Reader Report: Lucifer’s Pizza in Los Angeles

While I was in Los Angeles in March on my book tour, I heard about a great gluten-free pizza place called Lucifer’s, but I didn’t have time to check it out. Fortunately, reader Laura Smith did, and she wrote this report for the Gluten-Free Guidebook’s Fifth Anniversary Contest (which will be open to entries until July 15, 2013, so send yours in soon!).

Lucifer’s Pizza by Laura Smith

I visited Los Angeles, California, for 2 weeks in April and went for pizza to Lucifer’s. It is one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten, including pre-gluten free! The crust was crispy and sooo very flavorful. Many people order it instead of the regular because it tastes so yummy. I had the Hot Chick (chicken, black pepper, pepperoni, green bell pepper, garlic, onion, tomato & hot chili sauce) personal size and ate it all! The flavors were so perfectly matched with the meat,carmelized onion, peppers and sauce and after four years of going without a good pizza I was in heaven. I cannot recommend it enough. Lucifer’s also offers dairy-free options for the cheese. Their gluten-free crusts are from Venice Bakery and you can order them online. 5 stars for this pizza!

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!

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.

On the Road With Author Rebecca Cantrell

According to her website, “a few years ago Rebecca Cantrell quit her job, sold her house, and moved to Hawaii to write a novel because, at seven, she decided that she would be a writer.” It turns out that was a very wise idea. Cantrell’s debut novel, A Trace of Smoke, was widely acclaimed when it was published in 2009, and it went on to win the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Its sequel, A Night of Long Knives, came out in June (both novels are published by Forge, which is also my publisher). Thanks to Twitter, I discovered that she is also on a gluten-free diet, and since she was just on a book tour across the U.S., it seemed like a terrific time to talk to her about it. For more information about Rebecca Cantrell’s books, check out her website.

I read A Trace of Smoke and loved it. Your new novel, A Night of Long Knives is waiting in my TBR pile. For people who haven’t encountered the Hannah Vogel mysteries yet, how would you describe the books?
I’m glad to hear that you loved it! The Hannah Vogel books follow one woman through pre-World War II Berlin. Hannah tries to fight the Nazi Party, protect those she loves and bring out the stories of those being crushed by the rising regime. They are painstakingly researched literary historical mysteries. And they have some funny bits too.

You’ve written a book for young adults as well, under the name Bekka Black. Can you tell us about that?
I certainly can! My next project is called iDrakula. It’s a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula using only text messages, voicemails, emails, photos, and web browsers—basically it’s as if you stole Mina Murray’s cell phone and read through it to watch her unmask and battle Dracula. It’s not just a new storytelling method, though, it’s also a brand new delivery system: iDrakula comes out first on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (in a week, I can hardly believe it’s finally almost here!) and then as a beautifully designed print book. The early reviews are quite positive, and Kirkus Reviews says: “Black brings Bram into the modern age with e-mails, smart phones and websites, all while preserving the brooding heart and vicious nature of Dracula, the literary ur-vampire….Mina’s heartfelt final e-mail to Lucy blends a traditional goodbye with the ephemeral nature of today’s digital technology.”

How long have you been on a gluten-free diet, and how difficult was the transition for you?
I’ve been on a wheat- and oat-free diet for about 13 months, and the transition was awful! The first two weeks all I did was mope around in mourning for bread and pastries. Then I got hold of myself and started trying to discover what I could eat, which must have been plenty as I’m still around.

You were on your book tour for A Night of Long Knives recently. Was that your first big trip since going on the gluten-free diet? How did you prepare for it?
It was my first long trip since I found out. I’ve done 4-5 day stints, but for the A Night of Long Knives tour I was away from home for a month. I stocked up on Zone bars (peanut butter) and made myself a few bags of my favorite snack food (dried apricots, pecans, and dark chocolate chips). Then I resigned myself to eating a lot of chicken Caesar salad, since most restaurants have it and so long as I skip the croutons I can actually eat it.

