Gluten-Free Aloha

Considering how far I’ve traveled around the world, it seems strange that I have yet to visit Hawaii. Lately, I’ve been hearing so much about the rising level of gluten-free awareness there that I’m tempted to head out to the Hawaiian Islands and do some first-hand research. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?)

A while back, my friend Liisa wrote a report for the Gluten-Free Guidebook about celiac-safe spots she’d found in Oahu and Kauai. Her list includes Sweet Marie’s — the first dedicated gluten-free bakery in Kauai — Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Kauai, and Down to Earth in Honolulu. Last month, another friend sent me a photo to show off a delicious-looking gluten-free sandwich she was enjoying while on vacation in Hawaii. It turned out she was at Living Foods Market & Cafe in Poipu, Kauai, a combination grocery store and café featuring specialty gourmet goods (including many gluten-free items), organic products, and an extensive wine selection.

Next, my friend and fellow travel writer Lucas Aykroyd passed along a list of gluten-free restaurants and shops in Hawaii, with notes on each spot from the Hawaiian Tourism Board:

  • Chrysalis Foods (Oahu) – Looking for a gluten-, dairy- and nut-free spot to eat while shopping at Ala Moana Center? Break away from the food court and visit the Vim ‘N Vigor store for the Chrysalis foods counter. The menu changes every week, offering local favorites such as mochiko chicken and mochi treats.
  • Up Country Bakery & Cafe (Hawaii Island) – Satisfy your breakfast taste buds with gluten-free mixed berry muffins, gluten-free banana bread slices or gluten-free pancakes. On your way to see the volcano? Grab a sandwich on gluten-free bread and take it on the road.
  • Maui Brick Oven (Maui) – Located in Kihei, this restaurant initially gained popularity for its gluten-free pizza. Locals and visitors frequent this eatery for its impeccable service and menu selection that also includes pasta and salads.

I’m almost ready to buy a ticket. Has anyone else discovered some great places to eat in Hawaii? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Photo courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Board

Cleveland Rocks!

Last month, I was in Cleveland, Ohio, for Bouchercon, the massive, magnificent crime-fiction conference that takes place in a different North American city every autumn. It was my first visit to the town known as both The Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World (thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was a joy to visit) and The Forest City (a truly apt name — from the plane, Cleveland looked like a forest with gorgeous buildings nestled under the foliage).

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the food front, so I was thrilled to discover that gluten-free awareness has hit Cleveland big-time. One restaurant that absolutely wowed me was Lola Bistro, which fans of “Iron Chef” may already have heard of; I don’t watch the show, so the name Michael Symon didn’t mean anything to me. Fortunately, I was hanging out with better-informed people! My friend Katrina Niidas Holm (whose husband is terrific crime novelist Chris F. Holm) is an “Iron Chef” aficionada, and she sussed out the spot and made reservations.

Lola Bistro has very low lighting, so it took a little while for my eyes to adjust and pick out the “GF” notation next to many, many dishes on the menu. (Unfortunately, this isn’t reflected on the version of the menu that’s currently online, but — trust me — there are plenty of gluten-free choices.) I had the root vegetable salad with feta, red onion, dill, Marcona almonds, and mint, followed by the smoked Hampshire pork chop accompanied by a decadently cheesy polenta. You’d better believe Michael Symon is now firmly on my radar.

Lola Bistro [address] 2058 East 4th Street, Cleveland, Ohio [tel]  216-621-5652 [web] lolabistro.com

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News on the crime-fiction front: I was at Bouchercon to talk about my second novel, The Next One to Fall, a thriller set in Peru. It’s out now as a hardcover and an e-book; in February 2013, it will be released in paperback. On March 5, 2013, my third novel, Evil in All Its Disguises, will be released by Tor/Forge in the United States and Canada. Want to win an advance copy? There are 10 up for grabs over at GoodReads. Enter the giveaway now.

On Tour in Beautiful British Columbia, Part 2

Last week, I told you about a few of the restaurants I found while I was on a book tour of British Columbia earlier this summer. Here are some more spots I discovered while I was out west. All of them take excellent care of their gluten-free guests!

