Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gluten Free Maine - Acadia Road Trip

Every year since we started dating, Mike and I have gone camping/ hiking in Acadia National Park  in Maine. This year was our third year making the trip. Each year we get up early on a Thursday morning and drive up to the Kittery Trading Post, buy way too much stuff and grab some breakfast. This year we decided to try a local place.

The first place we went to had two people sitting at the front counter. Both of them looked like me in the morning, (tired, crabby and seriously in need of coffee). I asked the lady closest to us how they made the hash browns and if she knew where they got the bacon from. Her responses seemed like she didn't know and most certainly didn't care. Shockingly, after telling us she didn't know, she also told us her father had Celiac Disease. We decided to try some place else. Fortunately, we found the Firefly Diner down the street.

Disclaimer: When we hike multiple miles in a day I don't always eat the diet friendliest foods. :o)

Fire Fly Diner

The lady waiting tables was also the owner. This time instead of telling me they didn't know what was in the bacon, she marched me into the kitchen to let me read the package for myself. I wound up getting a Greek omelet and bacon. They are located at 435 US Route 1 in Kittery, ME.

From there we headed up to Bucksport to show our friends the observation tower that looks over the Penobscott River and then headed to Southwest Harbor to set up camp at Seawall Campground. It took us over seven hours to get up to Seawall because of the stops we made so we decided to go out to dinner the first night instead of cooking over the campfire. Since we were staying in Southwest Harbor and because it's delicious we went to XYZ for dinner. This is the restaurant I reviewed in last week's Restaurant Fridays. It's quite possibly my favorite restaurant. The food is delicious, the staff is friendly and they understand gluten free.

Chilies Relleno and Shrimp (XYZ)
Normally when we're camping we get breakfast at a diner in the morning, pack a lunch for our hike(s) and cook around the campfire at night. This year we brought another couple with us and wanted to show them around Acadia/ Mount Desert Island so we wound up getting dinner from a restaurant each night. The first day we were there we cooked breakfast over the campfire. It consisted of eggbeaters mixed with peppers, onions and cheddar cheese and a side of gluten free sausage. After a day of hiking and swimming in Echo Lake, we decided to head into Bar Harbor to show our friends around. From there, we grabbed dinner at Gringo's.
Gringo's ...
is a walk-in, order at the counter and grab a seat kind of place. They have indoor and outdoor seating, (great when you've been hiking all day), the food is super fresh and they know what is and isn't gluten free on their menu. They're located at 30 Rodick Street in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Image from Gringo's Facebook Page

I got the nachos because they are delicious here and everything on them is fresh. My order contained monterrey jack cheese, black beans, white meat chicken, fresh home made salsa, fresh jalapenos, black olives and a little guacamole. I added a margarita to the order and it made for a great dinner.

Tasty and Fresh Nachos From Gringo's

The next morning we opted to have breakfast at a local cafe/ diner in Southwest Harbor. As we got closer to town, the traffic came to a stand still because of the annual Flamingo Festival. Someone noticed a sign on the side of the road for breakfast and we turned around and followed it. We wound up finding a great little place called...

Breakfast at Grumpy's
The food options for me were only moderately limited. The staff didn't know what was gluten free, but were very helpful in helping me navigate their menu with a few questions. All omelets with naturally gluten free ingredients were safe because they made them in a separate frying pan from the pancakes and french toast. Poached eggs were ok as well. The food was good, fairly priced and came out quick. Just the way we like it.
That day we headed back into Bar Harbor and wandered around. My friend Lisa and I had planned on kayaking while the boys hiked the grueling and uber high "bee hive" trail. I'm reasonably afraid of heights and it was nearing 90 degrees out so climbing across metal ladder bridges and up steel rungs on the side of sheer cliff wasn't my idea of a good time. Unfortunately, our kayaking trip got cancelled so wound up walking around the sand bar just before low tide. They boys met us after their hike and were ready for dinner. Since they had been climbing in 90 degree weather we opted for a place with out door seating.

fit the bill perfectly. The also had a copy of their menu marked up for gluten free ordering. Items in red you can't eat, items in green are good to go. I got an angus burger without the bun, chips and a pickle as well as a raspberry lime rickey made with gin. The burger was really good and the drinks were spectacular.

Bunless Angus Burger From Rupununi

After packing up camp and doing one final hike around Jordan Pond, we parted ways and began the trek back to our respective Massachusetts cities. The drive was trafficky and long so Mike and I decided to make a pit stop in Kittery for dinner. I used the yelp app on my phone to find a gluten free friendly restaurant and found...

AJ's is a great little pizza shop in Kittery that is eco conscious and seems to serve a lot of organic and local options. The gluten free pizza crusts are from French Meadow Bakery, (the crust every pizza shop seems to be using), but the owner told me they were in the process of creating their own crust mix that would be wood fired and hopefully more substantial than the French Meadow crust. I got fresh basil and pepperoni on mine and it was delicious. The sauce was really flavorful and the cheese was fresh. The only thing lacking was the crust. I have no problem with the French Meadow crusts. I spent five years living in upstate New York where I grew very fond of the "New York Pizza" Style. Someday I hope to create or find a gluten free pizza crust that comes close.

Gluten Free Pizza From AJ's

All in all, the trip was great. We hiked all day, swam, camped and ate like kings. Each time I travel gluten free, especially in New England, I get more and more confident in my ability to find safe food no matter where I go. This allows me to be spontaneous and enjoy traveling like I used to.

What's your favorite gluten free place in the Acadia National Park area?


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