Valley Smoke BBQ

Considering that Brian and I work and, of course, live together you wouldn’t think we’d need (or want) any more time with one another.  Strangely enough, even after a long day of renovation and shoveling dirt, we still kinda like each other.  We’ve recently started a weekly ‘date night’ and it’s been a nice change for the two of us.  Since our job renovating houses allows a pretty casual dress code (hello, sweats and ponytails!) its been nice to have a reason to get dressed up (by dressed up, I mean clothes that don’t have paint or dirt on them) and go out together.

Last week we decided to try Valley Smoke BBQ which had just opened in October.  BBQ is generally a pretty safe Gluten Free choice and I’d had a GF friend that had visited and said that there were plenty of GF options.  Since she survived… and even said it was pretty yummy, we decided to give it a taste.

I wasn’t quite sure how to dress for the evening.  Valley Smoke BBQ, who bills themselves as a ‘upscale smokehouse’ is located on the Intercostal Waterway in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.  We needed reservations, they valet your car, but we’d also be eating BBQ… possibly with our fingers…. Upscale Smokehouse, huh?  I shouldn’t have been worried though.  As with most of the places we’ve discovered in Ponte Vedra Beach, the dress is a comfy mix of jeans, shorts, dresses, polo shirts and sandals.  Our construction dress probably wouldn’t have blended so well, but jeans and a cute top were fine.  For the BBQed fingers, they provided denim-like napkins that were perfectly suited for upscale BBQ.

I asked for a GF menu before we were seated and the hostess supplied me with the ‘hostess copy.’  So, yes, they have a printed GF menu, but it’s just a paper copy.  (+ points for having a GF menu, – points for not having a ‘real’ menu.) The hostess did say if there was something on the regular menu that interested me, I could ask my server and the kitchen could probably make GF alterations.  (+ points for adaptability.)  Hopefully, they’ll add a real GF menu in the future, or maybe GF designations on the regular menu.  It’s not a deal breaker, but it does make me feel more valued and a bit safer, like they’re taking their GF customers seriously.  Luckily our waitress was GF too (Bonus Points!) and she was able to offer recommendations and attest to having eaten and survived.

Our waitress suggested the cornbread as a starter, but we noticed that it wasn’t on the GF menu at all, which was strange because most items were on the menu with the designation ‘Gluten Free’ ‘NO’ or the alterations necessary to make it GF (ie, remove croutons).  She said she ate the cornbread and my GF friend had even mentioned eating the cornbread, so I asked that she just check in with the kitchen, but we figured that it had just been forgotten on the GF menu.  I’m glad we tried it… the cornbread was delish!  It was more on the savory side than I normally like but I smothered my slices with all the honey-butter and I thought it was perfect.  Brian apparently prefers savory cornbread, so I actually had to share. One order was just the perfect amount for the two of us with enough left over to take home for lunch the next day.

IMG_1641

For the entrée we decided to share the Que for Two, which was more than enough for both of us.  We ordered the ribs, brisket and pork.  For the sides we got Bacon Garlic Green Beans, Whipped Potatoes, and German Potatoes.  I was disappointed to see that the kitchen sent out our order with the Garlic Toast on the side even though we were a GF order… It was on the side and not actually touching anything, but still…. (- points).

The food was fabulous!  Forgive my picture, it doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness that filled our table… the early evening light, reflecting off the nearby waterway, filtered through the palm leaves was absolutely perfect for the ambiance… but crap for food photography.

IMG_1646

After stuffing ourselves silly on BBQ and potatoes Brian rolled his eyes at the suggestion of dessert, but I’d thought ahead and saved a bit of tummy space.  We packed up some of the ribs, brisket and German Potatoes for lunch the next day and happily ordered dessert.  There were a couple of different GF dessert options, but I’ll admit that I got completely distracted once our waitress mentioned the Apple Crisp with Bourbon Ice Cream and quit listening. The Apple Crisp was piping hot and absolutely delicious.  I would highly recommend it!

