Hungry Hungry Harris Recaps the EatDrinkVegan Festival

By Hungry Hungry Harris / Photos by Cacie Moses

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the EatDrinkVegan Festival at the Rose Bowl with some of my vegan and vegetarian friends.  If you’ve read any of my other food articles, you know I’m not Vegan or vegetarian, nor am I thinking about it.  I did try going vegetarian once back in college but all I did was eat potato tacos from my local taco shop.  Long story short, it didn’t work out. I love food period, whether it has meat or not, so it didn’t take much for me to get out and experience this unique festival.  I treated it like any other food festival I’ve attended.

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Right off the bat, I knew I wanted to get a beer.  After entering the festival grounds and walking through the vendor area, I imagined drinking a nice 4oz pour of anything crisp and refreshing.  Once we spotted the huge balloon in the sky indicating the beer area, we beelined to it.  My goal when attending any beer fest is to work my way all the way down the line and try every beer.  That is not a good idea, ever, I don’t care how much you drink.  With over 60 beer vendors I knew this task was impossible so I gave up pretty early.  I wanted to make sure I hit my favorite breweries and the ones that had some buzz going into the festival.

I immediately saw one of my favorite breweries and they just so happen to be serving one of my favorite beers.  Mother Earth Brew Co., out of Vista, California had their very tasty Cali Creamin.  Being that it is a Vanilla cream ale, we were all very surprised to find out that the beer was Vegan.  Vegan or not I am all about that beer and as long as it’s being served I’m going to jump in line a couple times.  Another brewery that I have love for is Dr. Jekyll’s, out of Pasadena.  I mentioned them in my Burgers & Beer article a few months ago and have been talking about them ever since.  They were serving their American Kolsch and Irish-Style Red Ale.  Both beers are infused with superfoods like acai berry, grapefruit, and green coffee beans.  With all of the vegan and super food talk aside, these are two really good beers.

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Being the beer lover that I am, looking for new beers and breweries is always a priority.  Although I am very familiar with Eagle Rock Brewery, I had never tried their Stimulus Belgian Amber brewed with Intelligentsia coffee.  I’m a sucker for amber beers and usually not a fan of beers with coffee but the two components work perfectly together.  Another beer that was new to me was Hop Saint’s Kolsch Enough.  A German style Kolsch made with pilsner and wheat malts.  The beer has apple, pear and Reisling notes from a special strain of yeast.  This is definitely a beer I can imagine myself drinking out of a huge stein at Oktoberfest.  Hop Saint is in Torrance which has become a small little craft beer community.

After enjoying a few beers, the food was next on the agenda.  After browsing the menus of most vendors, I settled on a few plates and I was impressed with every single thing I ate.  My taste buds went everywhere on this Vegan food journey.  I messed with Indian, Latin and my favorite, Southern cuisine.

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Vegan Channa Masala Poutine Fries from Badmaash

Badmaash is absolutely killing the LA food game right now.  I first had the pleasure of trying them at Coachella when I was blessed with their Chicken Tikka Poutine fries.  Indian food was never at the top of my favorite foods list but after those fries my taste buds have been craving those unique flavors.  Being that this was a Vegan food festival, chicken was off limits but that did not stop Badmaash from serving one of the best damn dishes at the festival.  Their festival offering was the off-menu Vegan Channa Masala Poutine fries.  No chicken, no problem! They were still serving fire.  Channa Masala or as they call it “Punjabi Chickpeas” are garbanzo beans, tomato & onion – stewed in warm spices and aromatics.  That’s one thing I love about Indian food, not only does it taste amazing but the distinct aromatics pick you up off the ground and carry you away.

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Vegan Ceviche from Mama’s International Tamales

My eyes lit up when I saw Mama’s International Tamales.  My love for tamales and Latin food in general runs deep so I had to at least give the Vegan versions a chance.  Their menu had a bunch of options so I kept it cool and only ordered the Chile Relleno Tamale, the bean and Vegan Cheese Pupusa and the Ceviche.  The tamale was good but for me, the stand out was the Pupusa.  I’ve heard of people’s problems with Vegan cheese but the Mama’s cheese was great.  I would never have known it was Vegan.  The curtido, a South American cabbage relish that usually accompanies Pupusas, and salsa were awesome compliments to the savory Pupusa.  Their restaurant, in the MacArthur Park area, not only serves awesome Vegan options but have a very good reputation of serving traditional South American cuisine as well.

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ChK’N Fried Tofu Sandwich with BBQ sauce from Chickpea & Olive

And finally, the award for biggest tease goes to Chickpea and Olive.  They were serving up these gorgeous ChK’N Fried Tofu sandwiches tossed in either some of the best damn Buffalo sauce I’ve ever had, BBQ sauce or a Nashville seasoning.  I tried the BBQ and Buffalo versions and honestly, they are up there with some of my favorite real chicken sandwiches. They take two generous tofu patties covered in the sauce of your choosing, top them with lettuce and tomato, the Buffalo and Nashville versions come with ranch and slap everything in between two soft sesame seed buns.  It’s a little piece of heaven in a bun.  I fell in love with this sandwich, I ate two of them I like it so much.  The reason I call them a tease is because I discovered they’re from Brooklyn, New York.  Yup, that Brooklyn, the one on the opposite side of the country.  Don’t think I’ll make it there on my half hour lunch. So thank you Chickpea & Olive, your sandwiches are as hard to get for me as they are delicious.

Being the outsider at the festival, my perspective was way different than most of the crowd.  I take for the granted the fact that I can anywhere and order whatever I want.  My friend expressed how happy she was, to be able to order anything she wanted and not have to ask any questions about what’s in the food.  It was a cool feeling to be able to share such a cool experience with my friends. So thank you EatDrinkVegan, thank you for letting us share such an amazing but rare foodie experience with each other.  I can’t wait for the next one!

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