Europe, general, Portland, Thailand, USA

Gluten-Free Globetrotter: 2013 in Photos

This year was an amazing year for travel. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and went to Asia for the first time. I was busy flying back and forth across the country to Portland for work. I took my mom on a fabulous trip to Wales and Scotland. I also took likes of NorthEast road trips in between. I think this is my best year of Gluten-Free Globetrotting to date!

48,234 miles flown
6 countries visited (minus 2 if you don’t count airports, ha!) 
8 states visited (although maybe more, I lost count)
2500+ photos taken

I feel so proud of my travel accomplishments this year and cannot wait to start planning my 2014 travels. I already have seven trips to Portland on the calendar and my sister just moved to Wisconsin so I will definitely be adding a new state to my travelogue in 2014.

I am a bit behind in some of my posts so I will share my 2013 Gluten-Free Globetrotter travels with some of my favorite pictures. 

general, Portland

Gluten-Free in Portland: Imperial by Vitaly Paley

When I travel to Portland, I eat a lot. Portland is such a gluten-free friendly city that the problem I have when I am there is deciding where to eat. I have so many options and love that I can eat safely throughout this beautiful Northwest city. I have my favorite gluten-free friendly restaurants but always try to eat at one new place each business trip. Last month, I had my best meal in Portland since I started going there for work in 2012. This meal was at Imperial at 410 SW Broadway inside the historic Hotel Lucia.

Photo from the Imperial website
Photo from the Imperial website

At the beginning of the summer, I attended an event in New York City launching Bob’s Red Mill Grains of Discovery. This event was slightly surreal. It was bringing my corporate Portland world to my hometown. All of the chefs at this event were from Portland and it was at this event I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Vitaly Paley from Imperial. Chef Paley is a native New Yorker that relocated to Portland in the 1990s. In 2005, he was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest. Now, Chef Paley owns three restaurants in Portland including ImperialPaley’s Place Bistro & Bar, and the Portland Penny Diner. At the NYC event, Chef Paley was friendly, chatty, and extremely generous. (He handed me a gift card for Imperial in Portland before I left the NYC event). I knew where I was going to eat on my next business trip!

Check out the "GF" on the menu.
Check out the “GF” on the menu.

From my first communications via email with the PR company for Imperial, followed by several emails from Chef Paley himself I knew I was in good hands. The Chef told me his wife as well as a few of the servers on staff at Imperial were gluten-free. He also mentioned that many dishes on the menu were gluten-free and even marked on the menu itself with a “GF”. He did add a disclaimer that Imperial is not a gluten-free or shellfish-free kitchen. Chef Paley said “Even though we do attend very diligently and wash all our wares and counters between every use we can not promise there will be absolutely no cross contamination.” Not only did he reassure me but he also gave me his personal cell phone number.

PAUSE. A top chef gave me his number. This would never happen in New York City. But I digress…

I appreciated Chef Paley’s honesty, his understanding about gluten-free dietary restrictions as well as my shellfish allergy, and I made a reservation for a seat at the chef’s counter at Imperial for a Wednesday night in August.

Imperial in Hotel Lucia
Imperial in Hotel Lucia

When I arrived at Imperial, I immediately was treated like gluten-free royalty. (Get it?) Garrett, the general manager, met me at the front of the restaurant and quickly escorted me to the chef’s counter right in front of the wood-burning grill and kitchen. My waitress Autumn came over and walked me through the menu, answering all of my questions. Chef Vitaly then came out and we chatted for a few minutes. He remembered me from NYC and spoke to me about the menu and the safe, gluten-free options. The Chef also remembered from my emails that I was allergic to shellfish and made sure to point out the safe dishes on the menu

My Imperial menu for the evening:

Drink: Sleight of Hand: pisco, lillet rose, pamplemousse liquer, flamed negroni mist
Appetizer: Kale and raw vegetable salad with sunflower seed brittle and goat cheese dressing
Bonus dish: Ocean caught salmon belly
Main dish: Tails and Trotters Barrel Planked Pork Secreto with smoked hazlenut romesco sauce and grilled leeks
Dessert: Coffee Toffee Icebox Cake

This meal was decadent, delicious, and most importantly, gluten-free. Also, Chef Paley tries to use all local ingredients, which he explained when I asked about “Tails and Trotters“, the Pacific Northwest hazelnut, finished pork.

