Book News

Book sales have been great. Interacting with people during different promotional events has made it all worth it. Many people buy the book for loved ones who suffer from Celiac to seize or themselves to learn how to cook new and fun things.

This weekend I’m honored to have another book signing at the famous Fante’s Kitchen Shop in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. I will be following in the footsteps of some of the most famous Chef’s.  It  will be a great weekend to visit the area since it is also the annual Philadelphia Italian Market Festival where people travel from all over to visit the historic market. Stop by to say hi and grab a copy of the book.

Event Info

Location:

Fante’s Kitchen Shop

 1006 S 9th St. Philadelphia, PA 19147

 (800) 44-FANTE

 

In other news, I was recently had a radio interviewed about the book and my story. Check out the link below. My part  is at the very end.

Radio Show

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Book Signing at Cardenas Taproom

The book release has been an amazing experience. Hearing feedback from readers has been wonderful. The book was fun to write but interacting with those that use the recipes I created is the best part! Thank you again to everyone that has supported me this far.

Last weekend the signing at CHOP Hospital’s Celiac Event went great. This weekend I am hosting another signing in the Italian Market. It will be at Cardenas Taproom in the heart of the market . This a great location with tons of fun products to sample. Soft and hard cover books will be available for sale. I am will be sampling one recipe for the book using some of the great ingredients Cardenas Taproom offers.

Event Details:

Saturday – March 24, 2015   

Time – 11am – 2:00pm 

Location:

Cardenas Taproom 
942 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
267.928.3690

www.cardenastaproom.com

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Gluten Free Paradise

Arenas Del Mar- Celiac Week, Fall 2014

Beachfront and Rainforest Resort

I love to travel and find new and exotic places.  I feel that it’s important to share the places that I find that are gluten-free friendly.  Recently, Arenas Del Mar (based in Costa Rica) approached me to assist them in their mission in transforming their resort into a luxury gluten-free vacation destination.

The program director has a daughter recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. Since her diagnosis, traveling has became a challenge for her.  As a result, her father embarked on a journey to show people that a luxury vacation in an exotic country can be made safe and enjoyable for anyone with a dietary restriction.  He wishes to transform his resort to accommodate anyone living on a gluten free diet.

Avoiding consuming gluten when traveling can be very challenging.  To suffice for the lack of gluten-free food, it’s common to spend a lot of money on granola bars, trail mix and other items that can be eaten when gluten-free food is unattainable.  It’s hard when you want to go on a vacation to relax, but you find yourself constantly worrying about what is safe to eat and drink.

Arenas Del Mar has decided to host a few special weeks at the resort that will be entirely gluten-free.  In order to accommodate this, the resort will ensure all food and beverages and even the soaps and cosmetics provided in the rooms, bathrooms and spa

contain no traces of gluten.  They have invited guests that share the commonality of living with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivity issues to visit the resort during these week.  This time will undoubtedly serve as a wonderful place to share experiences and learn from each other.

In May, I will be traveling down to the resort to write a full review about Arenas Del Mar.  Iwill spend time examining the kitchen and advising the staff of the obvious and not-so-obvious means in which gluten appears in the kitchen.  I will be charged with the responsibility to help the staff prepare a kitchen that is sanitized sufficiently and contains no contamination.

Arenas Del Mar is situated in paradise on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica.  It is a boutique, luxurious, and lush 38-room hotel that is awe inspiring.  See it for yourself at:  www.ArenasDelMar.com.

  • The readers of Travel and Leisure magazine voted it the top family hotel in Central and South America in 2013.
  • The wedding planning website TheKnot.com listed it as one of the 50 most exotic honeymoon resorts in the world in 2013.
  • The Government of Costa Rica has annually awarded it 5 Stars for luxury and 5 Leaves for sustainability, the only hotel to win both awards.
  • The hotel has just been certified as being Carbon Neutral.

Situated in Manuel Antonio, it’s at the other end of a gorgeous tropical beach just minutes from Costa Rica’s most famous national park.  Wildlife abounds on the property, birds (157 species have been counted so far!), sloths, monkeys, frogs, iguanas….the list goes on!  I am counting down the seconds before I encounter the massages in the spa and margaritas under a palm tree on our own private beach.