Sylvia Hotel: This 1912 landmark couldn’t have a more stunning location: it’s nestled next to Vancouver’s gorgeous Stanley Park in English Bay. Its dining room is a perfect mix of formal (wood paneling, low light, and a medieval-looking wrought-iron gate) and casual (cozy seating, friendly service). Even better: the menu is annotated with gluten-free options. Choices include starters such as mussels in a spicy broth; salads like a classic Cobb; and main courses of bean ragout, slow-braised short ribs with potatoes, and crispy salmon with a citrus vinaigrette. [address] 1154 Gilford Street, Vancouver, BC [tel] 604-681-9321

Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant: Normally, I’m leery of restaurants in places as scenic as Richmond’s Steveston Village; after all, the view is such a phenomenal draw that the kitchens don’t have to work hard to lure you in. But the waterfront setting of the Blue Canoe is just one facet of its charm. The staff is celiac-aware and willing to modify most plates (I had the pan-roasted pork chop, which I highly recommend). There’s also a wine list featuring an excellent selection of locally produced vintages that are available by the glass. [address] 3866 Bayview Street, Richmond, BC, V7E 4R7; [tel] 604-275-7811

Yew Restaurant: One of the distinct pleasures of my week in B.C. was catching up with my longtime friend Mika Ryan. We met for lunch before my event at the Chapters store at Robson & Howe, and she took me to the Yew Restaurant at the Four Seasons. It’s a spectacular spot with towering 40-foot ceilings. Still, as impressive as the digs are, my main memories are of great conversation, thoughtful service, and excellent food. Many items on the menu can be prepared in a gluten-free version, such as the wonderful seared Haida Gwaii halibut (complete with lemon, spinach, crème fraiche, spring peas & pickled heirloom carrots). Sadly, I didn’t have room for gluten-free “Quinoa Passion” dessert (panna cotta with passion fruit scented red quinoa plus fresh blueberries and mint). Next time! (PS to vegan friends: the restaurant has plenty of options — and distinct menus — for you.) [address] In the Four Seasons Hotel, 791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 2T4; [tel] 604-692-4939

On Tour in Beautiful British Columbia, Part 1

Last month, I spent a week on a book tour of British Columbia’s lower mainland with three fellow crime writers: Robin Spano, Deryn Collier and Ian Hamilton. We had a couple of events in Vancouver, as well as readings in Burnaby, Richmond, and Squamish. While we were there, we were interviewed for CBC-Radio’s Sunday Edition (you can hear the podcast online). The combination of friendship and fun that week made for wonderful times. Truth be told, so did the food.

Whenever I visit the West Coast — in the US and in Canada — I feel that there’s a solid awareness of food allergies and intolerances. I know that’s not necessarily true everywhere, but it was certainly my experience in BC. Here are some of the restaurants that impressed me:

The Watershed Grill: Situated on the banks of the Squamish River, this low-key, casual spot is accommodating and celiac-savvy (I visited twice, and on each trip, a different staff member went over the menu with me, explaining what I could have and what modifications they could make). The food is simply prepared with very fresh ingredients. Let me recommend the Watershed Salad, a combination of greens, chicken, cranberries, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, carrots and cucumber in a balsamic vinaigrette. [address] 41101 Government Road, Brackendale, BC, V0N 1H0; [tel] 604-898-6665

Olive & Anchor: There’s something wonderful about walking into a restaurant, asking the staff about gluten-free options, and being told that there’s actually a gluten-free menu. That’s what happened to me at this elegant restaurant on Horseshoe Bay. Celiac-safe choices include oysters, grilled chicken, and steak, but since this is a spot renowned for its seafood, I went with the (excellent) snapper. [address] 6418 Bay Street, West Vancouver, BC; [tel] 604-921-8848

Cats Social House: Located on Granville Island (which was gorgeous, even in the rain), this is a lovely spot with a long cocktail list. I didn’t get to try any of the drinks (I was there for lunch), but I did enjoy the gluten-free pad thai. [address] 1540 Old Bridge Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3S6; [tel] 604-647-2287

On the Road — Again

My second mystery novel, The Next One to Fall, came out on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been on the road for my book tour almost constantly since then. That’s good news, because I’ve been visiting terrific bookstores, meeting wonderful people, and discovering some great restaurants with gluten-free menus. But I’ve been editing my third novel at the same time, so I’ve had little time to report back (yet) on what I’ve found.

