Vida Vegan Tech Seminar & Vida Vegan Con 2013

To put my life in terms that others from my generation will understand, things have been coming up Milhouse in a big way for me lately.

More personally (and reflective of real life Dawn), I’ve started a new job that is creative and fun and allows me to write all day.

More professionally but not job-related, I’ve been invited to speak at not one, but two vegan blogging events coming up in the next year that you’ve possibly heard of:

The Vida Vegan Con Fall Tech Seminar in Seattle,

and Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland.

How does all of this amazing news makes me feel, you may wonder? Kind of like these super pumped, ridiculously adorable otters.

But really, I’m mostly just honored and so, so grateful.

At both events I’ll be speaking (it’ll be a different talk at each for those attending both!) about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so much so that I’ll be studying it this fall, and that I sit on a board discussing it with other nerds: social media.

And I’ll be presenting at both with a fellow Seattle-ite, Vida Vegan Con 2011 alumni and Field Roast hot dog-eating friend, Helen of Vegtastic. She’s one of the savviest social media mavens I know, and I’m confident that when we combine our powers, we shall compose two awesome sessions filled with strategic digital media and marketing tips, tricks, and much more.

The Tech Seminar is a one-day event that will focus on all things tech/nitty gritty about blogging: it’ll go more in depth about starting a blog from scratch, which forms of social media to use and how to integrate them, as well as more advanced blog options such as audio/video integration.

The Vida Vegan Con 2013 event will expand upon what the first was: a combination of workshops, panels and social events all celebrating and focusing on vegan blogging and spreading the word about the vegan lifestyle in new/emerging mediums.

VVC friends at the Bye & Bye, looking awesome.

I’ve described Vida Vegan Con to those who couldn’t attend the first as “vegan sleepaway camp,” and I’ve reminisced about it longingly since last August. Sitting at dinners and in talks and social gatherings with hundreds of other people who immediately *get* a big part of your life is an amazing thing to experience, and having the opportunity to learn from these people who all have something to share is even more wonderful. I met so many bloggers I’ve come to admire and came out of the event with a crazy long lists of blogs to read, and many of them are favorites now. More so than that, I’ve got memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, (cheesy, but true).

If you missed the inaugural event and have been kicking yourself since, I suggest you start planning for 2013 now. Whether you’ve been blogging for a while, you’d like to start a blog or you actually don’t have an interest in blogging but would like to meet and collaborate with those who do, I highly recommend the experience. It’s an event that you will gain an inconceivable amount from in just a few precious days. And I’m not just talking pounds from all the amazing PDX food that’s to be consumed.

100 early bird tickets for VVC 2013 go on sale over on the Vida Vegan Con site Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12 p.m. PST for $200.  After they sell out, the remaining tickets will become available at regular price.

Here are some more pertinent deets:

When: Friday-Sunday, May 24-26, 2013

Where: Portland Art Museum, 1219 Southwest Park Avenue,  Portland, OR 97205

I can’t wait to see everyone who attended the 2011 event again, to meet a whole bunch of new folks next May, and to continue eating my way through one of my favorite vegan-loving cities in the country.

So, will I see you at the next Vegan Lovefest?

 

 

Recreating Vita Cafe’s Italian Pasta

On one of our first visits to Portland together, the boy and I visited the very vegan-friendly Vita Cafe, (in its original location!) in the Alberta District of Portland. Quaint, colorful and teeming with veg options on their menu, we were eager to check it out.

The old location, directly across from where Vita stands today. Photo credit: www.veganfabulous.com.

Try as I might, I can’t remember what I ordered on that first visit, but we both know that the bf ordered their Italian pasta dinner. From their menu, it contains:

kale, veggie sausage, garlic, chili flakes and crushed tomatoes, sautéed in lemon and olive oil topped with toasted bread crumbs

I definitely remember stealing a few bites and thinking that it was one of the best restaurant dishes I’d tried in some time, yet it was composed of simple, basic ingredients.

