Chickpea Noodle Soup


I can’t explain this midsummer soup that I made at the end of a July heat wave, except by saying, “sometimes you just need comfort food.”

It was the end of a long, stressful day and I needed a quick late night dinner. Although it had been 90 degrees that day, I really wanted soup. So I scoured the pantry and fridge and came up with almost all of the ingredients for chicken noodle soup, except for chicken. No problem, I thought. I had chickpeas.


Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my mind (yet). I am aware that chickpeas are nothing like chicken, and I know that just because an ingredient sounds like another, that does not mean they taste the same. However, I needed some protein and chickpea noodle soup just sounded so right that it couldn’t be wrong.


I used a vegetable soup base blend that I had picked up from the frozen vegetables section, and I think the okra in this blend really helped to thicken the soup. I also added some texture by tossing a third of the chickpeas into the food processor before adding them to the soup. The noodles and legumes were very filling, and the veggies made me feel like I had made a semi-healthy meal choice.

If you just can’t bear the thought of hot soup in July, or you think it’s a waste to use canned and frozen ingredients in the middle of the best season for fresh produce, I get it. Really I do. I’ve eaten a fresh tomato sandwich for dinner the last two nights in a row so you know I appreciate what’s coming out of the dirt over what’s coming out of the can right now. But at least toss some fresh green beans and okra in the freezer now and bookmark this recipe, because if you aren’t ready today, I think this is just what you’ll be looking for in January.

Chickpea Noodle Soup



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb frozen vegetables (I used a vegetable soup blend that included carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, lima beans, okra, peas, celery and onions)
  • 1- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend (optional)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and onion to pot and sauté until onion is translucent.
  3. Add vegetables to pot, and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Divide chickpeas into three equal portions. Add one third of the chickpeas to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.
  5. Add whole and chopped chickpeas, broth, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add noodles and the rest of the ingredients, return to a boil, then cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Grilled Gruyere and Radish Sandwich


My husband is a radish fiend. For three years I have brought them home from the market nearly every weekend that they are available, and he never tires of them. This time of year, Kyle is in radish and greens heaven, and I am constantly trying to find new ways to prepare both. We have always eaten radishes raw, so last week I roasted a bunch of French breakfast radishes with carrots – big win! I highly recommend it. This week, I got home from the market and immediately dumped my purchases out and searched for lunch inspiration.


This week at the South of the James farmers’ market, I picked up Agriberry strawberries, Norma’s Produce baby yellow squash, Norwood Cottage craisin bread, Crumptown Farm Tokyo Bekana (a new-to-me green!), Walnut Hill Farm turnips (with bonus greens – two vegetables for the price of one!), Bella Grove purple radishes, and Broadfork Farm dill. Our cluster of radishes was small and it was calling my name. It was a little cool outside that day, and I thought grilled cheese sounded pretty good. I decided to add some sliced radishes to our grilled cheese sandwiches to provide a little crunch and flavor.


I used some smooth, nutty, Gruyere cheese that I had leftover from last week’s groceries, leftover spinach leaves, and thinly sliced spicy radishes, with a thin spread of Dijon mustard, sandwiched between two slices of Ellwood’s Bakery whole wheat bread, over-buttered and griddled to golden brown in a pan. I wasn’t planning on making these sandwiches for a post, but they turned out so well that I decided to take some photos and share the recipe with you. This is super simple, but a little different, so I thought it felt special. I served with a  bowl of fresh strawberries and iced coffee. If we were having these for dinner, I would definitely serve with a glass of Syrah instead.

Sometimes the recipes you come up with on the fly, with the freshest local ingredients available, are the best ones. So, while you probably don’t need the instructions, I’m giving you a grilled cheese recipe. Enjoy!

