The GF Honeymoon (Part 2 of 4): Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

After a brief delay at the San Fran airport, and 5 “short” hours flying over the ocean, we arrived on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and made our way to Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Admittedly, my first impression of Hawaii did not match the way I had always dreamed of it (which changed when I arrived in Kauai- check out part 3). Don’t get me wrong, it was BEAUTIFUL… just much busier and action-packed than I thought it would be. But being a city- and a tourist one at that- I guess it should have been expected.

P2-Waikiki2With only 3 nights on the island, here are the GF places I enjoyed while in Waikiki:

  • Outback Steakhouse (1765 Ala Moana Blvd.): Chicken on-the-barbie with baked potato- what else?! How could I walk past one of my favs without eating there- even in paradise! I always feel comfortable with the food and service at Outback!
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill (Ala Moana Center): Pasta with garlic olive oil, roasted peppers, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes + “no-hito” (=mock-mohito). The food here was tasty and the server was knowledgeable about gluten-free dining. The “no-hito” was great! My only mistake here was “table or bar?”- bar was a bad choice on football Sunday 🙂
  • Z Pizza (Ward Centre Auahi Street Shops): Pizza with Daiya dairy-free cheese, peppers and mushrooms. Reminiscing about the Extreme Pizza from San Francisco (see part 1), we decided to try out another new pizza place. The pizza tasted really good, more so after learning that the staff prepared the pizza in a separate area- always reassuring. As I enjoyed my pizza in my tank top and shorts, I almost forgot it was the week before Christmas… if it weren’t for the same three Christmas songs on repeat!
  • Fresco Restaurant (Hilton Hawaiian Village): Pasta with pomodoro sauce. Not many gluten-free options at this restaurant, but I was happy to be able to eat pasta. Plus, the view overlooking the moon-lit resort through fold-away windows gave a European-feel to the experience.
  • Lanikai Juice (4 locations in Oahu, including one at Hilton Hawaiian Village): acai smoothie. The perfect refreshment for the beach, with organic, natural and local ingredients!
  • ABC Stores (multiple locations): snacks for the hotel room and beach, including Barnana chocolate banana bites (I MUST find these in Toronto!), Naked juice, Baked Lays, and dried mangoes.
  • (Note: Hilton Hawaiian Village had many other gluten-free options on-site, including room service and take-out service from Fresh Connection, and Pronto Pickle. Also, unrelated to food, there are adorable penguins at the resort which I frequently visited!)

P2-Waikiki1~Go to Part 3: Kauai, Hawaii – At-the-Resort~

The GF Honeymoon (Part 1 of 4): San Francisco

After countless hours of wedding planning over the past year, a relaxing honeymoon was definitely in order… and coming from below-zero temperatures, what better places to escape to than San Francisco and Hawaii!

When planning the honeymoon, one thing was a given- it had to be gluten-free friendly. I read about an amazing resort in Kauai with gluten-free options at every restaurant (check out part 3 of this post), so that was an easy decision, but in San Fran and Waikiki I had no GF plans. So I did all of my regular pre-travel GF research beforehand and got some of my favourite snacks ready – just in case.

Basically, in the past few weeks, I went from paradise to, well, just ICE. We were lucky enough to fly out west just before the snow storm and subsequent ice storm hit the GTA in December, and returned home just before the bad flight delays and cancellations began at Pearson Airport in January (feew!). So we cut a few winter ‘headaches’ out (though there are still a few months to go so we’re not in the clear yet!). But now that I have thawed out a bit, I am ready to share my GF travel experiences. With two weeks of amazing gluten-free food and travel, I will break my honeymoon posts into four parts – San Francisco, Waikiki, Kauai ‘At-the-Resort’, and Kauai ‘On-the-Road’.

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P1-SanFran

In San Francisco, we stayed at the Wyndham Canterbury in the Union Square area, a central location in the beautiful city which we explored on foot, on trolly and by Go-Car. Here are the GF places I enjoyed while in San Francisco:

  • Pearl’s Deluxe Burger (708 Post Street + another location on Market Street that I only noticed when we were en route back to the airport to leave): Deluxe lettuce-wrapped burger with tomato. This place came recommended by my hotel concierge. I discovered that they did not have a dedicated GF menu when I got there, which worried me at first, but the owner was very aware about gluten and cross-contamination so I felt comfortable. The hamburger was decent but not the best I’ve ever had (…cue the Drake music).
  • Daily Grill (347 Geary Street): Lemon chicken piccatta with brown rice and broccoli. Admittedly not the most beautiful plate presentation, but tasted good and did not make me sick (which is the key thing).
  • Extreme Pizza (4 locations): ‘Drag it through the garden’ pizza with fresh veggies and dairy-free cheese (picture shown above) + garden salad. This pizza was honestly one of the most delicious take-out pizzas I’ve ever had! Plus we got the food delivered to our hotel room so I got to store the left-over pizza in my hotel mini fridge and eat it for lunch the following day which was awesome.
  • Mariposa Baking Co (1 Ferry Building): Between my husband and I, we ate the toasted bagel, turkey baguette, chocolate ‘pinguino’ cupcake, sprinkle donut, bear paw, and cinnamon bun (pictures of most shown above… the other items were eaten too fast to capture!). This is honestly one of my new favourite places and I highly recommend to any GF peeps traveling to San Fran! It is located inside the Pier 1 shops, along with other amazing artisan kiosks with local cheeses, wines, etc. Check out my new GF mug in the picture above (=”I *butterfly* GF”).
  • TCHO (Pier 17): Drinking hot “tcho”colate with soy milk (picture shown above) + ‘galactic gelato’ chocolate bar (=mint astronaut gelato floating in spacy dark chocolate!) waiting in my cupboard for a special occasion- liiiike tomorrow maybe, hehe! They also offer daily chocolate tours at TCHO.
  • Walgreens (multiple locations): snacks for the hotel room and day trips!
  • (Note: If you are ever delayed at SFO San Francisco Airport terminal 3- as I was briefly- there are many GF options, including soups at the ‘San Francisco Soup Company,’ yogurts at ‘Fraiche,’ and organic snacks at ‘Destination Green.’ Make sure you specify regular yogurt and not FROZEN yogurt at ‘Fraiche’ or you might end up having quite a COLD early breakfast as I did.)

~Go to Part 2: Waikiki, Hawaii~

How Fate/Nate Brought Me to ‘La Veranda Osteria’

The coolest thing happened not too long ago… I was visiting Nates Bagels & Gluten Free Foods in Concord, ON (where I re-discovered my favourite GF wrap). While chatting with Chef Pierangela about gluten-free restaurants in the city, she mentioned La Veranda Osteria in Etobicoke-Toronto, ON and said that I had to go there because it was amazing! Now it is not at all close to me geographically so I promised her that I the next time I was in that area I would definitely check it out…

…meanwhile, back at my house, the mail was being delivered, in which later that day I discovered an invitation to my dear cousin’s daughter’s baptism- church, followed by lunch at La Veranda Osteria!!! C’mon now, that’s fate!

I was lucky enough that my cousin arranged a special meal for me in advance- and what a perfect place to do so! The food was excellent- I would definitely recommend- and there was no expense of quality or food presentation. See for yourself…

GF/dairy-free pizza and focaccia

GF/dairy-free pizza and focaccia

GF spaghetti with tomato sauce

GF spaghetti with tomato sauce

Grilled veal and chicken

Grilled veal and chicken

GF Math: French Toast

Nothing like gluten-free french toast on a cold winter morning…

‘All But Gluten’ sliced bread‘Ecoideas Kokimo Kitchen’ GF and vegan cinnamon french toast dipping mix + ‘Enjoy Life’ mini chips (of course!) = Mmm

FrenchToast

Gluten-free and Dairy-Free Wedding Cake

The most beautiful gluten-free and dairy-free wedding cake EVER, prepared with love by Pastel Bakery. Click here to read the full post on PastelBakery.ca.gfweddingcake

 

 

High Tea at Shangri-La Toronto (w/ GF Options!)

High Tea with Family- pinkys up!Enjoying high tea with the girls – pinkys up!

Gluten-free options for Eva and I!Gluten-free options for Eva and I! 🙂

Good Times at the GF Expo 2013

Last weekend, my sister-in-law, Eva of Pastel Bakery (guest blogger “EA” below), and I enjoyed a day trip down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the Toronto Gluten-Free Expo. We share our experiences below…

I’m So Excited (and I Just Can’t Hide It):
gfexpo2013-1MM: Leading up to the event, I was super excited! I knew that it would be a great show as I had gone last year, but I have to say I’m glad that they extended it to two days as last year was pretty jam-packed. I was anxious to see what new products the ‘new-comers’ had to share as the GF industry has grown so much in the past few years.
EA: I can’t say there was one particular booth I was looking forward to visiting.  I was just excited to see new products and the old ones I love, plus be able to sample, sample, sample in a safe environment.  It felt strange to not have to ask the staff at the booths if their product contained any gluten.  I will admit though I did ask this once, at the Piller’s booth, but only because they were making sandwiches.  The girl I asked did look at me a bit funny, but what can I say…force of habit I suppose.
MM: It was totally weird not asking “is this gluten-free?” haha! But, yes, that Pillar’s sandwich seemed too good to be true so thanks for taking one for the team and asking for us!

Get in my Belly:
EA: Oh my!  There were so many great products to sample like, the roast beef panini at the Piller’s Fine Foods booth and the chocolate fudge Super Squeezies Tubes at the Sunrise Soya Foods booth, just to name a few.  My favourite though, was a toss up between two: 1) Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss in Salted Caramel & Chocolate flavour.  It tastes like dairy ice cream.  It looks like dairy ice cream.  But boy, it ain’t dairy ice cream!  One spoon of this and it’s pure bliss – which I’m guessing is why they added this word to their product name, because it’s so true!  This was by far the best non-dairy ‘ice cream’ I have EVER had.  2) the frozen vegan pizza from Comensoli Foods.  It was nice to finally see a dairy free frozen pizza on the market.  It did not taste like cardboard and the ‘cheese’ they use is from Daiya Foods so it stretched just like regular cheese.  In my house, every Friday night is pizza night.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t take that long for me to put together a pizza, given I use pre-made pizza crusts, but sometimes you just feel like taking a break and having someone else make it for you.  Now there is a dairy free option I can enjoy.  I cannot wait to find this product in my local store.
MM: I totally agree with both choices! The salted caramel & chocolate “ice cream” and dairy-free pizza were awesome and probably my fav samples of the day! I also loved the brownie at the Good Bye Gluten booth (regret not purchasing some ‘to-go’) and, of course, my all-time fav, Sweets from the Earth‘s peppermint nanaimo bar! Too bad we couldn’t get to sample one of the vegetarian dairy-free burritos at Glutenfreeda‘s booth… and I couldn’t find my dark chocolate-covered almonds this time (the craving continues).