Arenas del Mar is a bi-level hotel.  Half of the property is located on a 150-foot cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean while the other half is on a private beach. Views to the Northwest remind you of Big Sur and views to the Southeast are overlook a beautiful, curved, and long tropical beach that is ideal for walking.  The views, along with a cocktail at sunset, are listed in the famous book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

A Week for the Celiac Community

In support of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), Arenas Del Mar will host two weeks for the Celiac Community this year.  Both restaurants at Arenas Del Mar will go 100% gluten-free for their guests’ safety and comfort.

The first week, beginning September 13th 2014, will feature guest chef Monica Glass, who herself has celiac disease, accompanied by Chef Nicole Petrongolo. Monica has worked as a pastry chef at the acclaimed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City, 10 Arts in Philadelphia and now Clio in Boston.

The second week, beginning November 8th 2014, will feature Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook, the owners and chefs of the highly rated Zahav in Philadelphia. This restaurant was named best restaurant in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine.

All the kitchen staff at Arenas Del Mar will also have completed the NFCA’s Great Kitchens training program which is accredited by the American Culinary Foundation.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the NFCA.

For further details please contact: www.ArenasDelMar.com

or

Jeremy Allen, Program Director and hotel Partner by e-mail at AllenAllen@aol.com  or phone 610-407-9371.

If you plan to book, please let them know you found them from my blog to get the best rates.  Stay tuned for my full review in May!

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Camp Celiac

Last week I was honored to be the Head Chef at Camp Celiac in RI. The camp is designed as a safe place for kids from 8-16 yo to spend one week not worrying about what they can or can’t eat. They will meet other kids all living without gluten, which leads to a wonderful connection. Many gluten free company’s across the country donate various products and staff spend endless time planning menus and recipes to utilize everything donated. Three meals a day and three snacks a day filled with all the fun treats that are rare to find in a gluten free diet. Breads, pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets, pancakes, cookie and the list goes on. The idea of flipping 500 pancakes at 5am could seem like a little much but when the kids smile and ask for more you completely understand how special a simple treat is. Real mac and cheese is something of a distant memory for many and having a child explain that it was the best they ever had gave me the fuel to push myself all week. I even had a father explain how scared his daughter is to eat out but that she trusts me and this week may change her life.

Outside of the food, everyone is grateful to be apart of the whole concept. At home, each child is the one that has trouble fitting in with others due to restrictions. You can just imagine how frustrating it is to worry every time you are invited to a birthday party, sleepover, dinner or any event. Going to a regular sleep away camp is nearly impossible for most gluten free kids but Camp Celiac makes this possible. Each child was so grateful that behavior issues, bullying or any misbehaviors are none existence. The staff goes out of the way to make sure each kid feels normal for one week there illness is only discussed if they bring it up. The day is filled with fun programing starting from 7am still 11pm depending on a campers age. At night, the older kids sit around a fire and sing songs, laugh and cry all with each other. The song “lean on me” is a common one heard night after night.

I worked my but off and enjoyed every second of it. I learned that many for these kids are scared to even eat out, something as simple as a movie snack can cause fear of cross contamination and potentially getting sick. The whole experience gave me even more determination to make a gluten free life something easier and safer for everyone.

The camp is a non-profit and with limit beds available it fills up fast. If you are interested in donating to the camp feel free to contact me. The camp runs a scholarship program and is always grateful for support.

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Demo Recipes and the News

Last week I was at William Sonoma in center city doing a fun demo. The wonderful folks at Greensgrow Farm gave me a great mix of goodies to use and I came up with a great recipe you can find below. They had white sweet potatoes and beets in season and I made a great little spring inspired dish of roasted potatoes, my famous pesto and a blend of beets and ricotta cheese.

The goal of this demo was to market a Cooking Class I will be teaching in May. Here more info:

Topic: Undercover Gluten-Free: Vietnamese Cuisine

Winner of NBC’s “Next Local TV Chef” competition Chef Laura Hahn will reveal gluten-free techniques! Vietnamese Food is full of fresh new flavors and is a great cuisine to learn for spring and summer cooking. In two hours you will learn how to create an entire Vietnamese meal at home for friends and family. The class will make using rice papers, rice noodles and grape leaves easy. Discover new ingredients that are surprisingly gluten free.

