What I Ate in California – Part 1

Between Disneyland and the little out-of-the-way places that we ducked into for food and anything else…I was well-fed and felt very safe in my food choices while visiting friends in California.  In fact, Indy and her hubby, Evan, even went out to Whole Foods and picked up gluten-free cookies and some gluten-free crackers for me to have while staying with them.  They are, honestly, the best.  Nice to have people take my food allergies and everything else in stride and not totally panic.  Best hosts…EVER!

So, I spent a total of three days at Disneyland and then one full day seeing bits and pieces of California.  All the while…taking in food and enjoying every single bite.  I’m breaking this posting down into two separate posts because…well…the dinner I had at Napa Rose needs its own little post.  Honestly.  Because it was the best meal I have ever had.  (Sorry, Mom…but it’s true!).

So…I guess we’ll start at the very beginning…

Flo’s V8 Cafe – Cars Land – Disney California Adventure Park

Flo's V8 Café, Cars Land, Disney's California Adventure Park

Flo’s V8 Café, Cars Land, Disney’s California Adventure Park


You know…I give Disney props.  Both theme parks on each coast do their best to work with people with specific diets and specific food allergies.  And this was incredibly clear when I sat down to eat a “light” lunch (I was getting pizza later that evening) while out and about in California Adventure on Saturday.  I hadn’t yet made it to the race expo, but I knew I needed a small bite to get through until it was time to eat my required pre-race gluten-free pizza.  We were in Cars Land at the moment, so we stepped into Flo’s V8 Café and took a look at the menu board.  When we got up to the register, my traveling party (Cathy, Indy & Tawn) all decided they were going to eat elsewhere…which made me not want to eat here…but…I wasn’t sure what there would be outside that would be nutritious and still filling.  At the register, I mentioned that I was a gluten-free vegetarian so the cashier went to go and retrieve the chef.  The chef came out a couple of moments later and I reiterated that I was a gluten-free vegetarian.  She said it wasn’t a problem and mentioned the items I could get, including the Citrus Turkey Salad, sans turkey.  Actually, none of it sounded like anything I wanted…the side dishes were just…eh…meh.  And the salad was…well…a salad.  But, I needed something…so I said I would give the Citrus Turkey Salad ($11.49), no turkey, a go!

I paid the cashier and took the receipt up to the counter.  And my salad came up…gluten-free roll…but…UGH…the turkey had been placed on the salad.  I mentioned that my salad wasn’t supposed to have turkey on it, so the worker at the counter sent it back to the kitchen and spoke with the chef.  It took a few minutes, but my new salad came up, gluten-free roll, little dish of dressing, GODZILLA-sized salad, which was a basic mix of mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, and yellow peppers.  It came with a citrus-tarragon dressing.  And trust me…this salad was HUGE.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it.  But, if anything was certain, I was going to devour that roll.  The roll, by the way, looks like the Udi’s gluten-free rolls I can buy at specialty stores around here.  I think they were Udi’s.  I loved the roll.  I loved it to pieces…and pieces…and pieces until it was all gone.

The salad itself was fresh and crisp.  And the dressing made a nice flavor addition to the raw vegetables.  It was…a general salad, just taken to extreme proportion.  I ate about 3/4 of it before I called it quits.  It was just a lot of food.  The vegetables were fresh and crisp, the dressing was served on the side instead of just being poured over the salad, and perhaps drowning the vegetables.  It was good.  But…let’s face it…it’s a salad I could have made at home for a lot cheaper.

Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port – Tomorrowland – Disneyland Park

Redd Rocket's Pizza Port, Tomorrowland, Disneyland Park

Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port, Tomorrowland, Disneyland Park

 

It was the evening before the Disneyland Half Marathon, and Indy and I were in desperate need of some carbs.  And it is a requirement…I mean one of those dead-set superstitious athlete requirements for me to eat gluten-free pizza the night before a big race.  It has to happen.  If it doesn’t happen…I make it happen.  Somehow.

