Nothin’ left to do but smile, smile, smile.
~ Grateful Dead
Did you know that “writers block” is a real thing? I mean you won’t find it in the DSM-5, but I know it’s real because it is what has kept me away for a few months. I trusted that I would get back to my story telling in due time, and trusted that you’d still be waiting here for me when I returned. Thank you for that.
So, where were we?
Back in April, we traveled to Austin, Texas to spend a long weekend with some of our favorite people. My first smile came when I accomplished arriving at the airport with just one carry-on bag. Packing light has never been a strong suit. My motto has always been: if you need 3 outfits, pack 25 just to be safe. And of course, save space for extra food for the trip. Anyone with celiac understands that. But after packing and repacking and packing again, a victory dance ensued.
As we drove into Austin, my food research told me that our first stop had to be to a little place called Picnik. (Can I tell you how long it took my MacBook to accept that spelling?) Anyway, this charming little place is owned by a woman who also has celiac and saw the need for safe places to eat. You can read about Naomi here. Eating anywhere other than the safety of the confines of my own kitchen has proved to be a bit daunting, but this place was different. From the moment we walked into the restaurant and were welcomed by the menu, I was instantly at ease:
First thing I ordered was something my nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic has been telling me about: Butter coffee. (Otherwise known as Bulletproof coffee which is a brand name.) Butter coffee is made with grass-fed butter and is a frothy, oily, fatty coffee and it is delicious. Why grass-fed butter you ask? This is because grass-fed butter is high in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K and it’s much easier to digest than pasteurized milk. Butter coffee is loaded with the benefits of healthy fats and is also known to boost cognitive function, support fat burn, balance mood and hormone levels, and reduce hunger. The MCT oil — medium-chain triglycerides — plus the high omega-3 content create a satisfying and nourishing combination. This brought another smile to my face:
After agonizing over wanting one of everything, I settled on the Harvest Hash which was a plate full of vegetables topped with the freshest egg I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. Get a load of that orange yolk:
My meal didn’t come with toast, but I immediately snatched a piece from my guy. Toast in a restaurant for those of us with celiac is unheard of. Even if they offer gluten free bread, we know not to partake, that is unless they have a dedicated gluten free toaster. Yes, I have learned in these two years since my diagnosis that cross contamination is very real. Knowing that I was completely safe here, I went ahead and ordered toast of my own before my hand got shooed away:
And finally, dessert. You can’t not eat dessert when you’re in a culinary safe haven. So a Blondie Ice Cream Sandwich (plus two spoons please) it was:
I have never been so happy (or more full) in a restaurant. It was the perfect kick off to a beautiful weekend.
We ate a lot (our friends and hosts were so gracious and kind with my food needs) and laughed and got out on Lake Travis. And I got the full Austin experience by taking in some music:
While I’ve been called a major bed head thanks to my baby-fine hair, I’ve never really been a major Dead Head. But I sure did enjoy the show that Bob Weir put on:
Austin is way ahead of the curve when it comes to accommodating health issues and food sensitivities. Not everywhere we went was like Picnik, but every single restaurant we went to had a gluten free menu. One place even asked when we made the reservation if any one in our party had special food requirements. The Odd Duck went above and beyond to accommodate me by always bringing my plate out separately and specifying that it was a “celiac plate”.
And it wasn’t just the food and the company that made for a great weekend. Austin treated me to views that made me feel like I was on a European getaway:
Collectively, you can see why there was nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.