Our VT Adventure with Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Ice Cream (ahem.. Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts)

  
Who on earth goes to Vermont in February to eat ice cream?!?!?! Well, we did, along with 9 awesome bloggers, thanks to our new best friends at Ben & Jerry’s! They’ve just launched their brand new vegan ice cream line of 4 flavors, and we had the opportunity to experience them all at their “Non-Dairy Jamboree!”

 

Before we get into the “deets,” we have to send TONS of #veganlove to the B&J team (Lindsay, Sean, Kirsten, Eric, Andy, Jostein and others) who took great care of us over 3 days in Burlington. From start to finish, we were thoroughly impressed by everyone we met and the effort that went into making the vegan ice cream (correction: non-dairy frozen dessert) line. With that, we have to spread that love to Ariel, Ariella, Deion and Kerry at Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY (10 minutes from our home) who came up for the trip, shared their stories and gave us AHHHHHMAZING vegan brownies (coming soon to Whole Foods). 
Now, it’s time to tell you about our adventures in Vermont for Ben & Jerry’s “Non-Dairy Jamboree!”

On this 3-day journey with us were: 

We all got to enjoy what vegan awesomeness Burlington has to offer. From Hotel Vermont’s delicious food and service to making our own vegan ice cream, it was truly a memorable experience getting to meet the people behind some of our favorite blogs and being introduced to new ones…as friends!

  

While it didn’t really snow during our stay and temps were warmer than usual, this little winter getaway was fun without the frost. It also brought a lot of great significance to see how a mainstream brand understands compassion and the shift towards a cruelty-free food, socio-economic and political system. Without getting too deep on ideology, this trip was more than just celebrating vegan ice cream. It was about getting to know people…a brand…and a movement that we all can be a part of.

Of course, you guys want to know about the VEGAN ICE CREAM! Yes, we’re going to give our review, but you have to wait a little bit. Cool?

First, here are some of our highlights, which I think we can put into our classic Top 10 form (we’re bringing that back…we promise!)

Top Ten List: What We Loved about Our Adventures with Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont

1. Making and tasting vegan ice cream with Kirsten Schimoler & Eric Fredette, Flavor Gurus

  

We’ll give you our review of the 4 flavors in Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream line. In addition to those, we had one of the most awesome experiences in making our own vegan ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. 

  

Our group was split into 4 teams; each developing our flavors in the food lab. Carmella, Jenne and Melissa made Southern Roots, inspired by summer and bourbon peach cobbler. Carlo with Cadry and Madeline made a fig and ginger flavor called Figgettaboutit! Rika, Doni and Hannah made a boubon pumpkin pie flavor called Drunken Pumpkin. Becky and Jane made a Mexican hot chocolate called Choco La Bamba. 

  
Photo credit: Becky Striepe, Glue & Glitter

Being in teams meant COMPETITION TIME. Each team had to pitch their flavor to Ben & Jerry’s. We all had to make a team poster representing our flavor. Carmella’s team won a special prize pack, which should be arriving soon (we’ll update this post when it arrives)

2. Walking the production floor at Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury, VT factory

  

We got a rare view into how ice cream is made at the factory level. We donned official uniforms (with boots) and learned about the entire process of how ice cream is made. While the Waterbury factory is not where the vegan ice cream is made, it was so cool to see it the operations first-hand! We also took the factory tour which was a lot of fun!

3. Meeting CEO Jostein Solheim and learning about Ben & Jerry’s political, socio-economic and environmental vision and mission

After a delicious breakfast a la Juniper Cafe on Day 2, we then met Jostein over a SECOND breakfast of vegan doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts (from Portland, OR) and coffee.

   

Jostein was candid and friendly in sharing the company’s vision and mission. We were personally connected with the socio-economic mission as well as the stance the company takes on voting equality and diversity.

We also learned more about the relationship Ben & Jerry’s has with its parent company, Unilever. It’s unique that Ben & Jerry’s has full control over its brand and position, while leveraging Unilever’s global resources. It’s interesting to see how Ben & Jerry can be some strong in its stance, which can be controversial to some, without kowtowing. Many of Ben & Jerry’s messages are ones that we can support and appreciate that they haven’t wavered.

4. Meeting the Greyston Bakery team

We were so happy to meet the folks at Greyston Bakery. They are New York State’s first B Corporation and Ben & Jerry’s brownie supplier for over 25 years. They do a lot of good for the local community from their open hiring practices to the Greyston Foundation. They also make delicious vegan brownies!! 

   

We’ll have more for you on Greyston in a future post, as we’ll be visiting them in a couple of weeks for a tour!

