Announcing the Vida Vegan Con Contest Winner!

 

Oh hey! Hello February! Hello sunshine (in Portland)! Hello birthday month (It’s the 28th, in case you’re keeping tabs)!

 

I have some news for you.

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We have a contest winner! ‘Member last month, when I was all, ‘hey guys, send pictures or poems or whatever your little heart desires and you may win a ticket to Vida Vegan Con this May!’? Well, someone did. And this someone, who tweets funny stuff on the twitters, is called Josh Randall.

And I shall submit to you his poetic prowess now:

 

Fellow Vegans are you tired of trying to squint?

My eyes are fed up from reading – all this silly tiny print

As we – the growing few – have come to our better senses

That it’s not ok to use anything as our ingredients(es?)

So to come to this Vida Vegan event – it’ll be momentous

amongst a gathering of the beautiful and conscientious

the hippys, the happies, the healthy glowing radiance

the newbs, the die hard enthusiasts and of course – the vegan militants

Knowing you are all what you eat – means I do not have to scrutinise

As I find Vegans – besides reading ingredients – are easier on the eyes…

 

I don’t know much about poems, but I know this: if someone includes words like momentous and conscientious, it automatically makes a poem good. And rhyming? Forget about it.  Best poem ever.

 

Josh, congrats! You’re the winner! I will be contacting you with details shortly.

 

For the rest of y’all: if you didn’t win or came to this post too late, don’t fret. Michele has a contest going on (deadline: February 28) over at Vegtastic Voyage. 

 

We still have a limited amount of tickets left to purchase this year in case you missed the scholarship or giveaway entries.

See you guys this May at the most fun vegan summer camp around!

 

And… CONGRATULATIONS, JOSH!!!

 

 

 

 

Healthy Surprise Review

 

Well, this is a long time in the making. Oh, happy New Year, by the way!!

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Healthy Surprise contacted me a few months ago and asked if I’d like to review their box of goodies. This is a company that sends a box of vegan, natural, gluten-free and soy-free snacks to your doorstep monthly.

From their website:

Each Healthy Surprise box is filled to the brim with delicious, healthy snacks. Every month our snackologists work hard to put together a variety of healthy snacks to form the perfect snack box! We’ve partnered with the best snack companies in the country and work with them to deliver you a great variety each and every month. Every month you’ll receive totally new snacks – we never repeat any snack two months in a row, although we may include different flavors of something we think is really special. And every now and then we bring back our favorite snacks when there’s popular demand!

Of course I said “Heck Yes!”

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I was blown away when the box arrived. So many treats. And just knowing they were all natural was great, too. A large portion were even raw, which I love. 

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I took some photos right away, then just grabbed a new snack every few days as I was running out the door. I stay pretty busy, and I grew accustomed (and thankful) for a couple of weeks of always having a fun new and healthy snack in my purse.

 

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I really enjoyed the Thunderbird (almond cookie) bar in the upper left corner and I always love Larabars. I’ve tried a few other kinds of Hail Merry snacks and liked them, but wasn’t a big fan of this particular one. Hemp seeds always make me happy—I add them to salads, and this was a fun size to bring to work with me.

 

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These Home Free mini chocolate chip cookies were so good. They were the first thing I opened and I ate them all and loved every last crumb. So good, would totally buy these again. In fact, I would eat them for breakfast right now if I had some. Mmmmm cookies.

 

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That’s it Fruit Bars are awesome. Just fruit. Perfect for snacking on the bar. Will buy these again if I see ‘em around.

 

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Vegan Caramel Corn?!?!??!? YES PLEASE FOREVER.  This Cocomocorn was phenomenal. Loved every single piece.

 

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I’ll be honest, I still haven’t tried the dried pitaya in the upper left corner. I don’t even know what it is and I got scared. The crunchy cinnamon apple chips are great—crunchy dehydrated apples. Which, I could make in my dehydrator, sure, but I really only do that once a year or so. The Coco-Roons are one of my favorites! This flavor was almond and strawberry—or ‘pb and j’. These were moist and filling and sweet and just so so good. The lemon super cookies I gave to my friend Lyssa; she was doing a cleanse and I thought these cookies, while fitting nicely within the soy-free and gluten-free parameters, would be a nice treat. I snuck one first though, and I liked it. Sweet tangy crunchy little cookies.

