After the stress and relief of the night before, the next morning dawned with the plan of attending a mostly full day of lectures at the conference. Upon waking, I put myself together a little breakfast snack from my WF purchases - mini-pitas with Tofurkey slices (I quite liked them) and We Can't Say It's Cheese Smoked Hickory Cheddar Spread (which was OK, but not knockout) and some raspberries. I also attempted to wash it down with a glass of So Delicious Coconut Milk. Blergh. Ick. Gag. Unfortunately, I found it so disgusting. Watery and chunky. I also had a delicious Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar for my mid-morning snack during lectures.
On Friday I had a pretty limited time for lunch, so I ducked down to Tokyo Joe's on the 16th Street Mall for lunch.
I had a bowl with tofu, brown rice, broccoli, carrots, edamame, snap peas, zucchini and orange yuzu sauce. It was fast service and good food, though the sauce was a bit sweeter than I was expecting. I had asked just for water, and was given a water glass, but could not for the life of me work out where people were getting the water from. There was a soda bar, but where was the water? Confused and not that thirsty anyway, I just left it.
Back at the conference, I fuelled my afternoon further with some Teriyaki Jerky Primal Strips (yum!) and a Leda Dipper (these are the new ones... left over from my original snacks I packed in Australia).
I don't have any pictures of dinner on Friday night. I went out with my supervisor and a woman who works for one of the companies sponsoring my trial to some Thai place that did a vegan Pad See Eiw for me. It was OK, but nothing amazing.
Saturday was the final day of the conference, and this time I was going for broke with a full day of attending lectures (the previous day I skipped the keynote speaker, so had a bit of extra time there). My breakfast was the same as the day before, but minus the icky coconut milk. And for morning tea I had a Choc Coconut Chew flavoured Larabar, which was pretty nice but obviously not chewy like the name. Even though I know Larabars will not be chewy, I kind of still wished it was given the name!
For lunch I headed out to Biker Jim's for a vegan hotdog. I had the 'Vegans gotta eat too' Hotdog. I had meant to order the spicy beer hotdog, but I forgot so I ended up with the mild herby hotdog, which was still really nice. The onions on it were super sweet though, which is because they cook them in Coca Cola! So odd. I also had a side salad with a tomato-cumin dressing, which was refreshing. This time I cracked the mystery of the water. Underneath one of the buttons on the soda machine is a teeny tiny water button that you press and then you get water coming out! OK, I actually had to ask someone. I had walked a fair way and was too thirsty not to! I really like how quite a few places in America had self serve drink and condiment stands. I got a little tub of organic ketchup to go with the hotdog.
Biker Jim's is right next to Hi*Rise Bakery, so I stopped in there afterwards to pick up something to take back to the conference for afternoon tea.
I got a bagel with their cashew-cranberry spread, which was delicious and just right for afternoon tea during the short break at the conference.
I made it to the end of the day, having attended all eight lectures that I had planned to, and without trying to fall asleep, so I was pretty happy! That afternoon I had used the public phones at the convention centre to ring Watercourse and make a dinner reservation for one. After the conference finished I meandered up happily for more noms, only to find that they had lost my reservation - oh no! But being a single, I was promptly seated at the bar, and I was happy to find that the bar here was much more comfy than at City, O' City!
In addition to my glass of water (I love how in the US they give you a glass and jug of water as soon as you sit down) I ordered a strawberry milkshake, which was made with something called Sweet Action Ice Cream. I love strawberry milkshakes, and I hardly ever get to have them out (unless you just get the syrup with soymilk and no ice cream, which is like frothy strawberry milk). This was more akin to a thickshake, and it was huge! Super sweet and super delicious!
For my starter, I had to order the housemade vegan cheese platter. The selection of vegan cheeses changes and is not on their website, but from memory it goes (from left to right) jalapeno cheddar, lavender chevre and fennel ricotta. It also came with a little container of some sort of sweet chutney, and one that seemed to be wasabi mustard pickles, if the burn in my nose was anything to go by, as well as toasty bread, olives, pickles and fresh peaches. Holy smokes! This is amazing, and one of the best things I have ever eaten. Go there and try it, right now!!
For my main I had originally ordered Tempeh Scallopini, only to then find out they were out of tempeh! After consulting the menu, I decided to try the Country Fried Seitan Steak, because Country Fried is something they go on a lot about in the US so I thought I should try it. The potatoes were chunky and good, the vegetables on the side were amazing. As for the steak itself, the seitan was just the right texture and delicious... and huge! Unfortunately, I had not thought through fully the implications of country friend, and it ended up being just a bit too fried for me to handle, even with the gravy, so I had to leave a bit that I couldn't quite finish. Note to self: Country Fried is good in small doses, remember that too much fried makes you feel sick. I didn't have anything for the dessert, because I was still going with the milkshake, which was pretty much a dessert all on its own!