The thing that was the hardest was explaining to everyone I ordered food from that I was really allergic to wheat and oat and tomatoes (plus a variety of other stuff). It got very old, very fast and I constantly felt like Sally from When Harry Met Sally. Almost everyone was really wonderful about it, but I hate asking for special meals even though I pretty much have to these days.

Where did you go on your book tour, and were there any restaurants and/or hotels that did a really great job at taking care of a gluten-free guest? I seem to remember you tweeting about a castle in Colorado…
I hit 10 cities: Phoenix, Arizona; Encino and Westwood, CA (Los Angeles area); San Diego, CA; San Mateo and Tiburon (San Francisco area); New York; Chicago; Milwaukee; and Denver.

Au Bon Pain in Westwood (right across the street from The Mystery Bookstore) had a great quinoa salad that was quick, tasty, and filling. Bar Breton in Manhattan had tons of gluten-free items clearly marked on their menu (hooray!). And Castle Marne in Denver went out of their way to make me a tasty gluten-free breakfast: from my own scones to my own bread. It was all delicious and I was very touched! I also have to thank Jerrle Gericke who made me delicious gluten-free peanut butter cookies when I stayed with her. She gave me a box to take with me and that helped me through those hours I was stuck in O’Hare airport.

What was the toughest thing about traveling gluten-free?
Until I realized I was allergic to wheat, I never noticed how many events have only wheat foods. So, it’s tough when you go to your special debut author breakfast and they have a wide selection of muffins, croissants, and pastries you can’t eat. Often this gets followed up by lunchtime events filled with tons of sandwiches and then a few wraps that you can’t eat either. I ended up eating a lot of Zone bars and fruit. The worst experience was when I was stuck in the LaGuardia airport for several unplanned hours and the only thing I found I could eat was a boiled egg (man, was I ever grateful for that egg!) and I’d run out of my own snacks because it was near the end of my tour.

What things do you always bring with you when you travel?
My apricot/pecan/chocolate chip trail mix, my iPhone (cannot travel without it. I even dedicated iDrakula to my phone), my netbook, and a couple of pashminas.

You live in Hawaii, which is many readers’ dream destination. Have you found restaurants/shops near you that you’d recommend to others?
I like the Keei Café up in Kainaliu. Their buckwheat noodles are gluten free and tasty, but their open hours are odd, so it’s best to check before you go.

What’s your own dream destination to visit?
Berlin in 1931. Failing that, Berlin now. And Barcelona. And China. Also Japan. Really anywhere with good food and soft pillows.

Do you have any other advice for gluten-intolerant travelers? Also, any readings or conference appearances coming up?
Pack a meal before you leave the house and be prepared to spend hours more at the airport and on the plane than you think (after I was delayed on my way to Chicago, I got delayed again on the way out and this time we were stuck in the plane for three hours with only those snack boxes full of wheaty treats to eat). Of the 10 flights I took, two were delayed by more than three hours.

As for appearances, I’ll be at Bouchercon in San Francisco from October 14-17 and also will be launching iDrakula at the Books, Inc. book store in the Laurel Heights area of San Francisco at 5 pm on October 17. Please come! If they let me serve food, at least some of it will be gluten-free!

On the Road With Daphne Oz

Last October, I was excited to find an excellent article on Oprah’s website about gluten intolerance. The author was Daphne Oz, daughter of Oprah’s favorite health expert, Dr. Mehmet Oz. Daphne, who graduated from Princeton in  2008, is an author in her own right: in 2006, she published The Dorm Room Diet, which is being re-released in an expanded and revised edition this September; in 2007, she wrote The Dorm Room Diet Planner. She is also co-author of the bestselling books You: The Owner’s Manual, You: The Smart Patient, You: On a Diet, You: Staying Young, and You: Being Beautiful. Last year, after experiencing health issues that ranged from sleep problems to weight fluctuations, Daphne followed the advice of a naturopathic, Ayurvedic doctor who recommended that she cut gluten from her diet. While tests have shown that she doesn’t have celiac disease, Daphne noticed her health improve on the gluten-free diet. She’s currently at work on a self-improvement book about conscious living.

How often do you travel? I am a total gypsy. In October and November, I was living in Chicago, but now I’m back in New York. Recently I’ve also traveled to Florida, Philadelphia, Maine, California, and England.

What foods or snacks do you pack when traveling? There are some staples that I always bring with me, like pistachio nuts. My dad has really drilled home the nuts issue! They’re a great snack. I also bring apples and soy crisps. Generally, I prefer to eat food I’ve brought with me, rather than what’s served on a plane.

What other things do you always bring with you? I’ve assembled a travel pack because I’m on the road so much. I bring hand sanitizer, facial moisturizer, lip balm, and a full-size pillow — those tiny pillows they give you on planes just don’t work for me. I bring my iPod and a bunch of magazines, like Oprah and Vogue.

Any favorite restaurants? I absolutely love a New York restaurant called Peasant. They serve fresh fish with just a little olive oil and sage. There’s no gluten-free menu, but the food prep is so simple that many dishes are naturally gluten-free. There’s another place in New York, Fatty Crab, that I really like. They serve Malaysian cuisine and have amazing coconut-milk broths. In Los Angeles, I always go to the Newsroom Café, which does great vegetarian food, and the LA Mill, a coffeeshop that serves food, including gluten-free crackers. In London, I just had brunch at Baker & Spice, where they had wonderful Mediterranean salads, like peppers and feta cheese, and roasted sweet potato.

Any favorite hotels? Staying at the Penninsula in Los Angeles was probably the most luxurious experience of my life.

Favorite city or destination that is not your hometown or current home base? I love Istanbul for many reasons. I have family there, the food is wonderful, and the city has this amazing union of Byzantine architecture and modern skyscrapers. I also love London, even though the weather is terrible.

What’s your dream destination? The place that immediately comes to mind is Thailand, because of the history and culture. I’d also love to see Bora Bora.

Do you have any other advice for gluten-intolerant travelers? When you’re traveling, one of the best things to do is to visit a local market, where you can get fresh fruit. Not only is that good for you, but it teaches you a bit about the culture of a place.

Photograph provided courtesy of Daphne Oz.

Memorable Moments in Las Vegas

After I return from a trip, I find that certain memories fade while others actually become brighter over time. My time in Las Vegas last November is a perfect example: I couldn’t tell you what day I visited a particular casino, because those windowless rooms were hard to distinguish from one another after a while. But that makes the memory of the day I visited the Hoover Dam stand out even more.

The Hoover Dam is 30 miles southeast of Vegas, and it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to the entire southwestern corner of the country. It’s also hard to believe how gorgeous it is: while the dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 to control the mighty Colorado River and generate hydroelectric power, its builders created a beautiful monument as well. The concrete dam and buildings have a distinct Art Deco appearance, enhanced by decoration using motifs of the region’s Native American tribes.

There’s a fascinating museum on the site, which explains everything from the complicated politics of building the dam to the engineering of the structure. (I have little understanding of engineering, but the description of the workings of the concrete arch-gravity dam — in which gravity and the design of the horizontal arch work together to carry the water load — were well-explained.) When you walk to the middle of the dam, you straddle the border between Nevada and Arizona, and depending on what time of year you visit, a single step can put you into a different time zone. There’s also a very touching memorial on the site, dedicated to the many workers who died while constructing the dam. “They died to make the desert bloom,” reads the large plaque in their honor.

