We went to Nyala for dinner last week. This was my first time going to an Ethiopian restaurant since I discovered my gluten intolerance, so I was expecting to have to pass up the delicious injera for a substitute of rice. But Nyala actually offers gluten-free injera!
I didn’t think to ask what type of flour they use to make it, but if I had to guess based on the appearance, I’d say buckwheat. Anyway, it was super yummy and I really loved the “Vegetable Combination 2.” I’m looking forward to going back there again soon!
For me, the highlights of our cross-country drive were Pittsburgh and St. Louis. I’ve blogged a few times before about my love for Pittsburgh, but I’d never been to St. Louis before. I was really excited to see the Gateway Arch, which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and is an awesome example of architecture and engineering in the 1960s.
Obviously the arch is huge, but I never fully appreciated its scale before seeing it in person. The top of the arch looks so sleek that I never expected there to be enough room inside for a tram to carry passengers to the top, where they can get out and enjoy views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
After visiting the arch, we had a fantastic lunch at PW Pizza. You can get gluten-free crust and vegan cheese on any pizza, so we had a “Popeye and Olive Oil” pizza (cleverly named: roasted garlic olive oil, spinach, roasted red pepper) with those substitutions and vegan sausage on half of the pizza. Best lunch of our road trip!
Unfortunately, a lot of gluten-free products out there are either very expensive, taste like cardboard, or worse, both! For folks who are adjusting to a gluten-free diet, I’ve made a list of some of my favorite gluten-free products that I can assure you are pretty tasty. Obviously I make a lot of yummy (and cheaper) gluten-free food at home, but when I’m very busy or traveling, these are the items I eat regularly. These items are all dairy-free too, and most are vegan (I’ve noted the non-vegan exceptions).
- Envirokidz crispy rice bars. I looove the peanut butter flavored ones with the panda on the box
- Enjoy Life cocoa loco bars. This brand makes a lot of good vegan and gluten-free products.
- Clif bars. These bars travel really well, are filling, and don’t contain any wheat ingredients…but are not certified gluten-free. I feel fine when I eat them, but they may not work for you if you are super-sensitive to gluten. The company does make a few certified gluten-free bars, which you can find using this handy tool.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is such a handy travel food! You can make it in your hotel room with hot water from the coffee pot, or on the go if you can just get some hot water from a coffee shop.
- Yogurt. See my review of some of the non-dairy yogurt options out there. Greek yogurt is also an excellent choice since it is so high in protein (I’m excited to try the So Delicious vegan Greek yogurt!).
- Soymilk (or other milk of your choice). I always have some single-serving chocolate soymilk cartons in my fridge, ready to take along for a long day out and about.
- Fruit. My favorite fruity snacks are bananas or apples with peanut butter spread on them.
- Rice cakes are your gluten-free friend. They are great carriers for any yummy spread! Hummus, peanut butter, jam, even frosting if you want to make a pseudo black and white cookie! You can also buy flavored mini rice cakes, and some stores have awesome gourmet flavored rice cakes – check out the dark chocolate and coconut-coated ones I found in Vienna!
- Rice crackers. These are great for bringing to a party for appetizers. Also, some tortilla chips and potato chips are surprisingly gluten-free!
- Cereal. I usually eat Rice Krispies or corn flakes, but the yummiest wheat-free cereal I’ve had is Peanut Butter Puffins. The honey rice and multigrain flavors of Puffins are certified gluten-free, but the wheat-free ones work for me.
- Liz Lovely cookies. All of their cookies are vegan, many are gluten-free as well, and they are all delicious!
- Swedish Fish and Junior Mints. You’d be surprised how many types of candy contain gluten and dairy. These two mainstream candies are both safe.
- Gluten-free bread. My favorite brand that isn’t just sold locally is Kinnikinnick bread. It’s not vegan, and it’s not as nice as regular bread, but it’s pretty good when toasted. I make a mean grilled cheese with this bread, spinach, and vegan cheese slices.
