As you may of heard, there was a vegan food and drink festival Aug. 19th this year in Toronto, and I was lucky enough to be able to go. It was my first ever vegan festival, and I was definitely blown away. I’m already working on my game plan for next year’s event.
One of my favourite things: Getting to order whatever I wanted from any vendor. That alone was enough to make me want to go back.
I don’t know how many of you have allergies, but being allergic to dairy, (whey) there is a hell of a lot of food in this world I can’t eat. And deciding to go vegan didn’t exactly broaden my food spectrum. So, being able to go to a public event without having to research/bring my own/call ahead/ask what was in every dish before ordering was absolutely fantastic. I swear, I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to try everything there just because I could. That itself blew my mind. It was so… I don’t know – nice, I guess would be the word – to not have to worry about what I could/couldn’t eat. The only ‘worrying’ I did about the food was whether or not I’d have enough time to try everything.
On top of that, I was amazed to see just how many people showed up! I mean, I know probably not every single person there was vegan, but it was still amazing to see. There were so many people! There were some lines that were so long they were impossible to get around. I loved seeing how many turned out, even though it meant waiting in giant lines.
Alright, now onto what you all came here for: the food.
Globally Local’s Famous Burger
This is supposed to be a vegan Big Mac. Now, I’ve never had a real Big Mac, so I can’t compare the two. All I can say about this is: Oh. My. God.
There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to describe to you how incredible this burger was. Hands down the best thing I tried at the festival. The patties themselves were actually pretty underwhelming – they were super thin and I feel like the only thing they added to the burger was texture. Not to be mean, but it seemed like they use those really terrible thin, cardboard-y vegan frozen burgers you used to buy before you discovered there was better options.
But the sauce!
Again, never having the real Big Mac sauce, I can’t tell you if it was close to the real thing or not. The sauce to me, tasted similar to warm ranch dressing. I loved it. If they sold the sauce in a bottle like salad dressing, I’d probably drink it. (Yes, it’s that good)
This burger was also messy. And, while I tend to stay away from eating foods that are too messy (I hate getting my hands all goopy with sauces), I didn’t really mind licking this off my fingers. I had the sauce smeared on my face and dripping out of my palms and I did not care at all. It was pure indulgence and I couldn’t have been happier.
My only regret is not getting two.
Sweet Teeth’s Cookie Monster Ice-Cream
The best dessert I tried. No contest.
Before the ice-cream melted enough to spoon out of the container, the spoon slipped and cookie crumbs went flying, since the cookie dough wasn’t soft. I believe it was their vanilla ice-cream that was dyed blue, but I’m not sure. (I can’t remember)
The worst part about this ice-cream was the size of the pint. It’s the same size as the Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice-creams – waaaay too small. (But considering I ate the whole thing, perhaps they do that on purpose)
I got to their booth later on (closer to when the festival was over at 7pm), they were sold out of almost everything else, but boy am I glad I got some of this.
I already miss it.
Rescue Dog’s Fat Mac
This. Just… this.
Like the Big Mac, there aren’t enough words. If it wasn’t swamped with so many onions, I would’ve liked it better, but it was still good. (Most of the onions fell off when I picked it up anyway)
This not-dog is made out of flax. Yeah, you read that right: flax. I don’t know how they do it, but boy am I glad they do. It has a great texture; it’s closer to a sausage texture than a hot dog, in that it has that nice hard bite/shell and then the squishy, juicy inside. And the sauce – same as the Famous Burger – it is amazing. It actually tastes similar to the burgers, I think they might even use the same one. (Though I can’t say for sure)
Either way, I’m not complaining. Best not-dog I’ve had, ever.
Also, apparently Good Rebel sells their dogs in packs of 6, so there may be a homemade replica of this in the future.
V Eats Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
This was the first thing I tried at the festival, and man am I glad I picked it. It’s amazing.
These guys came all the way up from Dallas, Texas. The ‘chicken’ they used was actually oyster mushrooms. This was the first oyster mushroom dish I’ve ever had, and it was good. To me, it didn’t taste like chicken – didn’t have that distinctive ‘chicken’ taste, like it does when I make seitan, but it didn’t need to. The sandwich was good all on its own. They could’ve said this was a buffalo mushroom sandwich, and I would’ve been just as happy to eat it. It was also a bit spicy, I feel like if they used a bit more lettuce or something to cut through the spice it would’ve been better.