Yesterday, I spoke at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, California, which I highly recommend checking out if you’re in the area. Afterwards, my friend Anissa suggested a place called Hugo’s Restaurant for dinner. Hugo’s has been around for some time in Studio City and West Hollywood, but its location in Agoura just opened.

The menu at Hugo’s is overwhelming because there are so many gluten-free options. Many choices are naturally gluten-free, while some require modification. The kitchen is well aware of cross-contamination issues and isolates products that contain gluten from those that don’t (they have a similar policy regarding animal products, since many of Hugo’s offerings are vegan or vegetarian).

I had a Caesar salad and a tortilla-encrusted chicken breast with a black-bean salsa (all of it delicious). The menu made me wish I could stay longer. The gluten-free options start with breakfast items — such as pineapple-coconut pancakes — and include sandwiches, salads, soups, and a wide variety of Mexican- and Indian-inspired main courses.

Reading at a terrific store like Mysteries to Die For, followed by dinner with friends at a great restaurant? It doesn’t get better than this. Next stop: Sacramento for the Left Coast Crime conference, then an event at Book Passage in San Francisco on April 2nd and with Mystery Readers International in Berkeley on April 3rd!

On the Road With Author Avery Aames

I first met fellow mystery author Avery Aames a couple of years ago, but I didn’t discover until quite recently that she eats gluten-free. (Since then, we’ve had meals together at a couple of my favorite restaurants in New York, Bistango and Rosa Mexicano). Avery is the author of a series called the Cheese Shop Mysteries: the first book, The Long Quiche Goodbye, won the Agatha Award for Best New Novel. Since then, she’s released Lost and Fondue, and her third novel, Clobbered by Camembert, is about to come out. If you haven’t encountered Avery’s work before, here’s your chance: she is giving away a copy of The Long Quiche Goodbye and a copy of Lost and Fondue. To enter the draw, all you have to do is comment below by February 7th — and have a US address for her to mail the books to. You can also check out Avery’s website, follow her on Twitter and on Facebook, and read her two blogs, Mystery Lovers Kitchen and Killer Characters.

First, tell us a bit about your books. For people who haven’t encountered the Cheese Shop Mysteries yet, how would you describe the books?

Tasty.  No, just kidding. First, let me thank you for asking me to join you! Great questions. The Cheese Shop Mysteries are cozies. Each book is set in the quaint, fictional town of Providence, Ohio with a cheese shop owner as the protagonist. Why set a mystery in a cheese shop? This particular one, Fromagerie Bessette, is a hub. It draws in tourists and locals and is a great place for gossip. Charlotte, who owns the cheese shop, is a caring, family-oriented person who is a fixer by nature. In the first novel, her grandmother is accused of murder. How can she not get involved?

How long have you been on a gluten-free diet, and how difficult was the transition for you?

Fifteen years. Luckily, I am a cook, so when I found out I had to eat without gluten, I did everything I could to get started that day. [It turns out I was probably celiac my entire life but misdiagnosed.] There wasn’t a lot written at the time, but there was celiac.com on the Internet, so I studied the site religiously. It took almost six months for my system to resolve. It is still touch and go because of the hidden gluten in so many foods, but I’m very alert too all items.

You travel frequently for writers’ conferences and book events. How do you prepare for a trip? Do you do any gluten-free research in advance?

