Out of Country

I know it’s a bit (well, more than a bit) late, but I hope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Almost a month ago my Dad took my family on a sudden vacation. I took more pictures than I could share here, I got sunburned and it didn’t sting, I learned I prefer traditional sushi instead of cooked, and my family and I had a great time and lots of fun. Where did we go? We went on a road trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

On the Road – Destination: California

Although at first the differences between Canada and America were barely perceptible, the first thing to become apparent was the roads. Four to six-lane highways, everything going at incredible speeds – so fast that it was sometimes hard to capture photos of anything, particularly the farm animals on the sides of the highway: mostly cows, but we also saw a fair amount of horses (my sister counting every one she saw) and, later on, sheep and goats, and some llama. We even saw deer – most of the time fleetingly so, as we sped by on the highway or missed them entirely if looking the other way. What decent photos I did manage to get of farm animals – other than rendered blurs and streaks across countryside – was done on the sports mode of my camera. At great velocity, cityscapes become blurred and hazy; a peaceful sunset becomes a raging fire.

We had a little detour through San Francisco and it was while we were there that my Dad and I walked down to the Fisherman’s Wharf, to find clam chowder and sourdough bread with my grandmother’s recommendation, and me taking pictures along the way and stopping in at a Starbucks on our way back to the hotel, treating myself to a salted caramel hot chocolate: something that I really want to make a healthier version of to share here. (An aside – that was the best salted caramel hot chocolate I’ve had anywhere. It was just perfect.) We took the chowder and sourdough back to the hotel and that was our breakfast.

Also in San Fran, we went to one of the Whole Foods stores there and found the Purely Decadent coconut milk creamer and coconut milk yogurt, neither of which are yet available in Canada and that my family’s been wanting to try for ages and ages. This was all in the course of feeling wowed and exclaims of “Look at this! Look at that!” throughout the store. Another thing we spotted was coconut oil cooking spray – hello!

I also went to Orson, pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner’s second restaurant, took pictures, and had a cupcake. If you know me, I’m a big fan of hers and her cookbook Demolition Desserts. More on that adventure  soon, in another post.

We drove through San Francisco and through Oakland before we were back on the highway. As we passed the exit sign for Berkley, I wistfully thought, “Chez Panisse.” (Another time, another time..)

Disneyland! Anaheim, California!

Arriving the night before, we went to Disneyland (about a ten-minute walk away from where we stayed) on Halloween. Oh, it was wonderful – seeing people dressed up in their full Halloween costumes, it made me feel that I should have brought mine or done something dramatic and dressed up. There were a number of people dressed as Disney characters, although there were also some in period dress – one lady I saw looked as if she stepped out of the Victorian era, complete with the big hat – and other costumes.

I have heard high praise for Disneyland Florida’s accommodations for allergy dining, especially gluten-free, however for the one in Anaheim I don’t know anything about it as my family didn’t do much research into it and we didn’t eat at any of the Disney restaurants, instead choosing to eat snacks we brought along with us and eating back at the place we were staying at. (If any of my readers have been to Disneyland, Anaheim and have dined there, please share your experiences with allergy accommodations and dining!)

As for rides, most of the rides I went on were fairly gentle – the ones I wasn’t sure about I decided not to go on, opting to let my siblings test them out first! 😀 My favourite rides were Autotopia (in Disneyland) and the Silly Swinging Symphony, Soaring Over California, and California Screamin’ (in California Adventure). I wasn’t sure about California Screamin’ – I’m not really a roller coaster person – but this one was smooth and only had one round so that if you wanted to do it again, you had to get back in line. I went on twice in a row. The first time was okay, the second time was fine until I started feeling a little nauseous partway – I’m not used to high speed, twisting rides like that, and it finished me.

We went to the Whole Foods in Tustin, and it is ginormous! It was so huge that most of the time we were there was spent being wowed and I’m sure we didn’t explore the whole store. We were also amazed at some of the deals – Brussel sprouts, still on the stalk, for $3.99; that made a soup pot full and we ate it all as part of our dinner. What was even more incredible was that there wasn’t a single bad sprout on the stalk, unlike the ones that you have to pick through. We also saw the Purely Decadent coconut milk products again and we were stunned at all the ice cream flavours compared to what’s available in Canada so far. I was stunned at the range of gluten-free products they have, more than I’d seen in one spot, to  the point of almost overwhelm and I had an inner compulsion to scoop them all up, although I didn’t end up doing so. I was amazed at some of the prices, too, so inexpensive! I was astounded by the salt bin: gourmet salt and at least six varieties, even black salt. I don’t know much about salt and I don’t really make the distinctions between different kinds, aside from obvious things like crystal size, so I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with them but it was amazing nonetheless.

Almost the same case in the baking aisle – whole sections of a shelf, from top to bottom, devoted to all kinds of sugar and honey, it was incredible. I had never seen so many kinds of honey in my life. It was like that throughout: tons of different kinds of a particular something. The oil and vinegar shelf was impressive – there was even an extra display of olive oil in the middle of the aisle, which was adjunct to the freezer section where we found the coconut milk ice creams. I had gone off there myself to get the ice cream, but had to bring the whole family over to decide. We were briefly at a standstill there for a moment, baffled. We also tried Purely Decadent’s new product, sorbet made with coconut water (raspberry). Let me say, it’s not a word I use often to describe food but it was dreamy as well as a gorgeous colour. As for ice creams, we enjoyed the Passionate Mango (passion fruit and mango), Cherry Amaretto, and German Chocolate. My favourite was the mango, it was incredibly light and creamy at the same time.

