In the science of happiness, it has been demonstrated that creating enjoyable and memorable experiences keeps us happy into our old age way better than spending money on stuff. I'm all about creating excellent experiences. Jenn and I went to Paris last October and the boys stayed with their aunt and uncle at home. Summer is our time for all of us, and when it's a family vacation, we gear activities toward what we think our 9 and 11 year old sons will enjoy. That leaves out a lot of stuff -- most museums, lots of walking in hot cities. Come to think of it, my tastes tend to skew the same way. They also aren't keen on taking many hours to get there, wherever there is.
To maximize everyone's potential for a good time, we decided to stay sort-of local for our vacation this year. We are less than 2 hours from home, but other than the travel time being brief, we might as well be a thousand miles away from our suburban Philadelphia home. Our vacation strategy? Go far enough away that we don't have to call it a "stay-cation," skip the plane fare for a family of four, go during the week to avoid the crowds, and stay away from checking work email at least 90% of the time.
Our destination? Jim Thorpe, PA, population 4,774. Why? Rafting, biking on converted railways, excellent state parks, caverns an hour away (in case it rains), and a waterpark not too far to cap off the trip.
As always, we are staying at a place with at least minimal food storage and prep facilities. We nearly rented a house through VRBO.com, but because of an iffy forecast, we decided instead on a Hampton Suites because of the indoor pool in case we get rained in. I packed accordingly and, at least until the refrigerator got overly excited and froze all my vegetables, I was in pretty good shape. Breakfast is included with the hotel, so when I don't want to have my protein shake in the blender I brought, I am enjoying fruit and individually packaged yogurts. I packed lunches for our two day-long outings so far: Salad during our rafting lunch stop, PB&J on an Udi's bagel for our 15 mile bike ride. I have plenty of snacks on hand too -- homemade oaty protein bars, granola circles, gf Oreos from Trader Joe's, Xocai healthy dark chocolate, veggies and hummus, raisins, trail mix, etc. A couple of shops in town have boasted gluten-free ice cream and desserts. We have spotted a couple of places in town through Urban Spoon that sound like they can accommodate a gluten free dinner, but so far we've not had a big dinner out. Jenn and the boys have been happy with pizza or sandwiches by the pool while I have eaten provisions I brought. Maybe we'll venture out for dinner tomorrow. Maybe not. Doesn't matter really.
It doesn't matter because I didn't come to Jim Thorpe for the food. My main goal is to stay healthy and unglutened so that I can enjoy the journey of making happy memories. We chose to stay in this small town in Pennsylvania for the opportunities for family fun and adventure. So far, so good. I know that the memories of our excursions together will far outlast any recollection of meals eaten or not eaten, as the case may be.
Mixed Vegetable Panang Curry with Tofu from Bangkok Cuisine
I recently attended a four-day Xocai Healthy Dark Chocolate
convention at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in Reno, NV. Before heading there, I introduced myself over the phone to chefs Bob and Dennis, who gave me tips in navigating the conference culinary offerings, and where I would have the best chance for success in the half dozen or so restaurants that are part of the casino. They were both very nice, and I did enjoy a nice conference salad one day. However, I mostly relied on provisions of apples, oranges, bananas and raisins as well as carrots and hummus from the grocery store across the street, and the powdered peanut butter and gf amaranth rolls I brought from home. And let's not forget the Xocai protein shake! One of my roommates brought her bullet blender, so breakfast was a snap.But of course there were opportunities to eat out. One evening we wanted to eat al fresco -- a natural result of having been inside a casino meeting room all day when the weather outside was sunny and 80. We lucked into the Great Basin Brewing Company, having picked it on the basis that they had outdoor seating. It was a short cab ride from the resort and they had a fairly well-endowed gluten-free menu (though I thought it strange that they didn't appear to carry any gf beers.) I enjoyed the La Flaca Rice Bowl sans chips, which was essentially rice and beans with a spicy salsa, topped with avocado. It was just what I needed and it really hit the spot! The service was a bit on the slow side, but we WERE a party of eight, so I will not judge them on their usual service time based on our experience. Our server was delightful, attentive and very helpful. Sadly, I've forgotten her name.The next night we decided to eat out again, and so I set out to find something interesting that could meet the needs of our group. Usiing UrbanSpoon.com, I spotted Bangkok Cuisine, which was also a short cab ride from the Atlantis. I called in advance and learned that they didn't have a gluten-free menu but that they could easily and safely accommodate me.
When we arrived, Veronica our server was super helpful and guided me through their extensive menu. Our group of eight decided to do a family-style meal sharing, but I kept mine separate until I'd filled my plate then put it on the go-around with the other dishes. I had the mixed vegetable coconut soup -- spicy, light and refreshing -- and the mixed vegetable panang curry over rice. No problem with the service here -- the food came out quite fast. There is nothing like fresh and authentic Thai food to really buoy my spirits, not that they were low, but I just hadn't had Thai food other than Pei Wei (a chain restaurant that is owned by the same people who run PF Chang's) since my celiac diagnosis. Who knew Reno would be the place for reintroducing me to excellent Thai food?I do want to note that before I went I identified a couple of places to eat that were an easy walk from the casino that looked promising. Zpizza offers a gluten-free crust and delivery, so I would probably have ordered in if I hadn't been traveling with a posse
. The Aroma Club
also had some possibilities, though their hours didn't match well with my free time from the conference.All in all, I had a great trip and was really pleased with my dining out experiences. Thanks, Reno!
La Flaca from Great Basin Brewing Co.
For you Philadelphians interested in learning more about the gluten-free diet, register for the Mt Airy Learning Tree Class Why and How to Go Gluten-Free
. I am leading the workshop, which will be held at Food For All Market and Café
, and in addition to some delicious samples of their gluten-free fare, I'm including my ebooks Gluten Free: Practical Advice for a Happy, Healthy Gluten-Free Life
and So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-Free Paleo Vegan (mostly) Recipes for Health and Weight Loss
(which I will have printed out for your benefit, of course!)
Here's the course description:
Do you feel lousy and don't know why? Have doctors not been able to figure out what's wrong? Have you recently been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Do you wonder if going gluten-free can help you lose weight? Do you want to know what all the buzz is about? During this fun and interactive hour and a half session, you'll get facts and practical tips for eating gluten-free safely and well.
Tuesday, May 7th, 6:30 - 8 pm
Food For All, 7127 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19119
$20 for the class, $5 Materials fee REGISTRATION THROUGH MT. AIRY LEARNING TREE IS REQUIRED
I hope to see you there!
Here's my updated list of restaurant picks for visitors coming to Philadelphia for an event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. For my day job, I am director of gardening programs at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
(PHS). I work with our community gardens and City Harvest
projects. It is very gratifying to be able to work with Philadelphians to make their neighborhoods and community spaces cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and more vibrant. One way that PHS raises the necessary funds to carry on this important work is to present the Philadelphia International Flower Show
every March. For the staff of PHS, it’s an all-hands-on-deck week-long affair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to ensure that visitors have the best experience possible. The show opens to the public the first Saturday in March, and we expect that more than quarter of a million people will walk through the doors that week.
Statistically speaking, that means more than 3,000 people with celiac and many, many others with gluten sensitivity and allergies will be in attendance as well. Food services at the convention center are handled by Aramark. I usually pack my lunch. I’ve found that trying to buy my lunch there is unsatisfactory from a cost, time, vegetarian and gluten-free perspective. However, if you are planning on visiting the show and have the time to take a little walk, get your hand stamped and check out one of these four really good, inexpensive places you can get an interesting GF lunch or dinner.Mumbai Bistro
at 10th and Locust. I ate there last week, and though they seem to have changed how they mark the GF options on the printed menu, the food on the buffet is clearly marked regarding its gf status. I had a plate of interesting Indian food and a bottle of water for about $6. Can’t beat that! CLOSED ON MONDAYS! That’s gotten me a couple of times.Fuel
at 1221 Walnut Street. I haven’t reviewed it for my blog, but I should! They have an interesting menu, carry GF bread for their sandwiches, and the waiter I had was very well-versed in the steps that they take to avoid gluten cross-contamination. Probably a $10 lunch experience.Philadelphia Chutney Company
at 1628 Sansom: A little further away, but good and interesting and cheap. Also a $10 lunch experience.Mi Lah Vegetarian
on 16th between Locust and Walnut. It’s a little more – probably a $15 – but really amazing and interesting food and they clearly mark what they can make GF. Jenn and I ate there last night and I can’t speak highly enough of the place. Check ‘em out for dinner if you have the inclination. We had a shared appetizer, entrees and a dessert apiece and paid $68 including tax and tip. A splurge for us for sure, but SO GOOD!Georgio on Pine at 1328 Pine Street is a real treat -- a more grown-up experience, so leave more time to bask in the warmth and upscale elegance of the place.
Tell them you are gluten-free and they'll bring you actual delicious locally baked gf bread right to your table. You'll be able to choose pasta or pizza (with Still Riding crust) and more.
There are other higher end places that are worth a look, but I haven’t eaten at them, so I can’t make personal recommendations. I also have write-ups of more than a dozen other Center City restaurants on my Restaurants
page if you are up for a walk or checking out other sites while you are in town. Or get in touch and I can tell you about the restaurants that I've heard great things about but haven't tried yet, like Alma de Cuba. If you have suggestions, leave a comment!
Come look for me at PHS's exhibit at the Show, where I'll be much of the week. And Bon Appétit!
I had dinner at HipCityVeg
, 127 S. 18th in Center City Philadelphia. The place is tiny, maybe 4 small tables plus window seating - zoned for takeout only, so no bathroom. A hostess-type person was there to answer my questions. I think her primary role is to help keep things moving along when it's busy, but it was not crowded at 5 pm so she was able to talk me through the menu at length. By 5:30, there was a line out the door.
The hostess was VERY up on issues regarding cross-contamination, steering me away from fried items since they do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer and accurately naming gluteny items that would need substitutions or omissions. They did not have a gf-dedicated menu, but there were probably 6 or more items either gluten-free as listed or easily modifiable.
I had the curry tofu not-wrap served on a bed of spinach with sprouts, tomato, cilantro-white bean purée & cucumber raita. Delicious. It was a big serving and a great value for $8.00. All of the packaging is compostable too. Bonus!
I will return! Maybe not at peak meal hours since the little place really filled up. But there is a lot of menu there left for me to explore.
The Gluten-free in Delaware County
group had an intimate but fun gluten-free meetup at Raw Can Roll Cafe
in Wayne. I was a little worried that it would be too earthy crunchy (if there is such a thing), but I was not at all disappointed. The service was wonderful, the selection was vast, and the price was reasonable. It's not a very big place, and there was a steady stream of diners coming in to get lunch, smoothies and food for take out.
The restaurant is almost completely gluten-free. I got the taco salad with delicious faux meat made from an original nut-centric concoction and a nice creamy avocado dressing on the side. It was big enough for me to take half of it home for dinner. We also got to sample the hummus, guacamole, faux chicken salad, and their homemade corn and red pepper chips, crispy onion flatbread and crackers. It was all great. This place is ideal for a gluten-free vegetarian. The staff was very accommodating with regard to additional dietary restrictions as well.
I didn't see anything on the menu that cost more than $10. The smoothies and desserts were in the $5-$8 range. It felt like a great value. I would go there again in an instant. I just wish I lived closer.
100% Gluten-free Helmut Newcake wins best pick: Delicious, vegetarian-friendly, affordable, comfortable.
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"Bonjour Monsieur or Madame. Je suis desole. Je suis allergic* au gluten. Qu’est que vous me
recomende?” (Hello, I am sorry. I have an allergy* to gluten. What do you recommend?)
I don't have to tell you that Paris is an amazing vacation destination. I will tell you that as a non-French speaking person with celiac disease, I was a bit apprehensive about how I was going to be able to eat out, and for good reason! The French do not seem to be as aware of celiac and gluten-contamination issues we are in the United States. Or maybe they are, but the ones that have good awareness and food handling practices aren't telling anyone.
At any rate, I listed my top 10 tips for travel to Paris here
. Check that out, and add to it my list of restaurants where I either had satisfaction, or where I hoped to have satisfaction but for some reason or other wasn't able to eat there. I've listed them in order of my personal enjoyment of the gluten-free experience. Also note that I am a vegetarian, so that was at play in our restaurant selections. If you are an omnivore, you can definitely eat at all of these places too!
*I know that celiac is an autoimmune disorder and not an allergy. :-)1. Helmut Newcake.
MANY people have sung the praises of Helmut Newcake on line. The accolades are well deserved! It is closed on Monday and Tuesday (we arrived on a Monday), so we were not able to check them out until the third day of our vacation. It was a rainy, cool day, and the trip there was pretty long and ended up feeling like a pilgrimage. The vegetarian entree that day was a tomato and goat cheese tart, which came with a salad. I popped into the restroom upon arrival, so my partner Jenn ordered for us. Because she is incredibly supportive and ever vigilant, she started to ask them to hold the salad dressing because she wasn't sure of the the ingredients. And then she remembered! EVERYTHING in the place is sans gluten. Love that. The tart and salad were very good and Jenn confirmed that even her non-celiac palette found it to be delicious. Since it's a bakery, we of course had to buy pastries. I had a thing I think is called la religieuse, sort of a doubledecker filled pastry with hazelnut custard within and a hazelnut icing outside. Jenn, of course, had la religieuse avec chocolate. It was, no doubt, THE BEST dessert I've ever had. In true Paris fashion, we occupied a window seat (It was raining pretty hard, so we didn't sit outside), ate our food leisurely, I enjoyed a cappucino, and we spent the better part of a rainy afternoon just soaking it up. There were clearly regulars that frequent the place -- people were on laptops, reading papers, and friends were hanging out. We saw more than one foreign tourist stop in, just as relieved as we were to be able to eat anything in the place.
Price-wise it was great. Our entrees were around $10 each, and the pastries ranged in price from ~$1.50 - $7, depending on the size, etc.
We picked up a few additional items (eclairs, cream puffs, etc) to take back to the apartment to enjoy that evening with our traveling companions. We actually planned to visit there a second time, but sadly, it didn't work out. It will definitely be on our list of places to go for our next Paris vacation!
Helmut Newcake, 36 Rue Bichat, Paris, 75010. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. They FINALLY have a website (as opposed to just their Facbook page): http://www.helmutnewcake.com
. I do recommend following them on Facebook
though -- they list their specials and when you see their posts in your fb newsfeed you will either get excited about your trip or fondly remember it.
Having mid-day dessert and coffee 100% Gluten-free NoGlu was amazing
One of our traveling companions (I'll call her Geri) took a French cooking class one day on our vacation. In addition to learning how to make some most excellent dishes (which she later prepared for us), she struck up a conversation with the instructor about the French perspective on gluten-free dining. The instructor confirmed that France is far behind on accommodating special needs diets, but told Geri about a new completely gluten-free restaurant in town, NoGlu. Of course we had to go!
We had originally planned for the four of us to meet there for lunch, but a quick review of the website gave me the distinct impression that a) they were pretty expensive, and b) they were fairly meat-centric. We modified the plan and decided to meet for afternoon dessert and coffee instead. (Not that I wouldn't go there for a meal, because I totally would, but I'd want to keep an eye on the daily menu that sounded good AND vegetarian, especially if I'm going to drop upwards of $50 FOR LUNCH.) Of course I loved that every dessert option was gluten-free. I got the blueberry cheesecake -- absolutely fabulous. We had great service, we got to meet Jenni the chef, the location is in a super cute little covered street (called a passageway) and we had a wonderful and very memorable time.