IMG_1649 Valley Smoke will probably become one of our top choices in local restaurants.  Like with the other restaurants we’ve discovered along the Intercostal Waterway/Roscoe Blvd, the location is small and the parking insanely limited.  Reservations are necessary, but fortunately you can use the Open Table app.  (+ points!)

I adore the decor… even the deer-head above the fireplace… which I know would normally have bothered me, but the deer seemed so serene as he stared at me over Brian’s head.  Maybe it was the cotton blossoms in a vase beside him… I don’t know, I just liked the deer.  The decor is a mix of… rustic industrial?  Rich woods and stone mixed with wrought iron and glass.  It definitely feels upscale, but I didn’t feel like a heathen eating BBQ in the beautiful surroundings…. a very interesting combination to pull off.  Brian and I spent a silly amount of time discussing how they’d gotten the curtains hung from the galvanized pipe rods and how they would ever get them back down.  Brian says it’s probably a safety feature to keep people like me from trying to steal the curtains.  (I did really like the curtains…. )

Have you tried Valley Smoke BBQ yet?  What did you think?

Advertisements

Perfect Gluten Free Pie Crust

IMG_8100

Last October I wrote a blog post about the perfect flaky gluten free pie crust.  We were living in the RV and traveling around the North East at the time and the photos that I took to accompany the recipe were terrible.  The inside of RV’s just don’t have the best lighting and backgrounds for nice food photos.  I’d planned to remake the recipe and add some nice photos when we got moved into our new house, but it slipped my mind until a few days ago when I looked the recipe up for a peach pie I was planning.  The photos made me cringe.  I could just shoot new photos and replace the old ones…. but they kinda fit the story….. so I just had to make another pie (gee, darn) and shoot new photos! IMG_8104

I have a confession…. I stink at making pie crust.  My Grandmother made the most fantastic pie crust and she swore that I could learn to make them too.  (Actually she swore a lot when I tried to make pie crust.)  I could stand right beside her, mimicking her every move and still screw it up.  Grandma would have this tender, flaky, perfectly ruffle edged pie crust and I would create frisbees.  It was bad.  (I did learn new swear words, though, so it was still educational.)  Fortunately you can buy some very nice, pre-made, frozen pie crusts.

IMG_8111

It wasn’t until I went Gluten Free a few years ago and I had to find pie crusts alternatives that I decided to try my hand at making pie crust again.  The frozen GF crust are often more expensive than I like to spend … though there are some nice ones (I like theses).  I found a great recipe from Wicked Kitchen for a gluten free (make your own gf flour) pie crust.  But I am lazy…. (not so lazy that I just buy the frozen GF crust, but too lazy to make my own GF flour).   I don’t like messing around with making my own flour…. King Arthur’s Measure for Measure and Cup4Cup are too good and so much easier.  So I just followed Wicked Kitchen’s non-GF recipe and used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure in place of the regular flour.

IMG_8117

This is a pretty straight forward recipe.  Dump the ingredients in your stand mixer in the right order… make sure the cream cheese and butter are COLD, and be sure to let the crust chill for the full hour before rolling.  Wicked Kitchen has some great tips and information about pre-baking and blind baking and such, so you might enjoy checking out her post too.

IMG_8118

I have also used this recipe to make Grandma’s Turkey Pot Pie.  I omitted the vanilla, but left the sugar… I know it sounds strange, but this isn’t an overly sweet pie crust and the slight (tiny) bit of sweet goes nicely with the savory flavors of the Pot Pie.

 

Gluten Free Flaky Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 2½ c  King Arthur’s Measure for Measure GF Flour
  • 1 c (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, chilled
  • 1 (8-ounce pkg)  Cream Cheese, chilled
  • 1 TBLS Sugar
  • 1 tsp  Vanilla
  • ½ tsp Salt

Directions

Measure flour and set aside. Using an electric stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add in sugar, vanilla and salt; mix until well combined. Add flour in two batches beating just until incorporated. Scoop dough into a ball and flatten slightly.   Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Allow dough to thaw a few minutes before rolling. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap.