- Udi’s pizza crust. Again, not vegan, but convenient for a quick pizza night at home. Udi’s makes a lot of good gluten-free stuff, including muffins, cinnamon buns, and granola.
Charlottetown is the small but lively capital of Prince Edward Island. Even in Charlottetown, you can’t go far without being reminded of Anne Shirley – note the Anne of Green Gables Store and Anne of Green Gables Chocolates shop in the busy scene below. Of course we visited both of these establishments!
After a nice morning of wandering around downtown Charlottetown, we had the best sushi lunch at Ta-Ke Sushi on Queen Street. We enjoyed miso soup, edamame, avocado and cucumber maki, and most exciting of all, the Hawaiian roll. The Hawaiian roll was stuffed with papaya, avocado, mango, and asparagus, and tasted like decadent dessert sushi. It was even topped with an umbrella – how fun!
Although we were beyond full after eating all of that, we had to make a little more room when the waiter brought us a plate of watermelon and orange slices to cap off the meal. Besides the fantastic food, I also liked that each table had a call button to conveniently summon your waiter just by pressing it – very clever and useful!
In preparation for our upcoming trip to Prince Edward Island, I re-read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series (through Anne of Ingleside). I first read these treasured books when I was about eleven, and this was my first time revisiting Anne and friends as an adult (other than the occasional viewing of the classic CBC movie from the 80s). While I remember loving reading about imaginative, romantic Anne’s humorous scrapes and coming of age, re-reading the books now makes me wonder if Anne was more of a role model for me than I realized. I’ve mentioned before that these books were a non-negligible factor in my decision to move to Nova Scotia. But upon reflection, my focus on education, engagement ring preferences, wedding location, and house of dreams by the ocean all may have been influenced by subconscious impressions left by an enthusiastic childhood reading of these books.
The buzz about the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie reminded me that I had been meaning to get around to reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for several years. I finally read it, and thought it was a lot of fun. It was basically all of the joy one expects from re-reading Pride and Prejudice, with occasional zombie silliness sprinkled in. There are amusing illustrations, too!
Next up was Daisy Miller, a novella by Henry James. This book was referred to many times in Reading Lolita in Tehran, and I tried several times to borrow it from the library, but it was always out. This situation led me to the unfortunate attempt at reading The Wings of the Dove (just watch the movie on Netflix). In contrast, Daisy Miller (which I finally got a free version of for my Kindle) was eminently readable – it was one of James’ earlier works. I found this story to be a captivating analysis of a traveling young American woman’s personality and the response of genteel European and expat society to her.
Now I’m reading The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje. I decided to read this book because a couple of people had mentioned that he is a great writer, and John Irving recently posted on Facebook that he thinks this book is a “really outstanding novel.” I’ve enjoyed enough of John Irving’s novels for his opinion on that topic to carry some weight.
Burlington, Vermont is a cute little city on the shore of Lake Champlain. At the shore, you can see the Adirondack mountains in the distance across the lake.
We started off our visit to Burlington by getting lunch at Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup. This restaurant is known for having creative vegetarian dishes, as well as some omnivorous options. On the day of our visit, almost everything in their buffet was vegan and gluten-free! I took some falafel pie, barbecue tempeh, saffron rice, tomato salad, and a few strawberries and grapes for my sweet tooth. There were some good-looking bakery items there too, but I was holding out for gluten-free cupcakes – I’ll get to that soon. We took our lunch to go and headed to City Hall Park, where we found a bench in the shade and enjoyed some live music and people-watching while we ate. My lunch from Stone Soup was probably the most flavorful buffet food I’ve ever had, so I definitely recommend eating there if you’re in Burlington.
After strolling around by the lake and checking out some shops on this very warm afternoon, the various ice cream shops were starting to beckon to me. Since Ben and Jerry’s was founded in Burlington, we figured it would be appropriate to stop in their scoop shop on Church Street. Jeff had a dish of Greek frozen yogurt and I had a dish of lemonade sorbet, which was very refreshing.
