Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gluten Free in Wine Country - California

Last weekend, I did not have any school work to do, so we decided to head up to Wine Country.  This was our second visit since moving to California.  In April, we stayed at Inn on Randolph, a 100% gluten free bed & breakfast in Napa, which you can read about here.

I would have loved to have stayed at Inn on Randolph again, but they were fully booked, so we spent one night at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa.

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at home, packed up the car, then drove to Sonoma, where we planned to have lunch at CocoaPlanet Tasting Room.  Their entire menu is gluten free and peanut free, except 3 of their beers, and they have vegan options as well.

The Cafe, which is open Friday and Saturday from 12:30 to 5:00, used to serve lunch and dinner, but now, they only offer light fare, chocolate tastings, desserts, and a variety of beverages.

We shared the charcuterie & cheese with cured meats, artisanal cheeses, bread, nuts, and olives.  I wish we had read more carefully and asked for a substitute for the blue cheese, which no one in my family eats.  We all liked the sheep milk cheese on the bottom, but only my husband ate the goat cheese.  All the cured meats were good, but the next time we visit CocoaPlanet, I would ask to sub cheddar cheese for the blue cheese. The gluten free bread was decent, but I wish they used the baguettes or olive oil crostini from Cate & Co. in Napa.

All four of us ordered the strawberries & chocolate, which includes organic local strawberries and two bites of each flavor of CocoaPlanet chocolate.  I enjoyed every chocolate except the CocoaMint, because I do not like mint, but my family loved it.

My daughter Emma and I shared the Edible Dirt, which is deep dark truffle chocolate pot de creme with chocolate shortbread crumble and pumpkin seeds.  I am not sure our dessert had pumpkin seeds, but it was incredible as is.  The pot de creme was thick and creamy, and the shortbread crumble was delicious.  Overall, I would rank the Edible Dirt as one of the best gluten free desserts I have had at a restaurant in the last couple of years.

My daughter Katie ordered the chocolate creme brulee made with vanilla espresso chocolate.  I had a few bites, and was impressed by how good it was.  I have always preferred chocolate creme brulee to vanilla, and this one did not disappoint.

We ordered a wine flight to go with our chocolate, but I am not a fan of red wine, so I only had a few sips of the first one.  My husband, who prefers red wine, was not that impressed with any of them.  On Sunday, we visited Stag's Leap Wine Cellars for a wine tasting, and he said they make the best Cabernet Sauvignon he has ever had.

Overall, we enjoyed CocoaPlanet, and would stop in again the next time we are in Sonoma.

No trip to Napa is complete without dining at C CASA, a 100% gluten free fast causal restaurant in Oxbow Public Market.  For dinner Saturday night, I ordered pozole, one of their specials, and the shaved cabbage Fuji apple salad with cumin lime vinaigrette, minus the green onions.  Before moving to California, I had never tried pozole, but now I am hooked, and order it whenever I see it on a menu at a restaurant.  C CASA's version had chicken and hominy in it, and was super flavorful, with a little bit of heat.

We shared an order of the roasted fingerling and new potatoes with poblanos and sweet onions.  It should have also had pico de gallo and cotija cheese, which I did not realize until I started writing this review.  The mix up probably occurred, because I asked for the lime crema to be left off.

Katie ordered a skirt steak taco with grilled onion, cotija cheese (subbed for blue cheese), avocado, jalapenos and cilantro, minus the garlic aioli.  She topped it with some of my Fuji apple salad, which is my favorite way to eat this taco.

Mitch and Emma shared an order of the Nachos Not with C CASA chips, black and white beans, pico de gallo, cotija cheese subbed for the goat cheese, and chipotle aioli on the side.

Everybody loved their dinner, and the Cate & Co. dark chocolate chip cookies I bought for dessert.  They are crispy around the edges, soft in the middle, and have a sprinkle of salt on them.  They are definitely some of the best gluten free cookies I have had since my celiac diagnosis.

We also bought several bags of Cate & Co. olive oil crostini to take home with us.  Cate & Co. is a 100% gluten free bakery in Napa, and is owned by Catherine Bergen, the owner of C CASA.  Cate & Co. used to have its own space in Oxbow Public Market, but now, you can find their baked goods at C CASA.

