The Final Sweet Morsels of Frosting and Cake Crumbs – Vegan Cupcakes at the Vegetarian Food Fair! Part III

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Have you ever dreamed of walking through a magical cupcake land with tubs of frosting floating around and cupcakes dancing around like heavenly visions of sugar plums?  No?  Okay, well I guess it’s just me then.  If you can believe it, those make-believe cupcake land dreams of mine came true on Saturday at the Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront – sans the fairy wings and all though!  Welcome to the 3rd part of the Vegetarian Food Fair series of 2011, vegan cupcake-style!  Toronto may not be the vegetarian and vegan capital of the world, but I’m really fortunate to live around a city with options and with so many talented, enthusiastic business-owners and entrepreneurs who are constantly keeping things fresh, exciting, and innovative with their vegan creations.

I remember the first time I ate a vegan cupcake: October 2010 at the cafe that used to be in the Blue Banana gift shop in Kensington Market.  What can I say?  My memory is good when it comes to things with frosting!  The cupcakes from Blue Banana were actually ones from Dundas St. West’s very own OMG Baked Goodness and I remember how chocolatey and fudgy they were and how much I loved them.  The frosting was one of the most amazing things that had ever danced on my tastebuds and from that day on, I knew vegan sweets were in a league of their own.   

After going through all my photos from the fair Saturday night, I knew right off the bat that two posts were not going to be enough to showcase all the yumminess, and I knew that there was no chance of me squishing all my cupcake photos into my vegan desserts and sweets Part II post.  So here we are with an entire post dedicated to the vegan cupcakes at the food fest.  I cannot believe how many delicious, beautiful vegan cupcakes were here; I was going bat-apeing crazy!  The first thought that popped into my head as soon as I walked through the first aisle of booths was, “Are you kidding me?!  I can’t eat all this, my tummy’s not big enough!  This is so unfair!”  Cue foot stomping.  And the realization that I was only going to be able to eat one, at best.  Hence the ridiculous amount of photos; I needed some way of ingesting the awesomeness that lay before me.

We’re talking about rows and rows of s’mores cupcakes, mint chocolate, lavender chocolate (Sweets From the Earth), butterscotch pecan (Bloomers Bakery), pumpkin spice, red velvet, cookies and cream, chocolate coffee buttercream with mini donut (I KNOW.  Oh my god to the max), French toast (double oh my god) from Bunner’s Bake Shop, and many others, all from local businesses and bakeries.  I was wading through a cupcake dreamworld, a beautiful world I really didn’t want to leave!  Even though I knew there were great vegan bakeries in the city, I was introduced to businesses I didn’t even know existed.  I had no idea so many of them did cupcakes in that capacity, and it makes me so excited to know there are new flavours waiting for me to try out and new businesses for me to get to know.  The Vegetarian Food Fair was just phenomenal and I’m super happy I have these photos and great memories to look back on.  Because I’m going to need these to tide me over until next year 😉

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The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

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Feel the Sugar Rush – Amazing Vegan Desserts and Sweets at Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Fair! Part II

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I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by so many delicious desserts and sweets in my life!  Cookies, squares, cakes, brownies, pies, donuts, tarts, sticky buns, muffins, and gorgeous frosted cupcakes all made their sweet appearances at the Vegetarian Food Fair at the Harbourfront Centre over the weekend.  So many different vegan bakeries, cupcakeries, catering businesses, and retailers in and around Toronto and Ontario took part in one of the most anticipated food events of the year and none of them missed a beat in providing all of us with fresh, amazing, and scrumptious goodies to satisfy that sweet tooth.  Many of the businesses are committed to providing fresh baked goods and desserts that are both cruelty-free and eco-friendly in their creation process and in their consumption (bring on the tupperware!), with an emphasis on accomodating different diets, intolerances, and allergies.  Think kosher, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free products made with love 😀

One of the things that I really appreciate about vegan businesses is how they make their ingredient lists publicly available, whether it’s through their websites, their packaging labels, or on their display cases, and if they don’t have these lists written down or typed out, they’re happy in answering any questions you have about the product and what goes into it.  I didn’t grow up eating vegan sweets, so I’ve been learning about vegan alternatives and substitutes over the past few years and have learned so much about what bakers and chefs use to make their products dairy-free, gluten-free, and all the rest.  These ingredients include everything from coconut oil and cream to sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, cocoa butter, flax seed, cane juice and raw cane sugar, arrowroot flour, agave nectar, and so many others.

