It's hard to stay at a bed and breakfast when you are gluten intolerant. While you may love the accommodations and quaint rooms, breakfast is usually lacking. Bed and breakfasts are famous for their country breakfasts, most of which are filled with gluten. Thankfully, I found a gluten-free friendly bed and breakfast that I will be returning to frequently.
The Pinecrest Inn is a lovely bed and breakfast, and the inn keepers go above and beyond to make sure that being gluten free doesn't take away from your bed and breakfast experience.
Every afternoon I was greeted with a gluten-free treat from a local bakery. I enjoyed a brownie, cupcakes, and even a mini-chocolate carrot cake. All delicious, and all unbelievably gluten-free.
Pinecrest breakfasts are out of this world. Every morning I knew where my place was at the table, because there was something different on the bread plate. Sometimes it was a gluten-free blueberry muffin. Another time it was a mini sweet bread from Dolci di Maria, a local Asheville gluten-free bakery. On the morning that we had yogurt parfaits, they used Udi’s Gluten-Free Granola for everyone’s parfait, not just mine. They made sure that the frittata was naturally gluten free and that I had Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread to go along with it. On French toast morning, I wondered if I’d be eating eggs with a side of Udi’s toast, but they created gluten-free French toast with Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread just for me, complete with fresh peaches.
Pinecrest Inn gets a five palm rating and two paws up from the Gluten-Free Cat on food alone. But the actual accommodations were beautiful and comfortable, giving us the perfect weekend retreat.
For pictures and additional information please see my full review at http://www.glutenfreecat.com/2012/07/a-gluten-friendly-bed-and-breakfast-in -asheville-nc/
Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine can be a great place to eat gluten free if you ask for guidance from your server. They do not have a separate gluten-free menu, but it's easy to find gluten-free options as many Indian dishes are naturally gluten free.
I highly recommend the potato bonda as an appetizer. They are large balls of mashed potatoes dipped in chic pea flour and deep fried. Delicious!
The famous Indian naan, a white wheat bread, is obviously off limits. But there are other gluten-free breaded items to try. The Pappadum is crispy wafer-like flatbread made from lentil or chickpea flour. Dosas are crepes made from rice and lentil flours and stuffed with savory fillings. Iddly is spongy steamed rice and lentil cake.
I had to try the crepe-like Dosas served with sambar and coconut chutney. They are huge, not even fitting on a serving platter. I’ve tried the Masala Dosa, filled with potato, onion, and spices. But my favorite is the Beans and Cheese Dosa, featuring black beans, cheese, and spices.
The curries are a safe bet for gluten-free diners, and they’re served with white rice and raita (yogurt with vegetables). My favorite is the Dal Tadka, yellow lentils cooked with tomato, onion, and spices. I also love the Dal Makhani made with kidney beans, yellow and black lentils, onion, and tomato.
For dessert you must try the Carrot Halwa, which is carrot cooked in coconut milk, cashews, raisins, almonds, and sugar. Simple sweetness.
I highly recommend dining at Woodlands. The food is delicious, the waitstaff is attentive, and when asked about gluten and other ingredients, they relay questions to the kitchen and return with clear answers.
For photographs please see www.glutenfreecat.com.
Having guests in town gave us the perfect opportunity to try Porta Via Italian Kitchen and their gluten free pizza that I'd heard amazing things about. I was astounded that they had gluten-free pasta as well. AND the waiter brought gluten-free rolls with olive oil. They were incredible. I dare say they were the best gluten-free rolls that I’ve ever had outside of my kitchen. They were piping hot from the oven, steamy, tender, and perfect. These were not rolls kept in the freezer saved for the occasional gluten-free diner who pops in. These rolls were freshly made. With such attention to the quality of the delicious free bread, I knew that the upcoming meal would have to be amazing.
With not just two gluten-free options, but two entire gluten-free categories to choose from, I knew we had to order both pizza and pasta, especially since Porta Via makes their own pizza crust. I haven’t found that outside of NYC.
So we ordered the Fettuccine al Pesto, which was delicious. The pasta was tender, yet substantial, not mushy as many gluten-free pastas tend to be. And the pesto sauce brought back memories of last summer’s perfect pesto made from freshly picked basil leaves.
We also ordered the Margherita D.O.C. with tomato sauce, fresh mozzerella di bufala, cherry tomatoes, and basil was worth sharing my pasta.
PortaVia has been certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) organization, which has specific regulations for how Neapolitan pizza must be made.
We went back to PortaVia the next evening after our guests left. That’s how incredible this pizza is.
We tried another pasta too: the gluten-free Bucatini al Pomodoro, which had an authentic Italian tomato sauce. We finished off the evening with a generous scoop of gelato. Porta Via has two locations in the Nashville area. I highly recommend that you try one if you’re anywhere close. You won't be disappointed.
For meal pictures see http://www.glutenfreecat.com/2012/05/portavia-italian-kitchen-best-gluten-f ree-pizza/
Everyone says that cruising is all about the food. With cruise lines that boast of 24-hour buffets and five-star dining, it’s easy to see why. I had been on cruises before, and gained the predicted 5 pounds in a week that took a month to take off, but that was before going gluten-free. Recently, I took a Thanksgiving cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Sea, and I had high hopes that they would provide delightful dining experiences. After all, gluten-free dining is nothing new. We’ve been at this for a while now.
In the dining room, eating gluten-free was fairly easy. Although I had requested gluten-free dining on my cruise registration, there was no indication that the waitstaff or chef had been made aware of my need. In fact, our waiter didn’t seem to know what gluten was and quickly excused himself to find out. Since English was clearly a second language for most of dining room staff, communication about gluten was difficult at first. But after the first night, it got easier.
There was usually one appetizer, salad, or soup that was naturally gluten-free to choose from each evening. I think if I could have eaten appetizers and desserts for every meal of the cruise I would have been very happy. The entrees were usually fish or chicken with a side of rice or potato and some vegetables. They were all naturally gluten-free, and very good. I inquired about the vegetarian dishes each night, and all of them contained gluten.
I was very concerned about Thanksgiving Dinner. Thanksgiving Dinner is my favorite meal of the entire year. Our waiter brought us the Thanksgiving menu the evening before and asked what we would like. I told him that he would make my Thanksgiving if he could come up with a gluten-free stuffing and a crustless pumpkin pie. He was able to produce a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, including gravy, but there was no stuffing or pie.
The desserts were incredible. If there wasn’t a naturally gluten-free dessert one evening, like Pavolova or Chocolate Souflee, there was always ice cream.
Outside the safely of the dining room, the rest of the ship was a gluteny disaster. The language barrier made it very difficult to communicate with the servers. On day one, we barely made it to the ship before the 4:00 pm departure because of airport delays. We boarded just moments before disembarking and moments before the food lines closed for the mandatory safety presentation. I was famished. I walked up to the pizza counter with hopes that Royal Caribbean had gluten-free pizza. After all, gluten-free is nothing new! When I asked if there was any gluten-free pizza the worker happily said, "Yes!" Thankfully, I figured out pretty quickly that he didn’t know what I was asking. There was no other option other than the cheese or pepperoni slices behind the glass, but he was dead set on telling me that the price of pizza was included in my cruise fare.
Even hungrier and more frustrated, I turned to the buffet line. The only thing I could find that was naturally gluten free was white rice and green beans. I was stunned that in this day and age, on a cruise ship, I could only find two items to eat. But I realized that the line was closing because of the safety meeting, and I hoped that things would improve.
The buffet line continued to be horrendous throughout the rest of the trip. First of all, it was a mess, and where there’s a mess, there’s the possibility of cross contamination. But then there were signage issues. I was excited to see that there were signs labeling gluten-free items. But these signs could not be relied upon.
There were a few gluten-free entree options, but most were meats. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll find little more than salad and fruit. unless you want mushrooms and onions.
There was very little attention to the gluten-free signs that were placed above gluten-free dishes. When trays of food were replaced from behind the buffet line, it appeared that the gluten-free signs in front were left up, even if the next item was not gluten-free. That is a dangerous situation for any gluten-intolerant diner. Thankfully, I realized quickly that the signs were not to be relied upon.
So my daily meals consisted of this:
Breakfast – yogurt and fruit
Lunch – salad and white rice
Snacks – Lara Bars brought from home, fruit, and soft serve ice cream
Dinner – a very nice three-course meal in the dining room
Royal Caribbean has a long way to go in terms of gluten-free service. Hats off to the chef in the dining room for providing lovely, safe meals complete with desserts. But with the prevalence of quality gluten-free products in restaurants these days, there is no reason why a cruise ship can’t offer something as simple as gluten-free breads, muffins, and snacks. And the buffet needs a serious overhauling with a separate gluten-free line and about ten times more gluten-free options.
For pictures of the food please see my blog Gluten-Free Cat: http://www.glutenfreecat.com/?p=9155
It's not a unique phenomenon for a new restaurant to open in
the Cool Springs-Franklin area. And now that the McEwen area
has started making good on their much-anticipated promises,
this is becoming a hot retail, residential, and restaurant location.
But I've been watching the progress of this restaurant in
particular, because I had a feeling that it would be good for the
gluten-free community. (And I couldn't wait to dine on that
super cool, outdoor, covered patio!)
BrickTop's has locations in Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis, Naples,
and Nashville on West End. I'd been to the West End location
once, years ago, and I was thrilled that the server understood
gluten issues. I had just resigned myself to my default
order: "I'll just have a salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
on the side, and no croutons or bread, because I have a gluten
allergy," when the server's eyes lit up and he explained that he,
too, couldn't eat gluten.
Fifteen minutes later, I had fish tacos on corn tortillas with
extra corn tortillas to dip in my guacamole as an appetizer. (He
had warned against the tortilla chips as they didn't have a
dedicated fryer.) When you are taken care of at a restaurant,
the experience is not long forgotten. That one experience gave
me hope that the new BrickTop's had potential. I was not
Last week, we took friends to the new BrickTop's at West
McEwen Drive in Cools Springs, and I was pleased to see that
they have developed a very extensive gluten-free menu since
my Nashville visit. From appetizers, salads, and sides, to steak,
chicken, and fish, this menu contains something for every
gluten-free diner to enjoy. And every question that I had about
specials, sauces, and the vegetable of the day was immediately
taken back the chef to check on possible gluten-containing
ingredients. And more importantly to the return visitor (which I
plan on being), I was not treated as a problem customer. Our
server was more than willing to assure me that my experience
would be a safe and delightful one.
After much deliberation (isn't it wonderful to have options?), I
settled on the Atlantic Salmon with a side of Brown Rice and the
Fresh Vegetable which was a delicious creamed cauliflower that
I must replicate at home soon.
Tennessee is landlocked, and I'm a California girl who adores
seafood. If we want good seafood, we usually go to Bonefish
Grill where the fish is flown in fresh and served with some of my
favorite gluten-free sauces. But I am convinced that this piece
of salmon from BrickTop's is the best that I've had in Nashville,
or on the coast for that matter. It's that good. And we definitely
left room for dessert. BrickTop's was a delightful dining
experience as a gluten-free diner. (And our gluten-enjoying
friends had wonderful meals as well.) I'd highly recommend
BrickTop's for your next meal out.
For photos see http://www.glutenfreecat.com/?p=8331