This week Mr. Charming and I were sitting around the house after work, completing all the last minute details for Baby P's arrival and I got the urge to do something spontaneous and fun! With just 6 days out from my due date, I actually had energy on Thursday and wanted to sneak in one more date night while it was just us.
Wanting to do something different and away from home, we headed to Paradise Valley, AZ - just 20 minutes or so from us - to check out some old high school stomping grounds, like my old neighborhood and our old mall and then we planned to search for some gluten-free eats for a romantic dinner.
And we found the holy grail of Gluten-Free goodness.
Guys. I could literally order 90% of what was on the menu. INCLUDING drinks, appetizers AND dessert. This NEVER happens.
See that bread? That warm, moist foccacia? TOTALLY gluten-free. Made with tapioca, rice and potato flours it tasted HEAVENLY in a little EVOO, salt and pepper. Though I JUST put a little yeast back in after 5 years, I limited myself to one piece, plus a small toasted piece with my pasta, but you couldn't even tell it was gluten free.
Not only do they offer a fully gluten-free menu, everything is also non-GMO and they have SO many vegan options too! You can substitute Daiya cheese in any cheese dish or pizza and all of their meats are nitrate and nitrite free, as well as being free of antibiotics. An establishment where I can actually ORDER pepperoni or salami and not wonder if its sketch? SCORE. SCORE ONE BIG ONE FOR YOU PICAZZOS.
I think I'm in love.
So, on with our order and dining experience...
There were SO many things I was looking at, but I was remembering back to my decadent Italian experience at Vitello's and I was craving fresh pasta drizzled with with fresh herbs and olive oil, so my order was the following:
Gluten Free Foccacia Bread (which I of course shared.)
Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta with EVOO, Avocado, Tomatoes, Garlic and Fresh Basil
Mr. Charming's order was tres magnifique, and looked a little something like this...
And guys! You can GET THAT PIZZA, his decadent BBQ Chicken Pizza, gluten-free AND VEGAN. They have vegan chicken strips and Daiya cheese on a chewy-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside gluten-free crust. It's our new favorite out of all our favorites.
The staff was also amazingly sweet and are all so knowledgeable in allergies and celiac. It was such a wonderful vibe and it was really busy for a Thursday. Which is a great sign!
We are looking forward to visiting again after the baby's arrival and I have a few ideas for what will be up next on my orders...
Have you been to Picazzo's? If so, what is YOUR favorite dish? Seriously, because I'll add it to my growing list of must-trys!
A Guest Post by Sheldon Muecke of T with J
Europe is an extremely sought after destination for travelers and I had the amazing opportunity to travel there this past year.
There are things I learned that helped me make better decisions and that made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. The destination highlighted in today's post is London, England. Last week I spoke on Zurich, Switzerland. If you missed that post, you can see it here.
England is very different from Switzerland; English is primarily spoken here, for one thing.
You would be surprised how using your own language to speak to someone from another part of the world, brings you together. I did not have the privilege of being able to travel through London much, so this post is mainly focused on traveling through London Heathrow airport and tips to navigating this massive international hub.
London Heathrow is a very large airport and you are required to take a bus from terminal to terminal. Keep in mind, this also runs on the left. This airport is very busy, making it the perfect opportunity to let your positivity be easily noticed by many passing by. Workers definitely seem upset at first glance; as most airport employees do, but once you get to talking to them you will see some smiles in return and it will be a much more pleasant experience. So remember to keep your cool and relax while traveling. Wearing an attitude of respect and a certain understanding of the dry humor of the English, makes time going through here enjoyable.
The staff is very knowledgeable, so ask questions. The biggest mistake we can make is thinking that we know everything about the airport simply because we can read English. This is another location to make sure you’re on time. Having high traffic levels, it doesn’t leave catering to one person very easy.
People generally like to do what they are there to do, so making authentic small talk is definitely favorable, Keep in mind that deep, connecting conversation may not happen unless you are there to meet someone.
The food options here are fantastic and almost endless. I ate at a diner called The Bridge, which is definitely worth taking a look into. If you are ordering an alcoholic beverage, keep in mind that it may come out warmer than you like, from my personal experience, so be sure to ask your waitress if that is something that you care about. I don't think they take their drinks as chilly as Americans.
Also, a note to all travelers - make sure you check the exchange rates before you travel and be sure to change money out at the airport, as it will usually be a better conversion rate.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips and tricks to traveling to Switzerland and England. I thank you for taking the time to read this. You now have some ways to save money while traveling, as well as tips to having the right attitude to make your experiences much more enjoyable. God bless you all in your travels, and may He give you traveling mercies.
What has been your favorite experience traveling through Europe? And what advice can you lend to those embarking on an adventure?
Sheldon Muecke is a missionary, outdoorsman and blogger at www.TwithJ.com. His blog touches on all aspects of how we can better serve the Lord. He's been able to tour the world and see amazing sights while living out his adventures.
A Guest Post & Original Photos by Sheldon Muecke of T with J
Europe is an extremely sought after destination for travelers and I had the amazing opportunity to travel there in the past year.
