Thursday, September 25, 2008

Deliciousness and Dinosaurs

Nestled between Escondido and San Marcos in a fairly isolated area of North County is a gem of a place known as Stone Brewery. You may know them as the local beer purveyors whose bottles have pictures of gargoyles on them and boast charming names like Arrogant Bastard Ale. While they have yet to make a gluten free beer they do have a fantastic, special diet friendly, supremely scrumptious restaurant on site called Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. The “and gardens” portion of their name is justly given because the grounds of the restaurant and brewery are gorgeously landscaped with a plethora of trees, vines, shrubbery, fountains, fire pits and of course lots of stones. The owners of Stone are big advocates of the Slow Food movement and make great efforts to use fresh, local, organic, and in season ingredients as much as possible in all of their delicious dishes. They also make many of their sauces, glazes and condiments in house as well so there is never any question as to what might or might not be an ingredient in something they offer. Restaurants that embrace the principals of the slow food movement like this are perfect places for people with food allergies to eat at because so much thought is put into where all of the ingredients come from and how they are processed before they reach the kitchen and eventually your plate. Let your server know you have a food allergy and what dishes look most appetizing to you and they will talk with the chef and offer you substitutions or suggestions to make sure whatever dish you order is safe for your consumption.

In the past two weeks I was fortunate enough to have dinner at this lovely allergy friendly bistro on not one but two Wednesday evenings in a row. The first visit we decided to start with one of my favorites, Caprese Salad made with bulbous and bright heirloom tomatoes and the most amazing buffalo mozzarella cheese.

Drizzled with a thick balsamic reduction and olive oil I think this was one of the tastiest caprese salads I have ever tasted. The cheese was so fresh, even though it was cold it almost melted in my mouth and the tomatoes were super thick and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. I think I would be perfectly content if I could eat this for one of my meals every day!

For dinner I ordered the 3 BBQ Duck Tacos, with chicken instead of duck since I prefer my ducks quacking and eating gluten free bread crumbs from my hands rather than in taco form.

These were delish! Served with a generous portion of their coconut black beans and a super spicy pineapple habanero salsa this dish was a delightful mélange of different textures and a most scrumptious amalgamation of hot, sweet and savory flavors.

Dinner was so delicious that we decided to return again one week later for another delicious diner and to catch the last of the Stone Summer Movie Series. Just below the outdoor seating area is a large lawn encircled with lovely lush landscaping and stones. For the screening evenings they put up a big movie screen and set up a bar in the back where they serve Stone beers, beer mac and cheese, breakfast burritos, Ethiopian coffee, and Mexican spiced hot cocoa. Before sitting down for dinner we set out our blankets and claimed a nice movie watching spot on the lawn for later.

For dinner I decided to order the Grilled Tandori Style Chicken. Normally this dish comes served with risotto and creamy sauce but after checking with the chef they decided neither of those items were safe and nixed them from my order. My custom gluten free dish consisted of a free range chicken breast generously coated with tandori spices, grilled and served atop seasonal veggies. The chicken was spiced perfectly and the veggies were fresh and super flavorful, even without sauce. It was a delicious light meal which was perfect because it was a warm evening and I did not want anything too heavy or filling to make me sleepy during the movie. After we finished our dinner we headed down to the lawns to cozy up on our blankets and watch the show.

The only thing better than watching a silly classic like Jurassic Park outdoors with a bunch of friends is watching it with Weird Al and Mike Nelson (of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame) doing silly commentary throughout the whole thing. During intermission they played some fun shorts from Rifftrax and my brother and I shared one of their delicious Mexican Spiced Hot Cocoas (served in a pint glass no less!).

Delicious food, friends and a side splittingly silly movie, such a lovely way to spend a warm Wednesday evening, I am already excited for next year’s movie series!

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