Free of Gluten, Full of Flavor

By Elizabeth Guest

Winter enthusiasts crave a white, snowy layer of powder on the ski slopes, but more and more folks are steering clear of the white all-purpose flour in their diets. Whether they are sensitive to gluten or just trying to go low-carb or Keto, diners are looking for more gluten-free (GF) options.  Restaurants in Telluride and Mountain Village offer a variety of GF menu items throughout the day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert.

Start off with the GF blueberry waffle at The Butcher & The Baker. Also labeled GF on their morning menu is the savory breakfast porridge, layered with quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, goat cheese, tomatoes, and seeds with a farm-fresh egg on top. “It makes a difference to offer gluten-free options—if we make a soup with noodles, it’s noticeable that it doesn’t sell as well,” says chef/owner Megan Ossola. “If there’s an opportunity to make something gluten free we just make it that way.”

The Butcher & The Baker uses GF products in their sauces and dressings to ensure customers with gluten sensitivity a risk-free dining experience. So, when you order a scoop of salad from the case, gluten isn’t sneaking unexpectedly onto your plate. Similarly, their pesto is nut free—used across the menu in several dishes—to avoid nut allergies. The restaurant also makes a GF roll for their sandwiches. It combines flavors and textures from tapioca, amaranth, rice, whole millet, and some seeds on top for crunch.

Chef Bud Thomas at The View Bar & Grill in Mountain Village makes his menu from scratch with a variety of GF products. His wife and daughter have Celiac Disease, and he takes special care with the tavern fare at the lodge’s ski-in and ski-out location. His Korean BBQ sauce flavors tender pork ribs and is GF, made with tamari rather than soy, and GF bread is also an option at The View for toast and sandwiches. Bread alternatives are available at most local restaurants; take your tuna melt on GF Bread at Baked in Telluride, and finish off with a chocolate-dipped GF coconut macaroon. At Alpinist and the Goat, an intimate dining venue in an upstairs nook, GF bread is provided with any of the cheesy fondues.

Wednesdays at Pescado is Indian Night. Chef Sue Govindsamy creates a rotating menu of authentic Indian food with aromatic GF dishes like vegetable curry and Kobe beef skewers. People also pick Pescado for its GF sushi selection. Plus, the small downstairs destination ladles up GF ramen bowls with fresh noodles, scallions, seasonal veggies and a choice of pork, chicken, or shrimp. The Wednesday night special at The Butcher & The Baker is Birds and Bubbles, featuring a gluten-free fried chicken dipped in a batter of GF beer and GF flour. Paired with a crisp glass of champagne, often Moët & Chandon or Veuve Cliquot, the popular special runs $35 during ski season, $25 during off-season. “Having the fried chicken be gluten free is a big deal for us,” says Ossola.  “And we sell quite a bit on those nights.”

Communication is key to any dining experience. From menu labeling to kitchen substitutes, the stellar staff at the New Sheridan Chop House and Parlor assist clientele in their pursuit of GF meals. The modern steakhouse menu includes a la carte items that get paired into personalized combos of proteins, sides, and sauces. The Chop House burger, when served on a GF bun, is another good choice. “Most of our sauces and sides are made naturally GF and our servers are well versed in how to tweak menu items to be GF,” says Cathie Seward, Assistant General Manager. “One of our favorite desserts is a flourless chocolate cake.”

Italian restaurants Rustico and La Piazza are paradise for pasta lovers, but also offer GF entrees like Al Funghi Porcini—rice sautéed with Porcini mushrooms and truffle oil—or La Pazza, Guazzetto alla Veneziana—shrimp, scallops, and salmon sautéed with garlic, white wine, zucchini, tomato and basil. They also have GF soups featuring beans, grains, and legumes. If pizza is your thing, you’re in luck.  “I am really fond of the Brown Dog ‘Detroit style’ GF crust,” says longtime resident and teacher Joanna MacDonald. She deals with dietary restrictions from Celiac disease, and embraces the forward-thinking local food movement and greater availability of GF food. “High Pie has a good GF crust too.”

Another popular nighttime spot, 221 South Oak is a modern bistro in a quaint townhome. In lieu of ordinary flour, the restaurant prefers to use chickpea and rice flours. “GF flours lend a different flavor and texture than all-purpose flour, and chickpea flour gives a lovely color,” says chef/owner Eliza Gavin, who in addition to being one of Telluride’s highly-acclaimed chefs is recognized from her stint on Bravo TV’s Top Chef.

Gavin’s recipe for crispy shishito peppers and hearts of palm with squash gel and pomegranate seeds—featured in her recent cookbook—is GF, but full of flavor. The peppers are fried in chickpea flour batter, and if squash gel sounds too refined for your personal culinary conquests—maybe you’re more of an Annie’s Mac-and-Cheese level chef—Gavin encourages people to try new techniques. She regularly offers fun cooking classes to teach people how to make special dishes.

Often, the best recipes rely simply on fresh ingredients, says Eliza Gavin. With dishes like her jerk-marinated jackfruit with red misozuke, ginger, and turmeric braised parsnips, or her spinach and delicata squash, it’s all about the vegetables. Like most of the people trying to avoid gluten, Gavin’s main beef is with processed white flour: “We love that bleached white flour so much that we’ve used chemicals to strip it of any nutrients.”