Recipes will include summer rolls, sauces, stuffed grape leaves and rice pudding!

Location: Greensgrow Community Kitchen at St Michael’s Lutheran Church: 2139 East Cumberland Street

They have 15 tickets remaining. Click Here to grab a spot

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As for the recipe I created at the demo. Everyone loved it!!! A great dish for any event!!!

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Ingredients:

2 Large White Sweet Potatoes

3 Tbs Pesto (my famous recipe can be found in a recent blog)

3 Tbs Butter

1/2 Tbs Garlic Powder

1/2 Tbs Onion Powder

2 tsp Salt (separated)

1 tsp Pepper

1 Cup Ricotta

3 Roasted Beets

Start by boiling potatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them, dry well and then cut into even bit size chunks. Toss in a bowl with garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tsp salt and pepper. Throw into a large pan with butter and pan fry until they begin to brown about 5 minutes. Now toss onto baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for a few more minute. Watch the potatoes so they don’t burn. You may want to give them a toss after a few minutes of broiling. Once potatoes are nice and golden remove and allow to cool. Place into a large bowl and toss with pesto.

For the cheese you first want to slice and peel the beets. Place them in a blend and whip up. You may need a splash of milk to get it going. Then add the ricotta cheese and 1 tsp salt. Remove from blender and place in the fridge to help firm up.

Now just plate the potatoes with a nice scoop of cheese next to it. I like to add a little extra dab of pesto to go with it.

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Skiing Gluten Free – Stowe Vermont

After the amazing response I received from my blog about my Gluten Free Mexico Vacation I figured it is important to share the tips and tricks I find on all my getaways. I just got back yesterday from a wonderful romantic ski trip to Vermont. I spent a week planning what food to pack because I figured the 8-hour drive and the long days on the slope would leave me with little gluten free options but I was very wrong. Vermont as a whole had a ton of great gluten free finds. Regardless I would always recommend packing good healthy options just in case. Check out the pack I made at the end of this blog to get some good ideas. Both Jay and I made almost every breakfast and lunch plus snack out of what we took with us which was a great money savor in the long run.

As for Stowe it self it simple is amazing. We stayed at the Butler House which was a quite little spot in town. Completely up to date which is hard to find and at a great price. We had a super cute room with a loft bed and a wonderful view of town. Check out what people are saying about this place at http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g57415-d3365145-r148447571-Butler_House_Stowe-Stowe_Vermont.html. If you are looking for more of a resort I would highly recommend the Trapp Family Lodge. This is the original lodge from the Sound of Music Family. They have great vacation packages along with activities all days for anyone in your family not hitting the slopes. They have a bunch of restaurants on site and a brewery that is working on the gluten free brew.

As for the mountain it was amazing. From beginner to export they have everything covered. With high speed quad lifts and an in-closed gondola that bring you to the top of one of Vermont’s highest mountain tops. Runs the would last from 20-40 minutes to finish. They had different lodges with food and drinks at the bottom and top of each peak with gluten free options like pizza, chili and salads. The best part is everyone knows everyone so it was totally a community feel very unlike the tourist traps I am used too. They even have this one run called Toll Road that zig-zags down the whole mountain at a very little incline all in the woods. You can actually see Lake Champlain on the way down and take a second to really appreciate the experience of being in a winter wonderland far away from the city life.

As for the restaurants, I was impressed every night. The first night we had been so beat from the drive and checking out town that we went down stairs in our hotel to Frida’s Taqueria and Grill which I read a lot about. Its a great modern Mexican spot with a ton of fun options including homemade 100% corn tortilla. We really enjoyed the table side Guacamole and fun taco menu. The even exposed me to a new gluten free beer called Celia Saison from The Alchemist Brewing Company in Waterbury, Vermont. The next day we went and checked out the brewery its self and got a bunch to bring home. The second day we went out to Burlington VT to check out the town and found a great spot called Duino Duende. The place is a gem. It focuses on international street food with a twist and with a gluten free menu its hard to go wrong. We split fried oysters and I had a Cuban wrap with kale on the side. The dark candle light atmosphere and Live Jazz made the whole experience something to remember. Not to mention a homemade chai tea with ROOT to warm anyone up after a long day on the slope. Our last night we stayed in Stowe and tried Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge. A really fun modern twist on a pizza spot. They have a full gluten free menu including pizza, pasta and sandwiches. We have great wings, salad and pizza and enjoyed every bite.

My Meals To Go Pack:

Turkey Jerky (read ingredient)

Dried Fruit (Like Raisin, Prunes, Figs Ect.)

Home Made Granola Bars (Try on of my recipes)

Sugar Free Hot Chocolate

Peanut Butter To-Go Packs from Peanut Butter and Company

Trail mix Individual Packs (Found mine at CVS for $2.5o but you can easily make your own with different nuts and dry fruit)

Big Bag of Baby Carrots

Big Bag of Sugar Snap Peas

Apples

Bananas

Bottle of Wine

Box of little zip lock bags to bring to the mountain

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Tour Stop: Monroe New York

The tour continues, this time I am back to where it all started. Home to the town where I grew up and have been hearing about a huge gluten free movement starting. Monroe is a cute town in the Hudson Valley about an hour from the city. Tons of farms, shopping, outdoor sports and great vineyards. Both places I visited have great on-line stores and totally worth checking out.
First stop, was Katz bakery. It is a gluten free and kosher bakery. The stuff is great with all fresh and high quality ingredients. It is a small business that started in someone’s basement and has blown up in to a nationwide distributor. Everyone that runs the place is super nice ad believe in what they do. It’s funny that a a great gluten free bakery would open up in the town I grew up in. They make the best gluten free donuts I have ever tried and they are only 180 calories. They also make a traditional Jewish dessert called rugelech that is like a flaky dough similar to philo dough with a sweet cinnamon or chocolate filling. When I was deployed in Iraq my mom sent me a huge box of her homemade ones and it is one of the many things I was worried I would never have again. Katz has a great on-line store and you can even get a free sample box shipped to you. Check the out at http://www.katzglutenfree.com/Katz_Assorted_Gluten_Free_Sample_Pack_p/kasp.htm
The next stop, I made was a tradition Italian specialty shop that I grew up on named Little Italy. My small home town does not have the Italian Market like we do here in the city but this is the best next thing. A family run shop making all the homemade Italian dished, salads, mozzarella cheese and much more. They even do some great catering and community work. Over the years two of the owners sons had friends that were gluten free so they started to sell gluten free product in the store. It became a hit and now they have one of the two five door fridge’s dedicated to gluten free products. They sell gluten free breads, pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets, homemade gluten free mozzarella sticks, eggplant parm and much more! They offer fresh made gluten free sandwiches using Boars Head Meat and homemade roast turkey and ham. I tried the ham and cheese which was wonderful. It’s hard to find quick gluten free eats in town so this place is truly a gem. This family cares about what they do and the community they are apart of. It shows in a everything they do and how they treat every customer. The best part is that they have an on-line store selling all the gluten free goodies. It is something special because they only sell the gluten free products that they approve and think are good. They recognize that gluten free food is always more expensive and they try hard to provide all product at a reasonable price which is hard to find on-line. Check it out at http://www.bestoflittleitaly.com/categories/Gluten-Free-Products/

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Tour Stop: Los Angeles

Tour Stop: Los Angeles

Next stop on the Guilt Free Foodie Cutie Tour was Los Angeles CA. This was my first time to California and it was well worth the trip. I always think of Philly as the most unique laid back city but LA was just as great. The culture, the people and of course, the food. I only had pre-planed one stop before hand because I was unsure of my plans but with a little research while I was in town I found some great spots.

