This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gluten Free in New Orleans

With the New Orleans reputation for breaded and fried (not to mention flour roux), my partner and I headed there for three days with the definite possibility that he would be eating fruit, cheese, and GF crackers for the entire trip.  We were ecstatic to find the sheer variety available to us instead.  He is extremely gluten sensitive (below 20ppm), so we needed food that was not only gluten-free, but also handled carefully to prevent any level of cross-contamination.  Because he is so sensitive, and because he didn't get glutenend at all during the trip, I feel confident that these places are pretty safe.  As always, let the server know about your gluten sensitivity, and speak to the chef about cross-contamination whenever you can. 

We stayed at the Royal Street Courtyard Bed and Breakfast, in a quiet little local neighborhood just blocks from all-night jazz bars and the French Market. The owners, Phillip and David, are fantastic folks, and the house is absolutely everything you would want to feel part of the history there.  While they needed a quick crash course in gluten-free, they were very sympathetic and asked good questions.  They offered fresh fruit, coffee, and both dairy and almond milk for breakfast alongside the usual gluteny fare.  There was a grocery store within a very short walk with gluten-free cheese, crackers, and other options, a mini-fridge in the room, and a shared microwave upstairs. 

For dinner the first day we tried The Court of Two Sisters, a somewhat upscale French Quarter restaurant with a gorgeous shaded patio setting.  After speaking with the chefs, they were able to produce a gluten-free meal, but erring on the side of caution (which of course we appreciated greatly!) meant that the only option was a steak and asparagus, with no seasonings other than salt and pepper, and a fruit cup for dessert.  It was very tasty, if a little plain. 

On the second day we hit The Rum House on Magazine Street in the Garden District for a Caribbean-inspired lunch.  Their regular menu (available on their website) includes information about which dishes are gluten-free, and which can be modified.  It's about half the menu, so you won't lack for options!  The taco trifecta is a great way to sample several different flavors.  I recommend the Jerk Chicken, chopped shrimp, and seared scallop tacos, with the Roasted Poblano & Manchego Polenta or the Coconut Mango Rice.  None of the desserts are gluten-free. 

On the third day we found a gem of a place in the French Market amongst all the deep-fried and beery tourist foods called Meals from the Heart Cafe.  They specialize in organic, gluten-free and vegan options.  The Crab Cake Passion and the vegan smoothie made a light and delicious lunch for JD, while the gluten-eaters split a muffalata from around the corner.  The setup at the Market makes it perfect for everyone to get something a little different, but then all meet up and eat together at the same table. 

For dinner we went to the Cafe Amelie in the French Quarter, and had another lovely courtyard meal.  The metal folding chairs were pretty rickety for the heavy folks, but stayed together.  The server took a menu in to the chef, who then marked all of the dishes JD could eat safely.  It turned out to be most of the menu!  He had the Trout Amandine, and we split a lovely summer salad.  The server had no problem splitting the salad onto separate plates, as I was eating something with gluten.  According to JD, it was the best meal he'd had in New Orleans, and made a perfect finish to the trip. 

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