Months go by, and we both couldn’t get that pasta out of our heads. So we decided to make it ourselves at home. This recipe has since become our standard recipe whenever we’re in the mood for pasta. It doesn’t use a sauce, per se, but rather depends on the flavor of vegetables and juice from tomatoes, vinegar and spices to make a delicious dish perfect for any night of the week. We took a few creative liberties here, most notably switching out many whole garlic cloves for only a few minced, and adding a lot more vegetables to the mix. But on the whole, we stayed true to the PDX-based dish that inspired us.

D + R’s Veggie Sausage Pasta

(Inspired by Vita Cafe’s Italian Pasta)

Yields: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

Pasta:

3-4 servings whole wheat pasta, uncooked
Hefty pinch of salt

Veggie “sauce”:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a bell pepper
1/2-1 small zucchini
2 vegan Italian sausages (we use Tofurky, but feel free to sub your favorite)
Splashes of balsamic vinegar and red wine
Dashes of the following spices: parsley, oregano, basil, paprika, rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seed
1/2 c. diced tomatoes with juice
Few handfuls of chopped kale (can use spinach, chard or another preferred green)
Broccoli, fresh or frozen
Asparagus, fresh or frozen, chopped
Bread crumbs (we use Panko)
Optional: Kalamata olives, nooch or vegan cheese

Directions
Heat salted water for the pasta on high. While waiting on that, start on the veggie sauce.

Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until it smells like onions that are cooking. Add in the bell pepper, zucchini, sausages, vinegar, wine and spices and cook on medium-low heat. Stir every once in a while and add extra liquid if needed, or things may get dry/stuck to your pan.

The water should be boiling after a bit, so add the pasta in. Cook as directed.

Lower heat to low on the sauce and add the greens, tomatoes, broccoli and asparagus. Cover and cook until greens have wilted and broccoli/asparagus are bright green.

Drain pasta, serve some in a bowl and scoop veggie sauce on top. Add bread crumbs and any additional ingredients your heart desires on top. Serve and enjoy with a glass of your favorite red wine and maybe a green salad.

Have you ever recreated a dish you loved at a restaurant? What were the results?

PS: Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Hannah Kaminsky’s cookbook My Sweet Vegan! 

 

Vida Vegan Con: Days 3 & 4

Saturday, August 27 was the first official day of the conference. First things first, and one of the things I was looking forward to the most: the full, vegan breakfast buffet! This is my favorite meal of the day, and most breakfast buffets make me sad, but this one was filled with gf biscuits and gravy, chia pudding (yum), lots of fruit, potatoes, scramble and more! I thought I’d get seconds after this plate, but that did not happen. The idea crossed my mind simply because I could, and how many more all-vegan buffets do you think I’ll be seeing in the near future? Not many, friends.

After breakfast we all headed off to the panels, the first of which I went to was the Travel panel with Laura of Vegansaurus (!!), Webly of Stumptown Vegans, Samantha Cohen and Jason Das of SuperVegan and Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of The Healthy Voyager. The panel covered a range of topics, from how they plan their vegan vacations, to which city they deemed Vegan Mecca (answer was overwhelmingly/not surprisingly Portland), tips for reviewing restaurants and choosing whether to support only all vegan or omnivorous, mainstream restaurants.

The second panel I attended was the Nutrition panel, and I was super pumped for it, as I may have mentioned prior to leaving for the con. On the panel were (left to right in the photo): Gena of Choosing Raw, Wendy of Veg Food & Fit, esteemed cookbook writer Bryanna and Ginny of The Vegan RD. I took a ton of notes on this panel and particularly enjoyed the discussions about raw food vs. cooked, sugar, supplements and the panelists’ current food obsessions.

Panel three of day one was the one and only panel that I was speaking on: The Accidental Journalist. I was plenty nervous before it started, but Michele and Gabrielle calmed me down some, and I think it’s because I could tell they were nervous, too, (sorry to call you out, guys). Prior to the day, we’d been working on our presentation collectively online and I think that we each brought something constructive and helpful to the talk. The consensus after was that people definitely got something out of it and one noted they “were taken back to their high school English classes.” Success.  A few topics covered were: grammar, plagiarism, our biggest pet peeves, spelling and voice and we took a few great questions from the audience. Thanks for being part of the nerdy writer dream team, Gabrielle and Michele!

Photo of me talking with my hands, courtesy of the lovely Jess Scone, (with Michele to the left and Gabrielle on my right).