I had so much fun going from booth to booth, purusing (and drooling over) all the sweet confections at the fair yesterday and it pained me to only choose one or two things to enjoy because I wanted everything!  There was frosted carrot, chocolate, and gingerbread cake, a mountain of cupcakes, butterscotch donuts, nanaimo bars, cookie cream sandwiches, fruit crisps, peppermint patties, pies, marshmallows, marshmallow pie, fruit, oat, and chocolate cookies, and sticky buns! 

I met some wonderful new people and reunited with some of my favourite bakeries and businesses in the city including Ashley and Kevin’s Bunner’s Bake Shop, Sweets From the Earth, Jen’s Apiecalypse Now vegan bakery, Kind Food in Burlington, Bloomers Bakery, and LPK’s Culinary Groove.  I found out about Bunner’s Bake Shop and Kind Food just before this year’s Veggielicious, the first time I drooled over LPK’s desserts was at the Bay-Adelaide farmers’ market (I know, I haven’t blogged about this market yet, foreshame!), and I met Apiecalype Now’s Jen via Twitter and visited her for the first time at the UofT farmers’ market at the St. George campus this past summer.  I feel really lucky to have been introduced to a lot of these businesses and to the wonderful people who run them; there is so much love, sincerity, and homegrown talent here.

I noshed on cookie samples from Kind Food, took a bite of my boyfriend’s chocolate chip creamie sandwich from Bunner’s, stuffed my face with a cupcake from Bunner’s, and grabbed an orange peppermint patty from Jen’s Apiecalypse Now (or as Jen’s label said, “orange-y pattie thing”) to enjoy for later.  I KNOW.  You’d think I would have drowned myself in all these desserts, but don’t forget, I was planning on going to Short & Sweet Cupcakes‘ cupcake party afterward so I needed to pace myself!  It was a foodie dream come true though and I couldn’t have asked for more!  Tomorrow’s final Part III post is dedicated to all the amazing vegan cupcakes at the fair (yes, there were that many!).  The sugar rush ain’t over just yet 😉

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The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

Eating Your Weight in Vegetarian & Vegan Goodness – The Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront Centre! Part I

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Whether you circled, ‘x’ed, or highlighted the days on your calendar, this weekend is the weekend that vegetarians, vegans, and foodies have been looking forward to for months in advance: the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront Centre presented by the Toronto Vegetarian Association!  The food fair runs the entire weekend (festivities commenced yesterday) and will continue on through tomorrow until 7pm in the evening.  After all these years of missing out and not being able to go, I finally made it this time and I am SO happy I did! 

Like I posted on my Facebook and Twitter, I wish the food fair took place EVERY WEEK (or, you know, day) and I wish I could just live at the veggie food fair because it was that fabulous and fun.  The big area of faux grass at Harbourfront Centre is quite nice to sit on, lay on, and dance around on, so parking a sleeping bag here really wouldn’t be an issue.  The cool breeze coming in from the lake would keep me comfortable and there’s plenty of scenery and entertainment around the vicinity to keep me occupied while I’m not eating.  I knew I would enjoy the fest, I just didn’t know I would enjoy it THIS much.

So much, in fact, that I took 120 photos.  I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or amused; 120!  I’m nothing if not overzealous.  After deleting some of the oopsie shots, I still have a good 110 to work with and I have no idea how I’m going to fit everything into a few posts!  On the way home, I quickly decided that I would split the posts up into two parts: one for savoury food and the other for sweets.  After going through all the photos, I’m not even sure I could do that.  You all wouldn’t mind two veggie dessert posts, right? 😉  Anyway, I’m going to start with the savoury foods and work my way to the sweet stuff in the next few posts! 

