Sunday, November 6, 2011

Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream and eat.drink.picnic

There was a bloggers conference this weekend in Sydney called 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.


  1. Ha ha - so happy the Carnivores' Inquisition didn't eventuate! :)

  2. BTW, I agree with you re Meat and Livestock Australia and "disappointing on so many levels ... including corporation supporting independent bloggers". Even as an "omni blogger", I find this disturbing. Did you come across any debate on blogs/wherever about this?

  3. This looks like such an interesting flavour combination! I bought some delicious balsamic vinegars at our Good Food and Wine Show on the weekend, and have some caramelised balsamic at home.. Mmm. I admit I've left my ice cream maker hidden in a cupboard, but might whip it out to give it a try.

    So jealous that you guys had such a lovely time and such a variety of people and food!

    Kenny, there was a bit of snarkiness on Twitter when I posted something about being disappointed that it was sponsored by MLA, and I'm sure other people had that, too. It just seems so silly that everyone's prepared to be used as puppets. But oh well!

  4. Ooh, that sounds like a fun event. And that ice cream sounds delicious, too. I especially love the little strawberry bowl you've served it in!

  5. I enjoyed this icecream! But I suspect this crowd wasn't as committed to sweets as those at your usual vegan potlucks - I noticed that there were lots of leftover desserts.

    @Kenny - there was some MLA sponsorship chatter on twitter a few months back, after it was a done deal. It had folks like Gill, Lisa, Carla and I deciding not to register interest in attending.

  6. Lovely to meet you and your ice cream was delicious :)

    Though omni-ish I also have picnic (and BBQ) phobias about having nothing to eat being dairy and meat-free (I do eggs and fish, so there's not even a word for my diet). Am glad that there was enough gleegan food for you to feel both included and full.

    PS: I've always had vegan potluck envy when I read about them.

    PPS: A friend at E.D.B told me today "I don't even know if there was a vego attending, would have been very hard for them, frankly. " Do you know one of the prizes was a MLA sponsored farm visit with optional abattoir tour! Am shuddering at the thought of it.

  7. Kenny - you can follow the conversation woven through this thread on the conference website

    I was fully put in my place for raising the issue, that I didn't find that soliciting/accepting MLA sponsorship ethical with this response from one of the Sydney organisers. "...We appreciate your concern on this topic though and you’ve made a very fair point – one that the foodblogger community has been and should be well aware of. However, we do not feel this conference is the right forum for political or ethical agendas."

    Believing there is politics and ethics inherent in our food choices seems to not be alive and well in a huge chunk of the food blogging community it seems. Sad day indeed.

    But on the upside, we had a great picnic down here instead :)

  8. That ice cream looks so good, its finally perfect ice cream weather too!

  9. lovely post about the picnic - I wondered if there would be much vego food and then felt silly when I thought about you and your gleegan diet! It was a nice atmosphere at the picnic. Was perfect weather for ice cream - and I was impressed by your cold pack for the ice cream - it was a bit like soft serve but that is the way I love my ice cream and the chunks of strawberries were great in it

  10. Kenny no haven't seen much apart from twitter.

    Matt, you should put it too good use!

    Theresa, thanks I knew it would come in handy one day.

    Cindy, ahhh that would explain it.

    Jill, we might have another veg blogger after the abbatoir visit!

    shimmyshimmy, thanks!

    Johanna, glad to know i'm not the only one. The cold pack was borrowed from Jill!

  11. Thanks all - I'll read the conference blog thread with interest.

  12. What an awesome idea! (The picnic *and* the balsamic vinegar in the ice-cream!)

    Btw, every time I look at your blog, it makes me want to eat noodles. I kid you not!