On January 21, NJ VegFest kicked off their first of many 2018 vegan pop up shops. This one was in Asbury Park right inside Convention Hall, which you know is huge, if you've ever been to an event there! There were over 40 vendors at this one, which is so amazing for a January at the shore. There were a lot of regulars there, which I always love seeing - Chocolate Calling, Creature Comforts Stationary, Freakin' Vegan, Gone Pie, Samosa Shack, Teeminder, etc. There were also some new faces that I was really excited to see and hope to see again at some NJ events - House of Cork, Sweet Maresa's Bakery, NJ Animal Save Movement, and Artisa Dough. I have to admit, though... I spent so much time socializing that I didn't get to see or try all that I wanted to. I always seem to make this a full day event! As always, we hosted a meetup upstairs. This time it was at 1:00 and I'm still trying to see what the best time is for people. We all gathered up some food and headed upstairs to hang out, eat and talk about anything and everything. To keep updated on all of our meetups (we host many more than just at the vegan pop ups), join our Facebook group and click events. We also have them listed on our events page, but because the group is private, the events can only be viewed by group members.
I have to admit, I was the most excited about Sweet Maresa's because French macarons. She did have other cakes and desserts there, but I had a one track mind. I used to love French macarons (okay, what I really mean is that when I would see them, I would absolutely get them and I loved them, but if I didn't see one for months, I wouldn't think about it for months) before going vegan and haven't had one since. I was immediately overwhelmed by the adorable display, the beautiful desserts and SIXTEEN different flavors. I panicked and bought all 16 because I have no willpower at these events, especially when it comes to vendors who aren't always there or are new to the NJ vegan pop ups. Whatever. No regrets here!
Juice for Us was also there and I love when they're at these events so much. I usually gorge on food that is in no way good for me and neglect the fact that I am actually extremely thirsty. Juice for us is always such a nice and welcoming break from all of the indulgent food. They usually have a couple smoothies and a few juices. Recently, they started a delivery service that I'm kind of obsessed with, so I ordered a ton of juice for my family to bring home from the event. I also snuck by at some point to grab a juice from my stash because sometimes you need more than bottled water... My favorite is always the green juice they have. It's called This One's a Keeper (and yes, it is) and has kale, apple, pear and cucumber.
Besides bottled water and juice, I'm pretty sure that Gypsy Pops had the only other drink at the event. However, it was a hot cocoa with torched ridiculously delicious marshmallow on top. Oh man, it was heaven, especially because I had spent the majority of the day feeling very cold, even when I was pretty sure that it wasn't actually cold inside Convention Hall. I was late to the Gypsy Pops game and missed out on the gorgeous cake pops they had going on, but I was extremely thankful to have this hot cocoa. I should have got a video of her torching the marshmallow, but I'll file that under missed opportunities and will learn from my mistakes. Either way, this was delicious and I hope they have it again because I'm going to get it, even if I'm sweating and it's summer.
I told myself that I was going to start the day slowly and not eat like a maniac, but then, as I'm walking around, Screamer's Pizza is like, hey, we have Eat Nice raviolis on a pesto pizza and remember you missed out on that last time? Okay, they didn't say any of that, but I definitely heard it. Needless to say, I started the day with pizza and regret getting only one slice. However, I did immediately buy 2 packs of raviolis from Eat Nice, which was conveniently placed right across from Screamer's. 2 packs was not enough because now I'm trying to rationalize how I'm supposed to share these 2 packs with my brother and my husband. Do I try to pretend they're not in the freezer and just eat them while they're at work? Maybe. I might.
As Andy from the Bearded Vegans and Compassion Co (who debuted a new shirt at the pop up) would say, the star of the show was these nachos from Freakin' Vegan. Okay, so I love Freakin' Vegan so much. They are at every single vegan pop up and I love them, but because they are at every pop up and so am I, I try not to eat the same things over and over again. Anytime they debut a special, I will usually get it, but other than that, I limit myself to buffalo chick'n mac and cheese only every few pop ups. Maybe 3 times per year (maybe 2 of those times are in the same day). These nachos were probably my favorite thing I've had from FV and it's a good thing because I heard they were a pain in the ass to make (I appreciate everyone over at FV and I LOVE YOU). This is how much I love them: the only food in the whole world that I have ever hated with all of my being is olives. You see how there's black olives in there? I picked them out and ate the whole thing. There's a chance I ate olives and I still loved these nachos.
The next vegan pop up is in Morristown at the Laundromat Bar on February 25.