Arepa Barn – Gluten Free Heaven

Allergen-free eating on the road, food, musings, Travel, wyoming

note: this restaurant closed in 2018

ArepaBarn

It is rare in this part of the world to find a restaurant that is catered to a specific type of regional food. Though it is increasing and improving with Thai, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Mexican, Chinese, Korean etc. becoming more and more common in Colorado. However, an hour North, into the Wyoming landscape, there is less and less diversity and more and more meat and potatoes.

This diet has served the people of Wyoming well for the last 150 years or so. It meant survival and energy to get through tough summers and tougher winters. Yet, as time marches on, more needs and tastes are requested and the landscape becomes that of new needs and peoples.

My parent’s recently stumbled upon a certain gem of Casper, Wyoming. The Arepa Barn in Casper, Wyoming is a beautiful story of an immigrant family from Venezuela sharing their passion for food in a local eatery. On top of the restaurant being a fantastic reflection of Venezuelan eats the entire place is Gluten Free!

 

Having an entirely Venezuelan restaurant us a great treat in most of the United States, having one that is completely Gluten Free, or any restaurant that is totally Gluten Free, is a divine treat.

I visited this temple to Gluten Free eats last weekend when I was visiting my mom and sidling sibling and I absolutely fell in love. So much so that I had asked my mom to bring me some arepas when she visits on Monday.

All around the dining experience, it ended up being one of the best of my life. I will let my Facebook review do the explanation:

Where does one begin? This was all around one of my favorite dining experiences EVER!
1) The owners were very attentive to our food allergy needs. I have only ever seen that level of care at FINE dining locations in Italy and Mexico!

2) The owners are super sweet and friendly, I felt like I was in someone’s home!

3) The food! OMG the food was so good. Every last morsel was devoured at our table. Arepas are their own treat, but the fried plantains, soup, and rice and beans took everything beyond. I can’t speak highly enough of how good everything was. It was 100% fresh and made to order, making it even better than I good have dreamed of.

4) ALL of their food is Gluten Free! And you would have no idea because it doesn’t taste gluten free! As someone with celiac, this was such a treat, and a rare occasion where I could order anything off the menu.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved it and if you head to Casper, Wyoming stop by and have one of the best meals of your lives! They not only cater to celiacs, but they offer vegan, vegetarian, and plenty of meat options for anyone’s preferences.

Location: 1040 N Center St, Casper, WY 82601

Website: click here

Facebook: click here

Happy Eats!

Advertisements

A Vegetarian’s Take on Memphis Meat

food

Have you heard of Memphis Meat?

Founded in 2015 and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Memphis Meats was created to provide a solution to many of the problems associated with conventional animal agriculture: environmental degradation, animal suffering and food products that contain high amounts of  fecal matter, antibiotic residues and other contaminants. The team combines decades of culinary and scientific expertise to develop a way to produce delicious, real meat (not plant-based meat substitutes) directly from animal cells, without the need to feed, breed or slaughter actual animals. The process is expected to be significantly better for the environment, the animals and human health. Memphis Meats is backed by SOS Ventures, New Crop Capital and Efficient Capacity, among others. For more information, visit www.memphismeats.com.”

It’s a pretty cool thing. It’s basically taking cells from “meat” AKA animals and allowing the cells to grow into what we know as meat. It’s actual meat from a scientific standpoint.

It’s meat with a minimal impact to the environment and animals didn’t have to die in the making of every hamburger and chicken breast.

It’s actually really cool in a wonderfully Frankenstein and scientific way. Take away any ethical concerns and at its base is a wonderful alternative. It also means that we have the start to remove ourselves from the horrors that is the commercialized meat system.

Many vegetarians would consider this a good chance to “eat meat again” and while I might consider it at some point another reason that I don’t eat meat is because I don’t crave it or miss it. Eating meat used to make me extremely sick to my stomach and when I stopped eating it a lot of my symptoms subsided. This is all in tie with my having celiac disease and a long story, however, “missing meat” is not part of my story.

I imagine a lot of vegetarians might agree.

