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.

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.

Cafe Ana

19 May

IMG_4404.jpgMy favorite building in Santa Barbara is the courthouse. It is unbelievably beautiful with intricately painted walls and ceilings and panoramic views from the clocktower. Plus, I got hitched there, so it will always be one of my favorite spots in town. Just steps from the courthouse is new-ish restaurant, Cafe Ana. With large windows offering views of the courthouse and library, it is a nice location to enjoy a cup of coffee or have a snack. When I went to the cashier to place my order, I started to ask questions about particular items. The gentleman helping me tried to inform me that the burrata and tomato soup would not be gluten-free because of the burrata. Intrigued, I asked what was on the burrata that was not GF. At that point, either the manager or owner who overheard stepped in and let me know that it was gluten-free. As I placed the order, he assisted the cashier so the correct notes would be written for my items. I went with the Butter Lettuce Salad with shrimp added. I also ordered a cup of the Spring Vegetable Soup.

IMG_4402.jpgUsually this soup comes with fried olives. The manager/owner explained that the oil used to fry them is uncontaminated as they only fry potato chips in it. However, this batch of olives was not from today, and so just to be safe, he didn’t want to run the risk of cross contamination since he didn’t see them being made. I appreciated the caution and felt comfortable with my order due to his communication with me and the kitchen. I just wished that the owners would properly educate their entire staff on what gluten is as well as what cross contamination is. I wonder what would have been the result of my meal if he wasn’t there to assist.

Lunch at El Encanto

18 May

IMG_4435.jpegI had lunch with my family today at El Encanto. As soon as I mentioned to our waiter that both my brother and I have Celiac, he excused himself to alert the kitchen. I started with the Yellowtail Crudo. The quality of the fish was good and the olives were tasty but the chili, basil and lemon flavors that were supposed to accompany the yellowtail were nonexistent. I had the Caesar Salad without the garlic croutons as my main dish.

IMG_4439.jpegThe amount of buttermilk caesar dressing and shaved parmesan was just right. It was a bit overcast today, but you could still make out the ocean which served as a reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot.

Sage

12 May

IMG_4271.jpegTwice a year, I make the pilgrimage to Ojai to get my hair done. While I have friends that think it is crazy to drive 45 minutes when there are plenty of salons in Santa Barbara, I look forward to the trips. The drive takes you past Lake Casitas with beautiful views of the mountains and I can always be sure that a healthy, gluten-free restaurant will be found. This trip, my hair stylist let me know about Sage, a newly opened restaurant serving “mindful meals and elixirs”. After finishing up at Rise, the cutest hair salon there ever was, I headed to Sage. While ordering at the counter, the cashier knew exactly what Celiac was. She informed me that it is a shared kitchen so there is a risk. She also let me know that they make their own GF bread. They use the same pans that they use for their regular bread, but the pans have been cleaned prior to use. I ordered the Ojai Greens Bowl. It had sunflower seeds, buckwheat and a forbidden rice medley with local greens, green goddess dressing, pickled onion and pickled mushroom. With the bowl, I was able to choose two roasted vegetables so I selected the Brussels Sprouts and Beets. I also was able to choose a protein. I picked the Salmon Sashimi. I ordered a side of the gluten-free naan as well.

IMG_4275.jpegEverything in the bowl was super fresh and satisfying. There was the perfect amount of dressing and the portion was just right. The naan was served warm which was a pleasant surprise. I would definitely go back to Sage on a return trip to Ojai.

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.

Due Lune

28 Apr

IMG_4059.jpegTre Lune in Montecito has been a family favorite of ours for the past decade. We’ve enjoyed countless meals there as they have always taken care of our multitude of dietary restrictions while serving up delicious food. Because of that, we were looking forward to trying their new location, Due Lune located at State and Cabrillo. There are great views of the water from both inside and their patio. It was a windy night so we opted for a window seat inside. I started with the Garden Party Salad which had kale, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, goat cheese, pear, cranberries and walnuts. The ingredients were very fresh, however there was too much balsamic on it for my liking. It was also a much larger portion than I had anticipated.

IMG_4062.jpegJust like Tre Lune, they have gluten-free pasta available as a substitute for their pasta dishes. After speaking with our waiter, he confirmed that they would cook the gluten-free pasta in a clean pot and use a clean colander. I ordered their bolognese which similar to the salad, was enough to feed 2 people. Is it just me, or is a huge portion unappealing? Although there was nothing wrong with the dish, I would probably try something else if I were to go back. 

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.