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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vegetarian Food Festival at the Southwest Florida Buddhist Temple

This past Sunday afternoon, with no real plan, I headed out to the Vegetarian Food Festival at the Southwest Florida Buddhist Temple in St. Petersburg. I didn't have many details on the event at all - just an address and a time frame - but was excited to support a veg*n event in the area.

The entrance to the temple kind of snuck up on me and I turned in just in time. I was not expecting to encounter so many statues, right there in front of me. I admit, an audible "Whoa!" escaped my mouth.

(I didn't actually say it Joey Lawrence-style, unfortunately. It was more like a whisper.)

After parking in a fairly full lot, I headed to the nearest entrance and kicked off my shoes before entering the temple.

It was very soon after entering that I realized the actual food festival was behind the temple, as I could see it through open doors on the other side of the building. Oh well. I already had my shoes off, so I figured I'd wander around inside for a minute.

It was a beautiful day for a vegetarian food festival.

The set up was like a bustling market. A bit over a dozen booths were set up, each manned by a local family, selling a variety of Vietnamese foods, ranging from traditional to unique.

Veggie chicken wings, anyone?

I noticed a crowd gathering around a particularly busy booth where sugar cane juices were being made.

I had a taste, and was pleased to find it wasn't as sweet as one would expect from freshly juiced sugar cane. It tasted very fresh and had a hint of citrus, as well.

I did some more strolling, juggling juice and my camera, and then came upon a vat of pho. At this point, I was starting to realize that a cold might be coming on, and soup sounded pretty awesome.

It was perfect. Rich, flavorful broth... juicy shitake mushrooms... crisp mung bean sprouts... tofu... bright tastes of cilantro... I wasn't crazy about the mock ham and mock beef and left most of that behind, but everything else about this was delightful. I couldn't quite master the art of eating rice noodles with chop sticks, so by the end of this bowl, I had chopsticks, a spoon, and a fork. Whatever.

Before leaving, I took a stroll through the little statue garden in front of the temple. As I mentioned previously, the weather was just perfect.

Tickle, tickle!


  1. Wow! I can't believe they let you take photos inside the temple! Looks like fun!

  2. Great review! You missed a decent veg*n fest in Downtown Tampa during October. It was the "first annual," so I'm hoping we'll see many more.

  3. dear, sir iam buddhist monk i am live in thailand , i like to come in you r buddhist temple, so what i can do for comeing you r temple, please call me or sms me . my e-mail.