5. THE FOOD (Hotel Vermont/Juniper Cafe, Pingala Cafe, Zabby & Elf’s Stone SoupStowe Street Café)

It was all on point. The Ben & Jerry’s team really delivered on the vegan experience in and around Burlington with local eateries, featuring local products…beyond maple syrup…with a lot of skill and finesse. 

   
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Every meal we had was on point delicious, but we are both still dreaming of smoked potato soup from our first night’s dinner! O-M-G!

6. The Slide!

  

Ben & Jerry’s corporate offices have a CORKSCREW SLIDE, right off of the bright and fun reception area. After being greeted and getting our visitor badges, we all took turns going down the slide. Who wouldn’t want to work in a place with an indoor slide?!?!?!

7. Skating (literally) on the Flavor Graveyard

  We were hoping for some snow-shoeing fun, but the temps were too warm and the snow got quite slushy in most parts. However, we were determined to see the Flavor Graveyard, where the discontinued Ben & Jerry’s flavors “rest in peace.” Where it was slushy, it was icy and a bit treacherous. Nevertheless, we got there. Carm can ice skate and she made her way, end to end.

8. Hotel Vermont with its impressive staff, service and food & drinks!

 

The hotel was absolutely accommodating to our needs & wishes (wool-free & down-free bedding, cruelty-free locally made soaps & lotions, etc.) They may not be vegan, but they “get” vegan and are super vegan-friendly!

We’re looking forward to visiting Burlington in the Spring. And guess where we plan to stay?!?!

9. Citizens of Vermont

  
Yes, this drink gets its own mention because it was THAT good. Carm ordered one and that started a bit of a chain. What’s in it?

Citizen Hard Cider (made in VT), whiskey, bitters, ginger simple syrup and lemon juice

Their Maple-Sage Tonic is also really good.

10. Making new friends!

 

Photo credit: Becky Striepe, Glue and Glitter
Photo credit: Becky Striepe, Glue and Glitter

All the great connections we made were well worth the trip alone! We need to have a reunion…especially if Ben & Jerry’s decides to release that Southern Roots flavor (please, please, please!)

Thank you again to Ben & Jerry’s for launching a vegan ice cream line. Thank you for such a wonderful experience. Thanks for taking the step to change the world for all animals (including us humans). AND thanks for being SWEET!

 

 

A Visit to Baltimore, Maryland: The Charm City that…EATS!

Baltimore Maryland Postcasrd
Baltimore Maryland Postcasrd
Source: Flickr.com

We spent the latter part of last week in the great city of Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore has a couple of mottos including “The Great American City,” “The City that Reads” and “Charm City.” After spending a few days in town for Natural Products Expo East, we definitely think the name should be changed to “The Charm City that EATS!” 

Baltimore is not known as a top foodie city. So, it’s pretty interesting to see that it’s been taking center stage to the Natural Products Expo East for a few years. When you think of natural products, don’t you think of food? If you think of food, don’t you think it should be in a foodie city? Well, after our brief city, I think we can say, at least vegan-wise, it’s certainly getting there and deserves it’s props!

The focus of our stay was Expo, for sure. We did manage to make a couple of stops to see what “Charm City” had to offer us, and they did not disappoint. Here’s the run-down of what we tasted and enjoyed during our stay!

Great Sage, Clarksville, MD

Located about 20 minutes from Baltimore, Great Sage is a great gem, perfect for friendly gatherings and romantic dinners. It’s fine yet casual dining with low lighting to set the mood in the evening. With our friend Ariela, we decided to enjoy our meal al fresco on their back patio, which was pretty relaxing. Surprisingly, this restaurant is in a mini mall, but we weren’t met with loud cars or bright head beam lights. 

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We enjoyed the following:

  • Buffalo Bites
  • Italian Vegetable Soup
  • Sage’s Famous Artichoke Spinach Dip  
  • Chopped Salad
  • Adult Mac & Cheese
  • Sin Tres Leches Cake
  • Blueberry Cobbler

The highlights were the dip (we know why it’s famous), the salad and the bites! Everything was delicious.

Another plus about Great Sage is that it’s in the same mini mall as ‘Nest (cool houseware/clothing store) and Roots Market (sadly, we didn’t have enough time to go there).

E-Life on Wheels (Everlasting Life), Capitol Heights, MD & Food Truck

After Natural Products Expo East, we stopped by Vegan SoulFest on Saturday, September 19th. Oh boy! What an energetic, uplifting event that was, despite the hot sun! One of the great finds there was E-Life on Wheels, a 100% vegan food truck. They also have a restaurant in Capitol Heights, MD, which we have to visit the next time we’re in town. 

During the fest, E-Life offered a delicious plate of food for $5! Barbecue drumstick, mac & cheese and collard greens. So much flavor that Carm didn’t want to share. Those collard greens were so spot on. The mac was creamy. The sauce on the drumsticks was tangy and sweet. What a great way to sample what this restaurant on wheels has to offer.

