Wednesday, June 05, 2013

VidaVeganCon (& Portland) with My Mom!

One of the best things about this year's VidaVeganCon
 was that I brought my awesome Mom along with me!! It was so fun!
We arrived a day early, and stayed on a extra day after the conference, so that we could also have a little time together in Portland to hang out and visit some family and friends.

With my Momsie at the Galarama

I was really touched by how warm and welcoming everyone at the conference was to my mom. Everyone was just totally awesome and kind and inviting, and a few people even said "I wish I could bring my mom to a vegan conference with me!" (a couple other people actually did! - Hi Hannah!)

My mom isn't vegan, but she is totally down with the program. She is definitely the #1 fan of my blog. She subscribes by email and reads every post I write, and she usually even leaves comments. We always joke that she is my agent, because she is always enthusiastically spreading the word about my blog. I think she enjoyed seeing me in my element, and meeting so many of my bloggie/interwebz friends -- and it was really nice for me to share this part of my life with her!

Here she is, fashioning a podium for our 
Vegan Battle Royale game show
out of cardboard boxes and packing tape
She is very resourceful!
My mom had lots of fun going around to the different vendors and checking out their goodies. In fact, I think she tried more treats and scored more samples than I did! Here she is, beaming happily after her very first time trying kale chips! A momentous occasion! 

During the conference my mom attended classes with me, came to my classes (and even participated in the discussions), and she helped out a LOT with our game show prep. She helped us assemble and box up all 300 goodies bags until 2 in the morning the first night of the conference. Way to go, Mom!

Of course, I didn't just death march her through the whole weekend - I showed her a good time too! I took her around to many of Portand's hottest vegan spots for some top notch vegan eating.


My favorite thing was the Arrabiata Pizza. I want to eat this pizza everyday forever. That spicy sausage was outta sight!
My mom's favorite thing was the battered asparagus fries
Since there were 4 of us, we ordered 3 desserts (duh!) - and this one was my true favorite: a rhubarb tart in house-made puff pastry. Dear god, it was delicious.

Our very first night in town, we went out to Portobello (I made the reservation months ahead of time!). We went with our cousin and one of my best friends (from Junior High and High School) - both of whom live in Portland. It was really wonderful to see them both, and neither of them had been to Portobello before, so that was especially fun.


On Sunday, after the conference was over, we reconnected with our cousin and my pal for an early dinner at Canteen. Everyone's been talking about this spot, and after a weekend of serious indulgence I was more than ready for some wholesome nutrition. I ordered the Portland Bowl: quinoa, black beans, tempeh, carrots and kale, and a delicious sauce. It really hit the spot!

My mom was happy because she got the BBQ bowl with tempeh. She really loves tempeh, but (alas!) my dad is not a fan at all. So, in his absence, she could happily have a dinner full of tempeh!

Vita Cafe!

Vita Cafe is one of my favorite spots in Portland. I WAS IN HEAVEN. Here in Santa Cruz, we have such crappy vegan breakfast options; if you want french toast, you're gonna have to make it yourself, sucka. So, I bossed everyone around and (since they love me), they happily let me order four things and shared with me: Northwest Pancakes with Hazelnuts (the. best.), a delicious tofu scramble, french toast (I didn't even have to make it!), and way in the back - biscuits and gravy. My first ever biscuits and gravy!!
this is a crazy doodle of me, in Heaven, 
with floating pancakes and pieces of french toast.

Dovetail Bakery!
After breakfast, I dragged everyone next door to Dovetail, my A#1 favorite vegan bakery. Oh, how I dream of Dovetail. Dovetail was my first stop when we landed, and I also stocked up again before leaving town. I bought a bunch of scones and some muffins to take home with me. We even bumped into Nicole and Dan from Upton's Seitan who were also stocking up on goodies for their flight. Great minds think alike!


After a fun day of poking around the Pearl District... we had time for one last dinner together - and after consulting with my various vegan pals, I herded my gang over to PDX's new hot spot: Departure. It was a totally great experience!

