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Blackbird

11 Oct

IMG_6600.jpegFriends of ours recently got married on the east coast, but we were unable to make the trip. Upon their return to Santa Barbara, we took them out to Blackbird to celebrate. None of us had been there, so we were excited to try it. Upon sitting down, our waiter brought out some sparking rosé to celebrate the newlyweds which was a nice touch. He walked me through the menu to give me guidance on which items could be made gluten-free. Sadly, the fried brussel sprouts were made in a contaminated fryer, so they were off limits. However, the rest of the table enjoyed them immensely. We shared an order of the Padron Peppers and the Big Eye Tuna to start.

IMG_6603.jpgBoth were gluten-free as is. The peppers had a perfect char to them. The tonnato sauce wasn’t bursting with flavor, but the peppers were plenty flavorful on their own. The tuna starter was very light. Again, the sauce wasn’t memorable. However, the melons that came with the dish were incredibly fresh and tasty.

IMG_6605.jpgFor the main course, the new bride and I shared the Whole Roasted Branzino and the Scallops. The branzino was cooked so that the skin turned out nice and crispy. The only thing I had altered in the branzino was that they removed the head and tail for me rather than serving it whole which is just a personal preference. The scallops were served with pork belly, so they were a winner before even tasting one bite.IMG_6608.jpegOverall, we had a really nice evening. The food, service and ambiance all made the night feel more special than our typical meal out, which made it the perfect place to celebrate the newlyweds.

La Cocina

28 Aug

IMG_5894.jpgThis month, we decided to try La Cocina which is located in the same beautiful spot that Somerset and Smithy were. I was optimistic since Mexican food is typically easy for Celiacs. However, after talking to our waiter, it seemed that options were a bit limited. Even though they make their corn chips and tortillas in-house, they were not gluten-free because they fry them in contaminated oil. I asked if I could have some tortillas that they didn’t fry but that wasn’t possible for some reason. I started with the Yellowtail Ceviche. We then shared an order of the Charro Bean Dip without the chips.

IMG_5895.jpgNeither of the starting dishes were memorable. Since the tacos and enchiladas were off the table for me, I had the Carne Asada as my main dish. IMG_5897.jpegThis dish was okay but I would try something else if I returned. Sadly, it wasn’t as GF-friendly of an experience as it was when the restaurant was Smithy (remember that GF pasta?! mmmm). I love the outdoor patio here, but I don’t know if that is enough to get me to come back.

Yuki Yama

20 Aug

IMG_5870.jpegWe were in Park City for my birthday this year and I was craving sushi, so we ended up at Yuki Yama. Right off the bat, it was clear that they understood cross contamination. Once I heard that they had a celiac-safe fryer, we immediately ordered their gluten-free stuffed shishitos. These tempura fried shishitos were stuffed with goat cheese and came with a spicy chili dipping sauce. These were insanely good. So good in fact, that we ended up ordering another one of them for dessert. I also had the house salad with ginger dressing.IMG_5878.jpegThey had a bunch of cold plates that were gluten-free, so I tried the citrus hamachi. This was pretty light. I would probably try another dish next time though as it wasn’t as flavorful as I had anticipated.IMG_5871.jpegAnd then there was the sushi menu… I got a bit overwhelmed since so many rolls were safe for me to eat. Due to the fact that tempura is usually not an option for me, I opted for two rolls: the Executive and the Green Hornet.IMG_5875.jpegThe executive had gluten-free tempura shrimp, avocado, cilantro and was topped with tuna, lime, sweet soy & habanero sauces. This was good, but the Green Hornet was even better.IMG_5874.jpegIt had spicy tuna, tempura shishito peppers, avocado, cilantro and a jalapeño aioli. YUM. For birthdays, I always opt for experiences over gifts, so I continued the celebration the next day by attempting to ski jump at the Utah Olympic Park. Attempting to do something like that when you are 35 means that two weeks later, your body is still feeling it. There may or may not be footage of me taking a spill down the ski ramp while all of the 10-year old ski jump campers look on.