 

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I’ll be honest with these last two—didn’t care for either of them. I think that’s my particular palate, though, because my friends I was with at each time liked both the Gone Nuts and the Cheesy Almonds.

 

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I loved loved getting the opportunity to try this box. Healthy Surprise seems like a rad company. I love that the treats they send you are treats that taste good that you can feel good about. If this sort of service fits in your budget (cost ranges from $33/month for the size I received up to $99/month for 2-6 people), I definitely recommend it. I got introduced to new products and had healthy and tasty fuel to keep me going throughout the day.

 

 

In other news, I’m starting a podcast! Inspired by Barb Troyer’s presentation at Vida Vegan’s Tech Seminar in Seattle last November, I’ve been quietly working away on this new project. The name of it is “The Janessa and Amado Show” (<—clever title, huh?) I have an awesome co-host, and every two weeks, we’ll talk about Portland culture and events—vegan food, cocktails, twitter news, upcoming events and interviews. And since we both travel, we’ll definitely be including other cities and countries occasionally. Each episode will last about 30 minutes. If you want to stay up to date on when we release a new one, head over to our Facebook page and click ‘like’. We’ll be airing the first one this Friday!

Veggie Grill Downtown

Thank you so much for the incredibly sweet and supportive comments on my post last week about my dad. The comments, and the intention behind them, mean a lot to me.

 

I’m going to switch things up a little bit now. I’m going to talk about Veggie Grill. Within the last few weeks, I was invited to try their new menu items and to be one of the first to dine at their new downtown Portland location.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love Veggie Grill. In part because I think it’s cool they don’t pay for advertising; instead they just invite people to check them out and hope they spread the word. (Recently they had a day where if you bring in a Veggie Grill virgin who had never enjoyed Veggie Grill, the virgin ate for free. That’s pretty cool.) In part because I really like the mission of the company—the founders and CEO’s really want to spread the word that eating vegan is convenient, affordable, and most importantly, delicious. And in part because the food doesn’t just sound good; it is good.

Veggie Grill makes my favorite buffalo wings (now in salad form!!), my favorite Thai-style salad, and my new favorite whatever-it-is VG Rollers. Is it an appetizer? An entrée? Both? Whatever it is, I’ll take a full order, please.

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B-Wing Salad: Buffalo wings over chopped romaine, avocado, celery, roasted corn salsa, and ranch dressing. $9.95 * New Item

 

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VG Rollers, served appetizer-style in first picture and entrée style in second picture (minus the 2 I already ate): Blackened chickin’, cabbage, creamy Santa Fe spread rolled in grilled flour tortillas, served with salsa and chili $7.95 *New Item

 

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Thai Chickin’ Salad: Chillin’ chickin’, romaine, cabbage, corn salsa, green onion, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, cilantro, wontons and spicy Thai dressing $9.95

 

Veggie Grill opened on May 31st in the old Carl Jr’s spot in downtown Portland on SW 5th and Taylor. Centrally-located affordable and convenient vegan food? YES PLEASE!!! I occasionally miss Veganopolis (you guys remember that place?) because it was convenient and had a pretty extensive (though expensive) menu. While there are a handful of vegan options downtown, most of them are carts. I don’t work downtown, so when I’m down there, I typically want a sit-down option with a roof over my head.

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I like that they offer beer and wine, though the peach iced tea is my jam. I can never seem to stray from it. Don’t even waste your time with the other drinks. Sure, strawberry lemonade sounds good, but seriously, try the peach iced tea.

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In addition to offering the B-Wing Salad and the VG Rollers, the new menu items also include a Crab Cake and Buffalo Bomber sandwich, and 3 new Homestyle Plates (with gluten-free options available, too). Oh, and we can’t forget the new dessert: Chocolate Pudding Parfait.

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This was a sample of the crab cake, cut up with a side of the tarter sauce that comes on the sandwich.

 

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Crispy Chickin’ Plate:Fried chickin’, cauliflower-mashed potatoes, porcini mushroom gravy with fresh rosemary and steamin’ kale (with a terrific ginger dressing!) $9.95

 

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Urban Plate (Gluten-free option): Blackened tempeh-caramelized onion-portobello mushroom stack, steamin’ kale, sliced tomato salad and chipotle ranch $9.95

 

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Blackened Chickin’ Plate: Papaya salsa topping, steamin’ kale and quinoa pilaf $9.50

 

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Buffalo Bomber: Crispy chickin’ tossed with spicy buffalo sauce, tomato, red onion, lettuce and ranch dressing $8.95

 

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Chocolate Pudding Parfait: Made-from-scratch pudding, topped with chocolate sauce, crushed cookies, walnuts and VG crema $3.50. (This is SOOOOO GOOD.)

 

One last pic:

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Jess’s cute freckled arm.

Oh, and one more picture of the B Wing Salad:

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Portobello’s Tapas and Cocktail Party

 

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Have you ever had a tequila cocktail with LEMON flaked sea salt? I don’t usually like salt on my margaritas, or anywhere near my cocktails, thankyouverymuch, but the Corsair I tried at Portobello’s Tapas and Cocktail party last week was exquisite.

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123 Organic Tequila Blanco, Luxardo Maraschino, Grand Marnier, Lemon, Lime & Orange Juices, Lemon Flake Salt

 

This dinner, officially called “A Tapas Party, featuring Novo Fogo Organic Cachaca, 123 Organic Tequila, and Piscologia Pisco” served small bites made by Chef Aaron Adams and cocktails concocted and served by Iron Bartender 2011 winner Lauren Fitsgerald.

I didn’t get pictures of each the food items, but I did get about 8 pictures of the flowers on the tables.

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The above cocktail on the right is the Bienvenidos with Piscologia Pisco, Peychaud’s Bitters, Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Palo Negro Blanc de Blancs.

It was a little too sweet for me, but let’s get real: anything served in a champagne flute is still a winner in my book.

 

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The appetizer. We weren’t provided with a menu, so I can’t begin to tell you all that this incorporated. I do remember there was a rhubarb glaze, a mushroom involved, and cashew cream somewhere.

 

The  next drink was one of my favorites. The Leo Rising with Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça, Navarro Vineyards Chardonnay Verjus, Ginger & Mint.

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Ginger and Mint, yes please!

 

Oh, here comes my other favorite cocktail, the Hibisco Punch with Piscologia Pisco, Pineapple Gomme Syrup, Hibiscus & Lime.

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It was served with a piece of caramelized pineapple, to boot. This is me swooning.

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These sturdy little empanadas were served as the main course. I don’t remember what was in them, but I do remember enjoying the heck out of mine.

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Last drink of the night. There was a contest to see what the winning name was. I think the winner was the Lady Maramalade, though I personally liked the entry Nuevo Fashioned.

Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca, Orange Marmalade, Rooibos Tea & Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

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This one was good, though when pared with the rich chocolate zucchini mini cupcake for dessert, tasted sort of watered down. I love the idea of using marmalade in a drink though—Ms Fitsgerald certainly contains multitudes of genius in her cocktail concocting brain..

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This is the unblurriest photo I got of the mini cupcake. It was so good, I helped myself to seconds. And thirds.

 

If I’m not mistaken, this is first in a series of events that Portobello plans to put on. At about $27 a pop (not including gratuity), it was a lovely way to spend an evening and try new-to-me snacks and cocktails.

 

And I want to include these two pictures below because they were taken the same day as the Portobello event, and I kept scrolling past them to find the best cocktail photos while writing this post.

I visited House of Vintage, and tried on some pretty snazzy sunglasses.

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I ended up with another, smaller and less orange (unfortunately) pair. Which, in conjunction with my other two purchases, made me realize I had bought a perfect day-at-the-beach.

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