Gluten Free in Florence, Italy – Day 2


After a full day of walking the Boboli Gardens at the Medici Palace (Villa Medici), and Accademia Gallery which houses the statue of Michelangelo’s David, exploring the boutiques in the side streets, we found ourselves back in a piazza near my daughter’s apartment looking for gluten free dinner options. We were initially headed for a little place she had been wanting to try when we passed this Ristorante, and I mentioned to the girls how good the mussels looked on someones plate, as we had passed through earlier that day. We stopped to check the menu, and a kind gentlemen came over to ask if we were hungry. We let him know his menu looked good but we had gluten intolerance (senza glutine) issues. Well, well, well…comes to pass they had new ownership and had incorporated ‘senza glutine’ as part of their menu, which is why my daughter had not noticed it prior.

It was still fairly temperate from the warm day (in march, it can be quite cool, but we lucked out on beautiful weather) so chose to sit outside, since the Piazza della Signoria is beautiful with statues everywhere and a giant fountain that is lit at night.


We had a wonderful meal and all our dishes were delicious. My daughters ordered a gluten free pizza that was absolutely killer to die for. The crust, unlike american GF, was soft, tender and flavorful. (American GF tends to be like a cracker or at the very least, chewy or crispy). Italian pizzas are not like american, where quantity seems to be preferred over quality. This pizza had high quality toppings which shined in its simplicity. I will take a pizza like this any day over the cheese laden gut bombs in good ole USA. I’m not knocking American pizza, its just that it is very different and if you travel expecting it to be the same, you will be disappointed. But then, if you travel expecting it to be like ‘home’, you are missing the point of traveling.

Pancetta & Mushroom (Fungi) GF Pizza:


I asked the waiter if he had a antipasti he recommended, and he brought me this beautiful platter with fresh greens, juicy sweet little tomatoes, prosciutto, salami and two little crostini, one with a savory mushroom topping, the other a traditional bruschetta. The quality was excellent, and the meats could be shared with the girls :


For our Secondi, the girls went for pasta, and I got the wild boar. I tasted theirs, they tasted mine. All were amazing, the pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauces were simple but complex in flavor. I know a good sauce, and these were made from scratch, well balanced and flavors fully developed. Bolognese sauce can be amazing or gross, depending upon the skill and time put in to making the sauce. This was amazing. (3 amazings…yes, it really was that delicious! Sorry for the half eaten plate, the girls were diving in to it before I could grab my camera!) Notice how it’s not sauce heavy? That is the way it should be served.

GF Pasta Bolognese:


My Wild Boar:


Doesn’t that look so yummy you want to eat the screen??? I know, and trust me, it was! Please be adventurous! Wild boar is a local favorite, and it’s hard to go wrong ordering what the locals eat.

I don’t have a dessert to recommend, other than panna cotta here. But with so many gelato stores nearby, it’s not a hardship. I would highly recommend a grappa to go with your espresso! They have a lovely selection here by the glass. I had the waiter recommend one for me, based on my after dinner drink tastes.

While I was searching the internet for appropriate links, I saw some negative reviews by american tourists of this place. I will reiterate that this Ristorante is under new ownership, and they are very proud of the new menu and quality of food they serve. I found the waiter and staff to be helpful, charming and well versed on their menu. An important point to make is that this place is unlike other eateries we visited throughout our trip. This one did NOT have the service included, so they DID run on tips. Some might be put off by the waiter informing them of this, but please, do not be offended. They are merely letting you know that the tip is not automatically included in the price, as it is in most establishments. Therefore, it is up to you to tip. In the rest of the places we ate they had “Service Compris” which means they automatically add in 15%. Many travel guides warn tourists to not tip because you end up double tipping. I am a fan of tipping over service charge added, because if service is excellent (or terrible), I can compensate accordingly. We had excellent service, so I tipped generously. Besides, my daughter lives around the corner, and she would be back for pizza!

If you are passing through Piazza della Signoria, I highly recommend stopping in.

Ristorante Cavallino

Piazza della Signoria
Florence 50122
Italy  Tel: 39 055 215818

Gluten Free Travel: Pt 2, Maui, Luau & Snorkeling


We arrived in Maui after a long day in Honolulu. It was about all we could do to get to our condo, unzip the luggage, find our toothbrushes and crash in bed.

