A few weeks back, we introduced you to Bay Area band Stickup Kid, with a stream of their new EP, Nothing About Me. After briefly joining up with I Call Fives and With The Punches, the guys continued on to Gainesville, Florida, to see what Fest 11 had in store. Reporting back on all the best vegan eats—with pics, of course—is the band’s resident vegetarian, Jon McMaster.
Karma Cream: On our way to registration for Fest, I told the rest of the gang I needed to take off for a minute and go find Karma Cream. Little did I know that it was about 10 feet in front of us and right on the way to the Holiday Inn. Walking into the place feels instantly familiar. The whole store has a very classic ice cream shop feel to it, from the old-school ice cream freezers and the chalkboard menus to the white fence on the stairs, making you feel right at home. Unlike most places, though, Karma Cream sells soy and rice milk–based ice creams among their regular selections. In honor of fall, I decided to go with the soy-based pumpkin pie ice cream, and I threw on crushed-up waffle cone to simulate a crust (in hindsight, I should have picked the vegan whipped cream, but I goofed). Despite the missed opportunity with the whipped cream, I was incredibly happy with my choice! The ice cream was great, and everyone I shared it with agreed (most of whom had never eaten nondairy ice cream). Pumpkin-flavored everything is one of my favorite parts of the season, and Karma Cream’s ice cream is a great way to beat the weird humid heat of a Florida October.
Leonardo’s Pizza: After we got registered for Fest at the Holiday Inn and stopped on the third floor to check out the madness that is the Fest pool party, our guitarist, Bo, and I went across the street to grab a slice of pizza at Leonardo’s Pizza. Between all the customers and the pizza ovens, the place was pretty warm inside, but the large display of a variety of pizzas and the Morton Salt/jawbreaker rip-off shirts that all the staff were wearing were inviting. The menu here was also in chalk, and there was a smaller one on the right-hand side informing everyone that Leonardo’s had vegan-friendly pizza. I spotted the pie labeled “Vegan” on the left-hand side and ordered a slice. The pizza had a barbeque sauce base instead of traditional red sauce and was covered in a variety of vegetables. The dough for the pizza was fantastic. It was crispy under the toppings and soft at the crust as it should be. Bo and I have both worked at pizza places (the same one for a while, too), and we both thoroughly enjoyed our slices. With its convenient location and a wide selection of slices, it’s not hard to see why Leonardo’s is a Fest standard.
Reggae Shack Cafe: After our set on Saturday, we took a timeout from the onslaught of awesome bands to refuel ourselves at the Reggae Shack Cafe. The shack was advertised in all of the Fest booklets and on the back of the Fest schedule, and if I am not mistaken, I saw it advertised as the number one spot for Festgoers. The waiting for seating was pretty intense, so I just ordered to go. Every member of the staff was wearing Fest T-shirts to celebrate the weekend. Many staff members at other businesses definitely seemed to resent the Fest weekend and the Fest attendees—not without good reason, I’m sure—but it was nice to see a group of local people that can’t avoid the Fest embrace the festivities with open arms. The menu at the Reggae Shack has a whole vegan-friendly section, and many of the items were vegan versions of other popular menu items (which I am always a sucker for). I decided to go with the vegan steak sandwich cooked in the Reggae Shack’s signature sauce and style. The “steak” of the sandwich was grilled seitan, and it was garnished with veggies and served on a soft wheat bun. I had originally thought about sharing half of the sandwich with a friend, so I got it cut in half. But it was too good not to finish. The fries it came with had a semi-sweet seasoning on them giving them a really interesting twist and an original taste.
Fest weekend was absolutely incredible, and the food we ate in Gainesville was no different. Stickup Kid is a band that loves to try out new foods from all over the place, and we cannot wait to be back next year to eat again—and play Fest, too.