Some time back I was reading Brendon’s blog over at Something in Season and came across an announcement for the Something in Season Dinner he proposed to host at the Farmerâ€™s Kitchen Cafe in Davis, California. I’ve enjoyed his blog and its fresh, seasonal approach to food as well as its wit (lawnmower grass clippings saute, anyone?) for some time now, and my last visit to Davis and the Farmerâ€™s Kitchen Cafe was so much fun I couldn’t resist. DH and I made the drive to Davis and enjoyed the company of our fellow food bloggers, including Elise of Simply Recipes and of course, Brendon of Something in Season. The company was delightful and the food and wine thoughtfully provided by Brendon was absolutely scrumptious. Because of the intimate size of the gathering, we ended up all ordering off the menu, which means that should you find yourself in front of Rose Anne ’s establishment in Davis, California you too can experience the exact same culinary experience, without needing to get together a group of your fellow bloggers. The food is more fun in the company of foodies, however.
We began the meal with some guacamole and seasonal vegetables, accompanied by individual servings of olives and pickled peppers. (Please say five times fast.) When Rose Anne told us about the gluten free onion rings on the day’s menu, there was no question but that we must have two orders of them- I don’t know about you but it was my first time ever finding gluten free onion rings anywhere but homemade on my own kitchen counter. We also pretty much unanimously ordered the Bio-Regional Salad, something I had considered at our previous visit but hadn’t ordered. This amazing salad is made of the most delicious local, organic produce available that day- ours had Local Organic Mixed Greens, Local Organic Arugula, Local Rainier Cherries, Local Strawberries, Local Organic Carrots, Local Green Beans, Local Organic Grapefruit, Local Organic Sweet Onions, Local Organic Pickled Beets, and Feta with Local Walnuts. (Or so my slightly fuzzy memory would have me believe- but if you order it, your salad will be slightly different, anyway.) I chose the soy ginger dressing, and it was absolutely fabulous. I might even say, I don’t know when I’ve ever had a better salad. The only slightly sour note was the grapefruit. I’m not the best of friends with grapefruit, and it seemed to clash with the other flavors of the salad and dressing. Luckily there were so many ingredients to choose from, I just let the grapefruit linger unloved on the plate with no hard feelings. Brendon ordered the squash soup of the day, and we all had a taste- it was beautifully seasoned and seemed to have a rich coconut milk base that made even humble squash seem exotic and flavorful.
For the entree, again we almost unanimously ordered the Shrimp Scampi w/ Local Organic Parsley and Homemade Fettucine. After all, how many opportunities do you get for gluten free homemade pasta not produced in your own mixer? DH asked me to select something for him, so I chose the enticing Homemade Local Organic Green Garlic Ravioli w/ Organic Marinara Sauce. When the shrimp scampi arrived, it was not only absolutely gorgeous, but had an amazing garlic infused sauce, paired with a generous serving of large shrimp. DH’s Ravioli was also appetizing, with charming half moon shaped ravioli unlike the square ravioli I tend to make. It was covered in a thick, sweet, organic tomato marinara. Everything had been such generous portions that I have to admit, by the time our main entrees arrived we could only sample it, but they were so wonderful I really wished I had still been hungry. The shrimp scampi was exactly to my taste, with roasted garlic flavor throughout that perfectly accented the sweet, robust shrimp. DH was slightly less enamored with his ravioli, saying that the sauce was a little sweet for his taste, but it was otherwise quite good. Personally I enjoyed the chunky texture of the sauce, but did find that the savory garlic sauce more perfectly suited my own palate. Also, the green ravioli filling was slightly overshadowed by the sauce. Actually, I would have loved to try the ravioli without the marinara, perhaps in a light garlic sauce. Nevertheless, the texture of the gluten free pasta at the Farmer’s Cafe is absolutely amazing, and the luxury of having real homemade pasta that you didn’t make yourself, and in such generous quantity, can’t be beat. You can also purchase their homemade pasta, and apparently Rose Anne has some clients who buy the pasta that aren’t even gluten free. As our non gluten free diners at the table agreed, it really is indistinguishable from gluten pasta, which fits in with Rose Anne’s food philosophy. As she put it, while all the food is gluten free with very few exceptions (such as a gluten bread option), the point is that it is all the food is made from local, organic, seasonal ingredients that tastes as good if not better than their gluten counterpart. She doesn’t advertise it as a gluten free restaurant per say, and thus non gluten free clients come in and are wowed not because it’s weird, gluten free food, but are wowed because it tastes great and is good for you. It is difficult for a restaurant to survive on the patronage of gluten free customers alone, and I think this is why Rose Anne’s cafe has been such a success over the years- because it’s not just good gluten free food, it’s good, healthy food.
Personally, I can’t wait to go back. I almost appreciated my leftover pasta more after the fact, as I ate it at my own table at home. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as eating a delicious “home cooked” meal with fresh pasta that I didn’t lift a finger to make! The next time you are longing for the holy grails of gluten free dining such as homemade pasta and onion rings, why not take a little trip to Davis California? Your taste buds will thank you- and when you’re done, you can enjoy wandering around the charming college environment of the city of Davis.