However, what excites me the most, is that those I love, my fiance and my family, I could buy “meat” and not feel a nagging guilt on having anyone consuming it. I wouldn’t feel bad about animals dying, because animals didn’t die. That also means that I would have a relief of not having to worry about animals being treated cruelly. I also would lack some of the concerns around environmental impact and what the meat industry does. There would also be a reduction in health-related problems by being able to make meat more healthy and with less of the fat and problems that contribute to poor health.

That is, if Memphis Meat proves to be the viable company and production, which everything I have read is showing it will.

All around it could also mean an end to the meat industry and its environmental impact that is one of the leading contributors to global warming and pollutants. lobal warming and pollutants. 

Until Memphis Meat hits the market, and naturally some competitors, there are a few ways one can help without going veggie. It really all comes down to consuming less and being picky about what you consume. Eat meat with only one meal a day, or have a few days a week that are all veggie. Not only is it good for you, but it’s also good for the planet. Our power as consumers is also choosing how and what we buy and using our money as a vote for the kind of products we want to be available.

Land of Enchantment Part II

Allergen-free eating on the road, new mexico, Travel, United States

The second day was an early start to the day and driving to downtown before the tourists invaded. I also wanted to talk to the Native American artists that sat outside by the Palace to sell their goods to locals and tourists alike. This was a great opportunity to learn how the system worked and how it provided artists the chance to make money directly and control their art.

I ended up buying a small pottery egg from a woman that had a turtle and fish on it, representing life and sustainability. The price was great and it felt awesome to support local and small artists. As an artist and from a family of artists, this direct connection meant a lot.

DSC_0028

I talked to others about their goods and how they made things. There were silver workers, pottery masters, jewelry makers, weavers and everything in between. If you want to REALLY shop native goods, then this is the place and the best way to do it.

I then hit a few more shops looking for a thank you to the neighbors for loving on our cat while we were gone and I found a small place that sold local arts such as tin work and jewelry made from dried corn. All of these made great little souvenirs and it was enjoyable to be shopping so early and away from the crowds and chaos.

Before it was too hot I also walked the few blocks around the center of town, photographing and enjoying the soul of the city. One that dripped with art and culture and history. The entirety of it brought me a sense of peace and joy that I miss living in a newer city. The sensation reminded me of the same sensation I receive when I’m in Europe. Traversing ancient pathways and soaking up centuries of movement.

Late that morning some other relatives arrived for the celebrations, so the afternoon was spent eating, talking and doing some more sightseeing.

We spent a significant part of the afternoon looking at the old and famous churches of Santa Fe, including the Loretto Chapel, known for its staircase. Gothic in style the church has a classic charm to it.

Then we visited the OLDEST church in the United States, San Miguel Chapel. Which not only has the claim to being the oldest, but also is home to a 14th century bell from Spain, and some beautiful old art from the colonial time period.

We finished the day at the OLDEST home in Santa Fe, which was perfectly sized for someone short like myself and was a darling walk in the lifestyle of early Europeans that settled in the area.

Finally, we returned my aunt to the hotel and Ryan and I were able to have a date in Santa Fe. Which, naturally,deserved being full of tacos (American-Mexican) and margaritas. We ate the most amazing fish tacos I have ever had at Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill (that also had an awesome Gluten-Free menu. Then we finished with a quick visit the art museum and a walk around the old part of town.

Part I, Part III

Cruising- Luxury, without breaking the bank

Caribbean, Cruising, Travel

I just got back from a cruise to the Western Caribbean. And though, for my boyfriend and I it was a pricey and luxurious break from our lives, we did a lot but didn’t spend too much.

CRUISE (Food, room and on-ship FREE activities)= $1600

Excursions (1 in Cozumel, 1 in Grand Cayman) =$250

On board expenses (Massage, gratuities(have to be paid), 1 all-inclusive drink package, Makeup/massage oil)= $850

Flights= $300 (roughly)

Hotel= $0 (we stayed with my sister’s in Orlando and they drove us to the airport)

Shopping on the islands= $120

TOTAL= $3120 for two people and 9 days of fun, or $1560 a person or $173.34 per person per day

Now you may look at that and freak. Which for us, this is a lot of money, but we did extra luxury things that we don’t usually do and it was in fact worth it! Because both of us were able to refresh our batteries after what has been, at times, a hard year due to the loss of my grandma, and working hard.

Anyway, here are ways that we saved money, even though we did a ton!