The first place I visited was Addiction Bistro. I had found some great stuff on line about this spot and after a long conversation with one of the owners over the phone it was my first stop. Both owners are gluten free them selves so no need to worry here. Practically everything on the menu has a gluten free alternative from gluten free buns, pasta and dessert. They are even making homemade sauce, hot dogs and sausage so you really have no need to worry. The menu includes a large variation of burgers, hot dogs, sausage, chili and Italian dishes. The owners take a lot of pride in what they do and it shows. I arrived before the doors opened and they had people already waiting outside to get some chili. My favorite thing on the menu was the Thai dog which is a homemade chicken hot dog with bacon, peanut sauce and slaw. Our table tried a whole bunch of stuff and the photo’s are all below. Soon they will be making the gluten free buns in house which would make this place over the top. Check them out and make sure to leave room for the gluten free desserts and homemade ice cream. Website: http://www.theaddictionbistro.com

Next stop, was Cafe Buna a great cafe of that likes to be called “Del Rey’s Best Kept Secret”. This place was packed and with good reason. The menu is huge and creative. They even had gluten free pancakes and corn bread french toast which was like a hidden treasure for me. The choice of breakfast sides alone are something to talk about including things like plantains, applewood bacon, chicken apple or chicken tequila sausage, wings, soyrizo (tofu, tomatoes and onions), lox, collard greens, ostrich patty and the list goes on. The meals are just as creative. I had to try the cornbread french toast because I have not had french toast since I have been gluten free. Jay had the burrito that was filled with eggs, rice, chicken and toped with mole sauce and avocado and it was the size of a small baby. Check them out at 3105 Washington Blvd Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. Phone 310-823-2430

Last stop, 26 Beach Restaurant for a big brunch before a 6 hour flight. This menu was the most unique and creative brunch list I had ever scene and along with decor of a partially covered out door patio it was really something special. The menu started with a list of like about fifteen french toast options including tiramisu, Reece’s and some that they actually made with croissant toast. They may have not been gluten free french toast but had to be noted. The two other sections of this brunch list included pasta scrambles which were different egg dished mixed with pasta and fun toppings like bolognese or chili. Best on the list was what they called “The Royals” which are unique eggs dishes over rice inherently a creative brunch dish that is gluten free. I had the egg Diablo which is scrambled eggs over brown rice and beans topped with corn, peas, onion and served with amazing homemade salsa. They also made a crab royal which had avocado, cheese and crab mixed in the scramble and served over brown rice. I took a peek at the lunch menu and they had a ton of creative salads with fried goat cheese or even a rack of lamb along burgers toppings I have never seen like one with peanut butter and jelly. Website: http://www.26beach.com

LA is a great city and totally worth a trip. If your looking for your next beach vacation I cant think of any place better.

Next stop on the tour is back to my roots with a trip to Upstate New York to make a fun fall weekend something for anyone to enjoy.

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Tour Stop: Tampa

Tour Stop: Tampa,Florida

Second stop for the Guilt Free Foodie tour was Tampa, Florida. Due to the hurricane, my trip was cut a little short but I still got to visit three great places. At each stop I would hear about another “must try” gluten friendly location. The best part of touring around so far is hearing all the stories people have of the reasons about why their restaurant is making the effort to be gluten free and all the positive feedback they’ve had from the gf community.

The first stop on the trip was a place called “Taco-Bus”. They have a few locations around the area but I visited the St. Petersburg location. The Taco-Bus was recommended by a gluten free blogger in Tampa who said that “it’s the best place in town”. It has also been featured on different TV networks, on shows like Man vs. Food. I was greeted by both their wonderful PR rep and the store manager who took us through the menu and let us taste a lot of goodies before ordering our meal. Since it is Mexican food, it is for the most part gluten free with options of corn tortillas for tacos, chips and tostadas. In addition, the beans, all the meats, and even the tempeh is gluten free. The samples first started with some of the homemade beverages. My favorite was the half and half mix of pineapple and watermelon water. Then I tried samples of all the taco fillings from chicken to steak and even tofu, tempeh, mushroom corn mix, and my ultimate favorite – the butternut squash. I love my meat but this squash was different than any taco filling I have ever had, something I will have to replicate. It is spicy and sweet with almost a creamy texture. I tried the guacamole too which was outstanding and super fresh. By the time I ordered food, I was almost full but my squash tacos, rice and beans were really good! The best part about this place is that they are 24 hours four days a week and serve breakfast EVERYDAY. We enjoyed it so much that they we went back the next day for a late night snack. The Taco-Bus is a must try when you are in the Tampa area. Check out their website to find the other locations around Tampa Bay. Website: http://m.taco-bus.com/