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Vegan Refocused, Baltimore, MD

We met Vegan Refocused also at Vegan SoulFest. They didn’t disappoint with their vegan fried chicken! Mini seitan cutlets, spiced and evenly seasoned. You can taste flavors including oregano and paprika to give a slightly smokey taste. Their mac & cheese was solid and simple with nutritional yeast. So, if you’re a nooch lover, this is one for you! We look forward to seeing more from them.

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The Land of KushBaltimore, MD

The Land of Kush hosted Vegan SoulFest. Being the host, we decided to hit up their restaurant to get the experience. It’s the perfect mix of our favorite NYC-area spots: Seasoned Vegan in Harlem and Jolo’s Kitchen in New Rochelle, NY. The menu offers a lot of varieties in a homey, warm setting. Get a combo plate or a fresh juice. You cannot go wrong.

We opted to split the Special Combo Plate. For $12.49, you get an entree, 2 sides and a drink. You cannot go wrong with this mix: Kush BBQ Ribs, Rice & Vegetable Medley and Collard Greens with lemonade to drink. Sadly, we don’t have a photo of the Vegan Crab Cakes (2 for $6.49), because Carm and her mom devoured them before we could get a shot. 

Hands down, one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time!

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Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria Tavern, Baltimore, MD

Thanks to our friend Melissa of It’s Got Vegan In It, we took her suggestion to hit up Johnny Rad’s before hitting the road back to NYC. She said it was the best vegan pizza in town. You know we love pizza. So, we had to check this place out. However, since we were limited on time, we ordered a pizza to pick up and go.

Immediately, we were in love. The sign in a punk Black Flag aesthetic on the outside with a hilarious sandwich board in the front, this was a spot for us. Inside, there were skateboards adorning the walls and a sign poining to skee ball. If we had more time to explore, we probably would have stayed for hours with pizza and brews.

With a number of vegan options, we loved that we could make a pizza as like it and with Teese vegan cheese! We went with a half cheese, half vegan sausage with pineapple, and go on the road up I-95. 

The pizza had no chance in the car. It was literally gone by the time we arrived at our home garage. Yup! That good. 

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Baltimore, we had a great time in your city! We know there’s more of us to try. So, a future trip to Baltimore is in the works and certainly before the next Expo East! If there’s a spot that we MUST check out, let us know in the comments!

Vegan Philly Love! A Food Crawl Adventure

Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love, is seriously becoming the City of Vegan Foodie Love! With the number of spots being vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly popping up and around Philly, our friend Demetrius decided it would be great time for a food crawl around the city (he has done this before!!). So, we along with 2 more friends, Sheri and Jason, trekked down along I-95 for the weekend in our little “Blue Betty Sue” Toyota for what would be a deliciously fun time, which included 10 eateries, a bit of shopping at Wooden Shoe Books and Records and a visit to the Mutter Museum to check out some medical oddities.

Of course, the main point of our trip was EATING! We hit up a total of 10 places between Saturday and Sunday. Whether we shared together or feasted on massive plates, it was all good. Philly knows how to do vegan right! And we’ll actually be there in less than a week for Foobooz After Dark at Vegan Commissary.

Oh, Philadelphia, you have our heart and our stomachs in your hands!

Now, check out our little slideshow of drool-worthy goodness! Enjoy!

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Portland = Veganfoodlandia!!!! (What We Ate in Portland)

No recap of our time in Portland and at Vida Vegan Con would be complete without a post dedicated to just the food. Yes, veganism goes beyond the plate, BUT being in PDX is like being in Veganfoodlandia! So many vegan options that it makes your head spin…and maybe puts NYC to shame. With that, here’s a little slide show we’ve put together for your salivating pleasure…


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Here’s a list of where we ate, drank and fell into foodie comas:

We’re Back…Back in the NY Groove

The past few days in the vegan splendor of the City of Portland have been magical. The energy, inspiration and motivation have made their way back with us to NYC. And now real life begins…

We enjoyed our time so much meeting and hanging out with friends, old and new. The wait for such treats like Homegrown Smoker and Back to Eden was well worth it from almost 3,000 miles away. Vida Vegan Con just blew our minds. We didn’t want it to end, but there’s always the next one, right?

We took a ton of photos. We came home with a plethora of swaggerific goodies. We ate to our hearts’ delight. We hugged, thanked and connected with so many awesome people. We learned a TON of things along the way through workshops, panels and just general conversation.

We’ll share some of our favorite things about our trip over some of our next posts. Until then, you can check our some of our good times at:

With that, we present to you “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley to bring US back to reality: