Monday, September 20, 2010

Matzaluna Moves to Top Spot for Dining on Sanibel

One of the very nice things about Sanibel Island is the wide variety of choices in restaurants. Our trips to Sanibel Island to check on our vacation rental properties always have us looking forward to a new adventure in eating out.

Though the truly casual places such as Schnappers and the Island-elegant such as Thistle Lodge are on either end of the spectrum, the middle is crowded with contenders for best.

We love Grandma Dot's for the easy, breezy (no AC) marina feel and great view. We enjoy eating at Traders because of the large menu and comfortable seating. There are dozens more.
And we have eaten at and enjoyed our meals at Matzaluna on many occasions.

But in the past couple of weeks, we "discovered" an aspect to dining at Matzaluna that has propelled it into the number one spot on our preferences.

The seating in Matzaluna is comfortable, the decor is delightful and the service has always been good as has the food. Yet, because I have to be gluten free, I have not been able to eat much in the way of Italian selections and have stayed with the chicken or fish entrees. The world has opened up with the introduction of a gluten free menu.

The General Manager, Sal, whose charge it is to over see the preparation of food, came to our table when he heard I wanted a meal that was gluten free and was considering the eggplant parmigiana. He explained that he could prepare it in two ways, grilled or fried, and that both would be gluten free. Well, other than home made eggplant parmigiana that was made gluten free, I had never had this dish out and was contemplating my choices.

Recognizing my dilemma, Sal said because it was a light night for business, and he wanted my feed back, he would prepare it both ways and I could have and evaluate both.

The eggplant in both styles had the added ingredient of ricotta cheese (in addition to the mozzarella) and that made the difference. I had never tasted eggplant this good, not even before my diagnosis of having Celiac Disease. It was not just good or even great, it was extraordinary.

That first experience was two weeks ago and we returned 2 nights ago and I did make the selection of the fried style and was once again bowled over with delight. My only "complaint" was that the portion was too large, but that was easily remedied with a leftovers package that sits tauntingly in the refrigerator.

To all you gluten free eaters out there (a growing number to be sure), put Matzaluna on your musts for your next trip to Sanibel Island. You won't be sorry, I promise that!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dick and Sara Do it Again: Looking through the lens at Sanibel

Some time ago I did a post on photographers extraordinaire Richard Fortune and Sara Lopez.

Dick and Sara do not live on Sanibel Island, but they live it, breathe it, adore it through their camera lenses.

I have known this for awhile, but just remembered it again yesterday when we spent the day on Island, a beautiful day full of sunshine and fresh breezes. It did not feel like summer at all, more like early fall. We did some freshening up at Toucan House, met with some contractors, did a long walk and then shopped a bit at Bailey's General Store where we saw the latest Sanbel- Captiva calendar.

We pick these up often, gifting friends and relatives, but this year's calendar may be the best yet and, for me, it is the most stunning due in large part to the photo contributions of Dick and Sara.

Their images are just remarkable, they come alive before your eyes. My joy at viewing the cover, two Ibis frolicking in the surf, was a huge enticement to open up the calendar and view more.

And I was not disappointed.

All the images are lovely, but my favorites were those by Dick and Sara.

And, I enjoyed reading the descriptions as well, though not composed by Dick and Sara they were revealing.

One of them, a bit surprising, is related to the picture here. Of course I would have recognized it as an Egret, but never would have guessed that it is a Reddish Egret. What the information under the picture provides are the details (written by Charles LeBuff) and they are fascinating:

"The Reddish Egret occurs in two color phases; most common are those that are dark gray with a reddish neck, and less abundant are the white morphs seen here. In Florida plume hunters once hunted the reddish egret to the brink of extinction for their beautiful feathers....(which were used for) decorating the hats of the socially elite women of the day."

Today, Reddish Egrets receive federal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Thank God for the MBTA....and for the great vision of preservationists like Jay D. Darling as well as for those like Richard Fortune and Sara Lopez who capture these creatures forever--- with no harm done.

Sanibel Island would be a poorer place without any of them, especially the beautiful egrets!