The second stop was a gluten free pizza place called Gourmet Pizza. They serve gluten free pizza, bread sticks, dessert and beer. The gluten free pizza is on a thin ten inch crust and can be made into almost any option. I tried the specialties which include Crawfish Cajun, BBQ Chicken, Pineapple Bacon and Veggie. The crust was very crispy and firm enough to hold the toppings without needing a knife and fork which seems to always be an issue with gf crust. My favorite topping was the BBQ chicken for sure but they were all very good. Website: http://www.gourmetpizza-company.com/

The last stop, was like finding a hidden treasure for the GF world. It was Burger21 which is a fun, modern and hip burger and shake spot. Good gluten free options and substitutions are starting to appear more but Burger21 is taken safe gluten free eating to a whole different level. Burger21 has, by far, the safest gluten free procedures I have seen yet. All the staff was outstanding and they allowed me in the kitchen to watch my burger get made. The process they use to avoid cross contamination is amazing. When a gluten free order comes into the kitchen, the staff knows to wipe down the counters, clean hands again, get out the designated gluten free utensils and to only use the designated gluten free grills. Their burgers, buns, most sauces and fries are all gluten free. I had the cheeseburger with sweet potato fries with apple cider sauce and a chocolate frozen yogurt milk shake. The whole meal was very good and the gluten free bun tastes just like a regular one and just as fluffy. This burger was the best gf burger I have ever had and even Jeff (who is not gluten free) was amazed at the quality of the bun. The staff (PR people, managers, waiters, cooks and cooks in training) made the experience even more enjoyable. The best part is that Burger21 is starting to expand beyond their locations in Florida and is planning to open two in NJ in 2013. I can’t wait!!! Website: http://www.burger21.com/

The more that I travel and meet people, the more I realize that the gluten free community is making an impact. It is becoming rare to meet someone that does not know someone who is gluten free. Restaurants are learning that eating gluten free is not a diet fad but rather, an illness. Don’t be scared to travel and try new places. Do some research before you go and you may be surprised at what you find.

Tour Stop: Iberostar Grand in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mexican Hotel Review