I always make some gluten-free banana bread so that I can have something sweet and “bready” on the trip. It packs well and stays well, even if not refrigerated. I like my carbs, but I won’t eat them at very many restaurants, even if they assure me they’re gluten-free. When I go to conferences, I call ahead to the hotel and talk to the banquet managers. I also check out the restaurants where we have reservations and ask if they are familiar with gluten-free needs. And when I’m at the conference, I always contact the dining room manager as I enter. With a big smile, of course.

Are there any restaurants and/or hotels that you found did a really great job at taking care of a gluten-free guest?

Well, Bistango in New York is heaven!  [Thank you for introducing me to it.] I don’t mean to be a food snob, but I’ve found that many of the upper-end restaurants are better at doing on-the-spot gluten-free because the great chefs are so well-trained in substitution. They know how to remove nuts, dairy, and now gluten. Also, they love a challenge. However, I will give kudos to chain restaurants like PF Changs (excellent), Outback Steakhouse (they have a GF menu), and others. They are getting educated and bringing that to the customer. Maria’s Kitchen in Los Angeles does a terrific job.

What is the toughest thing about traveling gluten-free?

The toughest thing going to places where friends want to dine but they feel “guilty” because I can’t eat what they’re eating. I do my best not to let them feel guilty. I’m fine. I’m not starving. I am not invested in food.  Except cheese, of course. And chocolate. And ice cream. I adore ice cream!

What things do you always bring with you when you travel?

I always bring the banana bread, as I said. Then I bring my sound machine, a book (whatever is highest on my night stand, usually a mystery or thriller), and accessories. That’s the last thing I say to myself before I close the suitcase. Do I have accessories…jewelry, purses, a scarf. I wear a lot of black to conferences, but I love those dashes of color.  And, yes, a pashmina is a must. In those cold conference rooms, brrr. A pashmina helps keep me warm and feeling loved.

You live in Los Angeles, which is a popular destination. Have you found any restaurants, bakeries or shops near you that you’d recommend to gluten-free travelers?

I have found a number of great places that know about gluten-free. Two of my favorites are Playa and Rivera, both owned by the same team. One is downtown and the other is halfway between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They serve tapas-style cuisine. Everything in the restaurant can be tailored to my needs. The other fun place that is family style is Maria’s Kitchen, as I mentioned above. It’s an Italian place, but they offer risotto and gluten-free pizza, which are fabulous!  I don’t frequent bakeries. I find they are highly overpriced when it comes to gluten-free items and, like I said, I bake myself. I’m a good baker. (Buffing fingernails on my shirt front and laughing)

What’s your own dream destination to visit?

I would love to go back to Italy, the Tuscany region. I visited Italy briefly as a student in college, but I haven’t been back. I’m a little nervous about the gluten-free thing there and the language barrier (I speak broken Spanish to communicate), but Italy is one of the foremost countries in exploring gluten-free items. Did you know that the children in Italy are tested at the age of two for gluten-free allergies? Soon. Soon.

Do you have any other advice for gluten-intolerant travelers? Also, any readings or conference appearances coming up?

I think the biggest thing when traveling is to prepare ahead. Know the territory. Call the restaurants. Call the hotels. And make sure you bring snacks. For the airplane, too. [Sounds silly but protein travels well on an airplane: hardboiled eggs and turkey burgers are easy and not too messy.]

As for my schedule, my next book comes out February 7th. I’m very excited. I’m having a book launch at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach on the 7th.  Then I’ll be traveling to Houston (Murder by the Book) and I’m trying to arrange a signing in the San Francisco area for mid-February. I just found out that my favorite bookstore in San Mateo closed. {Major sigh!!!} The book industry has been hit hard by e-books and Internet shopping. I have an event calendar on my website, so I hope readers will take a look.

Again, thank you so much for letting me join you today. I’m thrilled to have you as my friend.

Next Stop: Israel

I’m leaving for Israel tomorrow. It’s a whirlwind trip, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ll be there for just under a week with a group of journalists from the Society of American Travel Writers, and over the next few days, I’ll get to see Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and a few other spots. I asked for advice on the Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Facebook Group, and I got a wonderful reply from a woman named Marina Novikov, who is currently planning a trip to Israel. She gave me permission to pass along her findings on the blog, with the caveat that, since she hasn’t visited Israel yet, she can’t confirm that the information is entirely accurate. Here’s what she’s found so far. Thanks so much, Marina!

