Great apps for travel
SecretEATS will organize an eating tour.
Context Travel will arrange private art, architecture and food tours.
Traveling Spoon will arrange for locals to host cooking classes and make homemade meals.
Lyfx connects travelers with outdoor adventurers.
Tiqets helps you get priority tix to attractions and museums.
For more info checkout this article:
In this article in The New York Times are some great ways to increase the number of destinations in one airline ticket. Check it out for summertime travel:
Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions of all of Italy. Tourists know it and flock there year round. But here is a relatively undiscovered part you might want to check out: Punta Ala, Check out this review from The New York Times:
Is a Gluten-Free Diet for You?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, kamut, einkorn, rye, barley, and triticale. It is used in breads and many unexpected products such as soy sauce, malt vinegar, couscous, beer, broths, etc. Even foods that don’t naturally contain gluten, such as oats, can be contaminated with gluten in the fields or during processing.
A gluten-free diet is a relatively manageable one that even allows you to eat (GF) pizza and (GF) bagels. You can eat most dishes as long as you substitute ingredients. For example, instead of using wheat flour, you can use a King Arthur GF flour blend of white and brown rice, tapioca, and potato starch. Instead of eating regular Barilla pasta, you can eat GF Barilla pasta. Instead of eating Corn Flakes, you can eat GF Corn Chex.
Supermarkets are carrying more GF prepackaged products, and many restaurants are introducing GF dishes in special GF menus, or on a regular menu that indicates which dishes are GF. Other restaurants are willing to adapt dishes from their regular menu to be GF by substituting, for example, GF pasta for regular pasta.
This availability of GF options as well as the “trendiness” of the GF diet among celebrities (Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Esposito, and Chelsea Clinton) and athletes (Novak Djokovic and Drew Brees), has led many people to consider going on a GF diet themselves. Especially during this holiday season, you may be reevaluating your diet on a quest to get healthier, eat healthier, or lose weight. Is a gluten-free diet for you?
There are many health reasons for people to go GF but it is not recommended that everyone go GF. Millions of people around the world have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine lining upon ingestion of gluten. Many others suffer from an intolerance or allergy to gluten or wheat. Still others are GF due to neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, anemia, or even depression or ADHD.
The most serious of these is celiac disease because, left untreated, it can cause serious multi-system damage. It is believed that at least one in 100 people worldwide have celiac disease and yet most of these cases have yet to be diagnosed. Anyone with persistent, unexplained GI symptoms should be tested. Anyone with a family history of this disease should be tested for it even if they are asymptomatic. The disease can be a “silent” affliction, causing internal damage with no external symptoms.
It is important to get tested for celiac disease before trying a GF diet. The disease requires a strict lifelong GF diet and is linked to other autoimmune diseases. If you go GF before testing for celiac you will not test positive even if you have it. The disease can present at any point in life; you may test negative one year and positive the next.
An internist can diagnose celiac disease through simple blood work. If your blood work is positive, your diagnosis will be confirmed via intestinal biopsy by a gastroenterologist.
If you do not have celiac disease but are considering going GF in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of any of the other above-mentioned maladies, an internist can guide you in your decision to go GF. Once the decision has been made, a dietitian can help you begin your GF life.
Do not go on a GF diet to lose weight or to “be healthier.” A gluten-free diet is different from a carb-free diet. If you eat GF carbs, such as GF breads, bagels, muffins, etc. you are ingesting more sugar, fat, and trans-fat than you would when following a regular diet. Furthermore, when you eliminate whole grains in order to go GF, you are eating less fiber and iron, and fewer vitamins. This can lead to nutritional deficiency and weight gain.
If you decide to try a GF diet, adhere to it consistently and do not cheat. Do not be “mostly GF” and still eat apple pie and bread. Give the GF diet time; try it for at least a month to determine whether or not it works for you.
Avoid cross contamination: Be vigilant. Make sure that no gluten is accidentally ingested.
