How to survive Netroots (if you must)

ImageThis is a very belated post about my experience attending the Netroots conference in San Jose at the end of June. Ah, Netroots. So conferences aren’t really my idea of a good time, but they’re maybe a necessary evil in my line of work. So I was in San Jose for six days last week between the pre-conference and all of the panels and workshops and happy hours and whatever. I have things to say about the conference itself (boy, do I) but I’ll try to keep this post about food/IBS management. And maybe I need to start a more politically-focused blog to talk about all the other things.

ImageAnyway. This is my pre-conference survival kit. I hit up the Yes! Market on 14th in DC the weekend before I left town. Nature’s Path organic oatmeal packets (cranberry ginger), seven Kind bars, a box of Mary’s Gone Crackers and some crunchy chickpeas. I figured this would be enough to hold me over between meals and in emergencies for the duration. I was only kind of right. The chickpeas turned out to be delicious, but an IBS trigger for me (at least on an empty stomach). Switching time zones is also challenging for me in terms of managing my diet, appetite and symptoms, since I depend a lot on my exercise, eating, supplement and sleeping schedule. Looking back, I would swap out the chickpeas for maybe a pack of gf bagels and peanut butter (is pb TSA-approved yet?).

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In addition to the food I brought with me, my lovely friend Val introduced me to Il Fornaio, a lovely Italian restaurant on South Market that catered her wedding last June. Val moved back to the Bay Area in May and I was lucky to be able to see her my first evening in town. Il Fornaio is located in the Saint Claire hotel, where Valerie’s grandparents were married back in the 40s. (I so love visiting people’s hometowns.) The waitstaff is lovely, they have gluten-free pasta available and they are super accommodating with dietary restrictions, I liked it so much I brought my colleagues back there for dinner later in the weekend. My one suggestion that would make an excellent dining experience even better: having an option for gluten-free bread at the beginning of the meal. It’s kind of sad to sit and watch everyone else at your table enjoying fresh bread and olive oil while you just sit there (especially if you’re kind of super hungry).

What else…best cheap meal option near the San Jose Convention center? Smile Sushi at 86 S 1st St. Nothing overwhelming, but solid, quick and inexpensive when we had a little bit of time between conferencing and evening events.

IMG_1610Biggest disappointment? P.F. Chang’s on 2nd St. This is sad because Asian restaurants are usually my go-to in unfamiliar cities and you’d think a chain with the reach of P.F. would have some pretty decent gf options. You’d be wrong. At left is the gluten-free version of the Buddha’s Feast, the only vegetarian option on the gf menu. The non-gf version includes tofu, and presumably some type of seasoning. This is a plate of plain steamed vegetables and brown rice. I experimented with some of the sauces on the and ended up adding quite a bit of not gluten-free soy sauce because I make bad decision when I am hungry and cranky. ALSO. P.F.’s charges $1 MORE to give you no tofu or flavor. Thanks for making my diet feel like a punishment. Losers.

IMG_1611Biggest surprise? Flames. So Flames bills itself as a Las Vegas-style eatery as though that’s a good thing, and I was really prepared to hate it on first sight. And then they were like, “here is a tofu scramble, on the menu with all of the regular people food, and yes we will prepare it without mushrooms for you.” And it was amazing. And the hashbrowns were amazing. I was still in a little bit of pain from the P.F.’s debacle the night before, but this experience redeemed my faith in humanity.

IMG_1612Best food moment of the weekend? Finding this vegan pizza with gluten-free crust at the Phoenix Sky Harbor on our four-hour delay. Iliked this so much I put it on Facebook, so all my friends could be excited about it with me. That green stuff is vegan pesto. Vegan pesto! At an airport! This place is called La Grande Orange which is a silly name for a totally legit restaurant that saved the day, because Kate almost killed a Southwest gate agent and I think we both just really needed food. Honorable mention goes to whatever news/snack shop we visited (four hours is a long time and I am basically always hungry) where I found this adorable vegan and

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gluten-free picnic in a box. Yes, it was overpriced and over-packaged, but everything in the airport is and this was vegan and gluten-free. So in this box you get a tiny bag of plantain chips, some black bean dip, fruit and nut trail mix, an additional package of mixed nuts and an orange chocolate. Super cute.

IMG_1614So the last thing about my trip to San Jose is this awesome picture of my coworker Kate. This is her “we’re finally boarding a plane after a four-hour delay and we’re going to get into BWI at like 3 am and we have to work tomorrow!” face. However. Kate is a champion and totally put up with my wandering/Googling to find food at Sky Harbor AND scored us a “sorry for sucking” flight coupon from Southwest for the inconvenience. Thanks, Kate!

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