Monday, December 17, 2012

homemade gluten free samoas

Samoas (aka Caramel deLites in some regions) were always my favorite Girl Scout cookie to buy.  Since they don't make a gluten-free version, I've missed the chocolaty caramel coconut goodness for just over 3 years now.  Finally, I decided to try to make them myself, and they're freaking awesome.  This recipe was adapted from spabettie.  

Shortbread cookie dough:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Mix in flour 1/2 cup at a time, adding milk a little at a time.

Knead into a ball and cool in refrigerator for 10 minutes. (An hour will make the dough too cold!) 
Roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness and cut into circle shapes.  I used a glass about 2 inches diameter and a 1 inch cookie cutter for the center.  (If you do cut out a center, you'll get more cookies.  If you don't, you get bigger ones!  I made some of each.) 


Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Keep in mind that, since there is no egg, they won’t brown much.  The surface will crack a little when they’re ready.
Cool completely. 



Caramel coconut topping – I wanted thick caramel on each cookie, so I ended up doubling this.

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Spread coconut in a layer on prepared baking sheet and bake at 350° for 3-4 minutes at a time. 
Stir and repeat until the coconut is golden brown.  I baked mine for about 10 minutes total. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, water, and milk, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from heat.

Add the toasted coconut.

The mixture will thicken more as it cools.  If it’s too runny, add more coconut.  Otherwise, it will ooze off of your cookies, leaving only the tiniest bits of coconut.



Chocolate sauce:

  • Dark chocolate – Keep in mind that morsels are coated to retain their shape.  I used most of a giant 6.8 ounce Hershey’s Special Dark bar. 
  • 2 tablespoons of butter – You can add more to thin the chocolate.

Melt over low heat, stirring very frequently to avoid burning the chocolate.



Putting it all together:

Spread the topping on the cookies.  If it’s too thick, I found the best thing is spreading the goop by hand.
Using a big whisk, I spread the chocolate on the cookies in 3-4 stripes.  (A fork was way too small and tedious.)
Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom of each cookie in dark chocolate and allow to dry on parchment paper.  (Reheat as needed, since it thickens as it cools.)

Chill to cool completely and ENJOY!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 gluten free cookie exchange

I'm happy to announce that the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group's Annual Gluten Free Cookie Exchange is coming!

Saturday, December 15
1:30 pm 
500 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215

If you're in the area, you're welcome to bring some gluten-free cookies, your recipe, and a container to take some goodies home!  We'll also have cookie decorating.  It was a hit last year.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

peppermint brownie-cakes

Last night I made these peppermint brownie cupcakes.  They're so simple and got audible yum sounds :) 

I started with:
  • A boxed brownie mix -- I personally prefer either Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies or King Arthur Gluten Free Brownies.  This was made with the latter. 
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 3 large eggs -- I used my parents' duck eggs
  • Mini peppermint patties 
  • Chocolate chips or chocolate syrup -- I'll explain in Step 7 :)
  • 2-3 crushed candy canes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake wrappers in a muffin pan - either regular or mini in size.  I used both, just to test it out.  They both work.

2. In a medium bowl, stir the mix with the melted butter and eggs. 

3. Divide the batter between cupcake cups, leaving more room in the cup than you normally would.  Tip: Use an ice cream scoop to measure the batter.

4. Place an unwrapped peppermint patty on top of the batter and press it down about halfway into the cup.  If it's too near the top, the peppermint patty will puff out.  If it's on the bottom, the peppermint filling with stick to the bottom of the wrapper. 
 5. Bake 18-22 minutes if making full-size cupcakes.  I baked my minis for about 15 minutes.
6. Cool completely on a cooling rack for roughly an hour. 

7. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.  I've heard the microwave for 1 minute will work, but my chips only became grainy, and I didn't have the time for a double boiler.  In a hurry, I turned to chocolate syrup, which doesn't harden the way I wanted. 

8. Drizzle the chocolate over the cupcakes and sprinkle with the crunched-up candy canes.


Happy eating!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

pumpkin cake pops

Hello, readers!  I hope you each had a wonderful Thanksgiving with few (preferably no!) cross-contamination "oops" moments.

