Vegan Family Challenge Week 2!

Okay, so it’s been 13 days.  What the heck?  It’s not like I haven’t been home, but where does the time go!?!?

FOOD

Family vegan week 2 was also very great.  Lots of Tofurky sammiches, hummus and veggie pita’s, green smoothies, tempeh breakfast sammiches, and LOTS AND LOTS of mac no cheese!  Also lots of permanent changes that I’m totally thrilled about.

I also had a great dinner from AE on last Saturday night.  It was nice to get out (she lives about 2 blocks away), so it was a perfect evening with her and her beautiful little girls!

AE made a wonderful spinach and roast squash salad and roasted broccoli, and I contributed the mac no cheese!
AE made a wonderful spinach and roast squash salad and roasted broccoli, and I contributed the mac no cheese!

I’ll be doing a recap later – in the words of my husband and kids – about what they thought of the 2 week vegan challenge!  So stay tuned for that!  Until then, pictures!

a monster green smoothie!  One new development is that D now has a daily smoothie habit - which thrill me to NO end!
a monster green smoothie! One new development is that D now has a daily smoothie habit – which thrill me to NO end!
Went to lunch with my oldest, and had Tofu Green Curry!  Always a fav.
Went to lunch with my oldest, and had Tofu Green Curry! Always a fav.
Sunday morning, jammies, green smoothie, and reading a yoga book.  Yep.  Perfect.
Sunday morning, jammies, green smoothie, and reading a yoga book. Yep. Perfect.
A yummy pita sammich stuffed with grilled tofu, dijon mustard, and tons of crisp veggies.
A yummy pita sammich stuffed with grilled tofu, dijon mustard, and tons of crisp veggies.
Moe's taco salad!  Proof that there are some yummy vegan options out there when there's no time to make anything yourself.
Moe’s taco salad! Proof that there are some yummy vegan options out there when there’s no time to make anything yourself.
Cajun tofu, fettuccine alfredo, and green beans
Cajun tofu, fettuccine alfredo, and green beans
nothin sexier than watching your man make tofu!
nothin sexier than watching your man make tofu!
M's fav - the tempeh "sausage" and hasbrown breakfast sammich
M’s fav – the tempeh “sausage” and hasbrown breakfast sammich
more green smoothies!
more green smoothies!
a green smoothie theif
a green smoothie theif
my fav use for the old egg slicer.  Makes the perfect silken tofu pieces for tofu eggless salad
my fav use for the old egg slicer. Makes the perfect silken tofu pieces for tofu eggless salad

FITNESS

I’ve been doing lots and lots of yoga – being careful not to push my body past what it can do, and to mostly avoided twists and inversions due to the nature of my surgery.

However, as of my Thursday post-op appointment, I am now fully cleared to run again!  And what better way to kick that fun back off than with a race event??  Tomorrow, HF and I are going to participate in the Run Like a Girl 4 miler event in Richmond.  This organization was formed, originally, to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer.  And while that is still the primary focus, it has expanded to include all female specific cancers.  This is a topic very close to both HF and I, so we’re both looking forward to it.

LIFE

Well, it’s been a wonky couple of weeks.  While I have been mostly home recovering, I’ve also been working a ton (which is good – I’d have gone stir crazy if I were home and bored!).

D spent last weekend on the mountains taking pictures (will have to post some soon, because they are wonderful).  He went to the second highest point in Virginia to take shots of the meteor shower, and then spent several hours under the mountains in the Luray Caverns taking pics of those!  I’m definitely a huge fan of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I absolutely love these.

I went to a Meditation Essentials class at my yoga studio.  I’ve wanted to learn to meditate for a very long time – I know how wonderful it is for the body and brain – but never really knew how to get started.  This was a perfect class, and I have since started my own #5adaymeditate challenge for the next month.  I know I need to start small, but also need to be consistent or I won’t ever progress.  I’m happy to say that taking just 5 minutes a day to do this has been great.  I’m shocked by how much good only 5 minutes does.  I’ll eventually up the time, but for now, it’s about establishing a regular practice and using the tools I’ve learned to silence the constant swirling thoughts in my head.