501 on Main

20 Aug

IMG_5865.jpgOur go-to spot in Park City is 501 on Main. One of the reasons for that is that they have gluten-free (celiac safe) Utah Sweet Onion Slivers with a spicy ranch dipping sauce. This past trip, we visited twice as it is also great for my daughter with allergies and my vegetarian husband. I ordered the Slow Roasted Turkey Melt with a side of the fantastic onion slivers.IMG_5885.jpeg

Bearclaw Cabin

11 Aug

IMG_6008This past week, we were in Utah attending a work getaway and celebrating my birthday. While a lot of the meals were at the hotel we were staying at, we had some opportunities to venture out and eat some tasty gluten-free food. My favorite meal was without a doubt at Bearclaw Cabin. After taking two chairlifts at Sundance Resort up to a mountaintop lodge, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. And to “top” it off, they served safe nachos. There will be a few posts from Utah and then it will be back to Santa Barbara’s gluten-free offerings. Speaking of which, please let me know if there are any new safe spots for me to try. We’ve been traveling so much this summer, it is hard to keep track of restaurant openings!

Marbella, Spain

2 Aug

IMG_5585.jpegIt has been just a week since we returned from a family trip to Marbella, Spain. Every year, my dad plans a trip to somewhere in the world. He won’t tell anyone where we are going, including my mom. Then in late Spring, he sends an email to all of us telling us where this year’s adventure is. We are a complicated group with dietary restrictions. We have two Celiacs, a vegetarian, one person with severe allergies to nuts and sesame, one person that doesn’t eat red meat or pork, another that doesn’t eat products from cow that has a shellfish allergy, a pescatarian, a person allergic to eggplant and another that can’t eat asparagus. Every year, I bring translation cards for my Celiac and for my daughter’s allergies so that I can properly communicate with restaurants to avoid any incidents. This year I used Celiactravel.com for the gluten-free restaurant cards and Select Wisely for my daughter’s allergies. I found that I had to use the cards a lot more this year than in previous years. But once the staff had the cards, we were all good. Below are some of the more memorable restaurants that we visited.

Zozoï

IMG_5512.jpegThe first dinner we had off our hotel’s property was Zozoï located in Old Town Marbella. My brother and I were very excited to find out that they had celiac-friendly spring rolls. They use rice paper and only fry the spring rolls and their beef tallow Belgian fries in the oil used. These were probably one of my favorite things I had on the entire trip. Our table also shared some fantastic Belotta ham. IMG_5510.jpegThe pigs were only fed macadamia nuts and ran 20 kilometers a day so the meat was super lean. I had fish and a side of those Belgian fries for my main dish.

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Soleo

Our next dinner was right on the water in Marbella. When the waiter told me they had gluten-free bread and I inquired if there was any cross-contamination, he looked at me in disbelief and told me of course not. Apparently gluten-free actually meant gluten-free here.

IMG_5530.jpgMy brother and I shared two starters. The first was the table-smoked salmon tartare with avocado.

IMG_5535.jpegThe second was the sautéed vegetables with garlic prawns.

IMG_5537.jpegFor my main, I had Grilled tuna from the Strait of Gibraltar. It was served with seasonal vegetables. IMG_5540.jpegWe also had a side of their roasted potatoes with the meal.

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Dani Garcia

The next evening we enjoyed the very special tasting menu at Dani Garcia, a Michelin 3-star restaurant. Everything from the glassware to the printed menus personalized to dietary needs to the presentation of the food were spectacular. Even tea service was so wonderful and special. Rather than include pictures of every special course, I thought I would just include one as a sampling of the creativity used.

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Skina

In hindsight, we should have gone to Skina before Dani Garcia. This one-star Michelin restaurant followed a very tough act. We enjoyed another tasting menu here and I failed to take any pictures. However, they did a good job with ensuring all of our dietary needs were taken care of. After dinner, the walk through Old Town Marbella was really beautiful as everyone seemed to be out and about.