Another memory that stands out from that trip is dinner at the Border Grill, which is located at Mandalay Bay. When I called them to ask if they’d be able to accommodate me, I discovered that they have a separate gluten-free menu. (This fact isn’t mentioned on the restaurant’s website; the original Border Grill restaurant in Santa Monica doesn’t have a separate gluten-free menu, though they can accommodate celiac diners, too). It turned out that I had plenty of choice. For a starter, I had the queso fundido, a deliciously gooey mix of melted manchego, panela, asadero, and Oaxacan string cheeses, served with chorizo and roasted poblano peppers. My main course was the most memorable: I had the Kobe beef tacos, which were spicy from being marinated with guajillo chiles but also sweet with the addition of pineapple salsa. Whenever I go back to Las Vegas, I know which two spots I’ll want to hit first.

Border Grill Las Vegas [address] In Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV [tel] 702-632-7403 [fax] 702-632-6945 [web] www.bordergrill.com

Border Grill Santa Monica [address] 1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA [tel] 310-451-1655 [fax] 310-394-2049 [web] www.bordergrill.com

San Francisco Food, Las Vegas Style

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Las Vegas has been called many things, but I like to think of it as the world’s biggest theme park. Where else could you visit a pyramid with a Sphinx in front, soar to the top of a scale version of the Eiffel Tower, and take a Venetian-style gondola ride in one afternoon? There are representations of New York City and Monaco, hints of Southeast Asian colonial style (at Mandalay Bay), and scenes of ancient Roman decadence (at Caesar’s Palace, of course). But there’s one great city that doesn’t figure into the design of any of the resorts, and yet dominates Las Vegas’s haute culinary scene: San Francisco.

Having visited the City by the Bay in the spring of 2008 — and discovering places such as Fish & Farm, Le Colonial, Millennium, and Regalito Rosticeria — I’d already experienced some great gluten-free cooking. But while I was aware that many Vegas restaurants are outposts of New York spots (including some that are known for their gluten-free-friendliness, such as Smith & Wollensky and Dos Caminos), I had no idea that San Francisco chefs had taken the city by storm.

One of the highlights of my visit to Vegas was dinner at Bradley Ogden’s eponymous restaurant in Caesar’s Palace. It sits on the edge of the casino, but it’s a world apart. Caesar’s Palace was one of my favorite gambling spots (not that I’m a high roller — slot machines like Gold Fish are more my speed). While the casino’s got sweeping ceilings, over-the top decorations and plenty of distractions, it’s also filled with smoke, noise, and bright lights (like every casino on the Strip).

The Bradley Ogden restaurant is an oasis of clean lines, neutral tones, and serene quiet. (Like all indoor Las Vegas restaurants, it is smoke-free.) From the start, the incredibly charming server, Alexis, made it clear that I could have most of the items on the menu, since everything is made from scratch on-site and the kitchen would be happy to make whatever modifications necessary for a gluten-free meal. I ended up ordering from the prix fixe menu, which offered three courses for $59. I had a Caesar salad to start, followed by pork loin for my main dish and ice cream for dessert. The food was simply incredible, and the service was sublime.

What really amazed me was that the thoughtfulness didn’t end with that night. Before I ordered, I talked with the server about why I often can’t get a gluten-free Caesar salad (it’s not just an issue of holding the croutons; many chefs use a Worcestershire sauce that contains wheat in the dressing). When I filled in the comment card at the end of the evening, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the meal and the attentive service. The next day, I received an e-mail from the restaurant, giving me their recipe for a perfect Caesar salad. Now that’s what I call service.

Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace [address] 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV 89109 [tel] 877-346-4642 [web] www.caesarspalace.com or www.chefbradleyogden.com.

Reader Reports for Celiac Awareness Month

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October is Celiac Awareness Month, so there’s an uptick in coverage about the disorder and generally about gluten intolerance. A couple of the better pieces that have been published lately: “Gluten-Free: Is It for Me?” by Daphne Oz on Oprah.com and “Why Common Foods May Hurt Your Health” by Dr. Jon LaPook on The Huffington Post.

Everyone knows it’s Halloween at the end of this month, but parents of children with celiac disease and/or food allergies need to hear about the Halloween candy list that’s available from Sure Foods Living. Keep in mind that this list was compiled using American sources. Canadian parents, when you read that Smarties are free of gluten, know that this is not true of the popular Nestlé treat, but of an American candy that is unrelated but shares the name. Also this month, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness hosts a Gluten-Free Cooking Spree in San Francisco. It will take place on October 30th; check the NFCA site for details and ticket information.

