Another year older, more stuff to love

August 31, 2016

A birthday wishlist
It's almost that time for me to turn another year older. Every year, I swear that I have too much stuff and I don't need more... but I inevitably find things that I fall in love with. It doesn't help that my birthday falls at the gateway to my favorite season of the year. Cozy sweaters. The perfect berry lipstick. Cold-weather house shoes. Filling in a fresh new agenda with all the fabulous plans for the new year. Staying in with some of the delicious food - and drink! - discoveries I've made this last year. But hey, birthdays are all about indulgence anyway, right? Or perhaps I'm just greedy.

Don't worry, I still wish for world peace and shelter dogs to find good homes when I blow out my candles.

Derby Love

August 18, 2016

Roller Derby Love

A place where women are allowed to be both feminine and bad ass? What could be better than that? I feel grateful that all my weekends spent at the roller rink in grade school - and on the ice in my teens - lead me to roller derby... though my mom might disagree. She shut down my desire to play ice hockey in high school, on account of my expensive orthodontics, but my desire for an aggressive outlet has clearly remained.

Now that I'm an adult and I can knock out my teeth if I want to (don't worry Mom, I wear a mouthguard that carries ample dentistry insurance), I'm jumping into this new endeavor with years of pent-up energy that never got expended on anything athletic (thank you, celiac). Roller derby is a pretty hardcore sport, but still, one can't help being a little girly about the whole thing considering the awesome gear and all the cool merch to support what I'm quickly learning is more a lifestyle than just an extracurricular.

I'll be honest, my insistence on the glitter helmet as I bought all my newbie gear might have seemed silly, but there are so many cool additions to consider as I quite literally gear up for derby: fun skate laces, custom toe guards, bad ass looking wheels. Don't even get me started about all the shirts, hats, buttons and the like that proudly displays ones love of derby in the rare off hours not talking about or training for derby. Roll and Destroy out of Hamburg are kind of my favorite right now and I can't wait to pass the MST and choose a derby name, mostly so I can have them custom emblazon it on pretty much anything and everything. Until then, I'll just have to show my dedication with derby kisses (those are bruises, Mom).

Postcards from the South of France

August 16, 2016

Rooftops of Chateaurenard

Ever since I first stepped foot in France when I was 16 years old, I felt all my Francophile dreams come true. I loved the lyrical sound of their language, the slower pace of life and an emphasis on enjoyment of all things: wine, cheese, love. After all, who couldn't deal with a little more of that in their lives? So even with apprehension about how I could eat well as a celiac in this land of croissants and crusty bread, I couldn't say no to what would become my seventh trip to this beautiful country.

In late April, we enjoyed a truly lovely Airbnb within the walls of Avignon's old town, perfectly located for exploring the city on foot. After an unfortunate start with my first day there spent in bed with a raging fever, we explored the city and took several day trips out to the surrounding areas. We saw Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Malemort-du-Comtat, Roussillon, Gourdes, the beach at Carnon, Montpellier and Lyon. There was stereotypical Provence dreaminess everywhere - great cheese and wine, charming crumbling architecture and rolling vineyards - but also many thing that surprised me, like my first-ever sighting of flamingos in the wild, the incredible, 100% gluten-free Montpellier café and Avignon risotto spot we found, and Roussillon's stunning Ochre Trail (more on that in a later blog post). The saying may be 'Paris is always a good idea', but really you can't go wrong anywhere in France. Ahh, la belle vie...