This place is a total trip! It's up on the very top of a big, tall building in downtown Portland. You take the elevator to the 15th floor, and when you step out of the elevator, you are in a long space age tunnel-like hallway lit up with pink lights and mirrors. It is a really fun place to goof off!

just a few of the many dishes we tried and loved!

But once you emerge from the dark tunnel, you enter the restaurant/lounge area which is spacious and modern and awash in natural light - with gorgeous views of the whole of Portland. It's a really lovely space.

Plus - let's talk about the real issues here - the food was totally dynamite! Departure isn't a vegan restaurant, but they do have a whole separate vegan menu, with 22 items on it. The dishes are served tapas-style, with the idea that everyone will share and have a few bites. We ordered and ordered and ordered, and in the end we tried 11 dishes AND a dessert. We were all really impressed with the food: great flavor, beautiful presentation, ample options, generous servings, fresh ingredients... I could go on and on. This was food I wouldn't (couldn't??) make for myself at home and it was just glorious to revel in so many flavors and textures that were lovingly assembled and presented. I absolutely cannot wait to get back here some day. Soon!

With our bellies stuffed full of deliciousness, 
and our suitcases all packed full of goodies, we headed off to the airport. 
But wait!
There was still one last adventure awaiting us!!!

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, checked our bags, and went through security with no problemos. What's this? A Starbuck's? Let's get a coffee and relax before our flight. 

Or, rather: Let's get a coffee and start checking emails and Facebooking on our fancy little iPads until we miss our flight!! That is what happened, friends. For realz. In all my years of travel, I have never made such a rookie mistake. After a few minutes of totally uncool flustered distress, I realized that the only option was to suck it up and laugh at myself! I was just having so much fun looking at everyone's VVC pictures on Facebook - look at the trouble it caused me! ha ha.

The fellow at the gate was very kind and understanding, but he just couldn't open the doors for us (even though the plane was still sitting right there!!). However, he could put us on standby for the next flight. Yay! However, the next flight was at 6 am the following day. Boo! Ha ha, we really got ourselves in a pickle!

(I love this picture)

The next morning (at 5 a.m.!!!) we returned to the scene of the crime.
We needed our coffee more than ever, but this time we knew better than to linger there - we took our coffees straight to the gate! Lesson learned, my friends. Lucky for us, we had our stash of scones from Dovetail Bakery, so even our 5 am breakfast was pretty damned classy. Only in Portland!

By the time we landed back home - we both had to hit the ground running: I was off to teach yoga and my mom was off to a City Council meeting (on 4 hours of sleep!). By the time I finally hit my pillow that night, I was truly stoked to curl up with Snoopy and get some sleep. I think I slept 9 hours... dreaming of VidaVeganCon the whole time!


  1. I know I've said this already on facebook or wherever but your mom was so awesome!

    1. Thanks Jenna!!! <3 I got pretty lucky in the Mom Lottery!

  2. omigoodness! what a trip! i loved reading your recap! so light and fun, and even more awesome because you brought your mom! i would totally bring my mom, too, she's just the best.

    and how hilarious/ridiculous it is to miss your flight and have to come back the next morning! i love that you have such a sense of humor about it...maybe because you had your mom who instantly made everything ok(because that's what moms do!). yay!

    1. Caitlin - you're so right! Everything (even a missed flight) is better with your mom there! :)

  3. I love this! Your Mom is too sweet.
    I can't believe you guys missed your flight! Haha. Way to laugh it off and not beat yourself up.
    Thanks for the list of restaurants I need to visit next trip to Portland. Yum!

    1. :) I know, it's so funny to miss our flight just by goofing off. Totally our fault!!!
      And definitely check these spots out when you're in Portland - it's truly a vegan paradise!

  4. What a fun post to read! It was a pleasure meeting your mom — maybe she'll make it a tradition to attend VVC with you. I think Vita Cafe, Canteen and Departure should be on my list for my next Portland excursion. Departure sounds a lot like Vedge in Philadelphia, and if you ever find yourself in Philly, I recommend eating there.

