Let me preface this by saying that I am not now, nor do I currently intend to ever become, strictly vegan. I discovered Free Birds Vegan Bakery, an online vegan bakery that sell vegan desserts, last month when I attended The Village Market ATL and sampled one of their cookies. After including them in my review of the event (the cookies were REALLY good), I was invited to attend their monthly Vegan Taste Testers Club which includes hot food to educate people on, and encourage people toward, a plant-based life.
The Vegan Taste Testers Club was held in the Azjio Gallery in the Mechanicsville neighborhood of Atlanta, which was a perfect venue for this. There were about 50 of us in the room, spread over about 15 tables all set up facing the presentation stage. It was a cool vibe with a DJ playing some mellow R&B that you could grove to while eating. There were some people who clearly knew each other, but the atmosphere also provided the opportunity for people to meet new people in an intimate and comfortable setting over food.
To keep things light and fun, there was a photo booth to capture the memories, and we played a bingo game to help learn the benefits of a vegan diet. Later on, the CEO, Brittany Love, did a cooking demonstration for the jerk “chicken” sliders (which are surprisingly easy to make).
Let me remind you again that I am not vegan.
But honestly, after this event, I would consider it. We started off with jerk “chicken” sliders and pineapple slaw with Jamaican rice and peas. The sliders were made with jackfruit and seasoned very well. I still don’t love the texture of jackfruit, but the sliders were a push in the right direction. The pineapple added a nice sweetness to an otherwise okay slaw. The rice and peas were my favorite of this round. They were delicious and spicy (the kind of spicy that stays in the back of your throat for a while) and also got the approval of the Jamaicans in the room.
The next course included “fish” and chips with jalapeño cheddar hush puppies. The “fish” was made from banana blossom (another unexpected texture). It was also seasoned incredibly and crisped to perfection. The chips were fine, but the jalapeño cheddar hush puppies were delicious. If I had been anywhere else, I never would have known they were made without cheddar cheese. Two hush puppies were not enough.
The meal finished off with some peach cobbler, which I really enjoyed. The crust was more spongy like cake than flaky like crust, but it worked very well in combination with the filling.
Tickets for the event cost $75 per ticket, which included all 6 menu items, the cooking demonstration, DJ, a photobooth, and a goodie bag.
I had a good time at this event. There was some down time, some confusion over a game, and a few other logistical details that took away from an overall positive experience. Despite that, I think that as time goes on and these events continue, each experience has the potential to be better than the last.
Given my current financial situation, I don’t know that I’ll be able to attend next month’s Vegan Taste Testers Club for the Taste of Thai, which is super unfortunate because the food on Sunday was incredible. October will be carnival-themed, which could be fun too. Once I get my coins in order, I’d attend again.