Gluten Free Vacation! Royal Caribbean-Anthem of the Seas

Hello friends! I realize that it has been a LONG time since I last posted, however, I am coming out of the shadows to share something special with you. My husband and I recently took a cruise to Bermuda to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We researched several travel options, and settled on Royal Caribbean, “Anthem of the Seas.” The reason we chose Royal Caribbean, is because we had read they had GF options. We didn’t know what all that meant, but we took a chance. Thankfully, we had an AMAZING trip, the food was great, and I didn’t get sick once! That, friends, is worth writing about. 🙂
I have taken the time to document the food and menus for you, so you don’t have to wonder about your options like I did.

Here are the restaurants I visited, the menus, and the food I ordered….

  1. Cafe270 – Just a small cafe with sandwiches, soup and beverages. This was the only restaurant opened when we boarded the ship, but they made it easy for me by having GF sandwiches already prepared (on their own, ship-made GF bread). This restaurant was free. the cafe 270 sandwhiches
  2. Windjammer Marketplace – Every blog post I read basically said “steer clear of the buffet” however, my experience was great. I met with the head Chef who walked me through the entire buffet telling me what was/was not GF. We ate at this buffet everyday for breakfast. The back of the ship was where the GF area was. There was a dedicated toaster, fresh baked bread (and raisin bread) Udi’s bagels, made to order omelets and bacon. I didn’t even bother looking elsewhere. This restaurant was free. BREAKFAST

     

    DINNER – We didn’t eat “dinner” here, but second dinner and snacks 🙂 They have a lot of fruits and assorted cheeses, a pasta area where they can prepare GF pasta. The entire staff in this area was East Indian, and they made some amazing GF curry and butter chicken. They also have a GF area with deserts and more bread. It’s easy to snack here and they have plenty.

    3. Sorrento’s Pizza – There is a little pizza joint on the ship that has amazing pizza! They have GF crusts on a foil pan, and make them to order. I had a few of these pizzas, and even took them back to my room. Honestly, one of the better GF pizzas I’ve had! This restaurant was free. 1. sorrentos pizza

4. The Grande- This is one of the formal evening dining restaurants. Honestly, not my favorite. The food was okay, but not great. As you might be able to tell, the GF options are marked on the menu. I ate there twice. First night I had duck a lorange, tomato watermelon feta salad, creme brulee and olive oil cremeux. The second time was pan-seared snapper and chilled shrimp. This restaurant was free.

5. Chic– the other formal evening restaurant. Again, not our favorite. The food was okay but not great. These GF options on this menu were also marked. I had the broiled atlantic salmon (not pictured) the lentil soup, and the salmon gravlax.

6. Jamie’s Italian– this restaurant cost us an additional $30 for lunch, but was well worth it. Our second favorite restaurant. They can substitute any of their regular pasta dishes with GF pasta (a very good one) Everything we ate here was SO delicious! They even went to the trouble to fry the posh chips in their own pan so it wouldn’t be fried in their regular fryer.

7. Chops Grille– This was another restaurant we had to pay additionally for. I believe it was $40 per person. The steak was amazing, however the sides weren’t anything special. I had the crispy goat cheese salad (not pictured), the pan roasted scallops (not pictured), and the filet mignon. The menu did not show GF options, but the chef was happy to come explain my options to me.

8. Wonderland– a beautiful blend of whimsy and molecular gastronomy! Surprisingly, this was our FAVORITE restaurant! This restaurant was the most expensive, costing us $50 each, but well worth it! The GF menu options weren’t marked, so we had to rely on our server to bring us GF food. He took the lead and brought us an amazing feast! I had several GF versions of the same thing my husband was brought. Liquid olive, liquid lobster, crispy crab cone, baby vegetables in the garden, buffalo chicken egg, oceanic citrus spicy tuna, a HUGE beef short rib, roasted chicken, halibut, baked Alaska, key lime lollipops, and molten chocolate cake…. oh my. I am salivating just remembering what an amazing experience it was!

9. Drinks– we opted for the non-alcoholic package which ran us $19 each per day, I believe. It included bottled water, tea, coffee, Starbucks drinks, virgin cocktails, soda, and fresh made smoothes in the adults only Solarium. I checked out the drink mixers, and everything I checked was GF. So if you go with the alcohol package, you’ll have to made sure your drinks are made with GF liquor.