    So, you actually missed your flight because you dawdled at Starbuck's? Impressive. ;)

    1. I've heard great things about Vedge in Philly, I hope I get a chance to try it out someday. I loved all the places we ate out in Portland, and then I keep reading about all sorts of other places on other blogs. Portland!!?? Why do they have it all? :)

      Yes. We actually did. It was completely ridiculous. Apparently they even paged us twice, but we missed the first one entirely. (the second page had me running the length of the airport at top speed - only to arrive at the gate two minutes late) ha!!

  5. Just wondering - if you miss a flight, do they make you pay for the make-up flight?

    1. I think they sometimes do, but we were flying Southwest, which is a totally awesome airline. Not only do they let you check two bags for free, but (I have learned!) you can also catch the NEXT flight for free (on standby) at no charge. So, basically, if you start getting choosy and you'd rather not catch the very next flight, then you have to pay. You don't have to buy a whole new ticket - you just have to pay the difference between what you've already paid (probably a discount fare) and the full possible price of the seat. But if you "don't mind" showing up for standby for the next flight (at 4:30 am in our case), then you don't pay anything extra.

      Seeing as how the whole thing was entirely 100% our fault, I was super impressed with how gracious they were!

  6. Anonymous10:00 AM

    That is so cool that your mom went with you. We went to Departure as well and I remember thinking, "are we dressed well enough" because it looked all fancy and stuff. We also came close to missing our flight on the way TO VVC which would have been really sad because we were already rolling in late.It is strange how once the door is closed it's like the point of no return.

    1. I know! Departure was so swanky, huh??

      The man at Southwest was so nice and he said they have to close the gates on time or the government charges them "late departure" fees. Which makes sense.

  7. That's so awesome that you got to have your mom join you in the fun; looks like you two had a very great time. Plus I think you took it very well when you missed your flight over something so silly. I think most people would have lost their minds! Hahah

    1. Ha ha, well, I'll admit - I was pretty flustered for a couple of minutes. But, you know, it feels so much better to laugh something off than to dwell on it endlessly! :)

  8. You two are so cute. Mums are just the best! VVC looks incredible- games,great people, food! I want that brunch!Vegan breakfast options are severely limited over here, even in London you'd be hard-pressed to even get porridge with soy milk in most places :(

    1. Emma, that's such a surprise! I would have thought that London would be bursting with big city vegan offerings. Anyhow, I can certainly relate!

  9. Oh my goodness Amey! Your posts always make me smile but on this occasion you made me laugh out loud! I can't believe you guys missed the flight because you were reading about VVC at the airport!! My worst travel fear! I loved meeting you and your mum (sorry, mom!) and I can't wait to see you again in September.

    Also I loooved Departure (so fancy!) and that Portland bowl at Canteen is SO GOOD. I'll be hitting up Vita Cafe next time now - I need alla that!

  10. You and your mom are awesome! So glad we got to meet you both!

    Maybe I should bring my mom to the next VVC...Oh no, that would be trouble brewing...

  11. Anonymous8:36 AM

    It is so sweet and fun that you brought your mom to VVC :-D
    Was laughing at the part that you missed your flight though!

  12. Your mom is so awesome, I loved meeting her! It was really fun to have more than one mom at the convention this year. I think my mom appreciated it too. ;)

  13. Aw, how nice that you got to share such a great experience with your mom. I can see where you get your awesome positivity. Missed you and everyone. Hopefully, we will cross paths again soon.

    And BTW, the ramen post is making my mouth water.

  14. HAHAHAHAHA! That picture is fantastic! Makes my heart smile - reminds me of how close my mom and I are... :) :) :) You two had quite an adventure with your flight! Mad props to just chalking it up to experience - what a great attitude! Can't wait to see ya again. :D

  15. Anonymous12:35 PM

    omg, you missed your flight?! it was nice to see you and your mom there. i think it did totally fit in with the vegan love fest that is vvc!

  16. Looks like fun! I'm visiting Portland right now and I can't wait to try these restaurants! :)

  17. Just added some new spots to eat at next time I'm in Portland...luckily, it's a quick drive away! :) Thank you!


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