Gluten-Free In Fresno: CASA de TAMALES


The next stop on our road trip was Fresno. It was the closest to Sequoia National Park that Chaz felt had the best gluten-free options for me. It was also where he found CASA de TAMALES, a family-owned restaurant making artisan tamales. Everything in the restaurant is gluten-free and the beans and rice are also vegan…which is not normally an option for vegans. There are also several vegan options and vegetarian options. And dessert. We were too full to try the dessert tamales, so maybe next time.

We wound up there late, near closing time, and the staff was very helpful when we ordered. It’s a fast-casual place, so you order at the counter and they bring you the food when it’s ready. I had the Shredded Beef tamale and the Green Tomatillo Chicken tamale along with the Berry Hibiscus Tea. The tamales were absolutely divine. I don’t think I’ve ever had tamales that good before. They were so good, I practically inhaled them.


General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks was great. Since I didn’t get to hike Fern Canyon or the Redwoods while we were in Arcata, it felt like a good alternative. However, I didn’t quite comprehend the enormity of the parks on top the distance to and from. The walk to the tree was fairly easy from the regular parking lot – it’s all downhill. The walk back was a challenge for my spoon-limited self. We had to stop many times on the way back up, most places I couldn’t even sit – I had to make do with leaning against something. But, it was all still beautiful.

We were pretty hungry when we finally got out of the park (hours later). It was late and a long way back to Fresno. We both thought it was a great idea to grind on some tamales. It took a while to get to an area with cell reception, but when we did, I discovered that they were already closed for the night.

Don’t you fret, though, the day we left for L.A., we made sure to stop for our tamale fix. This time around I had the Shredded Beef tamale (again) and the Spinach Artichoke tamale with their famous Sweetie, which is 1/2 Mint Lemonade and 1/2 Berry Hibiscus Tea. The drink may sound weird, but it was tasty and I would get it again. casa-de-tamale-2

If you’re in Fresno and need something gluten-free, go try these tamales. They won’t disappoint.

Gluten-Free In Napa: St. Clair Brown Winery


Up until now, I’ve only shared the 100% gluten-free places we dined at on the road trip because I wanted to show that these places are out there and they can take a load off on us, especially during stressful times like travel. This post is not about a 100% gluten-free restaurant or bakery. They do serve bread here, so you’ll need to take precautions and make sure to ask questions if you choose to eat here. And even if you don’t eat here, I’d recommend it just for the wine and scenery.

As I mentioned in the Napa Wine Tour post, we returned to the St. Clair Brown Winery later in the week. By design, they are open later for people who want to sit and hang out with a glass of wine and something to nosh on after work. The Garden Eatery is set amidst their kitchen garden, the cars driving by aren’t much of a distraction (unless you allow them to be). They serve small plates using items from the garden and are created to pair with their wines.


The idyllic setting lends to the desire to want to stay as long as possible.


Wine is served by the half-glass, full glass, half-bottle, table bottle, and traditional tasting flight. We were served the traditional tasting flight during the wine tour. This time, we ordered by the glass. I chose the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc, both are some of the best whites we had in Napa. That’s saying something since I’m not one who typically likes Chardonnay.


They also serve non-alchoholic drinks like iced tea and lemonade. During the tour, we were first served Fig Lemon Iced Tea, made with figs from the garden – delicious. And after I was done with wine the evening we went back, I switched to the Lavender-Bergamot Lemonade – doubly delicious.


The plates are usually served with bread (made locally), but you can ask for gluten-free crackers instead. The above is the cheese plate served with citrus blossom honey and pistachios.


We also had the Duck Rillette that came with Fig Apricot Compote. The Citrus-Marinated Olives are a separate “dish.” We were served them at the wine tasting along with Roasted Almonds and Hummus (the latter comes with bread, I ate it with a fork at the tasting, but you can substitute gluten-free crackers at the Garden Eatery). I enjoyed the olives so much I had to have them again when we went back and when we got home I made some. They are that good. Also on the menu when we were there was: PB&J Board (homemade organic ginger almond butter served with strawberries and blackberries) and Heirloom Tomatoes & Burrata (much like Caprese).


As the sun set, the patio lights were turned on and I didn’t ever want to leave.

Napa Wine Tour

It wasn’t just Cate & Co. doughnuts that made me fall in love with Napa. It was also the beautiful landscape, the passion the winemakers have for their craft, and the wine. Oh my, the wine.

Chaz booked us a tour through Platypus Wine Tours because they offered a gluten-free lunch option. Our tour guide was amazing and told us about the types of wines we’d be tasting that day (mostly reds). He also taught us how swirl the red wine in our glasses to aerate it and to go over the top of the glass to smell the wine.

I was still under the weather, coughing a lot, really groggy that morning. To give you an idea of how out of it I was, I told myself when I set down my camera near the end of our time at the first winery, “Don’t forget the camera. Don’t forget the camera.” Guess what I thought on the way to our next winery? “Oh, shit! I forgot the camera!” Chaz called to let them know I forgot it and that we’d be by once we were done with the tour. Thankfully, they are open later than wineries normally are and the grogginess cleared as the day wore on.

Also, wine makes for a tastier cough suppressant.

I wasn’t too social with the three other couples that were with us, but we discovered that between all but one couple, we had a Louisville/Ohio connection. Our tour guide is originally from Louisville. The wife of one couple is originally from Ohio. And another couple lives about fifteen minutes from me and Chaz. It’s a small world after all…

Our first stop was an urban winery, St. Clair Brown Winery in downtown Napa. They have an area across from where the wine is made for people to sit and order food and wine in the middle of their kitchen garden. We went back later in the week to do just that. I’ll share that in another post. The area is too pretty to pick just a few pictures to share in this post. This tasting was the only one in which food was served with the wine: hummus, citrus marinated olives, and roasted almonds.

The second stop was Silenus Winery & Artisan Vinters. They make some of their own wines, sell some of their grapes to other wineries, and they rent space and equipment to other winemakers. They have a counter for wine tastings, but we were taken into a private room and we all lost track of time. The man who was educating us on the wines we were tasting, and wine in general, was patient with the questions everyone had.

We ate lunch on their grounds before leaving for our third stop of the day.

The tasting at Tudal Winery was mobile. It started at their iconic tractor that is used on one of the wine labels and progressed through the grounds – a different wine for each area. The grounds are beautiful and several times we all wandered off to take pictures.

Our last stop on the tour was David Fulton Winery. This winery is family owned and we met a fourth generation family member during the tasting when he interrupted and asked if we wanted to watch a punch down. Well, YEAH! It was then the guy doing our tasting decided to Periscope the whole thing. Yay?

Had we known we had an extra day in Napa, we would’ve scheduled another wine tour. Maybe next time.

Some tips for Napa.

  1. The wineries do tastings by appointment only. Call ahead and schedule if you’re doing a self-guided tour.
  2. Tasting fees are not usually included with your wine tour fee and while on the tour, you don’t have to participate in the tastings if you don’t want to.
  3. If you taste a wine you like, buy it. I’m not joking. Many of the wines made in Napa aren’t distributed nationwide, but you can usually buy them through their websites. Platypus tours sold boxes, so the other couples bought wine and boxes. We bought a few bottles that we felt we couldn’t do without but didn’t need a box since we were road tripping.
  4. The wineries also have wine clubs you can sign up for. They ship several bottles (number varies depending on the winery) every other to every few months. Make sure you double check on whether or not your state allows alcohol to be shipped in.
  5. Make use of the dump buckets when tasting. Don’t be afraid to dump a wine you don’t like, you won’t hurt their feelings.