IN JERUSALEM

1. Ben Ami, 38 Emek Refaim St. in the German Colony; tel 02 6510070 (a lot of cakes and biscuits, maybe full gf menu).

2. Pera e Mela, 6 Safra Square; tel 02-6230280 (Italian – gluten free pasta – have to call them in advance)

3. Black Bar ‘n’ Burger, 18 Shlomzion Hamalka St.; tel 02-6246767

4. Tito Bravo Italian restaurant, 12 Shamai St, Jerusalem; tel: +972-2-6255585 (pizza, gluten-free menu)

IN TEL AVIV

1. Dapei Rimon, 15 Yehudit Avenue; tel 077-7107007 (gluten free pasta & pizza)

2. Hudson Brasserie, Habarzel 27, Tel-Aviv; tel: +972-3-6444733  (Specializes in meet dishes;  gluten-free menu)

3. Falafel Baribua Falafel, Homos, Shakshuka — multiple locations (gluten-free menu)

IN HERZELIA

1.  Masho… Tov etzel Josef and Louis (translates to – Something Good at Josef and Louis’ Place), 48 Ben-Gurion St, Herzelia; tel: +972-57- 9442783 (Vegetarian health food, variety of Mediterranean, French and Italian dishes, gluten-free menu)

IN HAIFA

1. Ototo Pizza Pizza & Pasta, 86 Hatichon St, Neve Sha’anan; tel: +972-4-8228060 +972-4-8322366 +972-4-8228080  (gluten-free menu, pizza, kosher)

2. Black Bar & Burger, Cinemall, Lev Hamifratz; Tel. 04-8422400

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Have you traveled in Israel? I’d love to hear your experiences with dining gluten-free!

Viva Las Vegas!

Las Vegas’s official motto is “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but I was there for a few days in December, and you wouldn’t expect me to keep secrets about where I dined, would you? I’m thrilled to report that the Strip is filled with an ever-expanding array of gluten-free options. Here are some of of the places I enjoyed:

Mon Ami Gabi: This Parisian-style bistro is directly across the Strip from the Bellagio’s fountains, so you get a spectacular show every half-hour. The gluten-free menu was just as impressive to me, and I ate at the restaurant twice: once for dinner (with decadently cheesy French onion soup and lovely steak frites) and once for lunch (for a savory burger with a gluten-free bun… and more frites). Every gluten-free guest is automatically served warm GF bread, which was a delight (that was something Mon Ami Gabi didn’t offer the last time I was in Vegas, in 2009). In Paris Resort & Casino [address] 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-944-4224.

Border Grill: Located at the south end of the Strip, this restaurant also offers a separate gluten-free menu. The dishes are on the heavy side, but you didn’t come to Vegas for health reasons, did you? The queso fundido was served up as a starter, but it almost made an entire meal, with its gooey mix of melted manchego, panela, asadero, and Oaxacan string cheeses, served with chorizo and roasted poblano peppers. Don’t ask me how, but I still found room for the Kobe beef tacos, too. In Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino [address] 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-632-7403.

Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare: Located at the Wynn, this was a break-the-bank kind of meal, but the incredible fish is worth it (the “catch of the day” is literally flown in fresh each day). On the phone, I was told there was a gluten-free menu, but I was disappointed when I first saw it, because what I saw was a small booklet with all of 10 dishes listed inside. However, that turned out to be simply a list of the plates that are naturally gluten-free, and the chef was happy to modify almost anything on the menu to make it celiac-safe. The restaurant overlooks a private lagoon, making for an exceptionally romantic setting, too. In Wynn Las Vegas [address] 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-770-3463.

