Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To All Our Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free Guests

By Patti Goyette, Innkeeper of the Mason Cottage, a Cape May Bed and Breakfast

If you know me, then you know I love food - Not just to eat, but to cook, bake, prepare, plan, read and discuss!  So, when a guest of our Cape May B&B checks in and express that they have a dietary restriction or food allergy, my heart goes out to them.  Not because they have this restriction, but because it may make the food world not such a fun place for them (at least this was my opinion before I started this project). 

THE PROJECT:  Try living one week each as a Vegetarian, a Vegan, and Gluten Free.   

Rule #1 - For three weeks, plan a breakfast menu each day and serve at least one item to non-informed guests:  Week 1 was a vegetarian item each morning, Week 2 was a vegan item each morning and Week 3 was a gluten-free item each morning.

Rule #2 - Go out to eat in the many Cape May restaurants and journal about my experiences, again week 1 as a vegetarian, week 2 as a vegan and week 3 as gluten-free.  (What I probably should have done was spread this journey out, but in 21 days, I decided to mess with my digestive system as much as possible!)  That said, I do not recommend this challenge, but I do recommend your own diet challenge.  Why?  Because I learned even more about food and loved every minute of it!  Ok, there were a few minutes in there that I didn’t love, but I adjusted. 

Vegetarian Breakfast Pizza
MY VEGETARIAN WEEK:  Starting out Vegetarian was not particularly difficult for me.  I enjoyed my own Cheese and Onion Quiches for breakfast, my favorite pasta dishes for dinner and of course, no challenge in the snack world!  Love Doritos!!  I discovered that any restaurant in town will be able to accommodate the Vegetarian and that there is one place in town that has the best Veggie Burger in the world!  On a side note, this burger is not acceptable on the Vegan plan as cheese and egg whites were used to make the patties.  I’ve also discovered if a bar is what you are looking for and you would like to indulge in a snack, Fried Broccoli is quite tasty, but I can't say it wasn’t fried in the same oil as that guys burger over there was.  So, if you are sensitive to that extreme, you may want to double check with your server or bartender.    

MY VEGAN WEEK:  Week 2 was a bit more of a challenge!  To be honest, I’m very unfamiliar with the Vegan world.  I’ve only had a few guests stay with me that are vegan and through discussions and trials, I discovered just how deep this lifestyle goes.  With that said, this was a fun and educational week.  However, halfway through, I must admit, I cheated.  Please don’t be disappointed in me, but it was a free dinner at the Lobster House and that doesn’t come along often when all of the factors (stars) align…free dinner, free ride, fresh seafood and well, did I mention it was free?  Ok, so I cheated.  I’m over it.  I discovered so many new foods that I truly love!  Tofu for one and Almond milk for another!  I started out with familiar things, like my loved Steel Cut Oats for breakfast and pesto pastas along with salads, sans the cheese and creamy dressings.  I also discovered a roasted veggie pizza that was AMAZING!  I also managed to wow the guests at Tea-Time with vegan cupcakes!

Gluten-Free Cake with Chocolate Frosting
MY GLUTEN-FREE Week:  Gluten Free (GF) was not as difficult as I would have first thought.  Aside from my system trying to get used to meat and cheese again, the GF pizza I made along with the French toast with GF bread and the Mediterranean breakfast sandwich were out of this world.  I also discovered that several restaurants in town have complete GF menus out for guests.  I for one was absolutely thrilled by this!  In addition, I've discovered many recipes for GF baked goods and I must say, the cake mixes were some of the best mixes I’ve ever used.  And if you know me, I am not in favor of baking anything that starts out from a mix!  The 12 people at tea-time certainly agreed that the yellow cake with chocolate frosting was delish! 

So there you have it, my 21 day project in a nutshell.  We would like our guests to know that not only are we happy to accommodate you for breakfast and tea-time, we are thrilled to suggest wonderful Cape May restaurants to eat.  We will call and speak directly to the chef and make reservations for you!  I recommend letting us know you are coming in advance and what your restriction is because we love to be prepared!  

Now, let me conclude by saying that this project started as a way to increase our knowledge about these “diet lifestyles”.  We love our guests here at the Mason Cottage Cape May Bed and Breakfast and if there is any way we can make their overall guest experience that much better on their visit to Cape May, we are going to do it!  However, I learned something much more – that even though you have diet restrictions or food allergies, the food world can be fun for ANYONE!  Now, when someone shares their ‘restriction’ with me, I get excited to talk about restaurants they should try during their stay and recipes I’ve come up with!

Please check out some of our favorite restaurants in Cape May that will cater to our Vegetarians, Vegans and Gluten-Free friends.

Vegan/Vegetarian:  Lucky Bones, Merion Inn, Bella Vida, Higher Grounds (serves many vegan breakfast & lunch specialties), Sean’s, Georges and Gecko’s

Gluten Free:  Lucky Bones, Alethea’s, Bella Vida, Sean’s, Gecko’s and George’s