Monday, June 27, 2011

Holy Unexpectedly Fantastic Dinner, Batman!

Being both a Celiac and a vegetarian often makes eating out into an absurdly hard task.  A few major chain restaurants have GF menus that contain vegetarian items, and some smaller places are willing to do substitutions for things I can't eat.  However, I've never had a restaurant custom-make a dish purely to accommodate me.

That changed over the weekend.

On Saturday, my Betrothed and I drove down to North Carolina to surprise my Grandpa for his 90th birthday.  My dad was also visiting in honor of this momentous occasion, and we all went out for dinner that night to celebrate.  My dad, also a Celiac (he likes to say he inherited his gluten problems from me, which totally flummoxes the people who don't realize that he's joking), called ahead to the restaurant to see if they had GF-friendly options.  Happily, they said they had GF pasta and would be happy to amend any dish to make it safe for us.

When we got there, he told our server that we'd called ahead about the GF food.  She just happened to be the cook's wife, and sweet Jesus, she was awesome.  My dad quietly alerted her to the fact that I was also in need of a vegetarian option, which I didn't know until she came to take my order.  The menu was heavily meat-based, and the only vegetarian option on the menu was a salad.  Just as I was about to order the aforementioned plain salad (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed about the prospect of a bed of naked, lonely romaine lettuce), she said, as if it was totally no big deal, "We can make a pasta primavera with olive oil and garlic for you - would you like that?"

Um, YES.

As soon as the food arrived, I was basically smitten with my dinner.  I've never waxed poetic about any restaurant food, ever.  But ZOMFG, it was frickin' awesome.  First off, it looked gorgeous -- the vegetables were so beautiful and colorful that I wanted to dive in as soon as I saw it.  Dive in I did, and oh. My. God.  The garlic had infused the olive oil with an amazingly toasty, deep flavor.  When I've had pasta with garlic and olive oil before, it has tasted overwhelmingly of raw garlic -- but not this.  The garlic, while not roasted, absolutely tasted that way.  The GF pasta was al dente, and when coated with the garlicky, slightly salty olive oil, it was heavenly.  The veggies were tender and delicious.

Holy crap, this was awesome.

Once I was done, I had to restrain myself from licking the remaining olive oil straight out of the bowl.  My mantra went something like "Must. Not. Drink. Sauce. Must. Maintain. Decorum."  It was only with epic self-restraint, however, that I kept from doing away with any semblance of manners while freebasing what was left of my delicious dinner.

I've always cooked more than I've gone out, so I'd never before experienced a restaurant that can deviate from the menu with such grace and ease to accommodate someone's dietary needs.  But oh my, was it ever fantastic.  I'm now going to be on a mission to replicate that pasta primavera.  So help me God, I'll figure that one out...

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