Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Friendly Toast in Cambridge is Friendly Indeed

We were at The Friendly Toast in Kendall Square (Cambridge) last night and were really happy to see that they offer gluten free pancakes -- all kinds of decadent, gluten free pancakes, including chocolate chips, M and Ms (and blueberry too). You can get breakfast all day here too (including eggs). There are salads on the menu too, and apparently they have corn tortillas, so it is possible to get some sandwich fixings on a tortilla. The ambiance is a lot of fun -- take a look at the menu on their website for a preview.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

GF Dougnuts -- October Daring Bakers Challenge

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I've rejoined Daring Bakers, and this month's challenge, hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up, was called Lets Go Nuts for Doughnuts. I'd been tempted by a mini doughnut pan a week before, so this was a perfect opportunity to indulge! A number of recipes were suggested, but I ended up a basic cake doughnut recipe from the Wilton Mini Doughnut pan (the recipe was very similar to the Buttermilk Cake Doughnut recipe provided.) I used Better Batter gluten free flour mix instead of the cake flour called for in the recipe, and they turned out great. I kept it simple -- glazed them with chocolate and sprinkled them with colorful sprinkles. Many doughnuts were consumed that night, but I froze the rest -- they defrost easily, but I confess I later discovered that they are quite tasty frozen as well!

Thanks for a fun challenge!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gluten free on Cape Cod

We spent a week on the Cape this past summer where there seem to be quite a few gluten free options. Our favorite was the Box Office Cafe in Chatham -- we went there three times! The Box Office Cafe is a very informal cafe and dvd store -- they do have seating, but it is informal. They have a great selection of gluten free pizzas, salads and sandwiches. The sandwiches are made on a panini style bread which is prepared for each order, so it takes about 15 minutes for a sandwich -- still, it is well worth it. They also have a limited late night menu (after 9) which doesn't have the gluten free pizzas or sandwiches. However, the night that we arrived at 9:15, not realizing about the limited late night menu, the staff kindly made us a gluten free Casesar salad and a gluten free mozzarella tomato salad, even though they were not on the official late night menu.

Another great choice in Chatham, particularly if if you want fried food -- clams, fish, french fries, onion rings, etc. -- is Chatham Fish and Lobster -- all of their batter is gluten free. Call for hours, when we were there they weren't open for dinner.

We also tried BZ's Mexican Pizzaria in Dennis -- although we ended up ordering the one gluten free Mexican item, the cheese enchallada, rather than the pizza it is known for.

If you are planning a trip to Cape Cod, make sure you check out the Underground Cape Cod blog, Sue maintains a Gluten Free on the Cape list of restaurants and stores, which she will e-mail to you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gluten Free in Israel

Emily is going on a five week trip to Israel this summer, so we're gathering information on eating gluten free in Israel. Israel seems to have very good labeling laws and alerts consumers to the presence of all gluten -- not just wheat -- on the ingredient label. Still, it isn't always easy to read a label, especially if Hebrew is not your native language, so we're trying to gather information about specific products that are gluten free -- AND easily available. So far, thanks to some very helpful friends of friends in Israel, we have created the following list (published at this URL -- So, if anyone has additional suggestions, please add them to the comments!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gluten Free Wine Tasting Dinner at Burton's Grill

I just found out that Burton's Grill in North Andover is hosting a gluten free wine dinner on Monday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m., in conjunction with the celiac support group Healthy Villi. The announcement and menu can be found on the Burton's Grill web site. The meal is a four course dinner -- price, including wine, tax and gratuity is $59.95 (or $39.95 without wine) which seems like an excellent value. We haven't been to the North Andover location, but the Burton's in Fenway (Boston) is one of our favorites for gluten free meals.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cozumel, Mexico (gluten free)

We spent five wonderful nights in Cozumel, Mexico this past April. Mexico really does seem to be a fairly easy place to travel gluten free. Once again, we rented a condo with a kitchen, but this time we only ate one dinner at the condo -- the rest of the time we ate out. (We did use our condo blender a lot, however, for whipping up smoothies!)

The restaurants we tried were: Rockin Java (two times), Rolandi, and Especias. (We wanted to go to Casa Mission too, but just never made it). At Especias and Rolandi, my daughter had grilled fish. At Rockin Java, she had "stuffed spuds" one night, and fish tacos (on corn tortillas) another night. We also ate at the Palancar beach club one lunch, and had delicious grilled chicken kabobs and fresh fruit. We went for a day trip on the Tucon (as sailboat), and the crew prepared grilled chicken for her, and brought corn tortillas specially.

The biggest difficulty was finding tortilla chips at restaurants -- at all of the aforementioned restaurants, the chips were fried in the same oil as items containing gluten, so they were off limits. We did have drinks one afternoon at the No Name bar -- it turns out that the bartender at the associated cigar bar has celiac (and speaks perfect English); he told us that the chips at this bar were indeed fried in separate oil, and he eats them (although, in retrospect, I wonder about this and you might want to do some additional probing before ordering chips.) It was no problem, however, finding bagged corn chips in the stores. I also think that the restaurants and bars really would not mind if someone brought their own chips to have with guacamole, salsa, etc.

I was very impressed by how accommodating everyone was. We had a Spanish language restaurant card, and the waitstaff/ managers was generally very knowledgeable about ingredients and were happy to modify meals if needed. You do need to be particularly careful about tortillas, since many dishes are served with wheat tortillas, rather than corn tortillas; however, restaurants were very happy to make the substitution. Also, as in the US, fried items are usually off limits, because of the cross contamination, and a lot of the "bar food" is fried.