For Prebaked Pie Shells: Preheat oven to 425° F.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

——

I used 1/2 the pie crust recipe to make 3 small pies.  I used these dishes.

Peach Filling

  • 4 Peaches, diced
  • 3 TBLS Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 3 TBLS Brandy

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside while you prepare the pie crusts. Once the pie crusts are prepared, spoon the peach mixture into the unbaked pie crust.  I made a lattice top, but you could probably make a double crust using this size of pan. (Really though… lattice is SO much cuter for these peach pies!) Brush the top of your crust with an egg wash (1 egg whisked with a bit of water) then sprinkle a bit of sugar over the wet egg wash.

Bake at 350° F for 35 – 40 minutes.  Watch the top of your crust that it doesn’t get too dark. Pie filling should be bubbling.

Chocolate Chip Almond Treats

I’ve been making a lot more recipes that call for almond flour lately.  I’m trying to stay lower-carb and keep away from all the gluten free flours and all of their high carb, blood sugar raising, deliciousness.  (Not that they’re not quite tasty and wonderful in many ways…. I’m just trying to cut back.)

Almond flour is a naturally gluten free (it’s just almonds) flour substitute.  It’s not the near perfect GF flour replacement of King Arthur’s Measure for Measure or Cup4Cup.  Almond Flour requires more fooling around and probably a better understanding of the whole chemistry/magic of baking.  I haven’t quite mastered the chemical/magical understanding yet, so I just stick to the recipes that other’s have already created.  Not that that’s foolproof either…. wow!  There’s some really awful almond flour concoctions out there!  Fortunately for all of us… this recipe isn’t one of the stinkers…. in fact, it’s pretty damn amazing.

One bit of warning:  These aren’t your traditional flour based Chocolate Chip Cookies…. they’re Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies.  They’re softer and chewier and have a slight almond (duh) flavor.

I discovered this recipe on the back of the Blue Diamond Almond Flour bag that I came across in CostCo a few weeks ago.  I usually prefer King Arthur Almond Flour, but I figured the Blue Diamond was such a great price, I should give it a try.  I’ve used it in several of my favorite almond flour recipes and its worked wonderfully.

IMG_9910

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 2½ cups Blue Diamond Almond Flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together butter, sugars and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and then mix in eggs.
  3. Stir in almond flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop tablespoons* of dough two inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top and firm to the touch.

*we used this cookie scoop and flattened the cookies with the back of a fork since they don’t spread on their own.

 

Arbonne Detox – thirty days and beyond

We finished up our 30-day Arbonne Detox sometime last week. The exact ending date is kind of blurred…. we went on vacation for a few days near the end of our 30 days, but tried to stick to most of the diet.  And we went back to it when we got home… so the end was a bit blurred. 

We still haven’t actually ‘quit’ the program either. We’ve tried adding things back in, but for the most part we like the program as a lifestyle. I plan to keep up with the shakes for breakfast and/or lunch. They’re super easy, I like the taste and (amazingly) they’re quite filling.  Honestly, I’ve tried a ton of shakes and hated most of them. I’m super picky about the texture and the aftertaste of the sweeteners. That I actually like these shakes is a near miracle. 

Brian uses the shake powder to make pancakes every morning. They look really good, he adds a bit of Swerve sweetener to them and I just can’t get past the stevia taste. (Incidentally, Mom and Brian swear they can’t taste anything… so really, it could just be me.) 

Okay, down to the nitty gritty… the real reason you read this far…. Brian lost 15lbs. (He’s a monster, right?!). I lost 5 🙄

I know, I know…. it sounds like a lot of work for a stinking’ five pounds…. but…. remember how I’d been complaining about feeling ‘off’ before we started the Detox?  The headaches and stomach problems?  Well…. I may have only lost five pounds, but I also lost the headaches and stomach issues.   I had one headache the entire month…. and I’m actually going to blame that on my massage therapist who was working on some neck issues that I was having…. those kind of headaches feel different anyway. 

