Archive for the ‘Eating Out Gluten Free’ Category

Gluten Free in Bean Town

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

While visiting Boston I discovered this town has really stepped up to serving Gluten Free. Wahoo!

A number of local eateries offered delicious Gluten Free meals, but first-visits to two “chain” restaurants, Bertucci’s and Wagamama, were especially worth repeating.

I understand that the greater Washington, DC area can look forward to Wagamama coming to our area soon. This restaurant has, apparently,  long catered internationally to those with food allergies. Their motto “positive eating + positive living” says it all.

Our meal at Bertucci’s was only topped by our waiter, Alex, who sent us on our way with a complimentary Gluten Free chocolate mouse-type dessert. I’m not usually fond of mouse type desserts, but this one was excellent! This waiter insured that I will be re-visiting Bertucci’s time and time again.

Lastly, as we walked the Freedom Trail on Hanover Street, this sign caught my eye in a bakery window. Once inside, I asked which was better, the muffins or the whoopie pies, and was told the Gluten Free Whoopie Pies were even better than the store’s non-Glute

n-Free version. One Bite was all it took to confirm that these treats are par excellence!

Gluten Free at Boston Modern Pastry

Gluten Free at Boston Modern Pastry

Boston Modern Pastry Shop

Boston Modern Pastry Shop

Boston Whoopie Pie

Boston Whoopie Pie

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Gluten Free at Ben & Jerry’s

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Yes… in a perfect world Ben & Jerry’s would publish their own list of Gluten Free flavors (see my last post)… but since they hesitate to do that, I am listing here the Gluten Free flavors  shared with me by the “nearby” Ben & Jerry’s shop.
Mind you, this list is not comprehensive and could change without warning since they could change the recipe.
Therefore, be diligent to ask the shop owner where you buy to verify a selection is Gluten Free or look on the carton’s label if you make your purchase in a grocery store.

Butter Cream,
Cherry Garcia,
Chocolate Fair Trade,
Chocolate Macadamia,
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl,
Chunky Monkey,
Coffee Fair Trade,
Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz,
Crème Brulee,
Mint Chocolate Chunk,
Orange & Cream,
Phish Food,
Strawberry,
Triple Caramel Chunk,
Vanilla Fair Trade,
Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch

Longing for a totally Gluten-Free friendly world?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Will “they” ever “get it”???

Network news broadcasts report that the number of us who eat Gluten Free is growing, yet there remain “food establishments” who still prefer to ignore our existence.

Many months ago I had to leave a “Potbelly’s” restaurant because there simply was nothing on the menu board that I could eat. One would think that salads would be a safe bet, but they didn’t even have simple oil and vinegar anywhere in the kitchen that could be used as a salad dressing.

This week I visited a TGI Friday’s for dinner. I asked the hostess if they had Gluten Free offerings and the Manager answered, “Yes, their salads would be a safe bet.” I did order a (non-marinated) steak seasoned with only salt and pepper and it was delicious. The mashed potatoes I ordered as a side were likewise quite tasty, but the side salad came with croûtons (not too big a problem… I simply removed them) and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It appeared to be “thickened” (not merely balsamic vinegar and oil) so I asked the manager to check the ingredient list… which he did. Unfortunately, this dressing contained wheat based ingredients and they did not have any oil and vinegar in the kitchen. My only option was to eat the salad ingredients without dressing. It is a real shame that this popular restaurant cannot take a page from the PF Chang’s “playbook” by providing Gluten Free offerings. I won’t go back to a TGI Friday’s until they do.

On a positive note, upon request, a local Ben & Jerry’s was all too happy to show me their extensive list of Gluten Free flavors. I thoroughly enjoyed a cup of Cherry Garcia and New York Super Fudge Chunk. (Yeah, D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!) I asked them if I could get a copy of their list. They replied that it was available online.
This is where the situation became disappointing. Not only did the website not provide a list of Gluten free flavors, but in speaking with a customer service rep I was told Ben & Jerry’s corporate would not “step out on a limb” and declare a flavor Gluten Free in case the ingredients changed in the future.

I had been prepared to sing their praises for having a Gluten Free list and an extensive one, at that. Apparently the management of the one store I visited deserves the credit, in this case. I will visit this store at least one more time so I can write down their list of Gluten Free flavors.
I will continue to visit Ben & Jerry’s (when I can find them – there isn’t one near my home) and will always ask for a Gluten Free list. When one is not available, I will ask to check the ingredient list of the flavors I want to try… just in case “corporate” changes the recipe in the future.

I do look forward to a time when all restaurants and other food establishments fully understand our Gluten concerns and provide Gluten Free among their offerings.  Then it will truly be a “Wonderful World”!

Kudos to L’Italia in Harrisonburg, VA

Monday, June 21st, 2010

At long last, I made it to this charming Italian restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA… home of James Madison University (Go Dukes!).

In addition to the “locals”… all who travel north and south on Interstate 81 and all who attend (or visit students of) James Madison University will be thrilled to know this establishment takes Gluten Free Pizza to a whole new level… ultra delicious! :)

L'Italia's Vito with my G-Free Pizza

L'Italia's Vito with my G-Free Pizza

Calling about an hour before arriving will give Vito time to custom prepare Gluten Free dough in an area of the kitchen dedicated to their G-Free preparations.

The “topping” list is extensive and one must choose carefully for Gluten Free. I can highly recommend “Banana Peppers, Mushrooms, and FRESH Basil” Oh my goodness did my taste buds rejoice!!! The fresh Basil made all the difference!

Most G-Free Pizzas I have ordered are “personal-sized”, but this “pie” was definitely a large! I enjoyed a few slices and took the rest home and enjoyed the remains for a few days.  :)  Note – This Gluten-Free pizza was also so delicious, that it would be enjoyed by all who dine with you, whether they eat Gluten-Free or not.

Please pass the word about this wonderful little “taste of Italy” that truly cares about making a memorable Gluten Free dining experience!

G-Free in New England

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I’ve discovered it is not only beneficial to be bold in our G-Free requests when dining out, but in so doing we are helping to raise awareness of the concern. This is all the more important as we travel.

In Wilmington, VT there is a precious little sandwich and ice cream shop (Jezebel’s Eatery)… next door to the Norton House (appropriately subtitled – A Quilter’s Paradise). This small quilt shop had been my destination… and my stay there so prolonged by all the fabulous finds that I had to eat lunch before journeying further. What a delight to find the owner not only aware of Gluten concerns, but she was also most accommodating. I asked for a “sandwich” without the bread to be served over lettuce. She was tickled to share that she has about 30 regular customers who all eat Gluten Free and she does this all the time. My meal was beautifully plated with turkey and Vermont Cheddar slices topped with her own balsamic vinaigrette dressing, with sides of chips and her own (delicious) coleslaw. Locally made gluten free chocolate ice cream in a bowl was the perfect finish to the meal.

After a day of exploring the countryside and marveling over splendid historic covered bridges, we stopped in North Conway, NH at an Applebee’s for dinner. We asked for a Gluten Free menu and the host said they really didn’t have any G-Free offerings, but that there was a restaurant in town that did (wasn’t that nice!!!)… and what a recommendation!

Rafferty's Restaurant and Pub in North Conway, NH

Rafferty's Restaurant and Pub in North Conway, NH

Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub had earned the title of New Hampshire’s best restaurant in 2009 and they have the largest Gluten Free menu in New England (4 full pages). Apparently, the owners, Linda and John Rafferty, first became aware of Gluten issues when both their children were diagnosed with Celiac Disease about the time that they were purchasing the restaurant. John’s brother, Joe, is the kitchen manager and head chef.

Rafferty's Meat Lover's Pizza

Rafferty's Meat Lover's Pizza

The options were so extensive that it was truly hard to choose, but I couldn’t resist one of their home made pizzas. The crust was thin and crispy (just like I like it) and was hands-down the best G-Free pizza I have tasted out thus far.

Rafferty's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Rafferty's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Of course, I just “had” to try their flourless chocolate cake for dessert. (This one was good, but P F Chang’s version remains my favorite.)

The owners of Rafferty’s are serious about raising awareness about Gluten and Celiac Disease. They quarterly host Celiac Disease Information Sessions. For more information, check out Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub online.

Fireworks for Fireworks… wahoo!

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Last night we visited Fireworks Pizza in nearby Leesburg, Va. A friend referred me there, having heard they served Gluten Free Pizza.

