Gluten-Free at Ste. Anne’s Spa

Back when I worked for Frommer’s, writing travel guides about Canada, Ste. Anne’s Spa was a favorite day trip. Just ninety minutes east of Toronto, in Grafton, Ontario, this luxurious retreat is surrounded by some 400 acres of scenic countryside. Those grounds include an apiary, rolling hills where cattle graze, and extensive gardens filled with herbs, greens and vegetables. All of this farm-to-table bounty made the spa a popular destination for gourmands, and I’m delighted to learn that Ste. Anne’s Bakery has just been given the official seal of approval by the Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP).

This is not to say that Ste. Anne’s only recently started baking sweet gluten-free treats. For the past four years, they have offered gluten-free cakes (such as lemon cheesecake, Devil’s Food, and Opera cake), cookies, pies, jams, chocolates, fruit butters, and butter tarts. (The Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour — yes, there really is such a thing! — includes Ste. Anne’s as its only gluten-free stop.) There’s also a savory quiche of the day as well as a long list of breads (including basil focaccia, lavash, cinnamon raisin, and five-seed bread). What’s new is the GFCP’s certification, guaranteeing celiac safety. The bakery is 100% gluten-free, so there is no risk of cross-contamination.

I always thought the main attraction of Ste. Anne’s was its elegant spa and hotel. But the next time I visit, I’m making a beeline for the bakery!

 

 

Reader Report: Burleson and Fort Worth, Texas

I’d like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who entered the Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Fifth Anniversary Contest. It means a lot to have readers sharing their own expertise with traveling and dining out gluten-free. This one from Cynthia Ross is particularly terrific. Thanks so much, Cynthia!

Burleson and Fort Worth by Cynthia Ross

What can be more stressful than moving halfway across the country? Leaving everything you know and soon after learning you must also entirely change the way you eat. After relocating to Texas from California, I was already skeptical that I could find the fresh organic vegetables and free-from junk food that I was accustomed buying. Then I learned I had to give up gluten and dairy. The only place these things were available when I left Texas 14 years ago was in Whole Foods Market and that is quite a drive from our little town. Fortunately we do have some options.

HEB in Burleson has a reasonable selection of gluten-free, organic, and natural products. However, their organic fresh produce section is not up to par in my opinion. Their organic fruit is often not fresh enough to last more than a day or two and the selection of organic fruits and vegetables is slim. There is also a small 24-hour market called Tiger Farms, which has a good selection of gluten-free food and stocks fresh organic vegetables purchased from the Dallas Farmers Market each week. Their produce tends to be much fresher, better quality, and less expensive than HEB.

Eating out is a little tougher. Although there are restaurants with gluten-free menus in the area, they seem to cater to those on the diet by choice. The responses to my queries about the prevention of cross-contamination make me very leery of eating around here. But hope is not lost! Fort Worth is a mere 25 minutes away.

After living without sushi for over a year, we discovered Shinjuku Station near downtown Fort Worth. Not only do they have a dedicated gluten-free menu (delicious!), they only choose fish that are sustainably fished and use very fresh ingredients. The owners, chef, and wait staff is very knowledgeable, completely understanding of our food issues, and never make us feel like we are a bother. They always make us feel welcome and I know I am safe eating there.

A couple of other places we enjoy are the Mellow Mushroom near TCU and Cantina Laredo in downtown Fort Worth. The Mellow Mushroom has a dedicated gluten-free pizza menu with a gluten-free vegan crust. It is better than most gluten-free pizzas that I’ve tried but I quickly get bored with it. I’m sure it would be much better with cheese but I can’t have it and cannot stand vegan cheese. Sorry, but there is no substitute for real cheese. If you do eat here, make sure you confirm that your pizza is gluten-free when they bring it to your table. Mistakes have happened.

Cantina Laredo in downtown Fort Worth has upscale Mexican cuisine. It is delicious. The prices are decent and they are very accommodating. The chips, salsa and guacamole are gluten-free and they have a dedicated gluten-free menu. If you are also dairy intolerant, the chef can make those items without the dairy products. I especially enjoy their steak or chicken fajitas. A bonus is that margaritas, champagne and wine are half-price on Thursdays during happy hour.