The biggest confirmation that the detox helped actually came when we started adding things back in. We had pizza for lunch one afternoon. (Gluten free crust, but still high carb crust.) By mid-afternoon I was SO tired I couldn’t hardly keep my eyes open. That night I slept poorly. No headaches or stomach problems, but, boy! it sucked the energy right out of me. One evening we had dinner at a Spanish restaurant and had rice with our meals… I also had half a pitcher of sangria… and neither Brian or I slept well that night. Just couldn’t settle or fall asleep. We didn’t feel bad… we just couldn’t fall asleep. Normally when you think of food disturbing your sleep you think indigestion or over-caffeination.  That wasn’t our issue…. we just couldn’t get to sleep… or sleep well once we did finally fall asleep. 

I am extremely happy to report that I’ve had dairy and it doesn’t cause any tummy problems…. I think the sugar in the ice cream may have zapped my energy (zing and crash!) but I’ve had cheese again with no issues. (Yay! Fat Head Pizza Crust is back on the menu!) 

Brian and I both feel that the 30-Day program was really beneficial for us. It’s too easy to slip and slide through a ‘diet’ with little indiscretions here and there. The strict  regimen of NO (no corn, gluten, alcohol, soy or sugar) was exactaly what we needed. No counting or weighing, just NO. 

The Arbonne Detox products were well worth the cost in my opinion. Mom suggested that I could probably find equivalent products cheeper, but honestly, I liked just having everything put together ‘here ya go.’ 📦  I liked the shakes. After some experimentation (shakes need ice, almond milk, and some berries blended with them) I found them tasty and filling. Brian was happy with turning the shake mix into pancakes. I often had another shake for lunch, but Brian liked to have sausage or sliced deli meat and a veggie. Dinners were generally some kind of meat with veggies. It took me a while to warm up to the Detox Tea, but I finally came to enjoy it as an after dinner treat in place of my usual cup of coffee. I also liked the Fizz Sticks with a packet of the Digestion Plus mid-afternoon. Brian couldn’t get past the taste of the 7-cleanse drink. (We actually took Option 2 and drank it at the end of each week rather than Option 1 where you started the program with the cleanse. 

I’ll keep ya updated as we continue on with the program…. mostly on Facebook, so be sure you’re following me there too! 

Gluten Free Key Lime Treats in the Florida Keys

When Brian and I visited the Florida Keys recently I made an extensive search of all the Gluten Free Key Lime treats. It was a challenge, but I love my readers…. Diet be damned! I ate every gf Key Lime treat I could find…. ’cause I love you guys! 😁 

Coconut Fried Key Lime Ice Cream

Marker 88
88000 Overseas Hwy,
Islamorada, FL 33036
Not my favorite Key Lime Treat in the Keys. The coconut coating was good, but the ice cream was so frozen it was hard to scoop it up with the spoon. It had to be ‘stabbed’ more than scooped. 


Key Lime Sorbet

Key Largo Chocolates 
100470 Overseas Hwy
Key Largo, FL 33037
Again, not a favorite…. Key Largo Chocolates had good reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app. Maybe I just got the wrong employee.  She seemed disinterested and not very clear about what would be safe for GF people. 

I was excited to try the Key Lime Ice Cream, but when pressed, the clerk said that sometimes, when one of the frozen Key Lime bars (which do have crust) break in manufacturing they’ll add it to the Key Lime Ice Cream…. so it’s not necessarily safe. The sorbet is gf…. but… it’s just sorbet…. meh. 

They also had truffles and other Key Lime treats at the store, but by the time I’d badgered answers out of the clerk about the ice cream I was annoyed and ready to leave. 


Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe
802 Duval St
Key West, FL 33040
Kermit’s had great reviews on the FMGF app and they were so right!  

The staff was sweet and helpful. The first day…. (yeah…. I had to go back a second time…) I got a slice of GF Key Lime pie. OMG! It was so good. Rich and creamy… super Key Lime-y…. and NOT geen…. yay!  (because it shouldn’t be green… that’s just dye… yuck!) Brian and I each got our own slice… because I don’t share pie! 


