Hi! I hope you have been enjoying your summer. I’ve spent mine hanging out with the family mostly–and also taking a culinary tour of Oregon, which I’m happy to report, is a great place for us gluten-free peeps to eat. Road trips are always a risk, especially with two teens and a preteen in the back seat. But ours was remarkably pleasant…wonderful even, and we got to see so many people that we love along the way.
If you’re wondering where a gluten-free person can get a great meal in Oregon, the answer is just about everywhere. But here is a brief list of places we ate at…SAFELY. I don’t believe that I was glutened even once on our trip, which is saying a lot.
I know this isn’t Oregon, but it was our first stop and dinner at this farm-to-table restaurant was lovely. (So was seeing my cousin Meg and meeting her man.). Food is prepared simply and elegantly–one of my favorite dishes was pork belly served on a bed of stewed lentils. My eldest son declared their burger the best he has ever had. Ever. And he should know…he eats them everywhere. He also discovered a deep and abiding love for aioli. Who can blame him?
Mariposa Baking Co.–Oakland, CA
Yes this is still in California, but it’s totally worth a visit if you are in the Bay Area. Sadly we didn’t have time to run over to our friends’ bakery on the other side of the bay (Zest Bakery), so we ventured over to Mariposa instead. Their facility is huge (!!!) and they turn out crazy delish breads and baguettes and pretty good croissants. We bought $80 worth of breads and pastries, and also a wonderful lunch that we ate in the car on our way to Oregon. It had been years since I had rye bread and their gluten-free version was spot on. Their croissants (and pain au chocolate) were pretty good, but were definitely not as good as the glutenous varieties of my former life. Honestly, it was their sandwich batard and baguettes that stole my heart. Slightly tangy with a great chew, their breads weren’t gummy, dry or crumbly at all. A total win in my book (and they do mail order!).
We met a friend from highschool and her husband & kids here. It was once a food truck that has expanded operations to a full-fledged restaurant…with a full bar, complete with bearded and tattooed bartender, natch. The atmosphere is casual and festive, and most of the items on the menu are naturally gluten-free, including their Asian-flavored FRIED CHICKEN. We were able to eat so much here. Everything was unique and flavorful, and I especially loved the light kombucha cocktail.
This breakfast & lunch place is the bomb (do kids still say that these days?). Situated in an older craftsman style house complete with its own vegetable and herb garden, the wait on weekends is LONG. But also totally worth it. To help pass the time, they serve hot coffee on the front porch, and a talented dude with a guitar is there to entertain hungry guests. There are tons of gluten-free options on the menu (they even make their own gluten-free bread–hello!), as well as options for the vegetarians and conscious meat-eaters in your party. We ate outdoors (no a/c inside) on a picnic table. Their version of eggs hollandaise, served atop a fried green tomato instead of an English muffin, makes my husband swoon. I devoured their huevos rancheros, and the kids had gluten-free french toast. Do not miss their house made hot sauces. They are the reason I make my own now too (plus it’s super awesome to be able to ask my guests, Would you like some house-made hot sauce?)
Jade Teahouse–Portland, OR
We met my GFF Kyra and her hubs here for lunch at this Asian inspired teahouse. We could eat just about every single thing on this menu (and we did). Their house-made rice noodle dishes, often served with their mild and tangy fish sauce, are divine. But it was the sweet and savory sesame balls, served in a bed of caramel sauce that really blew me away. Those and the crunchy spring rolls. Wow.
The next day the whole bunch of us met again for an early lunch, this time at the South American restaurant Teote, tucked into a small storefront on SE 12th Avenue. Everything is gluten-free at this place. Everything. We sat outside in their funky patio/bar area and gorged ourselves on several flavors of arepas (fried corn cakes) and their accompanying stews. While we ate, I sipped on one of their signature drinks, orange/mango juice infused with habanero. At night this place is hopping–great eats, a cool bar, fire pits and covered outdoor seating (a must in rainy pdx), but during the early lunch hour we had the whole patio to ourselves. Again, don’t miss the house-made hot sauces.
Situated on the roof of one of Portland’s swankiest hotels, this Asian fusion restaurant serves up small plates to be shared at the table. We had an awesome adult-only meal, again with Kyra and her husband, and also another GFF (Brassicas author) Laura Russell and her husband. Dinner was a long parade of flavor explosions, small bites of unique and well-plated foods. Though the staff was slightly aloof, the talented chef, (who is gluten-free himself and a good friend of Kyra’s) presented us with some of the most innovative desserts we had ever had. Each was a contrast in flavors, textures, and even temperatures–I can’t even begin to try to describe them accurately. We lingered at the table (over tepid coffee–my one complaint), and watched the sky over the river go from blue, to pink, to purple, to deep navy while the lights came on in the city…bliss.
