It has been another great gluten-free year chock-full of wonderful journeys, delicious tastes, and fabulous new finds. I first want to thank all my readers around the world for joining me over the past twelve months – it has truly been another amazing journey and I am very thankful for all of your e-mails, comments, recommendations, re-tweets, shares, pins, and most importantly for playing such an important role in my gluten-free life.
When I started my site five years ago I never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would become what it has. The whole purpose of me starting it was to share my journey as a celiac who also happens to have a food allergy because when I was originally diagnosed there were very few resources available and much of my learning to live with celiac (something I had never even heard of prior to my doctor telling me I had it) so it was all about trial and error for a while there until I slowly found my way.
Fast-forward more than fifteen years since my diagnosis and, thanks to the Internet, there are a host of great resources now available to help the newly diagnosed but I five years ago I wanted to do something to help play even a small role in sharing what I have and continue to learn as I live my life with celiac disease. I vowed never to let it define who I am or change how I live my life – aside from living a gluten- and shellfish-free lifestyle. I wanted to demonstrate that while a celiac diagnosis can seem extremely daunting initially – it does actually become easier to live with over time. There is a huge learning curve and believe me I made some HUGE missteps those first couple of years. Yes, I actually thought that corn muffins were a safe food and forget about cross-contamination – it wasn’t something I even thought about during those early days. Again, lessons learned.
So let’s now take a look at some of my favorite new finds and experiences that took place over the previous twelve months (and don’t forget to check-out last year’s picks)…
Favorite New Airline
This airline was a real standout offering wonderful gluten-free meals in their business class cabin. I flew Geneva-Brussels-New York and even on the very short intra-European flight was presented with a full gluten-free snack service. I also had my first-ever gluten-free grilled panini onboard the Brussels to JFK leg – amazing!
Favorite New Hotel
Perched high above Vevey on Mont Pèlerin this is five star gluten-free luxury at its finest. The hotel truly goes above and beyond to make guests feel welcome and my request for a gluten-free BLT was met with four stunning sliders made on house made gluten-free bread. Everything about this hotel was perfect and all of their on-site restaurants can handle celiac and food allergic guests. Their Au Chalet restaurant is also not to be missed.
Favorite New Restaurants
Europe: Restaurant L’Olivier
This restaurant in La Tour-de-Peilz was recommended by friends of mine who live in the area and it did not disappoint. It was hands down the best gluten-free meal that I have had this year. Not only does the restaurant offer stunning vistas along Lake Geneva but it has equally as stunning food made from locally sourced ingredients – the majority of which can be made gluten-free.
Latin America: Tie La Querencia and Due
My trip to Buenos Aires yielded many gluten-free surprises but La Querencia in Recoleta was a real winner with all gluten-free items clearly marked and offered a host of freshly made items from starters to dessert. The lentil stew is not to be missed.
Due, also located in Recoleta, is a tiny family-run restaurant that is known to locals at the place to go for new takes on classic recipes. The menu changes based on ingredients and the staff take great care to ensure the guests with dietary restrictions or allergies are well-looked after. If the pork medallions are on the menu when you visit – get them.
New York City: Bistango at the Kimberly Hotel
When the well-known Bistango set-up an outpost within a stone’s throw from my office I knew I was in trouble. You know you are in good hands when the server’s first question is whether anyone is gluten-free. Nearly the entire menu can be made gluten-free and everything – from their super-thin flatbreads to homemade pastas are simply out of this world (do not miss their short rib sauce which I prefer over the fettuccini). Save room for dessert as their gluten-free carrot cake is a personal favorite and not to be missed. My full review of Bistango at the Kimberly will be posted in January 2015.
Everything from my server (who was well-versed in handling guests with special dietary needs) to the food was a great experience. The chips now come from a dedicated fryer and paired with their salsa sampling is a home run. The Barbacoa tacos (go for the spicy diablo style) were delicious and portions are more than generous. The bartenders also mix a mean cocktail.
Favorite New Product
I was never a huge fan of salsa – sorry Seinfeld (though I did like saying salsa) – but this salsa line quite literally rocked my gluten-free world and completely changed my salsa perceptions. I met the lovely ladies of White Girl Salsa at a Food Fête event here in N.Y.C. and not to sound too cliché but it was love at first bite. These green tomatillo salsas are so different from what I had come to expect in salsa – not to mention the Smokey Chipotle is hands-down my new favorite salsa and you will always find a jar in my pantry.
Favorite New Alcoholic Beverage
I love a good cocktail or adult beverage from time to time (shocking, I know) and always liked cider but it was not something that I ordered or purchased that often because they always felt like they were all the same. This was not the case with Tieton Cider Works. They make a range of amazing ciders in a host of flavors and I like to refer to them as sipping ciders with truly complex flavor profiles.