After the talk was lunch. After reading others’ posts on this day, my photo makes me feel slightly gluttonous, but no matter. It was delicious and I cleared my plate, which was composed of: BBQ tempeh on the bottom, asparagus and an array veggies, kale (duh), orzo salad/raw golden beet salad and pesto potato salad. Goodness gracious.

And of course, first dessert. Luna and Larry’s was a con sponsor, so we all had our choice of original naked coconut or dark chocolate Coconut Bliss bars. I chose chocolate and it was phenomenal – rich, with a smooth texture and the perfect melding of coconut and decadent chocolate. Wow. Great ice cream bar for a hot day.

The next panel was Small Towns, Represent!, with Bianca of Vegan Crunk, John of Laziest Vegans in the World, Lauren from Whoa Wren, Ryan from T.O.F.U. Magazine and Elizabeth from VegNews. I knew I wanted to attend this panel because Tacoma, while getting better, is still challenging at times for vegans and it also seems as though there aren’t many of us. That is until we throw a vegan bake sale, and people start coming out of the wood works! It was great to hear the individuals behind the successful Vegan Omaha group discuss how to start a successful vegan community in an area that poses challenges. I loved this panel because of how interactive it was, due in part to the audience and their helpful questions/answers. I wrote down many ideas that I plan to work on in the near future.

The last talk for day one was Planting Seeds of Compassion: Communication as Activism by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I was only familiar with her cookbooks prior to this talk, and wasn’t very aware of her speaking career, but I know one thing after listening to her speak: the woman is truly inspiring. She’s as passionate as she is intelligent as she is thought-provoking, and I’m so thankful I chose to sit in on her talk about how we can affect change daily simply by living the vegan lifestyle. Here are two quotes I found particularly stirring:

“There is inherent violence in taking the life of an animal. We compartmentalize our compassion.”

“My hope is we all embrace our unconditional compassion and inspire others to do the same.”

Post-panels, we all headed back to our respective rooms to get dolled up for the Galarama at the Ambridge Event Center. The event offered up a great variety of appetizers by The Vegan Caterer, including Gardein chic’n tenders, seitan sliders, salad rolls and bruschetta with spinach artichoke dip. Also: there were slices of Sizzle Pies that went really fast, but we managed to grab some, and I was in heaven. Must go there on a future visit soon!

The event was also a fundraiser for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and I think almost every person in our group came out with a great basket and prize, (mine was a gluten-free baked goodies basket from the lovely Back to Eden Bakery, which I love!).

Here’s a group of us in our vegan party attire, (Me, Katie, Becca, Taylor and Brit).

We also got in line for a really awesome twist on photobooth pictures: Fliptography flipbooks! Anika, Brit and I wanted to do a metro Seattle/Tacoma book, and here’s a snap of us, pre-Anika jumping in:

Photo by the lovely Megan. Every time I look through this book now, I just start cracking up. What a great, sweet little souvenir!

Post-dinner, pre-flipbooking, there was some definite Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss sundae bar action going on. Vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate and peanut butter sauces, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. I didn’t think I could handle more food, but I was wrong.

After the event we walked to the Vegan Mini-Mall to Food Fight! where the Upton’s Natural’s pop-up sandwich shop was taking place. Though we were all filled with food, a group of 5 of us ladies split two sandwiches – the BLT and the seitan eggplant on focaccia. Damn they were delicious. After roaming the stores, we walked to nearby Hungry Tiger Too for drinks, more convos and so Brit and Kyle could split a corndog and tots. I had some bites, I won’t lie.

Some of us decided we’d rather not wait for the bus and thus hit the streets to walk back to our hotel/dorms, despite fancy garb, baskets of winnings and inappropriate shoes (on Taylor and my parts, at least). Despite that, the walk was beautiful, as evidenced by my blurry shot of downtown Portland at night. It was a lovely eve and I honestly haven’t walked around Portland much in my visits to the city, so I was happy we took up this opportunity. This moment was one of my favorites of the weekend, walking with fellow vegans after a great night, taking in Portland for all the beauty and stillness it had to offer.