Kyra’s Bake Shop–Lake Oswego, OR
Of course no trip to PDX is complete without a visit to Kyra’s bake shop. There we loaded up on her famous (and RICH) cinnamon rolls, molasses cookies, cupcakes, scones…and well everything. I know you know how much I love Kyra. But I may love her cinnamon rolls more (I kid…or do I?). Later this year she is expanding her shop to a much larger space and will be serving sandwiches, coffee and more. I’m so excited for her, and for the rest of the gluten-free universe who will undoubtedly benefit from more gluten-free goodness. I’ve seen some photos on the breads she’s been working on and (spoiler alert), they will blow your mind.
Granite Taphouse–Ashland, OR
We ate at this new restaurant on a whim, mostly because they were one of the few restaurants that accepted reservations in the bucolic, artsy (and hippie) enclave otherwise known as Ashland. We had a show to get to, and didn’t want to risk waiting for a table. They also, when we called them, assured us they could make something that was gluten-free. It was here that I had one of the best Manhattans I have ever had in my life. Called the Granhattan (get it?), it was served up, was super cold, not sweet, and pleasantly bitter. For dinner I had a huge arugula salad and a grass-finished beef burger sans bun (but they offered gluten-free buns), topped with a hunk of melting and oozy blue cheese.
I really didn’t need that glass of red wine, but I had one anyway. And it was perfect. (It also made me weepy during the second half of Into the Woods–but that’s another story.) One of my sons had their gluten-free pizza. Though they don’t normally take crazy precautions during preparation, the chef was more than happy to accommodate my detailed celiac requests. And as we were leaving, my husband overheard the chef declare that our pizza was the best gluten-free pizza he had ever made. We thought it was great too!
We waited for a table by the creek and were glad we did–it is really one of the most picturesque places to have dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) in Ashland. Though the food wasn’t spectacular (it’s a fairly simple and casual spot), they are GIG certified and know how to make a safe-for-celiacs meal. I had the pasta primavera, my husband had the curry and we shared a bottle of local viognier (the wine markup on wine at Greanleaf is the lowest I’ve seen anywhere). While we waited for our meal, the kids ran off to play in the creek and returned with a handful of ripe blackberries that we enjoyed as an appetizer. After dinner we strolled to nearby Lithia Park and watched the kids play. I hopped on the swings next to another mom to pass the time. She happened to be from Southern California too, there on a road trip with her family. The sun set, the creek babbled, and the kids were giggling all around us. I really couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening.
Though we ate at all these amazing places, I have hardly a picture to show for it, I did post a few on Instagram, but frankly, I was so enamored with the flavors, and so excited to see my friends that my phone stayed tucked away in my purse. We spent two weeks eating, drinking and making merry. It was a wonderful vacation and I heart Oregon, big time.
When we got home, I found myself wanting to eat nothing but salads for some odd reason…ahem. But salads don’t have to mean deprivation. Happily it’s fig season here in California and we’ve been eating them with everything–on pizza, in sandwiches and of course, in salad.
I love the sharpness of the cheese, the bite of the arugula, and the saltiness of the olives and prosciutto when paired with the tender, sweet figs. This prosciutto salad is gorgeous, impressive and quite simple to pull together. As always, it helps to have good quality ingredients on hand…like the fig balsamic vinegar my mom gave me for Mother’s Day. I know we’ll be eating some variation of this prosciutto salad all the way through autumn, or until the last fig drops from the tree.
So where have you been eating this summer? Any great gluten-free finds in your travels?
Fig And Prosciutto Salad (And Oregon GF Travel Tips)
- 1 dozen fresh California figs
- 4 ounces sliced prosciutto
- 4 ounces manchego cheese
- 2 handfuls of wild arugula rocket
- ¼ cup marinated olives
- 1 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar, or other good quality balsamic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash, stem and quarter the figs. Evenly space on a large board or tray.
- Tear each slice of prosciutto in half and place on the board with the figs.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave the manchego cheese into thin slices and sprinkle over the figs and cheese. Top with the olives and arugula.
- Try to be artful about the placement of each item. This is not a tossed salad and should look casually elegant. Drizzle the top of the salad with balsamic vinegar and oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Article courtesy of Alison Needham, A Girl Defloured