That said, my favorite gluten-free place is my own kitchen. My husband and I are both good cooks – he has only accidentally poisoned me once. I can eat our cooking without fear and my “limitations” have forced me to become more adventurous in my food choices. By taking our own food with us, we can eat whenever and wherever we want which can lead to some interesting adventures. Just this weekend, we popped into Luckenback, TX on a whim to eat our lunch and discovered there was a Waylon Jennings birthday celebration. If we had gone to a restaurant, I would never have learned what “Chicken-poop bingo” was or met that cool steer named “Tumbleweed.”

Reader Report: A Gluten Free Adventure in the Junction (Toronto)

I was so excited to read Helen Nelson’s contest entry for the Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Fifth Anniversary Contest (now extended to July 15, 2013, since I disappeared down the rabbit hole while editing my fourth novel…). I’ve known Helen for several years through an amazing group called Sisters in Crime, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in crime fiction (in spite of the name, it’s just as welcoming to men as it is women). Helen is a talented writer, and I really appreciate her using her talents to share information about gluten-free spots in the Junction, a gentrifying neighborhood in Toronto. Many, many thanks, Helen! (PS Contest rules are here. A big thank you to all who have entered the contest so far. Looking forward to reading more reader reports!)

Helen Nelson: Toronto — A Gluten Free Adventure in the Junction 

In the Junction?

Yes, indeed the Junction has changed. No longer hosting the last remaining Woolworth’s store, a hodge podge of strange little stores and donut shops, it now hosts many of the things that make a neighbourhood fun and funky and dare I say even trendy?

My young niece and I embarked on our gluten free breakfast, lunch and treats hunt at around 10 on a Saturday morning. We started off at Bunner’s Bakery, just a little west of High Park Avenue and Dundas. Bunner’s is a vegan and gluten-free bakery. So for me that’s a bonus as in addition to no gluten, there is also no dairy! There we picked up a pumpkin and chocolate chip muffin, a couple of cinnamon buns, some butter tarts, some chocolate chip sandwich cookies and a loaf of bread that was still hot out of the oven. And we liked it all! OK, the cinnamon bun was too much for me. I couldn’t finish it. Although my husband ate his, we decided that next time we’ll get one and split it! A word of warning — get there early! They were selling out of the bread at a rapid rate. Another word of warning — their Supersonic Gypsy Cookie (which gets huge raves), has oats. So glad I asked before I bought and chowed down! They do have a book you can look at that lists their ingredients. And they are promising a recipe book soon!

For lunch we ventured out again to Gabby’s — right at High Park and Dundas. We eat here often. They have a huge menu with lots of selections and a separate menu that is gluten free. Yes!!! Sadly for me a lot on that menu has dairy, but there are a few things that I can have. In the past I’ve had their burger, ribs, a salad plate and sweet potato fries. Today I had a chicken sandwich (on a GF bun). The chicken and the stuff inside the sandwich is great. The bun, well its a bit dry and crumbly, but I’ve found that is all too often the case since I’ve found I can’t really do gluten (or most grains anyway) any more, a few weeks back. Too bad Bunner’s doesn’t actually make buns! My niece had macaroni and cheese and a bunch of my sweet potato fries. Decidedly NOT GF! But she enjoyed her meal! They have a few too many TV screens for my tastes, but the varied menu with GF items and the food quality makes up for that.

Then we walked back a few steps west along Dundas to Delight Chocolates. They sell some unfriendly stuff — like ice cream and brownies. But mainly they sell chocolate! And they offer many chocolate options that are completely dairy free and soy free. No flour or grains either! Its all fair trade and organic too! For those who can have dairy they also sell hot chocolate that apparently is to die for! For those who are able to do dairy (and others too) they also sell fair trade organic coffee.

There is also The Beet, an organic food café, and The Sweet Potato, an organic grocery store, both within about a block. I haven’t checked these out in a while, but I’ll venture to guess that they have lots of GF options as well!

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Gluten-Free

I can’t believe my third novel, Evil in All Its Disguises, will be out in three weeks. I haven’t even finished writing about all of the places I hit when I was on my book tour for my second novel, The Next One to Fall. Case in point: Denver, Colorado. I’d never visited the Mile-High City before, and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I found was a gluten-free mecca.