Pigeon taking flight from Avignon windowsill
Avignon Airbnb window with curtains Building with shutters in Avignon
Les Halles market exterior greenery Avignon Rue Peyrollerie Avignon
Doors of Avignon Ornate door knocker in Avignon
Overlooking city of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
VIneyard gate above Châteauneuf-du-Pape Spice shop in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Dramatic archway in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Road to tasting room at Château Unang winery in Malemort-du-Comtat
Vines at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat Dog at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat
Horses at Château Unang vineyard in Malemort-du-Comtat Hillside town of Gordes, France
Carnon-Plage beach Mauguio Beach blanket supplies Carnon-Plage Mauguio
Flamingos in Palavas-les-Flots at French coast
Montpellier lit alleyway at night Montpellier building at night
Pont d'Avignon bridge on the Rhône river Spiral staircase in Avignon Architecture in Rocher des Doms Avignon
Lookout over Rhône River in Avignon Statue and church in Avignon
Place du Palais scrollwork gate in front of Musée Du Petit Palais Avignon City of Lyon along the Saône River
Passerelle Paul Couturier Bridge over Saône River in Lyon, France Church in Lyon, France
Light post in sunset along Rhône River in Avignon

Want more? See my Provence album on Flickr.

The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in July

August 9, 2016

Jones ice cream flavor board, Schöneberg, Berlin

Ahhh, July... Those mid-summer months full of sunshine and sandals, ideal for cool salads, ice cream and delicious food you don't have to slave over in your own kitchen. Last month was the perfect culmination of ideal summer eating, both at home and out in the glorious weather. Berlin summer, you spoil me.

Jones lemon-mint sorbet at opening weekend, Schöneberg, Berlin

1. Jones Lemon-Mint Sorbet

This long-awaited shop opening meant even more greatness from my friend Gabrielle, who I also happen to be an enormous fan of. I'm a sucker for anyone with a French accent and the chops to have baked at the Ritz in Paris, but her American-inspired ice cream endeavor speaks for itself. Tart and refreshing, this might be summer's ideal flavor.

Gluten-free arepa from El Carrito truck at Mauerpark Flohmarkt, Berlin

2. El Carrito Con Todo Arepa

There's a new arepa in town - and this one certainly lives up to its predecessor. I go all in with the version that packs everything into that perfectly crisp and soft naturally-gluten-free corn pocket: tender beef, gobs of melted cheese, black beans and avocado (but of course they've got veggie-friendly versions as well). Just don't forget the extra napkins!

Gluten-free chopped Thai chicken salad

3. Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Nothing is better than a crisp, cool salad on a hot day. Chopping to replace simmering over sweat-inducing appliances. This cabbage-centric, peanut-sauce doused version is definitely having a moment in my summer kitchen. What takes it to the next level? That amazing peanut butter I've been going on about since Portland in the Spicy Thai version doused on top. On the hottest of days, it transports you directly to Southeast Asia. Well, almost.

Cold melon-cucumber soup at Lykke in Neukölln, Berlin

4. Melon-cucumber soup at Lykke

At my first visit to this relatively new Neukölln cafe, I didn't know what to expect. So I ordered this delicious-sounding soup to have along with my quiche, not realizing the quiche itself was rather large and came with salad as well. Even with way too much food in front of me, I could not stop eating this cool, refreshing soup. Might be time to whip up my own version at home...

BBQ chicken pizza with Minimalist Baker's gluten-free pizza crust

5. Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ever since our Portland trip and all the amazing pizza - both fresh and frozen! - I've lamented at not having truly spectacular gluten-free pizza options here in Berlin. There are good ones, ones that get the job done in a pinch, but nothing I'm clamoring for out of much more than just convenience. So at home, we've been trying various crusts to see if we can't get something more like what we enjoyed in PDX. While nothing is 100% right on yet, we did discover a new recipe that beat out all other pre-made mixes we tried. With the addition of cornmeal on the crust, it was not far off from a classic American, gluten-filled pizzeria. After adding some BBQ chicken and extra sauce, cheese, corn and green onions, it was a pretty tasty replacement for the CPK version from the States I'd been missing.

Don't forget to share your gluten-free eating wins with the hashtag #celiacdoesntsuck on Twitter and Instagram! Whether you're celiac, intolerant or just eating GF because it makes you feel better, let's spread the positivity of how good gluten-free eating can be.