Third Annual Anaheim Vegan Faire
This past Saturday, I got to indulge in the things I love most: delicious healthy foods, and learning about amazing sustainable food companies! I was able to experience all of this at the third annual Anaheim Vegan Faire on Center Street Anaheim. If you’re not familiar with Downtown Anaheim’s Center Street, you are in for a treat. A few years back, some developers took on the ambitious project to revamp downtown Anaheim, and introduce unique restaurants and new types of food to Anaheim. Within just a few feet of each other, there is Ink & Bean, Healthy Junk, The Cheese Shop, and Gyspsy Den, just to name a few. There are independent shops as well, such as a comic book store, yoga studio, and a fine men’s clothing store (and many more).
If you’re an Orange County native, you definitely have to check out Center Street ASAP, and if you’re a tourist coming to visit Disneyland, Center Street Anaheim is a must on your places to visit. Not only can you try a wide array of beverages, desserts, appetizers, vegan food, you name it…but you can also gain so much insight into the gourmet food world, as well as learn about food companies and the lengths they go to to achieve sustainable, ethical practices. This of course makes Center Street the perfect location for the Vegan Faire, which just had it’s third annual event. The restaurants stationed there had special menu items and demonstrations, and in the street there were tons of vegan food carts, a wine & beer garden, local artisans and crafters, and live entertainment.
I started my day at the Vegan Faire at Ink & Bean, a coffee shop decorated with typewriters and leather bound books serving Stumptown coffee, and frequently hosts writer’s workshops. Basically, it’s a super awesome coffee shop that promotes the writer/coffee house culture, and is very conducive to getting a writer’s creative juices flowing. I had a coldbrew Stumptown that was perfection, and needed no milk or sugar!
Outside of Ink & Bean, they even have a retro trailer with a “take a book, leave a book” library. This is located outside on their deck, where you can sip your coffee while people watching, or enjoy live music on select days.
Next door was the Center Street Cheese Shop, owned by the same person as Ink & Bean (evident through them both having superior customer service). At the faire, I got to enjoy a vegan cheese demonstration, and sample locally made balsamics and honey.
Although I had been in the Center Street Cheese Shop many times to look around, the Vegan Faire really provided a more in-depth look into the food the Center Street shops offer. They have over fifty flavors of balsamics they offer in rotation, and gave some insight into uses for balsamic that I would have never even thought of! They recommended their peach balsamic in a glass of champagne, or their espresso balsamic on top of ice cream.
The demonstrations at the fair was an incredible experience, really making me re-fall in love with sustainable food practices and locally produced products. When food is made and harvested sustainably, there’s always an amazing backstory and passion behind it. Like the Guerilla Beekeeper honey at the Cheese Shop. If someone local has a bee problem, they can call the Guerilla Beekeepers to create a hive for them to help contain the bees, while providing a home to keep them happy. The beekeepers then come back periodically to harvest honey, and you get a portion of the proceeds from the honey they sell! What was even cooler? At the Vegan Faire I was able to try three different honeys, each having a very unique yet amazing flavor.
I was then able to try some incredible vegan foods from Healthy Junk, including the Anaheim Chili-Pepper Burger (pictures above and below). I had a slider version of the burger, which is a vegan patty, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, and a crispy Anaheim chili-pepper.
This little slider was PACKED with layers of flavor, as evident from the bite above! Healthy Junk is seriously a foodie’s paradise.
This kale and “steak” taco also from Healthy Junk had a slight spicy kick to it, and the crunchy kale made it a wonderful texture.
Above are special skewers Healthy Junk cooked up just for the Vegan Faire, BBQ “steak” skewers and “chicken” pineapple skewers. My husband whose not even vegetarian absolutely loved these. He said they even tasted like real meat!
That as an amazing aspect of the Anaheim Vegan Faire, that it provided a fun atmosphere for people to experience the breadth of vegan cuisine–from people who are meat lovers, people who are vegetarian (like myself) and even kids, like my toddler Amelia! She was a happy camper eating the “chicken” and pineapple skewers in the stroller while watching the live entertainment.
There’s many food carts with unique items you would have never thought could be vegan– breadbowls, gumbo, even vegan ice cream dots!
Simply put, the most incredible part for me was being in an environment where people were excited about food! Tasting food, trying new foods, and learning about cutting edge and creative ways to produce food locally and successfully. For a food geek like myself, it was paradise!
You can check out more about the Anaheim Vegan Faire, Center Street Anaheim, and the shops I listed in the links below:
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