I am heading out of town this afternoon for a week of work in Williamsburg, VA.  I can’t say I’m not excited, but that’s where my fav theme park, Busch Gardens, is – and it also happens to be the Food and Wine festival!  So we all know where I’ll be hanging out when not working!

And of course I’m making the short trip up to Richmond in the morning to meet up with HF for our run and to hang out for a bit.  I’m looking forward to that too, I haven’t seen her in a few months.

So I’ll leave you with a few pics of the last two weeks, and will hopefully write again soon!

Tonks deciding that the top of my dehydrator is the perfect place to nap.
Tonks deciding that the top of my dehydrator is the perfect place to nap.
R loves to set up a "bed" on the floor and sleep there.
R loves to set up a “bed” on the floor and sleep there.
A making some fresh OJ
A making some fresh OJ
Bumble always lies on my back if I'm lying on my stomach.  Here I'm trying to read, but couldn't resist a little selfie with her on my shoulder.
Bumble always lies on my back if I’m lying on my stomach. Here I’m trying to read, but couldn’t resist a little selfie with her on my shoulder.
morning picture!
morning picture!
these two kill me.  Sammie and Ginny are best friends.
these two kill me. Sammie and Ginny are best friends.
Ginny totally in attack mode one morning.  No toes were safe....
Ginny totally in attack mode one morning. No toes were safe….

When All Else Fails, Kill Them With (Vegan) Comfort Food!

Because of the whole surgery thing, still can't workout – so I'm not bothering with my normal layout.


Yesterday was my oldest daughter's 19th birthday! I think she overall had a very good day, some spent with family, some spent with friends, some of it on the beach, playing mini golf, and just being a normal teenager.

For her birthday dinner, A asked for a Tofurky roast, and I was more than happy to oblige! While I made that in the house along with a quinoa/brown rice/garlic grain dish, D whipped up his grill master skills and made corn, broccoli, portabello mushroom caps (marinated in broth, balsamic, and garlic – my fav combo), and asparagus. Everyone agreed that dinner was epic.

We always make homemade birthday cakes (because of R's nut allergies eliminating bakery options mainly), and this year was a strawberry cake with fresh pureed berries. It was really good.

After my blog post yesterday, a Twitter friend commented that perhaps I forgot what it was like to transition from a standard American diet to a vegan one. I didn't just jump into loving kale and green drinks – it was a much slower progression, often recreating my fav foods and comfort foods before I found my “healthy” dishes. So even though last week was good, I focused on creating a meal plan this week that's going to be more familiar for D and the kids.

So here are a few things I whipped up today.

While I started my day with a green juice (that was just me!), I made pancakes with fruit for everyone else. R had apples, A and M had grapes, and I had watermelon. D slept through breakfast, so he just missed out entirely 🙂

 

Lunch was a pita stuffed with tangy grilled tofu (which D whipped up last night), avocado, red onion, and lettuce. And a baked mac no cheese that everyone loved.

I also made some fresh bread for lunch sammiches this week and some homemade pesto from a basil plant in my kitchen.

Dinner was a pizza party! We've always done homemade pizzas, but tonight, we did a total of 5 smaller ones so everyone else can see how awesome vegan pizza can be! Here are the results:

BBQ chick'n pizza! Barbeque sauce, fresh chopped pineapple, and some Gardein Chick'n Scallopini breasts, thawed and chopped. This was the overall family favorite.

Vegan Margherita Pizza with fresh pesto! Tomato sauce, pesto, Daiya Mozz shredds, and thinly sliced roma tomatoes.

Super Veg! This is MY personal favorite. Tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic, broccoli, artichoke hearts, tomato slices, red pepper slices, black olives, and carmelized onions (which I made with some sucanant and balsamic).

Veg and Cheese was pizza option #4. It was a combo of 2 & 3, with some Daiya and a few less veggies, but with pineapple!

And finally, pizza 5 was a repeat of #1, but with Gardien Chick'n Tenders instead of the scallopini.