We also had to check out New Moon cafe because my pre-trip research turned up that this cafe has vegan, gluten-free, and one flavor of vegan AND gluten-free cupcakes. In fact, they call their petite cupcakes “cupcake kisses.” I think these smaller cupcakes with a smaller price are a great idea since I find most bakery cupcakes to be larger than I want to eat in one sitting. And with smaller cupcakes, it’s easier (and less calorie-intensive!) to sample more flavors! So I bought two cupcake kisses for the road instead of the one cupcake I had planned on. I didn’t see the vegan and gluten-free flavor, so I settled for two gluten-free cupcake kisses: hazelnut heaven and cranstachio. The flavors are very creative, but to be honest, I found these little cupcakes to be rather dense and oily. Still, they were definitely far better than no cupcakes!
Sadly, since gluten and I don’t get along, I wasn’t able to enjoy any crepes or macarons in Paris. But I was able to buy a pretty decent gluten-free baguette at my favorite Parisian natural foods grocery store, Naturalia. Other memorable finds at Naturalia included organic cherry soy yogurt, chocolate soy milk, hazelnut milk, and unbelievably yummy gluten-free madeleines and little chocolate chip cakes!
In addition to our usual travel staples of Indian and sushi restaurants, we ate at a couple of great vegetarian restaurants in Paris as well. Le Potager du Marais, located at 22 Rue Rambuteau, is a fantastic little vegetarian restaurant. The menu was loaded with tantalizing options, but in the end I had an amazing quinoa patty with a creamy – yet vegan – mushroom sauce and Jeff had veggie chili. I really appreciated that when the waitress brought bread for everyone before the meal, she brought me my own plate of gluten-free bread (which was surprisingly tasty!). We also enjoyed a quick lunch at Maoz, a vegetarian falafel and salad-based fast food franchise restaurant.
As an aside, I also wanted to mention that we never experienced the stereotype of French people being rude, even though we were those supposedly maligned tourists who don’t speak French beyond bonjour and merci. I found our waiters/waitresses to be pleasant and attentive. Our hotel staff were downright friendly. And the Metro ticket saleslady, who didn’t speak much English, went out of her way trying to explain the ins and outs of how to use our Metro passes, even though we assured her we would be fine. People tend to avoid eye contact on the Metro or when passing on the sidewalk, but that’s typical in most big cities. When we were in Vernon, the men at the bike rental and the waiter at the restaurant were more brusque, and less proficient in English, but I still wouldn’t call them rude. So my conclusion from our experience is that if you, the tourist, are not rude, then the French will generally not be rude to you. Just like anywhere else.
When most of us think about eating in Vienna, foods like schnitzel and sachertorte come to mind. I had also heard that ice cream is very popular in Austria. Unfortunately, none of these foods fit within my dietary constraints, so I was a little concerned about finding things that I could eat during my week in Vienna. As it turned out, there were lots of yummy things for me to eat in Vienna!
Naschmarkt is a huge outdoor market with lots of fresh produce…
…as well as many small restaurants and specialty food shops. One of the bakeries had a small selection of gluten-free rolls that were really tasty!
We also stumbled upon a tiny ice cream shop on Rotenturmstrasse (between Stephansplatz and Schwedenplatz), called Eis Greissler, that had several vegan ice cream flavors! Even their cones are vegan (although not gluten-free), and all of their ice cream is organic. So yummy!
We also had a great dinner at Akakiko, a Japanese restaurant.
And the grocery stores also had plenty of food to keep me going. I enjoyed the “fruits of the forest” flavored soy yogurt for breakfast, chocolate soy milk and bananas for snacks, and these gluten-free cookies were a very tasty dessert.
The rolls were disappointingly dry and bland-tasting, but it was a good effort. Almost every grocery store we went to had an orange juice squeezing station, which I thought was pretty cool. We were happy to find peanut butter as well – never a sure thing in other countries!
And I also discovered my new favorite snack in the grocery stores of Vienna. I’ll post about that once I’ve successfully replicated it at home!