On our second day in Key West we went on a Sailing / Snorkeling / Kayacking tour. Afterward we ate BBQ and then went back to the hotel to clean up (from the salt water, not the BBQ sauce!)  Brian would have been happy to turn in early, but I wanted to find some Key Lime Ice Cream. 

You wouldn’t think it would be so damn hard to find ice cream!  


Here’s a list of where GF Key Lime Ice Cream ISN’T: 

  • Häagen-Dazs® Ice Cream Shop
  • Kilwins Key West Chocolates Fudge (crust in the ice cream) 
  • Mattheessen’s (this place really ticked me off.  When asked, the clerk said it only had ‘little bits’ of pie crust in it. Yeah… ‘little bits’ are still a problem! Grrrr 😡

After checking all the ice cream places close to the hotel and only finding ice cream with pie crust chunks I was annoyed and determined to find GF Key Lime Ice Cream. Brian and I headed back to Kermit’s where I knew they had GF Key Lime Ice Cream. 

Brian wasn’t ecstatic that I made him walk a mile for ice cream, but it was damn good ice cream… and I argued that all the walking burned up all the calories! 

Gluten Free in the Florida Keys

Uggh… that’s so close to rhyming… ‘gluten frees in the Florida Keys’?  Nope…. it’s kinda making me crazy. Maybe I should just change it to ‘What I Ate on Vacation.’ Boring, but the almost rhyme wouldn’t bother me then. *sigh*

Anyway… so Gluten Free Stuff That I Ate on Vacation in the Florida Keys. 

The first day as we drove down the A1A (between St Augustine and the first Keys) we stopped for a picnic lunch along the beach. (Because there are sandy beaches along that stretch, but not IN the Keys.) We’re back on track with our much healither GF lunches… lunch meat, nuts, fruit and water. It’s easy to pack, way healthier, lower carb and travels nicely in the small cooler. 

The Florida Keys are filled with Gluten Free Friendly resturants. You could walk around and eat forever…. which I strongly considered… and tried to argue for, but Brian wanted to be ‘healthy’ and sight see and stuff.  😩

Thank heavens for the Find Me Gluten Free App. I don’t know how any GF person can survive without it!  FMGF was filled with recommendations all throughout the Keys. 

For lunch we stopped at Marker 88 in Key Largo. They had good reviews on FMGF  and the sales guy from the Visitor Center gave us a card for 10% off. 

The food was really good and the staff was polite and helpful with ordering GF safely. They had a separate GF menu and I appreciated that the GF menu was posted on their website. It’s nice to see what’s available before you get to the restaurant. 

Brian and I were even able to stay on our Arbonne Detox plan (a little longer). Except for the Coconut Crusted Deep Fried Ice Cream that we shared for dessert…. umm… but I had to order that for you guys, right?!  I have a responsibility to my readers! 

Brian got the Shrimp Zoodles. My mom has been telling me to make zoodles for forever, but I kept resisting… they just didn’t sound yummy…. Mom was right (As usual) the zoodles were delicious! 

I ordered the Alligator Reef Salad. There’s no alligator in the salad…. but the crab, shrimp and hearts of palm were super yummy. It was served with a Mango Citrus dressing that really complimented the shrimp and crab. 

The Coconut Fried Key Lime Ice Cream sounded better than it actually was.  The coconut crust was good, but the ice cream was super frozen. Obviously it had to be really cold so it could be fried, but it made it really difficult to eat.

Marker 88
88000 Overseas Hwy
Islamorda, FL 33036

_________

By dinnertime I didn’t care about keeping to the detox…. I wanted pizza!  Off the Hook Grill was well recommended on the GFMF app…. for a good reason! 🤤

Brian got the Duck BLT… made with duck bacon. OMG! Sooo good. 


I got the Lobster Pie.  It was good… but also kind of odd, but good…. I liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite pizza ever.  The bits of fig and balsamic vinegar gave it a slightly sweet flavor. Not bad, but I prefer more savory pizzas. The crust was fabulous though! 