Everyone was happy and stuffed today – so for that, I'm greatful to @_ivegan for the great tips yesterday!

The rest of the day (when I wasn't cooking) was spent in bed. Quite frankly, I over did it a bit today, and am paying for it now. What can I say…I don't “rest” well.

Here's hoping you all have a great week! Our will be filled with some vegan comfort foods, that's for certain. And while it's not kale, it's still all much healthier than the standard alternatives – and that makes me incredibly happy (not to mention, no beings came into harm in the making of these fantabulous meals!).

 

Family Vegan Week 1!!!

FOOD

Well I have to say, this has been a fun food week – at least for me!  We’re nearing the end of the first week of the family vegan challenge, and so far, so good.  We’ve still had some struggles with my youngest, but she’s getting better.

We’ve had lots of morning smoothies, french toast, breakfast tacos, and other fun things in the mornings.  Lunches have mostly been wraps (bean and guac, BBQ lettuce, corn, tomato, and bean) and sammiches (tofu eggless salad, hummus and veggie), with sides of fruit and pasta salad.  Dinners have varied from pumpkin chili, baked chimichangas, tortilla soup, and Boca chickn patties.

Here are a few pics of what I managed to snap!

Cinnamon french toast topped with blackberry jelly!
Cinnamon french toast topped with blackberry jelly!
tofu eggless salad!  This is one of my fav sammiches, and was quite a hit with the family.
tofu eggless salad! This is one of my fav sammiches, and was quite a hit with the family.
pasta salad and fruit to round out the eggless salad sammich lunch
pasta salad and fruit to round out the eggless salad sammich lunch
my fav snack time - sitting outside in the heat, reading, eating oranges.  I did need to hose off my hands after though, before going inside and making everything sticky!
my fav snack time – sitting outside in the heat, reading, eating oranges. I did need to hose off my hands after though, before going inside and making everything sticky!
Pumpkin chili and sweet corn bread
Pumpkin chili and sweet corn bread
green smoothies!  Getting the entire clan on this bandwagon :)
green smoothies! Getting the entire clan on this bandwagon 🙂
Mexican Fiesta night!  Baked chimichangas, spanish rice, and salad with a cilantro-lime dressing.
Mexican Fiesta night! Baked chimichangas, Spanish rice, and salad with a cilantro-lime dressing.
Breakfast tacos with tofu scramble, brown rice, Daiya cheddar shreds, hot sauce, and avocado.
Breakfast tacos with tofu scramble, brown rice, Daiya cheddar shreds, hot sauce, and avocado.
BAS with romaine, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and tomato is a cilantro-lime dressing.  I ate this for two days!
BAS with romaine, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and tomato is a cilantro-lime dressing. I ate this for two days!

FITNESS

Well, I’m on a hiatus from any high impact activity for at least two weeks.  I had a minor surgical procedure yesterday, and depending on how my two week post-op appt goes, I’ll either be cleared to run and box again, or not.  In the mean time, I’m allowed to do yoga starting Monday (as long as I’m feeling OK), so that’s good!

As far as the past week has gone, it’s been yoga, running, and one day boxing.

LIFE

It’s been a good week, and slightly less hectic than normal.  With R’s neck injury, she’s off swim team for two weeks to heal, and that has certainly lessened up the running around.  A is now home for the summer too, so she can help relieve the burden too.

I worked from home a few days to be with R, was in the office a couple days, and then down in NC for one.  All good days!  We’re heading into go-lives starting tonight though, with no break until June 6th.  We’re bringing up 6 sites on our new systems in 3 weeks.  Completely crazy, but we’ll get through it.

Today is A’s birthday!!!  She’s NINETEEN.  Totally crazy.  We have a few surprises planned for her, so I’m not going to spill anything just yet.