Be a careful consumer: Read food product labels, looking for the “gluten-free” label; do not assume a food is GF. At the same time, be forewarned: recent studies have shown that some products labeled as GF do not meet FDA standards of less than 20 ppm of gluten. If you find that you are reacting to certain products discontinue consumption immediately. Restaurants, meanwhile, are not perfect: if you are not sure if the dish is truly GF, ask and ask again. The parameters of cooking a GF dish are complicated; not all food servers understand them.
Limit the number of rice-based products and focus instead on ancient grains such as quinoa, black rice, teff, and amaranth that are naturally GF. They are nutritious, high in protein and fiber. Unfortunately, pre-packaged commercial food products are much more rice-based so for now you will have to rely on your own home cooking for better nutrition.
May the year ahead be full of health and good food for all of you. Bon appétit!
Ancient Greek ruins from the 6th century B.C. await you in Metaponto, Basilicata. Centuries-old farms with the best strawberries you've ever tasted surround you. And finally, Matera takes you back in time to when people lived in an indescribable landscape of caves (i sassi). Today, you can stay in the caves overnight! For more info check out this great article:
After visiting Basilicata, you can drive to the beautiful and undiscovered beaches of Puglia...
Wow! We just finished the latest edition of The Gluten-Free Guide to New York. We've been producing this book since 2005 and with this latest edition, we have a record number of GF venues in the tri-state! We're very excited and grateful to the thousands of restaurant owners/managers who are making our lives easier in our hometown.
Travel Tips for Gluten-Free Italy
GLUTEN-FREE ITALY: TRAVEL TIPS
Before I left for Italy a couple of weeks ago, I sat down for lunch with a friend of
mine at a popular restaurant in Westchester, NY. I asked the waiter if the chef
could prepare me gluten-free meal and he eagerly responded, "Yes no problem,
they can make something without sugar!"
A week later, I sat down for lunch with a friend in Rome in a popular restaurant and
I asked the same question. The waiter said to me "Yes, no problem, we have tons
of clients who are gluten-free."
(By the way, this restaurant is La Scaletta and it is right near the Pantheon on Via
della Maddalena 46/49 --tel. 066792149.)
As I devoured my delicious gluten-free pasta with mushrooms, I discussed the
gluten-free scene in New York with my Roman friend. She was not a celiac, but she
was well aware of celiac disease and had herself been tested at an early age. This
was no coincidence; it was merely because she was Italian. Italians all know about
celiac disease and are all tested for it.
Great for them, but also great for us because as tourists we benefit!
So many people have expressed to me an interest in exploring a relatively
underdeveloped area of Italy, namely the heel of the boot, Puglia. But they're
generally afraid because this region is not yet as well geared towards tourists as,
for example, Tuscany is. So I decided to check it out for myself: I brought two
friends of mine (who don't have celiac disease, but are generally serious foodies)
along for the ride.
This was great fun because every time the restaurant owners brought out some
gluten-free food that they had prepared, they also brought out the "gluten version”
of the same thing. My friends tried each version and described to me the
differences. And just like the gluten-free pretzels in the US are tastier than the
wheat pretzels, we found that there were a number of gluten-free foods in Italy that
were tastier than the gluten version of the same food! These fried calamari won
one of the taste tests:
We had a great time and met some people who are really dedicated to the gluten-
free cause. Take for example Luigi, the pizza guy (Atelier della Pizza Capri ‘91),
who has won awards all over Puglia for his outrageously good pizza (check out his
trophies in the background of the picture!)
He has a family friend who has celiac disease, and so he decided to make gluten-
free pizza as well. Now on the weekends he makes 50 to 60 gluten-free pizzas a
night in a special "laboratory," a room to the side of his regular kitchen. He has a
separate oven, separate utensils, basically separate everything. He said it makes
him so happy to see kids get excited about having gluten-free pizza. And let me tell
you, that pizza was the best pizza I've ever had! (Notice the variety: part
mushroom, part pepperoni, part prosciutto, part artichokes and part plain!)
