My Aunt Clare did a great job of cooking vegan for me and picking up some great treats from Ellwood Thompson's when I was in Richmond.
I'm not usually that impressed with non-co-op natural foods stores. That could be because I'm inherently biased against them (I work at a natural foods co-op and would always rather shop at one), but I really think that the really big natural stores feel so corporate and slick and all about the money. But Ellwood Thompson's did a great job of balancing looking really well put-together with feeling neighborly and comfortable (this is probably because they are a locally owned, single store operation, not a huge behemoth of a natural foods store). They also had really admirable product policies and an amazing deli. Their tofu/seitan "Chicken" nuggets were so realistic it as almost scary. I didn't get a chance to try their "chicken" salad, but it was made with these, so I assume it's stellar.
My dad even passed up barbecued pork to eat curried tofu and samosas at the deli! Amazing!
Here's what I ate:
I had to try the thick slab of vegan mac 'n cheese. How could I not? Although I had to heat it in a microwave and add a dash of salt, I thought it was a damn good mac 'n cheese. The texture was awesome- very creamy and not dried out at all despite being baked.
I also had a great salad with organic spinach, vegan croutons, shredded beets, shredded carrots, and Ranch dressing! I LOVE that the croutons were labeled as vegan so I didn't have to guess. For dessert I had the Pumpkin Cake with Nutmeg Frosting. Holy cow. It was rich and a serious sugar rush. I had to save 1/2 for later (good thing, too, since I had a surprise 3 hour layover in Chicago. It cheered me up).
And here's the latest pic of my Granny Sue and me. I only get to see her every few years, so it's always really special to get to visit with her.