My travels in Cape Cod were beyond my expectations. We had no plan of what we were going to be doing those six days, no direction in where we were going, but we had a heading. We had a beginning, and that’s all we needed.
We stayed at the Barnacle Motel in West Dennis, and like the hotel we stayed in Marlborough it had a kitchen. The beauty of having stayed in the dorms with no kitchen at all, we adapted to having to move to a smaller room of the motel where all that was there was a stove and fridge-freezer. That was when we started our eating adventure where, for the first time in a long time, we weren’t the ones cooking.
We had coffee in a number of cafés and coffeehouses, not one of them Starbucks (only in Long Island). We had lobster. We had gluten free pizza. We ate at a completely gluten free establishment. We went to a swank bistro that used to be your typical household whose chef has a famous relative but is also famous in his own right.
Only at breakfast and on the road and at the beach did we eat the food we made ourselves, except for one dinner where scallops were involved.
So, where and what did Mama Dazz and I eat, you ask? I’ll tell you.
The Swan River Restaurant & Seafood market, Dennis Port: I don’t think it could’ve been a more genuine Cap Cod experience. I called the restaurant ahead of time to ask about reservations and what was gluten-free friendly, and all my questions were answered with a patient and understanding disposition from the woman who ended up being our waitress. I forgot to bring my camera to take pictures of the establishment and the 1.25 lb deep red lobster staring at me from my plate, including the dressing-less salad and the sea-salted baked potato. This was the first time that I recall ever having a fully intact lobster, but I was able to remove the majority – if not all – the sweet and tender meat from its shell.
It was casual dining with a romantic view. We had seating along the water, and all of the windows were partially open to get that lovely warm and salty breeze throughout the establishment. Our waitress told us to keep our eyes peeled for the three-week-old baby bunnies hopping along the high grasses of the river’s edge. This restaurant was highly recommended by the owners of the Barnacle Motel, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. The seafood market next to the restaurant has a wide variety of freshly caught seafood, and the scallops we purchased were clean and succulent. If you call ahead, they can even steam lobster for you in fifteen minutes for a meal to go.
Idgy’s Gluten Free Dining, South Yarmouth: You walk into this small café-looking establishment, with colorful chalk on blackboards serving as menus. To your left you have the breakfast and lunch menus, along with a weekly (or monthly, I do not recall which) special that a member of the staff created, vegan options and pizza. To your right, perpendicular to the display of delicious looking breads and baked goods, is the menu for the entrees and sandwiches. Mama Dazz and I both ordered a Beef Puff Pie, a beef stew inside a sturdier pâte à choux pastry. I informed the staff that, along with my gluten intolerance, I also did not handle soy or sugar well. Chelsi, the young woman behind the counter (and also the creator of that week’s special), checked often to make sure the puff pie was suitable, and it was. We also ordered a caprese salad, but they were wonderful enough to get us a new one because of the balsamic vinaigrette and I was uncertain of the ingredients. They didn’t charge us for the exchange, which was very kind of them.
What I loved most about the menu was its affordability. My jaw dropped at the prices, since veteran gluten-freers know exactly how expensive gluten free dining can become. But the inexpensive menu did not mean it lacked taste or quality, and I am now extremely optimistic about my future endeavors with owning an allergen-friendly restaurant striving for community cohesion. So if you are ever in South Yarmouth, head over to Idgy’s. Satisfaction is almost certainly guaranteed.
BZ’s Mexican Pizzeria, Dennis Port: At first we were planning on going to Paradise Pizza, where their gluten-free version of a pizza crust was a large potato latke. And that’s perfectly fine, but Mama Dazz and I were in search of a true pizza crust, gluten free but one that satisfied her gluten-sympathetic palate. We ordered an Arizona White with chicken, along with another naked house salad. The house salad came with a piece of bread on one side, one that was not gluten free. When the pizza came, I asked the waitress if she was certain it was gluten free. Mama Dazz took the first bite, assuring me that it was.
It tasted good, really good… until I read the ingredients. For those who cannot handle soy or sugar, this may not be the crust recipe for you. Soybean oil, sugar for feeding the yeast, egg replacer… for an hour or so after, my tummy grumbled and cramped uncomfortably. It was possibly more psychological than it was physical, but regardless I didn’t feel so hot after eating it and Mama Dazz’s feelings were hurt because she was the one who had recommended it and my explanations of why soy and sugar were a no-no. It could be, however, that because my thyroid is healing – and thus, the rest of my body is following suit – the pain was minimal and didn’t last very long.
But I do have a new favorite pizza, and I plan on making a Morri-friendly crust that will knock your socks off soon enough.
Blue Moon Bistro, Dennis Village: Probably my favorite and most expensive dinner was at the Blue Moon Bistro. I called ahead for reservations, and the only openings they had at 6:00 p.m. was either outside or at the bar. I made the decision to eat outside, and with a casual Sunday’s Best ensemble, we headed out to the restaurant. Our waitress, a young woman who I had also talked to on the phone about reservations and eating lifestyle, was offbeat and charismatic, with a willingness to help and make our dining experience as wonderful as possible. The bugs and the promise of rain was a constant worry, but the food… the food was magnificent.
The chef and owner of the restaurant is Peter Hyde, the second cousin of the late Julia Child. But he is a gastronomic genius in his own right, using fresh and local ingredients to make dishes that are out of this world.
We started off with drinks. Mama Dazz ordered watermelon ale whose brand escapes me and I had a glass of the Glascón Malbec from Argentina, tasting like a combination of a find-bodied Pinot Noir and Merlot.
While I was taking pictures of the kitchen and the home grown herbs, bread sticks and triangles came out with a duck confit with red wine reduction and white bean spread. I tried the confit and it is something I definitely want to make in the future.
In no time at all, our order came. My “George’s Bank Lined-Hooked Cod” came with charred onion and tomato soffrito, wild and basmati rice risotto, and blanched asparagus. I couldn’t find what Mama Dazz’s duck meal was called on their website, but she offered me a taste and, let me tell you, it was like butta’. We would have had coffee and stayed a while longer, but the bugs were relentless. If we had eaten inside, it would have scored five stars out of five.
In the number of coffee places we went to, my favorite by far was at Café Al Fresco at the Lemon Tree Village, a shopping wonderland for those who love a change of pace and local artistries. Their cappuccino espresso base was smoky and rich without that burnt taste you find at chain coffee joints. Mama Dazz had a cannoli (not gluten free) along with her caffé breve, and the ambience was complete with sculptures and birdbaths at the neighboring stores.
The was, of course, The Cook Shop, filled to the brim with amazing cookware, bakeware, and special ingredients like whole vanilla bean and sauces.
All in all, from P-town to Dennis, Cape Cod is an amazing place that I’d like to make a tradition. It is a combination of old and new, where diversity is encouraged and the people are eccentric in the best way possible.