Boston – Gluten Free Travel

In late September my boyfriend and I were in the USA for two weeks, primarily for my sister’s wedding but also for a holiday. During that time we spent just over 24 hours in Boston to visit one of my oldest friends from school. 24 hours didn’t give me huge amounts of time to explore Boston’s gluten free options but I was determined to give it my best shot. Luckily I’d been given great recommendations (which I’ve listed at the end) so I knew that  I should be eating well.

One of the repeat recommendations I got was for The Elephant Walk, a French/Cambodian restaurant. There are two of them in the Boston area, one in Cambridge and the other in the South End, was the one we went to. My non-coeliac friend had been before and recommended it too, which is always a great sign.

Gluten free food Boston

The gluten free options were listed right on the menu, which always makes me feel better (though I always mention the coeliac disease as well). The three of us shared two gluten free starters, the Nataing and the Salade Cambodgienne. The Nataing was a ground pork dish served with rice, and the salad included chicken and shredded vegetables. As you can see from the photos, either of them could have been a main in their own right.

Gluten free food Boston

For my main I had the Poulet a la Citronelle, which was a peanutty curry quite similar to a satay. All three of the dishes I tried were really fresh and tasty. All five of the dessert options were or could be modified to be gluten free, but I resisted because I was already pretty full and I knew there was a dessert treat waiting for me two doors down…

Before we went to The Elephant Walk, we’d gone into The Gallows bar for some pre-dinner drinks. My friend had been waxing lyrical about their dessert: the ‘Stoners Delight’, made up of banana, chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and bruleed marshmallow fluff. Imagine my excitement when I looked at the menu and saw the ‘gf’ beside this delight! So after dinner we obviously had to go back and order it.

Gluten free cider Boston

I also enjoyed this Downeast cider that was everywhere in Boston. Recommended if you’re in a bar.

Although the bar had been quite empty during our pre-dinner excursion (probably because we showed up 2 minutes before they opened and left after one drink), it was packed when we got back an hour later. Luckily they had one table left, but it was in their darkened dining area. So my photos of the awesome dessert are not as good as I would have liked. But you can all imagine how tasty it was. My boyfriend, unaccountably, does not like peanut butter so my friend and I shared the dessert. It was delicious, although I think my sugar rushed lasted for about 3 days. Not helped by everything I ate the next day.

The next morning we started the day with breakfast at The Friendly Toast in Back Bay. This was a very cute diner doing an very large selection of tasty-sounding food. But there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity for gluten free pancakes. So I ordered two banana pancakes, which turned out to be the size of my head. Or probably larger. Though luckily the fresh banana was very present, so I at least felt slightly like I was eating fruit.

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We then walked the Freedom Trail, with a quick stop into Uniqlo at Faneuil Hall because the weather had dropped about 15 degrees celcius since we’d arrived in the USA, and neither of us had brought more than a cardigan. So some new fleece-lined hoodies were in order! We then decided that the only thing even more necessary to warm us up was donuts. Amazingly enough, I can’t resist a gluten free donut either. And Kane’s Donuts are famous for their regular donuts, so had to be worth a slight detour.

There were three types of gluten free donuts on the day we went: chocolate, vanilla and pumpkin spice. The donuts are made and fried separately, and were kept on their own stand. I could even see that the three trays of gluten free donuts waiting to be put out were kept on a separate tray rack from the regular ones. I tried the pumpkin spice and the chocolate donuts, though I did keep the chocolate one for breakfast the next day. And they were some of the best donuts I’ve ever had, and definitely the best since I’ve was diagnosed with coeliac disease. If you are in Boston, GO TRY THE DONUTS.

Gluten free donuts

The rack with three trays in the background is the specifcially gluten free one.

We were meant to eat lunch in the North End, further along the Freedom Trail and home to a number of Italian restaurants that were recommended to me (see below). However, as you can imagine, after all this sugar we decided that maybe we didn’t need a big pasta lunch. So we went to Boston Public Market instead, where we meant to go to pick up food for dinner on the train home anyway.

Boston Public Market has only been open since 2015, and has around 40 vendors providing produce and food from the New England area. This includes prepared food, farm stands, butchers and specialty products. And, luckily for us coeliacs, lots of it is gluten free.

The most obvious gluten free stall is Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery, which specialises in allergy-free food. Unfortunately we arrived a bit late for lunch, just after they’d stopped serving their paninis for the day. And I felt I’d had more than enough sugar for a few weeks, so resisted any of their baked goods. But it all looked interesting and worth a look if you’re in the area.

For lunch I instead went for some latkes from Inna’s Kitchen, a Jewish cafe and bakery with a large selection of gluten free options. They serve a more limited selection at the market cafe (they have another location in Newton Centre), but there were lots of tasty things. Even gluten free knishes to take away.

