If you asked me what I miss the most since going dairy-free, without a doubt I would say yogurt. No matter how many brands and new products have made their debut in the refrigerated section, I have yet to find a non-dairy yogurt that has the right consistency and is also not loaded with sugar.
You see, yogurt was a staple of my pre-dairy-free life, and was a staple of my morning routine, whether eaten on its own or with a sprinkling of granola. Back in those days, Chobani's greek yogurts were the gold standard. Once I discovered my dairy intolerance, their yogurts neared the top of the list of products that have left a yet-to-be filled vacuum in my fridge (and heart).
That all changed when I learned that Chobani has debuted new non-dairy "yogurt" that's coconut-based in a traditional cup and travel-friendly drinkable versions. Ecstatic at the prospect that this company and food group could reenter my life, I eagerly purchased one of each of the offerings my local Giant had in store so as to set up a cautiously optimistic taste test to see if these are the real deal.
During my holiday abroad to London back in February, I soaked in every sight and sound of the city, as it was my first trip abroad. While the historic buildings, incredible museums, and London's general buzz were memorable, a large part of how I explored and experienced the city was through the variety of foods and dining experiences I had, spanning humble fast-casual fare to a lavish, unforgettable high tea.
Of all the restaurants and products I tried, I have to admit that one of the MVPs of my week abroad was Tesco, the British grocery chain whose Tesco Express micro stores are ubiquitous in the city. As the penultimate post from that February trip, I wanted to dedicate this review not only to Tesco, but one particular product: their gluten-free sandwiches. If you're wondering why I would dedicate so much real estate on the blog to one product, read on and discover why this humble offering was a reliable and convenient companion for my travels.
One thing I love about living in Washington, DC is that our fast casual dining scene is always expanding. With each new restaurant that comes to the city, the bar is set ever higher for culinary creativity at an accessible price point.
I was thrilled when I heard the health-conscious chain Flower Child would open in Foggy Bottom in February, but didn't have a chance to stop by until now, waiting for spring weather to well and truly arrive before making a trek over to the neighborhood.
This location is part of Flower Child's expansion into the area, and coincides with the arrival of sister locations in Bethesda and Rockville.
Sporting a menu featuring scratch-made dishes that lend themselves to be gluten, dairy, and sugar-free friendly as well as welcoming to vegetarians, vegans, and paleo foodies alike, I was impressed by their welcoming ethos and fun menu, with quirky and inspired takes on the usual lineup of bowls and salads that are the backbone of any fast casual restaurant. As my first introduction to this chain, I couldn't wait to see how this accommodating approach would translate to the real life experience.
While on holiday in London back in February, I couldn't help but notice Hotel Chocolat stores almost everywhere I went. This British chocolatier and cocoa grower is the only company in the UK that grows cocoa on its own plantation, and it's stores are filled with a myriad of fun and tempting treats.
Unfortunately, most of the chocolate creations made by Hotel Chocolat have a warning that they may contain wheat so they are off limit to celiacs and gluten-free foodies. As it happened however, my visit conveniently coincided with the rollout of Hotel Chocolat's new line of free from chocolates, which promise high quality chocolates sans gluten, dairy, and nuts. Naturally, as soon as I heard, I made a point to stop by Hotel Chocolat's Euston Station shop to pick up samples to review.
After all these years of being gluten-free, it still amazes me when I discover new restaurants where I can (safely) experience a cuisine for the first. Such is the case with ROLLN, a New York City sushi restaurant that recently made the bold and brave decision to go completely gluten-free.
Other than a few one-off occasions of trying sushi (I'm looking at you Wegmans), I have largely avoided seeking sushi out because of lurking gluten in sauces and ingredients such as soy sauce.
Recognizing that the central components of sushi are naturally gluten-free, ROLLN committed to sourcing higher quality (and therefore gluten-free) ingredients and making everything in-house to set themselves apart as as a sushi restaurant that not only serves safe gluten-free sushi, but serves up a product that's a higher quality because of their attention to real, fresh ingredients.
