Vegandale Festival Review 2019




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That’s right! Three years, baby! This is my third year in a row going to the Vegandale Festival in Toronto and I am still pumped about it! I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off of getting to go to a place where I can try whatever I want, and not have to ask about ingredients, or read the label before putting it in my mouth. (Save for cinnamon)

I was recently talking to one of my friends, and they made a joke about since this is my third year going, I could ‘take a break’ from going next year. Uhmm… what?

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That’s when it hit me: other people can walk into any place and order whatever they want, without looking at the ingredients list, or worrying about what’s in a product. They can walk in, order what looks good and leave. So, it makes sense that people with that ability don’t even really think about how exciting that can be. They have no idea, that’s their ‘normal’, so they don’t understand the hype.

How boring are other people’s lives? They can just… do stuff without thinking about it? That’s such a foreign concept to me! But I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. I love getting to be excited about things others aren’t. It’s like I’m a child discovering how awesome the world is all over again. Who wouldn’t want that?

But enough about me – time to get to what you came here for: the food!

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This year, I was fortunate enough to get to try 20 things (instead of last years’ 17). There’s always over a hundred vendors, and while I feel like I get a pretty good mix of things, I’d love to eventually get to try half of them.

As always, these reviews will be written in the order that I tried the food. (And not in terms of what I liked best)

Okay, let’s get started!

These Wingz – Half N Half Wings with Mac N Cheese

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First up, is These Wingz wings and mac n cheese. I got the special, 6 wings (half BBQ, half buffalo) with the mac n cheese. The wings were massive. Not just in size, but they were thick. As. Fuck. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but they were definitely the thickest thing I got at the festival. They were also the most expensive ($16).

The wings were good, they tasted kinda seitan-y, though I’m not sure if that’s what they were made out of. They had a good, chewy texture, but the breading on them (and their size) made them hard to bite through. And, trying to rip pieces off with the small plastic fork I got (no knives were available) didn’t work that well, either. I’m pretty sure I accidentally flung sauce in my hair from trying to rip a piece off.

The mac n cheese wasn’t that good. The noodles were over-cooked, and just tasted like the wing sauce. It didn’t taste like there was any cheese on them at all.

 

Parka Food Co. – Broccoli Burger Mac

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I know, I know, a little ridiculous I got another mac n cheese after literally just buying one, but I was intrigued by the name: Broccoli Burger Mac.

This one was way better than the first. For starters, this one actually tasted cheesy, and it had battered broccoli pieces on top. Gave the mac n cheese a good crunchy aspect. The cheese sauce actually kinda tasted like pasta salad to me – it had that subtle vinegar after-taste that pasta salad gets. This was a great dish to try for $11. I’m still not entirely sure what an aioli is, but the pink one that was drizzled on top of this dish was good. The sign said it was just their Parka Aioli, so I’m not entirely sure what’s in it (or why it’s pink), but it was good.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dish, is that the top of it was dowsed in parsley. There was way too much sprinkled on top of the broccoli and mac n cheese. The entire top was almost completely green!

 

Peas and Thank-You – Chick’N Parm

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A chick’n parm. I’ve never in my life had a chicken parm. I’ve seen them in movies/heard about them – it’s a chicken cutlet with tomato sauce and parm – but I was really hyped when I saw this on the menu at Peas and Thank-You. It was only $10, so I figured why not? And boy am I glad I did. This was probably the best thing I tried at the festival in terms of the actual ‘meal’ things. Although, it didn’t have actual parm on it. It had some kind of sauce (I’m assuming [hoping] it was cheese sauce) but I thought the ‘parm’ on the sandwich would’ve been… y’know, actual parm flakes. The sauce actually tasted closer to Veganaise then cheese, but maybe that’s just what parm tastes like?

The chick’n patty itself was great – though it was a little too hard to bite through. I think maybe it was fried too long? But once you got passed the initial bite, it had a great flavour and wasn’t as hard to chew and get down. And the bun? Oh, man! I think it was a ciabatta bun? I don’t know, but I loved the bun. They didn’t do anything special to it – I believe it was just toasted – but it added such a great depth to the sandwich. They do pop-ups at different events, and I really, really hope that they come back next year! (Or do another pop-up in Toronto)

 

Not Your Mother – Rocky Road Ice Cream

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This was the favourite dessert I tried, hands down. Rocky Road ice cream? Do you guys know about Rocky Road ice-cream? It’s chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and marshmallows. Marshmallows!