Next morning husband and I woke to beautiful weather, brewed a big pot of dark yet smooth Kona coffee, and sat on the balcony while waiting for the girls to rise. Once they got up and got themselves dressed, we headed down to the small restaurant they had in the facility to have breakfast. We stayed on the western side of the island, in Kaanapali. It’s a beautiful side of the island, quieter and lower key than the south eastern side down near Kihei. We loved it. There was plenty for the girls to entertain themselves with on our first leg in the islands, but not so ‘touristy’ that us adults were put off.

Gluten Free was really quite available we found in our travels through the islands. My husband utilized his ‘YELP’ phone app to find places and check reviews, and the only time we had a mediocre meal was the one time we ate in Kauai as a walk-in with no – Yelping. (is that what its’ called? well, that’s what I’ll call it!) Since we were 5 days in Maui, we utilized the kitchen in the condo to have breakfast and make lunches. Right up the street from us was a ‘Times’ grocery store that was quite busy and appeared used by the locals. It was suggested to us to stop at the Walmart on the way out of the airport, but it was pitch black, late in the evening, and we just wanted to find our place and sleep. Walmart may have been cheaper, but for lunch meats, corn tortillas, lettuce, eggs, sausage and fruit for breakfast/lunch it was reasonably priced.

So we hit the store after breakfast, went back to the room, packed the cooler with waters, GF sandwiches (corn tortillas, lunchmeat, mayo and lettuce) and headed off to the beach. By the way, if I have not said this before, I HIGHLY recommend packing a collapsable cooler in your luggage. We used it everywhere we went, and that is highly advisable when you have someone who has dietary issues. It was just easier to pack a lunch or snacks to the beach than worry about local joints who didn’t know the ingredient lists of their products. Plus, it’s a great way to save a buck you can then spend on something else; for example, a trip to Molokini (see previous post!) or Mai Tai’s! (Just remember to pack some extra heavy duty ziploc bags in your luggage to put ice in!)

For eating out in Maui and Kauai, you can’t go wrong with the group who runs a number of the restaurants on the islands, which thankfully sports Gluten Free menus or accommodates GF selections. On Maui there was Duke’s Beach House in Kaanapali, Kimos in Lahaina, and on Kauai there is Keoki’s.

Here is the link to check out the Menu

Luau on Maui:

Here is my one word of caution for all Hawaiian travelers who have gluten issues: either find a Luau which offers gluten free options or don’t bother going. My daughter was frustrated and hungry went we left, and considering the price of a Luau, we were disappointed. The salad dressings had soy, the meats (except for the kalua pork), the vegetables, even the fish all had soy or gluten. Since she also has sun allergies and has to stay away from citrus, the fruit platters were off limits also. She ate pork and that was about all. (She was not interested in the taro root vegetable dish, which she said looked like green slime. And it did. ) The entertainment is fun, but I’m guessing you can find a free or food free version of a hula dance show somewhere else.


Be sure to rent the snorkel gear from a local shop and snorkel. It’s amazing over on the west side where it’s more volcanic rock and there is a lot of reef. I saw a sea turtle on my first outing and the fish are breathtakingly beautiful. The vibrant colors of the fish and clarity of water just can’t be beat. The place I got my gear from in Kaanapali gave me a bottle of de-fog and custom fit the mask and flippers. It was worth the little higher price compared to the gear I rented on Kauai that was not custom fit and didn’t include the de-fog. You can find places that are cheaper, but decide what you want and need and then price shop. I’d rather have gear that fits than gear that didn’t fit as well. I found I was much more comfortable and fussed less with leaky or foggy masks, and my flippers never tried to fall off with the custom fit shop. It’s up to you. But if you don’t snorkel while in the islands, you are missing out on a lot of what makes the hawaiian islands unique and breathtaking. So, just like Molokini and Hana are a ‘must’, so is snorkeling. Just do it.

