Thursday, August 16

The Traveling Cupkate: Gluten Free Minnesota

Anyone else think of home and think of food? I’m a foodie and grew up in a food loving family… literally, we showed our love through food! Every family function had a hot dish or bars. Sunday’s after church was always a potluck complete with “church lady punch” and a cold potato salad. Summertime was watermelon, corn on the cob, and fried walleye sandwiches…and don’t get me started about Millie’s cookies at the State Fair or the caramel apples from Abdallah.

However since being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance six years ago, the deliciousness of home hasn’t been quite as alluring. However, don’t fret! If you’re going to be in the suburbs of Minneapolis St. Paul, there are some good gluten free finds around. Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite highlights to GF eating in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area:

Hands down, my favorite gluten free bakery I’ve ever come across in all my travels. I make MULTIPLE trips every time I go home. The entire bakery is gluten free so you’re in the clear and can drool at all the delicious looking treats and eat them all!
Muffins, scones, banana bread, cinnamon raisin bread, caraway bread, white bread, bread crumbs, stuffing, breadsticks, pumpkin bread, sandwich buns, lemon bars, brownies, pumpkin bars, cranberry bars, a half dozen different types of cookies, cupcakes, cakes, as well as pies, cornbread, granola, and my personal new favorite I found this last visit: donut holes!!
Don’t walk, RUN, to this place people.

French meadow Bakery & Café prides itself on fresh, organic and local. They have an entire gluten free and vegan menu to include things like:
Breakfast/lunch: Avocado toast, pancakes, French toast, waffles, hashbrowns, omelets and other breakfast staples like fresh fruit and eggs. They also have a coffee bar
Dinner: flatbread on a gluten free crust, scrumptious salads, almond encrusted walleye, fish tacos, gluten free mac and cheese and any sandwich on the gluten free bread

sourced from Google

sourced from Google
Save room for a sweet treat like a coconut macaroon, one of their rustic fruit tarts, a caramel chocolate brownie, a s’more, a scotch whisky pudding or a decadent rice krispy treat.

A historic home turned into a charming little tea room and restaurant, the Mad Hatter is just the perfect girls afternoon. I am an afternoon tea connoisseur. It’s one of my favorite splurges to do in a city. This is hands down one of the best gluten free afternoon teas I’ve ever had in the world. The best part? They imitate everything that is in a normal tea but only they make it gluten free. None of this “normal people get traditional English cream scone, honey-drizzled herb chevre sandwich, and a lemon tartlette and the allergy person gets a piece of dry gluten free bread and three store brought cookies”! 

I actually got two different types of scones, three different tea sandwiches, and four different types of dessert. The only downside? There was a $10 upcharge, which I think is a bit steep, but if you’re gluten free you know you just suck it up, hush, and be grateful you've got options. 

I love when a restaurant has a specific gluten free menu, it makes things a little bit easier navigating eating out. 

They're known for their wood fire grill, so stick to the fire roasted chicken, the grilled walleye dinner and the salmon. Great midwestern cabin vibe.

Crooked Pint Ale House (Chaska)
Chaska, a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis, holds a cool little gem for you. Literally cool! Where else but in Minnesota can you grab a pint and watch curling?! Attached to the Chaska Curling Center, the restaurant has an entire glass wall that you can watch people practicing curling! However if you're there in the summer, definitely get a table outside and enjoy the perfect Minnesota summers.

They menu is chalk-full of Minnesota classics like tuna noodle hot dish and tater tot hot dish but unfortunately none of that is gluten free. However they have gluten free buns so that opens up a lot more sandwich and burgers to you. Their salads looked great too though, so that's always a good standby. 

D’amico & Sons (Edina)
Finally, rounding out a place that holds a lot of memories. We'd meet here for family gatherings or lunch after church with my extended family. Five years ago they didn't have many gf options but luckily today they've upped their game! They have....drum roll please.... gluten free pizza crust, gluten free pasta, gluten free bread and of course gluten-friendly salads and soups.

sourced from Google

sourced from Google

sourced from Google

sourced from Google

Their a family-owned restaurant that has expanded but still holds that local Italian  feel. Get something to go, stop in and eat, just sit and enjoy! 

