Dear Ninja Pea,

Food is really a symphony.

If so, your main course is like the melody; taste it, savor each musical line and pitch reaching for perfection. A glass of water keeps the beat, while something sweet ends the piece on the rise. And the side salad – oh, the side salad! You complement every flavorful note with a crunch, a tang, a vivacious variety. Refreshing, cleansing, and how else are we to get our vegetables?

However, it’s Ninja Pea that’s like the one tuba out of place.

Where do you come from, Ninja Pea? Once found in a whole new world,  at the far end of the salad bar, where your friends Quartered Cucumber and Cherry Tomato, you’ve traveled long, far, wide. And still, I beg a question of you: how is it that you managed to fit in with the croutons? Hang out with the cheeses, tofu, proteins? And furthermore, how is it that you’ve been so lost that you acquaint yourself with the Thousand Island dressing?

Do not misunderstand me, Ninja Pea. I do care for you so. Any day of the week, I would play the role of carrots for you. If you belong at the salad bar, I affirm you life choices. You are loved, little pea.

But you must understand, that you are not invited to my lettuce and greens party, not out of spite but out of respect. You are a good pea, Ninja Pea, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Your heft as a vegetable satisfies my hunger for green, soft yet densely calibrated, like a perfect pillow. But not light enough for my side. One day, when you are ready and wise enough, perhaps you will find a place in my bowl. But until then, if you really respect our relationship, you must not sneak your way into my salad.



Dear red chard,

Bacon-wrapped chicken with a Swiss red chard salad.

Bacon-wrapped chicken with a Swiss red chard salad.

You’re so pretty. I mean, really pretty. I’d be afraid to approach you in a bar, if I was a dude and you were a girl. But the other day at the store, I took a chance.

I didn’t dive in headfirst or anything: I just made a salad. But it’s so colorful, and the texture was not what I expected. It’s kind of like spinach with a chewier, heartier texture. Not too strong of a flavor, but it’s really yummy with blue cheese and some balsamic and white wine vinegar, and olive oil. I had onion lying around so I threw that in there too.

It was a weird salad, but good!

Swiss red chard salad, with white wine vinegar and blue cheese.

Swiss red chard salad, with white wine vinegar and blue cheese.

Dear Merchant’s Pub & Plate,

Merchant's burger

Merchant’s burger

Lawrence restaurants, step up your game because there’s a new player in town. The Merchant’s burger is possibly the most flavorful burger I’ve ever tried that hasn’t made my stomach feel like I ate a brick. Tack on a delicious salad and perfectly paired glass of brew and I’m in heaven. The “gastro” part of gastropub is evident in the amazing dance of flavors. By the way, did I mention the dessert menu includes bacon? Oh yeah, candied bacon on top of ice cream on top of a blondie. Let that soak in for a moment.

And no, I’m not ashamed that I’m going back for dinner again two days later. I will become a fixture here, whether you like it or not.