Friday, October 2, 2015

Portland Fashion Week - Opening Night, Part 1

If you just wandered in here, and the first you're seeing of this blog is a post about Portland Fashion Week, you're probably wondering, What's up with that??? Back up a few posts over the last few weeks, and it will all become clear. Basically, because PFW is touted to be one of, if not the most sustainable fashion shows in the world, I raised my hand and volunteered to blog about it from a vegan perspective. Vegan food and lifestyle are a natural extension of local and global sustainability, and I suspected there would be some dots to connect, connections to be made, and yes, for sure, fun to be had. I was right.

Opening night, on Thursday, October 1st, was my first experience at a big production fashion show like this. I'm sure New York, Paris, and Milan are bigger and more glam than we lean towards in Portland, but I thought the wide open, edgy urban warehouse atmosphere in the industrial district was a perfect fit.


As I arrived, things were still being set up. I even wondered for a bit how it would all come together before the 9PM show time. But I know from my own little experience setting up for bead shows, the time required to set up is always exactly the amount of time available. No matter if it's one hour or five hours, that's how long it will take. So, of course, with a busy crew of on-task volunteers, everything was ready to go by the time the audience began to stroll in and take their seats.


Outside and backstage, designers had their models bustling around with hair, makeup, fittings, and last minute coaching. The mood was excited but relaxed, everyone was friendly, and more than one of those skinny darlings was eyeing the food trucks parked outside the big open roll-up doors of the warehouse. I told two cute boys to eat whatever they wanted. They were already far beyond perfect, and what they ate that night wasn't going to show one bit. They liked me for that.


I got to the VooDoo Doughnut truck first though! As promised, there was a small assortment of vegan doughnuts. Six to be exact. Six doughnuts, not six types. They weren't expecting a large crowd of vegans and space is limited on a truck, so OK, from a business standpoint, they have to bring what they know will sell. On the other hand, the guy told me that the vegan offerings always sell out fast so I'd better get one if I wanted one. Hmmm... so maybe they need more? No matter. I got mine, passing over the normal looking varieties and scooping up the one and only Vegan VooDoo Doll doughnut, complete with red jelly guts and a pretzel pin.


It was good. Really good. But then I knew it would be because I've eaten lots of VooDoo Doughnuts in my time here in Portland. (Remember the VooDoo Doughnut photo shoot?) When my friend picked up a vegan maple bar a while later, there was only one vegan 'nut left after hers. So yeah, maybe they could bring more, and maybe they will if we keep asking for them and buying them.


I also talked to the owners of the other two food trucks before they got busy. Brett, the congenial owner of Maiale Di Volo Wood Fired Catering, was sort of apologetic for not having a vegan cheese option, but told me he'd be happy to make a cheeseless pizza for me. The only catch was I'd have to buy an entire 16 inch pie. We'll see. The truck itself is adorable, and the wood fired oven adds such a friendly coziness to the atmosphere of the food area. Still, I really just want a slice. If I can get a friend or two to help me, there will be a pizza in my fashion show future. Otherwise, it will be good enough that he was willing to work with me.


Interestingly, the one place I did find some really good, really vegan food was Ramy's Lamb Shack. I know. Don't overthink it. Remember we're at a fashion show, trying to find connections, not differences. Ramy himself was there, which is a good sign that the chef behind the name really cares about what he offers. We chatted for a few minutes, and he suggested either the Falafel Plate, or his favorite, the Falafel Gyro, which is all the same good stuff from the plate, loaded up into a pita. I get that the blending of flavors would be better with the gyro, but I reminded him that "face food" was tricky when a girl was all dressed up and didn't want to mess up her clothes and makeup. He grinned and made me a plate.


By scooping up little bits of everything, I got the same flavor blending magic a bundled up pita might have provided. The falafel, cooked with sweet onions and served over rice, was really delicious. It's made with fava beans instead of the usual chickpeas. Ramy told me that fava beans are much lower in fat and calories than chickpeas. I checked it out. He's right. Of course they're fried, but what can you do? And my friend, a self proclaimed falafel connoisseur, pointed out that the small size of these falafel balls made for the perfect ratio of outside crunch to inside softness. I agree. And everything else on the plate, including the cucumber salad and super garlicky tahini, was really well made and wonderful.


And after all that, there was fashion. Oh yeah! That's another whole post in itself, and it's coming up next! While you wait, here's me, as promised, in a beautiful, comfortably wearable organic cotton outfit from Jules of Morocco. I do not want to give it back.






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