Our waitress brought me a sample of the blueberry cider from Slim Pickens Cider and Mead. (A local brewer!) I’m not normally a big cider drinker, but I couldn’t pass up blueberry. It had a nice berry flavor, but not overly sweet…. crisp.   Perfect with pizza. 

We liked the restaurant so much that Brian and I went back the following morning for breakfast. 

Brian ordered the GF pancakes. He liked them, but they weren’t my favorite. They were thick and a bit ‘biscuit’ like. 

Since we were going out on the Sailboat / Snorkel / Kayacking tour that day I didn’t want to eat anything that might upset my tummy. 

I ordered scrambled eggs and duck bacon with a side of potatoes and gf toast. The waiter was great and told us that the potatoes themselves were gf, but since they’re fried there could be cross contamination… but since we were the first customers that morning and they change their oil every day the potatoes would be safe.  I appreciate that he took the extra step to warn me that they were safe this time, but might not be next time. 

The toast seemed to just be Udi’s… I should have told them to skip the toast, but every once in a while I come across something new and yummy. 

Word of warning: the restaurant is tiny.  Seriously tiny… 18 seats at tables and about 8 at the bar. Make reservations! 

Off The Hook Grill
728 Simonton St
Key West, FL 33040
___________

After a fun / tiring day on the sailboat, snorkeling and kayacking we were starved. (They fed us a good lunch on the sailboat, but I tried to stay out of the after lunch snacks… and a day in the water will wear you out!) 

Brian had been craving BBQ. I argued for Mexican, but I caved when I heard that the BBQ place was closer. I was just ready to eat and then go back to the room and get cleaned up. 


The waitress gave us a separate GF menu (single sheet of paper). She didn’t seem very knowledgeable about what was GF or not. I asked if the potato salad was safe and she said she thought it should be safe because potatoes are gluten free. Ugh. We ordered the BBQ Plate for Two. All of the sauces were Gluten Free and we decided to stick with green beans for our sides since they were listed on the gf menu. 

Despite asking for a Gluten Free menu, talking about Gluten Free choices and SAYING that we were Gluten Free they still brought us a basket of cornbread. What?!? (Strangely, the only mention that I can find on their online menu about gf is that the cornbread isn’t Gluten Free… but no other mention of what is or isn’t gf. So why bother?) 

The food was good and we didn’t get sick…. I’m not confident that they had the best understanding of GF…. it seems more like the meats and sauces are gf and if you stick to those you’ll be okay. 

Charlie Mac’s 404
404 Southard St
Key West, FL 33040

_____________


I read some delicious sounding reviews for Le Petit Paris and had insisted that we weren’t leaving Key West until I got to go there for breakfast. 


Cinnamon Rasin French Toast with cinnamon butter and walnuts. *gasp* It was syrup coated heaven! I should have asked what brand of bread they used, but I was so busy stuffing every last bite into my mouth I never managed to ask. It was absolutely delish!  


Brian ordered the GF pancakes. They were…. cute?  Four very small, strawberry decorated pancakes made up Brian’s breakfast. It was almost comical compared to my heaping plate of French Toast. Fortunately for me, Brian doesn’t like raisins, so I didn’t have to share! 

Breakfast was not inexpensive. There was a $4 up-charge for all GF orders… which seems a bit steep to me…. but, the food was delicious. So just go in knowing that you’re going to pay an arm and a leg. (It’s worth it though!) The pancakes were $12 and the French Toast was $11 before the extra $4. Strangely, my French Toast got the upcharge, but Brian’s pancakes didn’t…. I took a bite of his pancakes and didn’t have any issues, so…. 

