Tag Archives: dinner

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.

Brophy Brothers

26 May

IMG_4423.jpgThere may not be a restaurant in Santa Barbara loved by both locals and tourists alike as much as Brophy Brothers. With views of the harbor and mountains, it is a great spot to grab a drink and some seafood. There was a group of 5 of us and it was a beautiful day, so we knew there would be a little bit of a wait. We were told 35 minutes, but it ended up being a little over an hour. When we were finally seated and I had a chance to check out the menu, I noticed they had gluten-free buns. After talking to our waitress about cross contamination with the bun, I ordered the tuna melt. It had a heaping amount of tuna with melted, gooey cheese. It typically comes with fries, but they are made in a contaminated fryer. I turned down salad as a side since I figured the tuna melt would be plenty of food, which it was.

Caruso’s

5 May

IMG_4201.jpgLast week, I joined friends that are like family at Caruso’s. This was my first time dining at the Miramar Hotel’s signature restaurant, but not my first time at the resort. My previous experiences at the The Manor Bar and the Miramar Beach Bar were disappointing due to dismal service. However, the newest hotel in the area is beautiful and worth checking out for the views alone. Caruso’s is situated right on the water. Even if it is chilly, I’d recommend sitting on the outside patio. They have ample heaters and it seems silly to be so close to the ocean yet choose to dine inside. While speaking with our waiter about my dietary needs and asking for recommendations, he wasn’t entirely helpful. He proclaimed that this was the best restaurant in Santa Barbara but it was tough to get guidance from him. I asked if they had gluten-free bread and was told that they did have some that would be safe for me. When it arrived, I had to ask for my own oil though as they hadn’t anticipated that I would need a separate one. When they served an amuse-bouche, the server wasn’t sure if it was gluten-free and had to double check (it was). I started with the Little Gem Caesar without the croutons.

IMG_4204.jpegI really liked the salad. It sort of reminded me of the now defunct Arlington Tavern’s caesar salad. For my main course, I had the Pan Roasted Channel Island Halibut.

IMG_4206.jpegI thought this was okay. It didn’t have much flavor. Overall, the setting of the restaurant was unbelievably beautiful. However, I felt that the food and service were not on par with Bella Vista at the Four Seasons. I had to ask for water five times which may sound silly, but for the “best restaurant in Santa Barbara”, it was a bit annoying.

Khao Kaeng

21 Apr

IMG_4079.jpegNow that it is starting to warm up, it is always nice to find a new restaurant to dine at that has an outdoor patio. A friend and I decided to try Khao Kaeng in Montecito which is located in the old Scoop location. I have enjoyed meals at their sister restaurant, Empty Bowls at the Public Market, so my expectations were high. After our waiter checked with the kitchen, I was able to confirm that the Larb Mushrooms and Pad Thai could be prepared safe for me. The mushrooms had a subtle heat to them which gave the dish a nice flavor.IMG_4082.jpegI ordered the Pad Thai with shrimp which was a pretty sizable portion. Even though the waiter checked with the chef to see what would be safe, I felt more comfortable eating at the noodle bar at the Public Market since everything was right in front of me. I think it was also because at the Public Market, I was able to speak with the owner directly whereas here, it was clear that the waiter wasn’t as knowledgeable about cross contamination until he spoke with the kitchen. 

Bossie’s Kitchen

16 Apr

IMG_4052.jpgI just had an incredibly satisfying lunch at Bossie’s Kitchen, or as my daughter refers to it, the restaurant with a cow on the roof. Prior to dining there, I had emailed the owners to see if they had anything on their menu that could be made gluten-free for a celiac. I was happy to receive word back that there were a variety of safe options:

We do have a gluten-heavy menu, and while not all items can be made gluten-free for celiac, here’s a few that we can do for you:
-Proteins: grilled salmon with dill yogurt or rotisserie chicken, without gravy
-Salads: kale & quinoa salad, ginger beet and citrus salad, caesar salad (we can make this to order for you, without breadcrumbs)
-Soup: generally vegetarian and gluten-free.
-Plates: you may combine either protein with any of the salads; roasted market vegetable plate may be served without the pita bread; grilled hamburger without the bun and french fries (there would be cross-contamination in the fryer with our fried chicken, that is dredged in flour)
-Nightly Specials: Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday nights we offer the best options for you that are gluten-free.  We can substitute quinoa for cous cous on Tuesday’s chicken tajine special, without pita bread; Saturday and Sunday nightly specials do not contain gluten: grilled pork belly with coconut rice; pot roast dinner.
I ended up ordering the grilled salmon with a side of their kale and quinoa salad. I also had a bowl of their split pea coconut curry soup.
IMG_4049.jpgThe salmon was perfectly cooked with a delicious crispy skin. It went really well with the salad’s roasted vegetables. The soup was unbelievably flavorful. They change up the soup every couple of months, so be sure to stop in before this bowl of yumminess goes away.

Bettina

11 Dec

IMG_2460.jpgI had heard that new restaurant, Bettina, has amazing pizzas so we decided to try it out since it mentioned gluten-free options on their online menu. The restaurant itself was very appealing. My kids loved it because it is located at the Montecito Country Mart where they have a fire truck, carousel and horse that will move for a couple of quarters. The bad news is that the GF pizza is not celiac safe. They use the same oven surface as their regular pizzas. The good news is that they have a fantastic shrimp dish on the menu which is GF. The sauce was so buttery and flavorful that I found myself trying to get every last drop of it. I was a bit surprised that the non-GF “gluten-free” crust had an upcharge of $5 on the menu. I could understand it if they had to take special steps to avoid cross contamination, but as that wasn’t the issue, it seemed high to me.