Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chicken Paradise

Back in September, I ran the "Got Guts 5K" in Austin with my girlfriend and a couple of friends.  We wore homemade "Find Me Gluten Free" t-shirts in order to do some very targeted advertising.  After the race, we ran around sampling all of the gluten-free goodies (pizza, cookies, ice cream).  The raffle started midway into our snacking and we all kept an ear out for our bib number to be called.  After getting close a couple times, the last raffle prize is about to be announced:  a two night stay for two people at Chicken Paradise Gluten Free Bed and Breakfast in San Antonio, run by Anne and Joe Barfield.  I didn't win.  But my girlfriend cracked a big smile and started walking up.  Awesome (I hope she takes me)!

She did.  A few months later we scheduled the weekend stay and after work on a Friday, we headed down to San Antonio for a little vacation.  We got in a little late on Friday night, but we had put off eating dinner so we could eat at The Cove, a cool little restaurant/beer garden.  I looked over the gluten-free menu and decided on a Bison burger on a gluten-free bun (from Little Aussie Bakery) and some fries.  Sadly, they were out of Bard's and Redbridge.  Oh well.  The food was great and we had a great time sitting outside and listening to some live music.

We headed back to Chicken Paradise to conk out.  The suite was a very nice size with a great king size bed and wall-mounted TV.  We went to sleep excited to see Chicken Paradise in the daylight.

We woke up refreshed and soon after got a knock on our door from Joe letting us know that our breakfast was ready.  We got ready and headed outside to eat our breakfast by the pool.  As we ate some fruit and had some coffee and tea, we soaked in the landscape of Chicken Paradise.  Omelettes and waffles followed. The waffles were by far the best waffles that I've had since going gluten-free.  We chatted with Anne and Joe a little bit before going back to our suite to get ready for our Segway tour of San Antonio (yes, we looked like major dorks).

The next morning, we woke up and opened the door to a couple of chickens and a peacock roaming outside letting us know that it was breakfast time.  It was a little cold outside, so Anne and Joe brought breakfast to our room.  After some fruit and delicious French toast (made with bread from Little Aussie's), we were both full.  We packed up our bags and loaded the car up to get ready to leave.  Before we left, we wandered around the property for a little while.  We spent some time with the chickens while Joe was feeding them, as you can see below.

We had a great mini vacation at Chicken Paradise.  Anne and Joe were very hospitable and had obviously done this before.  I'd recommend Chicken Paradise to anyone (gluten-free or not).


I decided about three years ago that I was going to try eating gluten-free.  I didn't realize then that at that moment I had already taken my last intentional bite of gluten-filled pizza, and washed it down with my last ever sip of Miller Lite.  I realized it a few weeks later.  I was both devastated and relieved.  I finally knew what was making me sick.  But what was I supposed to eat?  How could I ever eat out?

Luckily, there was a boom of gluten-free awareness around the corner.  Grocery stores started gathering specialty gluten-free items in their own (albeit small) section.  Some restaurants even started putting together gluten-free menus.

Going gluten-free still isn't as easy as it could be, however.  Find Me Gluten Free is a free (and always will be) service that I have created to help people easily find, rate, and review businesses that cater to a gluten-free lifestyle.  Currently the service is in the form of a website and an Android app (currently in the Android market).  I plan to create an iPhone app and apps for other platforms (Blackberry, Palm) if there's enough demand.

If everyone chips in and recommends their favorite gluten-free establishments, we can centralize a huge amount of information and hopefully help others find these businesses that we couldn't live without.  Not only that, but if we can let others know about businesses that claim to cater to gluten-free customers but do so poorly, we can motivate these businesses to get educated and improve their practices.