Grilled Gruyere and Radish Sandwich



  • 2 slices of bread (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 ounce Gruyere cheese
  • 2 small radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Butter


  1. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Melt a dab of butter or oil in the pan to coat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Stack them with the buttered sides facing each other, On the top slice of bread, spread the Dijon mustard.
  3. On top of the mustard, place the spinach, cheese, and radishes.
  4. When the pan is hot, take the top slice of bread with its toppings and place it buttered side down in the pan. Top with the other slice of bread, butter side up.
  5. Cook for 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Fancy Tomato Sandwiches with Hummus and Goats R Us Greek Chevre Dip


When tomatoes are good, they are so very good. And when they are out of season, they are so very bad.


While we have the pleasure of seasonal tomatoes’ company, we should enjoy them every chance we get. However, some people get a little tired of tomatoes this time of year and need to change up their usual tomato sandwich. I suggest they trade up to this “fancy” tomato sandwich instead.


It’s easy enough to pack for lunch and sophisticated enough to make for dinner. Recently I made these on a Friday night when Kyle and I were headed out to Crossroads in Forest Hill to watch some live music. This sandwich was quick, easy, and very satisfying. It helped to lay a good carb and protein foundation for the libations we were about to consume, without filling us up so much that we couldn’t enjoy a beer (or three).


This sandwich is a tale of two spreads. In one corner, Greek Chevre Dip from Goats R Us (found at Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market and the South of the James farmers’ market). In the other corner, homemade black bean hummus.

To make the black bean hummus, simply puree in a food processor: 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the hummus on one slice of bread, and the Greek chevre dip on the other. If you don’t have the Greek chevre dip, substitute any fresh chevre or tzatziki.


You may see the rest of the ingredients in this sandwich and ask, “Black beans? Really? Why not white beans?” Sure, the flavors might make more sense with Cannelinis or Great Northerns, but the color of this hummus is the reason for black beans. It looks great opposite the white chevre dip, with bright red tomato and dark green spinach sandwiched in between. But really you could use whatever beans you want.


Stuff the sandwich with fresh sliced tomato and spinach. Add whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Cook each sandwich on a panini press or grill until dark brown grill marks appear and the sandwich is warmed throughout. Serve with a side of fresh veggies.


Curried Pearl Couscous Salad


Recently, a very fortunate set of circumstances resulted in the creation of my new favorite summer salad dish.

  • I wanted to make something at the beginning of the week to pack for lunches for the rest of the week.
  • I needed to make sure I had protein, veggies and some carbs in my lunches.
  • I had made my dinner plan for the week and I had an abundance of fresh vegetables leftover, with no plan for how to use them.

The veggies in question were half of a head of orange cauliflower from Pleitez Produce, and a bunch of green beans from Walnut Hill Farm. The lunch setting: lunchtime in the break room. The weather: outside, warm all week with a slight chance of thunderstorms; inside, temperature could range from “balmy” to “beginning of the next ice age.” The goal: build a lunch that fills me up but doesn’t make me feel like I’m reversing all the health karma points I have racked up this week in my workouts.

Based on the temperature, I knew I wanted a cold dish, but with a little kick to keep me warm just in case my office felt like a meat locker this week. I decided to combine my old favorite, Whole Foods’ cracklin’ cauliflower, with a pasta salad to give it a little more oomph. I chose pearl couscous (or Israeli couscous) because I love the texture, but you could substitute the grain or pasta of your choice. Quinoa would be my second choice for its superfood nutrition benefits. I used roasted cauliflower, blanched green beans, fresh tomatoes and roasted chickpeas for the mix-ins, then dressed it all in a curry vinaigrette. You could throw in whatever veggies you have on hand.

I have definitely found my new favorite pasta salad! I can’t get enough of this stuff. I think the dressing is what really makes this salad special. The roasted chickpeas don’t hurt. Mmmm. And (bonus!) this is vegetarian and vegan friendly. Just in time for summer barbecue season.

Scroll past the recipe for a Gardenology update!