On Sunday morning, we all headed back to breakfast, despite our 2-ish a.m. bedtimes, (bad partying bloggers!). Breakfast was the same as before, except this time around I got less of everything except added another biscuit and gravy and tried one of the plain So Delicious Greek style coconut yogurts. Loved the consistency and taste. Need to track some down and integrate it in recipes.

My first Sunday panel was Activism, pictured above, with Jasmin of Our Hen House, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan, Ryan, Chelsea of Flavor Vegan, Sunny of Peta2 and Isa. As I’ve been learning more and getting more involved in activism, I definitely knew that this was a panel I needed to attend, and I’m so glad I did. The panel focused on ways in which bloggers can integrate activism in their blogs, food as activism, how to get more people to attend events and tips for avoiding “activist” burnout. They also fielded some great audience questions.

Second session of Sunday was Extreme Food Writing Makeover with Dynise of Urban Vegan. As an avid fan of Dynise’s blog and book, I wanted to see how she could help me fine-tune my blog posts and make them tighter, something I definitely struggle with. Dynise gave us all some doable goals, and even had us taste a pistachio and almond and write down what we thought of them immediately as an exercise. After this class ended I had so much to think about in terms of my own food writing, but that all has to wait, as this post is already breaking so many of those rules, (due to length, mostly!). Brevity, no more cliches, choosing better words, etc. are new goals.

Next up, another writing class, (I loved all the writing classes!): Story-making and Food Blogging with Terry of Vegan Latina.

Isn’t she gorgeous? Just as smart, sassy and adorable as I imagined.

I’d read that Romero was a nerd, but I really had no idea until I sat through her presentation, (D&D and cat references abounded). What I found so helpful about her presentation was that she reverted to the basics in regards to writing, such as: what is a story? What’s your story? Who’s your audience and how to battle “monsters” that may come up as you’re writing. I left this talk with, again, lots on my mind, and some great tactics to use when I get stuck thinking “what on Earth should I post next?” Terry’s was easily one of my favorite presentations of Vida Vegan Con.

Lunch followed, and I was too hungry/forgetful and spaced on taking a photo. Thankfully, Katie got a great shot that looks very similar to what I ate.

Imagine this without the rice and black olives, and you’ll have my lunch. I’ll never, ever tire of Mexican food. The buffet included soy curls, Daiya pepperjack, Food For Lovers queso and raw walnut “meat,” (cue our junior high laughter).

Next up was the Publishing panel, with Isa, Terry, cookbook writer and Native Bowl owner Julie, Bryanna, Joni of Just the Food and Ryan. They discussed the many mediums and ways in which one can go about publishing the cookbooks of their dreams. This panel wasn’t of particular relevance to me, but listening to some personal heroes speak on the topic was enlightening.

The last panel I attended for the con was Your Blog Sucks: Opinionated Bloggers. Panelists for this included: Jasmin Singer, Ben Grossblatt, Jordan Pattern and Laura Beck and discussed how to find your voice, letting comments fall as they may, consistency and quality. As Jasmin so eloquently summed up in the beginning, “if you can’t take the heat, stay out of your opinionated kitchen!”

After the last panels, we all headed back to the hotel ballroom one last time for the closing address – the last official element of the conference.

The closing address by Isa and Terry nearly brought my sappy self to tears.

This image inspires me, and serves as proof for anyone who doubted the fact that 250+ passionate, thoughtful and unique vegans can fill up a conference.

My post-con dinner at the Bye & Bye with a core group of attendees: the Eastern bowl with nooch-covered tofu, brown rice, broccoli and peanut sauce, and my gin-based cocktail (spaced on the name).

The crew, all together for one last round of invigorating conversation, laughs and bonding with those like ourselves, (Clockwise, left to right, Jared, Brit, Taylor, Samantha, Me, Becca, Katie and Bianca down in front).

Just writing this made me feel super nostalgic. I said it in my first VVC wrap post and I’ll say it again: I feel so grateful to have been a part of this amazing event, to have gotten the chance to meet many of my vegan blogging heroes and to have learned and partied with them all in a great city. Vida Vegan Con was one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2013. See you then, friends!