Le Petit Paris
825 Duval St
Key West, FL 33040

___________

I also made an extensive search of Gluten Free Key Lime treats, but that’s a whole other post. It was challenging, but I love my readers…. Diet be damned!  I ate every gf Key Lime treat I could find…. ’cause I love you guys! 😁  Post coming soon 

Tijuana Flats

Our new house is in a new community… so there is construction going on constantly. Which is actually not as awful as I had expected it to be.  Even when the house next door to our was under construction it wasn’t really noisy.  There seem to be small teams of trades that come, do their part and then move on to the next house.  My only problem comes from the teams that play the spunky music like you hear in the Mexican restaurants.  Apparently I’ve got some Pavlovian response going on and the second I hear Mexican music I start craving nachos and salsa.  I can’t help it… I can’t shut up about it either.  I may be making Mom and Brian slightly crazy with my constant talk about nachos.  We’ve had taco bowls for dinner twice this week!  I really hope that team moves out of earshot soon.  I don’t seem to have any uncontrollable cravings from country or rock music, so I should be fine soon.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on if we’re considering my detox or my crazed cravings…. Tijuana Flats just opened in Town Center.  Even though I’m on this 30-day Arbonne Detox I couldn’t miss the grand opening.  I checked the menu online first to make sure I wouldn’t be faced with salsa and chips as my only options… because I wouldn’t be able to resist.  They actually had a really easy to read/understand Allergy Information page.  (Why can’t they all be like this?!) It’s a nice chart that clearly list gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, nuts and fish…. and best of all… says sensible things like “dairy free if ordered without cheese.”  So often these charts leave you to wonder…. is there dairy/gluten in there somewhere that I’m not imagining?  Would it be safe if I just didn’t get cheese on it?  Is it worth the risk???

I figured I’d be safe with one of the Bowls and could even stay within most of the Detox restrictions.  I’d have to forgo the chips this time… but 20 more days and everybody better stand aside!

Mom and I tried to go at lunchtime, but that was just silly.  The parking lot was packed and cars and golf carts were circling the lot like…. well…. hungry sharks.  To celebrate their Grand Opening, Tijuana Flats was offering free burritos…. there was no way I was going to get a parking spot at noon.  Duh!

We replotted the schedule and did our grocery shopping first… on empty tummies…. Can you even imagine what I threw in the cart?!

Fortunately I was finally able to sneak into a parking space around 1:00.  Mom and I darted across the parking lot, dodging golf carts all the way and were promptly blasted back by the music and chatter from inside. I feel old just for saying this…. but damn, turn the music down! The greeter at the door supplied us with menus and when I asked about a gluten free menu she said they didn’t have a ‘menu’ but they did have the allergy info and offered to grab it from the counter for me.  I already had it on my phone, so I passed, but she did add that the people at the order counter could help me too.

After glancing at the menu, Mom and I decided to stick to our game plan… Burrito Bowls. I told the ladies at the counter that we were gluten free and they all nodded confidently, and started rattling off a long list of things that would be safe.  They even mentioned items that are gluten free, but would be at risk for cross contamination from the fryers. (Bonus Points!)  We ordered our Bowls to-go since we still had the groceries in the car and I sent Mom out to turn the A/C back on while I waited.

It was crowded and noisy (just turn the music down a little?) but all the staff was just so darn nice.  They must have been feeding them pixi-sticks and Mt Dew in the back room or something, because after that crowd I don’t know how everyone was still being friendly.  The restaurant had a giant mermaid picture on one wall and I thought about snapping a picture, but it was crowded and I didn’t think I could crop out all the people… so I guess I’ll just have to go back again soon…. for the blog.  There is a nice patio area outside where I’d probably choose to sit next time… just to avoid the noise.  When your order is ready a server comes out and YELLS your name…. repeatedly, because apparently no one pays attention, or maybe they just can’t hear either.

IMG_8645

The Burrito Bowls were huge and absolutely delicious.  We both ordered chicken, and had them hold the cheese and sour cream (this time).  Everything was bright and fresh.  I can’t wait until I’m done with this detox and I can try the tacos! The burritos were HUGE and look fantastic, but they’re made with a flour tortilla, so those won’t be safe for me even after the Detox Program is through.  I’m just happy to have a safe and yummy Mexican place so close to home now!

I just noticed when I went to get the link…. I can order online… OMG!!!! Just think of the snacking possibilities!

 

Tijuana Flats – Nocatee

41 Settlement Drive

Ponte Vedra, FL 32081