Hartford, Boston, Cambridge, and Rockport

Providence- smoked salmon on bread

We woke up in Providence, hungry. The night before, we had met a house full of lovely people, at a potluck we weren’t sure would even happen.  Such a good night. But we were hungry, and we had to start driving again. Time for breakfast.

People often ask me how we find places where I can eat safely when we travel. It’s a combination of things, really. I ask on Twitter and Facebook. I look at Yelp. (But I always feel like I need a shower afterwards, from some of the terrible writing and vituperation there.) And mostly, I google everything until the name of a restaurant shows up in several searches and I start to sense, “Go there.”

But in Providence, it was pretty easy. Go to Nick’s on Broadway! In February, we three ate one of the best breakfasts of our lives at that extraordinary place. We were about to drive there when I googled one more time. Closed that day. Damn.  Next on the list? Amy’s Place, which had the distinct advantage of being three minutes from our hotel. Why not? There would be hot coffee.

It turned out to be much better than that. The folks at Amy’s were friendly and completely conversant with how to feed me safely. They gave me something I have not eaten in a long time: cream cheese, lox, red onions, and capers. All on a dark, dense gluten-free bread. Who needs bagels?

(Well, we’re working on good gluten-free bagels for the next cookbook.)

That’s one of my favorite parts of traveling, the little surprising bites that arrive at the table in a cafe I’ve never seen before, and will probably never visit again. Those meals stay indelible in the mind.

Hartford- merry-go-round

We drove. There was a lot of driving those two weeks, from LaGuardia to Pennsylvania to the Hudson Valley to Vermont to Maine to Providence toward Hartford. We were starting to grow tired by this time, but we just kept driving. We arrived in Hartford in enough time that we could stop at a park to let Lu run around in the sun. She was disappointed this merry-go-round was closed down.

Hartford- table set-up

It was a lovely potluck in Hartford, in an enormous artists’ loft, with people interested in the health benefits of gluten-free living and full of questions. (Thank you to the good folks at Bakery on Main who found us the spot!) Most of the people who attended were part of a healthy eating potluck club in Hartford, and showed up in support of the leader of the group, who is a big fan of ours. It cracked me up when they arranged their chairs in a circle around me and peppered me with questions for an hour. “Gluten-Free Girl?” one man kept asking, his hand raised. I told him to call me Shauna, but to no avail. That’s part of what we loved about this potluck tour. Every potluck was different from the last.

Hartford- apple fritters

And there were gluten-free apple fritters. (Thank you, Susan Lynn.)

Charles Street

That night, we drove through the darkness with a small child asleep in her seat, toward Boston. Oh Boston. You of the gorgeous streets, the good food, and the construction in the early morning. (Everyone said to us, when we were puzzled by the sound of the jackhammer threatening to come through the wall of our hotel at 7 am, “Oh, didn’t you know that September is construction month?” Um, no.) Walking down Charles Street the next morning, in this golden bright light, was the balm I needed after all that driving.

Boston- foodie tours

I was walking down Charles Street with Audrey from Boston Foodie Tours, who led a wonderful four-hour tour that day, meandering down Charles Street and along some of the best sections of that part of the city, eating and talking, stopping in shops that carry great charcuterie and ice cream and clam chowder. Those of us with her felt so lucky to be there that day.

Boston- Chocolate shop

How could you resist a stop at Beacon Hill Chocolates?

Almost all the truffles in this case were gluten-free.

Boston- botanical gardens

And this day. This afternoon sunlight in the Boston Botanical Gardens. Boston, you are wicked gorgeous.

Boston- make way for ducklings

Danny and Lu were off playing, so she missed this statue of one of my favorite books to read to her, Make Way for Ducklings.

Oh Boston. You’re so lovely.

