Announcing...TNF Monthly Food & Travel Recaps!
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.
I hope you love this new series. Okay, now let's get to the December recap!
TNF Travels In December 2022
Number of States Visited: 1 (Florida)
December started off pretty quiet for us in terms of traveling. Dylan and I both had a lot of work to catch up on before 2022 came to a close. So we primarily stayed in the Boston area for the first few weeks of December and did not take any day trips. Most of our weekends were spent resting on the couch, but we did manage to take some time exploring Salem.
Our big travel for December was flying to Florida for the last 2 weeks of December to spend the holidays with family. Dylan and I both went to high school in the Daytona Beach area, and attended colleges in Florida. Having spent more than 10 years in Central Florida, we have a few favorite spots to visit, and also did some new activities this time around, including checking out new disc golf courses, a coffee shop, and some new restaurants I'll share below.
We rang in the New Year of 2023 in our former home of Daytona Beach, and even went for a walk on the world's most famous beach the morning of January 1st. After the horrible hurricanes this past fall (a lot of the devastation which you can sadly still see), I was happy to see the area working to rebuild and continue to attract tourists.
TNF Eats in December 2022
Phew, there were a lot of regular favorite eats here in the Boston area for December, and plenty of new restaurants & eats as well! One of my favorite things we did this month was go strawberry picking in Sorrento, Florida, with my parents. Picking fruit, outside, in December. In shorts and a tank top. Wild, right?
Boston Area Gluten-Free Eats
Here are some of the restaurants we had gluten-free food & drink in the Boston area in December:
Kane's Donuts: Saugus & Boston, MA
A Boston classic and one of my favorites. I helped Kane's develop their gluten, dairy, and nut free donut line and they have over 12 different flavors. All of their gluten-free donuts are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. My favorites are the jelly, chocolate glazed, and maple bacon. Pictured here is the jelly donut.
Atomic Coffee, Beverly, MA
While I've always just had coffee or lattes from Atomic (be sure to ask about cross-contact procedures that work for your needs), this time I decided because I had the mental capacity for it to ask about their sandwiches. They were able to make me a separate sandwich on gluten-free bread with fresh ingredients and in a clean pan. Score!
Far From The Tree Cider: Salem, MA
Another favorite place we've been visiting in Salem since they opened in 2015 is Far From The Tree. They only serve one thing - hard cider, and all of their flavors are gluten-free unless otherwise indicated. Since it was December, they were offering one of their ciders heated up in mugs, which was perfect. Dylan opted for a cold cider, because he's crazy like that!
Central Florida Gluten-Free Eats
And here's what we discovered in the Central Florida region (Orlando/Daytona Beach) over the holidays:
Kingdom Acai: Port Orange, FL
When I told Dylan a day at the beach would go perfectly with an acai bowl, he got to work right away using my trusted Find Me Gluten Free app, and discovered Kingdom Acai. This place only serves acai, and all of their toppings are separated with individual spoons that you serve yourself. It made it very easy to create an acai bowl of my choice without worries of cross-contact, as the only topping of concern was granola and that was separate. But it took eating an entire bowl of pure acai sweetened with just brown sugar for me to realize....I don't know if I actually like acai! It might have been too much acai for me and not enough toppings, and maybe I like acai more when it's mixed in with other fruits...but once I got through my toppings, I didn't really want anymore of it. But if you love acai, this place is the real deal, and they only use fresh, real acai berries.
Houligan's: Port Orange, FL
While Applebees or Chili's were where I spent a lot of my high school and college days hanging out with friends, now, my go to when we are back in this area is Houligan's Bar & Grill. They have a large drink selection, tons of televisions for watching whatever game happens to be playing, and a separate gluten-free menu that is clearly marked. The servers are very knowledgeable and were able to walk me through exactly how my wings could be prepared safely (Just frying in the fryers (only wings going in), and not grilling, which would be contaminated with gluten). The server was extremely patient with me walking through every step of the preparation process, which I greatly appreciated.
I've eaten here many times over the years and never had an issue. And when everyone around you is having a drink, watching the game, and enjoying wings with celery, carrots, ranch and blue cheese, it's something that you can be a part of as well. So much of food is more than food - but the experience we share with others while enjoying it.
First Watch: Port Orange, FL
A new place I've been hearing about for a while now and meaning to try, with multiple locations around the country. AND THEY DON'T CHARGE FOR GLUTEN-FREE BREAD SUBSTITUTIONS! What is this place, gluten-free magicland!? First Watch is definitely one of my new favorites!
I ordered an omelet and was able to confirm the preparation and ingredients, plus ask for my gluten-free bread to come out plain, not toasted, as it was toasted on a conveyer belt toaster with other regular breads. Everything was delicious and I ate the entire plate!