Indy knew that this was a must coming into the trip, so she asked around at Disneyland about good places to get a gluten-free pizza.  She was directed to Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port, which is a cafeteria-style, quick service joint in Tomorrowland.  We got there just before a flood of people and we spoke to one of the people manning the counters about gluten-free and vegetarian options.  She said she would go and fetch the chef.  I ended up standing there for around 10-15 minutes waiting on the chef, long enough for a couple of employees to ask if I needed help.  Indy and Tawn had already gotten their pastas and were now waiting with me.  Cathy was waiting because we weren’t sure if this was going to be a personal pizza or one we’d need to split.  You just never know.

After the wait continued, I told Indy and Tawn to go and pay and eat while their food was still hot.  I didn’t want them to settle in with cold pasta.  Gross!  So, they finally agreed, and just after they walked away…the chef finally emerged to talk to me.  I told him that I was a gluten-free vegetarian, and he said I had two options…a gluten-free personal cheese pizza…or gluten-free rice noodles with a tomato marinara.  Night before the race…it has to be pizza.  So, I put in my order for gluten-free cheese pizza ($8.99).  I was told it would take 10 minutes so to go ahead and pay and then come back to the counter in about 10 minutes.  I did just that, grabbed some plastic dinnerware, napkins, and some crushed red pepper packets and went to join my friends.  Cathy had gotten one of the pizza slices and some breadsticks and joined them in eating.  And I watched them eat for about 5 minutes as it took me awhile to pay.  When 10 minutes was up, I got up from my table and made my way back to the counter to, hopefully, get my food.  But my pizza wasn’t up yet.  There was a group of four ahead of me.  And that took about 5 minutes for them to get their gluten-free pizzas served to them.  Then…it took another 3-5 minutes waiting on mine.  By now Indy and Cathy were done eating.  When my pizza was sliced and finally put on a plate…I went to rejoin my friends and only Tawn was still nomming on her pasta.

The pizza was nothing to write home about.  It was the same gluten-free cheese pizza I ended up getting while at Disney World in February.  Just a small, personal-size pizza on a gluten-free crust (at least the crust was fluffy), with tomato sauce and cheese.  It was…okay.  I mean, I have definitely had worse…but I have most definitely had better.  I seasoned it with some red pepper flakes and just wolfed it down.  At that point I was starving and we had World of Color Fast Passes and the clock was ticking.  Nothing to write home about.  Just…pizza.  Eh.  Not impressed.

Hungry Bear Restaurant – Critter Country – Disneyland Park

Hungry Bear Restaurant, Critter Country, Disneyland Park

Hungry Bear Restaurant, Critter Country, Disneyland Park

 

It was the afternoon after I ran 13.1 miles through Disneyland and Anaheim, California.  It was just three of us.  Indy, who also ran, said she needed to rest and recover.  Poor thing.  So this meant our new guide for the day was the great, the epic, TAWN!!  And she knew all the places to hit.  We had a busy and very stressful morning…between race logistics, running, cheering, and finishing…then heading out to the park…

We rode rides and soon we knew we needed to eat something small before we hit the hotel early to rotate through showers and start getting ready for the most epic meal of our lives…courtesy of Indy.  But…that gets it’s own post.  For now…we focus on what I ate for “lunch” the day of the Disneyland Half Marathon.

I had heard tales and rumors that Hungry Bear Restaurant did gluten-free sweet potato fries.  Sweet potato fries are one of my most favorite things in the world.  Honestly.  Sure, fries probably aren’t the best recovery meal…but they were what I wanted.  That was it.  It was all I needed.  Tawn walked me over to Hungry Bear and I headed up to go place my order.  I reached the cashier and told her I heard they could do gluten-free sweet potato fries.  She confirmed this and said she’d go and get the chef.

