I’m so excited I get to review this festival again. I’m hoping I’m able to go each year it’s on because I loved it even more then last year.
This year, the festival was both Saturday and Sunday, instead of just one day. A whole weekend of vegan food bliss – what could be better?
I went in this year with a game plan: bought my tickets in March, went right when it started at 11am, mapped out the best course based on the vendor map they gave us, and brought containers so I could bring the food home. I wanted to have a fool-proof plan of attack so I could try as many different things as possible. I was able to try 17 things this year, and – when compared to the 9 I tried last year – I’d say I definitely got a lot out of the festival. I was happily surprised when I was overly prepared – I went through four vendors in the span of a few minutes – I had to remind myself I had two entire days to try everything and to slow down and enjoy it. I was also happy that I brought too many containers this year, instead of last year when I wished I’d brought more.
I was also over-the-moon happy that some of my friends wanted to go this year, and one of my best friends said they’d happily come back next year with me! I’m so glad they had fun as well.
The worst things about this year’s festival was the fact I got a bit sunburned (despite slathering myself in sunscreen every two hours) and the fact the festival grounds felt a lot smaller this year. I’m not sure if it’s because there were less vendors, or because it seemed bigger the first time with all the excitement of it being my first festival, but that was a bit sad to me.
Alright, that’s enough of a prelude, time to get to the food!
(Unlike last year, these are listed in order of what I tried first)
Southern Fried Vegan – Soul Bowl
Mac n’ cheese, corn and a big ol’ hunk of chick’n on top – what more could you want?
I have to say, I was a little bit hesitant about the corn in the mac n cheese (seriously, is that a thing?) but it turned out to be pretty good. The mac n cheese had a bit of a kick to it, and was creamy and cheesy. It wasn’t super stretchy cheese or anything, but was definitely a good sauce.
The chick’n was good too – it wasn’t chewy or squishy either. I’m not sure if it was seitan or not, but it had a good bite to it – wasn’t too hard, and definitely didn’t over-shadow the rest of the dish.
All in all, I’d definitely get this dish again if it was available. Wasn’t the best thing I had, but it definitely wasn’t bad either.
Island Noodles – Soba Noodles
I must admit, I’m a sucker for noodle dishes (one of my fav things ever is lo mein), so there was no way I was passing on these guys. Also, they came all the way up from friggin’ Hawaii.
Soba noodles are made from mostly buckwheat (I asked the vendor) and they closer to egg noodles then rice noodles or spaghetti. They were pretty good.
This dish was basically a vegan lo mien and I a million percent was fine with that. I like trying things that aren’t always weird/new, sometimes an old fav hits the spot the same way exotic foods never could. They also gave me the most giant-est piece of broccoli ever, which just made it even better.
If vegan restaurants here started offering this, or they came to Toronto, I would definitely grab this. If you’re ever in Hawaii, I recommend checking out this dish.
Compton Vegan – BBQ Jackfruit Ribz
I’ve never had jackfruit before, so I knew this was something I definitely had to try, but wasn’t too sure what to expect.
The ‘ribz’ were soft-chewy. Y’know if you eat a soup with meat in it, (like chicken noodle) and the meat is really soft/falls apart as soon as you put it in your mouth? It was that soft, but you had to work to rip the piece off from the rest of it, and chew it for a bit after. It was an odd texture to me. Again though, I’d never had jackfruit so I’m not sure if that’s just the texture it is, or if they maybe overcooked it?
I have to admit, this was probably one of my least favourite things at the festival. That said, I don’t like BBQ sauce (or chips) so my opinion might be a bit biased. But based on the texture alone, I don’t think I’d get this again.
Pochiche – Poutine w/ Chicken
Fries + gravy + cheese = heaven
As you may or may not know, I have a dairy allergy, so I had my first poutine I believe two years ago now. This is a dish I loved as soon as I tasted it, and in my eyes it’s hard to screw up/make a bad version.
Needless to say, I liked this one. The chicken on top, I can’t remember what the lady at the booth said it was made of, but it had a bit of an off consistency. Not sure if it was because of the extreme heat or what, but it had a bit of an odd mouth feel.
It didn’t exactly add to the dish, but it didn’t really take away either. It was just a bit distracting from the cheesy, gravy-ness of the rest of it.
