Provamel International Blogger Event in Gent: Day 1

by - September 13, 2015

  I was recently invited by Provamel to attend a two-day long blogger event in Gent, Belgium. For those of you who haven't already heard about Provamel, they are the sister company of alpro. They basically make simlar products to that of Alpro (although I must say, they do have many more flavours, which I adore) but all organic.

  I did know of provamel before I got the invite. I'd often pop in to holland and barrett to pick up their tub of coconut soy yogurt. It's the perfect marriage, not too rich like pure coconut yogurt but also thicker than regular ol' soy. 
  Anyway! Enough about my yogurt-buying habits. Pixie and I arrived in Gent in an electric taxi (cool?) to this amazing space called studiome. It was so beautifully decorated and very kinfolk. Basically: pastel colours, loads of flowers and candles, effortlessly lovely. 

  There were little stations dotted around the space with activities for us to do. After lunch of course. Always after lunch.

  BUT! Before lunch. Snacks. (duh) We had little raw pizza slices, dehydrated crackers and pots of guac (hands up if you love guac), tamari cashews, infused waters, and juice. I decided to be daring and go for the beet juice instead of the green juice. The beet juice was amaze. That being said, so was the green juice. Okay so I had no real point here except the food was amazing.  They were all made by the very talented Julie who also cooked (uncooked?) our raw vegan lunch. Which is coming up, bear with me.  

  Then the gals of Provamel gave us a little introduction and told us a little more about why we were there. Provamel is starting this amazing campaign this Christmas to save trees. 
  Every year, millions and millions of trees are cut down to stand in living rooms, only to be thrown away by the end of December. I grew up using an artifical tree but I remember always wanting a real tree that would make my entire house smell of pine. But as lovely as the tradition may seem, it really is extremely environmentally unfriendly. All 'them poor baby fir trees being cut down. TREES ARE FRIENDS!
  Provamel is hoping to change all of this. instead of decorating a real fir tree this Chirstmas, why not build a Christmas tree instead? Just look how pretty they can be:

  For every like on a #provamel tree this December, they pledge to plant a tree in return. It's win, win. Really. 

    We had a green gazpacho (slightly sweet, too) with tamari seeds. Loved the tamari nut/seed theme going on here. 

  The table settings were immaculate, very flowery and pastel. The pictures don't do it justice. I felt like I was in a home and gardens photoshoot. 

  The first course was a raw vegan sushi made with sprouts and hazelnuts, with a miso sauce. I've tried maybe a gazillion raw sushis before. Made with raw cauliflower, crush almonds, jicama, kohlrabi... but sprouts! Very interesting, marinated and vinegary. The dressing was lovely too. Miso and sushi seasoning pair amazingly. Suspect there was a bit of tahini in the sauce, it was beautifully creamy dreamy schmeamy. 

  For the second course we had a spinach and mango salad with purple sprouts, avocado and tamari almonds (tamari tamari tamari...) (yum) I apologise for the gazillions of photos, i blame it on being in the company of fellow food bloggers (read: people who ALSO spend ages taking photos of food before allowing themselves to eat it) 

  Third course: raw lasagne (cashew almond cheese + sun dried tomato marinara + zuchinni noodle sheets + marinated mushrooms + heirloom tomato + basil and oregano flowers) No raw meal is complete without a lasagne, amirite or amirite?  

  And then dessert! I must admit I am not much of a dessert fan. I enjoy savoury so much better. But this pie ohlala. It was a raw vegan Orangette Tart with a vanilla almond crust, date chia caramel & chocolate orange ganache + fresh raw vegan Vanilla Ice Cream.
  Think elevated jaffa cake. 
  I've never made a caramel with chia seeds before. Now i will always make caramel with chia seeds. Nuff said. 

  Post delicious RV meal, on the verge on a food coma and wishing I hadn't worn such tight jeans, we made soap!

  The soaps we made were very au naturale, made with just olive oil, water and specific salt (for the scientists out there: sodium hydroxide). It forms large blocks that firm up. You grate them down, get a bit freaked out over how cheese-like they look, add your essential oils/clays/rose petals, squish them into a ball and leave them to dry.
  Simple pimple. 

  Pixie got very excited piercing her soaps. 

  I am very proud of my soaps. I have to wait a month before they are dry enough to use. I am not a patient person. So I have put them up on a high shelf so as to discourage self from using them. Because am also a lazy person and will not climb up to get them. #lifehack

  Next! We made little printed organic cotton tote bags. All keeping to the theme or christmas trees, we used veg waste to print trees and glam them up with little paint baubles. 

