TNF Monthly Food & Travel Recap
I'm starting a new series here on the The Nomadic Fitzpatricks. And I'm calling them my monthly food & travel recaps!
While I previously was sharing this in a monthly email newsletter, I prefer this format because they will be much easier to refer to. That way you can come back to them for restaurant recommendations, itineraries, and gluten-free inspiration in the future, without having them disappear in your inbox.
Since Dylan and I travel frequently, and I am ALWAYS on the hunt for gluten-free food to share with you, I feel this is the best place for me to document my adventures. Plus, I can offer additional information, links, and resources to help you if you're planning to visit or eat at these places.
Alright, let's see what gluten-free food and drink was enjoyed in January to kick off 2023!
TNF Travels In January 2023
Number of States Visited: 2 (Maine, New Hampshire)
I've gotta be totally honest - winter can be really boring in New England.
Unless, of course, there's snow.
When there's snow, the activities and possibilities increase dramatically. But sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth trying to find something to do when your activities are limited, the days are shorter, and the weather is just...dreary.
It felt like most of January was gray or rainy. Yet despite this dullness and dealing with my own grief from the loss of a family member, we still managed to make the most of January's weekends and find things to do.
We took a day trip to Portland, Maine, a city we've been to many times before but always enjoy visiting. We also did our favorite winter hike at Lonesome Lake in New Hampshire. We played multiple rounds of disc golf - even in the snow, while also exploring Boston and Salem too!
TNF Eats in January 2023
We enjoyed some old favorites, new places, and ventured to a place that has been on my list for YEARS all within the last month!
Boston Area Gluten-Free Eats
Here are some of the restaurants we had gluten-free food & drink in the Boston area in January:
Grainmaker, Woburn MA
Grainmaker is an Asian-fusion fast casual restaurant where the menu is 100% gluten and dairy-free. They have three locations - one in Woburn, just north of Boston, and two in Boston proper. It's not very common that celiacs can visit a fast casual buffet style restaurant and not have to worry at ALL about cross-contact, which is the first reason I love this place. The second reason, is that it's a restaurant, not a bakery. Now, don't get me wrong, I've got a big sweet tooth and I absolutely adore finding a dedicated gluten-free bakery. But gluten-free restaurants where you can sit down and have an entire meal are rare!
Grainmaker offers rice, noodles, proteins, vegetables, and plenty of sauces and toppings to customize your own bowl or grab one of their menu items. I always opt to make my own bowl, kind of like a spin on pad thai, inspired by our time in Thailand. I do rice noodles with chicken, kale/bok choi and some other vegetable, plus crispy shallots, bean sprouts, and their peanut lime sauce. Dylan had never been to Grainmaker before, but he opted for a Teriyaki chicken bowl, which he really enjoyed. I tried it, and confirmed, yet again, that I still don't care for Teriyaki sauce (Ha!)
Danvers Gluten-Free Pizza
What's every celiac's biggest concerns about pizzerias and pizza shops? Airborne flour, right?
Because this can be a cross-contact risk that people can get sick from, so it's one of the places that it's recommended you exercise a lot of caution and be very mindful of when dining out. There's always a risk when dining out with celiac disease, but the consensus among most celiacs is that pizza shops could be one of the riskier ones.
But at Danvers Pizza & Subs, there's no airborne flour risk.
"But Jen," you ponder. "How can this be?!"
Because the owners, John and Chanda, grew up working in restaurants, and have family members with celiac disease. And they decided that when they opened their own pizza shop, they would do it right.
And so they have by using only rice flour as their bench flour in the pizza shop, for ALL of their pizzas. Not only that, but they also have an entirely dedicated prep area, toppings, utensils, pizza cutter, pizza peel, and process for preparing gluten-free pizzas.
Like I said, they do it right.
I was so impressed by their commitment to serving the celiac community safely I interviewed them last spring. You can read that blog post here.
Dylan and I love ordering two of their gluten-free pizzas. Right now my favorite is the Fenway - which is topped with sausage, peppers, and onions. Their buffalo chicken pizza is also really good. They also offer gluten-free wings and fries in dedicated fryers! Definitely one of my top places to visit on the North Shore of Boston for gluten-free food.
Adriatic Restaurant Salem
Our go to restaurant for date nights is the Adriatic Restaurant in Salem. And when we celebrated 15 years together this month, it's exactly where we went (After Dylan surprised me with a dozen roses. Swoon!)
Adriatic Restaurant & Bar is a Mediterranean restaurant serving Italian and Greek dishes along with cocktails, wine, and desserts. We've been coming here for many, many years and have never had an issue. But please be mindful, there is no specific gluten-free menu, only the phrase "Please inform your server if someone in your party has a food allergy." So this is a place you'd need to bring your A game, speak up, and be clear about your food preparation. If you don't know how to do this, I teach you my 3-step strategy inside this masterclass!
We ordered drinks - I got a Cranberry Mule with Tito's Vodka (Gluten-free), and Dylan had a Negroni. We split the gluten-free bread as an appetizer, and for dinner, I had their penne bolognese with gluten-free pasta. Dylan usually (almost always) orders the same dish - Cavatelli with spicy sausage. It was a rainy, gloomy evening (right on brand for January) but it felt cozy and comfortable inside the restaurant with our drinks, meals, and conversation.
I FINALLY MADE IT TO DOWNEAST! And before you ask why it's taken so long (like, 3 years at least) for me to visit a place right here in Boston, I'll tell you.
It's a little out of the way.
Downeast is in East Boston, by the Logan Airport. It requires taking the Blue line on the T (our subway here in Boston) and isn't an area we normally visit. So when last weekend Dylan suggested it (and we were already in Boston at the time), I said absolutely! And we went!
