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Tanya's California Food Vacation

I have just returned from a wonderful vacation to Sebastopol, California, in the heart of Sonoma County. My dance partner Marta and I went up for a huge bellydance event called Tribal Fest. We’ve been before, so we knew the food would be great, but the ante had been upped since were there last. I have never been anywhere where everything was so fresh and delicious. Even the rest stops had organic offerings, perfumed strawberries, and gluten-free cookies. It was like being on another planet.

We ate the best french fries at a little Belgian waffle shop when we got into the city. They were thick, hand-cut, hard crunchy on the outside, and hot and moist and floury within, with basil mayonnaise to dip them in. That night we went to the grocery store and took home a lovely, spicy vegetable curry on brown rice, as well as some marcona almonds, house-cured olives, medjool dates, and really stinky, runny cheese. The next day we ate a fantastic dish of chilaquiles—tortillas sautéed with chile sauce, eggs, cheese and avocado that nearly made us weep with joy.

I ate almost no meat. Marta is a recently turned vegetarian but it didn’t stop us from having wonderful meals everywhere we went. To celebrate our dance performance, I took her on a fancy date where we ate roasted asparagus with poached egg, pecorino romano, and fresh pepper. We shared a salad of crunchy local lettuce tossed with a sheer herb vinaigrette and fiddlehead ferns. We spooned up stewed greens cooked with roasted garlic, anchovy and olive oil. We ended our meal with a chocolate cake that barely toed the line between mousse and cake. We were still drooling as we flew away.

As much as I love Wichita, it’s always inspiring to see what other people are cooking.