Pork secreto with smoked hazlenut romesco sauce
Tails and Trotters pork secreto with smoked hazlenut romesco sauce

There were three major highlights of this meal: the salmon, the sunflower seed brittle, and the coffee toffee icebox cake. First and foremost, I ate fish. I need to focus on this because I never eat fish. But when a James Beard Awarded Best Chef puts an off-menu dish in front of you, YOU EAT IT! When the salmon is caught by a Native American fisherman by hook and line in the Pacific Ocean on the morning you are eating it, YOU DEFINITELY EAT IT. This salmon belly was lightly cooked right in front of me over the wood fire and seasoned with local olive oil, sea salt, and vinegar. I had to turn of my fishy aversions off and eat this dish, and I am thrilled that I did. This salmon tasted like the sea. It was smoky and salty and melt-in-your mouth delectable. I think I was spoiled for life. I will never get fish that is this good, this fresh, and this well-prepared here in New York City.

Ocean-caught salmon
Ocean-caught salmon

The second memorable bite was the sunflower seed brittle. Instead of croutons on the kale and raw vegetable salad, there was crushed sunflower seed brittle. This is exactly what it sounds like. Like a nut brittle, this sunflower seed brittle added a nice crunch and an interesting and safe alternative to gluten-laden croutons on my salad. If Chef Paley served me a plate of this brittle, I would eat it as dessert!

Kale salad with sunflower seed brittle
Kale salad with sunflower seed brittle

Finally, just when I thought I could not eat another bite, I had dessert. The Coffee Toffee Icebox Cake dessert was a gluten-free cake with toffee bits, local hazelnuts and toasted meringue. I was so full from the dinner that I was unable to finish the cake but it was so good at every bite. I wanted to bring it back to my hotel to finish but since it was frozen, I knew it would melt by the time I got back.


Throughout the meal, I chatted with Autumn, Garrett, and Chef Vitaly. The Chef reminded me that his wife is gluten-free so he is now more aware of gluten-free dietary needs than he was ever before. All three of his restaurants highlight gluten-free options on the menu and his staff is aware of cross-contamination concerns in the kitchen. The entire staff at Imperial seemed very well-versed in gluten-free dining and chatted with me about this throughout my meal. One of the hardest parts about business travel is dining alone, but the staff kept me engaged the entire meal.

Me with Chef Vitaly Paley

Chatting with the chef at his counter, watching the behind-the-scenes of the kitchen, and enjoying such a decadent meal made the whole experience beyond memorable. It is safe to say, that out of more than 6 weeks in Portland over the past 18 months, Imperial and Chef Vitaly Paley made for my favorite Portland meal ever.

My view from the chef’s counter

Thank you to Chef Vitaly Paley for making a safe, gluten-free, and delicious meal for me and for the entire staff for being so welcoming and friendly throughout my time at Imperial.


410 SW Broadway
Portland OR 97205
PHONE: 503.228.7222

While I did receive a complimentary gift card from Chef Vitaly Paley, I paid for the balance of my meal on my own. Opinions expressed here are my own. 

Tula Gluten-Free Bakery and Cafe in Portland

Tula Gluten-Free Bakery Cafe

I got back from my third trip to Oregon last week. It was another very busy business trip but also really fun. I started my week-long visit by renting a car and heading east out of the city. Before I hit the highway, I made sure to visit the NE section of Portland to pick up some breakfast at Tula Gluten-Free Bakery. I had scones from Tula before, but I wanted to go and check out this place myself. I am glad I did.

There is something so comforting that has the words “Gluten-Free” in the name of the restaurant. I walked into Tula and just felt normal. There were people enjoying coffee and most importantly, lots of gluten-free treats. I spent a good ten minutes looking at the gorgeous display of gluten-free food before deciding on a ham and cheese roll for breakfast. I knew I was also going to take lots of treats for the road, but I wanted to pace myself.

The best thing about Tula’s (besides being 100% GF, of course) is how clear they are with labeling. They label things that have dairy, eggs, nuts, etc. This is especially helpful for people managing multiple allergies.

I was more than happy with everything I got from Tula’s including the ham and cheese roll for breakfast and a walnut jam scone, a parmesan/cheddar scone, and a piece of banana  bread to go. I seriously wanted one of everything but limited myself!

