Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gluten Free Laughlin/Las Vegas

The weekend before Christmas we went to Laughlin by way of Las Vegas for the company Christmas party. We spent one night in Las Vegas at the Paris hotel. We had a great view! We were on a high floor in a corner room with two windows, one of which looked out over the Arc de Triomphe and the other had a view of the Eiffel Tower. Both windows had a good view of the Fountain at the Bellagio. For dinner we went to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, where we had another good view of the Water Show. The restaurant was busy, but not crowded. (Of all our trips to Las Vegas this one had the fewest crowds anywhere, and some of the sales clerks seemed almost desperate.)

For dinner I ordered a pheasant dish that came on a risotto. I had Potato Gratin as a side dish. It was big enough for two, but I ate most of it myself, since I did not eat any of the lovely breads, nor did I have the mini popover that came with the little butternut squash flan topped with duck confit. I did eat the flan, but I waited till the waiter came back (a long wait – was he on break during the dinner hour?) to ask him if I could. He assured me that I could, and I did eat it, but I have to wonder why they thought to serve me the popover. Hmmmm... For dessert I had creme brulee, almost always the only dessert I can eat on the menu, with some not very warm coffee. Little candies were served at the end of the meal. I ate the jellies without asking about them. I sometimes wonder at the chances I take – who would have thought that eating a small jelly was taking one’s life in one’s hands?

The next morning I walked over to the new City Center Mall, Crystals, to take a look and to see the new Hotel Aria. The hotel has an enormous curved water wall outside the lobby. The Mall is strange with unusual structures (crystals?) as decoration. One grouping is of large columns of ice that drop into the water at their base at night and rise again renewed the next day. Around the corner from them were long columns containing water tornadoes. At the floor level the lights also had water swirling around them in columns set below the floor.

In the afternoon, after lunch at Chipotle, we were off to Laughlin across the desert . The landscape around Laughlin is a bit like Tatooine. The desert is filled with rubbly kinds of rocks and dirt, and small low bushes, and the mountains surrounding it have weird angular peaks. Laughlin itself is not a glitzy town, for all the many casinos and hotels lining the Colorado River, but it is accessible for all the people from the company to get to from Kingman, so our dinner party was at the Tropicana Express. We arrived a day early, so we went to dinner at The Range at Harrah’s. I ordered Sea Bass, which was served with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. It was a plainer dinner than at Paris for sure, but I felt safer. We skipped dessert, but I had some coffee, and it was better than I had at the Eiffel Tower and warmer too. Hey! The Riesling was better too and less expensive!

Before our Christmas dinner at Passaggio I talked to the staff about what they could prepare for me. What they decided to do was have my dinner prepared at another restaurant in the Hotel, The Steakhouse. I had eaten there before during last year’s trip and had really enjoyed their food and the care they took in preparing it for me; so while everyone else was having lasagna and pizza and pasta, I had some very nicely sauteed shrimp with a rice pilaf and asparagus. I think The Steakhouse is a keeper. Given my druthers of places I have eaten in Laughlin to date, that would be my choice.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gluten Free Santa Fe/ Taos

This writing was supposed to be about Taos and the Taos Ski Valley, but pretty much all the food consumed on this trip was from or in Santa Fe. We rented a ski in-ski out condo in Taos Ski Valley and stocked up on food at Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe on the way up. The plan had been to stop at Whole Foods there since I had bought food there before and of course Whole Foods Markets are wonderful oases for the gluten intolerant, but I had also heard great things about Trader Joe’s and we happened upon one on our way towards Whole Foods, and so we stopped there. Trader Joe’s was very crowded with upscale customers. It was shopping cart to shopping cart in every aisle, but very exciting. Everyone was in a holiday mood and there were all kinds of things one cannot buy on a plane trip –Christmas plants and wreaths and orchids – wines of all kinds. We did buy some wines, but only enough to consume over the weekend.

When we got to our condo, we found that one could not get to it without a four wheel drive vehicle, so we were a little panicked, but a sweet fellow named Rob, who worked at another hotel in the Ski Valley, was kind enough to get us up to the condo with all the gear and all the food. Bless you, Rob! After that initial shock, we found that we had a faithful driver in Christian, who ferried skiers and shoppers for the rest of our stay. We went back to Santa Fe on Sunday evening and were in time to see some festivities on the Square. There was a Hanukkah celebration going on early in the evening and then a candlelight procession after dusk. Luminaria lined the square – real candles in paper bags with sand – none of those fancy electric ones.

We stayed at the Inn of the Anasazi and had dinner and breakfast there. Definitely a pricey place, but the one nice thing about fancy restaurants is that they pay attention to special diets. I ate a very nice sea bass fillet. The chayote-poblano “cake” it was served with scared me a bit, but it only meant that that the vegetables were layered. I was the only person in our group who had dessert, but then I was the only person who could not partake of the very nicely prepared appetizers.

The dessert was a panacotta and very nice but the sauce was a little tart for my taste. They also had the ever popular crème brulee and some sherbet. Other choices were out of bounds, except for the liqueurs and late harvest wines.

No time to play in the morning. We had very nice Southwestern style breakfasts. The chef was open to preparing whatever people wanted. I had a spinach and tomato egg white frittata with some hash browns. The dining room was lovely, and I must mention that the restrooms, which were down a staircase and past the wine cellar (which was a private room for groups of up to twelve), were also lovely and featured actual cloth towels for drying one’s hands. Maybe it is not so bad that I can’t eat at Taco Bell...