Knowing how crazy it would be later on in the afternoon, I got up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or so I’d like to think.  I actually stumbled to smack my alarm clock shut) and got ready for a jam-packed, foodie day.  The food fair was slated to start at 12 noon, so I made my way down to Harbourfront Centre and arrived at 11:30am with plenty of time to spare.  If I was going to get photos (and avoid massive line-ups later), I needed to snap them early before I started getting flailing arms and cut-off heads in all my shots!  It was such a gorgeous day out and the atmosphere was bubbly with excitement and enjoyment as people took their seats at picnic tables and on the faux grass area to listen to live music on the main stage, as people grabbed free samples of food before food demos, and as people scooted from booth to booth with lots of delicious food in their hands.

I was picking up flyers, business cards, and promo materials left and right, trying samples, and scoping out a ton of options before settling down with a delicious lunch.  There was SO MUCH to see and try.  There were booths and booths of vegan desserts up the wazoo by many well-known and well-loved bakeries in and around the city selling everything from cookies, cupcakes, cream sandwiches, donuts, squares, pastries, fruit crisps, brownies, and more.  There was vegetarian and vegan Indian, Chinese, and Mexican food, fresh fruit and fruit smoothes, veggie barbeque, veggie turkey and Thanksgiving-esque meals, and plenty of retailers with snacks, take-home pantry and freezer foods, and handmade goods. 

I was trying roasted soybeans from The Bean Ladies and I fell in love with the Gotta Be Garlic ones and the Cracked Pepper and Lime ones.  Kind Food gave me cookie samples, Tofu Shirataki by House Foods  handed me sesame ginger tofu stir-fry, and I licked my sample of cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter clean from Peanut Butter and Co.’s booth.  I walked away with a jar of The Bees Knee’s honey peanut butter and a tote bag so stinkin’ cute it makes me squeal.  What an amazing foodie marketplace it was today!  This fair didn’t just showcase Toronto’s vegetarian and vegan culture, but also great eats from Oakville, Burlington, Ottawa, and even New York!

And for lunch?  I stepped on up to the World Cafe.  Harbourfront Centre hosts a World Cafe every weekend during the summer (May 21st to October 10th this year), with ethnic and international cuisine catered by restaurants and eateries around the city.  The World Cafe is kind of like a food pavillion and outdoor patio lakeside deck at Harbourfront Centre, housed in a square building with vendors on all sides and tables and chairs for everyone to sit down and enjoy their food.  The name of the game was vegetarian and vegan on all fronts, and some of Toronto’s lovely veggie eateries were doing the honours in World Cafe today: King’s Cafe, Udupi Palace, Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine, Nzyme Living Foods Bistro & Juice Bar, Govinda’s (a vegetarian and vegan buffet), and El Cilantro Catering.  And to my delight, prices for food were incredibly reasonable!  There were some great sharing plate options for $10, and lots of meals for $4-$5 and appetizers for $1-$2.

I wish my tummy was a bottomless pit that had no threat of getting sick or fat because I wanted to eat everything!  I was mega happy with what I noshed on though: tostadas from El Cilantro!  Three crispy corn tostadas with refried beans, lettuce, crumbled feta, sour cream, and lots of juicy pico de gallo salsa!  And to take home in my little tupperware container were some soy nuggets from King’s Cafe.  I inhaled these on the subway after I reluctantly left the fest.  I told myself that I would save them for dinner later on.  Then I rationalized with myself and allowed myself one bite.  I took a bite and all hell broke loose as I scarfed the whole thing down.  They were so good and you can better I’ll get these the time time I go to King’s Cafe.  I could eat these for the rest of my life and die happy.

Parts II and III to follow in the coming days!  Prepare that sweet tooth of yours because it’s going to be jaw-dropping awesome.