A few tips for tourists who are going anywhere in Italy this summer and fall:
• plan your day carefully: Use Google maps to figure out where the sites are
that you want to visit, and where the nearby restaurants are that serve gluten-free
food. It is always a good idea to call ahead to the restaurants to make
reservations, request a gluten-free meal, and ensure that they are actually open!
This last part may seem a little silly, but for example, when I was in Bari on a
Sunday and Lecce on a Saturday at lunch there weren’t many restaurants open,
for various reasons, especially because of private parties being held in the
• Keep in mind that when you inquire about getting gluten-free food in
a restaurant, the first response might be “no”. In this case, ask again in a
different way! Here's the deal: the Italians have a national, very well coordinated
celiac society that works closely with restaurants to serve gluten-free food that
has been prepared in a completely uncontaminated environment. The restaurants
are equipped with a separate "laboratory" with a separate oven, stove, utensils,
and cookware to prepare gluten-free food. The restaurants’ special labs are
inspected every six months. If there are any violations of the food preparation
rules, the restaurants are taken off the gluten-free restaurant list until the
violations have been remedied. This keeps restaurant owners hyper-vigilant about
the gluten-free food they prepare and serve.
So if you go to a restaurant that is not working directly with the Italian Celiac
Society, the owners/managers may automatically say that they are “not prepared”
or “not set up” to serve you a gluten-free meal. This is just a way to indicate to you
that they don't participate in the program. You can still get an excellent meal at a
restaurant that doesn't participate directly in the program, because the restaurants
often have gluten-free pasta stashed away for their regular clients, and they're
already well familiar with celiac disease and gluten-free food. Even if they don't
have gluten-free pasta stashed away, they can still easily prepare you a “second
piatto”, that is, a meat, chicken, rabbit, veal, or fish dish that is gluten-free. So you
should let them know that you understand they don't participate in the Italian
Celiac Society program, but that you would love to have a gluten-free “secondo” at
• If you're looking for gluten-free pizza (“pizza senza glutine”), you're better
off looking for it at night instead of during the day because Italians tend to have a
bigger lunch and a smaller dinner. A lot of places don't even make gluten-free
pizza during the day. In addition to the restaurants and pizzerias that participate in
the Italian Celiac Society program, there are a number of restaurants and pizzerias
that offer gluten-free pizza under the tutelage of a commercial venture, DS. This is
a brand of the Dr. Schär group that provides restaurants with all the right cooking
tools, gluten-free foods and ingredients and the training operators need to
prepare meals safely. The restaurants that participate in this program are called
DS Pizza Points.
• When you stay in a hotel, make sure to phone ahead and asked them if they
can serve you a gluten-free breakfast (“colazione senza glutine”). Most hotels
and B&B's serve a complimentary continental breakfast. With advance notice, they
can order gluten-free food for you from a pharmacy or make it themselves. You
can have, as I did, warm gluten-free croissants (called “cornetti senza glutine”),
breads and little cakes for breakfast.
• farmacia, farmacia: if your hotel says they cannot provide you a gluten-free
breakfast, you can go to any pharmacy and buy some GF products to bring to the
hotel breakfast. You can also buy gluten-free bread there and use it for lunch with
some fresh cheese and cold cuts (when you walk into any food store in Italy, they
will tell you which cold cuts are gluten-free and most of them are).L. 06792149
• Ice cream (“gelato”): you can't go to Italy without sampling the delicious ice
cream but be careful. Just as in the US, gluten is thrown into things you wouldn't
expect, in Italy it is thrown in as well. Obviously you need to stay away from flavors
that have cookies in them, but additionally, to be absolutely certain there is no
cross contamination; you should go to the designated ice cream stores that serve
GF ice cream. There you can often get a gluten-free ice cream cone (“cono senza
glutine”).You can also get pre-prepared ice cream in bars or restaurants just about
anywhere if you look for this poster:
The restaurants, pizza places, and ice cream stores that are part of the Italian
Celiac Society program and the DS program, as well as the pharmacies that carry
gluten-free food are all listed in The Gluten-Free Guide to Italy.