  1. Book a deal. Wait for cruise prices to go down so they can fill rooms, we booked about 8 months ahead giving us $175 on board credit that paid for my spa treatments and 1 day of tips per person. We used priceline and I just got an offer that we can book any cruise in the future with no money down for already booking with them. Also, with Royal Caribbean if you have sailed once and you go again you get Gold Status that with enough times turns to silver and diamond.cruiseShip
  2. Buy the package. If you will drink more than 3 drinks (alcoholic) a day, then get the drink package. I don’t drink much, get me one and I’m happy. Yet my boyfriend enjoys drinking when he can, and when you don’t have to drive, get out of bed at 4am (his usual time). Meaning the package was worth the money for him to have margaritas, beer, wine and the like for $55/day. He then tipped on top of that a dollar or two a drink.
  3. Bring the necessities. Bring all you need from home, such as deodorant, ibuprofen, nail clippers etc. Because the mark up on these goods on the ship is INSANE! We made the mistake of forgetting a few things and paid a lot for basics. It won’t probably break the bank, but you will cringe at $12 for 24 Advil.
  4. Eat the food (don’t pay extra). The awesome part about Royal Caribbean is that all of their food is great! You have options too. Traditional sit-down 3-course meals (more if you want it), buffets, and snacks are all over the place. You can even get room service for no extra charge most hours of the day, including breakfast in bed. Yet if you want something different there are other restaurant and drink options such as Starbucks, Italian, Mexican and a fine Steakhouse. Also: for allergy sufferers they will make every effort to make sure your vacation is AMAZING, I even got a private tour of the kitchen! lobsterTail
  5. Barter. When shopping in many parts of the world it is common to barter on goods. Meaning they say a price, you make a counter offer, they say another price and you try to agree. Know it is okay to walk away if it is more than you want to spend. Also, take note of places that have prices on tags on items usually are set on that price. However, there is no harm in asking. DO NOT pay the full price they first give you, because you will get ripped off. OR pay that price, but you better get some extra goodies.
  6. Don’t get taken. Jamaica was the only place we REALLY experienced this. Where a local attached himself to us and “showed us around” and then demanded $20/30 dollars from us while he showed us where his friend’s sold stuff and talked us into buying things. I usually can walk by and say no, but my boyfriend didn’t feel right ignoring them. So DALTA took us around town. As a better tip, stay in the “designated shopping” in Falmouth, Jamaica just to avoid unwanted problems.
  7. Take the freebies! One cool aspects of Caribbean cruises is that a lot of people sail in order to go shopping for luxury items like jewelry and watches. Which, if you want a nice price for a good piece, you should go for it. Yet the other little perk is that you can get some free items from different stores just for coming by with a flyer. We took advantage of a charm bracelet from Diamonds International for my boyfriend’s daughter, which included free charms from different ports and from the cruise ship. It made for a fun souvenir that an 8-year-old will LOVE and if she breaks, loses, or dislikes it we are not out anything. Also, other jewelry shops, like EFFY will give away free gemstone pendants etc. So keep an eye out for flyers, coupons and if your cruise offers a “shopping expert” to get more information from.charmBracelet
  8. Go back to the ship. For lunch and other needs, if you aren’t too far away or if you aren’t on an excursion, then head back to the ship for food in between. It’s usually no problem and often you’ll be done with shopping and exploring.
  9. Pack lunch. Depending on the port it’s pretty easy to bring a few things with you such as bananas, nuts etc. Granola bars are a good idea as well. This way you spend less time worrying about food and if you have allergies like me, this is even less to worry about.

Happy Travels!

~Rebecca Lee Robinson

Gluten Free Gem of Dublin

Allergen-free eating on the road, Ireland, Travel

note: this bakery closed in 2017

A little over a year ago I reported that in Dublin, Ireland a small group of celiacs would be opening a bakery to serve the Dublin community with gluten free, homemade goods. It was my dream from hearing about them on to visit! And I did!

2015-02-02 08.10.11

In February I took some extra time before going back stateside to get some gluten free treats from Antoinette’s Bakery in Dublin. Oh boy were they amazing! Which has left me feeling there is a void in my life because Antoinette’s is nowhere near Colorado.