Excited to truly try something new and impressed by ROLLN's gluten-free ethos and commitment to our community, I made sure to stop by their shop the first chance I had to visit New York City. During my latest work trip to the city, ROLLN was the first stop I made after arriving to the city, making a beeline straight to their adorable mint green shop in the flatiron district.
Now that I've finally caught up with my London reviews (with a few more yet to come), I was excited to turn my sights back stateside and resume exploring gluten-free eats in my own backyard.
Whenever anyone asks me about where to eat out in Washington DC, Chaia Tacos is more often than not my first recommendation. With an entirely gluten-free menu and innovative take on vegetarian tacos that is downright inspired, they have every box checked when it comes to my idea of a perfect restaurant.
That being said, my one and only complaint over the years has been that their Georgetown location, albeit cute and homey, is just too far out of the way of my daily life to make visits to Chaia a regular habit. That all changed however when they opened up their second location in the more centrally located Chinatown. Now with Chaia just blocks from my office, I was more than ready to rekindle my love affair with them, and write an updated review, since my last review was written several years ago.
I'm not entirely sure whether being gluten-free has made me a foodie (by being hyperaware of what I eat), or if I was a foodie who developed a gluten-intolerance. Either way, if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that food is a central part of how I explore and experience the world.
In fact, when building my London itinerary, I made sure to prioritize not only the sights I wanted to see, but also uniquely British experiences where food plays a central role. Of course the grandest example of this is afternoon tea, the daily ritual that has been a tradition since the 19th century.
When researching options for afternoon tea, I discovered offerings from various venues ranging from a casual meal to formal multi-course affairs. As this was my first trip abroad and a perfect excuse to dress up for the occasion, I narrowed my options down to London's most revered and famed purveyors of afternoon tea. After much debate, I decided to book my reservation for Claridge's, won over by their tantalizing menu, storied history, and legendary service. Because I so rarely dine out at such a splendid venue, I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience from the moment I walked in.
When I knew I was planning my visit to London last month, I tried to tailor my itinerary so I was avoiding many major tourist attractions. Crowds and queueing are just not my thing and I much prefer to experience a destination by getting off the beaten path. However, as I was planning my trip, I knew I would make one big exemption to my rule: visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden for a chance to see the sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films up close and personal.
Admittedly, I'm a huge Potter fan (see my reviews from the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando), so this was one outing where I didn't mind the tourist-y trappings at all. As a delightfully simple day trip from London, I made sure to have snacks on hand to munch on throughout the day, but was curious to see if there were gluten-free options available in the attraction's Backlot Cafe.
Now I'm not much of a shopper, but when I was planning my trip to London, I knew I wanted to pay a visit to Selfridges, the storied department store that is the second-largest shop in the UK and whose Oxford Street doors have been welcoming customers for over 100 years.
While part of my visit was motivated by seeing the spectacle of Selfridges, I was also motivated by the lure of Hemsley + Hemsely, a cafe nestled in the third floor that serves food free from grains, refined sugars, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when dining out in the middle of the swimsuit section of an astonishingly expansive department store, but it certainly wasn't the carefully crafted, almost calming experience I had. With a health-conscious menu and calming vibe, this was among one of the most relaxing meals I discovered in London.
On my final night in London, I knew I wanted to lay low and have a low-key night after nonstop sightseeing for a full week. With an late afternoon flight back home to DC the next day, I wanted to use the evening to pack and get situated to make sure my travel to London Heathrow Airport went as smoothly and stress-free as possible.
In looking for soothing, safe places to eat out for my final dinner, I quickly zeroed in on Pho, a UK chain serving up Vietnamese street food and soups where "practically everything" is gluten-free. With a menu not only filled with options, but also reviewed and certified by Coeliac UK, I was sold that this was the perfect place to get a cozy, comfort food meal before a busy day of travel.
The location nearest to my Holborn hotel was in Clerkenwell, which also happens to be the chain's first location. Arriving for an early dinner, I was excited to settle in and enjoy a big bowl of broth and noodles.