Boston- Lu helping make pizza

Lu was with us for the potluck outside of Boston, at a wonderful gluten-free bakery in Belmont. Oh goodness, Glutenus Minimus, thank you. Natalie McEachern, who began this fantastic bakery in 2008, shut down the bakery early to put out long tables with white tablecloths and bouquets of flowers, asked her staff to all be there, and made pans of gluten-free pizzas and lasagnas. Soon after 6, the place was packed with happy people. But in the few moments before that storm of people chattering and clattering their forks against plates, we prepared food with the staff at Glutenus Minimus. I adore this photograph of Lu making pizza with them. She felt so proud.

Boston- rolls at the bakery

Look at these dinner rolls they made for us!

Boston- part of the spread

And what a spread it was that night! This was only one of the tables of food in the bakery, plus the bakery display case full of sweet treats, mini pop tarts, and sugar cookies frosted in pastel colors. It was such a joy to see all that delicious food, knowing that everyone in the room could eat every single dish. (I think there was one gluten dish sitting alone on a side table.) And the joy in that room spread from plate to plate, from table to table, from one hand with a gluten-free cookie to the mouth being fed. Folks who were there reveled in the community they found in the room. By the end of the evening, a charismatic man named Ken gathered names and email addresses to make a meet-up group for Boston. I imagine they have already met by now, bringing more food to each other and extending the laughter.

Boston, you throw a darned fine party.

Boston- Lu in Cambridge

The next morning, we woke up in the apartment of our friend Stephanie, whom I have known for years through Flickr and emails, but we had never met before that Boston party. This is the goodness of the world, people like Stephanie, who wrote to us before we landed in NY and said, “I know what it’s like to travel from hotel to hotel. Why don’t you just take my apartment in Cambridge for the night?”

Thank you, Steph. Lucy loved looking out the window through your binoculars after a long night of good sleep.

Boston- Flour books

Before we left Boston, we had the chance to visit with one of my baking heroes, Joanne Chang, who runs the Flour empire. Her first book, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe, is one of the finest baking books ever written. Every single recipe in that book works and works well. And I have been able to convert them all to be gluten-free without a hiccup. Next, I’m working on the focaccia recipe from Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe’s Most Loved Sweets & Savories. I can’t wait to try it soon.

Joanne, you are a mentor and inspiration.

Boston- Flour allergy signs

And look at the sign on the menu board at every Flour.

Boston- America's Test Kitchen

Afterward, we drove just outside the city to meet the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. I have long been a fan of these fine folks, so when I received an email from someone there, asking if we could stop by on our tour, I sort of wanted to faint.

These meticulous, curious cooks have been working on a gluten-free baking book for months. (Watch for it in early 2014!) The entire team came out to meet us and talk about rice flour, chocolate chip cookies, and how to make good bread. We were pretty blown away by this visit.

Boston- Rockport

We couldn’t end our gluten-free Massacusetts trip without heading out to Rockport, to visit Stephanie for the afternoon.

Rockport is possibly the cutest small town in all of America. Every corner seems to look like this.

Boston- lobster lunch

And in Rockport, you can walk into Roy Moore’s fish shack, point to fresh oysters in water, shrimp cocktail laid out in a row and ready to go, and pick out a live lobster for lunch. Sit on the seagull-scuffed picnic table outside on the back deck, which is sort of scruffy with a fabulous view, and wait. Wait for them to bring you lobster rolls and shucked oysters and a hot, just-cooked lobster with drawn butter.

We had a problem. We were due in Portsmouth that night but we didn’t want to go. I just didn’t want to leave Rockport.

Boston- fried clams

I couldn’t eat these fried clams from Top Dog in Rockport, since they were the gluten version. But Danny informed me they were crisp and light and utterly delicious.

And we figured out the recipe for the cookbook.

Boston- with Steph in Rockport

By this time in the potluck trip, we were feeling overwhelmed. We had met hundreds and hundreds of people, visited nine states and countless cites, and we still had two more potlucks and hundreds of miles to drive before we could head to the airport and fly home. But we were energized too, by the laughing parties, the sweep of red and orange leaves out the window as we drove, the friends we met and friends we made, and the chance to drive through this country, eating.

We were also overwhelmed by how much we loved Rockport. We thought about playing hooky and staying a night, spontaneously. But one last quick photo with Steph and we drove away from the cutest small town in all of America.

Oh yes, we will be back someday.

 

We want to send out a huge thank you and acknowledgment of the good companies that have come forward to sponsor this American Road Trip Potluck Tour for us all. 

Jovial Foods makes incredible gluten-free pastas, organic tomatoes, and some of the best olive oil we have ever tasted. They make simply great food. 

Attune Foods makes some of our favorite foods in the world, including their new quinoa-chia cereal, which we will be debuting on this tour. They do things right. 

Bakery on Main makes great gluten-free foods, including good granolas and bars. We’ll definitely take some of their instant oatmeal packets with us, for a good breakfast on the road.  

KitchenAid makes some of our most essential kitchen appliances. They are giving away one Diamond blender at every potluck we are holding!

Melissa’s Produce is providing us with great fresh produce for every potluck. We love their fruits and vegetables! 

Thank you to these companies for their sponsorship of this tour. 

Boston- Jovial pasta salad

Red Pepper and Arugula Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Feeds 4.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces gluten-free penne (we only use Jovial Foods gluten-free pasta)
  • 1 large red pepper, cored and sliced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 big handfuls fresh arugula
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 4 fillets of anchovies, chopped
  • 2 ounces capers
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 9 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Cooking the pasta. Set a large pot over high heat. Fill it with hot water and enough salt to make it taste like the ocean. When the water comes to a boil, add the penne. Let the pasta sit for 1 minute then stir it thoroughly for a moment. Cook until the pasta is tender but still has a bite, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the brand of pasta you are using.
  2. Making the salad. Put the red pepper, tomatoes, arugula, and basil in the bottom of a large, wide bowl. When the pasta is cooked, use a slotted spoon or spider to move the hot pasta to the large bowl. Drip some of the pasta water on top of it too. Let everything sit for 5 minutes while you make the vinaigrette.
  3. Making the vinaigrette. Put the anchovies, capers, and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the vinaigrette over the top of the pasta and toss it all together.
  5. Serve the pasta salad at room temperature.

34 comments on “Hartford, Boston, Cambridge, and Rockport

  1. Daphne

    As much as I love this blogpost, I love the pic of Lucy in the window more. She is breathtaking– like a Jessie Willcox Smith portrait.

    1. shauna

      Thank you. I have to admit that might be one of my favorite photographs of her. She was so intently watching the world outside the window. I love seeing her take in the world.

  2. Jackie Shaw

    If you are ever back in the Northshore area (Rockport and surrounding towns), you can get gluten free fried clams (or fish, shrimp, scallops, fries) at Woodman’s in Essex MA. They have a dedicated, gluten free fryer and are very careful. Love your blog.

    1. shauna

      We passed it on our way to Portsmouth! Actually, many people told me to go. Tell truth, however, it meant more to me to see the real thing and be determined to make it myself.

  3. Ken

    Shauna,
    Thanks for the shout out! I haven’t gotten the Boston people together yet, but I think I’ve got the impetus to do it now!

      1. Ken

        Well, this force of nature has been more like a drizzly rain lately. It will happen.

        And I must say your comments on my brown bread was a pinnacle xperience for me. I’m still new to this but hearing all the nice comments about my baking is a thrill.

        Off to bake some of your bread and muffins now for a weekend trip in the Berkshires. The colors are amazing now. To bad your trip wasn’t just a few weeks later. Next ime you come to Rockprt, Maine and Providence you can time it for that.

        1. Kris Newton

          How can we get added to the list for meet ups? I’m local but wasn’t able to make it to the potluck. My email address is klnewton [at] gmail [dot] com.

  4. Ginny

    Shauna,
    I’d bet that most of the people were excited to meet you. You started the whole thing rolling when you started your blog. I hope that you sometimes step back and see what you’ve helped create with your writing and enthusiasm for GF. It has made such a difference in my life.

