February 24, 2009

Gluten Free on the tropical island of Zanzibar

I apologize that I have not posted more recipes this month, but as some of you know I was doing some serious traveling for the past month, therefore many of my posts are geared more towards traveling. But I personally feel that you can never have enough travel advice about countries when you are Celiac!

Zanzibar is a little island off Tanzania that is absolutely magical. It is surrounded by other little islands that are world renowned for their snorkeling. This island is home to many world famous spices such as, vanilla, cumin, cloves, pepper, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and so many more. It is where I had some of the best Indian food in my life, swam in the warmest ocean, and saw dolphins out my breakfast window almost everyday. It was incredibly easy to find GF food here, as people in Africa view flour as a luxury, whereas people in America feel that they need to "Stretch" food to save money, so flour goes in almost everything! The cuisine in Zanzibar is highly influenced by Indian and Asian foods and if you are like me, this is the place you want to be! They also serve many fish and shellfish dishes that are caught daily. The portions are good sized and you can eat a wonderful meal for under 10 USD. My only advice is to bring an explanation of what Celiac disease is and the things you can and can not eat in Swahili. However, almost everyone speaks English, so questions are well understood. Below is a list of restaurants I ate at while staying in Stone Town, Zanzibar. My final advice is if you ever make the trip to Tanzania, do not miss out on going to Zanzibar!

Archipelago~5 out of 5
This restaurant was so incredibly good, that we ate here 3 times! I could not get enough of their dishes. The food here is cheap and amazing. They offer many grilled fish dishes and believe it or not they do not use flour in anything! They have GF cakes for dessert created with almond meal and date flour. You can easily eat 3 courses here for under 12 dollars. Another perk is the view here. The restaurant sits on the second story of a building overlooking the water and is perfect for a sunset meal.

Silk Route~4.5 out of 5
An Indian restaurant with a great atmosphere. Located on the very top of a building, you can overlook the streets of Stone Town. The waitstaff is amazing and they really catered to my needs. I was able to eat very easily here.
Freddie Mercury's~2 out of 5
This restaurant is named after one of the members of Queen, who was from Zanzibar. They are very proud of him and created this restaurant in honor of him. The food at this restaurant was horrible. However, it gets 2 stars for the incredible water front view it displays. The servers were quite confused about my needs and not very accommodating. I recommend this place for a drink at sunset, but for dinner, I highly suggest you go somewhere else.

Al Jahar~2 out of 5
A fancy restaurant, with reasonable prices. Located on the top floor of a eye pleasing hotel, this restaurant has one of the best views in Zanzibar. Its bar has a very Schick, yet comfortable feel about it. They offer a wide array of drinks, but their mixed drinks lack in flavor. Their soups are incredible, but their food is sub par. I sampled the paella, a traditional Spanish dish, and was so disgusted by it, that I barely ate five bites of it. However, this is another restaurant that I highly recommend their bar for a beer or glass of wine, but really do go somewhere else for dinner.

Monsoon~4.5 out of 5
A unique restaurant where guests sit on pillows on the floor surrounded by low tables. A band plays typical Zanzibarian music in the corner, as you munch on local food. I was able to eat almost everything on the menu here and the staff was wonderful. The ambiance in this restaurant was the best of any of the other restaurants in Stone Town that I visited. It is great for an intimate setting or even a close family dinner.

Activities you can not miss in Zanzibar

~The spice tour
~The Red Colobus Monkey tour w/ a visit to the Green Sea Turtle Sanctuary and Mangrove swamp
~Prison Island
~Chumbe Island

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