There are things I learned that helped me make better decisions and that made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. The destinations that I will specifically be talking about in my post today is Zurich, Switzerland. The beginning of my European travel experience. For my tips, post and photos on London, England, the beautiful city where I wrapped my trip click here.
Switzerland has one of the most unique entry experiences into a country that I’ve ever seen. 1. You may or may not experience the cabin clapping for the pilot as you land safely. This is a sign of respect for their pilots. On the short train ride to the main station of the airport, you will be welcomed with a video through the tunnels that gives a tidbit of Swiss culture. Once there, there are definitely some to-do’s and don’ts. Some people get really nervous when going through the passport lines. Not to take away from the seriousness, but they enjoy visitors coming in; the biggest advice I can give anyone is to be authentic. Smile, that is one thing that will get you very far if you need to ask questions or just want to make friends with everyone. And don’t be afraid to accept the fact that you’re a tourist.
This leads me into my next point; Switzerland is a country that does not primarily speak English. Most people speak German, French, Swiss-German, and a very small portion of the people speak the Roman language (not Italian, actual Roman). Typically, it’s best to speak German to communicate with most locals; so grab an English to German dictionary or app and attempt to learn some. There is definitely a respect that is gained even if you’re horrible at speaking it, it shows that you’re trying and people love that. Don’t be afraid to sound silly; because to our ears, it is. Have confidence in trying.
Some more serious concerns are definitely worthy of noting. Keeping in mind that the Swiss make some of the best watches in the world; being on time is vital. Buses leave at THEIR EXACT SCHEDULED TIME not later, no sooner (check bus and train schedules constantly and take pictures of them for reference). Also, familiarize yourself with a 24-hour clock schedule, i.e. 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, etc.
Life can get very expensive, very quickly in Switzerland. Knowing where to shop is half the battle. There is a store called Migros that is the equivalent of a grocery store here, they have a specific green and white striped brand that is located on the bottom shelves (the place where everything is cheaper). My suggestion to making traveling less expensive, shop at places such as Migros and another market by the name of Coop, instead of going out to eat. Coffee shops are also another place that you definitely should visit while there. Ask locals where the best coffee in town is, they’ll know. This isn’t exactly a money saver, but it is definitely savory and worth the time. A side note is to keep in mind that their humor is very different, what may be entertaining to Americans could be offensive to the Swiss. Knowing when to joke, and when not to, is good to keep in mind. But if you can get into Swiss humor, take advantage of that and bond with the locals.
Sometimes it's funny to me, the response I get, when I'm with clients or people in this new world of nutrition and blogging and babies and journalism, when I mention that before all of this I was a recording artist. I sometimes forget that I don't talk about it much.
I actually still am. I am still signed with NVE/Universal and I still contribute to the business side of music and write for other artists from time to time. I've just taken an extended break from touring, because honestly, it was nice to take a break and enjoy marriage and taking care of a home and starting a family.
But no need for a whole biography on my music life. I wanted to share an awesome vacation experience that any singer or music lover hopefully tried, had they visited Disneyworld Hollywood Studios between 2009 and 2014.
In 2010, Mr. Charming and I visited Disney World together for the first time. He and I had been planning a major trip to Disneyworld for a while and had planned 6 amazing days in the parks. If you've read our Engagement Story, you'll know how the trip began in Epcot. *swoon*
All of the parks were equally amazing, and though Epot was my favorite, for not just obvious reasons of saying yes to the man of my dreams, I also adored the world travel theme, Hollywood Studios ran a close second because I got to sing my face off for a ton of people. Which, is always a good time, haha.
"Producers" would walk around the park and ask random people to "audition" or sing for the cameras to see who they wanted to pull in for the show. They actually approached Mr. Charming but he told them I was the one they wanted and after bugging him to sing to no avail, they had me sing. Little did they know, it was my day job at the time, haha, and I had just finished recording my own debut album. BLVD., back in L.A. After replaying our "engagement" for the cameras and getting my "ticket to Hollywood" they took me to the studios for hair, makeup and rehearsal.
Every detail was amazing. While I was getting prettified and rehearsing, Mr Charming went and grabbed some lunch until it was time for him to see the live show. You got to work with vocal coaches and a choreographer before your "performance" and sit in the "Coca Cola Lounge" to choose your song selection. Seriously, all the details were so cute.
I chose a couple of Whitney Houston songs for my performance and was introduced along with three other singers all awaiting our turn.
The stage was to size, with a full audience of park go-ers (and my hubby who got put on the big screen, hehe) lights and cameras, it was like being on the show. And the sound system was epic! Go Disney!
After performing, the audience got to vote from their seats and as you can see below, I was number 4. It was an amazing, fun-filled day and I was happy to say I won my round!! Which got me a ticket to actually GO to Hollywood for a front of the line pass, but as I'd said before, I was already signed with an album I'd just released so I wasn't qualified to audition for the real show, but the Disney dream version sure was fun and it's a memory that will last forever.
Have you participated in any theme park attractions? I loved how immersive this one was! Share your experiences in the comments below :)
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.