Their menu does notes that all items with an asterisk can be made Gluten Free… though at first glance that fact was easily overlooked (small print).

Fireworks Gluten Free Pizza

Fireworks Gluten Free Pizza

All pizzas are cooked in the traditional way in a firewood brick oven. I was going to order a large pizza and share it with family, but learned they do not make their own Gluten Free pizza crusts. Rather, they purchase readymade crusts from Still Riding Pizza. Fireworks uses the Still Riding 9″ mini-crusts, so I had to go with a personal sized pizza.

The service was quick and the pizza, hot and tasty. I loved the thin and crispy crust! (It has always been my favorite.)

Fireworks has a wide variety of Gluten Free pizzas to choose from you, or you can select your own toppings. You can eat inside or outside on the front porch, weather permitting.

I loved Fireworks! I will return there again soon, and often… a nice treat when eating out.

At home, though, I will stick to making our own pizza crusts using Pamela’s mix which cost about $1.50 per pizza.

There’s no place like home… a short travel post script

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

It is really good to be home again after a week away!

I never found a Starbucks with Gluten Free goodies. (Would love to hear if you spot some and where!)

I enjoyed sharing my Gluten Free cooking with non-Gluten Free friends. It was fun to see them discover pleasant new tastes and textures and realize eating Gluten Free isn’t “so bad”.  All agreed that P.F. Chang’s had an extensive and delicious Gluten Free menu. We returned there for our last night away and while the restaurant was more crowded, the service and the food was top-notch as before.

Having Gluten Free snacks made the return journey simple, even if I did have to convince the Southwest flight attendant that I was not without reason turning my nose up to their offerings.

With sleep calling, that’s all for today’s post.

Harrisonburg, VA restaurant offers Gluten Free

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Kudos to Katherine and Vito of Harrisonburg’s, L’Italia Pizza & Pasta!

In answer to a question about their Gluten Free preparations, they answered:

“We prepare the gluten free crust on a separate counter, on the other side of the kitchen from the pizza station. We do not use separate screens, however they all go through our very high temp washing machine before each use. The pizza man is actually not the one making the gluten free crust, as Vito is still the only one used to working out the gluten crust, so never the same gloves are touching regular flour and gluten free flour. And the pizza cutter is the same we use for the other pizza but again we do run it through the high-temp washer before ever touching the gluten free pizzas.”

I am impressed that they are taking our Gluten concerns seriously. They also are quick to admit that they are not experts, but are eager to learn the best, safest way possible to make Gluten Free Pizzas. Their goal is genuinely to be able to provide something all Celiac sufferers, those with Gluten intolerance, and all others can enjoy worry-free.

Additionally, they invite us all to email them at litaliapizzapasta@comcast.net with any questions/comments.

Thank you, Katharine and Vito!

I can’t wait to enjoy Gluten Free Pizza with you on my next visit to Harrisonburg!

Kudos to P. F. Chang’s China Bistro!!!

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

With a tip from a friend (Thanks Christy M.!) that P.F. Chang’s China Bistros have gone “Gluten Free”, I visited one on the ‘strip’ here in Vegas this week, right in front of Planet Hollywood. I asked the hostess if they served Gluten Free meals and was thrilled to be handed the menu with a full page of Gluten Free offerings that filled the back page of the regular menu. (I loved that it was in print… and not relegated to a separate menu!) No guessing if the waitress and chef would understand my request… this restaurant has clearly done their homework and has rolled out the welcome mat for our Gluten Free community.

It has been so long since I last ate Chinese, that my mouth watered at each menu item. I could have ordered it all, but restrained myself… leaving something to look forward to on future visits.  :)

Our waitress had recently transferred with P.F. Chang’s from L.A. to Vegas and was very knowledgeable. In L.A. the staff had been trained specifically on Gluten Free issues. She noted that P.F. Chang’s has been working hard to add new Gluten Free items to their menu… the beef dishes being among the more recent additions.

P.F. Chang's GFree Egg Drop Soup

P.F. Chang's GFree Egg Drop Soup

I finally decided on ordering the Egg Drop Soup and shared a Lettuce Wrap with my dinner companion. She doesn’t regularly eat Gluten Free, and was shocked at how good the meal tasted. I told her that Gluten Free dining is delicious, properly prepared.