If you're not already pumpkined out - which tends to happen to most people at some point this time of year - here's a baked goodie that was a big hit at our Thanksgiving extravaganza on Thursday: gluten free pumpkin cake pops.  (Thanks to my boyfriend's mom, Jenny!)
First, Jenny combined a can of Libby's pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix, and bake the cake according to the box directions.

Cool then crumble the cake:
Add cream cheese frosting to make the crumblies hold together:
Form balls of cake:
 Shove sticks into the balls for dipping while melting white chocolate:
Dip into the melted chocolate & roll in chopped nuts.  Tada!!
P.S. These are also really tasty sans chocolate & nuts. 

BTW, you'll soon be enjoying higher-quality photos thanks to an early Christmas present from Scott: a Nikon Coolpix L310 with a special food setting :)

Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

thanksgiving recipe roundup: veggies, dip, & desserts

Hello!  My month got away from me, between my birthday and the election.  To make it up to you, here are a few recipes and tips worthy of Thanksgiving: a festive veggie plate, chip dip, tiramisu, and chocolate chip cheesecake. 

Here are tips from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness from 2011 and from NFCA staff, bloggers, and Facebook fans for this year.  

Most importantly: don't let yourself feel like a bother.  It's common to feel guilty about your dietary needs and try to compensate by making "normal" versions of the same foods.  If you don't give a choice or make a big deal that yours is different, your guests probably won't think about it :)  This is so simple, but it's what I'm worst at doing.

Now, on to the recipes! 

Veggie Plate

 
Here I used baby carrots; red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers; celery under the peppers; cucumbers.  Most important: the celery feet and pepper face.  Yep, I totally snagged this from Pinterest. I served it with Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch. 

Addictive Chip Dip with Rotel, Cream Cheese, and Sausage

Scott's mom recently made this for a little shindig, and it was awesome.  I easily ate half of it myself -- and it's so simple to make!!
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese 
  • 1 16-ounce package of sausage
  • 2 cans of Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles)
  1. I found that the store brand was the only one without MSG, but any will do, and I choose mild rather than medium.  That was plenty warm enough for me!
  2. Brown the sausage, and remove excess grease.  
  3. Add the cans of Rotel.  Some recipes suggest draining the Rotel, but I prefer to let the flavors merry in the skillet.  
  4. Let the liquid cook down, then add the cream cheese.  
Little tip: If you're like me and I only picked up one package of cream cheese, sour cream will do in a pinch.  I was more than skeptical!  Believe it or not, it doesn't impact the taste. 


Tiramisu

Using Schar Ladyfingers, I made some terrific tiramisu for Halloween & my birthday. 
  • 3 large eggs, separated 
  • 4 tablespoons sugar 
  • 8 oz of mascarpone cheese - I found a tiramisu flavored one that was incredible! 
  • 2 tablespoons rum 
  • 1 package gluten-free Schar Ladyfingers 
  • 1-1/4 cups of brewed espresso 
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder - I couldn't find mine and used homemade hot chocolate mix instead.  Mmm!
  1. Beat the four egg yolks with the sugar, rum, and mascarpone.
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Use a mixer!  Your arm will get tired mixing by hand.   
  3. Fold the egg yolks and cheese blend in with the egg whites.  
  4. Soak the ladyfingers in the coffee.  Don't use too much coffee!  Sadly I learned the hard way that it will make the ladyfingers very mushy.  
  5. Make a layer of ladyfingers in a glass dish, then spread the mixture on it.  Repeat :)
  6. When finished, sprinkle cocoa powder on top. 
Little tip: With egg whites, stiff peaks hold their shape while soft peaks will flop over.  

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

A sweet friend made this for me for a Thanksgiving party over the weekend. Yum!  (Thank you, Katie!!)

  • Chocolate chip cookie mix for the crust - Our friend used the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Mix, which called for butter, vanilla, and egg.
  • 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. For the crust, make as directed then press in the bottom of the pie plate.  Set aside.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl on low for 30 seconds.  
  4. Mix in vanilla and eggs.  
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, then pour into the pie plate on top of the cookie crust.
  6. Bake for 1 hour to 1-1/4 hours.  The cheesecake will be puffed and light brown.
  7. Allow the cake to rest in the oven for 15 minutes.  (The oven should be off with the door ajar.)
  8. Remove from oven, enjoy, and refrigerate any leftovers!

More to come tomorrow, including gluten-free pumpkin cake pops. Yeah, they're delish.  Happy eating!! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

pumpkin cider

Before my diagnosis, I really enjoyed seasonal brews, so I was thrilled when I saw Woodchuck Hard Cider Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider.  (None of their varieties have ever contained gluten.)
But, as someone with multiple dietary restrictions (who learned the hard way from the Apple Cinnamon Chex), my first thought was, "This looks awesome, and it's gluten free, but there's got to be ginger."  I emailed Woodchuck's customer service and was elated to learn it is both gluten and ginger free :)

Despite the 6.9% alcohol by volume, it's not heavy.  (If you're a hard cider drinker, you know how folks tease, thinking it has a lower ABV than traditional beer and is a girly drink.  Wrong!)  According to the label, it pairs "perfectly with roasted duck, turkey, squash, ravioli as well as crème brûlée and cheesecake."  I bet,  and I really look forward to sharing it at Thanksgiving.  

Give your new option a try, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

goodbye gluten, hello soft bread!

Happy World Bread Day!

When this amazing package arrived last month, I became speechless and bug-eyed.  Goodbye Gluten, a new brand out of Pennsylvania, came to the market on July 17 with two varieties: white and multigrain. 
I was fortunate to share this delightful treat with several gluten free friendies across Southern and Southwest Ohio.  A few comments from the taste-testers:
  • Thank you so much!  It was so good, we didn't believe it was gluten free.  I tried it, and my family ate the whole thing before I saw my gluten free friend!  We loved it!  Where can I get it?...Oh, Columbus and Cleveland?  I can do that!  Let me know when it's here! 
  • That was delicious!  When can I get it here?! 
  • Thanks sooooo much for the bread!! It's awesome!!!!!!!  It's excellent.  Hope it becomes available closer to here.  Tastes like real white bread.  Thanks again!
  • Wow, that is good!
  • I love the bread.  It was perfect!  It isn't like Udi's - that's hard and has big holes that your mayonnaise or whatever goes through.  This doesn't do that.
  • Oh my gosh, that's good!  Ooh, try this!  That is really good.  It doesn't taste gluten free, and it's soft!  It tastes real!
Unlike other brands I'd tried, it smells like the gluten-filled breads that I've missed, is unbelievably soft & squishy, doesn't have large holes, and - whoa - is shelf-stable!  It even says on the package, "Bread retains its best quality if stored at room temperature."  I'm not sure how long it stays good; everyone's gobbled theirs up well before it went bad.  Other bonuses: it's dairy-free, certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, and one slice has 2 grams of protein & 3% Daily Value of dietary fiber.

Goodbye Gluten made a fantastic turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich, and easily the best peanut butter & jelly sandwich I've had in three years.  Until Goodbye Gluten, the only way I liked GF PB&J was toasted.
As the initial phase of the brand launch, Goodbye Gluten is available across the Midwest:
Hopefully they'll be available in Kroger stores in the near future!  The Cincinnati Celiac Support Group met with Kroger staff last night during our October meeting and shared our new-found love for this brand.  When it is, be sure to visit the Goodbye Gluten site for a coupon offer!

Monday, October 15, 2012

jungle jim's eastgate

Hello, Gluten Free World!

This post is overdue, but here it is!  Jungle Jim's Eastgate is a reality.  Tomorrow it will have been open three weeks, and I've been there four times now. 

Tip specifically for my readers:
Follow the beer/wine/cigar signs around the Danbarry Dollar Saver to pull around the back of the store.  There is a smaller express checkout area, and I have yet to wait more than five minutes to check out.
There is a wine bar with 25 cent tastings.  This is what was available when my mom & I visited on October 7:
At the entrance of the beer cave, the beer section includes a variety of ciders...
 ...and gluten free beer.
I refuse to ruin the experiences, so this only shows the pertinent landmarks as you navigate your way to the gluten free section.  This (often mobile) honey display is by the bakery, which is adjacent to the gluten free and natural food section.
To the right, is the first glimpse of the gluten free section: shelf-stable breads and baked goods.  I'm really pleased with the prominence the store is giving these Ohio-grown, small, gluten free businesses.