16 passage des Panoramas, Paris 75002. www.noglu.fr
. Reservations recommended. They do lunch M-F, brunch on Saturday, and dinner on Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Parisian diners enjoying authentic crepes
3. Aux Ducs de Bourgogne. I learned that savory crepes are not really crepes because they should be made with buckwheat flour and called galettes. We found this place because other gluten-free peeps who have traveled to Paris mentioned it on their websites. Apparently it's listed in a gluten-free Paris dining guide as well. We met our friends here for a late-ish dinner (for us anyway) on a Thursday night.
I loved it because the gluten-free nature of the galettes is spelled out right on the menu. The owner, a nice Lebanese man named Charles, was chatty and the kind of guy who would say, "You don't want that. You want this!" (though he would go ahead and sell you what you ordered, albeit grudgingly. He sort of scolded me for ordering and expecting my espresso to come with dessert -- I guess the French don't do that...)
I had a spinach and egg galette for dinner. It was very good and I loved that I could get authentic French food in Paris without having to ask for a bunch of substitutions or omissions. For dessert I asked Charles to make me a sweet crepe with his homemade caramel sauce with buckwheat instead of regular flour. Knowing I needed gluten-free, he said of course. Also delicious. My dining companions also enjoyed their meals and we had a delightful evening and stayed well past 10 pm.
One thing I'm not sure about is what measures Charles took to avoid cross-contamination. I suffered no ill-effects (in fact, I had no signs of having gotten glutened the whole trip), so I'll take Charles' word that he takes care to keep the buckwheat prep surfaces clear of wheat flour and batter.
Price wise, it was amazing. Entrees were mostly under $10. Dessert crepes were maybe a little less.
Aux Ducs de Bourgogne, 30 Rue Bourgogne, Paris 75007. Thus far Charles has no website or facebook page. He apparently has a nephew who was supposed to be working on building an on-line presence for him, but it's going slowly. Call in advance to make sure they are open -- not sure if reservations are required (It was not busy when we were there.) 01 45 51 32 48
Jenn, Jeannie, Geri (and me!) dining al fresco. Tres Parisienne!
4. Le Pain Quotidien.
It was our first night in Paris. We had powered through and not succombed to the desire to take naps when we first arrived. Tired. Hungry. No great plan for where to have our first meal out. We'd already been walking for awhile, looking for a likely crepe place (we were nowhere near Aux Ducs de Bourgogne.) We happened upon Le Pain Quotidien, a chain that Jenn and I ate at in New York earlier this year. In the United States Le Pain Quotidien has a fairly extensive awareness and offerings for gluten-free diners, though no specific gluten-free menu. I encouraged our weary-yet-merry band of travelers to stop looking and just go sit down at a nice outdoor table and jump into the world of gluten-free dining in Paris. Thank goodness for our friend Jeannie, who speaks passable French!
The Le Pain Quotidiens of Paris do not call out their gluten-free offerings as they do in the US, but the menu is loaded with veggies and legumes and it wasn't too hard to put together an entree that would work. With the help of our server who checked on the gluten status of a number of items, ultimately I ordered the Vegetarian Platter of goat cheese, beet caviar, grilled vegetables, hummus, lemon lentils and arugula (approx $20). It was excellent. The other gals all had plenty of options to amuse them too! And while it was a little disappointing to be eating in a chain restaurant, if didn't feel too chain-like, so that was okay. Plus we were all just feeling so blessed to be in Paris, sitting outside on a beautiful evening, excited about the trip and what we would be doing and seeing in the coming days. If we'd found ourselves in that neighborhood at mealtime again, Jenn and I would have chosen to eat there. There is also a second Paris location in the 7th.
Le Pain Quotidien, 18 place Marché St Honoré, 75001 Paris. Le Pain Quotidien's system-wide website (www.lepainquotidienne.com
) is a little tough to drill down through to get to a specific restaurant, and super slow to navigate effectively on a smart phone. Here's the link to this specific location: http://www.lepainquotidien.fr/#/fr_FR/nos_adresses/paris/st_honoré
. Good luck with that!
