My first gluten free expo! Apparently they happen every once in a while, but I’d never heard too much about them.
My grandmother is a celiac, so she was interested in the event. I’m not gluten intolerant myself, but it was a chance to spend time with my grandma & I was sure I’d learn something interesting, so I tagged along.
I did learn a bit, but more than anything, I got a lot of freebies. It was like the samplers at Costco, but everything was gluten free and there was more of them.
Before we get into that, though, I thought I might mention that photographic effort was an absentee that day. I just felt very awkward taking photos, so I just kind of snapped randomly. Woops.
Ok, let’s start.
Entrance is $15. You enter, get a stamp on your hand to allow movement in and out of the convention if you should so wish, and are handed a free Choice’s reusable grocery bag.
You enter the doors, and someone hands you a box of Breton crackers. Yay! Now you have something to put in your new bag.
(Oh, if it wasn’t obvious: as with all conventions, festivals, and expos, it’s best to get there early. That’s when vendors have more giveaway items than they think they need, and are likely feeling extra generous. That, and these freebies run out. Get ’em while you can.)
We began a purposeful route through the expo. There were tons of stalls, but I’m only going to mention a few here. First to draw our attention was San-J, which sold Asian sauces. The sauces weren’t the draw, though–they were handing out free flexible cutting boards and cooking brushes!
Next was Spolumbo’s chicken sausages, which were delicious.
My grandparents enrolled in a local farm collective type grocery service last year, but found that they received too many fresh greens for their two person house. She checked out Spud, a more flexible service, at the expo.
Eventually we found ourselves at a grass juice table. Yes, grass juice… I won’t lie to you: it tasted exactly as grass smells, only cool and liquid. Not my favourite.
My grandmother was rather pleased, though, because it was at that table she learned that despite being a celiac she could in fact digest the kind of wheat grass used in making the drink. It all has to do with what stage the wheat grass is harvested, apparently.
Manini’s pasta wasn’t very good, but their pizza was! What a surprise. Not something I’d go for, being gluten tolerant and all, but as an alternative it was much, much better than expected. Not too awkwardly moist, and not too dry–which a lot of foods were, at the expo. (What can you do? Substituting flour can be very difficult.)
Their chocolate muffins were good, but otherwise… a no. I guess chocolate makes everything taste better, hm?
My grandmother once received substitute flour from Cloud 9, but it turned out awful. She nipped at the sample brownies at their stall, and then went on to chat with the head baker, who had popped in to the expo, on what might have gone wrong during the baking process at home.
Personally, although I’m sure the charming aesthetic of cupcakes is alluring, there are many flourless cakes out there that were made to have no gluten and taste fantastic, just as they should. No tweaking and substituting; just pure, unadulterated, flourless baked goods. But I supposed if you’re averse to baking, gluten free bakeries that use four substitutes such as Cloud 9 are the next best thing.
They were giving boxes and boxes of these away.
After and hour and a half, our bags were loaded up with freebie goodies. We were also very parched. Being a gluten free convention, most of the focus was on baked foods that used gluten substitutes. This entailed a lot of bread, bagel, pasta, brownie, and cookie sampling. Not much on the hydrating end, aside from the wheat grass juice. If you go to one of these events, be sure to bring some water!
Lamenting the lack of liquids (there was a supercharged powdered drink we sampled at one stall, but I couldn’t get more than a few gulps down before tossing it), we checked out the last remaining stalls, one of which was Freeyumm.
It wasn’t very good.
Very dry, according to my grandma. Mine was a bit better, but definitely not good.
We also stopped by the stall of a small bakery, which was selling gluten free cookies and macarons. Macarons, of course, don’t require flour.
These ones were acceptable, but kind of marshmallowy in texture. We bought a box anyway, though, because macarons are irresistible.
Mini freebie salted caramel macaron. Cute & yummy!
Our last major stop was at Rumble. My grandma was intrigued because she had seen its origin story on the news (you can read about it here), and was inspired. I stopped because the packaging was adorable (milk cans!!!) and so active-Vancouver-life. Fun branding. The chocolate shake tasted a bit like cold, thin Wacky Cake batter to me, but my grandma was a big fan of the maple shake she sipped on. So who knows, maybe try it out for yourself and see what you think! Or just gaze at those adorable milk cans…
We topped off our expo experience by listening to a talk about inflammation and prevention of negative inflammation by a dietitian. It was helpful, informative, and made me want to eat a lot more vegetables. I may not be celiac, but I could definitely make my diet a bit healthier!
After that, I was homeward bound before heading straight back to Waterfront to have dinner with the boy. That review will be up by the end of the week, and I promise a few awful photos because me & my camera were not built to take photos in dim restaurants. Stay tuned!