Saturday was a beautiful day for the Vegetarian Food Festival put on by the Toronto Vegetarian Association in Harbourfront Center. It remained bright and sunny until really late in the day. I got there early, right before it really got crowded, and snacked on a bunch of things (perhaps too many things…) Sunday was a little less pleasant, but still drew a great crowd.
There was some great entertainment going on while I was meandering my way through the stalls. I really loved Two of Us (made up of Larra Skye and Kevin Zarnett) they did Accoustic Beatles Renditions and were very very good. I also saw a bit of lightsweetcrude and it was great too.
Sweets from the Earth was there with an impressive selection of desserts, and I think over the course of the weekend I sampled a little bit of everything I hadn’t tried before (so, the caramel bars, a cookie and a bit of the gluten free chocolate brownie.)
I talked with the people at the Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank (located at 2400 Midland Ave. Unit B5, in Scarborough), which sounds like such a great idea! The only one of it’s kind in North America. I found it incredibly disheartening to hear that someone had broken in to their location recently. Sounds like they are always looking for volunteers, so I think that might be something to consider.
Both days I had something from the King’s Cafe booth, Sunday I picked up a sesame roll, a spring roll, a turnip cake and a satay stick. Makes me want to go to King’s Cafe in Kensington Market and try a real dish, because everything I had from them was delicious. There was a puffed pastry samosa like thing that was really tasty.
I was lucky enough to catch both of Terry Hope Romero’s cooking demonstrations, the one on Latin Soup making “Latin Soup Fall Warm Up” where she made a delicious sounding “Tropical Pumpkin Soup” from her new book Viva Vegan, and another on making Vegan Latin Coconut Vanilla Flan. I’ll never get over how boring Flan sounds, and I’ll never get over how delicious flan IS in reality. She is such a great speaker, and I wish she had more time to show us how everything was made. I’m really into making that soup.
At some point a sign saying Vegan Ice Cream caught my eye, and I was drawn into the Boardwalk Chocolates booth. I wasn’t familiar with them before, but in the future I’m going to look out for them at some of the veg stores. I had a little container of Peanut Butter Marshmallow ice cream. I’ll admit I was not entirely crazy about it, but it was very good.
Oh so many amazing animal rescue groups were there. I was thrilled to be able to have a chat with some of them. The folks at Annex Cat Rescue were so friendly, and I wish I could foster a kitty through them. Toronto Cat Rescue and North Toronto Cat Rescue were there two. All of these groups are no kill shelters, and they mostly run through the support of foster homes, but the North Toronto Cat Rescue does have a free roaming shelter in addition to foster home support. I wish I could help them all.
There was also Snooters Farm Animal Sanctuary and oh I want to visit them so badly. They are a privately run sanctuary in Ontario, that started out with a single pig, and turned into the forever home for countless farm animals. So much love!
Liberty Over Violence was fundraising and I went over in their direction a lot because they made Caramel Corn that was divine. They are based in Toronto, and hold regular events in the city year round. Sounds like something worth checking out. If not to meet nice veg folks, than to pick up some of that heavenly caramel corn again.
Also in the Lakeside Tent was LPK’s Culinary Groove (718 Queen St E), a not entirely vegan bakery. The thing that really caught my eye was the Nanaimo Bars, because they looked like the real thing, and from what I remember, it was pretty close. Regardless, it was sweet and chocolatey and delicious.
Sunday night, the event I’ve been waiting for since I first saw Iron Chef on the Food Network many years ago, finally happened right before my eyes. Vegan Iron Chef! Yeah! The two contenders were Doug McNish (from Raw Aura, a raw vegan place in Mississauga) and Howard Dubrovsky (from L.A.B. Restaurant, a not entirely vegan/vegetarian place.) The secret ingredient was of the day was…. APPLES!
Doug McNish made a beautiful colourful layered dish of apple-potato mash with apple miso glazed tempeh with a salad. It sounds like it might be worth heading over to Missasauga at some point to try out Raw Aura, his restaurant.
And Howard Dubrovsky made a dish of toasted Israeli couscous, with an apple capaccio and soy apple foam. He also introduced most people to a new item to cook with, someone called it a ground date, but I’m not sure what it was in reality.
Howard from L.A.B Restaurant won. I was surprised because the presentation wasn’t very exciting, but the judges were extremely enthusiastic. Though, they were extremely enthusiastic about both dishes. It would be so hard to do the judging in that event.
Later Sunday Evening I went to a TIFF screening of Stephen Fears’ film Tamara Drewe based on a graphic novel. When in Toronto, it’s kind of hard not to get involved in the excitement of all the movies and celebrities milling about. I might be able to go to another screening tomorrow and also be part of the audience at The Hour on CBC with George Stroumboulopoulos. Fun!
Speaking of fun, there was a vegan event coming up that looked awesome: the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. It’s happening at the Harbourfront Community Centre on October 2nd between 2pm and 4:30pm. Sounds like something I’d want to participate in next year. This year I just want to eat some of the creations!