One thing I love about California (other than the fact that my siblings live there and in February it's warmer than in Maine) is that I don't feel like a freak when I eat in a restaurant.
Remember the first diner scene from "When Harry Met Sally?":
"I'd like the...apple pie à la mode but I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream, just whipped cream but only if it's real, if it's out of a can, then nothing."
That's me in most restaurants, except it would never be apple pie à la mode, more like: " I'll have the Cobb salad, without the blue cheese and tomatoes... Could I get avocado instead and some cucumbers,and is the bacon no-nitrate bacon? If it isn't, then no bacon. Oh, and no dressing. Could I get lemon juice and olive oil instead?" Or: "Could you please tell me if the Hollandaise is made with flour? If it is, I'll just have the Eggs Benedict without the English muffin and without the Hollandaise and is the bacon no-nitrate? Because if it isn't, then skip the bacon." And then, what you are left with is two poached eggs on a plate, right? But this usually doesn't happen to me in California, because they "get" Paleo and the menu offerings are often geared to the way I eat.
On a visit last year, I ordered Steak Frites (steak and French fries), without the frites in a Belgian restaurant. " I can bring you some steamed vegetables instead," suggested the waiter (without my even asking) and he brought a huge bowl of beautiful,fresh, steamed veggies, enough to feed the whole table, at no additional charge. In a non-fancy fish restaurant (that is also a fish market), you get to choose the kind of fish you want, how it is cooked, and whether you want it in tacos, accompanied by rice and salad, or just served over salad ( Paleo!). It is pro forma for burgers to be offered on a bun or "in the grass" (no bun and served on a salad) pretty much everywhere in Southern California.
There are even Paleo food trucks, including my favorite, "Not So Fast." What follows is my adaptation of this fabulous Not So Fast bowl that I've been dreaming of since my visit last year and intend to pursue the minute my plane touches down in San Diego in a few hours.
Paleo Food Truck Pork Belly, Sweet Potato Hash, Mixed Greens
and Fried Egg Bowl (or Fabulous Food Truck Bowl)
1 lb pork belly, in one piece
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coconut sugar
A few grindings of black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes or Japanese yams, cubed (I used Japanese yams, which look like regular white potatoes, except that they're not)
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
A few grindings black pepper
2 TBS coconut oil
A few large handfuls mixed baby greens, baby kale, arugula, etc.
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
Hot sauce ( made with Paleo-friendly ingredients), optional
1. The day before you are going to make the bowl, score fat side of pork belly and use fork to prick holes on the lean side. Mix 2 tsp salt, coconut sugar and pepper and rub into all sides of pork belly. Put it into a zip lock plastic bag and let sit in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
2. After meat has marinated for its allotted time, preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove pork belly from bag. Dry thoroughly with paper towels and put on a rack in a roasting pan.
3. Roast for 1 1/4 hours, or until top is crisp and browned.
4. Meanwhile, salt and pepper sweet potato cubes and melt coconut oil in frying pan. Sauté sweet potatoes, stirring frequently until almost done.
5. Add shallots and sauté with sweet potatoes until both are nicely crisp.
6. Dress salad greens with oil, lemon juice and salt, toss, and divide into two bowls.
7. Divide sweet potatoes and put on top of salad in bowls.
8. Slice pork belly and put two or three slices on top of each portion of sweet potatoes.
9. Melt ghee and fry eggs, then top each bowl with a fried egg. And avocado slices. Add your favorite Paleo-friendly hot sauce , if you like, and serve.
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Serves 4 (or 2, with leftovers...this pizza is pretty good cold the next day)
2 or more cups almond flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour or arrowroot powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups cut up roast chicken
1/2 cup prepared or homemade BBQ sauce (a little cheat here if you don't make your own--the sauce I found, Scratch, did contain organic cane sugar, but otherwise was close enough to Paleo-friendly)
3/4 cup Paleo mozzarella cheese , grated( see Paleogram post from 12/30/15, Meat-free Mondays)
2 cups mixed baby salad greens
1/2 avocado, sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Place a pizza stone in the oven, then preheat to 375 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in food processor
3. Add water and olive oil to dry ingredients and combine until dough forms a ball. Add more almond flour if necessary.
4. Put dough on a large piece of parchment paper and cover with a second piece of parchment paper.
5. Roll out to desired thickness (you want it to be more of a flatbread pizza than a Sicilian pie). Then remove top sheet of paper, prick crust all over with fork and carefully transfer dough to pizza stone in oven, removing the bottom sheet of parchment paper.
6. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until crust starts to turn color and crisp up
7. Mix chicken with BBQ sauce and scatter over pizza then top with grated Paleo mozzarella.
8. Put back in oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until cheese melts.
9. Remove from oven and top with salad greens and avocado.
10. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
11. Slice and serve.