Curried Pearl Couscous Salad (serves 4-6 as a meal, 8-10 as a side dish)



  • 1 cup of pearl couscous (uncooked)
  • 1 Tbsp oil (olive, coconut, or vegetable)
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, or half of a large one, cut into florets
  • 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, snapped and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss the cauliflower and chickpeas together with the 1 Tbsp of oil, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Cook the couscous according to package instructions. I added my 1 cup of couscous to 2-1/4 cups of boiling water, then reduced heat, covered, and cooked for 10-12 minutes. Pour out of pan and into a large bowl. Let cool.
  4. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Then remove green beans from hot water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  5. While everything cools, prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together curry powder, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil until combined.
  6. To the large bowl of couscous, add cauliflower, chickpeas, and green beans. Toss with the dressing. Add halved tomatoes and stir until combined.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.


In other news, I have some green beans in my garden! Here are some gardenology progress photos:



The first harvest was nine green beans. If I don’t get another thing out of this garden all summer, at least I can be proud of the nine green beans I grew from seeds. Never mind that that achievement probably requires the skill of a third grader. I am a remedial gardening student, okay?! It’s the little things.

For more BYOBB (bring your own brown bag) lunch ideas, type BYOBB into the search bar.

Just the Highlights

Hello there! I just had to pop in to celebrate the return of my internet connection. Once again, our Verizon modem has failed and we were without service for 5 days. Lucky for us, when we reported the problem, our friendly Verizon customer service representative packaged up a new modem and swiftly put it in the mail. Verizon must be using bike messengers for their preferred method of outbound shipping because I can’t figure out how else that modem could have taken a full 5 days to get to us. I guess Hi-Speed is sometimes too much to ask.

Anyway, rant over. Let’s talk about food! I’ll just go through the highlight reel of the last week, starting with a lovely linen rental display that reminds me of the famous shirts scene in the Great Gatsby.

Kyle and I joined my parents and sister for a tasting with our wedding caterer this weekend. Beggars Banquet did a great job planning our menu and incorporating all of our suggestions to execute our vision for a local, seasonal meal that offered something for everyone. Here is a sneak peek of a few of the things that we might serve.

You will have to wait until next Fall for the details!

Another exciting smorgasbord that I participated in this week was our healthy potluck lunch at work. Several people from my team each brought in a healthy dish to share and then we swapped the recipes. There was a good variety of food there, from snacks to sides to a healthy dessert. Two out of the five participants are vegetarian, yet my whole team brought vegetarian dishes that we could all enjoy. I love that my company encourages us to plan activities like this. It really makes a difference when your employer and coworkers support your healthy habits.

I decided to bring two off-the-wall contributions that I knew no one else would come up with. My coworkers are very creative and many of them enjoy cooking, but I figured kale chips would be new to them. Most of the people I shared them with had never had them before, and they got mixed reviews (as expected). You have to love kale to enjoy a kale chip. And I do! I also brought a curried cauliflower salad, inspired by the crackling cauliflower found on the Whole Foods salad bar .

In addition to my two dishes, we had Mexican bean salad, carrots and hummus, cheese and crackers, pimento stuffed olives, wheatberry salad, and a reduced-fat, reduced-sugar fresh berry pie. Everything was delicious!

Despite the deep freeze we have experienced over the last two days, it is about to warm up again in central Virginia, just in time for a new spring recipe I have been working on. Cross your fingers that my internet connection will remain strong, and I will post a recipe that highlights tasty spring vegetables in anticipation of warmer weather.

What are you most looking forward to this Spring? Any highlights on the horizon?


VAis4Bloggers Meetup at Feast! Charlottesville

Kyle and I ventured out to Charlottesville this weekend to meet with potential caterers and photographers for our wedding this Fall. I also had the privilege of meeting up with some great VA bloggers at Feast! Charlottesville. How have I never been to this place before? Clearly I need a Cville tour guide to reteach me all the great spots around town.