In my ‘Goodie Bag’:
gfexpo2013MM: Soooo many free samples, it was great! The Enjoy Life booth gave away some good ones; I can’t wait to try their new S’Mores Decadent Bar (that I’m saving… for now!). I was also happy to purchase some favourites at discounted expo prices, like Purest Extra Crispy Purebatter and SFTE peppermint nanaimo bars! I also bought some new products, like Sandwich Petals, the Ultimate Gluten-Free Flat Bread, and Tutti Gourmet cafe-flavoured fruit crackers, and picked up a free copy of “Gluten-free Living” magazine which I am looking forward to exploring.
EA: Again, lots and lots of free goodies such as Enjoy Life Plentils (addictive!) and Catelli Pasta (could not believe they gave away full size boxes!).  I myself purchased some CheeCha Puffs and some Bana Krisp Fruit Crackers.  And thanks Mel for the Sweets from Earth Caramel Pecan Bar (mmmm)!  If I didn’t have to take an hour bus ride north to get home, I totally would have loaded up with more goodies like some flour from Cuisine Soleil.  But, I was still happy to visit and explore the many brands/products both old and new.  The CheeCha Puffs I got were 2 varieties: 1) Salt & Vinegar, 2) Fiesta Salsa.  I sometimes find it hard to find these puffs in my local store so I stocked up and took advantage of the new flavour they had to offer (Fiesta Salsa).  Not too spicy but with a little kick at the end.  As for the Bana Krisp Fruit Crackers, these were so tasty and simple (just 4 ingredients!), I couldn’t resist.  I picked up the Cafe flavour which had a nice subtle coffee taste.  These make for a great healthy snack when you feel like something sweet but know you shouldn’t reach for that cupcake 🙂

If at First You Succeed… Buy Buy Again:
MM: I look forward to a trip to Nature’s Emporium soon so that I can buy some of the products we sampled! I will definitely look for that Comensoli pizza and, if all goes well with these Sandwich Petals, I will be down for some more as I love me a nice tortilla.
EA: The products which I will look for in store would be (in no particular order): 1) Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss in Salted Caramel & Chocolate, 2) Comensoli frozen vegan pizza, 3) Bana Krisp, and 4) Rudi’s Tortilla & Wraps.  I did not get to sample the Rudi’s Tortilla as they were preparing them with regular dairy cheese, but the staff at the booth said they don’t break when you roll them.  And from the flips she was giving the wrap while prepping, it looked to be true.  It would be nice to find a gluten free tortilla which doesn’t break when you try to roll it, so I will be looking for Rudi’s in store to test them out.
MM: Oh my, how could I forget about the ice cream! I will be looking for that again FOR SURE!

 

Final Thoughts:  
MM: Overall, I had a more positive experience this year compared to last year, as there was plenty of space to comfortably move around and enough time to freely ask the vendors questions. I was also happy to “Give a Shiitake” and donate a gluten-free product to the Second Harvest booth (though no one was there to receive it so I left it on the chair with the other donations). I thought it was a great idea to have this booth as people in need may be gluten-free, too. On another note, I half-joked to Eva that it would be convenient if the booths were set up more in ‘themes’ (i.e. – apps, desserts, etc.) so that I didn’t have to go from brownie to hummus to cookie to roast beef sandwich to muffin, etc. (my tummy was not happy with the mixture). Bottom line: the GF Expo is a fantastic event that I look forward to attending for years to come. Hopefully I’ll be able to check out some presentations next time also.
EA: All in all this was a great event!  So glad to see it was relocated to a larger venue vs. last year which was too crammed, plus now it was a 2 day event.  Expos like these are great because you get to experience new things and meet many of the people behind the product.  It also creates awareness, both regarding health and products.  The more attention we can bring, the more people will understand celiac disease/gluten intolerance and the more companies will realize they need to provide for the gluten free peeps out there. For the cost of a $12 admission (if you buy ahead online), it’s a great way to spend the day exploring and sampling.  It’s nice to go to an event where you don’t feel like the weird kid in the corner with the misunderstood food allergies.  Here we are all GF’ers, and those who are not, are welcomed with open arms and shown what they are missing 🙂
MM: Well said, Eva.

Did you attend the GF Expo in Toronto last week or perhaps in another city? Share your experiences below…

Ryan To The Rescue

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ryanGF