Who knew there was such a thing as vegan caviar? I sure wouldn't have known if I hadn't attended the Real Food Festival in London this weekend.
I didn't expect to find too many vegan goodies, but I was pleasantly surprised that many of the exhibitors either had dairy-free or vegan items prominently displayed. One discovery was Shambhu’s vegan catering. They were offering samples of their cheesecake—three varieties, including mint chocolate chip, mixed berry, and lemon coconut with a ginger biscuit base. All three were yumm, and I bought one serving sized container of each to bring home. If I ever need an event catered, I'll definitely call Shambhu’s.
I also talked to the Chiltern Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil folks. I find it kind of funny that they make such a big deal of cold pressed rapeseed oil, which is known as canola oil in the States and is easily available as expeller pressed. I'm not willing to pay £6 a bottle for their expensive canola oil, but I was interested in the bowl of actual rapeseeds they had displayed.
Since we walk through rape fields quite frequently this time of year, it was interesting to see what the final product looks like. They harvest the seeds in July, after the rape flowers have died off. The oil is as yellow as the flowers, and is also used as biofuel.
There were quite a few interesting exhibitors, but the real find was Caviar 4 Everyone. It was developed by a Russian doctor, who noticed his patients had high rates of cardiac disease, which he attributed to high fat/high cholesterol fish-based caviar. Soykavy is made from soy, using a unique process. Two varieties were on display; one was milder (and less expensive) and the Beluga was fishier, more pungent. I bought both, and David Hollier, who sells the product here in England at Caviar 4 Everyone, threw in an extra sample size jar of Beluga. I would feel completly confident in serving this to friends who normally eat fish-based caviar, knowing it's that good—and good for you. Serve on a cracker with a smear of vegan sour cream (make your own) and you've got an elegant, tasty appetizer.
I also found exhibitors with other vegan baked goodies, as well as familiar brands I've seen in health food shops. I bought some olive oil from Palestine, and sampled scads of olive oils, spreads, and dips that were vegan. I sipped juices made with English fruit, and white wines from Bordeaux.