Vida Vegan Con, I’m comin’

When you read this, I’ll be getting ready to drive down to Portland to attend the first ever Vida Vegan Conference for vegan bloggers. In recent weeks my excitement for the con has mounted to previously inconceivable levels. This week, VVC has swallowed up all my thoughts, much to the chagrin of my job, I’m sure.

The event takes place Aug. 26-28 at Portland State University and will combine workshops, panels, cooking demos and a sprinkling of other events all celebrating and focusing on vegan blogging and spreading the word about the vegan lifestyle in old and new/emerging mediums.

I am so excited to take part in this event not only by attending as many of the amazing agenda elements as humanly possible, but also by presenting for  “The Accidental Journalist” class with two fellow vegan journalist writers: Gabrielle Pope of Vegans on the Move and Michele Truty, co-planner of the conference and Vegan Iron Chef and writer of Vegtastic Voyage.  I read Gabrielle’s work when she was an editorial assistant at VegNews and know that she knows her vegan stuff and is an excellent writer. Michele has so much journalism experience, it kind of blows my mind. Knowing that I’ll be sharing a space with these women while chatting about writing posts that are engaging, meaningful, honest and unique is such an honor. I can’t wait to help to share my experiences both as a journalist and blogger and answer any questions that attendees throw our way.

There will be a lot going on throughout the weekend, (and even a little more as I get into town this afternoon for some conference pre-funking), but here are a few things that I’m most looking forward to:

- As someone who has played with the idea of becoming a nutritionist, I can’t wait to hear the nutrition panel

- The Small Towns, Represent! panel, (for obvious reasons) and publishing panel

- The Galarama and Silent Auction happening Saturday night for a great cause, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

- All of the amazing MEALS, but most importantly, the Luna and Larry’s ice cream bar at the Galarama. Holy peanut butter sauce and crushed Joe Joes!

- The in-between con event and after shenanigans

- Seeing the adorable Terry Hope Romero in person

- POSSIBLY getting my first ever and totally vegan tattoo at Skeleton Key Tattoo (!!)

- And lastly, meeting so many bloggers, writers and people that I’ve come to respect and admire over the years through the glory that is the Internet, and just getting the chance to hang out with them in the city that loves vegans the most.

If you will be there, drop me a line or just tap me on the shoulder if you see me and and say “hi.” I’ll be the girl with super short dark hair and round glasses. Oh wait, who are we kidding. This event is in Portland, so I guess I could be anyone. Um. Just say hi anyway!

I plan on tweeting often and I just downloaded the WordPress app for my phone, so woo! Technology! Expect to see a few very short posts while I’m on the road. Maybe even some live-tweets, too, if I’m feeling wild. Stay tuned, friends.

 

Vegan Iron Chef 2k11

A bit more than a month ago, I ventured to Portland for an event that I’d been excited about for months beforehand: Vegan Iron Chef 2011. This year was the second ever in the fair Rose City, and I was fortunate enough to get some behind-the-scenes experience as I volunteered to help out the ever-lovely (and busy!) Jess, Michele and Liz with the event. The gig I was assigned?

Co-judge liaison, which means that I helped bring all of the food items out to the judges as they were being evaluated, (along with some other great volunteers!) and made sure they had enough water and wine (they deserve to be wined and dined appropriately). It’s also known as best (volunteer) job EVER. This year’s judges were: John Janilus of The Bye and Bye vegan bar, The Oregonian food writer Grant Butler, vegan cookbook writer and food cart owner Julie Hasson, (she’s just as sweet and kind as you’d ever imagine) and the inimitable co-host Isa Moskowitz. Be still, my vegan beating heart.

The ladies behind Vegan Iron Chef are now seasoned pros at these kind of events, and did an amazing job picking a great, huge space and planning out every tiny detail. I was blown away just being in the midst of such an event for a great cause – informing vegans and non-vegans alike that cruelty-free food can also be delicious, gourmet food.

This year’s chefs were:

- Piper Dixon of Kitchen Dances

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Morgan Grundstein-Helvey of Dovetail Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- and Jeff Ridabock of Homegrown Smoker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(How badass are these posters? All courtesy of Vegan Iron Chef)

Sadly, despite being all amped to see these chefs throw down, I hadn’t previously tried their food. We had an unfortunate incident once when trying to check out Homegrown Smoker (I think they switched locations and we found out after) and nearly went to Kitchen Dances that weekend but didn’t make it. I’ve also heard so many great things about Dovetail from miss Jess, but still haven’t tried their baked goods and Sunday brunch biscuits and gravy. One day guys, one day.

