Sunday, October 17, 2010
Texas State Veggie Fair gives real thing run for its money, almost
Fried vegan treats draw non-meat-eating crowd.
DALLAS While records were being broken less than a mile away on the final weekend of the State Fair of Texas, a few hundred folks turned out on Saturday for the inaugural session of the Texas State Veggie Fair, a lively celebration of the burgeoning vegan scene in Dallas.
Local vegan/vegetarian groups such as Dallas Vegan, the Black Vegetarian Society of Dallas, and the Dallas Vegetarian Meetup set up booths. Otherwise the fair displayed the benchmarks of any other food festival in Texas: face-painting, a bounce-house for the kids, games, booths, and food. Except that all of the food was vegan.
Organized by DallasVegan.com co-founders Jamie Scott and Eddie Garza, the event took place at the newly renovated Phoenix Project on Haskell Avenue, a nonprofit space dedicated to serving Dallas' progressive art and music scene, fortuitously located less than a mile from the State Fairgrounds.
Food vendors clustered on the patio, with representatives from local vegan favorites such as Spiral Diner and Tough Cookie Bakery. In a corner, emo-rock bands performed on a makeshift stage.
The event kicked off with a Vegan Fried Food Contest where contestants offered up fried foods that, in some cases, mimicked the ballyhooed fried foods served at the real State Fair.
That included Fried S'Mores by contestant Jessica; Fried S'Mores were a finalist in the 2010 State Fair of Texas' best fried foods.
"I didn't try any of the foods at the regular State Fair since I'm a vegan," she said. "But I was trying to think of things they would have, and also the most random foods. The Fair always has outrageous things that you wouldn't think of frying."
A panel of five judges included chefs, journalists, and a practicing vegan named Eric Vaughan, who won a judge slot by entering a contest.
There were seven entries:
- A queso-like item called Fried Bob Armstrong Dip
- A fried Reuben Sandwich that replaced corned beef with tempeh, a soy product with a firm, meaty texture
- Fried S'Mores, wrapped in a delicate pancake-batter crust
- Fried Vegan Mozzarella Sticks
- Fried Jalapeno Poppers, served with fried okra
- Fried Cinnamon Roll
- A whimsically-titled treat called Fried Fugget Balls, which creator Jessica described as her version of Chicken Nuggets.
The Monte Cristo-like Fried Reuben from contestant Jarrod Feight won for Best Taste. Fried Bob Armstrong Dip won for Most Creative. Creator Brad Cameron cited a laundry list of ingredients that started with "nutritional yeast" and ended with soy cheddar.
But all of the entries were good, if only because they underscored the fact that, with fried food, it hardly matters what you're frying -- it's the fried, battered crust that makes it good.
Most of the entries were sold at the fair, along with other vegan items including a particularly persuasive vegan corny dog.
That was the draw for most attendees: the opportunity to sample a wide array of creatively-prepared vegan foods.
"It isn't always easy to find ingredients when you eat this way," said guest judge Vaughan.
- Photos: Dallas Heritage Village Charleston'd its way through history on Saturday
- Paleo-inspired restaurant HG Sply Co. opens May 21 on Lower Greenville
- Dallas Symphony Orchestra maestro is selling Ritz home for $2.9 million
- Comedy review: Hilarious men of Whose Live Anyway? heckle Dallas with raunchy improv
- Wing Bucket to open in Downtown Dallas, with PB&J wings on menu