    1. shauna

      Thank you, Ginny. I feel funny writing about that part of the trip, but it is very much with me. We were astounded by how many people came up to say they have been reading this site for seven years and we are deeply a part of their lives. I will never take that for granted. We came home even more excited to do our work for others.

  5. Amy Tracy

    Oh my you are making me sooooo homesick for New England. I miss the leaves, the lobster, the people. Your photos are gorgeous — as delightful as your family, your recipes, your writing. A while back I stopped following your blog because I have so many more food allergies than wheat/gluten, but when my son was diagnosed with celiac disease, I returned. So happy I did.

  6. Alison

    I’m so glad you love Nick’s in Providence! Several of the staff there are close friends of my brother’s, and the restaurant is of course a family favorite!

  7. Denise

    Hello. A friend of mine told me about your blog and “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I now have two favorites. Keep up the great work. Denise

  8. Susan Lynn Fabrizio

    Although the Hartford Potluck was a curious event, it was wonderful to meet with you– The Gluten Free Girl. How funny was he! Your daughter was a ball of fire and someday I will have to find a way to share her photographs with you. Next time you come to the East coast I will be sure to set a white table for you and surround you with amazing food and people. Thanks for joining us here and sharing your Gluten free world. Glad you enjoyed the Fritters! Many happy returns— Susan Lynn

  9. Dee

    I was so sad to have missed you in Belmont. I’ve been going to Rockport for 30+ years to visit a friend at his ocean-view home. When you plan your next trip to Rockport, I hope you will contact me so I can take Lu (and you, of course) for a romp on Good Harbor Beach.

  10. katy

    Wow! I didn’t know Nick’s on Broadway did GF, and I don’t know at all about Amy’s (unless it is the place on Wickenden?)

    My ten-year-old son was just diagnosed with celiac last week, so we are finding our way. You’re a huge help, even in our home state!

    Since diagnosis, we have been out to eat once: a diner, traditional except for having a chef with celiac. Fantastic egg sandwiches on GF english muffins. This was in Tiverton, RI–or may actually have been over the line in Fall River, MA. Alice’s Diner.

    Thank you for doing what you do.

  11. Kat

    Just wow! All the pics look amazing and thank you for updating with recipes from the road. I can’t wait to make the pasta salad for a picnic! The photos of Lu remind me of my childhood, my mother and I travelled up and down the east coast selling her pottery at markets. I met so many people that year, think I was 7 when my mother had a market hippy do my dreadlocks though, they had pink beads in them. They were fun to have for awhile but got too itchy for a little girl. How does Lucy find them?

  12. Stephanie

    It was an incredible thing to meet you and your family! The food was great, the company even better.
    Other gluten free fried seafood (and onion rings!) can be found at Chatham Fish & Lobster Company, btw!

  13. Tara

    Oh, I am so hoping you got the recipe for those yummy looking dinner rolls! Do a post on them, please? I would love to bake up a batch of those right this instant! And…I love, love, love that picture of Lucy at the window! Sometimes words are inadequate to describe a moment captured in a photo, and this is one of them.

  14. Bob

    The best of all is when kids are included. They should learn all about proper food while they are still small. That is the only way to avoid junk food. I appreciate that.

  15. flo bateman

    just found this website this evening. I have a brother-in-law and a great-granddaughter, and they have both been diagnios with celiac desease. So reading of all these gluten free books is great.
    I have a french cookbook from a time in a cookbook club. I didn’t return the card to stop the book. But I kept it because when I set it down on the table the book opened to popovers!!! It has the receipt for the filling too. Couldn’t send the book back, and I made the popovers that day. excellent!!!

  16. Kiki

    I grew up in Belmont. This post really makes me miss my home town. I’m so happy to hear about all the wonderful places I can visit when I go back “home”. We are planning a visit next fall.

  17. Stephanie

    Oh Shauna, what a great lunchtime read today. Thank you! What a glorious day we had, and so glad we were able to do it. Wishing for some sort off teleporting device to bridge the distance, but you will see my face in Washington, I promise!

    And those dinner rolls from Glutenus Minimus were something else. Still thinking about them!