Some Gluten-Free Guidebook readers also have advice to share. Carolina, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, recommends one gluten-free spot:

There is a place called CeliGourmet here in Buenos Aires that sells food to take out. It has all sorts of things, such as crepes, tarts, pizzas, sandwiches, empanadas (typical local food). There are also many kinds of cake, like cheesecake, chocolate cake, tiramisu, etc., and a variety of breads. There are two stores: one in General Paunero 1927 – Martinez (like half an hour out of town) tel, 4798-2990, and one in Thames 1633 – Palermo Soho, in town, tel 4831-5162.

To my ear, Buenos Aires sounds more and more like a gluten-free paradise. Reader Silvia Basualdo Róvere shared some local restaurants in this post and in this one. If you visit Buenos Aires, check out Oleo, a website that allows you to search for city restaurants that serve gluten-free meals (“comidas para celiacos”). There are currently 300 places on the list!

Another reader, Sybil, left an incredibly helpful comment on my post “Gluten-Free Fast Food at the Eaton Centre.” In it, she mentioned that the Druxy’s Famous Deli in Toronto’s Commerce Court kept gluten-free bread in its freezer. I’d never heard about Druxy’s offering gluten-free options, but Peter Druxerman, the company’s vice-president of marketing, confirmed it. Right now it’s just a test program — the only Druxy’s with gluten-free bread is the one in Commerce Court — but it’s one that Druxerman says the company would like to expand.

Next summer, if you’re visiting Ontario’s spectacular Stratford Festival, take a tip from another reader, Marilyn, who shared this:

We twice visited the festival last summer, and we were able to order ahead, by phone or online, for a gluten-free picnic lunch that we picked up from the Festival Theatre lunch bar. We found the food and beverage supervisor very helpful in discussing options, and the food was excellent!

If you go, the Festival Theatre Café is located at 55 Queen Street, Stratford, [tel] 1-800-567-1600 or 519-271-4040. According to the website, picnic lunches need to be ordered at least 48 hours in advance.

Many thanks to Carolina, Sybil, and Marilyn for their terrific tips. Please keep them coming!

Reader Reports: Gluten-Free Paris and More

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I often get questions from readers looking for recommendations about where to dine gluten-free in destinations that I haven’t visited (or, at least, haven’t visited since being diagnosed with celiac disease). I make the same suggestion to all of them, which is to check out the Gluten-Free Guidebook Group on Facebook. The great thing about this group is that it has a discussion board where people can ask questions and share recommendations. I’ve been impressed by how helpful people are, and I’m grateful to everyone who has contributed their time to the group.

One popular destination that people often ask about is Paris, a place I haven’t visited in the past five years. Fortunately, reader Ellen Maycock has, and she shared her very helpful suggestions with the Facebook group. She was enthusiastic about one Parisian restaurant in particular:

I’m just back from Paris. I highly recommend a totally GF restaurant, in Montmartre! It is Des Si et des Mets, located at 63, rue Lepic in the 18th. Metro stops Abesses or Blanche, phone 01.42.55.19.61. I had two excellent meals there. What a treat to be able to order *anything* from the menu! Our waitress one evening said she was a celiac. I don’t know if they speak English, but they were extremely friendly. (You might want to bring a small dictionary to translate the menu.) The *entire* restaurant is gluten-free, so you don’t need to worry about cross-contamination. The prices are moderate for Paris — you can get a very nice 3-course meal for 26 euros.

Ellen also had some helpful general recommendations for celiacs who visit Paris:

If you have any cooking facilities, you’ll be in good shape. There’s a great organic market every Sunday morning on the Blvd. Raspail. I found GF items in the Monoprix (major grocery chain), and in some health food stores. I was told about good bread in Naturalia, but didn’t try any.

