Veggie Conquest is one year old! Funny enough, we went to the very first VC one year ago, and this was our first time back. Those tickets sell out fast! I was happy to see that over the course of the past year the event has gotten bigger, better, and stuff-you-full-of-awesome-vegan-foodier than ever. This event was Sunday evening and I think I'm still having a hard time buttoning my pants.
For those of you who have not had the great opportunity to participate in one of these events, it's like an all-vegan Iron Chef challenge, where you have a number of amateur chefs who compete for the winning title, some cool prizes, and bragging rights. Like Iron Chef, they are given a secret ingredient (one week in advance), and have to prepare a dish highlighting the secret ingredient that will not only wow and impress the panel of judges, but also the room full of tasters, who buy tickets to the event.
AND NOW... TODAY'S SECRET INGREDIENT IS... BASIL!!!
Each contestant had to make an entree incorporating basil. And nobody took the easy route and just made pesto! Remember that none of them are professional chefs when you check out these drool-worthy six competing dishes:
Basil Tofu & Vegetables Stuffed in Sweet Rice, Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves
Stuffed Basil Leaves & Basil-Infused Falafel, Tabouleh, & Tahini*
Pepper Basil Seitan in a Basil Bechamel Sauce over Basil Pasta with Basil Oil Accent
Basil Ricotta Rollatini with Spicy Coconut Cream Sauce
Basil Eggplant Balls
Basil & Flax-Crusted Taro, with Beer-Stewed Lentils with Roasted Garlic Basil Oil
Can you believe we got to taste all those dishes?! Granted, we were served a bite-sized portion of each, but that alone was enough for a small meal. But did the fun stop there? Oh no. No no no no. That was just the first course!
For the second course, the three judges had each prepared various dishes for us to taste AND our favorite vegan fast food joint on the planet Foodswings also prepared mini "Big Macs" and the most mind-blowingly delicious mac & cheese I have EVER tasted. Ever! I'm still dreaming about that mac & cheese.
A vegan "Big Mac," mac & cheese, a whole bunch of other good stuff, and (hiding in there) the best chocolate chip cookie you ever tasted, from Gone Pie Vegan Bakery, topped with a scoop of Cinnamon Vanilla from the Raw Ice Cream Company!
Seriously, the treats from Foodswings, Gone Pie, and Raw Ice Cream were worth the price of the tickets alone. It was vegan food heaven. It was vegan food overload. It was insane. Oh yeah, and after all that, we still had the birthday cake, which by the way was made by Champs, the new vegan bakery in Williamsburg. So you'll understand why I might be fasting the rest of this week!
*This won both the judges' prize and the tasters' prize! It actually was the one dish where you tasted the most basil.