The first stop on my tour was to Riviera Maya, Mexico. A treat to say the least. The hotel was something out a dream. I have stayed at many 4 and 5 star All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico but this resort blew my mind. The food, service, entertainment and all the outstanding amenities, every single detail of our trip was perfect. The resort complex is made up of 5 resorts all on different levels. The higher the level, the more access to the complex. We were upgraded to the highest level which is named the Iberostar Grand. It gave us access to all the restaurants, pools, spas, shows and activities.
The building and the grounds where outstanding. A quiet pool to relax and read, an indoor spa pool with hot tubs and pressured streams of water that line the walls and then the infinity pool. The infinity pool is salt water and was magnificent, with views of the ocean, swim up bar, hot tubs and plenty of areas to lounge. You could dream up any drink and the pool bartender would create it like magic. Just float around and sip on a frozen mojito, a dirty monkey or just about anything with every liquor you could ever want.
The building itself is very different then any other resort I have seen. It was elegant with a grand entrance that resembles a jungle with details that constantly made my head spin. From the lobby to the room and then restaurant it is all enclosed in with glass and marble with painted domed ceilings. This creates a unique level of comfort and elegance. Staff always available to assist from concierge to our own personal butler. The room was spectacular and included a jacuzzi, rainfall shower, king bed with a selection of pillows, lounge area, fully stocked mini bar included in the room and balcony with a private couch and with a hanging swing chair.
The activities offered gave us no reason to think of leaving the resort. The entertainment staff take pride in what they do and truly enjoy meeting new people. They organized great exercise classes like cycling, bike tours, volleyball and yoga that were really hard core. Fun pool and beach games like a crazy water balloon fight with guest throwing balloons at staff in the pool while they wore super hero outfits and floated on a trampoline. In the evening the staff would transform into excellent party hosts. They would greet us into the shows. The shows were much better then any of the other shows I have seen in Mexico. The theater was indoor’s and the set up was like a night club you find in the city with stadium seating, top notch bar and service. The shows are different every night including a magic show, Mexican dances, Broadway musicals and best of all a real Rock show. If shows are not your thing they have a sports lounge, cigar lounge, live music at the main bar or you can ask a bell boy to give you a ride to the two level all inclusive night club that is on the resort grounds and very safe.
The best part of the resort was the food! Being gluten free is often difficult to travel. Very few places understand that gluten is not just the bread but can also be in sauces and the preparation. I informed the general manager before I came, that I was gluten free but never expected anyone to make adjustments. It started with a notice that was on my bed at check in. The note was for me to take to the restaurant’s at night to notify them once I arrived, to advise the kitchen staff. Restaurant’s included Italian, Surf and Turf, Japanese and French. Each meal is a la-carte, gourmet and perfect on all levels. The wait staff is knowledgeable about both the food and wine and the little details they add make the dining experience something to remember. Each night I was given my own fresh baked gluten free bread and advised on any changes they would make to the menu if I selected specific options. At every single meal, I had lobster prepared in a different way. We visited the Surf and Turf twice because everything about the meal was fabulous. The gluten free crab soup and cold seafood appetizer that was a huge plate of lobster, mussels and crab. The main dishes included old fashion Surf and Turf with Lobster Tail and Filet Mignon, many seafood dishes or cuts of steaks I have only seen at expensive places in the city. Dessert included this gluten free chocolate bacon dish and a gluten free cheese cake. At the Japanese restaurant I was surprised by the staff knowledge of sauces and ingredients containing gluten. The sushi was fantastic and each item we tried was spot on. The Saki they offered was outrageous and I still wish I would have gotten the brand name to buy at home. Lunch, is served both a la-carte and buffet or both. The selections change every day but always included some seafood dishes being grilled outside, another indoor grill that you could choose any fish you could imagine, all different Mexican selections, different Ceviches and cold Seafood options, Salad bar, Ice cream and Dessert that were all top notch. Breakfast was similar with both a la-carte and buffet options. The breakfast included a Fruit bar with all types of Tropical fruit even Star fruit, Figs and Passion fruit. Bread station that had both gluten free and regular options and a huge assortment of accompaniments with home made jams, butters and large selection of cheese. The egg station was manned by a chef, homemade donut stations, crepe station and curered meat station where you can watch them gently carve slices of prosciutto. My favorite breakfast item is lox, which they not only had an endless supply but all marinated salmon and like ten other smoked fish options along with various Caviar and Pate to choose from. At the end of it, was a juice bar with freshly squeezed juices like papaya, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Spinach and Cactus, mixed veggie and more. If the juice selection was not grand enough you could head to the health bar and pick anything you wanted them to juice like my favorite combination of Carrot Apple Juice.
The resort knew I would be doing a review, and provided me with a full tour of the kitchen and a meeting with the executive chef. The kitchen is immaculate from floor to ceiling. Each room is temperature controlled depending on what is being made. Desserts and Seafood are prepared in cold rooms. The veggies are cleaned and sanitized daily and all examined by an doctor to insure they are safe. The Chef informed me that they continue to have about a 10% population of guests with gluten and wheat allergies. He explained to me that by September all sauces used in the resort will be reformulated to be gluten free. Being able to see how this massive kitchen was run during dinner service was an amazing sight to see. I have never seen any kitchen run that smoothly and efficiently. I was truly impressed.

Iberostar Grand is a resort that has something for everyone. They will clearly go above and beyond to make your trip perfect and truly something to remember. If you are living gluten free and have been scared that an all inclusive resort wouldn’t be enjoyable, think again. Simply stated, a perfect vacation.

Thanks again to all the staff and Chef’s at the Iberostar Grand for making my vacation something very special. Please visit the links below and to check out the resort and plan your trip.

I booked my trip here:

http://www.cheapcaribbean.com/deals/iberostar-grand-hotel-paraiso-deals.html

Or go to the resort directly:

http://www.iberostar.com/en

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