Regardless of these facts, I was still ready to see them all put their spin on the secret ingredient, which I *accidentally* learned of before the big reveal: ginger. I thought this was an excellent choice, as it’s such a touchy subject with people. I’m one of those rare “it’s okay…” kind of people with ginger, but I know it can really make a dish great when utilized correctly. Once the ingredient was announced, each chef ran to grab every ingredient they wanted/could possibly need to create the most impressive and tasty of appetizers, main courses and desserts.

As I was volunteering, I didn’t really get the chance to take any action shots that you’d really love to see. Please accept these before-the-event, setting shots to tide you over:

The front and center judges table, where I would soon be walking up and down, hoping not to spill water/wine/food.

VIPs also got to try the dishes, along with the guest judges. The sweet life.

What’s a vegan event without a tablefull of pins?!

Shirts and memorabilia!

Clearer shot of the judges table in the background, chefs cooking/prep stations in the fore. I was most impressed by the fact that each judge had their own Vita-Mix to utilize.

Not pictured are all of the exhibitor tables, including individuals representing Lion’s Share Industries (woo, Washington pride!), Brass Tacks Sandwiches, Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, Heido Ho Organics, Upton’s Naturals (<3) and many more. I tried some Brass Tack sandwich samples and man, were they ever good. I think I need to make it a point to get there this weekend.

As chefs and their teammates were frantically attempting to get every element of their meal cooked, prepped, plated and in order, the event’s lovely judges Isa and Nicole Georges provided some funny commentary, checked on the judges progress and guessed what they were prepping.They also gave out some truly fabulous prizes!

And the winner of the event was…Piper Dixon of Kitchen Dances! I tried some of his prize-winning dishes after the event and they were phenomenal. I now know that I need to make it over to his food cart, and soon.

Oh yeah. And just when you think this event couldn’t have been any better, as part of the after party (including live music), there was a VEGAN NACHO BAR. Yes, you read that right. Vegan. Nacho. Bar. I have evidence:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The ginormous alcohol monitor pin/badge was left by another volunteer who wore it through the event. I’d say that was probably the second best gig).

After running around for a few hours before and after the event, I can’t tell you how much this hit the spot. Though let’s be honest here, vegan nachos and beer will always hit the spot, and this is one of the many reasons why Jess & crew are vegan event planning geniuses.

The event brought in well over 300 people to the Refuge event space, and when I went outside for a bit to grab something before things started, the line wound well down the block. Seeing such interest and genuine excitement for a vegan event of this kind was such an incredible experience, and one that I won’t soon forget. Seeing the three chefs work to form some impressive, thoughtful dishes under time (and heat) constraints was extraordinary as well. I missed the first event last year, but you can bet your faux leather boots I’ll be back next year.

For more information on Vegan Iron Chef and to learn how to start one in your area, visit www.veganironchef.org.

Comics-induced Portland jaunt

This weekend, the boy and I went to what I lovingly refer to as Nerdfest 2k11, aka, the Stumptown Comics Fest. We’ve been going for the past few years and always love it, but I was pretty thrilled to hear that one of my favorite NY dwelling female comic artists would be in town for it and that it was being held at a much larger venue. It’s also the perfect catalyst for a weekend trip to Portland.

We visit PDX pretty often, as it’s a super short drive from Tacoma, we love their giant bookstore chain and record stores, it’s pretty and because of the given: Portland is a Northwest vegan mecca. We’ve hit up a ton of restaurants in our visits and have our favorites, but this visit we actually mixed things up a little and checked out a few new spots in addition to some old favorites. Here’s a rundown of what we ate, saw and did:

- Dined at Dove Vivi (home of the *amazing* cornmeal crust pizza) for the first time and attacked their kale salad with tofu ricotta, Della Salute pizza with roasted eggplant, caramelized onions and more and ales and everything was delicious and filled with fresh flavor and ingredients. After, we headed to Everyday Music until we joined the out the door line at Voodoo Doughnuts Too where I ordered an Ol’ Dirty Bastard. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a raised vegan donut with chocolate frosting, crushed Oreos and peanut butter. Oh yes. No pics, I inhaled it way too fast for film.

