Florida, oh Florida. Land of biting bugs, sea shell covered beaches and great tropical fruit.
My vegan husband Jeff and I recently flew to Florida for a family visit and, while there, we ate out a few times—only a few times because, even though vegan/gluten free eating is perfectly normal here at home, in our little area of Florida it wasn’t. But we managed.
We started with a family barbecue, including appetizers (mixed veggie crudité, dressing I made from leftover ranch, mayo, wasabi, avocado and lime, a wonderful tapenade, crusty bread, and gluten free crackers), mains (vegan brats and burgers, scrumptious dill and chive potato salad, napa cabbage coleslaw, green salad, fruit salad, corn on the cob, brined barbecue chicken, grilled veggies with curry mayo and pickles) and, for dessert, Jeff’s mom made gluten free and vegan chocolate chip cookies! They were paired with salted caramel ice cream of the same persuasion as the cookies—a feast to be remembered. I’m full just thinking about it!
For our first dining out experience, we drove to Melbourne to see a house my brother is buying. After driving to the middle of somewhere in a marshy, swampy area, we saw it, did the Griswolds-viewing-the-Grand-Canyon routine and left to find lunch. Surprisingly, we found someplace just driving down the street! The Jungle Organic Restaurant & Whole Food Market is a wonderful treat; in a land of fried seafood, it’s an oasis of fresh, raw foods, yummy salads, burgers and desserts. There’s something for everyone. I had the raw vegan zucchini noodles with a delicious curry nut sauce. It was crunchy, a little spicy, full of veggies and so good on a hot day! Jeff ordered raw vegan sushi, and oh my god. Seaweed wrapped almost anything is tasty, but this, with some unknown vegan sauce, carrots, avocado and cucumbers, was amazing! Dessert was a raw carrot cake; I don’t know how they did it, but dang, it was amazingly moist and the opposite of stogy, including raisins for sweetness and nuts for texture, topped with some sort of coconut/date/nut creaminess. It was a perfect way to end the meal! We left happy and satisfied.
Our next experience was on Sanibel Island, where there are not many dinner options for us, so we planned on making our own—until, lo and behold, I found vegan/gluten free pizza at Matzaluna The Italian Kitchen! We couldn’t believe it, so off we went. It’s an old school Italian restaurant, reminiscent of the ’80s in decor and menu. We loved it! We ordered pizzas with gluten free crust—for me, chicken, mushrooms, basil pesto and mozzarella, yum! (I live dangerously on vacation). For him, Primavera (hold the cheese, though they serve vegan cheese). We even had wine with dinner; well, after about a half hour of my pestering and under duress, Jeff ordered… drumroll please!
White Zinfandel. Oh, White Zin, the bane of my waitressing years, but oh so good. It still tastes just like candy!
We did eat out two more times; unfortunately, they weren’t anything to write home about.