I cannot believe I’ve never tried Rocky Road ice cream before. It’s my new favourite ice cream flavour. Even though it was hot and I had to drink most of it, it was still my favourite dessert. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about chocolate and marshmallows that holds a very special place in my heart.

When will vegan Rocky Road ice cream be available for purchase in pints from a store?

Seriously, if you make vegan ice-cream, get on it. Please.

 

Globally Local – Hot Buffalo Chick’Un Burger

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Ah, Globally Local. They’ve been my favourite thing the past two years, and I feel a little bad about giving that title away, but my reason for giving the title away is two-fold:

  1. This burger is pretty much the same thing I tried last year, just with buffalo sauce coating the patty.
  2. The chicken parm was way more exciting and tasted better.

Don’t get mad, Globally, I still love you guys and cannot wait until you open your location here next month! But, I do wish that you had added something else on the festival menu to try.

The fries were great, too. Thick cut and fried fries I think are my weakness. These ones, and A&W fries are the best fries I’ve ever had. (… So far.)

 

Main Vegan Deli – Lobstar Roll

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Main Vegan Deli… what can I say? They were at the festival both previous years, and the first year I went I actually got to try a sample of their cashew cheese. I was hoping I’d get to do that again this year (or that I’d maybe actually get a ball/block to take home), but alas, they changed their menu.

This year, they had a ‘lobstar’ roll and a no-kobe sammy. Now, I’ve never really been that much of a fan of seafood. Before going vegan, I’d never eat it. It was gross to me. So, naturally, since going vegan, I haven’t tried any seafood faux products. Why would I if I didn’t like the real thing, right?

So, keeping that in mind, I didn’t really like this. It was mushrooms and their ‘seafood sauce’, so I figured it shouldn’t be too bad. I like mushrooms, after all – I don’t know what it was, it wasn’t exactly bad, but this was definitely not my favourite thing. I think it might’ve been the texture that the mushrooms were. They were slightly rubber-y, but also slightly slimy. Not chewy rubber-y, just… rubber-y.

I got my (non vegan) mom to eat it, (I couldn’t finish it!) and she said it ‘tasted like the kind of lobster you get from a can’. Take from that what you will.

I was actually really disappointed that I didn’t like this – I had loved their cashew cheese, and was hoping they might’ve been like Globally Local, in that I would just like everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not writing them off. Next year, if they bring their cashew cheese, or have some other type of sandwich (that’s not seafood) I’ll try it.

Bring it on!

 

Meltwich – Poutine

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I love poutine! This one was a little lack-luster though. The fries were pretty basic, seemed like they were just regular frozen french fries, and the cheese shreds didn’t melt! At all. I took the picture, mixed it up, and then nothing. They tasted good, but they didn’t melt. I don’t know what happened, but that definitely made the dish not as good as it could have been.

That said, the gravy more for made up for the lack of melted cheese. It was a nice, rich, brown gravy and oh man, if they were just selling jars of that, I definitely would’ve bought one.

All in all, this poutine wasn’t anything spectacular (it was called the Classic Poutine) but regular poutine is still good poutine in my book. It doesn’t need to have chick’n or bacon bits or anything fancy for it to be good.

 

Vegtago – Nacho Cheese

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This was the first free sample I got at the festival. This cheese, while it’s great that it’s dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free, it tasted a little too sweet to me. If you gave this to me, and asked me to guess what it was, I would not guess ‘nacho cheese’. It tastes closer to pureed vegetable.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s made out of carrots, (the picture on the sign was a carrot), but it reminds me of my failed attempt at making cheese out of carrots and potatoes.

That’s not to say that it taste bad – I would definitely eat it in a different setting – but for something that’s supposed to be a nacho cheese, it misses the mark.

 

Magnum – Classic Bar

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This was the second free sample I got at the festival, and I have to say I was not disappointed. When I went, the lady at the counter said they were ‘down to Classics’. I was just excited I was getting a full sized ice-cream bar for free!

At this point in the festival, I was starting to feel a bit sick, so I do regret to say that I didn’t finish the whole bar. It’s the only thing from the festival I didn’t finish that I wasn’t able to take home.

With that said, it was pretty good. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but the chocolate coating on the outside of the bar had an odd ‘heavy’ feel to it. As soon as I bit it, that’s what I felt. I don’t know if that’s the right word for it, but it’s happened with other chocolate before, and that’s the only way I know to describe it. After that initial heavy/weighty feel, it was pretty sticky, too. Like, dry-out-your-mouth sticky. Similar to when you eat a spoon of peanut butter and immediately feel like you need to drink some water.

