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Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by Healthline.com and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for her next cookbook and www.CarolFenster.com

Watch for Carol on "Creative Living with Sheryl Borden," a PBS-TV show airing on your local PBS station during 2017-2018.

Join Carol at the National Western Complex, Expo Hall level 2 in Denver on April 21,10:30 am during the GFAF Expo Conference. See you there!

Gluten-Free on a Viking Ocean Cruise from Rome to Barcelona

They say that tossing coins in Rome’s Trevi Fountain assures your return. Decades ago—on our first trip to Europe as newlyweds—I tossed those coins and my wish finally came true. We sailed from Rome, Italy to Barcelona, Spain on a 930-passenger ocean cruiser last month.

Rome skyline

Rome skyline

I have sailed with Viking on three previous cruises, and am impressed with how they meet my gluten-free needs and their customer service attitude. So, off we went for an adventure that also included Sicily, Sardenia, Tunis (Tunisia), Algiers (Algeria), and Valencia, Spain.

Rome

We spent two days in Rome on our own before boarding our ship, the Viking Star, and every restaurant had gluten-free options. Our hotel, the Grand Hotel Palace, had gluten-free spaghetti with clams and it was delicious. Even the breakfast buffet at the hotel offered gluten-free bread.

GF Bread at Grand Hotel Palace in Rome

GF Bread at Grand Hotel Palace in Rome

One night, we walked to nearby Il Piccolo Mondo restaurant, and they made my gluten-free Tiramisu with gluten-free cookies. After two days of seafood and pasta in Rome, I craved meat so I had a gluten-free hamburger at Hard Rock Café.

Hard Rock Cafe GF hamburgers

Hard Rock Cafe GF hamburgers

Rome is a vibrant city, rich with history and we saw all the usual sights: Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. But the highlight was the Vatican where Pope Francis spoke to the crowds outside St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. I learned that the Vatican City is somewhat like its own country within Rome and has its own government, police, etc.

The Food on a Viking Ocean Cruise

Cruise ships have an abundance of food, available in multiple restaurants at almost every hour of the day. In fact, if you miss a meal you can always order 24-hour room service to your cabin. You won’t go hungry on a  cruise ship!

Early on, I met my hero—Head Waiter Boban, from Macedonia. His job was to make sure I ate well. Thanks to his communications with the kitchen staff (99 chefs for 930 passengers) I had delicious gluten-free bread for toast in the morning and gluten-free buns for hamburgers. You can have gluten-free pizza, French toast, pancakes, and so on. Just ask a day ahead so they have time to prepare it.

Viking GF hamburger

Viking GF hamburger

There were usually at least one or two gluten-free choices for dessert, often a mousse, pudding, and the usual gelato and sorbets. Boban served me Dark Chocolate Flourless Cake and two kinds of soufflé: Dark Chocolate and Grand Marnier. 

Chocolate souffle

Chocolate souffle

 

One of my favorite naturally-gluten-free desserts was the chocolate fondue with fresh fruit. On my final evening, Boban brought me two desserts: my favorite Crème Brulee (flavored with bourbon) and a flourless Chocolate Cake. I know I gained weight on this cruise, thanks to Boban.

Creme Brulee on Viking

Creme Brulee on Viking

One night I ordered gluten-free Fettucini Carbonara in Manfredi’s, an Italian restaurant on the ship. I had never eaten carbonara anywhere but in my own kitchen so this was a real treat.

Spaghetti Carbonara on Viking

Spaghetti Carbonara on Viking

The Process: How You Get Gluten-Free Food on a Cruise

You need to be proactive! I notified Viking of my gluten-free needs when I booked the cruise, but it is important to “announce” your needs directly with the Viking staff right after you board the ship. I have found that this is necessary to remind them of your needs.

Your “announcement” starts the following process: Every evening, Boban would deliver the next day’s dinner menu to my cabin. I circled my choices (for appetizer, entrée, and dessert) and returned it to the dining room the next morning. When I arrived for dinner, my server already knew what my choices were and made sure I got the right dish.

We usually ate in the World Café (the buffet restaurant) which was really quite good and had two major benefits: it was super-fast because we could simply choose our food on-the-spot from the vast array of choices and it also gave us a chance to taste a wider variety of different dishes. As we progressed from country to country, the kitchen often featured a dish from that country (e.g., risotto in Italy).

Yet another advantage to the World Café is that it featured an open-kitchen so there were lots of chefs that I could ask about the contents of any dish. They were all very knowledgeable, but they didn’t hesitate to ask a superior about the dish’s ingredients to make sure I was safe. One of the new additions to the buffet since my last cruise in 2016 was that gluten-free dishes were labeled “gluten-free.”

My Tips for You
The major thing I learned about getting the food you want on a cruise ship is that you must ask. For example, on the first day right after we boarded the ship I perused the array of desserts in the buffet and only saw fruit. I wanted more. Only after three requests, each request escalating to someone with more authority and finally ending with Head Waiter Boban, did I get a delicious chocolate flourless cake. If you want other baked goods, be sure to pre-order them the day before (except for the bread, which is always on hand), because these items are not baked unless a passenger asks for it.

Final Days in Barcelona

After disembarking the ship, we spent two more days in Barcelona. It is truly beautiful and very much influenced by Antoni Gaudi, a Catalonian architect. If you read Dan Brown’s recent book, Origin, many of Gaudi’s building are featured in the book such as Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia, which is the most unusual church you may ever see. Another overwhelming site is Montserrat about an hour outside Barcelona, where a monastery sits nestled alongside a massive granite mountain.

Paella in Barcelona

Paella in Barcelona

We ate seafood Paella twice while in Barcelona and Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with aioli) We truly loved the Spanish hot chocolate, which is thicker than American hot chocolate and has a thin pudding consistency. Churros are typically dipped in it (but they are not gluten-free, so I didn’t do this). Rich and creamy, this hot drink is not as sweet as our American hot chocolate either.

Patatas Bravas in Barcelona

Patatas Bravas in Barcelona

 

Hot Chocolate in Barcelona

Hot Chocolate in Barcelona

Airline Food

We flew from Denver to Toronto to Rome on Air Canada and my gluten-free meal was just fine.

Air Canada GF meal

Air Canada GF meal

However, on my return home on Lufthansa from Barcelona to Munich to Denver, they didn’t have my gluten-free meal due to a miscommunication so they gave me a few salads to tide me over. Luckily, I had some snack bars and pistachios but the moral of this story is always have food with you when you board an airline, just in case.

 

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