My stay in Denver was all too brief (when I’m touring, I often get only 24 to 48 hours in a city, sometimes less). But I was lucky enough to stay at the stunning Castle Marne Bed & Breakfast (pictured above), which gave me an incredibly warm welcome. Located in the historic Raymond House, a three-story stone mansion that dates back to 1889, the B&B is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever stayed. I’d told them in advance that I have celiac disease, and they assured me they’d have no trouble accommodating that. They weren’t kidding — they offered me gluten-free snacks and, at breakfast, had gluten-free bread and blueberry muffins ready. The staff are incredibly kind and thoughtful.

I wish I could recommend Encore, the fabulous restaurant where I had dinner before my event at the Tattered Cover Bookstore, but it closed about a month after I visited Denver. Naked Pizza, just around the corner from Castle Marne, closed up shop as well. Fortunately, the Tattered Cover itself is still going strong, and that includes its excellent café, which offers gluten-free and vegan treats. Denver overall has an abundance of dining options for the gluten-intolerant. Some places that were recommended to me (and are still in operation!):

  • 3 Guys Pies: Their claim to fame is their New York-style pizza, hand-tossed and baked right on the stone. Offerings include gluten-free pizzas, and they’ll deliver for free within a two-mile radius of their location on Capital Hill.
  • Cucina Colore: Contemporary Italian cuisine, complete with gluten-free pasta and other main-course options
  • Lime: a local chain with multiple locations, all offering Mexican staples, from corn-based flautas to ceviche
  • Modmarket: Another small local chain, health-conscious Modmarket offers a gluten-free menu, complete with salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and soups
  • Phat Thai: I love how this restaurant describes itself: “This isn’t a traditional Thai restaurant. We are not Thai. We’re not even Asian. Not even close. Hell, we’ve only visited Thailand!” I love the honesty, and their willingness to accommodate gluten-free diners (much of the menu is naturally gluten-free; some dishes require modification)

Denver also has several gluten-free bakeries, including:

  • Deby’s Gluten-Free: a dedicated gluten-free, peanut-free, and shellfish-free kitchen that offers cooking classes as well as a long list of products (more than a dozen different breads, English muffins, pizza crusts, hotdog buns, cakes, pies, cookies). Deby’s goods are carried by a number of restaurants and grocery stores in and around Denver (check out this list for more celiac-safe places to eat in the city)
  • The Gluten Escape: I love how the spot describes itself: “Our mission is to give people a place to find great food without unwanted ingredients! Welcome to choice, welcome to creativity, and welcome to a place where food differences are no big deal.” The Gluten Escape is also soy-free, dairy-free, and vegan, and can accommodate other dietary restrictions.

Next time, I need to spend more time in Denver. I’ll be back there on March 20th, reading from Evil in All Its Disguises at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch Bookstore at 7:30pm. If you’re in the area, please stop by to say hello!

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Evil in All Its Disguises will be published by Forge on March 5th, 2013 (it will be released as a hardcover, eBook, and audiobook that day). I’m giving away advance copies via my author newsletter; if you want to enter the draw, all you have to do is sign up. Book reviewers who are registered with NetGalley can download a copy right now. My second novel, The Next One to Fall, will be released in a paperback edition on February 12, 2012; there is a giveaway on GoodReads right now. Also, for a limited time, the eBook price of my award-winning debut novel, The Damage Done, is down to just $2.99. If you’re a mystery reader, I hope you’ll check out the series.

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

Shopping in Southwestern Ontario

It’s starting to feel as if a gluten-free grocery store opens in Southwestern Ontario every other week. I used to make a trip to the Specialty Food Shop each time I visited Toronto, but with the number of options expanding, I’m checking out a wider range of places offering gluten-free groceries:

Cabbagetown Organics: The sign in the window advertising fresh bread from Aidan’s Gluten Free is what lured me inside. As the name suggests, the store’s strength is organic produce, but the gluten-free section is substantial. [address] 499 Parliament Street, Toronto [tel] 416-913-7296

Goodbye Gluten: This combination grocery store, bakery, and caterer opened this summer. Everything you’ll find here is gluten-free, and there are also nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan options. [address] 2066 Avenue Road, Toronto [tel] 416-781-9191

