Traveling in the Tropics

Gluten free traveling can be challenging to say the least.  I recently spent a wonderful week on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was a fantastic trip and one that brought a number of food adventures as well as challenges.

Try eating at an airport.  Interesting if you are gluten free.  Thank goodness that Mexican food and corn tortillas are quite popular.  However, you can’t help but worry about cross contamination.  Other good food choices are salads topped with grilled chicken (watch out for seasonings), fresh fruit and gluten free granola bars.  Of course probably the safest choice is to pack a sandwich or 2 before heading out. 

Once we landed on the island and had checked into the resort we were directed to a little restaurant in the village that might be able to provide a gluten free meal.  In route we discovered a wonderful farmer’s market that was loaded with fresh organic fruits and vegetables.  Of course we had to load up for breakfast and snacks.  Then we were off to Island Lava Java for dinner.  

The restaurant has a beautiful view of the ocean and we were able to enjoy the evening sunset while we dined.  The restaurant advertises fresh organic salad greens and fruits.  There is a large selection of fresh fish, greens and Kona Coffee to complete the meal.  The wait staff was very helpful in helping me select a green salad with the catch of the day and even doubled checked with the chef concerning the dressings.  I felt very comfortable until I found what appeared to be a flour tortilla on the plate with fresh sliced avocado adoring it.   Everyone worked to ensure me that it was a corn tortilla but I really wasn’t comfortable with it and choose to remove it from the plate.  Your mind can play some interesting games with you and sometimes it is just best to leave things when you aren’t sure.

Outback Steak House has a wonderful gluten free menu.  The wait staff was very knowledgeable about the special menu.  The service and the food was wonderful.  It was so nice to know that what you are eating was made specially for people with gluten sensitivity.  Outback offers a very comprehensive menu identifying what to avoid and how to order to insure your meal is gluten free.  While most restaurants have gluten free dessert options like sorbets, Outback offers a very special treat.  Their Chocolate Thunder From Down Under is described as:

An extra generous pecan brownie is crowned with rich vanilla ice cream drizzled with our classic warm chocolate sauce and finished with chocolate shavings and whipped cream. A chocolate lover’s dream. This is a flourless brownie; we even dust the pan with sugar!

 Probably one of the best and most unexpected accommodations came from Thai Thai Restaurant in Volcano, HI.  

The owner was most helpful with a selection and she and the cook were able to adapt a recipe from the menu to meet a gluten free diet.  I enjoyed Thai Thai Special Curry with Coconut Milk. The recipe description includes peanut sauce which is not gluten free.  The cook used chopped peanuts in place of the sauce.  The dish is a seasonal mix of fresh vegetables and chicken in a delicious curry sauce served with steamed jasmine rice.  This was probably one of the most delicious meals that I enjoyed on the trip.

Traveling gluten free can be challenging and each time you say “I need a gluten free diet” it helps to give you confidence that gluten free is possible.  A round of applause goes to all those that have gone before and blazed the trail for gluten free choices.


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