There are two enormous grocery stores in Cozumel (both across the street from El Cantil, our condo). These stores don't have gluten free specialty sections the way you might find in the states or England, although I noticed at the Cheudri that they were carrying rice crackers in the international section that were labeled gluten free (they are an Asian cracker). However, we stocked up on food for breakfast and lunch such as eggs, dairy, peanut butter, fruits, ice cream and snacks such as chips. You can also purchase freshly made corn tortillas (in huge stacks). We had brought some items from home -- a bag of tinkyada pasta, which we did in fact have for dinner one night when we couldn't be bothered to go out, a loaf of Udis bread (which held up remarkably well, considering we froze it before traveling, it thawed, we then froze it at the condo, brought most of it home, and then we refroze it at home), some Justin peanut butter pouches to have on hand on airplane travel days, a box of Nut Thins, a brownie mix (which we didn't end up making) and some gluten free protein bars. Basically, it is very hard to find gluten free baked goods (except corn tortillas) but other than that almost everything else can be found in the local shops. I do always feel a bit anxious going through customs with the food, which you do have to declare. However, since everything we brought was packaged -- and is legal to bring into Mexico -- we were waved through without a problem. (You can't bring in fresh food such as fruit, vegetables or meat.)

We did have a pleasant surprise on the plane trip to Mexico. First, they served meals on the plane -- that was a surprise to me in and of itself! Second, the breakfast was cereal and fruit, which I initially passed on automatically -- then I saw that the cereal was single serving bowls of General Mills gluten free Rice Chex!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rialto (Cambridge, MA)

Last night, my father in law treated us to a very lovely dinner at Rialto, a restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts. It is located in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, but it is by no means a "hotel" restaurant. It is a very upscale restaurant, run by chef Jody Adams. It is an Italian restaurant, but as far away from a red sauce joint as you can get. Indeed, there was only one pasta dish -- a ravioli -- on the menu at all. They have an extensive gluten free menu (which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be online). However, many of their regular menu items are naturally gluten free, and they can modify a number of the other items to be gluten free. The restaurant does offer a prix fixe menu as well (3 courses for $40) and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that there were gluten free options for each course. My daughter (and several others at the table) ordered the Lettuces as a first course, Seared Char with mint and peas for the main course, and Hazelnut Meringue with lemon cream for dessert. Another gluten free entree that was enjoyed by others at the table (although not on the prix free menu) was Wolfe's sirloin steak with Portabello mushrooms, arugula, parmigiano and truffle oil. As befitting an upscale restaurant, the service was very gracious and they were able to accommodate our dietary needs smoothly. Oh -- and the food was delicious as well! It is definitely a place to keep in mind for a special celebration.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fabulous Gluten Free French Bread

This recipe for gluten free french bread is on the Gluten Free Homemaker's blog. It is an adaptation of Carol Fenster's recip -- in particular, it uses Fenster's baking directions, which call for putting the dough directly into an oven, then turning it on -- no rising and no preheating. As a result, the bread can be prepared really quickly -- once you mix up the dough, it bakes for only about 35 minutes, with no additional rising time required.

I've been baking the gf french bread following the recipe on GFH's blog -- one slight change. Instead of using fresh egg whites, I use Just Whites (dried egg white powder) by Deb El -- this way, I don't have to feel guilty for not using up the yolks. I add the powdered eggs with the dry ingredients, then add the additional water with the other liquid ingredients.

The recipe makes two loaves -- we usually have one fresh, then freeze the other, sometimes preslicing into small slices, or larger sections for sandwiches.

Needham, Massachusetts -- a gluten free restaurant hotspot!

Needham, Massachusetts (a suburb fairly close to Boston) seems to have a surprising number of gluten free restaurant options for a town of its size. Options include:

Not Your Average Joes -- salad, chicken, fish
Rice Barn -- Thai restaurant with an extensive gluten free menu (although the menu isn't currently online)
Bertucci's -- part of a chain featuring Italian food -- no gf pizza or pasta, but a variety of other entrees and salads
Stone Hearth Pizza -- gf pizzas, pasta, salad and dessert
Wild Willy's Burgers -- burgers and grilled chicken on gf buns, ice cream and shakes, gf fries, Redbridge beer (gf menu not posted)

There is also the wonderful store A New Leaf in the heart of Needham Center, which has an enormous selection of gluten free food, including a lot of frozen items such as Udi's bread and Joan's Great Bakes bagels. The manager is extremely helpful, and if you are looking for a product that is not in stock, he will often be able to order it for you. Note that A New Leaf has three locations -- I don't know if the other two stores have as extensive a selection of gluten free options as the Needham store.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

B. Good has gluten free buns!

We gave been going to B. Good for some time now -- they are a "healthy" burger restaurant. Although they don't have a specific gluten free menu, they have an allergen book with information about allergens, including gluten, and their burgers and fries do not contain gluten. Now, they are apparently stocking gluten free buns, so you can get a burger on a bun (instead of a lettuce wrap). They definitely have the buns at Legacy Place in Dedham, and in Coolidge Corner in Brookline. I asked the server in Brookline whether this was chain wide -- he thought it was, but you might want to call first if the bun is key! ) (Other locations include Harvard Square in Cambridge, Back Bay Newbury Street). Per the server, the bun is from Gillians bakery.

Editors note: The location in Brookline has closed. :(

A teen and her family's experiences living gluten-free.