Happy GF eating lovelies! 

A map of all my favorite GF eats in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area


Sunday, August 5

Gluten Free Eats in Myrtle Beach

When I think of eating in Myrtle Beach, I don't exactly think of a plethora of gluten-friendly options. If you've ever been to Myrtle you know what I'm talking about: gigantic flashy light up crabs that say "SEAFOOD BUFFET" and underneath something like "192 options". Then right next door, a pirate ship that says "PIRATES BUFFET" and "193 options". Keep driving and you'll see another dozen seafood buffets and overly priced pancake houses. So basically, the town is gluten with a side of gluten.

On a recent trip with a friend to Myrtle Beach I did some research beforehand however and found a few cute gluten free options! No flashing signs, no buffets, no gaudy seafood decor - just cute, locally owned restaurants and cafes that offer some great #GF options.

Gluten Free Guide to Myrtle Beach 

Located half way between North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach right on North Kings Highway. Great location if you're staying in either locations of Myrtle Beach.

*** Always talk to your waiter about your gluten allergy and ask him to speak with the chef. They have several options for fresh fish you can get grilled with a sauce (make sure you mention you're gluten allergy in case they change their menu and start thickening with flour, but it was safe when I went in 2018).

GF Options
Fresh fish, grilled, with a pineapple mango salsa sauce or the white wine butter sauce
Ribeye steak, filet mignon 
Sides like vegetable skewers, rice, grits, and fingerling potatoes 
Flourless cake: they had a flourless chocolate cake when I went in 2018 but not sure if it's a staple menu item or seasonal

Located half way between North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach right on North Kings Highway. Great location if you're staying in either locations of Myrtle Beach. It's actually attached to Hook & Barrel

Anytime I can find some gluten free options for breakfast, I'm a happy gal. First off this place is adorable and has cute outdoor seating.

GF Options
They have gluten free bread! YAY! So they can make any of the breakfast sandwiches on the GF bread. Or you can get toast as a side with eggs, fruit, bacon etc. 
Steel cut oats and fruit
Yogurt and fruit
Smoothie Options (smoothie bar)
a wonderful café bar with yummy coffee drinks 

- Cafe de Paris

Located in Barefoot Landing.

If you're looking for a little cafe to grab a treat or coffee, or just a spot to escape a rainy afternoon on the beach this is your spot. 

GF Options
They have a selection of French macarons daily
Gluten free apple bundt
Coffee and tea selection

- Mr. Fish Cafe

Located in Myrtle Beach, off North Kings Highway 

We stopped here one night and got some sushi to go before hitting up the beach at night. 

GF Options
Sushi - sushi rolls, sashimi, nagiri, as well as other sushi appetizers like edamame  
poke (gluten free soy sauce)

Totally forgot to take a picture of our sushi before we devoured it, sourced this one from Google 

- Ocean Blu

Located at the Marriott Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach 

If you happen to be staying at the Marriott Resort & Spa Grand Dunes, this is a poolside cafe and lounge. Although not a ton of great options, there are a few in a pinch and if you just don't feel like leaving the pool, it'll work.

GF Options
Cobb Salad
Casar salad no croutons  
Beach burger (no bun) 
Grilled fish tacos (no taco shells)


Friday, July 20

5 Places to go in England (besides London)

Don't get me wrong, I love London. It's a sifted blend of cultures, history, modernism, art, and literature wrapped up into one charming (and large) city. However if you're going to England and are looking to do more than just stick in the city of London, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to go. 

After living in North England and visiting many times since, I often get asked what are my recommendations of other places to see while on holiday. Hence I decided to create a list of some of my favorite spots in England that are - bonus - accessible without having to rent a car (if you're just not feeling brave enough to drive a car on the other side of the road). 

