In Search of Gluten-free Dinner

It’s Memorial Day weekend which for me and thousands of other homeschooling families in Florida means it’s time for the annual FPEA Convention. We’re at the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel in Kissimmee which is a world unto itself! Themed sections like Everglades (where our room is), St. Augustine or The Keys are where the rooms are. There are at least a half dozen swimming pools, an atrium garden area with live alligators, turtles and snakes, and at least two jumbo movie screens playing family-friendly videos. The hotel area bridges to a large convention center area where they have all the seminars and the largest exhibit hall I have ever seen filled with every kind of curriculum you can imagine.

Bringing in my cooler of breakfast and lunch from home I was not the only one schlepping in food from home. Yesterday I even met another lady who carries sea salt in her purse. ┬á­čÖé ┬áStill, now that I’m eating gluten-free it has been a struggle to find enough to eat. My groceries were for breakfast and lunch, I still needed to buy dinner. ┬áThe hotel set up a food court area on the convention center side. That was the closest place so we started there first. DH got a bowl of chili and I started to do that too but something told me to ask first. Glad I did – after checking with the manager it turns out the ONLY thing they had that was gluten-free was a small garden salad and the only GF salad dressing was fat free and full of msg. ­čÖü ┬áSo I left there empty handed and way too hungry. Eventually I found a small bowl of black bean soup at the sports bar. But when I asked to check the ingredients on the sour cream it was filled with guar gum, potassium sorbate and about six other chemicals. So just plain black bean soup was all I got. I supplemented with some of the lunch stuff I’d packed.

Tonight we tried again. ┬áLast year we really liked the Italian themed Villa de Flora so we headed there first. I asked the hostess “Do you have any gluten free options?” and was thrilled when she said “Yes!” PLUS she said it was their practice to have the chef come personally speak to me and find out what kind of special restrictions I had so they could accommodate! ┬áSure enough the chef came out and escorted me on a personal tour of their dinner buffet and pointed out every item that was GF plus he offered to make me GF pasta and offered GF rolls if I wanted them. Then he said that for dessert he had several GF choices and just to call on him when I was ready and he’d bring them out. ┬áKudos to Villa de Flora for such a great variety of real food options for gluten-free guests and for such great customer service!

GF meal at Gaylord Palms 1

grilled vegetables, salads, red pepper hummus, parma ham and cheeses

GF meal at Gaylord Palms 2

tomato bisque, saffron shrimp and mussels, veal osso buco, mushroom polenta, haricot verts







GF meal at Gaylord Palms 3

amaretti cheesecake, herbal tea with heavy cream and honey










Have you ever had a rough time finding gluten-free food while eating out? Have you ever had exceptional customer service when making a special request at a restaurant?

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