Feast! is a market and lunch-counter-style restaurant that shares a building with a kitchen supply store, a wine bar, a chocolate shop, and a few other food-related local businesses. As bloggers arrived, we hugged, shook hands, took pictures, and moved tables to make a little corner of the restaurant our own. Like a group of America’s Next Top Model contestants, we struggled to “find the light” to get great shots of our food, our friends, and, well, everything. Every time I meet up with bloggers, I get a kick out of being around other people who will stop traffic to get a good photo of their food. I don’t think we turned the place completely upside down or anything; we were all very respectful and the great people at Feast were very accommodating.

Everything on the menu looked positively delicious and I had a difficult time deciding what to order. I was ultimately very happy with my decision: a cup of the vegan spicy chickpea and local chard soup and a half winter salad.

The soup was very filling and had just the right amount of spice. The winter salad featured arugula, roasted butternut squash, curried lentils, chevre, and a white wine vinaigrette. Do these people do catering? I am starting to think that I should have contacted them to do our wedding (there is still time…). This is the kind of food I love. Fresh, seasonal, wholesome food. Delicious.

And there were gifts!

Sarah brought us homemade peanut butter in adorable little jars.

And Brittany made Heady Goo Balls, which were so tasty! Check out the recipe that she posted here: Energizing Heady Goo Balls. These sweet little treats have all kinds of healthy stuff in them, including Amazing Grass. One of my favorite moments of the VAis4Bloggers meetup was when a fellow blogger (who shall remain nameless) bit into a Heady Goo Ball and exclaimed “I can taste the grass!”. . . (snicker). . . I assure you that while these delightful little goodies were delicious, there was nothing “special” about them, if you know what I mean. Totally legal.

I had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I recommend that you check out Feast! the next time you are in Charlottesville. It seems like a place that would have something for everyone. And a special thank you to Sarah of The Smart Kitchen for organizing the outing.

Check out all the ladies’ blogs here:

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Welcome Relayers!

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions for BYOBB lunches that you wrote in the comments on my last post and sent via twitter. I really enjoyed getting some fresh ideas for my brown bag lunch dates.

Speaking of fresh ideas, check out the Relay Living Blog today, where the good people of Relay Foods have featured my recipe for Engagement Tofu as a Valentine’s Day special. And I would like to add that you don’t have to have a special someone in your life to enjoy this delicious vegetarian dish. The most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves. Show your self a little love and whip up this tofu sometime soon!

If tofu doesn’t quite do it for you, I have a new recipe for cupcakes that will satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’re a chocolate lover, look out for this post in the next few days. This cupcake was by far the most beloved confection I have ever brought into my workplace. And I have brought quite a few cakes, cookies, and scones into that office in the past. None have compared.

And hey, if you found me through the Relay Living blog today, welcome! You can find out more about vegology by clicking on the About link at the top of the page. If you like what you see, you can subscribe by clicking on Sounds Delicious on the right hand side of the page. Check out my review of Relay Foods here!

WANTED: Ideas for BYOBB Lunches

white board art is my pageant talent

In case you haven’t heard, BYOBB stands for Bring Your Own Brown Bag in my world. In fact, I use this abbreviation so much that while I was text-message-inviting someone to a friend’s Super Bowl party last week, my phone auto-corrected BYOB to BYOBB.  This auto-correct malfunction either made me look like kind of an idiot, or completely confused my fellow party-goer (sorry Craig!). Maybe both.

Anyway, when I say BYOBB, I am usually inviting a coworker or friend to enjoy a brown bag lunch with me. I have developed a lovely group of brown bag lunchers in my office, and I have found that a lot of people are into saving money and calories by bringing to work a healthy lunch from home. We have been going strong for 4-6 weeks and I hope to continue. Usually I bring hummus, veggies, a wedge of cheese, and a pita pocket, with a piece of fruit to enjoy later. And after a month or so of that, I am starting to get a little bored.

I have featured ideas for BYOBB lunches here before, and now I am looking for some more creative options. I love checking out bento box lunch ideas and coming up with meal options that sound more appealing to me than what is being served at the lunch cart around the corner (so I don’t cheat!). So do you have any ideas for BYOBB lunches? What do you usually pack, and what do you wish you had more often? Is there a combination you have been dying to try out? Have a cautionary tale about a lunch idea that didn’t go as planned? Want to see my try to makeover one of your favorite guilty pleasure lunch options into a healthier one? Give me all you’ve got!

And as for my ideas, here are a few:


Local Favorite: Citizen

It is finally time to reveal one of my favorite lunch spots in Richmond. I have been trying for months to rein in my urge to dine in restaurants every day. Downtown Richmond has so many great options for lunch and I work in a great location that is within walking distance of many of them. However it is healthier for my wallet and my waistline to brown bag it more often than not. While I have been doing better with bringing my lunch to work, I make an almost-weekly exception just for Citizen.

Tucked into a building on 9th Street, Citizen is a gem that I discovered last year through a tip off in a Victory Farms CSA member newsletter during its opening week.

You may never see it there if it weren’t for a black sandwich board on 9th street, adorned with a constantly changing drawing and clever phrase to draw you in. During the height of the Lincoln Fever that was the Richmond filming of Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, the board displayed a familiar character to greet us daily.

Once you get past Lincoln, or a snowman, or a jack-o-lantern, or whoever it is on the specials board today, you get to Lauren and Greg. And they are awesome. Their constant banter and personal service make you feel at home, if your childhood home included an excellent menu executed by a creative and talented chef.

Lauren always greets us by name and no matter how crazy it is in there, she remains calm under pressure. She gracefully handles the incoming calls and line of walk-in customers simultaneously and consistently delivers service with a smile. If you aren’t sure what to order, she is excellent at giving suggestions and answering questions about the menu.

Greg rules the roost and cooks almost all of the sandwiches and sides to order. From what I can tell by watching the completely exposed kitchen, he is insistent on perfect execution of his dishes, yet he breaks his focus on the food just often enough to engage with customers. It must be difficult to cook every order while on display for eight and a half hours each day, but he pulls it off. It appears to me that he has the right balance of discipline and hospitality to make his open kitchen work for him. I have been known to boldly and firmly tell chattering dinner guests to “get out of my kitchen!” while entertaining, so I have a lot of respect for this guy.

So should we talk about the food?

Citizen calls their sandwiches “tortas” and they come out hot and pressed from being grilled on the flat top under an iron. One of the best I have ever had is one with jerk collards, pimento cheese and pickled shallots. My current favorite is the roasted butternut squash, curry cashew butter and celery root horseradish slaw. That is jerk collards on the side in the photo, and I highly recommend them.

The tortas come with a choice of side and there is always something pickled on the plate to finish it off. On this day it was a pickled carrot. So delicious.

Citizen has this new quiche type dish that was called a “savory rice pudding” on the day that we ordered it, but I think they’re calling it a quiche on the menu on their facebook page now. Stuffed with vegetables and cheese and topped with an ancho harissa sauce, this was a tasty dish, whatever it was.

I love that Citizen uses local and seasonal ingredients as much as possible and their constantly evolving menu is really exciting to watch. I have gotten so many ideas for my home cooking from the daring flavor combinations and creative uses of seasonal produce from Citizen’s kitchen. The prices are so fair that I don’t even feel guilty for cheating on my brown bag plan on a regular basis, and I have to hand it to them for making good food accessible and affordable.

I feel lucky to have had them move in near my office last summer, and I am looking forward to what the future holds for Citizen. I hope they are a fixture on 9th street for years to come. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, make the trip and make sure you turn in at the clever sandwich board. But don’t tell Greg and Lauren that Lauren sent you. . . because that would just be confusing.

Citizen is located at 909 East Main Street and they are open from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Check out their extremely informative facebook page here: Citizen RVA.

Table for One at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA

When I booked my flight to San Francisco for the annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, I decided to treat myself before the official festival began. I expected a hectic work week followed by an early morning flight and a jam-packed weekend of what can only be described as food blogger bliss. I wanted some quiet time and I deserved to have it at Alice Waters’ iconic Berkeley, CA restaurant, Chez Panisse. So I made a lunch reservation for one at the Chez Panisse Cafe.

When Chez Panisse opened its doors forty years ago, Alice Waters, the executive chef and owner, started a movement to build a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” She is a pioneer of the American cooking philosophy that promotes fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. She is an advocate for sustainable farming practices and food production. Alice Waters testified to the power of local sustainable food long before it became the fast-growing trend that it is today. Because this is a philosophy that guides my food choices, I was thrilled to go to the place where it all began and enjoy a delicious meal upon my arrival in San Francisco.

Some of my friends thought I was crazy for making the trek out to Berkeley to dine solo. When I told people about my plans, I received a few looks of pity, that I would have to endure the lonely experience of sitting at a table for one for an hour that would inevitably be a string of uncomfortable experiences: where to look? what to do? can these people tell I’m eavesdropping on their conversation just to satisfy my desperate yearning for human interaction?

Let's try a half-full mentality, shall we?

I experienced none of these things. Instead I nestled into my corner table, read every word of a beautiful menu, and took in every decorative element of the simply elegant cafe. I was not distracted by gossip from my tablemate. I was not rushed into a menu selection based on someone else’s readiness to order. Surrounded by people enjoying simple, fresh, seasonal food, I did not feel alone.

The meal began with bread and water, served in a beaker-like carafe, delicately engraved with the restaurant logo.

I selected the rigatoni alla Norma. I almost went for a salad because I felt that the pasta would be better for dinner. However as I watched other people’s plates come out, I noticed that several people had ordered full entrees and they all looked amazing. Besides, when will I ever be back at Chez Panisse for dinner? So as not to miss my opportunity, I just went for it. While I waited, I read Holly Hughes’ Best Food Writing 2011 and took in the decor.

Located directly above the main dining room (dinner only, prix fixe), the Chez Panisse Cafe offers a more casual environment with an a la carte menu. Mirrors around the room reflected the warm sunlight and the walls are papered with a collection of past daily menus. A few caught my eye, like Lunch for the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. I mused on what I would serve for lunch of Hillary Clinton was coming over, or Michelle Obama. I suppose you would serve what you do best and hope that she liked the selection.

The housemade rigatoni was incredible. I learned earlier this year what a difference fresh ricotta salata makes on a dish and experienced it again here. I was also struck by the uniformity of the vegetables in size and shape and made a mental note to work on my knife skills. I ate every bite on the whole plate and didn’t apologize for it. The servers were very attentive and offered coffee and dessert. I was really impressed with how friendly they were; sometimes when you visit an iconic restaurant such as this one, there is a hint (or a deluge) of snobbery from the waitstaff. Not the case at Chez Panisse. They were delightful.

Yes, I was stuffed but of course I didn’t pass up dessert. I ordered the Frog Hollow Farm pear crisp with toasted almond ice cream. The pears were so fresh and the crisp was exactly what it should be: light and crispy. The ice cream was to die for – how did they achieve the perfect toasted almond flavor? It was warm and smoky and nutty and everything I had hoped it would be. I couldn’t finish the whole thing because I was so full, but I had several perfect bites before I pushed the plate away.

After lunch I strolled through Berkeley and reflected on the meal. Dining alone is not all that bad. I felt way more present in the moment. I saw, smelled, tasted, and heard so much more than I would have if I had dined with a companion. I enjoyed every fresh, local, seasonal bite and was inspired by the dishes I tried. I love sharing food experiences with friends and family, but I will definitely do this again sometime. When I returned to my hotel forty minutes later, refreshed and inspired, I noticed the one downfall of dining alone. There is no one there to tell you when you have fresh, local, seasonal basil in your teeth. Oh well.