It took longer to go through baggage claim than to fly from Oahu to Kauai…and what a difference in scenery! With breath-taking mountains and greenery as far as the eye could see, the remote island- known as “The Garden Island”- inhabits only ~65,000 people! Now THIS was the Hawaii I pictured! I joked to my husband that the island looked like a piece of lettuce on the map and, boy, was it aptly-named. “Fresh,” “local,” “natural,” “organic,” “non-GMO”… these were all words we came across frequently in stores and restaurants. One thing was for sure: this was my kind of place!
When we arrived at our resort, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, my husband and I were greeted with a traditional kukui shell necklace, and fresh-flower lei, respectively. While getting acquainted with the resort, we discovered that everywhere we looked was a great photo-op… very “postcard-esque” (if that makes sense). Take a look…
…See what I mean?! And the second picture is just the view from the lobby area (note: that is not a picture in the center… it is an actual open view straight through to the ocean!).
The gluten-free reputation of the resort preceded our stay… I had excitedly read all about it in a PR web press release and numerous reviews, so I knew about their GF Dining Guide at their various restaurants and lounges (with items helpfully marked “gf” right on the menus). While staying at this amazingly accommodating resort, these are the GF eats and treats I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed:
“Popoi Bay Clubhouse”: Turkey clubhouse sandwich on Udi’s bread (toasted in a separate toaster). Since our flight got in late in the afternoon, we decided to grab a quick bite and settled on this restaurant overlooking the world-famous Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course. I did forget to mention “no cow dairy” on my sandwich so ended up with slices of cheddar, but luckily I do not have a serious allergy to milk, so I was able to easily peel them away with no reaction from the residue (not something I would risk with gluten whatsoever).
“‘Ilima Terrace”: All-natural hamburger on Udi’s toasted bread with oven baked fries + “Nonna iced tea” (=no sugar or sweetener). I was thrilled that there was Udi’s bread on site for my hamburger but disappointed when I learned that the fries were made in the same oil as other gluten contaminants. But to my delight, the server helpfully offered to request that the kitchen staff bake them instead of fry them so that they would not share the oil (Ummm… yes yes YES! I prefer baked to fried anyway so BONUS!). We actually ate here twice it was so good! Plus what an amazing view of the ocean (see image below) with white swans swimming around right in front of you (note: the resort also had black swans at the entrance which I had never seen before).
“Donderos”: The best pasta with bolognese sauce I have ever had (and I’m Italian – sorry Mom and Nonni!). The dish originally came with a little bit of grated cheese mixed into the sauce but, sensing my apprehension, the waiter notified me that the chef would prepare a separate sauce just for me! This dish was A-MA-ZING with a capitol A! I even sent my compliments to the chef (do people still do that?!).
“Tidepools”: Ribeye steak artfully-presented on a bed of assorted grilled vegetables. Absolutely delicious! Also wish I could have enjoyed my husband’s warm chocolate lava cake but sadly it was not GF or dairy-free (Pastel Bakery, can you get on that recipe ASAP?!) And the ambiance of this place was incredible…the GHK website describes it best: “Thatched-roof bungalows float above a koi-filled lagoon at the base of a waterfall to create romantic ambiance.” <sigh>
“The Dock” (pool-side and lagoon-side service): Assorted fruit, salad and smoothies well-earned after our first-time surfing adventure… all from the comfort of our lounge-chairs (“Put it on the room charge!”).
Grand Hyatt Lu’au: How many GF peeps can say that they have been to an authentic Hawaiian luau…and eaten?! ME!!! Thanks to the help of our concierge (shout-out to Holly!) and the knowledge of the kitchen staff and servers working the event, I got to enjoy a separate plate of grilled chicken and vegetables + a delightful sorbet. I was grateful that I did not have to pick off of the buffet, even though they identified the safe GF options and told me that I could go up first; I always feel safer knowing that whoever prepared my plate knew it was intended for someone with a severe intolerance. After dinner, the show was spectacular- highly recommended experience (whether you are staying at the resort or not).
Room Service: Mixed green salad with grilled chicken. This safe room service option came in handy the day I was “glutened” on-the-road (see part 4) and didn’t want to leave the room- just in case.
The resort also had some other dining options that we did not get to (…this visit): “Stevensons Library” (sushi and small plates); Yum Cha (Asian); Seaview Terrace; “Share the Stars” (exclusive beachside dining experience under the starlit Hawaiian sky). There was also a convenience store in the lobby area with assorted GF snacks.
Note: reservations are recommended by the concierge, so plan out your dining destinations beforehand as we did and you will have no problem at all! Also ask that they add a note about your dietary needs to alert the restaurant before you arrive (doesn’t hurt).
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.
With 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!)
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’.
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.)
Great news for the GF Community… GlutenFreeTravelSite and the Celiac Sprue Association have recently announced a partnership to spread the word about “gluten-free friendly” restaurants and other businesses. Read the PRweb release below:
South Riding, VA, July 10, 2012 –
GlutenFreeTravelSite, a website containing thousands of user-submitted gluten free dining and travel reviews, today announced their partnership with the Celiac Sprue Association, one of the most prominent non-profit organizations dedicated to educating and supporting individuals with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. The partnership goal is to further spread the word within the fast-growing gluten free community about the many restaurants and other businesses that safely accommodate people on gluten free diets.
How about spending Valentine’s Day 2013 with your “honey” in the Caribbean?
Bob & Ruth’s Gluten-Free Dining & Travel Club has arranged an 8-day / 7-night adults-only getaway from February 9-16, 2013. Staying at the beautiful Club Med Village of Turquoise in the Turks & Caicos Islands, you’ll enjoy warm sun, tropical breezes, palm trees, powder sand beaches, crystal clear blue seas, and all of the gluten-free food you can eat (and drink)!
Gluten-free living can be a challenge, but gluten-free traveling can send you running for the hills… unless you are prepared. With March Break around the corner, and Summer travel not far behind, there are a few things to keep in mind before, during, and after traveling:
Do your research. Look into gluten-free dining and grocery options before you go, which will help alleviate some anxiety/stress when you arrive at your destination. When I visited Las Vegas years ago, I ended up eating a bag of potato chips for dinner the first night, and then ate lunch and dinner at the Outback Steakhouse every day following. While I do love their ‘Chicken on-the-barbie,’ I could have done with some variation had I researched some options in advance. I have since learned my lesson. Check out our GF City Guidesfor extensive lists of GF dining options in your favourite cities.
The moment I booked my “all-inclusive” vacation to Breezes Bahamas (March 20-24, 2011), the panic began to set in. What was I thinking… what could someone with gluten allergies possibly eat at a resort buffet?! Hadn’t I learned my lesson after my last ‘hot spot’ attempt in the Dominican Republic two years ago?! I knew I would be in trouble unless I was super well-prepared this time. Since I booked very last minute (literally the week before!), I didn’t think there was a point in contacting the hotel in advance to let them know I was coming (half expecting a “what’s gluten?”). It was only 4.5 days, so I decided my best option was to load up on GF snacks!Enjoy Life cocoloco bars and cookies, Oskri sesame bars, Glutino pretzels, etc. (you know, the regulars). I even bought one of those As Seen On TV ‘magic’ pasta cookers; the ones where you add boiling water to a plastic-looking tube! Hey, I wasn’t taking any chances on starving (or getting sick) this time!