This is a place that we happened upon while looking for a good takeout lunch for Jenn for our picnic one day. I hadn't seen it in any of the reviews or recommendations for gluten-free friendly dining in Paris, so it was quite a surprise when we found item after item clearly marked gluten-free. It's a "pick up your already prepared food" type of place that notes its commitment to organic food and local sourcing, recycling and minimization of the use of natural resources. My kind of place! Plus, it was light and airy and would have been a fine place to eat in if we hadn't already planned to dine in a nearby park.
Since I had packed my lunch, I have to note that I didn't eat any of the food from here (the picture is of a quiche that isn't vegetarian.) Jenn took one for the team and got a gluten-free (flourless) brownie which looked and smelled delicious, and which Jenn reported to taste as good as it looked and smelled.
It was quite affordable. Entrees were under $10, and desserts were around $5. Jenn was thrilled about the least expensive Diet Coke in town. I'm hoping that Exki catches on and starts opening restaurants in the United States!
Exki, 82, Blvd Montparnasse 75014 Paris (other locations available too.) http://www.exki.com/fr-fr/home
Le Bistrot, 92 Rue de Turenne, Paris 75003. We ended up at Le Bistrot when our attempt to go to Fée Nature failed. [Note to self: Check when restaurants are open so that you don't walk and walk and walk only to peer through a locked door.] Le Bistrot was clearly a favorite with the locals. It was the only place I pulled out my laminated card to explain my dietary restriction. Our server was very nice, studied the card thoroughly, then assured me that my salad pick would be safe. I ordered the Fermiere sans lardons, a salad with potatoes, tomatoes, poached egg, lettuce and a balsamic vinegrette without the ham. It was definitely weird to have a warm poached egg on top of my salad, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The place was moderately priced -- entrees were in the $12 - $17 price range. It was a little cooler on the night we were there, so we opted to eat indoors, but unfortunately the smoke from the sidewalk denizens leaked into the place. Regardless, the atmosphere was enjoyable, the food was good and the service was accommodating and efficient. I wouldn't particularly put this place on anyone's gluten-free Must Visit list, but eating there was a nice confirmation that one can find safe dining in an unlikely place.
Other places I'd hoped to visit but which didn't work out for some reason
Fée Nature, 69 rue d'Argout, Paris, 75002. There are no less than a half a dozen web references to this vegetarian place, some of which claim it is 100% sans gluten, some which claim it offers daily gluten-free options. There is at least one first hand review on Yelp that it has daily GF options. I also saw this menu on their facebook page as translated by Bing: "Today, to warm up, the velvety detox 7 vegetables and carrot tops, then risotto of spelt or complete pasta mozza, Arugula & tomatoes. And our delicious chocolate ricotta cake!" Spelt = gluten, so be careful! We arrived on an evening when they were not open, but it looked very cute inside.
Vegan Folie’s, 53 Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 75005. We actually DID make it into this place, but it was close to closing time and they had sold out of the gluten-free cupcake of the day. I really like their politics -- one day when we were there they were donating proceeds from the sales of one of their cupcakes to a cause that fights foie gras, which as you can imagine is a pretty popular dish in Paris. I still follow their facebook page just for fun.
Rose Bakery, 3 locations: 46 Rue des Martyrs, 75009; 30 Rue Debelleyme, 75003;10 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012. We tried valliantly to visit one of these locations, but it was closed for renovation (scheduled to reopen a couple of days after our departure). I would love to have checked it out for real! They have no real website I can find, which is frustrating. I found the most info on Yelp.com, which noted that they are vegetarian and offer real food in addition to pastries. Their open days and times are not consistent across locations, so go to www.yelp.com, put Rose Bakery in the "Search for" box and Paris, France in the "Near" box and you'll get all three locations. Call ahead. Your feet may thank you.
Ladurée, multiple locations (check Yelp or their website.) Another valiant effort! We were on the Champs Elysées and attempted to visit the one on that grand stretch. Sadly, it was either closed for renovation or not yet open for business. Their website is quite fancy, but totally baffling to me, since I don't speak French. A number of gluten-free folks had mentioned them on blog posts and what not, so I look forward to a firsthand report on how/whether they do safe gf fare.
Places we didn't try to visit but we would have if we'd been in Paris longer
Bob's Kitchen, 74 Rue des Gravilliers, Paris, 75003. Looks very hip and as if it would be a good candidate for gluten awareness, though they don't specifically call it out on their webpage (quite minimalist, btw) or facebook page.
Breizh Café, 109, rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, 75003. This is another crepe place. We didn't make it there, but it did get a couple of mentions from other gf peeps on the interwebs, so it may be worth a look.
Tugalik: I discovered this place after our return. It sounds pretty promising. Two locations. From their website as translated by Google Translate: All our dishes, desserts, our starters and our tapas are made "home", and prepared on site using fresh ingredients, without preparation industry. Our fruits and vegetables, as well as our grains are from organic agriculture. We prefer gentle cooking methods and maximum use of the plant milks, unrefined sugars and flours of cereals varied to meet the needs of people intolerant to gluten and lactose.
Places that got a couple of mentions on the web for gluten-free but which didn't appeal for one reason or another
The Reminet, 3 rue des Grands-degrees, Paris, 75005. Another place we didn't visit but which got a couple of mentions on the web. It looked a bit more expensive and possibly quite meat-centric, making it not a great fit for us anyway.
Pierre Herme, multiple locations. This place got a couple of shout outs for their macaroons (which typically don't have gluten) and other confections. Jenn hates coconut and I don't eat chocolate, so I we gave this place a pass, but may be of interest to other gf travelers to Paris.
There you have it! If you got all the way to the end of this post, you are probably really seriously going to Paris soon. Cool! Let me know if this post was helpful. I'd be happy to give you other thoughts on getting ready for your trip. Have fun, and bon voyage!
I happened past the Good Karma Cafe
while on a lunchtime walk yesterday. I hadn't planned to stop in, but I figured with a name like that, they might be hip to the gluten-free scene. My hunch was correct. They clearly labeled both of their daily soups gluten-free. I had the Tuscan White Bean and Spinach soup (soups like something I'd make!), which was just what I wanted: hot, flavorful and comforting, and on the mild side. I asked how they made their Chicken Pot Pie gluten-free. "It's a soup! No crust!" came the reply. Good answer!
I did ask if they take care to avoid cross contamination -- gluteny breads and baked goods abound -- and they assured me they did. I got a good feeling from the place, but the food prep area is quite small, so further investigation may be required. Happily, I did not suffer any gluten-related side-effects from eating there.
The restaurant itself is cute, maybe 10 tables indoors, 3 or 4 outside, (the day was warm and springlike, so I sat outside amongst the potted greenery) and counter seating in the window. Many of the indoor tables were occupied by people with laptops who looked like they'd been there awhile and had no intentions of moving. Maybe it was just a Veterans Day holiday thing. Or maybe they pay rent. Hopefully for the owner, they are buying enough to help him pay HIS rent. This is a great place and I'd love to see it succeed and be here for years to come.
Give this place a try.
331 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA
Oh, and I see from the on-line menu that they also offer sandwiches on gluten-free bread. Bonus! (I didn't see a printed menu in the place, so I think they would benefit from making the gf bread option as visible as they do the gf soup status. Or maybe it was there and I just didn't see it?]
I attended my first Appetite for Awareness
event in October of 2010, right after I got my celiac diagnosis. I blogged about it here: http://www.clairebakerok.com/1/post/2010/10/gluten-free-glutton.html
. I'm afraid I didn't have much restraint or pace myself very well then. I don't want to leave this year's event feeling like I have to wear my stretchy pants for the next week. Because this is is a definite must-attend festival, I thought I'd offer some tips to the uninitiated for having the best day possible.
