So that you have an idea of what to expect at future NJ Vegfests, we're recapping our experience at the Atlantic City Vegan Food Festival. In short, it's a hub of the area's most delicious vegan eats!
On the Menu:
- The Sweet Trail Bakery @sweettrailbakery
- Unnamed Vendor
- Vannah Banana @vannahbananaphilly
- Pressed PHL @pressed.phl
- V Marks the Shop @vmarkstheshop
- Vegky @vegky
- Shore Sauce @shoresauce
- Ox’s Way @oxsway
- Juice For Us @juiceforus
*(all @'s are for Instagram)
Now, for the pictures and details.
1. The Sweet Trail Bakery | North NJ | @sweettrailbakery
Coffee was the first move we had to make. Luckily, a huge, shiny airstream at the back of the sandlot had at least 10 different options to choose from, along with a variety of baked treats. A nitro cold brew, crème brûlée latté, and a bag of lemon blueberry cookies were waiting for us to order them.
We don't believe in saving the best for last, so we'll start with the cookies. These oatmeal cookies were incredibly soft and lemony, with the perfect dispersion of blueberries throughout. The iced latté was sweet, with a stand-out creaminess. As for the nitro cold brew, it was just the kickstarter we needed to match the excited energy surging through the festival.
2. Unnamed Vendor
We were going to skip this vendor in the article all together, but wanted to make sure it was clear that eating mostly sugar throughout the day is not what we did. Of all the food we ordered throughout the day, there was only one mishap. In short, our lunch order ended up being off.
It was a scorcher, and the line for this place was like many others, incredibly long, so we understand how a mistake could've happened. We're not here to bad mouth plant based entrepreneurs, just to give a realistic picture of the event! We have tons of respect for the obvious amount of work that goes into preparing for and working events like this. If the food gods allow it, we'll hopefully get to try out this vendor again some day!
3. Vannah Banana | Philadelphia, PA | @vannahbananaphilly
Our next stop was for cake and ice cream. The wait in line gave us time to consider the long list of the available ice cream flavors and baked goodies. When we got to the front, we landed on Cap'n Crunch Berry ice cream and Pink Champagne cake after finding some other items weren't available. The richness of the coconut-based ice cream was unanticipatedly on par with dairy, and the cake was crazy-moist without being dense. Both items were incredibly sugary, but that seems fitting for the options we chose.
4. Pressed PHL | Philadelphia, PA | @pressed.phl
The nearly 90° weather meant that the thirsts of many would need to be quenched throughout the day, and Pressed PHL definitely came prepared with a variety of fresh juice, smoothie, and mocktail options. They stood out from the many other juice vendors at the fest as an explicitly Philadelphia juicery, so we were excited to support.
One of the owners, Kebra, kindly gave me some suggestions when I asked what her favorite juices on the menu were. The picks were a healthy-looking bright orange juice called What’s Up Doc?! and a passionfruit-lime mocktail. The mocktail was a tropical transport, and punches of tumeric and ginger from the WUD?! juice made for a much needed mid-day boost!
5. V Marks the Shop | South Philadelphia, PA | @vmarkstheshop
It was probably five hours into the festival before the crowd didn't feel overwhelmingly dense, making it easier to casually scan vendor tables. The V Marks the Shop tent had plenty of unique snacks to peruse, perfect for buying to enjoy later. A bag of Sour Cream and Onion Rings, and another of Su Mama BBQ Jerky grabbed my attention. Carlo, one of the shop's co-owners, told me that cases of the onion rings had sold that day so it was a good thing I was grabbing them. To me, a good sign that they were cleaning house in the "snacks for the road" department.
6. Vegky | NJ | @vegky
Earlier in the festival, a man in a mushroom hat had poured some Wasabi flavored Vegky into our hands and told us about the deal going on that day: $5 a bag . The mushroom jerky was impressive to say the least, rivaling meat jerky in look, flavor, and texture. It was only 30 minutes into the festival, so we decided to come back later when the wait wasn't so long.
When the lines thinned out and we returned, our decision to buy a bag of Vegky was reconfirmed with another taste-test from the energetic, mushroom hat clad owner, Thomas. We ended up buying the spicy flavor and finishing the bag in one day, which means we probably should have gotten at least one of each of their five flavors!
7. Shore Sauce | Asbury Park, NJ | @shoresauce
One-man-stands were a somewhat rare sight at the festival. Two rows of two unusually bright hot sauces were carefully set up at one such stand. Neil, owner of Shore Sauce was giving samples of his two vegan hot sauces on tortilla chips. First, a vivid yellow pineapple habanero hot sauce, making for an out of this world salty-sweet-spicy combination. The second sauce, named Sunset for its hue, was purely spicy but not lacking in flavor. Briefly talking to Neil, it was obvious that he really pays attention to the feedback he gets about his sauces. When I asked him how he was doing it all on his own that day, he admitted he really likes working alone. We bought both sauces and used them as dip for the above sour cream and onion rings as soon as we got home.
8. Ox’s Way | Havertown, PA | @oxsway
Throughout the day, the Ox's Way truck was buried behind a sea of people waiting to order chickpea "toona" topped salads, "crabcakes", crispy avocado fries, and fresh pressed juices. Within the last hour of the festival, there was finally an unintimidating amount of people to wait behind.
The owner, who goes by Ox, stood answering the health and food questions of the people in line behind us. The avocado fries, clearly a favorite of the day, were sold out by this time, but chickpea wings and a green juice proved to be a great alternative. The chickpea wings and smoky barbeque sauce with them were boldly flavored. Glass bottles with gold caps were a nice addition to the quality ingredients inside the juice, as well!
9. Juice For Us | East Orange, NJ | @juiceforus
An orange truck with cheerful fruits and veggies grabbed our attention during our first walkthrough of the sandlot: the Juice For Us truck. On the menu were refreshing juices, smoothies made with homemade milks, and two delicious looking meal options. A line too long to wait in formed before we could give it a try, but Scott and I knew that we'd need a Buffalo Chickun Sammie before the day was over. Unfortunately by mid-festival, we had returned only to find a “CLOSED” sign hung in the truck's window.
Then, while buying what we thought was our last meal of the festival, Scott noticed a couple people waiting for orders by Juice for Us. I ran over to grab the "chickun" (fried oyster mushroom) sandwich we'd been hoping to dig in to. It was crispy, had the right amount of spice, and a refeshing hemp ranch topping. Not even being full and physically spent from the heat diminished how great this sandwich was, luckily.
Our first vegan food festival turned out to be quite a learning experience. One lesson, making a stop at every single vendor you planned on might not happen when there are over 100 vendors. A two day festival like this one makes it easy for locals to get a second chance if they miss out on some vendors, but if you're coming to a food fest from out of town then having a list of must-tries made beforehand might help!
Another lesson we learned is don't underestimate the power of staying hydrated! There will be tons of food, but saving room for water in between will help keep you in the game longer overall.
Apart from being a fun time, this was also a great look at the growing landscape of vegan businesses. You can see for yourself if you're located anywhere near the Meadowlands Expo Center at the 2021 New Jersey VegFest being held there on November 13th and 14th!
Be sure to check these businesses out and support, especially if you’re local to them! Some offer delivery as well so check their websites via their linked Instagrams above.
To close out, a huge thank you to NJ VegFest! @njvegfest on Instagram.