The chef emerged a few minutes later and said that fries could certainly be done gluten-free.  I said that was all I wanted and went ahead and put in the order – gluten-free sweet potato fries ($3.99).  I was sent up to the counter and I passed off the receipt and was told it would be a few minutes.  I politely stepped aside, knowing this would be the case.  But a few minutes turned into 5.  Then 10.  Soon the staff was shouting back to the kitchen about the gluten-free sweet potato fries because it had been on order for 15 minutes.  The manager came out to apologize to me, saying that there had been a mix-up in the kitchen and it would be a few more minutes.  He offered me a free dessert, but none of their desserts were gluten-free so I passed.  After just over 20 minutes, my one little serving of sweet potato fries came up and I snagged them, went to grab some ketchup and finally went back down to meet Tawn.  She had been waiting a long time.  We had left Cathy at a table with her lunch, and it was long gone by the time we returned.  Tawn went off to find herself something to eat and I finally dug in.

To their credit…the sweet potato fries were perfect.  Crispy on the outside, soft in the center.  Warm.  Hot.  Seasoned well.  And just what I wanted.  They were phenomenal.  Definitely better than the oven baked ones that I make at home.  I mean, I love making my own, but there is something so fantastic about sweet potato strips that are literally fried to perfection, seasoned well, and served up piping hot and fresh.  So, while I think I aged a little standing in line waiting on an order the kitchen at Hungry Bear Restaurant forgot about…it was well worth the wait.

Tiki Juice Bar – Adventureland – Disneyland Park

The Tiki Hut, Adventureland, Disneyland Park

Tiki Juice Bar, Adventureland, Disneyland Park

 

DOLE. WHIP.  Need I say more?  Let me say it one more time.  DOLE WHIP!  I love Dole Whip and ended up coming to the Tiki Juice Bar twice during my 3-day stay in Disneyland.

The second time I contemplated getting a Dole Whip Float…but wasn’t sure I had enough money for one.  So, both times I ended up getting the standard Soft Serve Dole Whip ($3.69).  LOVE.

It’s pineapple goodness in a cup.  One that I will always take time to indulge in whenever I roam at Disney.  Yeah…Dole Whip is an experience.  One that shouldn’t be missed.  EVER!

Carnation Café – Main Street, U.S.A. – Disneyland Park

Carnation Café, Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland Park

Carnation Café, Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland Park

 

The only other request that I made for while the four of us were all at Disneyland was simple.  I needed gluten-free Mickey waffles in my life.  So, Indy, as always being the rockstar, sought out a place that served them.  She’s awesome like that.  So, after a late night and an early morning (for me…as I went running for 7 miles for my marathon training), we headed into Disneyland for our last meal together as a group of four.  Tawn was leaving that afternoon to head back to Fresno.

We arrived at Carnation Café just ahead of our reservation time.  We were asked if we wanted to sit outside or inside.  It was such a gorgeous morning that day that we chose to sit outside, as long as we were somewhere shady.  The hostess found us the perfect spot and we all settled in and started to look at the menu.

When our waitress came over to the table, she explained that we actually had a different server, but he was on his break so she’d be taking care of us until he returned.  We went ahead and told her that I couldn’t have gluten, something they were already aware of because Indy mentioned this when she made the reservation.  Of course none of this was an issue.  She said she’d go to get the chef and he would go over some options with me.  He did emerge a few minutes later and asked what I was interested in having for breakfast.  I gave him the hopeful eyes…Mickey waffles?  He said he wasn’t sure they could make gluten-free Mickey waffles due to the surface they were cooked on…but he might be able to do regular pancakes (not Mickey shaped).  But he said he’d go double check.  He returned after everyone else placed their orders and said that he could make me gluten-free mini Mickey waffles safely.  I was a happy girl, because I really, really wanted Mickey waffles while at Disneyland.  Dreams really do come true.

I went ahead and ordered gluten-free Mickey waffles ($10.49) with fresh fruit instead of the sausage or bacon side…since I am vegetarian.  They were happy to make that substitution for me.  I also had this with fresh brewed Joffrey’s Coffee ($2.99).