I don’t know if that’s just something that happens depending on the cocoa content or whatever, but it’s definitely something I don’t like in my chocolate. It shouldn’t make you thirsty.

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The ice-cream was good, too. It was just basic vanilla ice-cream. Nothing too fancy, as this was the Classic Bar, but it was still good.

I’d definitely buy this if I wanted an ice-cream bar, but don’t go in with too high expectations. It’s pretty basic, and don’t forget to drink water with it.

 

Papabubble – Cherry Candy

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First, I’d like to point out: these are hard candies. They only had a few squishy ones (that I didn’t try) on display, and this wasn’t it. I thought that it was a squishy candy, so I tossed it in my mouth and got a rude awakening when I chomped down on it.

That’s my bad, I will admit. Other than that surprise, the candy was pretty good! It had a very good cherry flavour, and while it did stick to my teeth a bit, what candy doesn’t?

I also tried one called ‘lychee’ which is a type of tropical fruit. That one was good too, it did taste fruity, but I definitely liked the cherry one better.

I had actually been debating about buying a whole pack of their candy, but since they’re in Toronto, I decided I could always do a more in-depth analysis of their offerings later.

I don’t think they beat out Squish candy, since Squishs’ candy is well, squishy, but they are definitely a close second.




Julie’s Joyful Kitchen-  Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar

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This is my second year reviewing Julie’, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. Last year, I got their chocolate cookie, which was good – pretty hard to mess up a cookie – this year, they were offering other types of cookies, or, this chocolate almond bar. I thought I’d be a bit adventurous and go for the bar. I’ve seen similar bars before but have always stayed away from trying them.

I should’ve done that this time, too.

For starters, I couldn’t even pick the thing up. The bottom layer crumbled into a million pieces the second I tried to. So I had to eat it with one finger swiping through the middle ‘caramel’ part. And to be honest, the caramel wasn’t very good. It just kinda tasted like almond butter, there wasn’t very much ‘caramel’ flavour in it. The chocolate on the top was good – it is chocolate, after all – but it was the same kind of dry-out-your-mouth as the Magnum bar.

This definitely didn’t make my favourites list, not by a long shot. If they come back again next year, I’d definitely want to try something else, but if that doesn’t go well, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write them off. Which sucks, because they ladies running the booth were very sweet.

But yeah, I’m thinking that maybe Julie’s just isn’t for me.

 

Sweet Nutritionista –  Beet Brownie

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For a dessert that’s made out of beets this was pretty good. I absolutely hate beets, so believe me when I tell say you could not taste the beets in this brownie at all. You could’ve told me it wasn’t made out of beets and I’d believe you.

This was a wee bit dense though. Maybe if they had cut them a bit thinner it would’ve been more enjoyable. It was a biiit too much to bite off and chew at one time.

I would definitely love to try something else they have to offer at the next festival, or if I’m ever in Oakville, I’d definitely stop by.

 

Yves – Sweet Potato Meatball

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I’m not gonna lie, this tastes very sweet potato-y. I unfortunately don’t like sweet potatoes, so I didn’t like it. It had a hint of a weird spice I don’t like, that reminded me a bit of cumin. (Although I’m not 100% on if cumin is actually in them)

If you like falafel, you’ll definitely like these.

They had nuggets available as a free sample to try as well, but I unfortunately was 5 seconds too late, as the lady in front of me had snagged the last nugget.

Fortunately though, they were also giving out coupons, and I was lucky enough to get one of those, instead.

 

Glory Hole Doughnuts – Cookies N Crème Doughnut

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Glory Hole was back with a way better doughnut than last years’!

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t as hot, so it didn’t immediately melt into a goopy mess all over my hand, but I definitely enjoyed this one better than the peanut butter and chocolate I got last year.

While it still had the classic ‘this is a doughnut!’ sweetness, it was also very light. The icing I think was just regular vanilla, and the cookie bits were pretty similar in taste to Oreo cookies (no matter what the sign said).

The only thing I didn’t like is when I bit down, the entire doughnut flattened and didn’t bounce back. It was like I let all the air out of the tire.

That happened to the one I got last year as well, so I’m not sure if it’s just a doughnut thing, or if I’m somehow not biting them correctly but yeah. If they could find a way to make them not do that, that would be great.

And since these guys are in Toronto as well, I’m looking forward to trying more of their offerings.

 

BZZSFREE – Apple Honey

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Honey is definitely one of the things I miss the most since going vegan. I used to absolutely love it – not only for it’s taste, but also because it’s a great natural alternative to conventional medicine – so as soon as I saw this vegan honey company listed, I knew I just had to try it!