- Finally went to Paradox for breakfast. We’ve been many times but had yet to go to breakfast for some reason. I had the Country Comfort and deemed it one of my new favorites and Rick had the waffle with tofu and sausage which he also loved.

The Country Comfort includes: biscuit and gravy, tofu, Field Roast apple sage sausages and subbed veggies instead of potatoes. The perfect breakfast.

Rick's chosen combo was simple, yet so effective (and tasty - I snuck some bites).

- Spent so much time meandering the main Powell’s and Hawthorne location. Picked up a few things, including two of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s cookbooks: The Vegan Table and The Joy of Vegan Baking, which I’ve been wanting to get for years! Also got a book on organic gardening (!) and Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, which I probably should’ve owned already.

- After comics and nerddom, we checked out Taqueria Los Gorditos for the first time ever. It’s hard to find authentic Mexican food that is actually vegan-friendly, so a visit has been in order since I learned of the restaurant. I got the soycurls enchiladas with beans and rice and Rick got a soyrizo taco with the same sides. I was in heaven after the first bite. Vegan sour cream, tons of hot sauces and enchiladas! I can’t remember the last time I had them. So glorious.

- We needed a pick-me-up after that meal so we checked out Albina Press for the first time on the eastside. This coffee shop is so adorable, is good-sized (aka, plenty of open tables with outlets underneath) and serves hometown Stumptown beans. I got a soy cappuccino and deemed it the prettiest and tastiest one I’d had in some time while reading The Jungle for the Tacoma Animal Rights Book Club (TARBC), (missed the meeting, still definitely wanted to read the book).

So much great foam.

- Saturday evening we attended a Spanish-inspired Heartichoke Vegan Supper Club recipe testing party at Jess of Get Sconed!’s place. This was my first time actually getting to hang out with Jess (and her sweet friends) for an extended period of time and it was so nice to just relax, laugh and get better acquainted while enjoying an amazing homemade meal. Her friend and fellow vegan Maeve cooked lots of the recipes, and we were treated to: Jess’ homemade smoked potato cheese (loved it!) and other appetizers (olives, smoked shiitakes and more), Santander salad (including fresh asparagus and frisee), white gazpacho, chickpeas in zimino sauce with saffron rice and two, count them, TWO tester pies from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s soon to be released cookbook, Vegan Pie in the Sky: Berry Balsamic with olive oil crust (just wow, blown away by this combo) and Grasshopper Pie, which hadn’t completely set but was incredibly tasty, especially the gluten-free crust. Feast your eyes, folks!

Just looking at these makes me crave them again. Photo by: Jess Scone

We also had the chance to witness Jess’ adorable cat Zelda lovingly chomp on some greens. A veggie-eating cat is one after my own heart.

- Our last meal of the weekend was brunch at Juniors. We love Juniors, and there could be a few reasons why: could be the neighborhood, the always great art on the walls, the cozy vibe, but part of it is definitely their array of easily veganizable scrambles. I got the Texan with greens, whole wheat toast and 3-ish cups of coffee. It really hit the spot.

- No trip to Portland is truly complete without a stop at the Vegan Mini Mall. We went into Food Fight and grabbed some random things: marshmallows for future pints of vegan Rocky Road ice cream, white chocolate chips, Sjaak’s chocolate bar, Fig Newmans, Daiya’s pepperjack flavor (come to mama!) and Muzzling a Movement, which is the TARBC’s May book and I can’t wait to start it. We hopped over to Herbivore and grabbed a few gifts before heading back home. As per usual, thanks for being so wonderful, PDX!

This post was definitely also supposed to include a recap of FoodCamp (253) but it’s already getting pretty long. Thus recap next time, in addition to a highlight of another great Tacoma vegan group.

PS: Are you coming to the Tacoma Vegan Bake Sale May 1, which is a part of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale? If you’re a baker or the volunteering kind, we need you! Head here for info/to RSVP. All proceeds benefit Precious Life Sanctuary.