This one was also messy, but worth it. They filled it with so much stuff that when you took a bite, it would squish out the back. Totally something you need to eat with napkins, but it’s definitely worth getting. If you’re in Dallas, or see these guys at another festival, I highly recommend getting this sandwich.
Bald Baker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie and Brownie Bite
The cookie was super thick and really soft. It also has peanuts in it that help give it a crunch. The brownie was super soft too and was just amazing. And… it was the last one they had. (Sorry!) I didn’t even try the free sample first, I just saw it was the last one and bought it.
Once again, my only disappointment was that it was the only one they had.
Sweet Olenka’s Cookies N Cream Bar
This was good.
Chocolate, cookies and ice-cream, what more could you want?
It was super frozen though – I’m guessing because it was so hot, they had their freezer cranked up so they didn’t melt, I couldn’t bite into it, it was so hard. I didn’t mind waiting for it to soften though, I ate all the cookie crumbs off from the chocolate shell.
And then, when I got down to the end of it, the whole bottom of my chocolate shell fell off. Luckily, it landed on a napkin, and not on the ground.
This again, wasn’t really anything special: vanilla ice cream and chocolate, but on a hot day it definitely hit the spot.
Flying Colours Food’s Chocolate Hazelnut and Walnut Caramel Spread
The chocolate hazelnut spread was my favourite between the two. I’d assume it tastes close to Nutella, but I’ve never had real Nutella, so I can’t say for sure. I didn’t really like the walnut one, I’m not sure why. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t… I don’t know, special, I guess. I think I might’ve just been more excited to try other foods, so this one was kind of ‘meh’.
I’ll definitely be looking for the chocolate one in stores though.
Panago’s Mediterranean Pizza
This one, I’m sorry to say was nothing special. It just tastes like take-out pizza with Daiya on it. If you’ve ever had Pizza Nova or PizzaPizza pizza, you know what this tastes like.
I am proud to say though, this pizza had black olives on it (I hate olives), but they actually weren’t too bad with the other flavours. I’m not committing to anything, but I wouldn’t mind getting this pizza again.
I checked out their website, and I’m glad to report they are very accommodating to vegans. All their crusts are vegan, and they say you can sub out any cheese on any other pizza with Daiya, and do the same with their meatless pepperoni. I’m definitely going to try some of their other pizzas.
The Spicy Ethiopian’s Tikel Goman
This reminded me of stew. It was good, for sure, but if I had a choice between this and the Famous Burger, well…
The dough-y bread (sorry, I don’t know what to call it, it’s like a very thin pancake) was very squishy. I didn’t like the texture of it in my hand, especially having to pick up the stew (more squish) with it and then put it in my mouth. I probably would’ve liked it better if I ate it with a fork.
Again, not bad, but not the greatest. It was essentially potatoes, carrots and bread. Nothing I’ve never had before. This was probably my least favourite dish.
I also tried two cheeses that I didn’t get a picture of. The first was from this new place, West Junction. This was my first ever cashew-based cheese, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I don’t know why, but I’ve been putting off trying nut-based cheeses for some reason, but I’m definitely glad I tried West Junction’s. They had cut their mozzarella up into cubes and I tried it in what I believe they said was their salad dressing. It was covered in oil, some spices and had an olive on the side. It was good, definitely milder than Daiya (I’m starting to think that they’re the most… potent vegan cheese), and the consistency kind of reminded me of tofu. I think the oil on it gave it a weird, slippery texture, but I’ll definitely buy this when it becomes available for purchase to do a proper review of it. (Not covered in oil)
The other was my second nut-based cheese from Main Vegan Deli. They were selling cheese and deli slice items (like grilled cheese and other sandwich types), but I got there after they were packing up, so I didn’t get to try anything off the menu. They were nice enough to let me try a cube of what I think was their cheddar (it was orange) cheese. This one and the West Junction one tasted pretty similar, this one was less slippery, but still that soft, tofu consistency. I guess that’s just the texture of nut cheeses? Again, it was good, but I’ll definitely have to track them down to try it again, perhaps in a dish.
If you missed this one, there is another festival coming up Sept.8th-10th, VegFest. This one has more vendors, and some of the same ones, so if you missed getting to try anyone from this event, you’ll get a second chance to check them out. VegFest is free admission, but you’ll still need to buy food and drinks from the vendors. I haven’t decided yet if I’m gonna go to this one, I might just save up for next year’s Food and Drink festival.
All in all, this festival was a lot of fun. I definitely enjoyed trying all the different types of food, and seeing all the people who showed up. If you’re able to, I definitely suggest checking it out. I can’t wait until next year’s!