Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speechless in Seattle... with a side of road trip reviews

     Oh, so much change in my life of late. All (or at least, the majority) of it welcome and immensely invigorating.
     That said, it's been hard for me to make the time to post on this here blog, mostly because I haven't been able to find the words. My mind is whirring with all the newness surrounding me... people, plans, places. Everything is a' changing.
     Yes, along with its shifting winds and turning of leaves, September brought me safely to Seattle, Washington. I wrote a post back in August about my impending relocation and all the passion and anxiety that went into my decision to move out west, and to those of you who read it and wished me well on my westward journey, thank you.
     The cross-country drive from New York to Seattle was pure loveliness (with the minor exception of getting my fender cracked by an 18-wheeler outside Chicago). All those rolling hills, sweeping plains, and mountaintop views left me soothed and stirred... and a bit speechless.
The Painted Canyon, North Dakota
Salem Sue, also in North Dakota: the World's Largest Cow
Flathead Lake, Montana
Glacier National Park, also in Montana
buffalo poo

      The preceding photos are just a taste of the natural wonders my journey bestowed upon me. But to get my blogger juices flowing again, I figure I'll start with writing about the simple stuff. A nice, easy post to give you the low-down on the various gluten- and dairy-free dining options I managed to find along the way, which you may or may not get to sample for yourself at some point...
     Initially, when I started planning my Washington-bound road route, the culinary prospects seemed bleak. Too many open roads and tiny towns for food-sensitivity-friendly fare, or so I imagined.
     But lo and behold, I did manage to work a few scrumptious and satisfying food stops into my trip, and as I already said: for now, that is what I wish to share with you all. I promise, more insightful meditations and reflections on my transplantation to this fine West Coast city will follow soon enough. That said, I do hope you enjoy this road trip review roundup...

     Food-Allergy-Friendly Stop Number One: 
     Say hello to stop one. I realize this photo is pretty lame. However, this little bakery was well worth the 15 minute detour to the town of Eagan, MN, just south of Minneapolis. After two days of tuna crackers and bananas with peanut butter, I was thrilled to savor the sweetness of their Lemon Poppy Seed muffin, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie, and Rosemary Garlic Breadsticks. (I meant to take pics of the actual products, but I guess I enjoyed eating them a bit too much to remember in the moment.)
     The verdict? Although my dairy-free options were semi-limited, out of the selections I made the Lemon Poppy Seed muffin was by far the most satisfying with regard to taste and texture. Moist and delicious. I recall the PB cookie being good, but it wasn't a particularly memorable gluten-free indulgence. And the breadsticks, while full of flavor and breadtastic for sure, didn't really come into their full glory until paired with a bottle of white wine a couple days later at a motel in Glendive, MT.
     Overall, BitterSweet Gluten-Free Bakery = YUM. Oh, and they had a copy of Triumph's GF Dining Guide at the counter for customers to thumb through at will, which I thought was quite kind of them.

     Food-Allergy-Friendly Stop Number Two: 
     So, this little joint was fun. And the pizza was tasty. In fact, after a long day of driving from Baraboo, Wisconsin, to Fargo, North Dakota, gluten- and dairy-free pizza (with Daiya cheese!) was about the best possible thing I could've had in front of me. Seriously, its aroma was heavenly and the flavors melted into my taste buds. I loaded my personal pizza pie with fresh garlic, mushrooms, spinach, basil, and banana peppers... One word: Mmmm
     The verdict? Again, mmmm.

Food-Allergy-Friendly Stop Number Three: 
     Of all the places we stopped and slept in along the way out west, I have to say that Bozeman was one of my favorites. I get it; it's a college town, which is part of what makes it cool, I'm sure. All I know is, I didn't want to leave. And Naked Noodle, this lovely little noodle bar of sorts, simply made my day with its clever array of gluten- and dairy-free menu options. I ordered the Pad Thai and it was oh so unbelievably delicious. Fresh, food-sensitivity-safe ingredients; rich, tantalizing flavors... I didn't want to stop eating even when I could feel my belly filling to maximum capacity. 
     I tried to save some for later, but Conan (the barbarian) pounced on my take-out carton as soon as I left him to explore the wonders of Naked Noodle's neighbor, a natural foods store complete with aspiring Bastyr student working in the supplement section. Needless to say, she and I got caught up chatting and before I knew it, Conan had climbed in the backseat and pawed his way into my pad thai. Sigh. Thank goodness Thai food is everywhere in Seattle or I think I'd be having a much harder time forgiving him.
Conan licking his chops as I sat at a nearby sidewalk table enjoying my semi-naked noodles.
Oh, how could he resist?
     The verdict (which I'm assuming is obvious at this point)? Absolutely loved it. You must eat here if you are ever in or around Bozeman. Just thinking about that dish is making me hungry.

     Okay, and that's it for my cross-country road trip reviews. You'd think I'd have more to share considering the almost 3,000 miles I drove to get to my new Seattle home. But it was a bit trickier than I thought it would be to work in all of my intended stops. A good deal of food-allergy-friendly cafes and restaurants don't have late or flexible hours, and I missed out on a few simply because I wasn't in the right town or city at the right time. 
     In fact, these are the places I would've checked out if I'd had the chance:
Pegasus Blu Restaurant (Great Falls, MT; no website)

     Of course, I've also had the pleasure of sampling some gluten- and dairy-free delights in the Seattle area over these past few weeks (with one not-so-pleasurable experience), and I'll soon be sharing my thoughts on those. 
     For the time being, however, I am spent. Good night.


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