My travels have slowed a bit since the beginning of the year, but they haven’t stopped. In the past couple of months, I visited Scottsdale, Arizona and Napa, CA and had the fortune of two outstanding gluten-free dining experiences that I’d love to share with you.
Havana Cafe – While attending a conference at the InterContinental Montelucia in Scottsdale, AZ, I had a free night and the chance to meet my mom out for dinner. Being my mom, she is always on the lookout for gluten-free restaurants and foods. She had heard about Havana Cafe from friends, knew I loved Cuban food, and when going online to check it out saw a gluten-free menu posted on their website. Jackpot, she thought. When we got there, I was overwhelmed with the large, two-sided gluten-free menu. It had been a long time since I actually had a large selection to choose from and didn’t know what to order! The gluten-free menu included a long list of appetizers and tapas, soups, salads, entrees and sides! We started with two delicious and complimentary appetizers: thin, crispy, perfectly salted green plantain chips with a black bean dip and Plato de Verduras, a combination of mushrooms, red peppers, hearts of palm and carrots in a light vinaigrette. For my entree, I ordered two pasteles from the appetizer menu–Puerto Rican tamales prepared with tropical root vegetables, plantains, pork, chickpeas, raisins and spices. Each wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. This gluten-free meal was authentic, bursting with flavor and satisfying. Havana Cafe, 4225 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 602.952.1991.
Auberge du Soleil – This fabulous place was part of my engagement weekend in Napa. So, yes, I was on cloud nine and would have loved any restaurant that I went to, but would be negligent if I didn’t share what was an absolutely lovely gluten-free dining experience. Auberge du Soleil is one of Napa Valley’s finest resorts and the restaurant lives up to its expectations. On the eve of July 4th, we sat on the terrace overlooking Napa Valley and watched fireworks shooting off in the distance. From the amuse bouche to dessert, the waiter and chefs thoughtfully prepared something special to fill in for any gluten-containing items. While every course was memorable and the wine selection outstanding, I was particularly blown away by dessert. As the waiter took away our dinner plates, he said to me that “he and the chef had a few ideas for how to make several desserts gluten-free.” Was I hearing correctly? They weren’t just serving me an already gluten-free dessert, such as ice cream or sorbet, they were planning how to rework several of the gluten-containing desserts on the menu so they would be gluten-free. I ordered a chocolate torte with other delicious chocolate accompaniments and it is a dessert I will never forget. Rich chocolate decadence with a crunchy yet chewy texture marbled throughout. If you are ever in Napa and celebrating a special occasion, go to Auberge du Soleil. My fiance and I loved it so much we decided to get married there! I’ll be sure to report back after October 9th. Auberge du Soleil, 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA, 707.963.1211.
Click here for reviews of other Great Gluten-Free Dining Experiences.