Sunday morning, I had breakfast at C CASA, which is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their fried apple fritters are divine, and I don't think anyone would ever know they are gluten free from the taste or texture.  Their glazed donuts and cinnamon rolls are great too, but I cannot pass up a chance to have an apple fritter.  I would have ordered a variety of baked goods to share with my family, but they were eating gluten-filled chocolate babka that we bought at Dean & DeLuca.

I also ordered a roasted potato scrambled egg taco with pico de gallo, avocado, cotija, greens and cilantro, minus the chipotle aioli.  I shared my savory dish with my family, and we all enjoyed it.  You can read my previous reviews of C CASA here.

On our last trip to Wine Country, we dined at Bouchon Bistro, one of Thomas Keller's restaurants in Yountville.  This time around, we had a late brunch at Ad Hoc.

Every other Sunday, Ad Hoc serves fried chicken and waffles for brunch.  All three courses can be made gluten free, using Cup4Cup, the Thomas Keller gluten free flour blend I use at home.

Our meal started with an arugula salad with red onion, kalamata olives, cucumber, toasted pine nuts, and lemon dill dressing.  I am not a huge fan of kalamata olives or dill, but the salad was delicious, and I really enjoyed the dressing.

I ordered my buttermilk fried chicken with bacon & chive waffles, and hoc sauce gravy without the chives and gravy, which ended up being served on the side.  The fried chicken was sheer perfection, with crunchy, well-seasoned breading, and perfectly cooked chicken.  I enjoyed every bite with a little drizzle of syrup and a piece of my waffle.

For dessert, we had carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  It was plain carrot cake without nuts or raisins, just like I like it, and there was just the right amount of cream cheese frosting.  My husband wanted to try a bite to see how it compared to his carrot cake, but I refused to share, because it was so good, and he had his own.

We will definitely return to Ad Hoc in the near future for brunch.  My husband and I agreed that it was one of the best meals we have had in California.  It is so nice to be able to go to a restaurant and feel normal, because every single course could be made gluten free.  My food looked no different than the food offered to my gluten-eating family.  If you are interested in the fried chicken, it is also available every other Monday night for dinner, and at neighboring Addendum between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

At Dean & DeLuca, I purchased Danielle mango and pineapple crispy fruit chips.  The only ingredients are fruit and rice bran oil.  They were so good, I plan on ordering both flavors from

At Dean & DeLuca, I also bought several boxes of Kent & Fraser gluten free chocolate butter crunch sweet biscuits, which I discovered on our last trip to Napa.

My favorite wine tasting last weekend was at Grgich Hills Estate, which we visited with my mom and uncle in April.  This time, we came home with two bottles of their amazing Violetta late harvest wine.

We were only in Wine Country for a little over 24 hours, but in that short time, I ate one incredible meal after another.  If you are looking for a gluten free-friendly place to vacation, I highly recommend this region.  San Francisco, which also has great gluten free options, is not that far away, and you can visit Muir Woods while you are in the area.  You can read my San Francisco dining reviews here.

October 14, 2018 Update

This morning, we had breakfast at C CASA in Oxbow Market in Napa. My daughter Katie and I ordered the C Breakfast Plate with two eggs cooked your way (we chose over easy), roasted potatoes, avocado, pico de gallo, grilled steak, and cotija cheese subbed for the crema. 

My husband chose the pork carnitas breakfast tostada with one egg over medium, white beans, roasted corn relish, poblanos, micro greens, romaine, lime crema, and cotija cheese.

He also ordered an over medium egg chorizo taco with chorizo black beans, avocado, pico de gallo, garlic aioli, and cilantro.

My daughter Emma chose the C Style Huevos Rancheros with two white corn tortillas, chorizo black beans, two eggs over medium, queso fresco, pico de gallo, and roasted corn relish. She asked that the chipotle aioli be left off her meal.

We all enjoyed our meals, but I really missed the amazing pastries C CASA used to sell. They are no longer making baked goods, including bread, donuts, cookies, etc. The only sweet treat they were offering today was gluten free Mexican chocolate brownies. We bought one for the trip home, and ate it in the car, because it was just too tempting. We all agreed that it was one of the best brownies we have ever had. It was super fudgy, and we all loved the hint of cinnamon.

What are your favorite restaurants for gluten free dining in Wine Country?


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