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.

13 thoughts on “On the Road With Author Avery Aames

  1. Avery Aames such a brilliant book author. It’s really a pleasure to know some info about her. I highly appreciate you for sharing a segment about Avery Aames.

  2. I’ve not heard of Avery before, but since I love reading and cheese, sign me up!

    I do have an e-reader and worry about print book stores, but I am very good about not spending more money on e-books than I did/do on print books, and I still buy print books. 🙂

  3. Please go back to Italy. I was just there 2 years ago and it was very easy. Most places are very good about gluten free and finding the food in stores is easier than in the US. There was/is a book called Gluten Free in Italy and it listed places that could accommodate gluten free all over Italy. Very helpful.

    I hope I win your books because I think my mother would LOVE them but if not, I am sure to head out to buy them after the contest.

    Continued luck and thank you for talking about being gluten free.

  4. Great interview, will be looking up the books to read! Interesting to know that Italy is committed to GF diets and testing their children.

  5. Thanks for the introduction to Avery and her books. We will have to check them out.

    The travel tips were very good, and much like what we do.

    For airplane travel, hard boiled eggs (as mentioned) are great. Fruit is always available for purchase, but we usually pack our own. Nuts and fruit/nut mixes travel very well and are dense food, as are Lara bars or similar.
    We also often prepare pizzas and quesadillas (we eat the chicken ones first and save the cheese-only ones for later). They last a long time and pack well (they’re flat).

    – Aaron

  6. So encouraged that Avery can travel the world and safely eat gluten free! I’ve only been to Australia since being diagnosed, and had the most wonderful dining experiences there!

    I make sure to carry a few GF items in my purse if I plan to be out and about for the day, and I also volunteer to bring a GF dish or dessert when visiting friends!

    Great ideas about the pizza and quesadillas Aaron!

    I also hadn’t heard about her books, but would love to read them! If it has to do with cheese, count me in! Loved the interview 🙂

  7. dangrdafne – Great to hear about Italy. I’ll check out that book. And you know I won’t stop talking about being GF. It changed my life.

    Liza S – great to hear from you. Thanks for the interest in my work. I hope you enjoy reading them.

    Aaron Avery (love your name LOL). I hadn’t thought to pack some gluten-free pizzas. I love cold pizza. Great suggestion.

    BTW, hard cheeses always travel well, too. I love to take some GF crackers and cheese. Great snacks throughout the day. I’ll go to cocktail parties with my own snacks sometimes, just in case, and cheese and crackers fit in the purse!

    Best to all,


  8. Just the way you describe your book makes me want to be there, and I love a mystery. I can just picture the Cheese Shop!

  9. Waterpolomom, you’ve been to Australia. I’m envious! Glad you liked the interview. 🙂

    And Bev, so nice to see you here, too. I adore visiting cheese shops. So many great aromas and tastes.

    Enjoy all!


  10. I can’t enter the contest 🙁 but I just wanted to write that I enjoy Avery’s books and am looking forward to reading the new one.

  11. Elaine, thanks so much! Glad you’re enjoying the books.

    Marilyn, you can thank Hilary Davidson for that restaurant. She’s been inspirational to me to find more and more restaurants!


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