1) Have a plan. There is a LOT of food there: restaurants have their standard menu items, product reps have samples of packaged items, bakeries bring cupcakes and cakes and cookies galore. I haven't quite decided my approach, but I will either: a) focus on the fare offered by restaurants I want to try, b) find the best pizza in the place, or c) find the best sweets in the place. NOT ALL THREE. I swear.
2) Go hungry. Think of it as brunch on gay time. Or maybe just have a light breakfast so that you aren't so hungry when you get there that you blow your plan.
3) Don't bring home samples of food that you will regret having in your house later. Or just get ONE sample pack to SAMPLE, not to stock your pantry with. As a rule, gluten-free packaged foods are NOT health foods.
4) Plan on salad for dinner if you have any desire to eat when you get home.
5) Take time to appreciate that just about everybody there gets it
. That just doesn't happen very often.
6) Use SEPTA to get there and back. Save yourself the driving and parking hassle. You'll have a big tote bag of stuff when you leave and you can use your train ride time to check it out. Or you can rest your eyes and be filled with the warmth of a 100% gluten-free belly.
7) Remember to patronize the restaurants and vendors who supported the event throughout the year. The more it pays for them, the more other restaurants will notice and hopefully fall in line.
There are probably more tips, but that's a good start. Have fun, go home full but not feeling gross. See you there!
Join me on my free, fun and interactive happy gluten-free webinar to get the facts about who benefits by going gluten-free, strategies to avoid it, and how to get the support you need.
September 27, 9 pm
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The the overnight road trip to AC was all about Corley's 11th birthday. We saw the Amazing Kozak the Magician on Monday night, which was a total homerun. We stayed over at Harrah's and the boys frollicked in the pool for a good portion of the next day.
Culinarily, I sustained myself primarily with apples, reconstituted powdered peanut butter (surprisingly good!) and the Kinnikinnick sandwich bread I reviewed earlier in the week. The family had messy pizza on the boardwalk. For Corley's big birthday lunch, however, we wanted to find a place that would accommodate all of us.
We picked the Rain Forest Cafe
on the boardwalk. It's a theme restaurant with animals that spring to life every 15 minutes and has a passing thunder shower every half hour. Perfect for the younger set! It was listed in Find Me Gluten Free, so I had some hope that we'd be able to craft a palatable meal for me. Upon my announcement of needed a gluten-free dining experience, we were greeted by the chef, who told me to check out the regular menu (they don't have a gf-specific menu) and then he would come talk to me about what he could build to meet my needs and tastes.
The menu is not very vegetarian friendly, which posed a bit of a challenge. I suspect that the chef usually does a gluten-free request by preparing a meaty protein source in a clean pan, with maybe a house salad. The menu contained enough Mexican-y sorts of offerings including tri-color tortilla chips and a black bean-corn salsa thing that I thought I could create an appetizing taco salad sort of thing. In consult with the chef, I learned that their chips aren't gluten-free, and the black bean corn salsa thing was neither vegetarian or gluten-free. I ended up ordering a salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chopped egg, and unseasoned canned black beans with an underacheiving pico de gallo for a dressing. Not thrilling, but healthy enough, and safely prepared.
We had ordered the Chocolate Volcano birthday dessert for Corley. Fabulous for him (and Jenn and Scott), but inedible for me. I was a little dissappointed that the server didn't attempt to offer me something else. Instead, he brought four plates for us to share the dessert, conveying to me either a complete lack of understanding of the gluten issue, or that he might not have been paying that much attention. I eventually flagged him down for a cup of decaf. It was a total missed opportunity for him to increase the somewhat substantial check. What was nice was that I was only charged $4.49 for my salad -- practically free compared to their other salads. I can handle a less-than-thrilling lunch if I don't have to pay an arm and a leg for it!
My advice for any mid-priced Italian or Mexican restaurant in Atlantic City is to develop a decent gluten-free menu and get the word out about it. There is such a huge opportunity there to serve our community. Whoever leads will be a big winner.
All in all, the trip was terrific. As much as my meal was forgetable, the real memories were in the fun we had as a family and the absolute joy Corley took from this birthday jaunt.
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