The first vegan week has more or less gone well.  R was hiding the fact that she wasn’t eating though, so D and I had to have a long talk with her.  With her nut allergies, she’s honestly afraid of new things – and we’ve quite frankly, allowed her to be.  However, her throwing away food because she refused to eat anything new (which is what she did with the BBQ wrap), is completely unacceptable.  Her eating habits need a MAJOR overhaul, so we did some working together on that mid-week.  I took her to Whole Foods with me and let her pick out some foods that looked good to her.  I forget that when I first went veg, it took some time to get away from the meat replacements – and maybe that was some of her struggle.  While a Chic-kn Boca Burger isn’t as healthy as I’d like, it’s a good transition food, and is worth it if it helps rebuild her taste buds.  D has lost a few pounds, and since he’s skinny to begin with, I need to increase his calories – he’s finding himself hungry more often than before.  He had a few cheese and Doritos cravings, but I was incredibly proud of him.  Change as an adult can be difficult – he even skipped the office pizza lunch in favor of the hummus and veggie sammich!  M is also doing great – but also needs more calories.  At almost 17, he eats way more than I do!  A takes to this way of eating more naturally than the rest, though she also has grown to depend on quick meals (like Ramen) up at college, so getting away from boxed food is a challenge for her.

So there’s our recap of week 1!

R and I went to play Sorry and had a small cat invasion....
R and I went to play Sorry and had a small cat invasion….

Our Clan’s Vegan Adventure Begins!

FOOD

Oh, it’s good to be home!  My Mother’s Day meals consisted of a hummus breakfast sammich, unimpressive pizza, and a kid made dinner!

toast with hummus, romaine lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, and a bit of dijon mustard.
toast with hummus, romaine lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, and a bit of Dijon mustard.
very bland pizza and mimosa's w D down at the beach for lunch.
very bland pizza and mimosa’s w D down at the beach for lunch.
spicy pasta & lemon-herbed potatoes, made by my three kids!  Not pictured is the carrot cake :)
spicy pasta & lemon-herbed potatoes, made by my three kids! Not pictured is the carrot cake 🙂

And today marks Day 1 of my entire clan going vegan for two weeks!  I’m so proud of them.  Had a little bump with my youngest (as in, claiming she’s full and not eating because she fears new things), but otherwise, all is well.

Breakfast was strawberry pancakes and fruit smoothies.  I really liked these, though apparently M doesn’t really like strawberries (and for some strange reason, I didn’t know that!).

strawberry pancakes!  I didn't feel the need to put any syrup on mine, as they were flavorful enough on their own.
strawberry pancakes! I didn’t feel the need to put any syrup on mine, as they were flavorful enough on their own.

Lunch was a white bean, guacamole, and veggie wrap with a side of fruit and a blueberry/yogurt muffin.  The wrap is what R didn’t eat (and tried to hide by throwing away….brat child).

this is a pic of R's plate.  M had grapes, D had strawberry and grapes, and A had strawberry and grapes as their fruits.
this is a pic of R’s plate. M had grapes, D had strawberry and grapes, and A had strawberry and grapes as their fruits.

Dinner was tofu, veggie, and pineapple stir fry.

forgot to take a pic in the bowl, so here it is in the pan!  Tofu, pineapple, bell pepper, and broccoli over brown rice.
forgot to take a pic in the bowl, so here it is in the pan! Tofu, pineapple, bell pepper, and broccoli over brown rice.

All snacks were fruits and veggies!

snack time, relaxing in the lovely hot day!
snack time, relaxing in the lovely warm day!

So for Day 1….success (ish).

FITNESS

My Mother’s Day run wasn’t so awesome.  I went not long after waking up, and hadn’t eaten since lunch on Saturday.  Not smart – first half felt fine, second half felt like I was running through pea soup.  Stupid, and I know it.

Today’s run was much better!  It was after pancakes, and I felt I could keep going.  I should have known though – pancakes have been my secret energy food since a ~70 mile bike ride with my Dad one day when I was a kid!

Tomorrow the plan is boxing (if I’m home in time – I have to go to NC for work), or yoga if I’m NOT home in time.

