gluten free Vancouver

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To state the obvious: it is raining (read: pouring) in Dublin in summer. The Vancouver heatwave I experienced mere days ago feels the literal thousands of kilometres away it really is.

Part of my preparation for travel always involves extensively researching What and Where I am going to eat – this has been done for every single location I’m going on our four week northern hemispheric adventure. This is in part because I am restricted to eating gluten free, having celiac disease, but also because I refuse to settle for simple substitutions of gluten free bread. I cross-reference articles and pore over menus to make sure I am eating the Most Delicious Things. Thankfully, such efforts in Canada paid off. I certainly didn’t leave hungry – and hangriness was always avoided when becoming imminent.

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Probably the best way to stave off jet lag – or at least, the method I adopt, is to pound the pavement, ideally with the sun on my face, to reach an appealing menu. We did exactly this from our downtown hostel room, making our way to Gastown to Tacofino. As the name would suggest, it is a Mexican restaurant that has expanded from the successful food truck culture in Vancouver. We tried the chips and guacamole while waiting for the dinner menu to commence, before getting amongst (as evidenced above), the octopus tostada – piled high with perfectly cooked pieces of the tender seafood and chicharon salad with coleslaw. I think we perhaps made an error with the latter, and would have preferred to have tried nearly all of the tacos served in a corn tortilla that would have been available to me, but there’s always next time.

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We thoroughly enjoyed wandering Gastown and its little boutiques and BBQ restaurants, and could not resist the novelty of Mosquito – a specialty dessert “tapas” and champagne bar. Blame jetlag for resulting in a little prosecco and macaron indulgence at 1730 on a Sunday evening . We each had a “tapa” – mine the coconut snowball with pickled pineapple, and then the decidedly glutinous popcorn brownie sundae. We safely substituted the third for a macaron each. While the portions were small, they were perfect for ringing in the holiday.
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Now, I am an absolute brunch snob: never will I be content with simply having the standard eggs Benedict available to me. Medina fulfilled all fantasies when it comes to breaking my fast, right down to the fluffy gluten free ciabatta. The menu is so extensively delicious it is almost overwhelming, but I can safely ascertain from having had my eyes glued to the plates of fellow patrons, that I doubt you can go wrong with any of the options. The espresso coffee is absolutely marvellous, the service almost too prompt, and the cafe is bustling. We got there on a Monday morning minutes after its opening and scored one of the few remaining tables before witnessing a line out the door rapidly forming. In any case, my “La Santé” plate was the perfect fuel for ascending the Grouse Grind.

DSC05751 DSC05776Having made it to the top of the mountain, completing our experience with the spotting of a grizzly bear, lunch was on top of the to-do list, with an entirely gluten free menu at Smak to satisfy it.

IMG_7808I opted for the salmon box, which featured half an avocado, a nori roll, and deliciously marinated salmon pieces, punctuated by an iced americano. The menu is overwhelming in that I’m not used to being able to eat everything, and it’s lovely to have something that is as fresh and vegetable dense as something I would prepare myself at home.

Besides, it offered the perfect excuse to stop by Bella Gelateria (unpictured), where I enjoyed the most delicious salted pecan and salted caramel (spot the theme) gelato cup. Everything except the obvious gelatos featuring baked goods (banana bread, etc), is free of gluten and utterly delicious.

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For dinner, we did nothing by halves – ordering a “Half Stop Barbecue” from Buckstop – a little hole in the wall barbecue restaurant.

IMG_7830While I couldn’t get into the hush puppies or corn bread, the coleslaw, beans, fries and all of the meat but for the pulled pork (which is cooked with the barbecue sauce instead of it being on the side, which contains a very small amount of worcestershire sauce) was amenable to my consumption. The two varieties of ribs were definitely my favourite part of the gigantic plate, and we practically had to be rolled home.

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Finally, Granville Island – essentially an open air market dedicated to deliciousness, was an absolute gluten free treasure trove. I was particularly enthused by the ridiculously cheap summer produce.DSC05804 DSC05802 DSC05801 DSC05800 DSC05799 DSC05797

I don’t know if the consumption of superfoods would be able to offset the gluttony of Edible Canada‘s gluten free (!) poutine – something I did not think was going to be available to me, despite extensive searching. it was certainly tasty, albeit incredibly salty, and certainly not something I could face eating everyday. More of an experience than anything else.

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Of course I had to eat some pecan pie, that was amongst many gluten free offerings at one of the bakery stalls in the public market itself. Chocolate dipped, no less!IMG_7849 IMG_7840Heat wave aside, I found food in Vancouver deliciously easy to navigate – I can only hope I have helped a celiac or two to have a tastier experience there themselves. xx

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