Louisiana Renaissance Festival

Sorry for the lack of postings guys, I’ve had practically no free time to blog between work and school. But I’m three weeks away from freedom (aka graduation)!

Looking for a getaway, Peter and I, along with our roommate Connor, took a day trip to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival on Saturday.

Peter wore the chainmail he’s been working on for the last few months and I dressed up a mythical faun. DSCF6183Connor also wore a tabard and was rocking his Cthulhu hat. DSCF6187The festival was surprisingly large, with a sprawling map of vendors, performers, and events.DSCF6235We got there about noon but had waited to eat all day in anticipation for good festival food. We were not disappointed.

Connor got some beer cheese soup in a bread bowl.DSCF6190I was pleasantly surprised by there being a vendor that advertised having vegan food! Phil’s Mediterranean Grille had an item called vegan medley that could be served in a sandwich, on fries, or with hummus. They also had other vegetarian options like the black bean gypsy burger that Peter got.

The people running it were extremely friendly and hilarious to listen to. They were also very knowledgeable about what was vegan-friendly.DSCF6197I went with the Greek fries option (which were tender red potato fries with seasoning) and asked the server to top it with everything vegan, which I expected to be two or three things. Because of this mistake glorious accident I ended with a smorgasbord of toppings. DSCF6203Here is my monster of a meal (which I struggled to finish half of) with the toppings of black beans, curry rice pilaf, steamed vegetables, sauteed onions and peppers, and fresh tomatoes.

Oh my gosh, so much food and so good. Honestly it wasn’t a bad deal either for $10, because most festivals you get half the amount of food for that price.DSCF6206After stuffing ourselves, we wandered around the rest of the areas.DSCF6194There were plenty of shops selling various wares (dragon puppets, glass trinkets, drinking horns, etc.) and several weapons shops too. DSCF6211DSCF6218One of the best things about Renaissance Fairs is the constant streams of music coming from different performers. We saw people playing lutes, pipes, guitars, bagpipes, and even didgeridoos.DSCF6269A dueling competition took place. It looked very similar in technique and rules to the fencing I did in high school, just double the fun because of the two swords.DSCF6230DSCF6224We decided to try out some weapons of our own at the crossbow shooting range. None of us had used one previous, so I’m sad to say Connor is the only one who managed to hit a target.DSCF6255DSCF6260DSCF6261This festival had more learning demonstrations than any other I’ve previously visited. There was a blacksmith forge with people creating knives, horse shoes, and jewelry. The young girl below was a silver smith creating a key.DSCF6239My favorite demonstration was the woman making natural dyes. Everything from turmeric to onion skins to ground acorns. We stood and talked for a while as she dyed yarn and learned about different techniques and easy beginner projects.DSCF6248DSCF6254The day had a grand finale with a performance by Paolo Garbanzo, a comedic juggler who we’ve previously seen at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.

Armed with juggling pins, flaming sticks, a lobster hat, and D&D jokes, Paolo had us laughing until we were in tears. A great way to finish a fun-filled day and we wouldn’t hesitate to return next year.DSCF6275

Eating Through Rochester

I spent the last weekend of spring break visiting my sister in Rochester, New York. She’s moving from there soon and kept saying “Come visit me and eat all the good vegan food up here!” So I finally took her up on the offer.

I arrived early in the afternoon and we immediately went to John’s Tex Mex. The place was small, but not too cramped and with very friendly staff. We started off with chips and a flavorful chunky salsa.I ordered the un-beef burrito bowl with refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and olives. It was served with a side of Cholula hot sauce and two house-made salsa (salsa verde and chipotle) which were fantastic. I honestly expected it to be smaller, with about the size of burrito filling, but the meal was so ridiculously huge that I ended up getting two meals and a midnight snack out of the one bowl. Not that I’m complaining, we definitely got a bang for our buck here.

IMG_0401

Street art was prevalent throughout Rochester. The image below is just one of many I saw, including  illegal graffiti and several professional murals. Poor Kaitlin had to deal with me pressing my face up to the window every time we drove somewhere or trying to roll down the window to snap a picture.

Dinner was at Spot Coffee, a nifty café inside a renovated Chevrolet service station. The atmosphere inside was great, with a tall ceiling and a large selection of seating areas. Plus the staff was very knowledgeable on what was and wasn’t vegan (parmesan cheese in the dressing, eggs in the bread, etc.)