The coffee was really good.  Not too bitter.  I sweetened it with real sugar…as my coconut sugar was left back in Indiana.  After a short wait…out came our food.  Only Tawn and I kept with the plan to get waffles.  Indy ended up getting the Huevos Rancheros and Cathy got the All-American Breakfast.

My mini waffles were…delicious.  Definitely not the golden crispy goodness that Tawn got out of her Mickey head waffle.  But…the miniature Mickey waffles tasted amazing.  I poured a little pure maple syrup over them and dug right in.  I was given four Mickey waffle heads and ate all four of them without any shame or guilt.  The fruit was gone in a flash.  I am a fruit monster.  They were able to accommodate me and get me the item on the menu that I truly wanted.  Carnation Café was made of win.

So were the waffles…for the record.  Epic…gluten-free…WIN!

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Disneyland Resort Area – Disneyland Hotel

Trader Sam's Enchanted Bar, Disneyland Resort Area, Disneyland Hotel

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, Disneyland Resort Area, Disneyland Hotel

 

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is like no other bar you have ever experienced.  The food they serve is unique bar food.  The drinks they serve are fun.  The manner in which some drinks are served are SUPER fun and invoke chanting and lights flashing, ships going down, all of that.  It’s a place you have to go to grab a drink.  And, as this was our final day in Disneyland…we chose to do just that.

Food choices, for me, were rather limited.  But, Indy was telling me about this amazing Green Papaya Salad ($?.??) that they served.  We inquired with the bar tender about the ingredients and he went to check with the chef to see whether it was gluten-free and vegetarian.  Turns out…it was.  So, while Cathy and Indy split the Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans, I was served up a refreshing and quite delicious Green Papaya Salad.

No trip to Trader Sam’s is complete without having one of their famous drinks.  As I’m always iffy and careful with alcohol…I decided to go with one of the non-alcoholic beverage specials served at the bar.  My choice of Sam’s No Booze Brews was the Jungle River Sunset ($4.49) which is a mix of orange juice, falernum, and hibiscus grenadine, all topped off with soda water.  And, yes…I ate my garnish.

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta – Paradise Pier – Disney California Adventure Park

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, Paradise Pier, Disney's California Adventure Park

Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, Paradise Pier, Disney California Adventure Park

 

It was getting late and our plan to see Fantasmic that night was about to be put into action.  That being said, our appetizers from Trader Sam’s were long gone and we were definitely ready to eat some food.  We ended up coming to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta…because we were just really wanting Italian or something.  Because originally I was going to get something else, but when they kept mentioning the pizza and pasta place…it just sounded better.

So, we entered Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta and it was another counter service sort of thing.  I went up and mentioned that I was a gluten-free vegetarian and they sent for the chef.  He was out in no time.  Honestly.  And when I told him I was a gluten-free vegetarian, he immediately mentioned the two standbys that the Italian restaurants have on hand at Disneyland…a personal-size gluten-free cheese pizza or rice noodles with a tomato marinara sauce.  I’ve done the pizza.  It’s the same as always…and not really worth the repeat.  So, I went with the Gluten-Free Rice Pasta with the Tomato Marinara ($9.49).  He said it would take about 10 minutes.  And when he went back behind the counter, he immediately changed his gloves to start preparing my food.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Cathy ordered a regular Spaghetti With Meatballs and Indy went with the Five Cheese Ravioli.  They were both made to order, but Cathy’s came up way ahead of ours.  We sent her outside to get us a seat.  About 5 minutes later, my spaghetti arrived.  And this serving was HUGE.  We’re talking the King Kong of spaghetti dishes.  Holy crap!!  I figured I’d get maybe halfway through it and be done.  Indy’s was the last to come up…so she was the last to join us at the table.  Cathy had already started eating…I was just starting…so we had timing.  At least none of us were left without food when all was said and done.