 

Overall, this was a GREAT experience! For 5 days were well fed, and I didn’t get sick once! Yay! For us, that is well worth it. The staff was very competent and trained in gluten allergies, as well as other allergies. My husband took a tour of the ship, which included the area where all the GF food is prepared. All the GF bread is baked in a special area and the bread is available at every meal. Everyone took time to make sure I had what I needed. So, if you are looking for a great GF travel experience, I would highly recommend the Royal Caribbean “Anthem of the Seas” cruise! Even though this blog was dedicated to the dining experience, the whole vacation rocked! Hope this information helps someone out there!
Happy Gluten-Free Travel! You deserve it!

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Teavana…An almost enlightening experience

The first time I went to Teavana, I was mesmerized.

Could I be a better person if I just drank loose leaf tea? Would I be enlightened? Could I really tap into the fountain of health? Would I be more socially attractive?

All these questions burned in my mind while tasting the most beautiful teas ever created.

Something stuck so I decided to return to buy some tea.

Bad News

I knew that the tea I wanted was $12. I didn’t really know much else. I actually didn’t even want to spend $12, but tried to justify the cost in my own mind. As I was talking to the saleslady, I told her what I wanted. I said I wanted some of the jasmine I had sampled and some of the youthberry. I tried to tell her how I wanted to buy less of each. Maybe 1 ounce. She told me I should really buy it by the pound because it was SO much better of a deal. She said I would basically get several ounces for free. Wait….how many ounces are in a pound? Everything was happening so fast….I mustered up the courage to tell her I just wanted the price in the pamphlet. $12. Easy right?

Wrong.

She quickly started to ring me up. I was confused why there were so many bags. She failed to mention that because it was a blend I needed multiple teas. (I only figured this out later) Instead of selling me a total of 2 oz, she sold me 2 oz of 4 different teas.

She asked me if I had anything to keep my tea in.

-Nope.

Well, you will need a tin.

-How much?

$7

-No thanks.

Your tea will only last a week without it. (feel threatened yet?)

-I better drink it fast then.

Your total is $46.00.

-WHAT!!?? (I didn’t actually say anything…just sorta stared at her)

The funny part is my husband had just walked in and was standing by me. He said, “did you just spend $40 on tea!?”

Yep.

I was swindled.

In fairness, I was the stupid one that didn’t know anything about anything. (And thanks to Teavana’s return policy, I can’t take it back)

Honestly, I feel seriously taken advantage of. I mean, I understand that people are trying to sell you something, but I would be a better customer if I felt like I was treated fairly. It’s about trust, and I feel like I lost trust in Teavana.

Good news

I did take my tea home, and it was good. REAL good.

I did some online reading and it looks like many people are in the same boat as me. Hate the business ethics of Teavana, but love the tea. Another perk of the tea is that it is gluten-free (except one).

So will I continue to drink their tea?

Yes. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever tasted.

HOWEVER, I will buy it online.

My recommendations are the youthberry orange blend, the jasmine peach blend, and the rock sugar.

Also, you can get some really beautiful cast iron tea pots for WAY less here. Only $42 instead of $200.

I would recommend trying some of their teas…but be wise about it. Know what you are getting into. Maybe try some of their teas in the store and then buy online. Understand that they tea you are tasting in the store is a blend of 2 different teas AND contains rock sugar. 2 oz is plenty of tea-about 15 cups..PLUS you can reuse your tea for a second brew..making it 30 cups. Works out to be about .75 per cup.

So Teavana, while your tea is delicious, your sales tactics suck.

While I would love to stick around and talk tea…I need to get drinking. I only have one week to finish $46 worth of tea.

Gluten Free Shrimp Tempura Roll

Most Americans I have encountered have never really had a good sushi experience. Some have never tried it at all, while others have had that “one” experience that scarred them for life. I wish I could take these people by the hand and help reshape their misguided ideas about sushi. If they tried a delicious roll, and hated it, I would leave it alone, but most have never had that chance.

The first time I ever ate sushi, I was living in Florida and strolled in (by myself) to the unknown territory of a Japanese restaurant. I sat at the sushi bar and looked over the menu. Nothing made sense, expect maybe the teriyaki chicken.