Nut’n Gluten: This is a large store, especially when you consider that almost everything on the shelves and inside the fridges and freezers is gluten-free (there are products for people allergic to nuts, too). My impression — based on a single visit — is that some prices are higher than what I’m used to paying, but there are also brands here that I haven’t seen carried at any other shop. [address] 3120 Rutherford Road, Vaughan, Ontario [tel] 905-553-7901

Remark Fresh Markets: Whenever I visit my aunt in London, Ontario, this is where she goes to stock up on celiac-safe foods for me. Lots of choice, with both Canadian and international brands featured here. [address] 1190 Oxford Street West, London, Ontario [tel] 519-474-2561

Specialty Food Shop: Not everything in this shop is gluten-free — there are products for people with food allergies, metabolic disorders, cystic fibrosis, and other conditions. It’s small, but it stocks great staples and snacks and has registered dietitians on staff. [address] At the Hospital for Sick Children (main floor), 555 University Avenue, Toronto [tel] 1-800-737-7976 or 416-813-5294

A few other stores with plenty of celiac-safe options: Whole Foods, which has its own Gluten-Free Bakehouse products as well as items made by other brands; Noah’s Natural Foods, a small, health-oriented local chain with several locations; and Ambrosia Natural Foods, just north of Toronto in Thornhill, which offers some of the best prices on gluten-free goods that I’ve found anywhere. Also, a couple of websites offer shop listings (and, frequently, a lot more): Gluten-Free Ontario and Celiac Canada.

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.

Ulster County, New York

At the beginning of July, I had the good luck to spend a few days in a scenic spot a couple of hours north of New York City. New York State’s Ulster County is home to lovely hiking trails, gorgeous waterways — perfect for canoeing — and some truly fine food. I was pleasantly surprised to find how celiac-friendly local businesses are. Here are a few of the gems I visited:

The Big Cheese (402 Main Street, Rosendale, [tel] 845-658-7175): located on Rosendale’s main drag, next to its theater, this eclectic shop has an impressive assortment of cheeses from around the world. It also boasts hot sandwiches, and offers a gluten-free option (as the board on the wall says, “For gluten-free, we usually have corn tortillas available.” There are also fresh-baked goods that change daily — when I was in, there were gluten-free lemon coconut squares. At the back of the store is an eclectic collection of vintage clothing, accessories, books, and art.

The Alternative Baker (407 Main Street, Rosendale, [tel] 845-658-3355): Across the street from The Big Cheese is this sweet bakery, which offers a terrific range of desserts. There are plenty of gluten-free treats (the bakery is aware of potential cross-contamination issues and avoids them), as well as dairy-free and vegan options, and even a few sugar-free goods.

Saunderskill Farms (5100 RT 209, Accord, NY, [tel] 845-626-2676): Situated a ways outside of town, this small market offers a phenomenal array of celiac-safe groceries (from breads and bagels to snacks and frozen dinners). There’s also a fresh-baked gluten-free treat of the day — blueberry muffins, on the day I was there. There’s a wealth of fresh produce, too, plus a gorgeous greenhouse filled with blooming flowers.

The Arbor Bed & Breakfast (44 Mohonk Road, High Falls, NY, [tel] 845-687-9888): for two nights of my stay, I was at this pretty, well-maintained B&B. The owner, Nancy, was happy to whip up a gluten-free omelette for me at breakfast, which I really appreciated.

So, where are you traveling this summer? Let me know if you make any great gluten-free finds!

Sweet Passover

Passover is a special time of year for celiacs. What other holiday has so many gluten-free treats specifically created for it? Also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover generally prohibits the consumption of grains (rice and beans are also on the forbidden list for Ashkenazi Jews). That’s not to say that everything is celiac-safe, since one staple of the regular Passover diet is matzo, an unleavened bread that’s made from wheat. That means anything made with matzo — such as matzo-ball soup, gefilte fish, and any product made with matzo meal — is off limits. But there are many dessert options — which can range from traditional macaroons to raspberry rolls, chocolate-covered marshmallows to fudge brownies, and marble loaf cake to chocolate-chip cookies — that suit the gluten-intolerant.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a selection of gluten-free Passover foods at your local grocery store or Costco. You can also order online: Kosher.com will ship orders anywhere in the US. Another option for mail-order delivery is Shabtai Gourmet, a bakery that is entirely gluten-free; they are also dairy- caesin- and soy-free, and their products are certified kosher.

