Santa Monica – Los Angeles, USA
I had a moment of panic when I landed at the airport in America – what if I couldn’t eat anything at all????? Irrational I know, but a feeling I think most coeliacs have had. I’m still here, and these are some of the places that sustained me in Santa Monica:
Wholefoods – If you’re near one of these (and there are a lot of them) you’re going to be ok. Not only do they have a hefty selection of gluten free grocery goods, including crackers, biscuits and cakes, but there are loads of hot foods to choose from – most of them with carefully detailed ingredients. It’s an open buffet so there may be a possibility of cross-contamination with the servers, but you’ll find something that you’re comfortable enough to eat. There are pre-prepared, individually contained gluten free desserts too. Sorted.
We also tried the True Food Kitchen in downtown Santa Monica. It’s a big, fresh-looking place and there are those fabulous ‘gf’s on the menu – hooray!
Here’s the strawberry, feta cheese & walnut salad I had (it may have had more strawberries on it before I snapped this – little fairies took them).
There was also gluten free pizza – here’s a kids mozzarella and organic tomato pizza;
If you do a google search for gluten free in Santa Monica – it comes up with a little bakery in Venice Beach – the Gluten Free Goddess Bakery (671 Rose Avenue, Venice), which sounds pretty alluring. Cookies are the exclusive product of the bakery and there are a range of flavours – you can buy these at the shop on Rose Avenue, but if it’s out of your way, they are also sold at the Venice Farmers Markets and distributed to all Groundwork coffee shops in the region. The shop is not a dedicated gluten free bakery outlet – it’s a standard non-gf food shop that leases the kitchen at the back to the good people who make these cookies:
That one was well-travelled and falling apart a little by the time I snapped it (as was the double chocolate brownie version, I had to try both!).
On a non-gf note, we booked a house through ‘Vacation Rental By Owner’ and it was absolutely fantastic – this was our Santa Monica pad.
So much nicer to have your own place (kitchen!) for a week than stay in a hotel – and for around the same price. We did get totally stung on car hire in LA – booking a hire car in the US for Australians is fraught and confusing. We booked our LA car rental through the qantas website and it was a disaster – as with many of the US car rental website options, it didn’t include insurance and the insurance, which is purchased on car pick-up, ended up costing substantially more than the car hire itself. We cancelled future US car hire bookings and re-booked through www.traveljigsaw.com.au which includes insurance in the total price (I believe this site works for Australians only). Also – turn your phone off or get a US sim on arrival – smart phones rack up the data at a phenomenal rate (even if you’re not looking at the downloads) and roaming ‘bill shock’ is not fun.