Aria Buffet: I’m a little afraid of buffets, to tell you the truth. There’s so often a risk of accidental cross-contamination — all it takes is for a careless guest to use the same serving tongs on a mix of gluten-full and gluten-free different dishes to ruin the latter ones. That’s why the Aria was such a pleasant surprise. I was there for brunch, and the fresh omelette station was a welcome find. Overall, the buffet was well organized, so that fruit salad was far away from cereals, lessening the risk of cross-contamination. Located in the Aria [address] 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 877-230-2742.

P.F. Chang’s: I’m still wishing a P.F. Chang’s would open in Manhattan. The restaurant has an Asian-inspired gluten-free menu with plenty of choice for starters and mains, and two options for dessert: rich chocolate mousse or a dark-chocolate-and-raspberry cake. Located in Planet Hollywood [address] 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-836-0955.

Maggiano’s Little Italy: My first time dining here, and I loved it. Gluten-free guests automatically get a visit from a sous-chef at their table, so their (many) options are clearly pointed out. I’m officially a fan of the “Rigatoni D” (with chicken, caramelized onions, mushrooms and a marsala cream sauce). Located in Fashion Show Mall [address] 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South [tel] 702-220-4185

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I have book news: my debut novel, The Damage Done, is now out in paperback in the U.S. and Canada! You can see its beautiful new cover, watch a video interview with me about the book, and enter a contest for a signed copy.

My second novel, The Next One to Fall, will be released on Valentine’s Day 2012. It’s a murder mystery set in Peru, and it’s already getting wonderful reviews. There’s a special contest for people who pre-order the book, and for every copy that is ordered before the release date, I’m donating a dollar to Heifer. I’m also planning a book tour that will take me back to Houston, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and that will introduce me to Austin, Denver, and San Diego. Hope to see you while I’m on the road!

Spectacular St. Louis

In September, I attended the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in St. Louis. I had an amazing time for many reasons, including the fact that my debut novel, The Damage Done, won two awards! At the opening ceremonies, I was presented with the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel; then at the close of the conference, I discovered I’d won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. It was a dream come true for me in so many ways, and I want to say a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who has supported my fiction. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

While I was in St. Louis, I had some memorable gluten-free meals. Bouchercon took place at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel (which did a fabulous job with the Anthony Awards brunch). Here’s a list of the restaurants I discovered while I was in town:

Rooster: If you’re looking for a gluten-free crepe in downtown St. Louis, you’re in luck. Rooster describes itself as a European-style cafe, and it has a lovely Old World ambiance in its design (plus sidewalk seating in warm weather). But the crepes are what I remember best, and I split two with my dining companion: the savory Bacon #2, which is made with Vermont cheddar and caramelized onions, and the sweet Nutella crepe with strawberries. Even writing about them now is making my mouth water. [address] 1104 Locust Street, St. Louis [tel] 314-241-8118

Copia Urban Winery: My publisher, Tor/Forge, hosts a dinner every year at Bouchercon — and the thoughtful editor who organizes it always asks me to check out the place in advance to make sure I’ll be able to find gluten-free options. Copia was a stone’s throw from the conference hotel, and it boasted a menu filled with fresh produce and a staff that was well-versed in potential cross-contamination issues. I had the Copia Salad (mixed greens with a red-wine-soaked onion, plus tomato, and goat cheese, hold the crostini), and a filet of beef tenderloin with grilled vegetables. [address] 1122 Washington Avenue, St. Louis  [tel] 314-241-9463

Mango Peruvian Cuisine: Having visited Peru, I know that authentic Peruvian cuisine is generally celiac-friendly (it’s based on corn, potatoes, and quinoa). Still, North American interpretations of Peruvian cuisine aren’t always as easy to navigate. Mango had a number of great options, though, including ceviche, salad, and spicy-yet-sweet chicken breast topped with mango and red pepper. The restaurant also boasted the best pisco sour I’ve had since I was in Peru! [address] 1101 Lucas Avenue, St. Louis [tel] 314-621-9993

