Gluten-Free in Las Vegas

A couple of weekends ago, I went to Las Vegas with my mom and four aunts.  I went for the first time this July with friends, and made a critical error food-wise.  When I googled “gluten free Vegas”, I found that there are a TON of restaurants with gluten-free options, or even entirely gluten-free menus upon request.  Awesome, right?

Right.  Unless you’re a vegetarian.

It hadn’t occurred to me that “gluten-free” and “vegetarian” aren’t frequently overlapping concepts in the touristy areas of Las Vegas.  Gluten-free options at restaurants are usually meat, more meat, and sometimes fish.  I was traveling with a huge group of people, and the last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience anyone.  That led to an unhealthy weekend of sub-par salads and watching my friends eat THE MOST DELICIOUS PIZZA I’D EVER SEEN.  I also ate Tex-Mex twice (basically just corn tortillas and cheese).

I did find one good place – Maggiano’s.  When I asked about their gluten-free options, they had the chef come out and speak to me personally.  He created a pasta dish just for me, and it was really good.  All of my non-GF friends liked the food there as well.

THIS TIME I was determined not to make the same mistake as in July, so I did a lot of research beforehand and read lots of menus and made a list of restaurants.

First and foremost, I found out there’s a freaking Whole Foods right by the airport on Las Vegas Blvd.  My mom and I headed there right after we checked into our hotel, so I could load up on snacks.

This store turned me into a crazy person.  This store made Whole Foods Toronto look like a gas station convenience store.  I completely lost the purpose of this visit and ended up buying $86 of groceries that I somehow needed to bring back to Canada in my tiny carry on suitcase.  (By the way, that $86 of groceries would have easily cost $150 at home.)

Look how much agave you people have! Do you know how many bottles I have to choose from at home? 2.

Not to mention WHOLE FOODS MARSHMALLOWS.

Fun fact: I asked an employee at the Toronto store why they don’t have Whole Foods brand stuff like marshmallows, and he said it’s because of French language laws for packaging. By law, our packages have to have both English and French. Apparently Whole Foods doesn’t think it makes financial sense to print special labels for its small handful of Canadian stores.

For dinner that night, we tried to get a reservation at Maggiano’s, but it was booked.  In fact, so was everything else on the list I’d made.  So much for that.  The concierge recommended Ferraro’s, so we went there.  All of the pasta dishes contained either meat or cheese, and I couldn’t eat either so I asked the server about my options.

“What can’t you eat?”
“Gluten, dairy, and meat.”  Side note: the look on people’s faces when I say that is endlessly amusing.  A cross between “what the hell is wrong with you?” and “shit, that sucks.”
“Okay, why don’t you try something different instead of pasta?”
“Like what?”
“Meat.”

Didn’t I just… oh, nevermind.  I ended up with gluten free pasta and tomato sauce.   It was… pasta and tomato sauce.  Boring.

The next morning, we went on a helicopter tour and drank champagne in the Grand Canyon.

That was really amazing.  The helicopter ride was the main reason I bought snacks at Whole Foods, because I didn’t want to be trapped in a helicopter for 4 hours with no food.  It ended up being shorter, and I could eat all the snacks provided by the tour company.

That night, we went to Mon Ami Gabi, the fairly expensive French restaurant in the Paris hotel.  Their gluten-free menu was all meat, but they were the only restaurant I found who advertised gluten-free bread.  I figured I could eat bread and a big salad for dinner.  It turns out they were SUPER accommodating, and even had a gluten-free dairy-free vegetarian item on their main menu.  It was essentially just vegetables, but they were seasoned really well and the restaurant seemed really careful with cross-contamination.  The bread was delicious too.

Overall, it was a really fun trip.  We saw Terry Fator (not my choice, but it was kind of fascinating) and Cirque du Soleil’s Love, which was probably the best show I’ve ever seen.  I saw O in July, and I’m still embarrassed to admit that I SLEPT THROUGH HALF THE SHOW because I was so hypothyroid I could hardly keep my eyes open.  No sleeping during Love!

I’m off to campaign for Whole Foods marshmallows in Canada.

I’m Terrible at Blogging / I’m a Crazy Plant Lady

There’s a reason I haven’t posted in 42 days.  Actually, there are a few reasons, in backwards order:

1.  I’ve been sick for the last week.  My Annual Summer Cold™ (again! I told you, every 6 weeks).  Before that…
2. I was in Las Vegas!  And before that…
3. I was in Italy!  And before that…
4. I didn’t feel like it.

So, here I am.   I have a bit of energy back and a million things to write about.  Whether or not I get around to it is another story, but for now, I am going to write about plants.

I am turning into a crazy plant lady.  Let’s look at May 27th versus today (also, professional camera vs. crappy point & shoot):

Due to the excuses listed above, I haven’t done very much work on my balcony, and my plants have suffered.  (Although, my friend Chan watered everything while I was away, making this the first summer where my plants haven’t died by July.)

I suck at herbs.  These are the best ones.  My Thai basil (bottom) is finally growing, though the rosemary (top left) has basically done nothing in 2 months, the lemon thyme (right) is dying, and the sage (top right) is turning brown.  Though that could be because of a HUGE FREAKING WEED I pulled from between them today:

I swear it wasn’t there before I left for Vegas, but when I pulled it out it was like 3 feet tall.

This is the second herb container on June 6th versus today:

HAY WOULD YOU LIKE SOME PARSLEY?  This container used to contain:  parsley, catnip, chives, and oregano.  The catnip was moved to its own container after I found out it’s a member of the mint family and would take over everything.  The oregano was brutally slaughtered in an over-excited trimming exercise.  The chives are hidden somewhere behind the parsley, and the parsley has taken over the entire container and appears to have some sort of disease:

The internet tells me this might be some sort of fungus?  I don’t know if I should pull the whole thing out or try to fix it somehow.  Either way, I sure as hell don’t want to eat it.  Here’s a picture of the oregano (or loloregano):

So now I have:  sad-looking half-dead chives, an oregano stump, and a huge parsley AIDS plant.   YUMMY.

On the other side of my balcony, I have: a bunch of chocolate mint plants, 2 margarita mint plants, more basil that isn’t growing, cayenne peppers that aren’t growing, and a bunch of flowers.  Including this bad boy:

The same friend, Chan, brought this over about a month ago.  If you can’t tell, it used to be a sunflower.  “I didn’t know you could grow sunflowers on a balcony!” I exclaimed.

Turns out, you can’t.  Or I can’t.  Sad face. :(

Last but not least, lavender.  Spanish on the left and French on the right.  I keep buying lavender plants from Richters, because I LOVE the smell, and I am determined to have one that lasts longer than 3 weeks.  So far I’m 1/3 of the way there.

I should have taken a picture of that flower plant behind the lavender, because a few weeks ago it was blooming like crazy.  I think it’s kind of done now.  The plant in the white container looks so green and healthy because it belongs to Chan, not me.  It’s wilting because it’s under my care.

So there you go.  Brown Thumb Crazy Plant Lady.