The first glimpse shown here includes items from Tina's Sweet Treats out of Franklin (on the pink shelves) and Eban Bakery of Grove City (on the top shelf).

Chef Braddock of Eban Bakery was there on October 6th, giving samples of their seeded, flax seed oat, and cinnamon raisin breads.  (The cinnamon raisin is so good, it was sold out, & I returned later in the week to get some for breakfast.)  He plans to be there on Saturdays as often as he can.
From the bread section, turn to the left, and see the start of the aisles.  Now, you still have to read the labels, but WOW.  I was thrilled.
From here, the freezer case is behind you.  Sonny Marie's (a Cincinnati-area gluten free bakery with pizza crusts available at the new Mac's location) and Moondance (a Cincinnati gluten free bakery with goods available nationwide now in Whole Foods stores)
So, this is in the international section not natural foods, but it made me happy.  On vacation in May, while on a layover in Chicago, I discovered Vosges Haut Chocolat (which I just realized is way overdue for a review).
Shown here: the variety purchased at Chicago's O'Hare Airport
Jungle Jim's has a great selection of it!  I'm not usually a chocoholic, but I am for this tastiness.
Do note, though, that not all flavors are gluten free.  Those that are that I've tried...mmm...
Have fun, explore, and let me know what you think of the new, long-awaited Jungle Jim's Eastgate!  Are there additional products I'd like to see?  Sure!  But in my opinion, this a gluten free foodie's delight.  It's an amusement park of food, and I'm hungry. 

Happy eating! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

jungle jim's eastgate opening

Tomorrow - roughly 12 hours from now - is the grand opening of the Eastgate location of Jungle Jim's International Market.  Here are the FAQs.  The beer/wine/cheese entrance is around back, and I've heard that the gluten free selection is fantastic.  I just wonder: which location - Eastgate or Fairfield - will maintain bragging rights for the largest gluten free selection in the Midwest?? 

Looking forward to reporting back :)  Until then, happy eating!

Monday, September 17, 2012

celiac awareness tour at xavier 9/22

Hello, gluten free world!  This is an overdue public service announcement: this Saturday, September 22 from 9 am to 2 pm is the Celiac Awareness Tour at Xavier University Schiff Conference & Banquet Center in the Cintas Center.  With gluten free goodies from local & national vendors, live cooking demos, and a number of speakers, it's a great one-day event!

Speakers include:
  • Veena Grandhi, MS, RD, LD, CPT, nutritionist and fitness trainer at Five Seasons Family Sports Club
  • Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD
  • Peter Klarman, author of Better Food for a Better You (expected in 2013)
  • Karl Lenz, Executive Chef at Maggiano's
Personal plug: Mr. Lenz does a terrific job at the Cincinnati Celiac Support Group's annual luncheon at Maggiano's in Kenwood.  

Hope to see you there!!

Update 9/18 7:45 pm:
Use this link to buy 2 tickets to the Celiac Awareness Tour for the price of 1 from Living Social!  The deal expires soon!! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

weekend of deliciousness

This weekend is a gluten free delight: Cincinnati Celiac Support Group luncheon at Maggiano's Little Italy and Jungle's Jim's Weekend of Wellness

Lunch was specially made by Chef Carl, whose mother-in-law has Celiac.  This was our menu:
The chopped salad - with avocado and green apple - is my undeniable favorite.  Currently, the lasagna is not on the menu.  For the pasta, Maggiano's imports Mariella Gluten Free Penne Rigate Corn Pasta from Italy.  All of their sauces are gluten-free, and it's recommended to speak with the chef directly to determine the best meal for your needs & tastebuds and to provide 24 hours notice.  Each of the 44 restaurants nationwide has the corn pasta.
We got word that Maggiano's is developing a gluten-free menu.  At the moment, this particular Maggiano's gets an average of 10 gluten-free customers per day - far more than any other food allergy sufferers.