If you are in Portland, stop at Tula Gluten-Free Bakery. You will not be disappointed.

Tula Gluten Free Bakery Cafe
4943 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Suite 101
Portland, OR 97211
503 764-9727


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Gluten-Free Portland on Foursquare

I am heading back to Portland, Oregon for work next month and I am putting together my list of places to eat for the first time, places to eat again, and gluten-free stops on my road trip. I decided to extend my trip to the Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge area after hearing rave reviews from my colleagues. I love maps and once I found this article from National Geographic about the Portland-Mt. Hood drive being one of the top 500 drives of a lifetime, I knew I made the right choice. I’m praying for no snow up in the mountains, because this city-dweller isn’t used to driving at all especially in bad weather!

One of my tools in planning is my Gluten-Free Globetrotter: Portland list on FourSquare. This list lets me save where I have already been and see where I might want to eat again. I hope to add many more gluten-free friendly restaurants on this next trip. I hope you add this list to your gluten-free tools when planning your next trip to Portland and the surrounding areas.

general, Portland

Gluten-Free in Portland

This Portland post is way overdue. I have traveled to Portland twice since April due to work commitments. In my 30+ years of being gluten-free travel, I found Portland to be one of the most gluten-free friendly cities that I have ever been to. People don’t think it is weird when you ask for a gluten-free menu or gluten-free options. And even if they do think it is weird, so is Portland. See:


After my two visits to Portland, I have a long list of places I have been. My list of places I have yet to go is just as long! I have at least two more trips to Portland coming up in the next 4 months, so I will add to this list as I eat more gluten-free food in Portland.

Here are my top five places to eat gluten-free in Portland, so far:

New Cascadia Bakery
Gluten-free breads, cookies, pizza, baked goods, etc.
In a more industrial neighborhood of SE Portland, but definitely worth the trip to this 100% gluten-free bakery. New Cascadia Bakery also supplies many Portland restaurants with their bread for sandwiches but it was worth the trip there to load up on gluten-free baked goods.

Northwest Public House
The owner of this restaurant has Celiac and the GF menu is extensive. I gorged myself on gluten-free mac and cheese, pulled pork lettuce wraps, and deep-fried apple fritters. YES!!! DEEP FRIED GF DOUGH!! In a funky neighborhood that I want to explore more, I am definitely going back here on my next trip to Portland.

Mellow Mushroom
Gluten-free pizza
I don’t normally like chain restaurants, but this doesn’t have the “chain” feeling. From the first email to customer service at Mellow Mushroom, I felt comfortable eating their gluten-free pizza. It is delicious and the staff was really knowledgable about which toppings were safe for me to eat. I will definitely go back here!

Deschutes Brewery
Gluten-free beer on tap and gluten-free menu
A popular brewery that brews their own GF beer. There is also a GF menu with bar food such as burgers, fries, and more. The waitstaff was extremely helpful and well-versed in gluten-free food.

Tula’s Bakery
100% GF bakery
I didn’t make it to the actual bakery, but a coworker brought me some delicious gluten-free treats for breakfast one morning. I was most impressed with the texture and the leftovers. These gluten-free baked good were still moist and soft the next day which is very unusual for gluten-free products.

Here are some other gluten-free friendly places I ate at while in Portland:

Theo’s Deli
Gluten-free buns for sandwiches
Near my West Coast office, but in a random neighborhood.

MorningStar Cafe Gluten-free bread available for toast

Vegan and gluten-free menu

Laughing Planet Cafe
Multiple locations in Portland, gluten-free “build your own” burrito bowls and really delicious smoothies

Tasting East
Gluten-free Thai food

The one place I haven’t been yet, but really want to go is Abby’s Table. This restaurant serves two family-style, gluten-free meals a week. I need to remember to make a reservation for my next trip to Portland. I can’t wait to try this and I love the idea of a family-style dinner while away on a business trip. What a great way to meet other gluten-free friends!

There is also a Whole Foods pretty centrally located in the middle of Portland. I went to buy cereal, yogurt, etc. which I ate for breakfast most days. I also happened upon a Trader Joe’s while walking back from the Northwest Public House, but I will need to find it again on my next trip out.

Here are some helpful links when traveling gluten-free to Portland: