Monday, June 13, 2016

Vegan Festival Food at Bonnaroo!

I'm back! I spent the past four days on a massive farm in Manchester, Tennessee for the 15th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Fest. I go every year with media passes, so technically, I'm still working while I'm there (photographing bands, writing daily recaps for the Memphis Flyer website). But I'm also having a ton of fun and stuffing my face with lots of delicious vegan festival food.

In the past, my co-worker Shara has come with us (and usually her boyfriend or another friend), but this year, she opted out so it was just me and Paul.

The overall line-up wasn't all that impressive this year, but I was pretty stoked about Saturday night's acts — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ellie Goulding, and Pearl Jam. They were playing back to back with some overlap, so I knew I'd only catch parts of each show since there's a super-long walk from stage to stage. 

Unfortunately, a lightening storm came through, forcing Macklemore to postpone his set when he was only five songs in. At least I did get to see them play "Same Love" and "Thrift Shop" (that's when I snapped the above photo from the pit). When he started playing again after the storm passed, Ellie's set was beginning. So I made the tough choice to watch her show rather than the rest of Macklemore (I've seen him perform before at Bonnaroo, and I'd never seen Ellie). The night ended with an AMAZING set by Pearl Jam. 

Other bands I enjoyed over the weekend — Bully, Waxahatchee, Flosstradamus, LCD Soundsystem, GRiZ, Jason Mraz, and Third Eye Blind. But you're here for the food, right?

Since we camp out at Bonnaroo, I pack lots of easy-to-heat camping meals for breakfasts and lunches (and I'll post a recap about my campsite food tomorrow). But the highlight of the fest for me is always seeing what sorts of vegan goodness I can buy in Centeroo (the main festival grounds). The fest is massive, attracting about 80,000 people from all over the country (well, the world really), so as you'd imagine, the vegan options are everywhere.

The very best thing I ate at Bonnaroo this year was this BBQ Soy Curl Wrap. It was stuffed with Soy Curls coated in 'cue sauce, vegan coleslaw, black beans, and spinach. I enjoyed this in true festy style — on the dirty ground surrounded by hippies on blankets.

The wrap was extra special because, the night before, I'd walked past the main stage food vendor area, which was the very furthest food area from our campsite, and noticed a sign advertising vegan wraps. I made a mental note to check back there for dinner the next night, but I didn't bother to check the menu to see if the wraps were just boring old veggie wraps or not. So on the last night of the fest, when my stomach was grumbling, I convinced Paul to walk with me over to the wrap place. It was a good two miles from the campsite. I knew it was a gamble because I didn't want a dumb veggie wrap. I wanted something fun with vegan meat! Thankfully, when we arrived, I was overcome with joy when I saw Soy Curls on the menu! Score!

There's a pizza vendor that sells vegan slices, and most years, I order one at some point in the weekend. Their Vegan Pizza is cheeseless, and while I'd prefer it with Daiya, the crust is so good that I can almost overlook that.

One day, I grabbed a quick Falafel Wrap to take back to camp because it was the closest vegan thing I could find near the stage where I was and I wasn't willing to walk out in search of more food. This was a solid falafel wrap. Didn't let me down at all. Falafel, tahini sauce, pita, tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, soft pita.

Most of the food vendors are set up in little booths throughout the farm. But in one far corner, there's an area called the Food Truck Oasis, where trucks from all over the country set up shop for the weekend. Eatbox is there most years, and I've always enjoyed their food. So I stopped by there to grab a quick lunch one day.

I was in the mood for something healthy, so I ordered the Toi An Chay Veggie Rice Bowl. The menu advertised it as spinach, mushrooms, onions, black beans, sunflower seeds, and brown rice all hand-rolled together and topped with green pepper, carrots, and sweet garlic sauce. That sounded amazing, so I ordered one. Unfortunately, this bowl wasn't exactly what I was expecting. "Hand-rolled together" meant the veggies were smooshed into the rice, which was fine I guess. But I imagined a bowl filled with fresh veggies and seeds. Also, they gave me raw broccoli (yuck, I only like it cooked) instead of bell pepper and totally left off the garlic sauce (or maybe it was mixed in too?). Oh well. The taste was good, but it wasn't what I was expecting. And for the price — $8 — the serving was really small.

It's a Thursday night (opening night) tradition for me to snag a late-night Samosa snack. They're all over the park. Paul ordered a bowl of plain white rice because he's weird.

On another night, when I got a late-night craving, I grabbed these Wild Mushroom Dumplings. The insides were stuffed with a mix of mushrooms, and the outside was a doughy, crispy deep-fried ball of goodness. I'll definitely seek these out again next year.

One night, Paul and I got some Tater Tots from a corndog stand (they had vegetarian corndogs, but they weren't vegan — bummer). Man, these were some of the BEST tots either of us had ever had. Maybe we were just hungry. Maybe it was the beer. But we both agreed that these were greatest tots.

Out the six years I've been going to Bonnaroo, I'd have to say this was the hottest one. Temps were in the high 90s throughout the weekend, and it was easy to get dehydrated and sunburned. I stayed out of the sun as much as possible by skipping most of the daytime shows and hanging out under the shade tent at the campsite. But we ventured out in the sun some, and thankfully, there were vendors selling fresh Watermelon Slices to help cool folks down.

That's all the food I purchased inside the fest. But here's a pic of my Saturday morning yoga class! Yoga classes are offered every morning at Bonnaroo, and I always try to make a point to attend at least one. It's so nice to get out and stretch in the early morning light while most fest-goers are still hungover at their campsites (or, in some cases, awake from the night before).

And just for fun, here's a pic of me and Paul on the festival ferris wheel!

3 comments: said...

So much great festival food! Pretty sure a falafel wrap and a plate of tots are my idea festival eats.

Barb@ThatWasVegan? said...

I love festival food, totally jealous!!

Susan said...

Festival food is never that good here!