Lightlife – Smart Dog
This was nothing special, it tasted like a hot-dog. It didn’t have that distinctive ‘this taste like plants’ taste that the Yves ones do (not to throw them under the bus, I love their pepperonis and bologne deli slices!), but I mean, it’s a hot-dog. There’s not really anything exciting about it to say.
I feel bad about that though, the fact I don’t have much to say – I don’t want that to come off as me not liking the product. It’s good for what it is, definitely better tasting then the Yves not-dog I tried.
I’d buy this, and I’d recommend you buy/try them too.
Nanashake – Loaded Nana Pop
This f*cking thing is probably the fanciest ice-cream I’ve ever had.
It was a chocolate peanut butter ice-cream bar that had coconut whip, caramel drizzle and almond and chocolate biscotti on top. It was awesome. I loved the chocolate and peanut butter, and the caramel swirls running through the middle of it. All that awesome-ness plus the cold-ness was definitely welcomed after walking around in the heat.
They’re in North York and it’s sad yet good that they’re so far away from me because if they were closer I would go there literally all the time. I still plan on going there, just less so then if they were say, five minutes away.
If you live in Toronto or are planning a trip down, I highly recommend you stop by and get this.
Ben and Jerry – Almond Chocolate Chunk Ice-cream
Ah, yes, Ben and Jerry’s… while they don’t have too many vegan flavours, the ones they do offer are pretty awesome. This was a pretty simple one – plain vanilla with chocolate chunks mixed in. Not better then their PB and Cookie one, but still good. The chocolate chunks are pretty hard (assuming because they’re frozen) so be careful when biting into them.
I have to hand it to B&J’s, they definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to making ice-cream. Especially now that they’ve jumped on the dairy-free band-wagon.
If you haven’t tried their non-dairy flavours yet, what have you even been doing?
Fairly Frosted – Chocolate Brownie Ice-cream
Another treat great at cooling you off on a hot summer’s day.
This chocolate brownie ice-cream is just about as great as chocolate ice-cream can get. Again, this is one of those things that’s hard to get wrong.
The worst thing about this was they only gave out two scoops.
Globally Local – Crispy Chick’N Burger
If you read my review of last year’s festival, you’ll know how much I loved their Famous Burger.
While I was excited to get my hands back on their Famous Burger, since I learned how to make Mac Sauce at home, I decided I should try something else on their menu. Lucky for me, they made the choice easy by only having the Famous Burger or this one.
I have to say, a breaded chicken burger with Miracle Whip and lettuce is one of those things you don’t realize you missed until you eat it again. And boy did I miss eating them! I’ve always liked them better then regular beef burgers, and it saddens me that there don’t really seem to be any vegan breaded chick’n burger options out there.
The worst thing about this burger was they put what tasted like Veganaise on it (or their home-made equivalent). I still bought one both days and got them to cut it in half so I could take half home.
When are these guys coming to Toronto???
While all the food at the festival this year was pretty close in terms of me liking it, this was still my favourite of the ‘real food’ things.
Mythology Diner – Funnel Cake Bites
This was by far the most disappointing dish I tried at the festival.
I’ve never had funnel cake before, so I was super hyped to try these, and when I did, well… They tasted like a soggy Tim Bit. When I bit into one, it just squished oil out into my mouth. Not very tasty. Also the strawberry sauce they put on top of them was a bit odd, I think because they were hot? Hot strawberries is taste I don’t like, apparently. I was definitely sad these sucked, probably because before my non-vegan friend had hyped up how great funnel cakes were before going, so I was that much more excited to try them.
I haven’t written funnel cakes off totally though, I’d still be willing to try them if there’s a vegan version somewhere else.
The powdered sugar was good though.
While Gold Sweets – Veg Puff
Pastry was super flaky, I think it might of been layers of phyllo pastry. The vegetables inside had that spice that I can’t name but is similar in taste to samosas or Indian stews.
It also had a bit of a spicy kick to it. It was good, my only criticism would be either more of the vegetable stuffing, or less of the pastry. There were a few bites were all I had was the dry pastry in my mouth.