I was a little unsure of which flavour to get, as the sign said they had apple, pineapple and PMP (guava and something else I don’t remember). I just wanted to taste something that was closest to the real deal.

After speaking to the lady (who is beyond nice!) for a bit, she told me that the apple flavour is the closest to the real thing, so I decided to try that one. And boy am I glad I did!

It tasted so close to what I remember honey tasting like, I was blown away! It didn’t taste like apples at all! It was just as sweet, and even had the same sticky consistency!

I regret not buying a whole jar, but the lady said they were available to purchase online, and that they deliver to Toronto, so I’m definitely going to get my hands on some!

If you didn’t get a chance to check them out, or was a bit hesitant because of the flavours listed, you definitely need to try their apple flavour! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so glad they decided to come to the festival this year, and hope they come back!

 

Crazy D’s – Prebiotic Rockin’ Rolla Cherry Cola

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This was my least favourite thing from the entire festival. It tasted absolutely nothing like cherries. The ingredients say that there was actual cherry juice in it, but I couldn’t taste it at all.

This drink was spicy. It tasted like when you run out of bouillon cubes, so you try to make your own. So you get some water and throw ten different spices in it and then try it. That’s what it tasted like.

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This drink was an absolute no-go in my book. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to trying a cherry flavoured drink.

Their sign said it was supposed to have a bunch of health benefits and promote good digestion and stuff – I hate that they proved the old saying true. (Everything that’s good for you tastes bad)

I couldn’t even finish it, I had to dump it out when I got home. I felt bad for wasting it, but I couldn’t drink it. It was that bad. And tasted nothing like cherries!

Their other options were Ginga Kick and a citrus something. I went with cherry because I thought it’d be their best tasting one. Boy was I wrong!

 

If you like spicy drinks, you may like this, but if you want something that tastes like cherries? This isn’t it.

 

Tropic Love – Maple Luv Mini Pancakes

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Pancakes, whether big or small, there’s just something enjoyable about them.

These were light and fluffy, and so cute! They came ten per order, and were perfect with the right amount of maple syrup drizzled on top.

They weren’t really special, except that they were tiny. But I mean, a pancake is a pancake. I would’ve been really surprised if I didn’t like them.

 

WVRST – Soft Pretzel

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I have a soft spot for soft pretzels. I only tried them this year, actually. My first ever was from Through Being Cool (which unfortunately no longer exists!) and I instantly loved them!

They’re a bit salty to eat on their own (you’re apparently supposed to dip them in mustard? No thanks!), but have an amazing doughy consistency. It’s like eating just the thick crust from a pizza. I love soft, doughy breads, and these pretzels are no exception.

These guys also make sausages, (and are also in Toronto!) but I would recommend going there for the pretzels alone.

I’ll probably get around to trying their sausages, but the pretzels are an absolute must.

 

GTS – Watermelon Kombucha

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This was better tasting than the cherry cola, but still not my thing. I’ve tried kombucha before, and I didn’t really like it. I think it’s the carbonation I don’t like. Same reason I don’t enjoy pop – the carbonation isn’t a good time for me.

The flavour was good, though I don’t know I would call it watermelon. It had that fresh, fruity taste like a watermelon does, but it didn’t exactly scream ‘watermelon’ flavour.

I would definitely get it over an actual pop, like Coke. But my first go-to would still probably be just water.

 

Sausage Party – The Big Mock

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This not-dog was pretty good. They said it was a ‘hand crafted vegan sausage’, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s seitan, or something else, but it tasted similar to the flax dog I had gotten the first year. Very wheat-y. It was good, except I forgot to tell them no mustard, and they put a bunch of onions on it.

Why is that a thing people do? Smother the dog in a million cubes of onions? Onions are not that good of a topping, I’m sorry. I’d rather it of just been straight lettuce with the sesame seeds and cheese.

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I was a little disappointed that weren’t nearly as many dessert vendors as there were last year. I would’ve liked to get a cupcake or some other desserts.

On the vendors list on the Vegandale website, Kelly’s Bakeshop was listed, but the site map I got that had the list of the vendors, they weren’t anywhere. I don’t know if they were going to come, and had to fall out, or what, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try their Salted Caramel Pretzel cupcake again.

Also, I thought I saw Bald Baker, but he wasn’t a vendor. He was pushing a stroller around, but looked a lot like him. I didn’t have the courage to go up to him and ask, so if you’re reading this: sorry for starring!

I’m so happy I got to go again, and I’m hoping I get to try even more foods next year!


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