  I decided to be all alternative and tropic-y and made palm xmas trees. Because even palm trees should get the chance to feel pretty, no? #treeempowerment

  Next we got to build our own Xmas trees from twigs, yarn, old baubles, pine cones, spare ribbon... stuff you could find in the park or already have lying around. and look how beautiful this one turned out! 
  Forget regular 'ol fir trees, this baby will make your living room a museum. 
  (Because it is art) (in case you didn't get the reference) 

  For a little pick-me-up, because you know... we were starving since we had SO LITTLE to eat for lunch (wink wink) we were given chia chocolate smoothies. With cacao nibs. Because ccao nibs are love.

  I was ornament-making with the hot glue gun, despite having injured self with hot glue gun on numerous occasions during facial reconstruction sessions back in sixth form and D&T in secondary school. 
  Pro tip: glue from hot glue gun is hot.
  Shocking, I know.  

  This was out chirstmas tree and I CAN EXPLAIN! (a) we ran out of time so it's very naked, (b) I thought to hell with a star, our tree is going to have a golden afro; and (b) it's avant-garde 

  Next we were treated to a lovely tour down the river in a cute little boat. And served drinks and crackers while absorbing all that vit D. AT which point my camera battery decided to die, so had to subsist of iPhone photography and almost dropped iPhone in said river.
  But it's ok quick reflexes saved me.
  The same quick reflexes that have gotten me burned my hot glue gun (refer to above) 

  Our boat was 100% man powered. Very impressive. Sometimes I don't even have the strength to life MYSELF out of bed, left alone to power a boat of several people down a river. 

    Post boat-ride, we were whisked off in taxis to our rooms for the night. So I am sat there, in the taxi, expecting to be brought to maybe a little hotel or a B&B, but no.
  Much better.

  Tentipis! How absolutely beautiful this space was! It was a place known as: Alix - Table & Jardin D'amis. We had a little tipi each in this massive garden with stringed lights hung up everywhere, a little space with pillows around a fire pit, a little shed dressed up as a dining space...

  And the inside of the tentipi was even better (maybe) (possibly).

  (all the LUSH)

  Fun fact no. 1: the conical thingies are in fact NOT incense cones but candy. I tried to burn one to make my tentipi all nice smelling but instead got a load of melted sugar. Burnt melted sugar. So always taste your incense cones to make sure they are in fact incense. (ok perhaps not my best bit of advice)
  Fun fact no. 2: We were told we could bring the candles back with us, so I shoved this blue one into my bag. In the train station the next day waiting for the eurostar, I shove my hand into the bag for a peach (as you do) and cut myself badly on side of candle because it broke in my bag. Cut was deep. Lots of blood. Lots of stares at the terminal. So another bit of advice: consider when about to eat a peach at the bottom of your bag, whether you REALLY want that peach. Because you can get hurt.

  Pixie instantly took to the pilliow space around the firepit. Look at that face. Pure bliss (and also probably a bit of a food hangover)

   Speaking of food...

  It was nearly supper time and I was still stuffed from all the food I had eaten a gazillion hours ago. Anyone who says raw food isn't filling is lying. I was a human watermelon. 

  The lovely people of Alix made our supper for us. It was lovely picking form all the bowls of rich and complex salads and veg. We had bulgur with broad beans, walnuts and green herbs. We had roasted carrots with capers and thyme We had corn puree with radicchio (my fav). We had polenta with mushrooms, rocket and Marsala... 
  Basically we had a lot of food, OK?

    After dinner, after pudding (coconut rice pudding and a raw lime slice) (yes two puddings) (no, no regrets), we sat around the fire and had a lesson in tea-tasting. I take pride in my tea knowledge and tea tasting skills because I love tea more than life itself. 
  Slight exaggeration. I like hummus more than life itself, but tea is a close second. 

  And then, after samplying cinnamony oolong and smoky black teas we roasted marshmallows. Because if you have a massive fire and do not roast marshmallows than you have committed a crime against humanity.
  It is known.
  (GoT reference there)

    At which point I could resist the promise of my tent no longer and ran back to get ready for bed, wrapped myself up in my organic cotton bath robe (how have I lived without a big fuzzy bath robe for this long) (THE SHAME), lathered myself with lush avocado body butter, burnt an incense cone and regretted it (see above) then tucked myself into bed and fell asleep reading The Girl On the Train on my kindle (highly recommend).
  All in all a wonderful day, thank you a gazillion times to provamel for treating all of us like such queens, I really had the best time. Day 2 was even better (yes, it's possible), and another photo-loaded post will be up soon. So watch this space!

  A side note, while I will be doing a bigger post on this soon and hopefully want to do a bit more on generally eco-friendlyness on the blog soon, please do consider taking part in the provamel build a Xmas tree event. I know I will be :) It really is good fun making a tree yourself and you feel a bit better saving a little fir tree's life (in some cases a big fir tree). 


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