After all this eating, I ended up going for a stroll up and down 16th Street Mall with my supervisor. It was pretty in the evening and as it got darker, and I am sad that I did not take more photos! I hugged a kitten (which I then realised was being used by some people trying to beg money... there were heaps of them with kittens up and down the mall). His name was Smoky.
I had decided to spend the Sunday in Denver so I could experience a bit more of the city, since I had gone all the way there, and I am so glad that I did! In the morning, I quickly skipped down to the Convention Centre to take a photo of the awesome big blue bear statue they have there.
When you are inside, it looks like he is looking down at you through the glass. I think he looks friendly. I wanted to get a little statue of him to take with me, but I couldn't find any.
I then made my way back to Watercourse for the third time of the trip, to meet up with a Denver vegan that the magic of Twitter had brought me into contact with. That vegan is the awesome Amber!
I was pretty devoted to the idea of having pancakes, so pancakes I had. I got the Pancakes Supreme - buckwheat pancakes with cherry almond granola, fresh fruit and maple syrup. Hells to the yeah! I also had a side of home fries (breakfast should have potatoes), which I foolishly did not take a photo of. Amber had a tasty looking tofu scramble, which I also foolishly did not take a photo of.
After breakfast, Amber had to head home so, with plans of meeting up again later in the afternoon, I took off to explore Denver. I had planned to maybe go to the art museum, but I got distracted by the Denver Pride Parade! I knew something Pride-y was going on, there were costumes and rainbows dotting the streets, so I asked and was pointed in the direction of the in-progress pride parade.
Yay for Pride Parades! After the parade finished I joined the throng and made my way down to the Pride Festival, which was basically lots and lots of stalls down near the Capitol Building. There were several great stalls for some fantastic animal based charities, and it is great to see such a strong community basis. I wish we had some of these organisations in Australia! It was pretty crowded and hot at the festival though, so once I had done the rounds I headed for a long walk down to Sputnik for some lunch.
I ordered the Vegan Mac and Cheeze, the first M&C of my trip. I was offered hot sauce with it, so I accepted to try this hot sauce craze that seems to have the US in its grip. The M&C was really nice, I just added a little bit of hot sauce to mix through, so it added a nice amount of warmth without destroying the cheezy flavour. Nom.
After this I popped across the road to meet up with Amber again and some other crafty ladies. One of Amber's friends organises a Craft Ninja craft group, which meets in the downstairs area of the Three Kings pub. Today they were making chalkboards out of old cabinet doors. It was pretty awesome, and a great group. I, obviously, did not make a chalkboard due to baggage restrictions.
I did not, however, restrict myself from sampling several of the lovely vegan chocolate chip brownies that Amber had brought along. She needed people to eat them so she didn't take them home and eat them all herself. So it was a service I was providing, see??
Amber also took me to the cute little shop next door to introduce me to the kitty who lives there. He was sleeping in the window and did not really wish to move. So we just adored through the glass.
After crafty times, I walked around for a bit with Amber and her friend Kristen, who were handing out leaflets for a craft expo they were organising. On our meanders, we went to True Love, a super cute shoe shop that is all 100% synthetic. Yay! I bought a really cute pink handbag. Our wanderings then took us past Sweet Action Ice Cream, makers of the ice cream in the milkshake of awesome the previous night.
Amber and I both had some of their amazing ginger vegan ice cream. So smooth, so creamy, so good. They did have another flavour as well (I think perhaps pistachio?), but really by the time we made our way through our single scoops (in the US, single scoops are big... they are like three scoops smooshed into one) we were pretty happy.
Then Amber took me to her house. I was not axe murdered and I was not sold into white slavery, so my mother was happy. I was, however, fed. No photo, but we had some Cluckless (I think that was the brand) chicken burgers on buns with various salad type things (I think lettuce, tomato, avocado and pickles) and mustard and Vegenaise! I like this stuff, it is thick and just the right flavour. It was exciting seeing inside Amber's fridge, with that and the Earth Balance and the various other vegan brand names just casually hanging out there. Why can't we get these things in Brisbane?? Cruel world!
However, the best thing about Amber's place was the kitteh snorgles. Her beautiful cats Monk and Mao were kind enough to let me have some time with them, to fill the kitty void in my life. Despite all the fun times, I missed my girls horribly!
The handsome Mao, demonstrating how much fun a cat can have with an empty paper bag from Wholefoods (I brought one home for my kitties to play in).
The lovely Monk, whose grace and precision know no bounds, and who certainly did not try and jump onto the sideboard, land on some cookbooks and plonk on the floor. No she did not.
And this blurry photo is Ginger Kitty, the neighbourhood cat that Amber looks after and who would not sit still for a photo! Ginger Kitty was fresh from a trip to the vet for a cat fight abscess, which thanks to Amber was treated. Hurrah!
Amber then drove me back to my hotel after this most fun day in Denver. I want to go back to American and have more fun times with her! And hopefully she will come and visit me in Australia as well!
Then I had to put myself to bed, because I had an early morning the next day to get myself off to Seattle. More on that in the next post!