If you need advice and recipes to help you prepare a gluten-free yet traditional Seder, Elana’s Pantry is a great resource. There’s also an extensive list of Passover-appropriate recipes available from Kosher Celiac Cookery; some even feature that gluten-free favorite quinoa, which is actually a berry and not a grain. Nancy Lapid, About.com’s celiac guide, prepared a great list of items to watch for in “The Jewish Holiday of Passover: A Gluten-Free Bonanza.”

Wishing everyone who celebrates the holiday a very sweet Passover!

Lessons From the Road

I’m back from my book tour for THE DAMAGE DONE! The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. My debut novel came out on September 28th, and I had a party that night in New York City. Since then, I’ve attended two conferences (Bouchercon and Noircon), had bookstore and/or library events in a dozen cities (including Houston, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, Pittsburgh and Toronto), and had six events in New York City alone. Also, I was writing my second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, which will be published by Forge in fall 2011 (I turned the manuscript in to my editor last Wednesday). There’s been a lot of work on the publicity front, too. This past weekend, I was honored to discover that the Los Angeles Times featured THE DAMAGE DONE as one the the books the paper is recommending for the holidays. Reviews of the book have been wonderful. There are also a number of interviews with me (many include coverage of the Gluten-Free Guidebook as well).

As tiring as it is to be on the road so much, there was a lot that was wonderful about it, too. I’ve had the chance to collect information about a lot of great restaurants, bakeries and shops, and I’ll be writing about those over the next few weeks. I also had the chance to meet some Gluten-Free Guidebook readers, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. Some observations from the last few weeks:

  • Phoenix/Scottsdale Is a Great Destination for Gluten-Free Foodies: I was expecting to find terrific Mexican cooking here (and I found it), but I didn’t realize just how diverse and sophisticated the dining scene is in Phoenix and Scottsdale. One tip-off: Phoenix Magazine, which had its “Best New Restaurants” issue on newsstands while I was in town; its list of hotspots included the Pomegranate Café ([address] 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 28, Phoenix [tel] 480-706-7472 [web] www.pomegranatecafe.com), which offers vegetarian, vegan, and raw dishes. Not everything there is gluten-free (there are spelt tortillas, for example), but most of it is, including a decadent cheesecake.
  • People Are Very Kind: I was surprised, over and over again, by how thoughtful people were. Just after I arrived in San Francisco, a writer friend (Joshua Corin, author of WHILE GALILEO PREYS) sent me a message about a gluten-free bakery he’d found in the Ferry Building (the wonderful Mariposa Baking Co., which I’ll have more to say about later). Before I went to Los Angeles, another writer friend (Rebecca Cantrell, author of A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES) recommended a restaurant across the street from The Mystery Bookstore, where I was reading. A friend of a friend passed along recommendations for Houston. In Pittsburgh, the lovely couple that owns Mystery Lovers Bookshop researched gluten-free restaurants in the area so that they could take me out to dinner while I was in town. While I was in Phoenix/Scottsdale, I got to meet the lovely Liisa (who wrote a Reader Report about her trip to Hawaii a while back), and she gave me a list of very accommodating local restaurants.
  • Still, Never Travel Unprepared: My hotel in Houston, the Four Points Sheraton, left a lot to be desired. That was especially true on the food front. As one employee said to me, when I started to ask about gluten-free options: “What, do you want me to explain what’s in a steak to you?” I was very glad I had protein bars, pistachios, and fruit along with me.
  • Fast Food Chains Are Catching On: At Houston’s Hobby Airport, my only dining option turned out to be Wendy’s, which offers gluten-free salads. At Philadelphia’s Central Station, I was able to pick up dinner at Cosi. At Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, I was able to have dinner at Paradise Bakery Café. To tell the truth, the employees at each of these places didn’t know what gluten-free was and had to get a manager, but each turned out to have a list (in Cosi’s case, a giant binder) of nutritional information for people with food allergies or gluten intolerance.

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If you’d like to read THE DAMAGE DONE, the first three chapters are available for free online. The book is available from independent mystery booksellers across North America, as well as from IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & NobleBordersPowell’s, and — in Canada — Indigo/Chapters. Signed copies are available from The Mystery BookstoreMurder by the BookThe Poisoned Pen, and The Mysterious Bookshop.