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Many of the speciality producers’ goods were gluten free. We bought some charcuterie and cheese for the train home, and I was sorely tempted by Q’s Nuts. Nuts can often be subject to cross contamination so it was great to see one proudly stating its gluten free-ness (though I somehow forgot to take a photo).

Obviously, 24 hours was not enough time to eat everything I wanted to in Boston. Lots of people gave me more recommendations for my trip, so thank you very much to  Gluten Free Jessica, gfreeguru, lovethingsgf and happywombelle . I’m including a list of those recommendations below in case they’re useful to anyone else!

Otto
Lucca
Terramia
Mamma Mia
Beneventos
Bostonia Public House
Crazy Doughs
Committe Boston
Legal Seafoods
Nebo

(The following recommendations are from lovethingsgf, who is gluten sensitive but not a celiac. She says that most of these are good about cross contamination but I didn’t try any of them and would recommend that celiacs contact the restaurants and take the usual precautions)

The Thinking Cup – gf sandwiches (try the Barcelona Bliss) ( there are several locations)
Sweet Green – salads and grain bowls (several locations)
Dig Inn – salads and grain bowls (Boylston Street)
Otto Pizza – gf pizza (try the mashed potatoes, scallions and bacon one!) (Cambridge)
Salvatore’s – gf pizza (Theatre District)
Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons -gf burger (in front of the Boston Common)
Met Back Bay – gf burgers and great brunch (Newbury St.)
Joes American Grill – gf burger (Newbury St)
Chinatown restaurants – ask for fried rice without soy sauce
Antico Forno – gf pasta and pizza (North End) There are other Italian restaurants there that also offer gf pasta.
Barcelona – their tapas are incredible! Great for dinner or brunch (South End)
Paramount –  love their huevos rancheros for brunch. You cannot rsvp just go and make the line its worth it. (Beacon Hill)
Amorino – love their gelato (Newbury St.)
Georgetown cupcakes – gf cupcakes available (Newbury St.)
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Eat.Sleep.Pilates and Doisy & Dam at Printworks Kitchen

One of the best parts about being forced to go gluten free has been the opportunity to meet all sorts of people who have started their own businesses around their passions.

Printworks Kitchen in Clerkenwell is one of those places. Opened last year by Catherine and Danielle, Printworks offers a range of tasty salads and proteins for weekday lunches, with the options almost always gluten free and with ever-so-tempting gluten free baked goods from Sweetcheeks (also run by Catherine). I will do a full review of Printworks at some point soon, because it’s such a great lunch option, and tasty salads deserve lots of photos.

Printworks Kitchen salads

Love the tasty salads

But about two months ago I got to enjoy those salads while also doing pilates and a chocolate tasting. Perfect evening or what?! Printworks partners with other small businesses to offer evening workshops, including flower arranging, food pop-ups, and pilates. The workshop was run by Vanisha, who set up Eat.Sleep.Pilates after doing an pilates instructor course while between jobs in banking. I do a pilates class once a week and felt that I could do all the moves without really pushing myself, but that I was still getting a workout. Vanisha was really good about explaining the moves and moving slowly if anyone was having problems. It was the right pace for me for an after-work class.

After pilates we got to eat gorgeous salads from Printworks. All of the salads were gluten free so I didn’t feel leftout at all.

 

Printworks kitchen salad

The final part of the evening was a chocolate tasting run by Nat and Alexa from Doisy & Dam. I’ve purchased some of their chocolate before on Ocado and was interested to hear more about the company and their ethos. Couldn’t believe that there are only 6 people working at Doisy & Dam, just goes to show how much can be accomplished by a small number of people. Doisy & Dan are trying to recreate the ideas of some famous commercial chocolate bars, but using good quality chocolate and superfood ingredients. For example, their Date and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt bar does taste a lot like a salted caramel chocolate bar! I was more interested in the fact that all their chocolate is gluten free, which other coeliacs will know can be difficult to find. I spoke to Nat and Alexa afterwards to tell them how important it was to me that all the chocolate was gluten free, and they said that originally it was just because the founders didn’t see the need for gluten in chocolate. I wish other chocolatiers felt the same… So hopefully Doisy & Dam will continue to make all their products gluten free in the future.

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For the chocolate tasting we got to have melted milk and dark chocolate on dairy free coconut yoghurt from The Coconut Collaborative. I’d never tried the yoghurt before but it was really good, and gluten and soy free too. It worked really well as a complete dessert with the strawberries and chocolate. We also got to put our own Doisy & Dam toppings on our chocolate. I tried cocoa nibs, pink salt, puffed quinoa and coconut.

All in all I had a great time at the Eat.Sleep.Pilates workshop at Printworks Kitchen with Doisy & Dam. I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for events run by any of the three businesses!