I was anxious about dealing with GF in Paris — my first trip there after my diagnosis in January — but I felt very well (better than in the States).

Other readers have written recently to share their gluten-free discoveries. One couple, Lynne and Ernie, passed along a terrific recommendation for the Niagara region:

Cafe Amore (211 Martindale Road in St. Catharines, Ontario) is our favorite restaurant. They have rice pasta and all the sauces are gluten-free. They have gluten-free desserts and amazing dinner rolls. They are all very aware of cross-contamination issues and are more than helpful when it comes to ordering a safe gluten-free meal. This is a place that is worth spending time at while visiting the Niagara area.

Another reader, Nadine, wrote to share a couple of discoveries she’d made:

I have a recommendation for a restaurant in La Jolla, California: George’s at the Cove. I had a fish taco that was out of this world delicious. It was one of the restaurant’s specialties and my server told me it was gluten-free. Also, there is a bakery in the small town of Bristol, New Hampshire: Cornucopia Catering and Bakery. It bakes gluten-free breads and pastries. It’s the only bakery for miles and their products are worth the trip. I’ve had their cinnamon buns and a pecan bread, which were fantastic.

One more recommendation came from my friend Danyael Halprin, a journalist who lives in Calgary. She told me about a dedicated gluten-free restaurant called A Tasty Menu. Its offerings include plenty for vegans and vegetarians, and the lactose intolerant. There’s also a special menu for kids.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed suggestions and recommendations. Please keep them coming!

Roundup: Gluten-Free Summer

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I’m always grateful when the Gluten-Free Guidebook gets coverage in the media, and so it was a thrill when the site got a mention in the July issue of the JourneyWoman newsletter. If you travel solo, for work or for pleasure, JourneyWoman is an amazing resource (and while some of its tips are certainly geared towards women, many apply to men, too; just sign up on the site to receive the free newsletter via e-mail).

I heard from several people as a result of JourneyWoman’s coverage, and wanted to mention a tip I got from Barbara Collins, who had a fantastic experience with Holland America:

I read about your site in JourneyWoman Newsletter.  I recently got back from a cruise to Alaska with the Holland America cruise line.  When I signed up for the cruise, they had the possibility to indicate special dietary needs.  In fact, I am not celiac, but do have a severe allergy to wheat and a lesser intolerance for gluten.  But I am even more complicated in that I am also allergic to dairy and eggs.

Holland America took this very seriously and every day gave me the menu for the following day from which I made my choices.  They then prepared that menu specially for me not including any of the ingredients to which I was allergic or intolerant.  In fact, I was surprised one evening when I ordered something Asian and my dining partner had the same thing, but hers had a drizzle of soy sauce and mine didn’t.  It was then that I found out that soy sauce contains wheat!

They had quite a good selection of gluten free products as well (bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.). I would definitely recommend this cruise line for anyone with any special dietary needs.

In other news, GF Patisserie, which I’ve written about before, turns one this month. I haven’t had the chance to visit this dedicated gluten-free bakery in Cochrane, Alberta, but I’ve heard only wonderful things about it. If you happen to be in the area (it’s a short drive from Calgary), you’re invited to the bakery on Saturday, August 8th for some celiac-safe birthday cake with founder Victoria Edlinger and her husband, Peter (who writes the Celiac Husband blog).

If you’re in Los Angeles, you might want to check out the SunPower Natural Cafe in Studio City. It’s an organic, vegan raw-food restaurant where all of the desserts are gluten-free, including the tiramisu, cookies, and the “un-cheesecake.” And if you’re near Hackettstown, New Jersey, stop by the Donaldson Farms roadside stand, which my friend Charlie just told me about. The stand is open daily from 8am to 6pm from May 1st to November 26th, and its offerings include fresh fruit, fresh-cut flowers, and fresh-baked gluten-free treats.

Do you have a favorite spot that I should include on the Gluten-Free Guidebook? Please let me know about it.