There was a bloggers conference this weekend in Sydney called eat.drink.blog. Sadly one of the major sponsors was Meat and Livestock Australia with meat masterclass events which is disappointing on so many levels including health, environmental, corporation supporting independent bloggers etc and is really not inclusive for vegetarian bloggers. Thankfully Jill from confessions of a food nazi decided to organise an alternative event for those in Melbourne which she named eat.drink.picnic for those who couldn't attend the Sydney event with more of a focus on vegetables.
I've been to countless vegan potlucks but never been to an omni picnic potluck until yesterday. I have to admit I was a bit nervous, I mean not only am I vegan but also gluten free. I thought these people are really going to think I'm a freak and worst of all there will be nothing for me to eat. I also wasn't sure if I was going to get the barrage of annoying questions such as 'how do you get your protein?' etc or more aggressive attacks that I occasionally get. There is a misconception that vegans are argumentative but I often find it is the other way around. Thankfully none of that happened, I was pleasantly surprised with lots of food for me to eat and about an equal number of vegetarians including 2 other vegans and some friendly accepting omni bloggers.
I met western suburbs food blogger Kenny from consider the sauce and we both discussed the disappointing food scene in williamstown and Jill was super friendly and within minutes of me arriving allowed me to use her towel to clean my grease stained fingers from fixing my bike chain. I also learnt about the use of coconut powder in making ice cream from essjayeats and I had fun catching up with those already familar to me like Cindy and Michael from wheres the beef, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Lisa Dempster. I didn't get a chance to have a proper chat with Ed from Tomato, Carla from Easy as Vegan Pie or Claire from Melbourne Gastronome but I did enjoy playing a few games with Claire's bocce set. These was so much yummy food, highlights included Jill's refreshing watermelon salad, Michael's caeser salad, Carla's risotto balls and both Johanna and Lisa's chocolate desserts. The picnic was lots of fun and left me filling super full and sluggish as all good potlucks show. It was also a great example of what a community building activity blogging can be and for once Melbourne behaved and gave us a nice summer day.
I took along some dips and this ice cream. Unfortunately I didn't have enough spoons or any bowls so resorted to serving ice cream on plates with plastic knifes. I really enjoyed the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar paired with the organic strawberries. I don't think many people sampled it or enjoyed it because it was the first time that one of my ice cream dishes wasn't completely finished at a potluck. Although Lisa gave it the thumbs up and Toby loved the leftovers.
Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream adapted from Spabettie
3 cups soy milk
3/4 cup sugar2 tablespoons of tapioca flour
1 punnet of strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon of vanilla essence
Mix 1/4 cup soy milk with tapioca flour, stir until blended and set aside. Combine remaining soy milk and sugar saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add tapioca mixture and vanilla essence. Place in fridge to cool completely- it takes a few hours.
Meanwhile, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan, watch closely and stir occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and continue to stir until it reaches desired thickness, about 8 minutes or so. Set aside to cool.
Pour ice cream base into maker and prepare according to manufacturer directions. Add strawberries in the last few minutes and then mix in balsamic glaze to give it a swirly effect. Transfer to freezer til firm.
Read about Kenny's account of the event here.