* * *

Town: Bath, UK

Length of Stay: 1-2 full days

Travel: accessible via train from London Paddington to Bath Spa here

Favorite things to do: 

  •          Touring Bath Abbey (free for inside, but pay the few pounds and do the private tour to the top- worth the incredible views)
  •        Tea at The Roman Baths
  •          Tour of the Roman Baths
  •        We did a private Jane Austen tour which was just absolutely incredible. It was a historian who now does tours and we did a whole tour around the region via car and we even stopped at an adorable pub for lunch.

 Looking for a place to stay? For absolutely luxury and the most exquisite breakfast stay at The Kennard or if you’re looking for something that is a bit more affordable I’d recommend the Windsor


Town: Windsor, UK

Length of Stay: 1 day

Travel: accessible via train. Two stations: Windsor & Eton Central or Windsor & Eton Riverside
Favorite things to do:

  • Windsor Castle. Don't short change yourself, this is fascinating and a stunning piece of history. You'll spend most of the day here (more info here)
  • Walk around the actual town of Windsor and enjoy the modern shopping in an old world village. Be on the lookout for famous spots like the Crooked House of Windsor
  • I had one of the best meals of my life in Windsor! It was a traditional Sunday supper where King Charles mistresses once lived and there are secret underground tunnels that went into Windsor Castle – Drury House Restaurant

Town: York, UK
Length of Stay: 1-2 days
Travel: accessible via train York Station 
Favorite things to do:
  •           If you’re heading up to Scotland this is a fantastic stop. York Minister is one of the most fabulous cathedrals I have ever seen, it rivals the madame herself Notre Dame! Do the tour to the top and on clear days you can see Scotland from the top of the tower.
  •           Stop for tea in the tea room Betty’s an iconic and historic tea spot
  • Spend time getting lost in the catacomb streets of York that is sure to transport you back to another time and place. Pie shops, tea rooms, cafes, wool shops, antique shops galore in this quaint little village. 
  • Take a tour (or a self guided walking tour) of the city walls 

Town: Newbury 
Length of Stay: 1 full day 
Travel: train + cab/bus - Newbury station (15 min cab ride), or Basingstoke (25 min cab ride) or Whitchurch (10 min cab ride)
Favorite things to do:
Highclere Castle

          If you’re a Downton Abbey fan then this is NOT to miss. However visiting here can be tricky and must be pre-planned. As noted on the website (here) they only have a number of "public" pre-reserved tickets and they are usually sold out months of years in advance. When I first saw this I was devastated and thought maybe I wouldn't be able to visit the background of my beloved show. But alas, hope was renwed when I email the Tourism center of Highclere Castle (yes, I'm that person) and inquired about visiting even though I didn't have a ticket.

Basically how it works is on public days (which isn't even day, so pay attention to their calendar), they have a select number of 'walk up' tickets available to purchase at the gate house. However once they're gone, they're gone. So my suggestion is get here as early as possible and stand in queue to reserve your spot. I was the first person in the queue (again, yes I'm that person) and I think they were either highly impressed or laughing at me because they let me into the grounds 30 minutes early. I literally had the entire state grounds to myself (minus the grounds keeper) and I was in h-e-a-v-e-n.

It's absolutely magical both inside the Castle and on the grounds. I spent hours in both and then ended my lovely Downton experience by stopping into the cafe and shop and getting a pot of tea and scone to enjoy outside in the garden. I had to pinch myself to really believe it was real. 

Town: Devonshire 
Length of Stay: 1 day 
Travel: train + cab/bus
Favorite things to do: 

  • Visit Mr. Darcy’s “Pemberly” a.k.a ChatsworthHouse Lord and Lady Devonshire still live there! It’s stunning. You can spend the whole day wandering the house and gardens. Make sure you check out the beautiful scenery outside and walk up to the small chapel. 
  • Make a reservation for afternoon tea in the lovely modernized carriage house