Downeast Cider is one of the most popular cider companies in New England. Their seasonal flavors are also extremely beloved, especially their Pumpkin Cider in the fall. The demand for Downeast has grown so much that they've actually had to shift and adjust the way they do things in their factory/taproom. As of January 2023, they are only allowing 1 flight per person, and no full pours, and they are no longer offering tours of the factory. They literally don't have the space because they are making so much cider! I mean, major props to them, but just something to be aware of if you visit.
Dylan and I both got flights and as many different flavors as possible. Downeast Cider's, like those of Far From The Tree in Salem, tend to be very sweet, and some flavors more than others. My favorite was the Tropical Smoothie cider, which tasted like pineapple juice! I also loved the Blackberry cider, which was on Dylan's flight. We had fun trying them, sharing them between us, and tasting all of the ciders. Again, sharing is not a common activity with food and drink that celiacs can normally participate in, so I was especially grateful for that!
Maine Gluten-Free Eats
And here's what we and drank during our day trip to Portland, Maine in January. Please be mindful, the places listed below are NOT 100% gluten-free. Always exercise caution and use your best judgment when dining out!
Who doesn't love a delicious donut, especially a potato donut? Holy Donut is beloved and famous in the Portland area, with 3 locations and it's always packed. Like Kane's in Boston, they also have gluten-free protocols, which are outlined on their website here:
"While we take great care to prevent gluten contamination from occurring, we want to be transparent that we cannot guarantee this. All of our ingredients, production equipment and manufacturing takes place in our dedicated gluten free room. However, this room resides in our commissary facility where our standard donuts are made. Our gluten free donuts are sold in all of our shops where there is potential for airborne contamination. We recommend anyone who may be severely allergic to gluten not consume our product or make the decision to consume it at your own risk. Thank you."
The gluten-free donuts are kept separately on a separate shelf, and they always use fresh paper when grabbing your donuts. I've never had an issue with their donuts and the fact that they have a dedicated gluten-free room fits the bill for me. But do what works for you!
All of their gluten-free flavors are fantastic, and this trip, I went for my usual (Dark chocolate sea salt) but also a new flavor to try - Chai. It was like chai tea with vanilla frosting in donut form. Scrumptious!
We found Elevation Burger, an organic burger chain, on Find Me Gluten Free and decided to give it a go. But not without exercising caution and speaking to the person taking my order about their allergens and procedures first.
A burger joint, and one that is a fast casual place like this, requires you to speak up and be very clear about preparation. Especially since there are multiple points of cross contact you need to prevent. If you're not comfortable doing this, I don't suggest Elevation Burger as the place for you!
But if you are comfortable doing this, they had a great gluten-free bun that didn't disintegrate when I touched it, and a dedicated fryer for their crispy and thin french fries. The burger was tasty, and we had a quick and relatively cheap meal right by the water. I'm not sure we'd visit again, but if we were really hungry and looking for a place that had options (like we were that day), I'd try it again!
If you don't use Find Me Gluten-Free, I highly suggest this app. It's my favorite way to find gluten-free food while traveling and I've been using their free app for over a decade. But with their Premium subscription, you can filter for the places that are rated the most celiac friendly. Take $5 off your subscription (that's $15, not $20, for an entire year!) using the code THENOMADICFITZ to try it yourself.
When it's cold and dreary out, warming up inside is always a great option. And if you can have a cocktail or drink with it, even better! The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club has wonderful drinks (and their menus are basically old maps, which is super cool). They have benches along their windows with stools where you can sit and people watch, and this is where Dylan and I usually sit. They have food here too, but it's not something we've tried yet. Dylan always opts for a neat cocktail, and this time, I went for tea. It was cold, and I wanted something to warm up! We sat and had our drinks in the late afternoon before exploring a few shops and driving home while the sun was setting.
TNF Reflections on January 2023
Oof, how can I describe January? I honestly have been feeling, a bit stuck.
Whether that's grief still catching up with me, or trying to hustle my way through what I think the universe is telling me is a season to rest and nurture myself, I've felt really stuck lately.
I've been working to move through that feeling through journaling, meditation, hypnotherapy, and mindfulness. I think winter itself usually lends itself to be a time of more inward reflection and quiet. But the lack of sunshine this past month and the dreary, rainy, dull weather can take its toll on anyone. Couple that with grief, and it can be a lot.
Though I will say, the occasional snowfall has been nice, and the more I get outside, the more Dylan and I play disc golf, the more we take day trip adventures and do things - the less unstuck I feel. And the more time I spend getting out my thoughts, by writing posts, meeting with my Confident Celiac Community Members, and connecting with other celiacs online, the better I feel and the more in my purpose I am.
So here's to more nature, more connection, and more mindfulness in February. I'm ready to keep moving forward.
Have you ever felt stuck? If so, let me know in the comments because I'd love to hear how you moved through it.
Our Next Gluten-Free Travel Destination...
I am SO excited that in February we are headed to...
Portland, Oregon! The most celiac-friendly city in the USA with over 30 dedicated gluten-free facilities. I can't freaking WAIT!
I'll be going with Dylan and my sister-in-law Lindsay, who is another adventure seeker and travel lover. We are looking forward to snowshoeing, checking out the Columbia River Gorge, Cannon Beach, and exploring funky Portland.
I'll be going a few days early so I can scout out the gluten-free scene. I am looking forward to my next recap so I can share all about the food scene in Portland!
And that concludes my second food & travel recap on the blog! Thank you so much for reading it. I really appreciate you being part of this community.
What do you think of these recap posts? Should I keep doing them? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram @thenomadicfitz for updates on what I'm doing, where I'm traveling, and what I'm eating.
Looking for more celiac travel posts?
Flying somewhere and worried you'll be starving in an airport? Not to worry, this post on flying with celiac disease has you covered!