I settled for the one vegan menu item, the hummus wrap. Apparently their hummus flavor changes on a daily basis, and that day was chipotle. I was pleasantly surprised with how this one turned out. I’ve had a few too many hummus wraps that were under-flavored with sad wilted vegetables stuffed inside. But this wrap was nicely toasted and stuffed with mixed greens, tomato, and cucumber. It was served with a side of balsamic tossed greens.For entertainment that night we stopped by The Little Theatre to see It Follows. The theatre was adorable and plays mostly independent movies.

Before I left Alabama, I’d heard multiple times to go eat at Dogtown when I got to NY. Since my life dream is to own a vegan hot dog cart, I think it makes sense to take any opportunity to try a new veggie dog.

I found out upon walking into the place that Dogtown was honorably mentioned in the Top Five Vegan Hot Dogs contest. I’ve actually been to the restaurant that won 4th, Dreamy Weenie’s in New Orleans. I may need to make a travel itinerary based around eating at all the other winners too…

IMG_0407

Inside the restaurant was pretty packed, so we ended up ordering our food to-go. The décor (and menu names) were all dog themed, and even included this adorable wall of  customers’ dogs.

What I ended up ordering, after staring open-mouthed at the menu board and the plethora of options for a while, was the vegan German Shepard. It was a veggie dog with sauerkraut, yellow mustard, and cooked onions. The bun was also phenomenally hearty (soggy buns make me sad) and didn’t fall apart before I finished the hot dog. Served on the side were fries and ketchup.

The East End area had a ton of cute little shops. One of which was Greenwood Books, a used bookstore with books ranging in topic from vintage piano sheet music to Appalachian herbal medicine.

IMG_0410

Unsurprisingly, I found a book that I needed. This vegetarian cookbook combined two things I love: food and travel. What’s not to like? Since returning home, I’ve already tried the beer battered tofu recipe (from the England section) and it was fantastic. We’ll see, soon we may have a monthly “travel” meal to other countries.

On my final night in Rochester we ate at the Red Fern, an entirely vegan restaurant. I ordered the Compost Plate, a nice play on the garbage plates that Rochester is famous for. All piled together, it featured pasta salad, a chilled sweet potato salad, balsamic tossed mixed greens, and buffalo tempeh. Everything tasted fantastic, my only complaint was that the buffalo was not hot at all. Kaitlin said that she’s had a hard time finding anything actually spicy in the north, and that southern states seem to be better at accurately labeling things as “hot”.

 Kaitlin decided to partake in the buffalo sandwich, which featured the same buffalo tempeh as my plate, stacked together with pickled vegetables and bleu cheese sauce. After trying a bite, I could happily live without a vegan replacement for bleu cheese (bleck!) but the otherwise the sandwich was very tasty, especially the fresh soft bun it was served on.

 I had a wonderful time eating through seeing Rochester and hope to return again someday. Who knows, maybe that’s where my hot dog cart will end up. 🙂

Glasgow Trip

Glasgow was probably my favorite city that I visited this summer. Something about its vibe just made me happy to wander around the beautiful (and occasionally grungy) streets and chat with all the interesting people I met. It may have also helped that Glasgow had a lot of amazing vegan restaurants to choose from.

The one I visited the most was Stereo, a hidden gem in a dark alley plastered with band posters. They had a set menu and also daily specials to choose from, so you’ll never be bored coming back here for a meal. My favorite meal of the entire trip was loaded nachos.
Corn chips topped with cheese, beans, salsa, chipotle cashew sour cream, and jalapeños. It’s so ridiculously good that I ate this a total of three times over my two trips to Glasgow.
The other meal I tried at Stereo was the cheeseburger. The bean burger was delicious with a flavorful creamy sauce and stretchy vegan cheese. Served on the side was a lightly dressed salad with a hint of citrus, and home fries.

The other vegan restaurant I frequented was Mono. Sadly, something seemed to get in the way every time I ate, so I never managed to snap a photo of my meals. I went twice and got the portobello mushroom burger with beer battered onion rings (yum!) then the chili dog with aioli fries. Everything was delicious.

One of the coolest things about Mono though was the fact that it had a record store and zine shop in the same building. While I waited on my food to cook, I wandered through Good Press and its array of interesting zines.This was my personal favorite of the zine offerings.

The Duke of Wellington statue was on my must see list.
It was conveniently right behind the statue is the Gallery of Modern Art, which had a fantastic collection of pieces. The one that I found the most breathtaking was a project (which I frustratingly don’t remember the name of now) featuring cardboard models of every religious building in town.
IMG_0324.JPGThe best place to visit on a sunny day was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It’s a beautiful building and has lovely grounds to lay around on.
And while the grounds are cool, what’s inside the museum is even better. From deranged modern art to classical pieces and historically relevant items, there was something for every interest.