Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Bite of REI – South Lake Union, Seattle

Posted on: Friday 17 June 2011

I’m not an outdoor person. I’ve never been camping or hiking. I’ve slept in a tent twice in my life – once at home and the other at a school camp. The first time was in my childhood backyard, hosting a sleepover. We pitched a tent on the grass, ate crisps and candy, and giggled all night. The second time had modern facilities available on site but I was miserable as I sprained my ankle at an obstacle course.

‘Join us, it’ll be fun!’ No thanks. I’ve steadfastly declined all invitations for such outdoor activities. I appreciate the beauty of nature – cascading waterfalls, rolling hills of heather, snowcapped mountains, fields of tulips, a glorious sunset over a pristine beach. I just don’t need to be in it and with it overnight! And of course, of utmost priority is, what will we eat?

To answer this important question, we visited the REI Seattle flagship store for Bite of REI to taste freeze dried meals, sample protein bars and slurp energy gels.

There were about a dozen stalls set up on the terrace, each with bite size samples of their products.

We joined the queue at Backpacker’s Pantry for vegetarian pad Thai, shepherd’s pie, chicken vindaloo, Katmandu curry and ice cream sandwich. The chicken vindaloo (left) and vegetarian pad Thai (right) matched the brightly coloured paper plate. Freeze dried to reduce weight and to preserve nutrients, the foil packet meals are rehydrated with hot water. The curry and noodles looked lumpy and dubious but the flavours were accurate.

Beige and brown, the shepherd’s pie (left) and Katmandu curry (right) will not win any food styling awards. Unfortunately the potato stew with beef was bland and chalky but the chunky curry fared better. Can you spot the pea?

‘No polar bear was hurt in the making!’ The jovial man was referring to the name of the ice cream sandwich he just served us. It looked like ice cream, it tasted like ice cream but it was not cold like ice cream.

Crumbling easily, the ice cream part had a honeycomb texture and together with the chocolate cookie, it was very similar to an Oreo.

Chocolate and caramel snacks? They’re Zing Bars! Gluten free and with chocolate, nut and fruit flavours, these morsels were dense and not too sweet. I would happily eat these to combat the mid afternoon lull.

I also tried a piece of the Raw Revolution spirulina and cashew bar. The hundred calorie bar is tinged an awful dark green by the nutritionally rich blue-green algae but thankfully the cashews mask any trace of spirulina.

‘Are you from Australia?’ The girl at the KIND Bars stall asked. I was caffeine free and mumbling and yet she still correctly identified my accent. She explained that KIND Bars originated from Australia and has since been sold to an American company. I loved the presentation in cupcake trays and these were my favourite – nutty, fruity, chewy and sticky.

We concluded our Bite of REI at the Natural High stall with Himalayan lentils and rice, enchilada, and organic apples and mangoes. Cubed and shriveled up, the freeze dried fruits had an extreme concentration of flavour. The apple was too tart but the mango was mellower.

You know those sci-fi movies with an imagined future where we all wear uniforms and eat synthetic meals that would stick to a wall if you threw it? I don’t think I can stomach freeze dried meals unless it was an emergency, like if I was lost in space. I would miss the comfort and nourishment of a freshly cooked meal too much.

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2 Responses to "Bite of REI – South Lake Union, Seattle"

Hiya fellow Washingtonian! I love finding other bloggers around me..all these bars are so yummy..Raw Rev are my absolute fav!!

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