Jersey Mike's: DeLand, FL
Yes, I eat at Jersey Mike's, but with caution. Let's talk about it.
Please note, this is like the super scary maze in the Triwizard Tournament level of difficulty when it comes to ordering gluten-free. It requires you to understand every step of cross-contact prevention, to speak up and possibly hold up the line of people behind you, and to be firm in your gluten-free needs, which not everyone is prepared to do. So if you're newly diagnosed or someone who just isn't there yet - build up to it and start with something less intimidating. You can learn more about how I dine out at Jersey Mike's in this post on Celiac Friendly Restaurants.
This Jersey Mike's had a clear sign indicating that all of their subs were prepared in the same area, meaning it COULD be a tricky situation due to cross-contact. So I knew I had to bring my A game. By arriving a little before the lunch rush, I gave myself more calm and peace of mind so I wouldn't be anxious about holding up the line, which helped, as there was only one other person there. I also let the server know at the start of my order that I had a severe gluten allergy and would need to walk her through each step of my sub, and asked if she was prepared for that. She said yes, and did a great job.
Sometimes when you dine out at a place like this, the unexpected can throw you off or be something you weren't prepared for, and that's where creativity comes in. Upon learning the only fresh untouched topping they had available was lettuce (Not tomatoes, which I was hoping for), I remembered that my parents had a tomato at home that was untouched. So I skipped the tomatoes at Jersey Mike's, and just sliced myself a tomato at home, and added to my sub at home, safely. Then I got to enjoy my sub as I had hoped for!
Celiac disease, especially dining out, can require some creative thinking outside the box. In general, I follow 3 steps to make sure I avoid gluten exposures. You can learn my strategy for dining out and preventing gluten exposures/cross contact in my masterclass right here.
Hyde Park Steakhouse: Daytona Beach, FL
For New Year's Eve, Dylan and I went to Hyde Park Steakhouse in Daytona Beach for a scrumptious meal and special treat. We don't often eat at fancy places like this, so we made the most of it with fantastic steaks, sides, drinks, and dessert. I often tell clients that high-end restaurants, such as a steakhouse, will typically have stronger attention to allergens and serving guests carefully. The service here was great, with care and attention to allergies as well. We enjoyed two of my favorite desserts - raspberry sorbet and creme brulee, which were, wonderful!
Sixty Vines: Winter Park, FL
If there's any restaurant that knocked my socks off in Florida, it was Sixty Vines! They have locations in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. We visited here with my college roommate and her husband, dear friends of ours who we haven't hung out with in a few years!
They have 60 wines available on tap (hence the name), and almost everything on the menu can be made gluten-free. They said nothing gluten containing goes in their fryers, and they even had a SEPARATE pizza oven for gluten-free pizza! The staff was extremely cognizant of celiac and food allergies. And when my dear friend Meghon stated she avoided dairy, the server brought us an appetizer: fried zucchini (GF, in a dedicated GF fryer) that was dredged in soda water instead of buttermilk. The attention to detail was fantastic!
Everything we ate was scrumptious - but truly, the best and my favorite part of this meal, was that our friends agreed to get everything gluten-free, so we could share. Sharing is not something we usually get to do when eating with celiac disease. Casual things, like cutting a piece of your steak to put on your partner's plate, or handing someone a small bite on a fork, and saying, "Try this!" are not usual occurences for us. So to have our friends step in and support me that way was, wonderful. We left the meal completely stuffed and with empty plates!
TNF Reflections on December 2022
Whew, December felt like it flew by, but the two weeks of downtime we had in Florida were much needed and appreciated. It's not often we get so much time with our families, especially altogether in the same place. So being able to have meals together, play disc golf, get coffee, play games, and just enjoy each others company was so special. I'm grateful for it.
December brought a lot of closure for me in business, and a lot of healing from some health challenges. Certain partnerships that came to an end, and gave me a lot to think about as I segue into 2023 and where I want my business to be this year. It also gave me time to focus on self-care and being gentle with myself. I'm doing some updates to my business as we head into 2023, and I hope you'll stick around to see what those are!
TNF Travels for 2023..
Let's just say that our travels in 2022 didn't go as well as we hoped. Getting COVID in Italy was an absolute drag, and forced us to miss our friends' wedding, too. So I'm hopeful that 2023 will bring more travels, and less COVID!
So far, we only have plans right now to head to Portland, Oregon in the winter - a city well-known for being the most celiac-friendly place in the USA with a record number of dedicated gluten-free facilities (close to FIFTY!) I'm looking forward to visiting and checking them out, and will have a full update in my February food & travel guide, or perhaps, an entire Portland travel guide? We will see!
And that concludes my first food & travel recap on the blog! I'll be trying to share these monthly for 2023, so stay tuned for future posts!
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!