If you find yourself in Puglia, check out the following excellent
Trani: Donna Rosa Corso Vitt. Emmanuele, 138 tel. 0883764958
Bari: Da Bari Napoli Via Piccinni 187/189 tel. 080.9905452
Alberobello: Il Forno di Cristo Via Monte Sabotino 24 tel. 080.4324040
Palmariggi: Sciarabba Via Roma 45 tel. 354497
Taviano: Atelier della Pizza Capri ’91
Corso Viareggio-Marina di Mancaversa
tel. 392 5336716
Meantime, buon viaggio e buon appetito!
Gluten-free foccaccia in Italy’s colors
Phone companies: Global data plan with Verizon 100 megabytes of data for $25/month (cannot be pro-rated). This is okay for sending emails but not for photos or for video calls
TMobile’s “simple choice” plan: $50/month unlimited talk, text, data on home network and in more than 100 countries at no extra cost. PLUS there is no annual contract. With this plan phone calls to the US are 20 cents/minute and to landlines in some countries are free.
T-Mobile also sells high-speed data passes: $15 for a one-day 100megabyte pass, $50 for a 14-day 500 megabyte pass.
You can buy a SIM card which gets inserted into your phone to get a local phone number and local calling charges. Be careful—often the instructions on how to use it are in a different language! Your phone has to be “unlocked” in order to do this by your carrier, or you can buy an unlocked phone through amazon for under $50. Plus anyone who calls you with the new local number will get charged international rates if they are not in the country you are traveling through.
Hot spots: Turn off your data roaming and buy an umlimited pass for citywide WiFi. For example Boingo gives one-month unlimited mobile WI-FI access for two devices at more than 700,000 hot spots across the globe for $7.95. You can do this for as many months as you would like, with no cancellation fee. You can get city maps with hot spots at Boingo.com
With this free Wi-Fi you can make free voice calls (download Skype on your phone) and text for free with WhatsApp.
In some cities such as Paris, you can find free hot spots so that you don’t need a Wi-Fi pass. You can find them with an app like Free Wi-Fi Finder, which you can use even if your data roaming is turned off.\
**Don’t forget however that free public Wi-Fi leaves you open to cyber attacks.** So never use Internet browsers to log onto Gmail, Yahoo or Facebook. Use the apps directly instead.
Rome's cool neighborhood: Pigneto
If you love Bushwick, Brooklyn, you are going to love Rome's off-the-beaten track neighborhood, the Pigneto:
Great Apps to Organize Your Travel
We all know that while traveling is great fun, packing and organizing the trip isn't! These apps will help streamline that process:
You'll love this app if you travel a lot and need info about restaurants, stores, lounges and Wi-Fi in various gates at whatever airport you are in! You can also forward the information about your trip to TripIt or Kayak accounts through this app.
This is an itinerary organizer, and also a travel cheerleader: it will count down the days to your trip! It also provides useful maps, local weather, and hotel checkout times.
TripIt (free or $49/yr for Pro)
This is a great app that will organize all the confirmations that you get from car rental companies, hotels, airlines, restaurant booking services. The app itself will import all of these (or you can forward them) and then create a travel itinerary that even color codes all the information. And best of all, there are no ads to sift through. You have the itinerary available to you on whatever device you want to view it--- smartphone, tablet, computer (calendar and internet). My mom is happy that I can share this itinerary with her too!
If you upgrade to Pro you can even get text alerts about flight delays, or gate changes, and you can keep track of your frequent flyer miles.
WorldMate (free $3.99 for gold version)
If your travel is international, you'll find this app helpful because not only does it create an itinerary for you but it also gives you a currency converter and a tip calculator. You can use it on your mobile device or on the web.
Maria and Sara
We love to travel and everywhere we go we love to sample the local GLUTEN-FREE gourmet offerings! Share your experiences with us and with our readers here.