Monday, March 10, 2014

That Hidden Gem

Don't you just love finding a town's hidden gems? Those special places where the locals know to go.

For example, in the beautiful, peaceful mountain community of Idyllwild, California, there has been a great restaurant named the Gastrognome that my husband and I have dined at for 20 years when we're in Idyllwild. It is always full of locals who know each other, the owner and the servers. They have a very extensive and creative menu. I have no trouble finding something even I can eat and also really enjoy! That is especially true now that they offer quinoa and brown rice pasta substitutes. 

One of several Cozy Corners in the Gastrognome

And while we're on the subject, Idyllwild also has a fantastic organic health food store stocked full of gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free ingredients and products. It's called the Mountain Harvest Market.

I was escorted through this market by Dr. Ken Browning who has a family practice, splitting his time between his Riverside office and his Idyllwild office.

Dr. Ken Browning with his wife, Sandy, in front of their Idyllwild Office

His two offices carry Delightfully Free. In fact, his office was one of the very first of a great many medical offices to carry Delightfully Free as a resource for patients. Dr. Browning is truly one of the pioneers of integrating health and nutrition into a traditional medical practice. 

While I was visiting his Idyllwild office, he introduced me to the owner of the Mountain Harvest Market and told her he was carrying Delightfully Free in his offices. He said he wanted to know if she could supply the ingredients his patients would need to make the recipes. Wow, was I ever impressed as I walked through the aisles. Her mountain market could put many city markets to shame. I was excited to see that this little market had all the ingredients to make the recipes from Delightfully Free.

Another such place is in the picturesque coastal city of Carpinteria, California. It's called Pacific Health Foods and, as many of the locals know, Delightfully Free is available there. I am very grateful to have my book in this family run market where the customers are passionate about healthy, nutritious eating. 

These two markets illustrate that ingredients which were brand new to many only a few years back have become staples in health food markets. In fact, even some so-called mainstream markets striving to incorporate healthier choices for their customers are also carrying many of the ingredients.  The trend is so positive!

One last hidden gem (and one I especially love because they make the food) is Savoy Cafe just off State Street in Santa Barbara, California.  The owners, Kathy & Paul Shields, are wonderful people and friends. They also whip up some very creative dishes and desserts. In fact, their place has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. I've had the privilege and pleasure of doing a couple of book signings there and I always make sure they stretch over to cover at least two meals. :)

As you have probably guessed, the thing that makes all these places great are the wonderful people offering an excellent service or product. I hope you have the chance sometime to visit one of them. Oh, and if you need an excellent gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, yeast-free, dye-free, nutritious cookbook for your own use or as a gift for a special friend or  family member, then I have a recommendation for you. ;)


About Delightfully Free: Delightfully Free is a gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cookbook of 141 recipes. It includes delicious resources for autism, Celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, obesity and just plain healthy living. It contains 114 color photographs, 114 vegetarian or vegetarian compatible recipes, and 103 vegan or vegan compatible recipes.