Lodging Review: Shasta MountInn Bed & Breakfast

We’d like to say that we found the Shasta MountInn Bed & Breakfast by doing a search on Gluten Free Bed and Breakfast places. Instead, we were just looking for a place to spend a night in Mount Shasta, California, on our way back up from Los Angeles. The last time we’d been to Mount Shasta was a disaster, because it was a Sunday morning and we couldn’t find anything that: A) Was open, and B) Looked like a place we would want to eat. They have a health food store there, but the selection is basically deli food.

Fortunately, we found the Shasta MountInn Retreat and Spa just through a web search. It has a five star rating on all the hotel review websites and we weren’t able to find anything but rave reviews. So we called them up and while making arrangements to spend the night, mentioned that I was gluten free. The person we were talking to, Dave, said that he had just been to Trader Joe’s and he could make me some gluten free pancakes. (!!!!) I’m sure that we just got lucky and if you want to book a stay at the Shasta MountInn, you should let them know ahead of time if you have any special dietary requests.

Shasta MountInn Bed and Breakfast - Gluten Free!

The house is a Victorian which has been modified to be a B&B. So for example all the rooms have their own bathroom. There is a relaxation room on the top floor with books and movies. They have a sauna, a hot tub, and also offer massages.

Room at the Shasta MountInn B&B

Here’s one of the rooms at the Shasta MountInn. This one has kind of an unusual bathroom layout in that the shower is behind one door and the bathroom is behind the other. The beds are all Swedish Tempur-Pedic® and have a top layer which is that strange “Memory Foam” which makes them very comfortable. For pillows they also have memory foam pillows, but also plenty of conventional ones too. Our room also had two separate heaters.

(I had never slept on one of these Tempur-Pedic beds with the memory foam so it was very interesting. Since the foam molds itself to your shape, you end up feeling kind of like you’ve burrowed into the bed.)

Here’s the view from the room we stayed in.

View of Mount Shasta, California

When our host Dave mentioned that he could make me some Trader Joe’s Gluten Free pancakes, I was thinking that he had the pre-made, packaged kind. Instead it turned out that he was making them using the Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix that I reviewed here. It also turns out that he makes a much better pancake than I do, which is really saying something, because I’m a pancake pro. They were also served with home fried potatoes. Did I get a picture, you ask? Why yes I did.

Gluten Free Pancakes

When the subject came up, Dave seemed to be aware of different food allergies, and it seemed like he would be able to accommodate a wide variety of diets given enough notice.

We want to know: Have any Bed and Breakfast recommendations for weekend trips around Portland Oregon? Do you find that most places are at least gluten free friendly? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Shasta MountInn Retreat and Spa
www.shastamountinn.com
203 Birch St., Mt. Shasta, California 96067
(530) 926-1810 / (530) 926-6600

Bakery: Mariposa Review Redux

During our recent road trip to Los Angeles we went a little out of our way to visit the Mariposa Gluten Free Bakery. Those of you who read our review on Mariposa Bakery in Oakland, California in February will remember that we liked their brownies quite a bit. In February it was only Sienna who visited so this was my first time at Mariposa.

On our visit, we talked to the person at the counter for a while. She was very friendly and was able to to discuss food allergy information about any of their products. So here comes the eye candy. They are very well stocked. There are gluten free cookies, biscotti, bagels, muffins, coffee cake, more cookies, muffins, cheesecake, chocolate cake, carrot cake. Everything gluten free!

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They also now have a freezer stocked with various gluten-free goodies. They have a couple different kinds of gluten free ravioli, several different kinds of premade take-and-bake pizza, pizza dough, and breads.

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I had one of their chocolate muffins. I’d like to be able to say that I took a picture of it but I was too busy devouring the thing. Their muffins are moist, light, fluffy, and flavorful. I also got a gluten free sour cream coffee cake. They describe this cake as “Layered with a sweet and crunchy walnut and cinnamon brown sugar streusel, this tender 4 1/2″ diameter cake melts in your mouth” and they are completely correct. Here are the ingredients: sour cream, organic unrefined cane sugar, GF flour mix (organic brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour), butter, dark brown cane sugar, walnuts, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

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This coffee cake was INSANE and you would never guess that it was gluten free. It had the perfect amount of cinnamon, was the perfect sweetness, and had this amazing crumb. It’s a good thing we don’t live in Oakland or Berkeley, because I would be eating this as often as possible, and I’m sure it’s not the healthiest breakfast in the world.

We’re on Mariposa’s mailing list and coincidentally we just got an email announcement from them today. They are celebrating Earth Day on April 22, 2009 and were also just certified as a “Bay Area Green Business.” Here’s their blurb on Earth Day.

This Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day. To celebrate, we are offering 10% off your entire purchase to anyone who bikes, walks or brings their own shopping bags to Mariposa on Wednesday. So go green on Earth Day and drop by to save some green when you check out! (discount does not apply to other discounted items.)

Among other things, they also have food-allergy information on their products, and also donate 2% of their profits to community and world organizations.

We want to know: Any other awesome gluten free or gluten free friendly places in the San Francisco Bay Area you can recommend? Have you sampled any of the treats at Mariposa? Let us know in the comments!

Times we have visited: 2 (So we feel pretty good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Around twice as expensive.

Mariposa Bakery
5427 Telegraph Ave, Unit D3
Oakland, California 94609
http://www.mariposabaking.com/

Happy Lunar New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

People often ask me what I miss the most about living in San Francisco and my answer is always the same. I miss living next to Chinatown. I especially miss living next to Chinatown during the Lunar New Year celebrations. During this time, all of Chinatown is full of energy. There are lion dancers, firecrackers, moon cakes, and finally, the Chinese New Year Parade, with what seems like a million dragon dancers. Can you tell I miss it? I do.

