Food festivals tend to be a hit or a miss. Sometimes, you walk away with tons of free tote bags, yummy samples and high-value coupons for things you buy already, and other times, you get like one free bottle of water, a thing of hummus and maybe a stomachache from that suspect veggie protein shake you downed in the name of bravery.
I’ve been to the 2012 Met Pav Vegetarian Food Festival before (three years went by quick!), and I have to say, this year’s was a bit sparser in terms of vendor participation and general attendance. Major companies, like Daiya, Yves and Chicago Vegan Food chose to skip it this year, probably because they don’t really need the exposure (Sara of Sweet & Sara told me that they are pretty well recognized now, and they haven’t been attending the past few years).
That meant smaller vendors, like Heidi Ho, Vspot and independent vegan business owners (some of which I’ve highlighted below) got a chance to shine. Not particularly a bad thing, just different.
The L.O.V.E. Kitchen – Chocolate Pudding
I have to hand it to Kris Manzur (owner of L.O.V.E.), this pudding was absolutely delicious. The perfect mix of rich, smooth and the teensiest bitter dark chocolate pudding and coconut whipped topping, it was totally worth every penny of the $4 I spent on it. Kris was telling me that all her cupcakes pretty much sold out in the early afternoon (I got there around 4:30), so I wasn’t able to snag one, but after eating that unbelievably delicious chocolate creation, I’m definitely hunting one down soon.
Sweet Solace – Cranberry Orange Cookie & Sugar Cookie
This table had one of the cutest setups out of every other vendor table in the festival, which probably explains why it was so mobbed when I fought my way to the front just to buy these two cookies. To be honest, the cookies were tasty, but nothing that blew my mind. I thought that the prices for their other goodies (opera cake – $4 for a golf-ball sized morsel) was a bit much, but I guess they are literally just getting started with their business since the Twitter handle on the business card they gave me doesn’t have any action on it at all. So show these gals some love in the future if you see them around!
Neal’s Yard Remedies – Lemon & Coriander Deodorant
Finding a good vegan deodorant (without those icky aluminums and preservatives) can be tricky, especially if you prefer the spray kind like I do. I was delighted to stumble upon NYR’s holistic-looking and pleasantly scented booth, which had high-quality, pure and fresh-smelling remedies for every body.
Unfortunately, they did sell out of the Lavender scent by the time I got there, but the kind sales chick, Ashley, was super sweet and offered to personally drop it off to me in the city once a new shipment was to arrive. That’s some personal service right there!
Way Better Snacks – Sriracha & Sweet Chili Chips
The ladies at this booth were super nice, and gave me lots of chips to sample. I almost felt like eating chips was a healthy activity after sampling pretty much every flavor on the table (luckily the chip gals didn’t judge me, but gave me more in earnest!). They had a special on the chips, which are available at Whole Foods and natural stores for $4.99 but were on sale at the food fest for $5/2 bags.
My favorite flavors, Sweet Chili and Sriracha, both had a nice kick to it and tasted “Way Better” than a conventional tortilla chip. That’s probably due to the fact that these yummy, square-shaped chips have 4 different kinds of seeds embedded inside, giving it a unique flavor apart from a normal chip. Check out their ingredient listing here!Peanut Butter & Co.This was one company that was a familiar face from the 2012 one: except, no cute monkey mascot, aww.
They were very generous with the samples (I tried all of them!) and had a nice cotton tote bag for people who bought a jar or two. The special at the festival was buy 2, get one free, so you get 3 jars for $10, which is a steal considering one jar goes for $5.
Even vegans need whip cream, and Soyatoo is a brand that has been around since about the same time I decided to go vegan in 2006. I’ve always had trouble getting all their product out of the can though, so I asked John, a rep for the company at the Soyatoo booth, how to get the most whip out of a can. The answer was quite a revelation! Watch the video for my “can”-did interview (cue slow applause) –
So, all in all, I had fun at this year’s Vegetarian Food Festival, but I can’t say I was blown away or anything. I’d just as quickly go to The Seed market instead, which is actually right next door (and completely free!). And for the $30 price tag for this festival, I did expect a bit more out of it (I paid $15 since I had a coupon code from The New York City Vegetarian & Vegan Meetup, which I encourage all NYC vegans to check out and join, since they have great offers and codes on their mailing list).