Culinaria: Is it strange to include a supermarket? Not if it’s Culinaria. Its fresh-food department had a Greek salad that made for a quick gluten-free meal when I needed one (since it was conveniently packaged, I also brought one to the airport with me after the convention). There’s cafe seating upstairs (and in front of the store, in good weather). There’s also plenty of gluten-free food — crackers, cookies, etc. — in its grocery aisles. [address] 315 North 9th St., St. Louis [tel] 314-436-7694

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More book news: My second novel is called The Next One to Fall; it will be published in the US and Canada on Valentine’s Day 2012. It’s a mystery set in Peru, and it’s already getting some wonderful praise from novelists such as Laura Lippman and Meg Gardiner. There are 10 advance copies up for grabs in the GoodReads giveaway (entering the giveaway is free; all you need is a mailing address in the US or Canada). I’m already planning my book tour, with dates in New York City, Houston, Austin, Scottsdale, and other cities.

Reader Report: Dartmouth, England

I love it when Gluten-Free Guidebook readers share their travel and dining experiences. The Gluten-Free Guidebook group on Facebook has been a lively spot lately, with exchanges about where to dine in Ibiza, Oahu, and San Francisco, and even where to get a celiac-safe cinnamon sticky bun in Toronto (that would be Bunner’s, which I now know about thanks to Jay Brown). Even better, reader Mike Murphy wrote this report on his visit to Dartmouth last summer. A huge thank-you to Mike!

Mike Murphy’s Report on Dartmouth

“If a man wishes to eat well in England, he should have breakfast three times a day”

Somerset Maugham’s jaundiced advice (he was brought up in France) does not offer much hope to the gluten-tolerant, let alone the celiac. Breakfast is often a sticky time, whether it is the “continental” variety, with those wickedly tempting pastries, or the “full English” kind, gluten-enriched with black pudding and sausage, to say nothing of the toast and fried bread.

Well, if you have any reason to visit Dartmouth (like a son passing out of the Naval academy), look no further than the Churston Court Inn. We had not mentioned anything about my wife’s gluten intolerance when we made the booking; she finds it hard to have it talked about. So we were very happy when the hotel receptionist and management said “No problem – we shall have the executive chef attend to your needs”. Even more so because our appointment at the academy meant we needed a cooked breakfast half an hour before the kitchen officially opened. We were apprehensive after the waitress took our order – 2 full English, one of which adapted to the celiac regime. When it came, it was remarkably complete. Bacon, egg, mushroom, sausage, tomato. Mine had all of the above, plus black pudding, hash browns, and fried bread, of course. We paid the bill (in high season, a very reasonable GBP 70 for one night, including cooked breakfasts), and waited with some trepidation to see whether any problems would reveal that things had gone wrong in the kitchen. Not a sausage, so to speak!

Celiacs attending the passing out lunch at Britannia Royal Naval College should bring their own rations. None of the three main courses, nor either of the two puddings, were suitable. If my wife could have brought herself to eat anything, her lunch would have consisted of plain boiled rice and whipped cream.

Dinner the night before was at (Michelin starred) The New Angel [now Restaurant Angelique]. This restaurant had been recommended on the web as a celiac friendly place. In a way it was. Not in the way of having a menu of dishes specially cooked for celiacs. Not in the way of indicating which of the standard dishes on the menus were gluten-free. We could have the “menu dégustation” at GBP 50 each for the whole table. And the restaurant would prepare a special plate for my wife for each course, without any dangerous ingredients. We had a good bottle of Australian Riesling (perhaps a little overpowered by the sun), and a reasonable bottle of Nebbiolo. And 3 litres of mineral water, with 4 coffees. Total damage: GBP 344. My wife, who is fastidious for the same reasons as Somerset Maugham, thought the food was good, but not superlative.

So, if you don’t mind eating less than your non-celiac sisters or cousins or aunts, Dartmouth is a great place to go. But if you want to eat nearly the same, have breakfast at Churston Court!

Again, many thanks to Mike for sharing this. I’d love to hear from more of you about places you’ve visited, and about gluten-free finds in your own town. You can also share finds via the Facebook group, too.