Lion DancersLuckily, Portland has its own slice of Chinatown. Downtown at the Chinese Classical Garden, there is plenty to do and see during the 15 days starting January 26. They will have lion dances, painting demonstrations, Tai Chi fan and sword demonstrations, and live music. These events will culminate in a Lantern Viewing on Sunday, February 8. Download a PDF schedule of events here.

2009 is the year of the Ox. The ox is known to be intelligent, stable, patient, hard-working, and friendly, but can also be stubborn. People born in ox years tend to be planners, engineers or architects. Traditionally, you can expect the year of the ox one of prosperity through hard work, and a time where past obstacles are overcome.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Restaurant Review: P.F. Chang’s

Happy Year of the Ox! In honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to review our one Chinese restaurant on the restaurant list. P.F. Chang’s is a restaurant chain and the Portland Oregon branch is in the Pearl, about a block away from Powell’s on Couch. It is large, popular, and always seems to be 85% full.

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Our Executive Researcher, Sienna, was out of town visiting her family, so I had to go it alone. I’m going to apologize because the food photos aren’t up to my usual standards. I was sitting at the bar with not one, not two, but three bartenders watching me. As a result I felt conspicuous taking photos of my food with a camera, so I covertly used my phone instead.

P.F. Changs has a completely separate gluten-free menu. It is very brief, and strangely omits all beef and pork dishes, but there’s enough on it that most people will probably be able to find something they want to eat. They even have a gluten-free appetizer, soup and a dessert. They also have a full bar.

I started with some Egg Drop Soup, which was a little salty for my taste, but the flavor was right. For my entree, I got the Lemon Chicken. The chicken comes breaded, which was a nice surprise, and is served with brocolli and thin slices of lemon. The whole dish smelled like garlic when they brought it out, which got me excited. Unfortunately, besides the garlic, the flavor of the dish was a little underwhelming. The chicken was done right, but I found myself eating the chicken with the lemon slices to provide flavor. Also the brocolli was overdone. At some point, I got to an area where the chicken had enough sauce on it, and suddenly BAM it was good. So the sauce is good they just need to hit all of the chicken with it. (Doh!)

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I finished the meal with their gluten-free dessert, the Flourless Chocolate Dome. This is a seriously chocolatey confection served with raspberry sauce and fresh berries. Imagine a quarter-inch thick piece of chocolate cake with something akin to a piece of fudge on top. I didn’t manage to make it through the whole thing, but I liked it.

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Notes from a second visit:
P.F. Chang’s has gluten-free soy sauce they can bring to your table. Our rice was dry like it had been left out and then microwaved. The Singapore Street Noodles are awesome! Very much like fried rice but with rice noodles. The Spicy Chicken is good but suffers from the same problem I had with the Lemon Chicken and that is: Not enough sauce. Maybe I should ask for extra sauce next time.

To wrap it up, I think P.F. Chang’s is a good place to get Americanized Chinese Food. I’ve eaten there before and I would go there again. Another nice thing about P.F. Chang’s is that they have their nutritional info available. When I was finished, the bartender brought me a fortune cookie, but he didn’t know if it was gluten-free or not. I figured it wasn’t, but I still broke it open to get my fortune. It said: “Your efforts in a critical area will soon be rewarded.” That sounds good to me!

Times we have visited: 3 (So we feel pretty good about our rating)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price. Most dishes are around $12.

P.F. Changs
1139 NW Couch St.
Portland, Oregon 97209

Gluten-Free Recipes: Sweet Potato Pie and Turkey

Here at Gluten-Free Portland dot Org our slogan is: “Take back the holidays!” What with wheat bread in the stuffing, wheat flour in the gravy, wheat in the pie crust and wheat everywhere else wheat goes in your typical holiday meal, we all need some help, especially if you have celiac disease. Here are some suggestions for good gluten free holiday recipes.

Coincidentally, these are great for a diet AND are gluten free.

We discovered these recipes on the TV show, The Biggest Loser. Should I say here that I am in no way affiliated with The Biggest Loser or NBC? I am not. Let’s also make it clear that these are Rocco’s recipes, not my own. We had links up to these recipes but NBC has since taken them down – sorry. Good thing we still have the Sweet Potato Pie recipe here.

Because they made the instructions confusing and also put the “unhealthy” versions on top of the “healthy” versions, I’m going to put my own revised Sweet Potato Pie recipe and directions here. Besides the cutting of the sweet potatoes, this would be a great recipe for kids. It only takes about five minutes of prep time. If you don’t have mace, you can substitute nutmeg in a pinch. And since we are not competing with the Blue Team to lose pounds fast, we used evaporated cane sugar instead of sugar substitute. So without further ado, here is the recipe, which says it feeds 4 to 6:

Fortunately for us, they suspect nothing.

Fortunately for us, they suspect nothing.

SWEET POTATO PIE A LA BIGGEST LOSER

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 small)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp sugar substitute (or what-have-you)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

1. Either use a non-stick cookie pan or lightly grease a regular one.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Clean potatoes and let dry thoroughly. Dice them up into approximately 3/4 inch pieces.

4. In a small container, mix up the spices and sugar.

5. Put the diced up sweet potato in a large tupperware with a lid. Add the olive oil to the potatoes, and then with the lid on, shake the container to coat the potatoes with oil.

6. Open the container and add the spice mixture. Then close again and shake until all the sweet potatoes are coated.

7. Transfer to sheet and bake until potatoes are crisp outside and soft inside. Approximately 30 minutes. Turn once about 15 minutes in.

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While they do not have a nice flaky crust, a person can close their eyes and imagine. Did we mention that these are awesome with apple sauce? They are!