beans!

We strolled over to Ground Kontrol for a cocktail and some old school arcade games. I enjoyed watching my friends nerd it out with each other in a truly awesome and laid back atmosphere.

Once we arrived back at the homestead we changed and prepared to meet the rest of our crew at the Bye and Bye - another gorgeous, all-vegan bar - and the setting of last VVC’s send off. It may have been referred to as the “Bye and Cry” because of the memories... oh, the memories!

Knowing I had to take advantage of another opportunity to order the Eastern Bowl, I went ahead and did so. I don’t know why, but it was prepared differently and I much preferred the Sweet Hereafter’s version. Hmm.

Although, the butterscotch cheesecake certainly made up for any uncertainty. Damn! This was rich and so, so tasty.

Also, we celebrated Simar's early birthday with a song, a candle, and a delicious vegan treat!

The energy was relaxed on our last night together and I could tell that everyone was pretty pooped from the weekend’s festivities. After some hugs and promises to see each other soon, we parted with most of our crew.

My last official day in Portland was Memorial Day. I chose to sleep in a bit (ahhhhh...) and then planned my route for the day, intending on spending some solo quality time exploring the city again.

Remembering just how badass the breakfast selection at Hungry Tiger Too had been on a previous trip, I made the 30 minute drizzly walk (preemptive attempt to burn some calories?) to that part of town. After being told there would be a wait, I sauntered on down to Red and Black Cafe, just a block away, for a latte.

Red and Black Cafe is a self-professed anarchist and vegan establishment. They have a nice menu of selections and offer fair-trade coffee - which was dynamite.

My breakfast at Hungry Tiger Too was colossal (I was informed of this after showing off this picture... I guess my idea of a sane amount of food was very skewed by then): a fantastic and salty Greek Scramble with tofu, tempeh bacon, spinach, garlic, diced tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Paired with a dense, yet hearty gf pancake and drool-worthy hashbrowns... this meal just plain kicked ass. I was quite full, but very satisfied.

Waddling down the street a few more blocks, I revisited the vegan mini mall. I hadn’t had the chance to really peruse Food Fight! since the night of the pop-up shops, so in I went. Ended up taking home some gf crackers, lip balms, Aardvark habenero hot sauce for a souvenir, and some fair-trade chocolates.

I did not pick up any vegan square ham.

I did, however, stop back in Herbivore to make sure I didn’t miss any must-haves.

The next few hours consisted of sitting in Sweetpea, digesting my meal with some peach black tea, and reading on my Kindle as the day drizzled by.

Miss Ty from Cameraphone Vegan came in on her way out of town! We exchanged info and hugs, of course.

After I felt comfortable enough to move about again, I made my way, via public transit, to Back to Eden Bakery - all vegan, all gluten free, baby!

I came for the baked goods. I left with the chocolate mint soft serve shake. Yes.

The rest of the afternoon ended up being a lazy stroll down Alberta St, stopping in a few shops and tea houses and soaking in the welcome sun.

“Would you like some espresso while you browse?” Yes, yes I would, thank you.

A stop in the Alberta Co-op meant that I left with some Happy Campers Garlic and Rosemary gf bread!

I boarded the bus again to make my way back downtown with two things in mind: gf mac & cheese and vegan doughnuts.

Having constant FB notifications of fellow bloggers posting in the VVC group, I noticed folks were asking around for dinner plans. I announced my impending arrival at Veggie Grill and, as soon as I walked in, was greeted by Lydia and Mauro of From A to Vegan!

I joined their delicious-looking dinner with my sides: gf quinoa-mac and cheese, kale with some sort of wonder-sauce, and mashed cauliflower/potatoes with gravy. Only a vegan would order a bowl of kale.

As we dined, we noticed another troupe of vegans arrive: local Portlander Ami, Fran Costigan, and Nava Atlas!

As we all recapped our various plans for our remaining time in PDX, it struck me that it was already the evening and I had to pack my things! But not before making one last stop...

Lydia and Mauro accompanied me and braved the line for Voodoo Doughnuts. It was such a lovely end to a day of reflection and gratitude... couldn’t have asked for better companions during my last hours in town.

Although not gf, these treats were a must on my list. With multiple vegan flavors, these yeasted devils are pure, sugary perfection. I ended up taking a half-dozen home with me.

What I didn’t eat in the Chicago airport after my redeye flight was delivered to my vegan bestie/new mommy extraordinaire back home. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple glazed doughnut!

My heart yearned as I lifted off of the ground and began my trek back home. But I know, I *know*, Portland and I will meet again. Some day. :)

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