It’s been forever since I sat down to write a blog post…..
I love going on vacation. I look forward to it for months. The days after I come back from vacation… not so much.
When we get together for family vacations, we usually go on a cruise. It helps keep costs relatively low — There aren’t any pop-up extra food costs or transportation. No one has to be responsible for driving us all around. It’s a lot more of a relaxing vacation for everyone. With that being said, I have a terrible problem with motion sickness and, until recently, I hadn’t been on a cruise since college. Bad food… rough seas… you get the picture.
So to combat my sickness, I wear the patch behind my ear. It’s usually enough to keep me good… until we hit a patch of really rough seas and I will need to also take a Dramamine. Yeah, it’s that bad. However, after we get home and I take the patch off, I am down for the count. Nausea, migraines…. and I basically can’t get out of bed for three days. Ugh.
The past couple of times it happened, I was convinced that it was because I had eaten too much gluten while on vacation and the patch was basically holding back my symptoms. And, upon taking off the patch, I released the flood gates, so to speak. This time though I was sure that I hadn’t eaten anything (except for that poutine I ate on day 2 of vacation) with gluten in it, and when I got sick anyway when we got home, I couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with me.
After about three days of this craziness, my husband decided to do a quick google search of my symptoms. Why didn’t I think of that?!? Come to find out…. this is a known side effect of wearing the patch for long periods of time (by this time I had had it on for about 9 days). A known side effect — to everyone but me. So, I popped a Dramamine to combat the side effect and I was fine. Three days of being in bed and puking my guts out and one Dramamine was all it would have taken to get better. *sigh*
With that behind me, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things….so here it goes.
We were on vacation for about 10 days, so I won’t be sharing every single thing I ate… just the highlights.
A lot of what we ate in Montreal was at the restaurant in our hotel — the Circos Café-Resto-Bar in the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville. Breakfast was included with our stay and we ate dinner there the night we arrived because it was just easiest. They surprisingly had a lot of gluten free options (but not the poutine) and offered sandwiches made with gluten free bread – which I snatched up after a long day of travelling. It was small, but I was sorry I didn’t take a picture of it. It was really delicious. The bread was soft and not gummy like a lot of gluten free bread can be. I enjoyed it a lot.
On Friday, we had a big breakfast at the hotel, so we skipped lunch. For dinner, we went to Lola Rosa. It was a small restaurant but very cute. They had a large front “garage” door that could open up to let the outside breeze flow through the restaurant. Loved that. Just be warned that it’s a vegetarian restaurant, so don’t expect to get any chicken in that burrito!
I ordered Lola’s Nachos which seemed to be a favorite from the menu. There were a lot of tables enjoying the same thing. They were really good…. really good.
Can we also talk about Diet Coke? I’m not usually a fan of it, and I don’t drink it at home… But, the Coke Diete they had in Canada was delicious!! I don’t know what was different about it, but I seriously considered trying to fit some in my suitcase and bringing it home.
It was my step-dad’s birthday that day, so we had to get dessert. My only option was the Ginger Basil Creme Brulee. I forgot to take the picture until I was almost half way done with it. Oops! It was OK.. I’m not a huge fan of ginger.
The next day, we boarded the ms Maasdam – a Holland America Cruise Line ship. In preparation for our trip, I had filled out and submitted a gluten free food request form and noted on our reservation that I had a food allergy. None of that seemed to matter once we boarded the ship. Unless I was in one of the formal dining rooms, it didn’t seem to matter that I had even filled out the form or that it even existed. Also, I didn’t get the three chocolate cakes that I had asked for. 😉 I was assured via email prior to boarding that I would find gluten free options in all the dining rooms on board. At the Lido deck buffet, those options seemed to be limited to salad, vegetables, and ice cream.
We did eat in the main dining room once (which is where I would have gotten most of my gluten free foods). The night we were there, there were no obviously gluten free options for entrees on the menu. So, I told the waiter I wanted chicken and the chef made me a special meal that tasted a lot like Chicken Cacciatore. I appreciated the effort, but I’m not one that is very adventurous with my meals. And, I didn’t like not having control over what I was about to eat and leaving it up to the chef. It was good… but not great. And when you’re on a cruise ship, shouldn’t the food be a lot of the experience? I forgot to take a picture of it, but it wasn’t very pretty. 😉
For dessert, I went with something safe and got Creme Brulee again. This one was a classic version and much better than the one I had the previous night. It’s been my recent experience that if you want a gluten free dessert on a cruise ship… you’re most likely going to get Creme Brulee.
On our first cruise with Holland America, they had a great little restaurant by the pool that only served hamburgers and hot dogs, and it was very good! I can always appreciate a good hamburger and this place was definitely a highlight on that trip. So, when we boarded this boat, I was pleasantly surprised that they had the same restaurant with a few changes. This one was a little fancier, had a better ordering system, and more options on the menu. I was ordering my hamburgers without a bun until one day I just decided to ask if they had gluten free buns. I almost passed out when he said they did — I would just have to give him a one day notice and he would have gluten free buns tomorrow! Needless to say, I was almost the first in line for lunch the next day!
That’s where my excitement ended…. The bun was so dry and thick that it made it difficult to eat. It sort of reminded me more of the consistency of a biscuit rather than a bun. I ended up taking the top of the bun off and eating only the bottom. On a positive note, the fries were great!
On our last night, we dined at the Pinnacle Grill — a premium restaurant on board. We booked during a promotion where a dinner at the Pinnacle Grill was included — normally it costs $29 per person for dinner. This was the menu for that evening:
This was the only time where I really felt like they understood my dietary restrictions and genuinely wanted to help me have an amazing dining experience. Kudos to them!
Once I told our waiter I was gluten free, he took the time to go through the entire menu and let me know what my options were. This made it so much easier to order with confidence!
If you’ve ever eaten on a cruise ship, you know they always bring you bread. With every meal. I don’t know how many times I have had to decline fresh, hot, delicious bread — one of my favorite things in the world. I’m still trying to get over the loss. The worst thing… sitting with people and watching them eat bread. Bread so warm that the butter is melting. Like I said, I’m still trying to get over the loss.
The first thing our waiter said after I ordered was.. “Let me get you some gluten free bread.” I almost squealed with delight! Then, it came… it was that same bun from the burger place. Well, thanks for the effort.
For my appetizer, I went safe with shrimp cocktail. It’s a pretty good standby and generally offered as an appetizer on most menus. It was good, but it’s hard to mess it up.
My entree was delicious… beyond delicious… it was amazing! I had the 10 oz Filet Mignon and garlic butter with classic whipped potatoes and baby carrots .
Mark had the Roasted Jidori Chicken with classic whipped potatoes and sauteed mushrooms which was also gluten free. I felt bad eating my steak in front of him (he’s not supposed to eat red meat), but come on.. he’s been eating that luscious bread (and bread pudding… can we talk about that!?!) in front of me all week!
After dinner, they brought a plate of truffles to cleanse the palate. Our waiter sat them down, smiled at me and said “gluten free”. He may have well said “dig in”!
For dessert, I got to have something other than creme brulee! I ordered the gluten free version of the raspberry cheesecake. Mark had the regular version and his had a layer of sponge cake at the bottom. It was pretty, but I’m not a huge fan of raspberries and spongy cheesecake. The chocolate stick was good though! 🙂
Overall, it was a good night. I was full when I left which is always a good sign. And, it’s hard to complain about a dinner with a view like this…