LIFE

All told, very nice few days.  After my run yesterday, I had a hair appt.  I tend to only get my hair cut every 1-2 years, and it was time.  My last haircut was in Feb of 2013 – and it was really short.  I get bored with short hair though (mainly because I can’t handle the maintenance of regular hair cuts), so I have a tendency to let it grow for a long time after that.  It was time to clean it up a bit and thin it out (I have crazy thick hair), so in I went.  On the down side, I find most people can’t really handle curly hair, so I get gun shy on letting people touch it.  On the up side, my hair is pretty much never damaged (I credit all the fruits and veggies), so I can let it go for a long time without it looking horrible.

I tried out a new salon down at the beach, so D came with me to take pics on the boardwalk while I got my hair done.  After, we walked around a bit and then grabbed a late lunch.

a totally perfect day to be by the water.  Near 90 and sunny!
a totally perfect day to be by the water. Near 90 and sunny!

Last night was pretty quiet.  The kids were busy in the kitchen most of the evening, and I read and watched a little TV.  D took a nap, and all told, the evening was REALLY relaxing.

he'll probably kill me if he sees this, but he looks so darned cute when he sleeps :)
he’ll probably kill me if he sees this, but he looks so darned cute when he sleeps 🙂

 

 

I’m Very Good at Irish Diplomacy

FOOD

Most of my meals while up in DC area were salads from Wegman’s and snacks of fruits (I was working, after all), but I had a few other things too.  Obviously I felt the need to dedicate an entire blog post to one specific meal, so I won’t go into that one again here.

Of course I had to do Thai one day.  It’s my mission to try tofu green curry in as many places as physically possible!

spring rolls were amazingly fresh, though I did not like the dipping sauce.
spring rolls were amazingly fresh, though I did not like the dipping sauce.
thumbs up on their green curry!  Love it with tons of eggplant and bell peppers
thumbs up on their green curry! Love it with tons of eggplant and bell peppers

I did hit up a pizza joint one evening that had vegan pies, so I was in total heaven!

the place was called Brix, and the pizza was awesome (had it for breakfast several days too!)
the place was called Brix, and the pizza was awesome (had it for breakfast several days too!)

I went to make dinner last night, and found my house empty of my normal fresh foods.  I ended up making some Egyptian street food that got totally gobbled up!  Lentils, brown rice, and pasta in a spiced tomato sauce.  Good stuff!

6tag_090514-180410

My first breakfast since getting home though, has been my favorite!  A simple green smoothie, but I was so happy!  More than a week since my last one, and I think I was starting to feel cranky 🙂

coconut water, banana, mixed frozen fruit, kale, and a scoop of Garden of Life protein powder.  In bed, of course!
coconut water, banana, mixed frozen fruit, kale, and a scoop of Garden of Life protein powder. In bed, of course!

FITNESS

While up in Northern VA, went to a yoga class in Fairfax, and did a few classes on YogaGlo too.

My plan was to go on a group ride if I was up early enough (group meets at 730), but I wasn’t going to set an alarm.  I was not up in time!  I dressed in running clothes, but ended up missing it due to storms and the rest of my family (except the young one), being out and about, so I ended up doing a vigorous Ashtanga yoga class online (YogaGlo, of course) instead.

LIFE

Well, I can honestly say it’s good to be home!  My week away was a good week (both professionally and I did get to have fun too!), but it’s always nice to come home.

The project went live well, so that’s always good.  I got to see LS, which was really nice, and have dinner with HT and her hubby one night too!  We went to this little town called Occoquan one night for dinner and some shopping.  It quite honestly reminds me of the little mountain towns in the Shenandoah – but happens to be about 15 minutes from downtown DC!  It was so neat to step into this quite little place in the midst of the big city.

saw this mug in a little Irish shop in Occoquan.  I didn't get it because we have a ridiculous over-supply of coffee mugs already, but I loved it.
saw this mug in a little Irish shop in Occoquan. I didn’t get it because we have a ridiculous over-supply of coffee mugs already, but I loved it.

I spent some time in the city visiting the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.  I’m always in awe when I’m up there – I think it’s one of my very favorite cities ever; rich in history, beautiful, and never boring.

neat walkway near the judiciary center
neat walkway near the judiciary center
Capitol Building!  Wish they'd have let me into where the "work" gets done so I could give them all my advice ;)  No one ever asks me for my opinion!
Capitol Building! Wish they’d have let me into where the “work” gets done so I could give them all my advice 😉 No one ever asks me for my opinion!
the tunnel between the Capitol and the Jefferson building (one of the library of congress buildings - and by far the prettiest)
the tunnel between the Capitol and the Jefferson building (one of the library of congress buildings – and by far the prettiest)
China town.  This never gets old.
China town. This never gets old.
love all the signs in two languages
love all the signs in two languages
LOVE that they have such a successful bike share in DC.  Neat way to get around!
LOVE that they have such a successful bike share in DC. Neat way to get around!

On the way home yesterday, I picked up A from college!  She’s home for the summer – and already I’ve hardly seen her (she’s back to spending all her time in the bat cave…aka, her room).  Typical I suppose!

Ginny clearly didn't miss me, just my suitcase.  As an FYI, all 3 cats slept on it yesterday at some point.  Made unpacking challenging.
Ginny clearly didn’t miss me, just my suitcase. As an FYI, all 3 cats slept on it yesterday at some point. Made unpacking challenging.

I will say, it’s wonderful to be back in my bed.  I woke up at 630 to feed Sammie and let her out, then fell back asleep until 930!  That’s so unlike me, but I’m not complaining.  I normally sleep like crap.

M’s last performance (he’s in a play that opened last weekend) is tonight, and then it’ll be the cast party.  D is there taking pictures.

R pulled a muscle in her neck, so is pretty miserable.  It’ll be 2 weeks before she can swim, and that’s going to make her crazy.  She’s mostly lying still and watching Myth Busters.

So that’s as brief of a recap as I can manage for the events of the last week!

On a totally different note…and will be the subject of future posts…for a Mother’s Day gift, my entire family is going vegan!  I’m SOOOO excited.  I spent today ridding the house of all non-vegan things.  My fridge and pantry look so pretty 🙂

Stay tuned for more on that!

 

Where to Find a Little Art and Soul

This is a special post that will just be a review of an incredible experience I had last night.  I generally do not use names, but will make an exception to point out excellent service and special people I met.

Traveling as a vegan can sometimes be a pain.  I’m often relegated to large salads or a collection of side dishes (usually overcooked veggies) when dining out – unless I happen to be somewhere with an awesome vegan scene (and you can guess how many times THAT happens).  I usually have a Clif Bar and a banana in my purse as an emergency back up plan!

For the past 8 years or so, D has made it his personal mission to find restaurants for me and to try and arrange something special for me to eat when I’m traveling.  Often it’s because I’m away for work and attending vendor sponsored dinners – and I have no say in the restaurant choices.  Of course vendors like to impress, so they pick the most expensive steak and seafood place in town….and I’m left with mushy veggies.  It’s certainly not always – sometimes D succeeds in getting these places to make me something special, but it’s hit or miss.

Well let me tell you about a totally different experience last night in DC.  My husband was up here last weekend for a photography trip, and stopped in a place in Capitol Hill called Art and Soul.  He really enjoyed it, and was hoping I would too.  Since I’m here for work for the week, he reached out to the restaurant to see if they would do something special for me.

WP_20140507_18_10_45_Pro

First of all, they have a very active social media presence, and the number of tweets flying back and forth this week was crazy!  I love a company that really embraces social media, and @ArtandSoulDC really does.

It’s also owned by James Beard award winning Chef Art Smith.  You may know him from two different seasons of Top Chef Masters or as Oprah Winfrey’s one time personal chef.  Oh, and he owns a boat load of other restaurants and is a cookbook author.  I was totally giddy to try out his restaurant.  He was there last night (even got a grainy picture of him in his camo chef jacket), but did not meet him.

