Last weekend, the fiancé and I took a little drive down to Fredericksburg, Texas. What started as a using up the last of his vacation days, turned into a romantic little getaway — just in time to celebrate our 3 year anniversary!
Three years ago, on July 5th (or 3rd if you ask him), we reconnected at a party. You see, Chris and I went to high school together, he actually lived 3 blocks over from me. We had a class together sophomore year and rode the bus together before we started driving, but we hung out with different crowds so we were not exactly close. After high school, he joined the Marines and I went about my own thing. We talked a bit through MySpace (yea, we are that old!) but had not seen each other in years. A mutual friend of ours convinced me to come to a party where he and Chris were the only people I knew. I am not now, nor have I ever been, much of a party girl but for whatever reason (fate maybe?!), I decided to make an appearance and we have been together ever since!
Anyhow, back to our getaway … This was my first time to travel gluten free, so when I began scoping out places for us to visit the first thing I looked for wether or not there would be anywhere I could eat. And, I did not want the chain restaurants that I have visited several times over. I wanted to eat local food because that is half the fun of visiting a new place and I was not going to let gluten ruin it for me! So, I turned to google (my number one research tool) and came across a gem of a blog post on Gratefully Grain Free all about gluten-free friendly places in Fredericksburg, Texas. Using this as a guide, I researched the restaurants: checking out each menu to determine what, if anything, I could enjoy. Next, I moved on to where exactly we would be staying. I ended up choosing a small house operated by Gausthouse Schmidt. It was very reasonably priced, close to town and best of all: it had a kitchen! This was perfect because I would not have to worry about eating every meal out, which is not only expensive but nerve wracking for my gluten intolerant tummy!
Before hitting the road Friday afternoon, we stopped at HEB for some snacks. KIND bars, GoGo Squeez applesauce and bottled water were the perfect way to keep healthy on the road. We got to Fredericksburg late that afternoon, checked in and headed to our little house. I must gush about this place, it was quaint and absolutely perfect! There was a swing on the front porch, plus one on the screened in back porch! The backyard had a covered area just perfect for a picnic, a small water fountain and a rustic little windmill. The property was lined with trees, but the center of the backyard was open and perfect for stargazing — there was even a telescope in the house that we brought out one evening. The kitchen was fully equipped with pots, pans, plates and utensils. The entire house was furnished with beautiful antiques, the bathroom had a claw foot tub and there was even a white picket fence out front. The place was beautiful and had everything we needed for our little getaway, even a picnic basket!
After unpacking our things and exploring the place a bit, we headed to HEB and picked up sandwich fixing so we could picnic under the stars for dinner that night. Before the sun went down, we took a stroll down Main Street and stopped at Bejas Grill for a glass of wine on the patio. The next morning, I made us a small breakfast before we headed back in to town to check out the Admiral Nimitz Museum and Pacific War Museum. For lunch that day, we decided to try Sugar & Smoke. Their menu was full of salads, smoked meats and baked goods — complete with two gluten free cookie options! However, I was less than pleased with our service here. The waitress (who was clearly spread too thin among the many full tables in the restaurant that afternoon) was less than knowledgeable about the menu. I explained my gluten intolerance to her and when I inquired about the way items were prepared and what all came on them (i.e., seasonings, marinate, etc.) she said she would have to check and she did … but it took her more than 15 minutes to come back with answers. I decided to order a turkey salad with oil and vinegar and when it was brought out to me, there were two big hunks of bread on my plate. I politely told her that the entire salad would need to be remade on a clean plate because the bread had touched the salad and I would get very sick if I ingested even a few crumbs. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh of aggravation before taking my salad back. When she returned, the salad was on a different color plate and she issued a semi-sincere apology. I can say the salad was great, but the fiancé did not particularly enjoy the flavor of his bison burger or the soggy baked sweet potato fries it was served with. Before leaving, I wandered over to where the cookies were displayed and asked the young lady behind the counter about how the gluten free cookies were prepared and was sadly informed that they were cooked on the same surface as the non-gluten free cookies and were therefore contaminated. All in all, we left this place rather displeased and will not return on future visits.
Next, we headed to Becker Vineyards for a wine tasting and tour. Their wine has long been a favorite of mine, so I was excited to visit the winery. Just after our tour began, Dr. Becker and his wife arrived and said a quick hello to our group. The tasting and tour were absolutely delightful! Afterwards, we headed back in to town to do a bit more shopping and then back to the house to get ready for dinner. Via Kristin at Gratefully Grain-Free’s suggestion, we had made reservations at Navajo Grill for our anniversary dinner. The food, service and atmosphere were AMAZING!! This dimly lit little restaurant was the perfect place for a romantic dinner. Our waitress was very helpful with menu suggestions that would suit my needs. And though I could not have the sliced french bread they serve, I was permitted to eat the Schar roll I had brought along in my purse! For dinner, I had the filet with broccolini and fresh green beans. The fiancé had trout with ratatouille. Our meals were delicious, I topped mine off with flourless Venezuelan Chocolate Cake. It was like a slice of fudge, topped with whipped cream and strawberries. There was a slight spiciness to the chocolate, it was TO DIE FOR!! The night was topped off by looking up at the stars in the backyard of our little house.
Sunday morning, we laid in bed for a while before packing our things and leaving our perfect little getaway spot. After checking out, we stopped at the Sunset Grill for brunch (again at the suggestion of Kristin). This restaurant was awesome; from the brightly colored decor reminiscent of the California coast to the freshly prepared food. When I explained to our waiter about my food issues, he promptly had one of the owners come over to our table and answer my questions. With her help, I decided on the California omelet and a side of fresh fruit. She instructed the kitchen staff to use a clean surface and clean utensils to prepare my meal so that I would not have to worry about contamination. The fiancé (who had a BLAT) and I were both impressed with our meals, they were so good!! The Sunset Grill was just perfect for our last meal in Frederickburg.
With full bellies, we headed back towards Houston. Just outside of Fredericksburg is the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical Site. We stopped in here for an audio guided tour of the park, it’s working farm and LBJ’s ranch. We walked through the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower garden which was swarming with butterflies, explored the farm houses and got to see some amazing country side — complete with farm animals!
We had such a fantastic time in Fredericksburg and cannot wait to go back! This little getaway was just what we needed to recharge, reconnect and celebrate 3 amazing years together!!
If you are new to gluten free, do not let it stop you from traveling and exploring new places. With a little planning and forethought, it is possible to have a fabulous time in a new place without gluten ruining anything! Here are a few tips I compiled from my own experience:
- Use Google to research where you are going and where you will be staying. Read other peoples reviews and check out online menus of local restaurants.
- Turn to social media: send out a tweet asking for specifics about the locale you are considering visiting or general gluten free travel tips.
- Pack snacks for your trip, wether you will be traveling by car or plane, make sure you will have something to nibble on by stocking a bag with protein bars, fruit and nuts.
- When you arrive at your destination, do not be afraid to ask the front desk if they are aware of any allergy friendly restaurants around town.
- Be sure to find the nearest grocery or health foods store!
- When deciding on place to stay, try to pick one with a kitchen or kitchenette — that way, if you get stuck in a bind, you can alway prepare your own meal!
Have you traveled gluten free? Got tips? Share it in the comments section!