coming soon: Pt 3, Kauai

Gluten Free Traveling: part 1 Honolulu, Hawaii

We arrived in Honolulu late at night, so all we thought of was bed. We stayed at a hotel just east of the airport, west of Waikiki called the Ala Moana, which we discovered was a gigantic mall. The hotel was within the complex of it. That morning we headed down to the casual restaurant with in it, and was able to cobble together a breakfast for my daughter from the buffet they had. It was fairly GF friendly, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, and blessedly…..rice. I’ve never seen just plain steamed rice on a buffet, let alone a breakfast buffet, but there it was. You see, we all take toast, bagels, muffins, granola for granted. Protein is excellent, but when traveling and walking and touring, a bit of carbs can help keep you going. (yes, I know there are those who disagree, I am all about moderation)

Then it was off to pearl harbor, which we had allowed the time and day to see. It is a must for anything traveling through the islands. The history there is critical for those younger than I to hear and see, and appreciate the blessings of peace they have been living in. As I’ve said, I’m from the West Coast and while not old, also not of a young age. I remember distinctly in my young years having a cautious eye for the Japanese, and not having that total freedom of fear that maybe my husband has growing up in the middle of the country. You see, as a west coast native, we had been attacked. Maybe not on the mainland proper, but in our parents eyes, we had been attacked non-the-less. My father grew up having to have the drapes drawn at night, very few lights lit….because of the danger of the japanese patrol boats off the coast of the Peugeot Sound seeing the lights and fixing a target. It was a different time, and blessedly, ,my children did not grow up ducking under desks and having to live with thick blankets on the windows. 

Pearl Harbor is a challenge for those who are GF, but I would HIGHLY recommend the tour of the Battleship Missouri (“Mighty Mo”) and while over there, hit the Aeronautics museum. There are extremely cool planes to see, and the video they show is something every American should be watching in school. While there, visit the little cafe they have. If it is your first stop in the islands, it will familiarize you with Kalua Pork. (see previous post)  Kalua Pork is safe for those who are Gluten Intolerant. I’ve never seen it made with anything wheat or with soy. (double check, always double check) 

You can pick up a nice wad of Kalua pork (sans the bun) and a beverage. The hot dogs are all beef also. (check when you go) They also had a nice chicken salad with a caesar dressing that was also wheat free. I didn’t find anything else even suitable to eat for my daughter while there. A trick is to pack a few things from the mainland. We had fruit snacks, Glutino yogurt pretzels and bagel chips we brought with. Those are fine for airport security and great to pack in your purse while traveling. We have come to just not expect that there will be food or snacks available, so we always pack something no matter what. 

We only had until 4pm on Oahu, and so back to the hotel we raced after seeing the Mighty Mo, the aeronautics museum, and the Arizona. (I won’t complain about the lack of respect and poor behavior I experienced at the Arizona and generally at Pearl Harbor, but afterwards I no longer have a lot of hope for America’s soul after seeing some atrocious behavior there) We needed to grab a bite to eat before we got on the local puddle hopper to Maui, but where? We were cranky, tired, hot, and plainly worn out from a long flight, short night and the time change. While I have traveled, my family has not. Needless to say, some grumbling ensued. 

Hubby and oldest offspring had decided fish, japanese preferably. At the hotel where our luggage was being stored, they recommended a place, but finding it was troublesome at best. After wading through a wedding party of asians that I swear was strolling down the halls of the complex at 300+ strong, we stumbled upon an asian place that I INSISTED we check out. (At this point I was becoming tired and a bit cranky, so forgive me) 

What a gem! YuZu was its name:  It featured organic gluten free soy in most it dishes and my daughter scarfed up teriyaki sticks, california rolls and other delights. For me, the Yuzu Mojito was KILLER TO DIE FOR! If you are in Honolulu, and are looking for a place to nosh on yummy asian bites, without having to worry about gluten laden soy, this is the place for you. I am including the link (I don’t yet know how to hyper link, sorry, I’m a work in progress) so hopefully it works and you can click and check out the menu. Go visit it. Places like this need to be supported, so that families like mine can find places to eat while traveling! If you are looking for a ‘travel’ review….the bathroom was spotless, the decor minimal but lovely, and it was clean. The tempura avocado is a must try as well as the aforementioned mojito. 

That wraps up our very brief time in Honolulu and how we managed with a GF traveler. 

(part 2, Maui, soon to come)