Chef Art Smith visiting with a table near me
Chef Art Smith visiting with a table near me

D spent several days talking and emailing with their social media managers, restaurant managers, and chefs – all to plan a perfect evening for me.  By the way, Chef Doug (@ChefAngrySauce) is the man to go see, no matter WHAT you want to eat.

Make no mistake – when looking at their menu, you would never think this would be a haven for a veg head.  It is farm-to-table Southern cuisine – with a gourmet twist, of course.  I can tell you though – based on the meal I had – you would never know that vegan wasn’t their thing.

I arrived twenty minutes early – to a major party happening in the outdoor area.  I was afraid I would have to wait for my table, but I was seated as soon as I came in.  It’s a nice and simply decorated restaurant that makes good use of their space – plenty of seating, but we weren’t packed in and sitting on top of one another.  No loud music either, which I appreciated.  I read for the first half of my stay (I was solo dining!),was with a friend the second – and we could easily hear each other.  It was dimly lit (as expected), but with a good vibe.

Within a couple of minutes, Chef Doug was at my table!  He introduced himself, told me about his communications with my husband, and said how happy he was for the challenge of making me something wonderful – and that he had a three course meal….with wine pairings….all planned out.  Talk about personal service!  I felt a little like Cinderella.

Roman was my server, and was very attentive and kind.  I had no problems letting him pick out my drinks for the evening – and while I’m generally not a white wine drinker, everything I had worked wonderfully with my meal.

Speaking of my meal…..

My first course was a delightful gazpacho.  I’m a sucker for cold soups, and I had to wonder if D gave him any hints!  It was a creamy tomato soup with chopped veggies, micro greens, and with a surprising twist of Moroccan spices and some mild heat.  The coldness of the soup combined with the heat of the spices was simply fantastic.  I have a feeling I’m going to spend the next year trying to recreate this dish!  I thought about licking the bowl. It was paired with a light Spanish wine.

My second dish was surprisingly hearty, but without being heavy.  Israeli couscous, farro, and chickpeas were the base of the dish, with peas, sugar snap peas, roasted asparagus, micro greens, roasted artichokes, and fiddle ferns.  Chef Doug served this with a table-side pouring of a wonderful broth over the dish – that I wish I could remember what it was called.  It was what the artichokes were boiled in, but also contained lemon and herbs.  It was very light and incredibly flavorful.  One of the waitresses there (who stopped by often to see what I was eating!), brought me a spoon so I wouldn’t miss any.  This was the first time I had ever had fiddle ferns, and they were very delicious.  At this point, I had to start slowing down – I didn’t want to get too full, but also really wanted to take the time to enjoy my meal.  Roman paired this one with an Italian white wine, which was also very good.

Dessert (something I almost never get to have!), was a trio of sorbet.  Raspberry (my absolute favorite), grapefruit, and kiwi/strawberry.  I honestly couldn’t finish it, but it was very tasty and fresh.  Roman served this with a small glass of a sweet German white.  Again, perfect pairing.

an absolutely incredible meal!
an absolutely incredible meal!

I had the chance to speak with Chef Doug a few more times that evening, and let him know that D and I will be coming there together later this summer.  I sincerely hope he makes my dinner again!

To top of an already perfect evening, my girlfriend LS came by for a late dinner (off the menu, but she said it was also wonderful) and a few drinks.  Roman again picked our wines for us.

So all in all – it was an incredible night.  It’s not very often that I get to experience such personalized service and to have an amazing vegan meal (that I didn’t make myself!).  I love D for making it happen, and for Art and Soul for making me feel so very special.  If you’re in the area – I highly suggest checking them out.  They definitely get 5 stars from me!

On a side note – a special mention for something I witnessed at the restaurant.  The table next to me was ordering, and the server (Roman!) asked them if they had any dietary restrictions or food allergies.  As a mother of a child with severe food allergies, I applaud the establishment for caring enough to ask this.  Dining out can be scary when food allergies are involved, and while my dietary restrictions are (more or less) self-imposed – my daughter’s aren’t.  The fact that they are willing to accommodate anyone who comes in is not something every restaurant can claim.