A Romantic Getaway

First, I must warn you: my husband is a huge romantic! He is sweet, kind, sentimental, and sensitive. And on top of all that, he’s proud of it! Ever since we started dating, he has taken it upon himself to celebrate each month as another month we have spent together. Here is an example: On our first month of dating, he took us to see The Importance of Being Earnest at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles (we had acted together in that very play back in high school when we were still just crushing on each other). The night ended with a beautiful dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey overlooking the marina. It has since become a tradition, and I even get to plan the celebration every once in a while.

Now I’ve put a huge challenge on my poor husband: how do we celebrate each month gluten-free? He has always been incredibly skilled at finding the best places to eat, from charming French bistros to elegant Italian dining. The best places were always the ones owned by the chef, tucked away in some back alley downtown.

But what do we do now?

Last August we had our first celebration since I’d been gluten-free, and we found out that no matter how amazing my husband is, it’s going to take some work to get used to.

First Stop: Culver City

Culver City

Now, keep in mind, my husband loves to surprise me. So when we arrived at Culver City, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as to what we could possibly do there besides take a tour of Sony Studios. Little did I know that Culver City had the only gluten free bakery in the Los Angeles area! Just the thought of eating baked goods again was making me flip out a little (then again, I’ve always been easily excited by food :-)). That’s me in front of the bakery thoroughly enjoying my gluten free cheesecake. So yummy!

Next Stop: Marina Del Ray

Marina del Rey

After getting my fill of delicious gluten free goodness, we headed off to Marin Del Ray. My husband found a beautiful inn, and our room had a great view of the marina from the porch. We took a relaxing stroll along fisherman’s village, and kept our eye out for any possible dining for the evening. Though there were some tempting little local spots, we decided it would be safest to try a chain restaurant. So off we went to an old favorite, The Cheesecake Factory. I had done some research online, and the website said they would be happy to arrange a “safe” meal for anyone with food allergens or sensitivities. Ahh, I was so naive back then.

The Cheesecake Factory

Our server was very sweet and helpful, constantly checking with the chef if I had any questions about the content of gluten in any particular dish. We settled on a chicken dish, and agreed to have it pan cooked to avoid contamination on the grill. I was so delighted, I even left a note on the receipt thanking her for all her help.

When we got back to the Inn, vomiting ensued.

We spent the rest of the night watching movies in our room while I tried to settle my stomach with some Baked Lays (Frito Lay has an extensive list of gluten free snacks!).

Breakfast Time

The next morning we went down stairs for some complimentary breakfast. It smelled amazing! Everything was made from scratch by the owners. Pastries, quiche, and breakfast casseroles lined the table. Even my husband, as picky as he may be, loaded his plate with a few goodies.

Karl's Breakfast

Meanwhile, after inquiring as to the ingredients of all the magnificent food, I was left to eat the one thing clearly labeled gluten free…

My Breakfast

Ahh, well… at least I didn’t get sick this time!

The Search for Lunch

Once check out time came, we packed our bags and said our last goodbye to the beautiful view from our window. The plan was to soak up some sun on the beach nearby, but since is was about lunch time, we decided to find something to eat first.

Finding something to eat isn’t as easy as it used to be.

We drove up and down and all over town trying to find something, anything, for a quick bite. There was nothing but fast food restaurants and pizza kitchens. Before we knew it, we were almost to Malibu! So we improvised and decided we’d soak up some Malibu sun instead. We stopped by a restaurant on Malibu beach that we had been to before called Duke’s. The server was happy to help! All we had to do was sit attentively as he told us his life story and what kind of cheese he liked. I ate a tuna salad sandwich without the bread… not half bad! Almost worth the clingy waiter.

Now it was time for some shopping!

Next Stop: Santa Monica

When we first got to Santa Monica we stopped at a chocolate shoppe for a snack. It turned out all the chocolate contained wheat flour, so it was coffee for me and a smoothie for the husband. But it was a beautiful afternoon, and you can’t be in a bad mood when you’re in Santa Monica. It just doesn’t happen.

Last Stop: Disneyland

Disneyland is one of our favorite places to be together. Not so much for the chance to meet Mickey Mouse or ride Splash Mountain, but because it holds so many memories. We have annual passes and decided to stop there on our way home. I was told by a fellow gluten free friend that Disney is very good about accommodating gluten free guests… and she was right! Apparently they had to be because of all the European tourists requesting gluten free menus (Europe is always one step ahead of us). Just go up to the Town Hall and ask for a gluten free list. They have everything safe to eat in all of Disneyland!

But of course, I had to go and ruin it by insisting on eating at our favorite Downtown Disney restaurant: ESPN Zone. The restaurant wasn’t on the list, but I was sure that I could find something safe to eat… it was a chain after-all!

Our server was very sweet and very concerned that nothing bad happen to me. After several trips back and forth from the kitchen to our table to answer questions about the ingredients, I decided on the spring rolls without the sauce. Rice paper, carrots, and jicama. It was the most dry, tasteless thing I ever ate. I could barely swallow it, not because it tasted bad, but because it was in desperate need of some sort of sauce to help it down. And my poor sympathetic husband couldn’t even enjoy his meal of a chicken sandwich and baked potato knowing that I had to sit there and eat that.

But just like in Santa Monica, you can’t be in a bad mood when you’re at Disneyland. You just can’t.

And so ended our first gluten free getaway. Here’s to more and more getaways with less and less gluten!


  1. carolyn

    omgosh so happy i found your blog 🙂 I had a horrible experience at cheesecake as well! I swore I read online they were willing to accomodate PLUS they are a chain! went in and they basically said everything could be served gluten free…but when I chose a salad they said it was premade….I settled on a side salad with “gluten free” dressing but barely nibbled because I was so worried about contamination…worst chain EVER for celiacs/gluten free folks!

    PS i love disneyland and all their GF options!!!

    1. Wow, I’m happy you found our blog, too! 🙂 It’s been so long since I’ve posted, but I’m glad that my old posts are still of use! It’s a shame how easy it is to unknowingly ingest gluten at certain restaurants, but a lot of places are getting better! I know P.F. Chang’s and Yard House have dedicated gluten-free areas of the kitchen, and servers at Outback Steakhouse are super knowledgeable and accommodating. And yes… Disneyland is the best! 🙂

Add A Comment