Monday, September 19, 2011

Finally made it to Portland!

Be aware that wheat free is not the same as gluten free 
Finally made it to Portland! Yesterday my friend Aaron emailed me saying, “you seem to have immersed yourself in a campaign against gluten… what gives?” Well…good question. am I doing this trip? Part of me needed to get away and just let my car drive wherever it wants to, and maybe let my brain do the same. Having just taken the bar I had the need to get away from the place where I kept to a strict routine of studying twelve hours a day. Though the exam was over, I still felt that I needed to get away. Not eating gluten  has made me feel healthier, even though I may or may  not have a gluten allergy, for the simple reason that I am watching what goes into my food.

So I answered him, “It seemed like a cool thing to do.” With celiac’s disease diagnosis on the rise, and gluten allergy awareness higher than ever before, it seemed like an interesting goal for my little adventure.

Doing a little job searching
So it goes, now I'm a little more than halfway through my trip. Here's a recap of the last couple of days:  
On Friday I drove out to San Francisco with my sister (who actually did the driving).We stopped at what seemed like a coffee shop in the trendy Knob Hill area called Sugar Café
Sugar Cafe at night

This spot actually turned into a lounge on us as the evening wore on, with dimmed lights and a cozy fireplace. After a bit of sipping iced green tea and a bit of napping, my sister’s friend who just moved up to the city met us at the café. 

Knob Hill Thai restaurant

From there we went to a Thai restaurant and had some yummy gluten free food. It turns out that most Thai food is a safe bet for a gluten free diet because Thai cuisine uses rice noodles and instead of soy sauce (which has gluten)nd the food was affordable! they use oyster sauce. Everything tasted delicious, the atmosphere was great, the company was the best, a the food gluten free!

Guava Jarrito and taquitos rancheros, yum!

Saturday morning we headed to brunch at the quaint Black Bear Diner with some friends. If any of you have been there you know that breakfast there feels like a cross between critter country and an upscale IHOP. Food was great, I had a farmer’s scramble which came with sweet fresh fruit. Knowing that I had a long drive the next morning I opted to stay in for the evening and prepare some gluten free bon-bons for my sister and her roommate as a thank you for showing me a great time. As I sat around reading Julie and Julia, I felt a deeper sense of respect for Julia Childs and almost wanted to try all of the recipes from her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After a couple of hours of making the bon-bons I decided against the idea.

The next day I slept in, (I only woke up at 7!) so quickly got up and got dressed. My sister woke up, half asleep, and we said goodbye as I finished up my breakfast. Then I was out the door. The drive began. The five freeway has much more impressive scenery the further up north you get. I drove straight past Ashland and stopped in the next town over. In Medford I picked up a tasty little (?) snack of taquitos rancheros, which I ate as I kept driving. And kept driving. Finally, around 4:30 pm I made it to my first real stop in Coravallis, which is where Oregon State University is located and so is my hotel. I checked in and got back on the road to Portland, this time the drive only took an hour.

Finally I made it! I was in Portland. Of course I stopped at a Starbucks. A whole city of great gluten free options and I choose Starbucks. I guess after such a long drive, being very far from home, I relished the thought of being in a comfortable and familiar place. As I sat in the small coffee shop downtown, I looked into some dinner options. Eat Pizza had a "like" from NPR on facebook and the menu sounded good so I drove a couple of miles to the restaurant.  

Exhausted, I sat down in the kitchen area on a stool by the pizza cooks. Three young guys took my order, showed me their pizza making skills, and let me take pictures of the kitchen! I ordered the buffalo chicken gluten free pizza. Wanting to stay and chat with the pizza chefs about Portland, I decided it was probably a better idea to get back to the hotel because I might pass out in the middle of my pie.

Somehow, as you can imagine, I was too tired to make it to the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. Can’t get everything on a tight schedule, but I will come back another year to check it out! Hopefully there will be a better selection of gluten free beer by then.

On to Bend, Oregon this morning and then to Crater Lake National Park which is in central Oregon.

Halloween Bon Bons:

1. Prepare a gluten free muffin or cake mix according to instructions. I added some chocolate chips and finely diced strawberries.

2. Generously butter the pan, it will help getting the cake out later. Follow baking instructions. Three quarters of the way through flip the cake over in the pan to get it cooked throughout.

3. Cut off the crust of the cake and crumble the insides into a bowl.
Halloween bon bons :D

4. Using half of the crumbs, prepare one inch balls. Add a half of a shot of whiskey to the rest of the crumbles. Form one inch balls with the remaining crumbles.

5. Leave the balls in freezer for one hour. Take out four at a time to coat. I melted some purple molding chocolate to cover the regular balls and covered the whiskey balls with sprinkles and purple sugar.

6. Serve and enjoy!

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