Some may have VooDoo Donuts in Portland and Denver, well I have Antoinette’s in Dublin, a treat that is only attainable when I’m passing through. A place that is iconic, delicious, welcoming, full of Irish charm and friendliness and  a total gem of a place for celiacs and non.

2015-02-02 08.10.04

I went not only one afternoon, but the next morning as well for their cinnamon donuts, brownies and other miscellaneous goodies. Not only was the food good, but their array of coffees and lattes were warming in the rainy Dublin February, and the atmosphere of the bakery to die for. Based on a Maria Antoinette, meets punk “Let them eat cake” mash that I wish my own kitchen could compare to.

So if you are in Dublin, or Ireland, or needing an excuse to go there, this is it. You Won’t be disappointed, and make sure to pick up a souvenir or two to remind you to plan a next time.

Gluten Free in the Land of Bread and Pasta

Allergen-free eating on the road, italy, Travel

“Una pizza margarita, senza glutine, por favore.” poured from my tongue, an attempt at accented Italian. The server smiled “one pizza, senza glutine, okay!” in response as she scribbled my order followed by my friends. We sat in a circa 1980’s green back room of a small restaurant only a block away from lines of tourists surrounding Micheangelo’s David.

The smell of mouthwatering plates was overpowering as it drifted from the small kitchen,  while waiting was torture for our hungry and impatient stomachs as a dusty boar’s head stared suspiciously from above the bathroom. Once the food arrived it was no time at all before it was gone, and I was left doing a seated happy dance about how I had just eaten the best pizza of my life. Italy was proving to have the best dining options for my gluten-free life.

Anyone can find eating while traveling hard enough, let alone attempting to do it with food allergies, yet with a little research one can find a world full of edibles that won’t leave your stomach and self, miserable during a well-earned vacation.

I myself have to remember that no, I am not the only person on the planet that is gluten free or dairy free. The reality is that in this day of easier global exploration, the world has become smaller and more connected to different eating concepts. In places like Italy 1 out of 250 people are thought to have celiac disease, and as a result more restaurants in Italy are trying to accommodate for the disease.

In Italy, the government is even aware of the problem and they sell Gluten-Free products at pharmacies, an aid for locals and tourists alike. “Thanks to the public health system my sister can place an order each month to the pharmacy and get all the main food for free.” Enrica Guidato informed me, her twin sister has celiac disease and is doing just fine in her native Lecce, Italy. For the tourist there will be no free pasta, but to know that a country acknowledges the disease is a step in the right direction.

When I was in Florence in 2013 Guidato was a helping hand, she pointed me in the right direction for food, which restaurants were the best, which cared enough to offer gluten free, her list was a mile long of the best gluten free eats. Her experiences with her sister meant she knew great places to eat, and new things to try. It also made me realize just asking others meant a whole hidden knowledge could be opened.

So I asked Roger Elliot, a celiac since his mid-twenties who started a website specifically to share stories of his own eating experiences around the world. He believes that people can go and eat anywhere with celiac disease it just takes a little work. “I think you should take time to properly research the food in the destination you’re travelling to.” Says Roger “That said, there’s always plain meat, fish and veg, and if you have access to self-catering facilities, you should always be able to get by I reckon.”

Roger and his wife also came up with a great idea to overcome language barriers, by making little cards that state exactly what one is allergic to, to show at restaurants. They come in 54 languages and are completely free on his website: celiactravel.com, and are an innovative and easy way to keep one’s digestive system happy.

Another thing about asking, are the pleasant surprises that come with it. I give you one night in Rome.

Since I was studying abroad, we had a side trip to Rome. I was in Rome with my program director, where we had a meal at a place near our hotel and just off the beaten tourist path, Rinaldi al Quirinale. According to its website it served Gluten-Free, but I assumed like most places in the states, there would be a salad or maybe some spaghetti involved and that would be it. I went into the location head held high however, since first of all I was in Rome, and second I was out to dinner with two new friends, and excited at the chance of getting to know both better. Not only did that set the scene for a perfect night, but the restaurant set a standard of excellent dining well beyond anything we could have imagined.

When I asked the server about gluten free he informed me I could have anything I wanted on the menu, and to top that off when real bread was brought for my dinner buddies I got my own, fresh from the oven, gluten free bread roll all to myself. I ended up ordering the mushroom risotto but I swear it was the best I ever had, and with a wait staff willing to bend over backwards for our every need it was a great feeling. It was everything you dream of Italy, a solid and happy relationship with your food, making new friends, and watching the sun set over the eternal city.

