The Eat Real Festival in Oakland has been an annual event since 2009, but I first found out about it last year since a friend was going. It’s a three-day event with food vendors, a marketplace, demonstrations, a beer shed, wine barn, cocktail bar, and DIY contests. There’s a lot of meat and cheese and animal celebration going on, but if you can avoid or ignore that part it’s a great place for vegans. All items are $5 or less, so you can try smaller portions of lots of different things.
The festival posted a list of vegetarian items on their website, and Vegansaurus posted a list from an intrepid vegan who went the first night, so I set out Saturday with an idea of what I’d like to try.
I crossed out what I wasn’t interested in and highlighted what seemed the most intriguing. I knew it was going to be crowded though, so I didn’t set my heart on anything in particular.
I was starving when we arrived, so I got the first vegan thing I saw, a bowl from Plum. I was dubious of how all those ingredients were going to work together, and happily discovered that it was delicious. The vadouvan curry broth was intensely flavorful, and the fresh veggies on top kept it from being to heavy.
It was really hot outside (September seems to be the height of summer around here), so I was seeking out something light and cool for my next dish. Luckily, we stumbled upon Miss Pearl’s, who was offering marinated black eyed pea salad. The apple cider vinaigrette was tangy and perfect on the peas and corn. Plus, only two dollars!
Next up were sweet potato tots with spicy mango ketchup fro Little Green Cyclo. I think sweet potato tots were less ubiquitous a year ago than they are now, and I needed them.
I was starting to get a little full, so we headed to the beer shed for some liquid refreshment. They had a great selection of local beers.
You pay a few more dollars for the first beer and get this adorable mason jar to drink out of and take home. I still use it all the time!
Hodo Soy is a local tofu maker, and I was so glad to see them representing at the festival. (If you keep up with your vegan news, you may already know that Chipotle is now making vegan burritos using their Sofritas all over California.) I tried the Kale Pesto Yuba, which I assume is kind of a play on pasta. The yuba was a little chewy but definitely seemed pasta-esque, and the only fault I found with this dish is that it could’ve used a little more salt.
Before we left, I HAD to get an ice cream sandwich from Big Wheel Cookie Co. They were running out of lots of their cookies, but luckily they still had the vegan option – dark snickerdoodles with coconut-based chocolate ice cream. So good. The cookies were very sturdy and nicely spiced, and the ice cream was generously portioned, a perfect end to a hot day.
Eat Real 2013 is less than two weeks away, and I can’t wait to go knowing that there will be plenty for me to try! The only thing I regret missing last year is bao from The Chairman, and I see they’re going to be back this year. I’ve also got my eye on Hella Vegan Eats, Homeroom, No No Burger, and Rice Paper Scissors.