Monday, April 8, 2013

Gluten Free on the Disney Dream

Anchors Away!  This was my second cruise with Disney, and this time I took my sisters-in-law with me.  We did the 3-day Bahamas itinerary and has a great time.

Disney is always great when it comes to gluten free, and the cruise line is no exception.  The cruise isn't always a celiac foodie's dream come true, but the bottom line is that they go out of their way to protect you and you will have plenty of choices.

Rotational Dining
At the Animators Palette, I had a delicious tomato salad and a lemon-thyme marinated chicken breast.  The only dessert they offered me was Rice Dream, but I happened to know that Mickey Bars are GF, so I asked for one of those instead.

At the Enchanted Garden, I had the tomato soup and an excellent pork tenderloin with polenta cakes and sauteed carrots and apples.  They served me a "special" GF chocolate dome dessert that night, which was truly beautiful, but tasted truly awful.  

Pork Tenderloin at the Enchanted Garden

Chocolate Dome Dessert 

At the Royal Palace, I had the duck with pomegranate sauce, cauliflower soup (minus the croutons), and lamb with a dijon crust.  The lamb was incredible, though the au gratin potatoes it came with left a lot to be desired.  I had the creme brulee for desert, which was very good.

One odd note -- the tapioca rolls that are served on all the Disney ships and in the Disney parks are pretty tasty... if they are heated properly.  They were not heated properly on any of the nights I was there.  They were probably run through a broiler -- they were hot and crunchy on top, but pasty and cold on the bottom, rendering them pretty much inedible.  


The Enchanted Garden serves a breakfast buffet.  We had some problems with the server, but finally found someone on the buffet line that told me I could order a made-to-order omelette from the server.  That was very helpful, as it was obvious there was a lot of cross-contamination on the buffet line.  

Some food from the buffet line at The Enchanted Garden
Beautiful berries from the buffet line

The Royal Palace has an "a la cart" sit-down breakfast.  I pre-ordered some GF donuts the night before and the waiter brought them to my table for breakfast.  They were Kinickinick brand, so they were very good.  I also ordered the Big Breakfast with was an omelette served with bacon and baked beans.  Very yummy.

On the final morning, you are assigned to a restaurant at 6:45 am, after which they promptly kick you off the ship.  Having done that last time we cruised, I was looking for an alternative.  So instead, we went up to Cabanas for breakfast, where I had scrambled eggs, bacon, and grilled tomatoes.  I didn't bother looking for a chef to help me; the emphasis at that point is on getting everyone off the ship, so I just stuck to things that looked safe.  By bypassing the official breakfast, and eating at  the buffet instead, we were able to stay on the ship until 8 am.  

Castaway Cay

My server had me pre-order a lunch for Castaway Cay, as the standard bbq meal served there is not GF.  They didn't have a list of entrees to choose from, just sort of said "what do you want?"  After I asked for some suggestions, my waiter and I decided on Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken.  It was good, but needed salt.  Castaway Cay also has plenty of fruit and chips available (for free), so you won't go hungry while you are there. 


Gluten Free Fairmont Banff Springs

Over Spring Break, we went to Banff and stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. We stayed on the Concierge Level, which gave us a bit of an advantage for breakfasts. Each morning the kitchen would prepare a special gluten free dish for me and bring to our table gluten free muffins and gluten free toast. The toast tasted like “real” bread and the muffins were very light and fluffy and quite good – and varied! The one morning that they did not prepare anything separate for me was the day that they had prepared gluten free dishes for the buffet. In addition to the specially prepared dishes, there was a lot of fresh fruit and there were hard boiled eggs. They also had some gluten free cereals, but I did not try any of those and they looked uninspiring.

We ate one dinner and one lunch in the hotel. The hotel restaurants all have “Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine” dishes, but in addition to the gluten free “Lifestyle” choices, there are dishes that can be ordered from the main menu which are (or can be made) gluten free as well. Confusing, but more options.

Lunch was in the Rundle Lounge, since the overly snooty Bow Valley Grill was unable to accommodate us, and I am grateful for that. The lounge waitstaff told me they could substitute gluten free bread for any sandwich, so I had the Grilled Tuna Focaccio without the Focaccio, but with the excellent sundried tomato and artichoke tapenades – a very nice lunch.
The dinner that we had was at Castello Ristorante, located in a gazebo-like room with windows all around. We sat right in the middle and could look out all the windows. Three of us ordered salads, in spite of having eaten appetizers in the Concierge Floor Lounge, and two of those salads were gluten free, the Roasted Beet Salad, which was on the “Lifestyle” menu, and the Arugula and Pear Salad, which was on the regular menu. We were all moaning like Sally in When Harry Met Sally; the salads were that good. The entrees were more mundane, but the Chianti Mushroom Ragout, which was served on my Veal Tenderloin Saltimbucco with Truffle Wild Mushroom Risotto, was excellent and I only wish that there had been more of it.

I love the Banff Springs. It is worth a visit if you can get there. It is one of the very old elegant hotels and is surrounded by breathtaking views. It snowed while we were there which gave it all a wintery fairyland look The little town and the surrounding area are all contained within a national park, which I must warn you, has a steep admission price, nearly ten dollars a day per person, but, hey, the mountains were lovely, the town quaint and fun, and the resort pretty much as great as I personally have ever seen.