In the end, asking for senza glutine proved to be a ticket to winning a great meal and beautiful experience all over Italy. Whether I was eating a pizza, plate of pesto, or a truffle risotto, being celiac opened doors to meeting and understanding people in a new light that I don’t believe would have been there with a normal diet. Maybe I just appreciated having options that I never got at home, or maybe Italy’s food just gives everyone that loving, warm feeling; as if your own grandma poured her love into it.

SURVIVAL- Quick tips

COOKING

As expensive as eating gluten-free in the states can be, expect the same for Europe, but add on an exchange rate, and that rice pasta for €4 becomes about $6. However, if you look around for new ideas you can cook for much less. Risotto, a huge box, will usually only run €1 and make about 10 servings, and fresh veggies in Italy are cheap, delicious, locally grown, and worth the preparation.

DINING OUT

When eating out look around at prices and expect for a Pizza Margarita that is Senza Glutine to be about €11-15 or $15-20 which is pretty normal for eating in the states.  But if you are skipping the pizza, look for risotto specials, salads, and other things especially at restaurants that don’t do a lot gluten-free bread-like products.

GLUTEN FREE FOODS TO TRY
Risotto- rice based and full of endless possibilities, whether it’s mushroom, truffle, vegetable or seafood you will never be disappointed.
Salmon and Arugula- a great plate served with some multi-course meals and perfect for the pescetarian or meat eater
Pizza- many places advertise if they make GF pizza, but don’t be afraid to ask too. Some even have different crust choices!
Pasta- This is the most common bread-like dish you can find, as many places keep a bag of rice pasta on hand, just in case someone like you wanders in. They can usually make it with any sauce you want, or kind. Pesto pasta in Italy is to die for.
Salad- If you have numerous allergies this is a great place to start, no dressing but a little olive oil and lemon juice are the norm, and you can usually get it with no meat but plenty of fresh vegetables, and egg. Tuna is also common if you do fish.
Caprese- cheese and tomatoes, with oil? What’s not to love?
Meat specialties (if you eat meat)- Try some prosciutto with melon, wild boar, steak or just about anything else, never did I hear a complaint.
Polenta- corn based, and delicious. It can come in deep-fried cubes, or under sauce, but all around it’s fantastic.
WINE!- hey you may not be able to get some cheap beer, but you can drink wine, and for a good price. If in Tuscany, you must have some Chianti- you can’t leave the country if you don’t.
How do you say that?
ENGLISH ITALIAN
Gluten- Free Senza Glutine
Dairy / lactose/ milk/ cheese Caseificio/ lattosio/ latte/ formaggio
Wheat/ barley/ rye Grano/ orzo/ segale
Soy soia

red tilesDSC_0091

lady with gelato

Happy Eating!

~Rebecca Lee Robinson

Quinoa is great, but complicated.

Uncategorized

Many of you gluten free eaters probably love and rely on quinoa as a new staple grain to your diet. Whether in pasta, salads, cereals or crackers the grain has taken off in popularity over the last decade or so as gluten free eating has taken off to new popularity. It’s high in protein and tasty, easy to make, and relatively affordable. Here is a break down by Purdue on the grain. Now the grain traditionally grows in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile due to their fertile land and high elevation. Which also means that in recent years there has been production in South Colorado due to its similar climate.

However, as a result of global demand and popularity it is harder for farmers to produce enough of the crop that was once a staple to the diets of poor South Americans. Farmers have increased their standard of living but can’t produce enough of the crop and with 90 percent of world demand coming from South America, and only 10 percent in the US there is a bit of a problem. The Washington Post claims it should be “taking over the world” but isn’t because it can’t reach deamands. And the Huffington Post reported that this demand is ruining fragile ecosystems and making it hard for poorer bolivians to eat well as their stable crop prices soar sky high and alternatives are sought out, such as rice. Also, quionoa is replacing other crops where once potatoes and other foods grew for consumption by locals. With a country of high malnutrition rates the concerns are not unfound.

Thoughts? Concerns? Kudos?

Happy Eating

~Rebecca Robinson