Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gluten-Free San Diego

I spent the weekend in the San Diego area visiting the A-man; he's there for some training. We had lots of good quality time which is what I crave because I get to see him so rarely: we hit the beach, played some tennis, caught a movie and ate at some great restaurants. Usually, I'm not too keen on restaurant dining, especially at places without gluten-free menus, but my goodness am I marrying the right guy -- he spent hours researching and calling and visiting local restaurants to make sure they could accommodate my dietary needs. We ate at three restaurants while there: Peohe's in Coronado for lunch, and Soliel K and Dussini in downtown San Diego for dinner. Basically, I'm writing this here in case someone decides to google "gluten-free san diego" and find restaurants with chefs and a waitstaff that get the whole "gluten-free thing." San Diego does have restaurants with gluten-free menus, but those are primarily chains; our goal here was to taste the local food (though we didn't venture to any Mexican restaurants which I remember being amazing when I lived there for a summer pre-gluten-free -- maybe next time).

Peohe's is a seafood restaurant with a gorgeous view of San Diego proper. We sat outside near a dock and were entertained by a dog swimming in the water below us and a pigeon sneaking into the restaurant through an open window. Our waiter checked with the chef on each order that we made and seemed to really "get" that I couldn't have a speck of gluten in any dish. We started with a crab, mango and avocado salad, which is normally served with a crouton-like bottom, but the waiter made sure we got it served sans-crouton and then we both got the seafood cobb salads. Both dishes were tasty and fresh and the food was served in good time.

Soliel K which is located at the Marriott, I would recommend to anyone, especially those with food allergies. Our waitress, Carrie (or Keri) truly cared and checked and double-checked on dishes that we ordered and she was pleasant and wonderful throughout. Not once, but twice some sort of manager stopped by to make sure our food allergy issues were taken care of, and most importantly -- the food was great. We started with oysters and I had a awesomely seasoned chicken dish with double vegetables and the A-man had... I think steak of some sort, but I remember he really liked his dish. This place cares.

Dussini has an awesome atmosphere with open wine cellars and a top floor with pool tables and a hip, yet inviting bar area. Their menu was full with typical Italian fare, but their rissoto of the day and paella struck our fancy. After talking briefly with our waiter, he was able to ask the chef if either dish contained gluten, and confirmed that neither did (but please, if you go here, ask anyway -- things can change). Both dishes were amazing -- the seafood paella was huge with lots of vegetables and the risotto was rich (definately had cheese in it) and served with lamb.

We were very lucky with each of these restaurants. The key to our success was

1. The A-man's research on finding which restaurants could accommodate.
2. Calling ahead and letting the restaurant know that someone with a food allergy was coming.
3. Visiting these establishments on off-hours, when chefs and waiters have the time to listen and answers questions you may have.

We did have breakfast each day, but that was in our hotel room which was on a military base (at 8AM each morning the military trumpet tune Reveille blasted outside our window which was a bit surreal for this civilian) that had a fridge and microwave. So, our breakfasts consisted of fresh fruits and peanut butter on honey nut rice cakes.

Which reminds me, I can't forget a quick review of Boney's Bayside Market in Coronado, CA. Not only did Boney's have a nice selection of fruits, vegetables and frozen gluten-free breads, waffles and wraps, but they had their own homemade gluten-free meatloaf! It was right there next to the prepared salads. We, of course, had to get it and had it for lunch one day and it was mighty tasty.

Now all I need to figure out is how to get around the language barrier and cultural faux pas' of gluten-free travel in Taiwan. I'll be there in August for ten days on a media tour; it will certainly be interesting!


Tiffany said...

That's great that you had such a good experience at those restaurants! I just had a bad time eating ou today, so your post gives me hope :)

Fortunately asian food is a bit more celiac friendly, so hopefully things will work out for you :)

Ricki said...

Sounds like a wonderful visit (and he does sound like a great guy--all that work!). Wow, Taiwan! How exciting. But surely SOMEONE else there must be GF as well. .. ??

Jenny said...

You are so lucky to have a such a great guy!! I'm glad you had fun in SD. Taiwan, wow that sounds great!

The Good Eatah said...

I can totally relate, Tiffany. I've had a handful of bad experiences :( With all the rice used in Asian cooking, I sure hope so. I'm just worried about soy sauce (most are made with wheat) being in everything.

He is a great guy, Ricki :) I'm going to do a bit of research and actually just found a blog recently of a gf person in Taiwan! Good call!

I sure am lucky, Jenny :) It's nice out there for sure, but I don't think I could live out there for long -- I spent a summer there and couldn't quite hack the So Cal way of life.

renee said...

Don't worry about Taiwan. I went to China for 9 days back in March. Best thing I did was carry a Triumph dining card. I also carried gluten free soy sauce packets but found I didn't need them, the food I was served was great without extra soy. I ate plenty of rice and eggs. A lot of meats were in soy sauces. Email me if you want more info rseuler at hotmail dot com

The Good Eatah said...

Renee, thanks so much for the advice! It is my biggest worry about my trip there, but I'm glad yours went well. I will definately be getting a triumph card.

Anonymous said...

Did you find celiac friendly food in Taiwan?
I will be there in June & am some what concerned.