Unfortunately, it also happened to be on the same weekend of the Grand National, but we've found that the cheapest way to get to Liverpool from Bolton is via Wigan so missed most of the chaos.
Our train dropped us off at Liverpool Central Station, and our journey to the Black E, the venue for the fair this year took us down Bold Street. I could have happy spent the day wondering down this street, it was kind of like Manchester's Northern Quarter but less rough (not that the Northern Quarter is rough, it just looks more dodgy than it is!) and on the way back we spent a while browsing in the shops.
When we reached the venue, I was blown away, I love old architecture and the Black E is just WOW! And the best thing was, the fair took over the entire building it was so big. Which meant we got to enjoy looking round an impressive building as well.
After sussing each floor out, we started on the ground floor and worked our way up. first stop was Vegan Tuck Box and I was looking for a Jokerz bar, which is kinda like a vegan snickers. Unfortunately they didn't have any in, however I spotted that they had some Sarelle bars, I'd heard about these on some of the vegan Facebook groups and word is they taste like Ferrero Rocher, so I snapped one up. I've not eaten it yet, as I'm saving it for a special occasion when I've got some vegan wine to go with it!
Next stop was Teen VGN, I first saw these at the North West Vegan Fair in Blackpool last year and had entered their raffle, won and then was unable to collect my prize because I was already on my train home (lesson- if you enter a raffle at a fair, make sure you stay to collect it!). Last time I was eyeing up one of their T Shirts as it was purple (my favourite colour) and the message was not too controversial but I think I'd ran out of money by that time. So this time, I wasn't going to let that happen!
Apart from those two things, lunch and dessert (of course) I was pretty good as far as spending goes. The only other stall that I HAD to buy something from was Ananda Foods, where I bought a Round Up, which is a like a posh vegan wagon wheel. I never liked wagon wheels as I thought they just tasted cheap and nasty, but these taste so good that it didn't even make it back to Bolton! I did exercise some restraint as they had a deal on, you could buy a certain number of them (can't remember how many) and get a free Round Up mug. I wanted that mug so much!
The food hall was located on the basement floor (I think?) and I was a little disappointed by the lack of choice as not many of the options really grabbed me, but I think part of me was hoping that the Vegan Grindhouse would be there. However, one stall, St Best, selling Caribbean cuisine did catch my eye, especially when I saw you could get a thali. I went for chickpea, sweet potato and pumpkin curry, veggie chucks in a St Best Island Sauce and rice and peas.
As you can see I got a HUGE portion and I thought I was going to burst I was that full but couldn't stop eating it as it was so delicious. My only criticism is that it was suppose to come with fried plantain (which taste nothing like banana!) but there was a bit queue for it so he gave me some callalou instead. Which I liked, but I was really looking forward to some plantain!
After all that, I somehow managed to squeeze in some cake from Cake Mamas, a Liverpool based cupcake shop that sells gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free cakes. They did mint slices, and I just cant resist mint chocolate desserts so I made a beeline for it. By this point I'd lost all the will to make an effort to take photos, so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was good cake, and some of the other cakes looked amazing and if I wasn't so stuffed I would have perhaps taken some more home. But at that point in time I just couldn't imagine being able to eat ever again.
After stuffing ourselves with food, we started to make our way back to the station and stopped in a few shops on Bold Street on the way. First stop was somewhere I eyed up on the way to the fair, Central Perk, which is a chain of Friends themed coffee shops. As a massive Friends fan, who is probably able to quote far too many lines off by heart, I was uber excited by this and insisted we go in for a drink. I was also very impressed to see it also sold Ten Acre crisps, unfortunately it didn't have the elusive chicken flavour ones, but I did manage to buy a pack of their popcorn, which I didn't even know existed.
After a quick drink whilst watching an episode of Friends, we headed to News From Nowhere, a awesome alternative bookshop that sells other bits and bobs. Including some interesting badges, I really wanted one but I just couldn't pick one!
Last stop was Forbidden Planet to embrace my amateur geek side. I spent a while admiring the Iron Man figurines and Tim Burton miniatures. I also saw a book on Tim Burton art, that was cruelly stored up on a high shelf clearly made to taunt midgets like me. So much want.
After a major mess up that ended up with an hour wait at a changeover station in the middle of nowhere (our error) we finally made it back to Wigan and used the opportunity to pop into one of my favourite vegan shops, Nooch. I love Nooch, its like an Aladdin's cave full of vegan wonder and beautiful crafty items. I couldn't help treating myself (again!) to my favourite vegan mayonnaise- Really! Not Dairy Roast Garlic mayonnaise (visiting CAT bar in Barcelona reminded me how much I love garlic mayo even if I'm not that fussed about normal mayo), a mint mini moo and a vivani white nougat crisp bar. They also had a little reduced table and they were giving away free hazelnuts and Ananda raspberry flavoured marshmallows because they had gone past their sell by date. I really love this idea, it's better that letting perfectly good food good to waste.
Here is my haul at the end of the day (minus the Round Up!), which I was very happy with, and looking forward to more festivals over the next few months. If you want to visit the next LABL fair in Liverpool, they have already announced a date- its a little earlier next year on Saturday 19th March 2016 in St Georges Hall. From the photos I'm already excited about having the chance to visit another stunning building! You can see more details here.