I just got back from a 4 day trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Now, I am not shy about saying, “I am not a Disney girl.” I would never choose to go to Disney on my own. But, I am a participant in a 4-part leadership development program, and this session was at Disney. I was fairly nervous about going. This was my first major road trip since figuring out that I’m gluten intolerant. Would I be able to find food? Would the conference organizers be able to handle my food requests?
I had contacted the conference organizer a while back, and requested gluten free vegan meals. He assured me it would be no problem. I was doubtful. So, the weekend before we left, we made a little trip to the Gluten Free Trading Company, a nifty little store in Milwaukee where absolutely everything is gluten free. I stocked up on some bars and snacks and found a ready to eat meal that I’ll tell you about later. I packed it all in my suitcase, packed a lunch for the first day, and hit the road.
After a couple of flights and a bus trip, we finally made it to our resort, Coronado Springs. It’s a beautiful facility, and it includes several restaurants. Much as I suspected, though, there was little to nothing at the quick service restaurant for me. While my traveling companion enjoyed a chicken wrap sandwich, I happily ate my pb&j on gluten free bread with a side of jicama sticks. Whew. One meal dealt with.
That night, we had a “cook out on the beach” as our opening reception. I walked up and the organizer immediately grabbed me to let me know my food was on the way. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. My dining companions had nearly finished when my food arrived, delivered by the chef himself. He was very apologetic, explaining that he’d missed the notice on his work order. He uncovered a beautiful plate of grilled tofu with a spicy sweet sauce, roasted potatoes, and heirloom carrots, baby zukes, and patty pan squash. Oh dear me, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. The food was beautiful, delicious, and safe! I had high hopes.
Breakfast brought the chef out for a visit again. He asked me what I would like and I asked him what they had. Turns out they had some gluten free cereal and rice milk, which was just fine by me. I really should have asked what the cereal was. I ate it for three days and loved it, but never did ask the name. It was cinnamon o’s of some sort. Anyone had some delicious gluten free cinnamon o’s?
Lunch was a stunning plate of beet greens topped with white beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and tofu bits in a garlic sauce, topped with white and green asparagus spears and baby beets. Again, delicious and drop dead gorgeous. But, in my last bite, I thought to myself. “Hm…that tofu seems awfully toothsome – more like seitan really. Oh oh.” Right after lunch I got a pounding headache, but no congestion. I figured maybe I just needed to drink more water. But, I was up during the night with a revolting stomach. So, I have a feeling that “tofu” wasn’t tofu after all. *sigh* Things had been going so well.
Dinner that night was on our own. I headed to downtown Disney and checked out menu after menu until I found my way to Bongo’s, Gloria Estefan’s Cuban restaurant. There were several things on the menu that either looked safe, or looked like they could be made to be safe. So, we went in and I talked to our server. She said the chef would be happy to come out and talk to me. We tossed around options and I would up with black beans and rice and a side of veggies. The veggies were plain – but well prepared. The black beans and rice were delicious. And, the experience was affirming. They handled my request gracefully and easily. Whew!
The final day we were scheduled for “brunch” at 10:00. I got up early and ran 5 or so miles. I knew I wouldn’t make it until 10:00 with no food. But, I’d brought along some Bakery on Main gluten free granola. So, I had a glass of that with apple juice. (Hey, there were no bowls handy.) Brunch came along and I was disappointed to discover that I had another bowl of cereal. *sigh* I was hoping for something a bit more substantial. Oh well.
Our flight out wasn’t until 5:15, but we were on the bus at 2:15. When we got to the airport, we decided we should eat before our first flight, because we had a really tight layover in Memphis. I’d scoped out options ahead of time, and knew my choices were really limited. Basically, I could get a pre-packaged salad with stuff I didn’t want, or a fruit smoothie. Neither sounded appealing. Luckily, I had brought along a St. Dalfour three bean and corn ready to eat meal. This was one of my finds at Gluten Free Trading Company. The great thing about it is that it’s designed to be eaten without heating, and it comes with a little plastic fork-ish thing. I wouldn’t call it gourmet. But, it was perfectly adequate – more filling than a commercial smoothie for sure. Yay to convenience foods while traveling!
Of course, I also had a stash of Lara Bars. I don’t go anywhere without those. And, I had some peanuts and raisins and some fruit. I came back with more food than I left with, as they were always bringing me special snacks (trail mix, bananas, etc.). Over all, the trip was a success (minus the one incident which I’m not sure was even an incident). Of course, I forgot my camera. So, you’re just going to have to imagine what stuff looked like, okay?