*****

The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) is located at 17 Baldwin St., 2nd floor (near the corner of Baldwin St. and McCaul St., south of Cecil St.).  To learn more about TVA’s mandate, events, news, and more, click here.  The Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay West.  For more info on their festivals, events, workshops, gallery shows, and more, click here.

A Beautiful Day to Kick Off Veggielicious!

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The weather is so amazingly gorgeous today!  I went out this morning for a grocery and bakery run with my mum and I was so ecstatic to soak up that little bit of sunshine and warmth.  I even hugged my window (or rather, smushed my cheek against it) when I came home because the warmth felt so nice.  It’s days like today that make it much easier for the stress to seep out and after several days of absolute physical, mental, and emotional tiredness and exhaustion, I finally feel like I’m human again as opposed to a mish mash of mush.  It’s so beautiful outside I could honestly just roll around in the grass and be content for the rest of the day.  And to top it off, Veggielicious starts today! 😀  Click here to visit the Veggielicious website where you’ll find a list of participating restaurants and eateries in and outside of Toronto complete with Veggielicious specials and important notes and dates.  Oh!  And print out a poster too while you’re at it.  It’s adorable, hee!

I’m really looking forward to trying out a few places over the next two weeks and at the top of my list are Bunner’s Bake Shop, Live Organic Food Bar, and of course, my beloved Mela Café!  If you’re interested in drooling over Mela’s vegan eggplant panini, click here for my bootiful post of yummies!  I wish I could try so much more, but I have a really limited budget to work with right now and I needed to narrow my choices down.  I was contemplating Sadie’s Diner too but I’m still hemming and hawing on that one. 

To celebrate the beautiful weather and the kick off of Veggielicious, I’m sharing a bunch of photos of some delicious grilled veggies my family and I threw on the bah-bie last summer!  Plenty of mushrooms, bell peppers, corn, and eggplant!  Yup, it’s that time again!  Everything tastes better off the grill 😉  I’m super excited to get some Easter baking done, to eat some awesome vegetarian, vegan, and raw meals, and to park myself at as many farmer’s markets imaginable.  Life may not be perfect, but there’s so much to look forward to and it’s pretty sweet for the time being ❤

Tummies, Start Your Engines! Veggielicious Is Just Around the Corner

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I love food fests!  In less than 2 weeks, the first ever Veggielicious will be upon us in Toronto!  Brought to us by the Toronto Vegetarian Association, Veggielicious is a price fixe food event with the same concept as Winterlicious and Summerlicious.  A number of vegetarain, vegan, and organic and raw eateries are participating this first time around and I’m excited!  After checking out some of the menus on the Veggielicious website, I’m definitely interested in trying The Beet and Live Organic Food Bar.  My favourite, Mela Café will be participating (yay!) and I can’t wait to see what specials they’re going to have on their menu for the 2 weeks Veggielicious is running.  I brought my best friend there about 2 weeks ago (blog post and pictures to come soon!) and she loved it.  All she wanted to do was eat plate after plate of their fresh ravioli and after sharing one of the adorable, delicious vegan banana cream pie desserts, we could have noshed on 4 more because they were so good.   

Granted, even if I decide not to take advantage of the specific price fixe menus these places are offering, I’m still really looking forward to trying out new places and seeing what my favourites are planning on whipping up for the event.  It’s been so rewarding learning about vegetarian and vegan food and cooking, and incorportating it more and more into my diet.  Seeing what these places offer gives you inspiration to take home with you so that you can create your own homemade veggie meals.  I spend a lot of my free time reading up on food-related things and scoping out places for friends to try because sometimes it does take that extra bit of effort to find those holy grails you never knew existed.  The event will be great for exposure and of course, I’ll blog and post pictures of anything and everything I stuff my face with 😀  I’ll do a rundown of places closer to the date so in the meantime, mark your calendars from April 9th to the 24th becuase it’s going to be gooood.

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There are also places outside of Toronto participating in the event including Burlington, Oakville, and St. Catherines.  For more information and to print out your own Veggielicious posters to hand out and advertise, visit their website here.  I’m definitely printing out a bunch!