The rice pasta was really al dente.  Not bad…but not as soft as normally rice pasta would be.  The tomato sauce was rich and delicious and really made the dish, in my opinion.  The spaghetti really would have been lackluster and disappointing without it.  I sprinkled a bit of crushed red pepper onto the pasta to give it that slight kick that I like.  Me and spicy food make for a loving relationship.  Honestly.  I like it hot.  So, the spaghetti, like the quick service pizza, was…just okay.  Nothing to really write home about…or go on any longer in this blog.

Indy’s Egg Scramble of Awesome

Indy's Egg Scramble of Awesome

Indy’s Egg Scramble of Awesome

 

When you have fresh ingredients in your garden…what happens?  You make your husband and your friends one of the most epic egg scrambles ever.  Honestly…this was amazing.  So delicious.  So yummy.  I still think about it.  That’s why a homemade dish is being put into my blog.  None of you, unless you also know Indy, will be able to taste this dish.  None of you will get to enjoy it for the low cost of FREE…at her kitchen table…while drinking fresh and really delicious coffee.  It’s just not going to happen.

She cooked and diced and sauteed potatoes in coconut oil, added fresh vegetables from her garden, and then scrambled up some eggs.  Simple…but highly, highly delicious.  One of my favorite breakfasts I’ve ever consumed.  And it was filling.  Perfect way to start off a day that took us to many glorious sandy locations!

The Local Peasant – Sherman Oaks, California

The Local Peasant, Sherman Oaks, California

The Local Peasant, Sherman Oaks, California

 

This gastropub has no sign hanging up outside.  There is no neon flashing the name of the pub.  This is one of those places that if you didn’t know it was there, you would walk right on past it.  Thankfully, it turned up on Find Me Gluten Free…and it just happens to be one of Indy and Evan’s favorite dining spots in their area.  And I picked it.  All by myself!

It was our last night in Los Angeles, and it was also Indy’s birthday.  So, we went out to eat…although she told me to find somewhere.  I was mainly focused on finding Cathy a place to have some fish and chips, so I focused on that first.  The menu for The Local Peasant had not only vegan options marked, but also gluten-free options marked.  And my requirement to eat something with avocado while in California would definitely be fulfilled.

It was a special night, so I went against my usual abstaining from alcohol for training purposes…mostly because it was Indy’s birthday and we were celebrating.  But, they also had Green’s Quest Gluten-Free Triple Ale ($15.00).  I’m not a beer drinker…at all…but it was a celebration.  And, besides, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees was at the table next to ours.  I needed something to take the fangirl edge off.

Where there is beer…there is also food.  Our waitress just happened to also be gluten-free (in fact, her entire family is)…so she was a huge help.  But…as I said…I had my heart set on something with avocado in it.  I had to eat avocado while in California.  It had to happen.  So, when it came to dinner, my choice was obvious…the Edamame Vegetable Salad ($11.00).  Why was that obvious?  Because this salad was composed of edamame, corn, jicama, green beans, roasted peppers, avocado, toasted pepitas, and cashews with a rosemary and ginger vinaigrette.

It sounded like no salad I have had anywhere else.  It had avocado on it, and really…it just sounded awesome.  When it arrived, it was in a huge bowl…and I happily dug in.  The vegetables were so fresh and awesome.  I loved the texture the cashews and pepitas gave the entire dish.  The green beans still had that nice, fresh crispness to them.  The edamame is always one of my favorite things…and it was super good.  Loved the depth the roasted peppers gave.  The avocado, however, gave it this amazing creaminess.  It was topped off with that really flavorful vinaigrette that really just brought everything together.  It was the meal I needed to have.  It was the last thing I would eat in California.  It was…fantastic.

I’d go back to this gastropub in a heartbeat.  And I hope to…the next time I find myself in California!

~*~*~

So…there it is.  What I ate in California.  I didn’t blog about the fries from In-N-Out Burger…because I did that back in 2011.  But I did go there…and their frier is dedicated to just potatoes and makes their fries completely safe for me to eat.  Part 2 will be all about the fantastic dinner that Indy treated our party to at Napa Rose.  Trust me…that was a dining experience I wish I could relive over and over again.  But you’ll read about that in the next blog…

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