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Nashville Street Food Awards – Judging “Best Vegetarian”

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was asked to be a judge I really hoped that I would not be judging Best Vegetarian.  I love meat.  Red Delicious Meat.  I’m not the biggest veggie eater.  And when I do eat veggies, it is veggies that Vegetarians would frown upon like potatoes, corn, and sweet peas.

So when I arrived on Saturday to discover I was in the Best Vegetarian group, I was unbelievably nervous.  How could I judge a category where I had a mindset that it was tasteless rabbit food?  I am going on record as saying, I was DEAD wrong.  Now, I’m not going to become a full time vegetarian.  However, eating the vegetarian foods in this category has made me unafraid of vegetarian foods.  In fact, I will give them more consideration in the future.

There were a few items that I did not care for the flavors.  And it is weird.  Because although I did not care for the flavors, I still felt that full time vegetarians would probably appreciate or like them.  There was one vegetarian entry that was a drink.  And although it had a fruit juice (pineapple maybe) base, it had the very distinct flavor of grass.  Now I took one sip and didn’t gag.  So it wasn’t awful.  It just wasn’t for me.  Before the judging began, this was what I was afraid of.  Grassy flavors that I wouldn’t understand.  And I had expected every entry to be this way.  But again, this was so far from what was entered.

The real surprise was a banh mi that we received.  It looked like pulled pork.  Even when we ate it, we were all in amazement.  Fellow judge and vegetarian, Lesley, was pretty nervous that this wasn’t vegetarian.  That somehow this got mixed up.  We were surprised to learn that the “meat” was actually jackfruit.  I could not get over how much this tasted like pulled pork.  I could seriously eat this everyday.  It tasted so much like pulled pork.  Shock.  That is all I have for you.  And so it was really no surprise that we all ended up judging this so highly that it took the award for Best Vegetarian.  Riff’s Fine Street Food, I hope to find this on your menu soon so I can eat the whole thing!!!

There was also a wrap that I discovered today was the Vegan wrap (Quest Love) from Wrapper’s Delight.  Now, as much as I fear Vegetarian, I have greater of Veganism.  So to get this wrap and almost eat the entire thing was shocking to me.  I had to stop myself and remember that I didn’t know how many entrants there were in this category and that I also had Best Taco after Best Vegetarian.  Kudos to Wrapper’s Delight on their amazingly flavorful VEGAN wrap!  I am actually going to order this from them sometime soon!!!

The Best Vegetarian entree that I will give the best presentation award to is Jonbalaya with their Vegetarian Sushi.  It was so beautifully and artfully put together.  And the flavor was full of flavor in such a small piece of sushi.  Obviously, no meat.  It had pomegranates and rice wrapped in seaweed.  This Vegetarian Sushi was the 2nd Runner Up in Best Vegetarian.  And very well deserved.

Running a SUPER close second for presentation was Retro Sno’s Tomato Granita.  I have to applaud Retro Sno on their eco-consciousness.  From their recycled and recyclable serving bowls to the Tomato Granita’s adorable paper cup with a carefully place bow and wooden spoon.  This was so tasty, I could eat this as a dessert any day of the week.  It was sweet, tomato icee.  And I loved it.  So I wasn’t shocked to see it was the Runner Up in the Best Vegetarian Category.

I actually ended this category sad that I couldn’t try more.  As a meat eater, I do now know that Vegetarian is not just rabbit food.  And I can say that I am not afraid of things labeled “vegetarian” anymore.  Veganism…well, let’s not quite go that far yet.  Ha!

Ready for the pictures???  Again, the platters were coming at us quite quickly.  I’m unsure if I missed any from this category.  But here they are!  Again, to see the full size picture, just click on any in this gallery and it will take you to the slideshow!

So we were 2 categories down with Best Taco left go.  But that will need to come in another post!!!  Look for it on Friday!!!!

See you all at the trucks!!!  And if you see any of these vegetarian options there, don’t hesitate to try them!  Even if you are a meat eater like me!!!

-FTJ Julie

One comment on “Nashville Street Food Awards – Judging “Best Vegetarian”

  1. Great pictures! I’m so embarrassed I didn’t really get any. I was too busy eating. Ha! And I really want that banh mi RIGHT NOW!

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