Pikaro

The next evening we ate with views of the water near the Marbella marina at Pikaro. Out of all of our meals, I felt most tentative ordering at this restaurant since the waiter told me that they couldn’t guarantee safety at the restaurant since it was a very small kitchen. However, after talking with him more, I was able to order a starter of Spanish cheese. IMG_5570 2.jpgThey gave me some warmed gluten-free bread to go with it. Most of the gluten-free breads that I had in Spain came in these sealed packages so that there would be no cross contamination when warming them up. IMG_5571.jpgFor my main course, I had a fish with ham on it.IMG_5572.jpgThere was a steamed cheese cake gluten-free dessert on the menu which I tried but wasn’t a fan of.

Albacara

On our last day in Spain, we traveled to the mountaintop city of Ronda which was unbelievably beautiful. The picture on the top of this post was taken there. We had a guide that brought us to Restaurant Albacara once the tour was over. The restaurant had panoramic views of the gorge and Puente Nuevo bridge. Once again, I was served packaged gluten-free bread.IMG_5576.jpgI ordered the sea bream baked in salt. It was served with seasonal vegetables.IMG_0189.jpeg

Los Bandidos

Our last dinner was at Los Bandidos in the Puerto Banus area of Marbella. Once again, there was safe gluten-free bread.

IMG_5593.jpgI started with the prawns cooked in a chili garlic herb sauce. I then split a mixed salad with my husband.IMG_5595.jpgFor my main course, I ordered the Grilled Tuna from Almandraba with vegetable Risotto. Our waitress let me know that the risotto wasn’t gluten-free, so she substituted potatoes for it. IMG_5596.jpgWhen the dish arrived, I was very skeptical that it was gluten free. It looked like soy sauce was drizzled all over it. After going over the ingredients of the sauce with someone from the kitchen more than once, it was determined that the color came from a dark sesame oil.

MC Beach at Marbella Club

A lot of our lunches were spent at the hotel due to nap time for our toddler. We did room service a couple of times. There were multiple restaurants on the hotel property that we tried as well. My favorite was MC Beach which was located right on the water and had the most perfect vacation-type atmosphere. On two occasions I had the sushi as they were able to prepare it gluten-free. IMG_5541.jpgThe fatty salmon was quite memorable. So tender and good. I also had the quinoa salad which was a lot heartier than expected.IMG_5558.jpgThis location was also the perfect spot for a cocktail after our sitter arrived to the room and before it was time for the grown-up dinner. With the sounds of the Alboran Sea in the backdrop, it didn’t get much better than this.

There was one entirely gluten-free restaurant that was pretty close to our hotel that I didn’t have time to visit called Celiacioso. Perhaps on a return trip I will make it there!

Once again, we were able to travel successfully with a multitude of dietary restrictions. If you have kids and are looking to travel to Marbella, the Marbella Club Hotel was fantastic and they have the most impressive kids’ club offered that I have ever seen.

Malibu Farm at Miramar

2 Jun

IMG_4445.jpgIf you are looking for good service at the Miramar, your best bet is at Malibu Farm. We’ve now dined there twice with two different servers that were knowledgeable about Celiac all while being attentive and pleasant. I was brought gluten-free bread that they warm separately from their usual bread. It wasn’t particularly good, but it was nice that they had it as an option. We ordered a Cauliflower Crust Pizza for the table as our waiter let us know it could be prepared safely.IMG_4446.jpgPeople seem to be all about cauliflower crust pizzas these days. Although this looked very appealing, it completely fell apart when trying to eat it. I then split the Bacon Lettuce Tomato Kale Caesar with someone in our group.

IMG_4453.jpgAlthough the dressing was a bit plentiful, I enjoyed the taste of the salad. Bacon always seems to make things better. Even though I was getting a bit full at this point, I was glad that I ordered the Crispy Baked Whole Fish Tacos.

IMG_4456.jpgThey prepared the corn tortillas in a safe spot for me to ensure no cross contamination. The fish was perfectly crisp and flavorful. This was my favorite part of the meal aside from the good company and tasty spicy tequila beverage I had.