P.F.Chang's GFree Lettuce Wraps and Snap Peas

P.F.Chang's GFree Lettuce Wraps and Snap Peas

The lettuce wraps came with a choice of three sauces that could be combined to season the wraps and our waitress was quick to note that all of the sauces, even the soy sauce, were Gluten Free, as requested. She also noted that the plates that our dinner was served upon were round, indicating to all the cook and wait staff that this meal was Gluten Free. (What a great idea!!! Never any confusion about whether or not a meal was prepared Gluten Free with round plating as a visual reminder.)

P.F. Chang's GFree (flour-less) Chocolate Dome Dessert with Berries

P.F. Chang's GFree (flour-less) Chocolate Dome Dessert with Berries

Lastly, we each ordered their flour-less, Chocolate Dome Dessert and, Oh my… this was an incredible dessert!!!!! Chocolate resounded across every taste bud beautifully with each bite… and the berries burst with flavor.

This meal more than satisfied!!!!!

I will definitely be headed to P.F. Chang’s again soon, and often… not just because they have catered to our Gluten Free needs, but because they have elevated Gluten Free dining to a whole new level.

Please be sure to tell P.F. Chang’s that you appreciate their efforts to provide us such an extraordinary Gluten Free dining experience when you visit!

Shopping for Gluten Free foods while traveling

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Well, clearly there are places around this great country that still have no clue about Gluten. Oh, my!

One would think that in a big city with guests visiting from around the world, that they would have heard about and made an effort to provide Gluten Free grocery items. Not so at Albertsons here in Las Vegas. I spoke with two clerks and neither had even heard of Gluten before. I showed them the few items in my cart that are “regular” products labeled Gluten Free and mentioned that they most likely would hear the term again. ;) They seemed shocked to learn that grocery stores “at home” had whole aisles dedicated to organic and Gluten Free foods.

I am now doubly thankful that I came prepared and that I have a full kitchen in which I can cook up my meals!!!

I brought my Arbonne Figure 8 protein shake powders (pre-measured with a scoop of Arbonne’s Figure 8 Fiber Booster for breakfast each day) and bought bananas that I have peeled and cut in half and frozen. These make incredibly delicious, rich, filling breakfast smoothies! :) I also brought from home my Arbonne Figure 8 Detox Tea, NRG Go3 Citrus Surge Fizz Tabs (these beverage tablets provide the sustained energy I will need in this action packet week), and Healthy Living & Weight Loss Chews (LOVE the Creamy Caramel… Great between meal snack to curb appetite and boost metabolism – helpful since I will be sitting in training sessions quite a bit).

I brought quinoa from home in measured amounts along with Gluten Free golden flavor/seasonings. I bought lettuce, eggs (to hard boil), feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, pine nuts (from home) for delicious salads… and I bought Wish Bone’s Italian salad dressing (thankfully clearly labeled Gluten Free).
(My preference remains grapeseed oil and red wine vinegar as a dressing, but the bottled Italian salad dressing can be used for salads and as a marinade for chicken, and it is more economical, especially since I won’t be taking home any that is left at week’s end.)

I bought Nathan’s hot dogs and Heinz ketchup (both regular items, clearly labeled Gluten Free). I guess I can do without Gluten Free mustard this week.

Having searched the store for other meal options, I finally picked up my cell phone and called the Frito Lay company (1-800-352-4477). Many grocery items have 1-800 numbers on the packaging. The customer service rep assured me that the Tostitos Restaurant Style tortilla chips and their Tostitos Medium Chunky Salsa were both Gluten Free, though not labeled as such. With these in my cart, I added ground beef, regular (not light) sour cream, and cheddar cheese for taco salad. I don’t plan to spend a lot of time preparing meals and need meals that can go together fairly quickly.

I bought a can of mixed fruit to make the Gluten Free “Jel Dessert”  (brought from home) a treat. I also picked up some fresh fruit, “Pom”, Classic Hummus, and cashews… and should be able to make it through this week Gluten Free.

I remember the day when I could go into a grocery store and simply pick up anything that “caught my fancy”, but I wouldn’t go back there. Despite the additional challenges of living Gluten Free, it has made me feel SO much better there is no temptation at all to “slip”.

(Mom, be encouraged… you can survive your week in Hilton Head Gluten Free… with proper prior planning. :) )