My time with my family in California was a wonderful one. It is said the best things in life cannot be told, for they are beyond words. Travel is like that. There is still so much more to say here than what I’ve already shared; it’s packed. Next up – tomorrow, a post detailing highlights of the food my family and I tried in America, including those that I mentioned in this post, and my trip to Orson in San Francisco. Stay tuned and come back tomorrow for the edibles!

More photos from our California trip:

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One year ago: Pumpkin Gingerbread Spice Cake (SCD & GFCF)

11 thoughts on “Out of Country

  1. aaaww, thanks so much for this post! I’m miles (days? years?) from taking a trip like that so I thoroughly enjoyed the tales and the pics! I swear my pulse was racing from reading about the food shopping adventures, hahaha 🙂

    Have a nice weekend.

  2. Hey Zoe–What a great trip report! I love your detailed description of your and your family’s experience and all your photos. Your statement about not being able to capture everything and travel being like that is so true. I’m almost reluctant to do travel reviews because I feel like I can’t do justice to places and experiences. Will look forward to your follow-up posts, for sure. And, the best salted caramel hot chocolate you’ve ever had? I’ve never even heard of that, but it sounds divine. Please come up with a recipe soon! I haven’t seen the spray coconut oil … love that! Of course, I’ve been saying I need to get one of those little spray bottles and still plan to. Anyway, thanks so much for this post, Zoe! 🙂


    1. Hi Shirley, thank you! I have a good idea of how to make my own version of the salted hot chocolate caramel – written down even – now it’s just a matter of actually making it. We didn’t buy the coconut oil to know how it works, though, so I don’t know if it is a good product or not but it’s good to know that there is such a product anyway. I’ve only seen it in the States so far.

  3. I am amazed you were able to get some great shots while driving. Mine usually had windshield or window marks and a great big blur of light. It is amazing the variety that the States has and the prices but they do have a bigger population. I am so intrigued by that “creamer” that is makes me want to run to the border! I also have never seen coconut oil spray here. If they did have it, it probably would be in a specialty store or gourmet and priced higher. It sounds like that was your first family trip, what a nice surprise and I guess Disneyland is perfect with having younger siblings. I think next time you have to track Elizabeth Faulkner down for a blog interview! 🙂 Great post and I can’t wait for the next one, too.

    1. She’s got the better camera. 😛 At least when it comes to sport mode, mine does horrible sport mode. O_O However, Apple is mine and I love it. 🙂 I’ll have to do my own post soon and link to this… With lots of commentary on hers of course. 😀 And if she tracks down Elizabeth, I’m not following. I’ll just say Z was such a nerd that she bought her book, and then probably have to remind Z to ask her to sign it. -_- And Z: Lower the photo size and don’t give them all the same freaking name/caption/WHATEVER!!

      1. Miss Kitty – As a passenger, not driving 😉 – heaven knows what I’d get if I had been driving! Like I told Shirley, I haven’t seen that spray here in Canada yet but I’m on the lookout. I’d be interested in trying it. As for Elizabeth Falkner, well, maybe once Citizen Cake has moved to its new location on Filmore Street (I have it memorized) I can also check that out. At most food blogging conferences, particularly BlogHer, she is there, so maybe if I ever attend one of those conferences I’ll have a chance of meeting her. And I’ll remember to bring my copy of “Demolition Desserts”, too, for her to sign! 😀

        Adarashia – I like this new photo size. The smaller size was fine, too, but I think this new size fits the blog better. And why wouldn’t you go with me to meet Elizabeth Falkner? Sheesh!

  4. Hi Zoe,
    I stumbled onto your site from other gf sites. I am very impressed! I had to comment on this post, because my family and I just got back from Disneyland last night! We had a great time. Just so you know the staff at Disneyland is very helpful with gf foods. We ate at Ariel’s Grotto and another restaurant (name escapes me…flying something??) in California Adventures. We also ate Coke Corner and Tomorrowland Terrace in Disneyland. All offer gf bread, and buns! Red Rocketts offers gf pizza too! We had breakfast with the characters at Goofy’s Kitchen. At both Ariel’s Grotto and Goofy’s Kitchen, the chef came out and took our order personally to ensure that our needs were met! I loved that Chef at Goofy’s Kitchen even made my kids mickey pancakes and waffles just like all the other kids were eating but ours were of course gf. He even walked me through the entire buffet to tell me what was safe for us. Amazing service!! If you go to City Hall in Town Square at Disneyland you can get a four page (at least for us it was 4 pages) list of all the gf options in the two parks. Now eating in the parks is expensive (however we weren’t charged anymore for gf options, which is amazing), so we too took our own food into the park as well. I would try to alternate the meals we prepared and the meals we purchased. Just wanted to share!

    1. Hi Tai, thank you for sharing! That is just wonderful, simply outstanding! How considerate of the Disney staff and I’m impressed that the chef personally took your orders and even went out of his way to make your children Mickey pancakes and waffles. That IS service! Once again, I am greatly impressed and now we know for next time.

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