Sorelle – Chocolate Mocha Cupcake
Chocolate and mocha, what more could you want? It was as good as I assumed it’d be – the chocolate cupcake tasted like a chocolate cupcake, it was really soft and didn’t dry out even after I brought it home. The only thing I didn’t like about this was that there were these little silver balls sprinkled on top of the icing. They were very hard to bite through, like a rocket. Not that they were bad, they pretty much just tasted like sugar, but the rest of the cupcake was so soft, I think they took more away from the soft chocolaty cupcake then added, with the exception of making it look prettier. Especially since the cupcake got smushed in my bag, so it wasn’t like I could see where they were, either. I had to be careful when I was eating it.
Sorelle – Chocolate Doughtnut
This doughnut, while it didn’t have a hole, it did have a small chocolate cookie held on top by a small (but delicious!) squoosh of vanilla icing. It was soft and moist, and super chocolaty, even one day after I bought it. The vanilla icing was awesome too. Maybe I haven’t had ‘real’ icing in a while, but it reminds me of the vanilla icing that’s used at Sobey’s. It’s hard to describe, but it wasn’t ‘light’ like the Betty Crocker Whipped Vanilla icing (yep, that’s vegan!) is, it was more ‘heavy’ but not in an unsettling way. It was good, that’s all you need to really know.
The cookie on top was hard on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. Everything a good chocolate cookie should be. And, it also wasn’t very ‘dark’ tasting, which was nice, since it wasn’t very bitter.
Sorelle has a location in Toronto, and I highly recommend you check them out. (As I know I will be)
Glory Hole – Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Doughnut
…. Sensing a theme? I subconsciously tried pretty much everything with chocolate in it I could get my hands on.
This tasted like the Nana Pop – chocolaty, peanut buttery and all full of goodness. It did get a little melty in the sun, but I was more then happy to lick the chocolate off my fingers.
Kelly’s Bakeshop – Salted Caramel Cupcake
Hands down my favourite dessert. Which is saying something because all the desserts I tried were pretty bomb. (With the exception of the funnel cake bites) I knew as soon as I saw it this was gonna be my favourite one. I love caramel and chocolate, if you couldn’t tell.
Although the icing got smushed in my bag (I tried to be careful too!), it was the same kind of ‘heavy’ as the Mocha cupcake icing. I’d use the word ‘deep’ to describe it, but that’s not the right word. It was just good, even licking it off the plastic container didn’t dampen the flavour.
I highly, highly recommend you try this cupcake because it’s so delicious.
The display they had of their other treats looked awesome too, like their Chocolate Coconut cupcake. I unfortunately got to their booth on the second day when my money was running low, otherwise I definitely would’ve got another cupcake.
I’m so happy these guys deliver to Toronto because I am definitely ordering these again. (I may even get them for the upcoming holidays)
If you’re able to, you definitely have to try these – they’re amazing. Definitely my new favourite cupcake flavour.
Julie’s Joyful Kitchen – Chocolate Cookie
My all time favourite types of cookies are the soft/melt in your mouth ones, and this cookie was one of them.
I ate this the Monday after the festival, and it was still super soft, you couldn’t even tell it was one day old. Soft and chocolaty is personally a weakness of mine. It was a bit bitter, but other then that, it was a chocolate cookie – pretty hard to not nail.
Yves – Spicy Italian Sausage
(I didn’t get a picture of this, because it was the last thing I tried before leaving, and it wasn’t really much of a picture – it was a piece of the dog in a little paper cup with a toothpick in the top.)
It tasted like a hot-dog, with a bit of a kick. It wasn’t anything special, like the Lightlife dog – they’re hard to review because it’s a spicy hot-dog. Not too much can be said.
I will say though, that I didn’t know they had these, or that they were vegan, so I’ll definitely be adding them to my shopping list. I like that I discovered these and the Lightlife dogs, it’ll be nice to switch it up from the Tofurky sausages.
All in all, I had a lot of fun at the festival, not only trying all the amazing food, but I was also lucky enough to meet Lauren Toyota from HotforFood. She was there signing cookbooks, so of course I had to get one.
(I also got a free water bottle with the purchase of the cookbook, but for some reason every time I tried inserting the picture of it it kept crashing the web-page.)
She’s my favourite vegan Youtuber, and it was amazing to get to see her in person. She was so kind, and seemed genuinely interested in the small convo we had, instead of other famous people who you can tell don’t really want to be there. I’m so grateful I didn’t miss her like I did last year.
This festival so far has gotten better with age, and I can’t wait for next year’s!
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