I decided on a $6.50 bento box that came with miso soup, salad, teriyaki chicken and a California roll. Everything I tried tasted different and delicious.

Then the sushi chef leaned over the counter and asked me if I wanted some sauce for my sushi. I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I just said, “sure”. What he handed me was a delightful pink sauce,  something I had never seen. As I dipped my California roll into the sauce, my roll was transformed. It went from a 4 to a 10 on the flavor scale in an instant.

The sushi chef and I got to talking, and realized we had a lot in common. We started a friendship that led to game nights and hang outs, and of course, he would always make the sushi!

I am so grateful for that day that I bravely strolled into that Japanese restaurant, and for that moment when my world opened up just a little bit more, and for the friend that I found in the sushi chef.

Maybe this is why I am so fond of sushi, because my initial experience was such a great one.

I ventured out from that point and tried all sorts of sushi, and the one that I have yet to top is the shrimp tempura roll. Fatning, and not quite Japanese as much as some southern fried delight, this roll is AMAZING.

I would love to sit down with some sushi doubters and let them try this roll, and see where they stood after that.

Of course, being gluten intolerant, I can’t have normal tempura or soy sauce, so currently my only option for my favorite sushi is homemade, and let me tell you, this is an awesome recipe. Tastes authentic of what my taste buds remember, and once you get the hang of it, making sushi gets easier and easier.

Gluten Free Shrimp Tempura Roll with Spicy Mayonnaise

Makes 4 rolls

Cost per roll $2.50

1 ½ cups Sushi rice (nishiki is a good brand)

2 Tbsp Sushi vinegar (rice vinegar with added salt and sugar)

4 Nori seaweed sheets (cut ÂĽ off each sheet)

ÂĽ cup Mayo (Kraft is GF)

½-1 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce (to taste)

1 ½ avocados

½ field cucumber

1 cup all-purpose Gluten Free Flour

Âľ Tbsp baking powder

Ice cold water

8 Large shrimp

Cream Cheese (Philadelphia brand is gluten free)

Gluten free soy sauce

Oil for frying

Start by rinsing your sushi rice under running water. Rise 2-3 times until water runs clear.

Mix 1 ½ cups rice with 2 cups water and bring to boil. Once boiling, cover and bring to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Spread rice over non-metallic surface and fold in 2 Tbsp sushi vinegar. Spread and let cool.

Make your spicy mayo by adding mayonnaise and sriracha in bowl. Should be pink and slighty sweet. Mix to taste.

Cut your avocados and cucumbers and set aside. Cut ¼ inch thick strips of cream cheese and set aside. Prepare shrimp by rinsing and peeling. (Leave the tail on) Lay shrimp flat and flatten out by pinching with your fingers. This will help the shrimp to stay flat.

Start to heat oil in small saucepan over med-high heat.

Make your tempura by mixing your flour and baking powder. Add in cold water and gently mix. Do not overmix, your tempura should be lumpy. This will help it to stay light.

Once your oil is hot, dip your shrimp (except tail) into batter and fry. This should take a few minutes each. Shrimp will start to turn golden when done. If they are burning or turning to deep brown, reduce your oil heat. Place cooked shrimp on paper towel to cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place your nori shiny side down on bamboo mat. (Cover bamboo first with gallon size ziplock) Wet hands, and spread Âľ cup rice over nori. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Turn your nori over rice side down. Assemble your roll by adding cream cheese, fried shrimp (2), cucumber  and avocado to middle of nori. Roll your bamboo mat over half way and then over the rest. (see here for help with rolling sushi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut into 8 pieces with sharp knife. Wet knife between cuts for a cleaner cut.

Drizzle on spicy mayo.  ENJOY!

Welcome!

Welcome to the Garden of Gluten Free! My name is Crysty, and I have Celiac. Due to this disorder, I have had to drastically change my life.

For anyone who struggles with gluten intolerance, you know the frustration of trying to find foods you can eat. The hardest part of this diagnoses for me was the realization I would no longer be able to eat at all my favorite restaurants. Thus, I have made it my goal to make a gluten free replication of all my favorite restaurant dishes, and make them equally tasty! I will only post recipes that I love and know are great.

The gluten free lifestyle has been a learning curve for me, so I hope to bring to the “gluten free” table what I have learned, and what I will continue to learn.

I hope to get to know you more and share our experiences!

Crysty