Then later today, we went to Jungle Jim's Weekend of Wellness.  It's still happening tomorrow, so it's not too late to catch it yourself!  Admission is $8, and it's well worth it to me with so many samples and sometimes even free products from the 49 vendors.  They paid a lot to be part of the event, so I want to make sure they get the publicity they deserve for their dedication to the gluten-free community.
Shown here are all of our free gluten-free goodies that we didn't eat on the spot:
There was a selection of sauces and salsas from Local Folks Foods; delicious bread from Eban Bakery out of Grove City, Ohio; i heart keenwah quinoa clusters; Schar products; a fantastic snack mix from el's gluten free snacks (and met El); Angie's Kettle Corn; Lifeway Frozen Kefir; Plainville Farms chicken; Edible Ohio Valley magazine; samples from Moondance Desserts; and New Planet Gluten Free Beer (the 3R Raspberry Ale is dangerously tasty), Woodchuck cider varieties, and Green's Gluten-Free Belgian Ale.

What a tasty Saturday!

Happy eating!!  :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

chocolate-ancho chili flourless mini cupcakes

 Shown here: Chocolate & Ancho Chili Flourless Mini Cupcakes

Hello, and happy summer!  It's obvious that I've been more than a little busy the past few months.  Ask me what I've been up to, and I'll probably give you a blank stare.  It's been full of Reds games, the FBI Citizens' Academy, my boyfriend's annual training with the National Guard, the World Choir Games and the Big Pig Gig: Do Re Wee, Zumba for the Wii, and more gluten free treats.

For Cinci de Mayo, I made these chocolate and ancho chili flourless mini cupakes, doing some slight modifications to a recipe from Emeril Lagasse.

Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    Note: Chocolate chips are not designed to melt; so that they stand up in cookie recipes, they have a coating on them that makes them not melt as uniformly as chopped chocolate.  There are six terrific tips over at giver'slog.   
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (plus some for dusting the finished cupcakes)
  • 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
    It sounds like a lot, but it really is not overpowering.  I was skittish, too.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 duck eggs, separated
    You're welcome to use large chicken eggs.  My parents have ducks, and using their eggs creates a loftier finished product - a desirable trait in a gluten free goodie. 
    If "separating" eggs is foreign to you, check out this photo-essay on Simply Recipes.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar (AKA powdered sugar)
  • Pinch ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the mini cupcakes cup in the tin. 

In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over medium-low heat.
When a recipe calls for a double boiler, you can improvise but can rarely substitute something else.  If you don't have an official double boiler, you can use a saucepan and a large bowl.  Water will be boiled in the saucepan, and the bowl will be set in the pan but should not touch the water.  The chocolate pieces go in that bowl.
Once melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa, chili powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until thick and pale yellow in color.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the yolks and mix well.

In a third bowl, you'll make the frosting.  Whisk the egg whites until thick.
While whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually and continue to beat to form a light meringue.
You'll have a meringue when peaks begin to form.  I see them as little mountains in the snow.  
In several additions, fold into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to deflate the meringue.
Gently pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared cups.
I use an ice cream scoop to measure even portions.
Bake until the edges are set but the center is still moist, about 30 minutes.  It should pass the toothpick test.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.


In a bowl, beat the frosting mixture with an electric mixer until frothy.
Add the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks.

To serve, dollop a portion of the sweetened whipped cream and garnish with cocoa powder.

Yum!  Happy eating :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

sinfully gluten-free

As the only dedicated gluten-free bakery and restaurant in Southwest Ohio, Sinfully Gluten-Free has an ever-expanding customer base - and for good reason!  Occasionally I wonder if the things I'm tasting really do taste like what I used to eat 3 years ago or if in actuality my taste buds are simply adapting.  That didn't cross my mind when I bit into my pizza sandwich (hold the onions). 
The cheese was perfectly ooey-gooey, and the bread was nicely toasted.  It was delicious and came with crinkle-cut fries - and no need to be preoccupied with "Is it a shared fryer?" or "Did they change their gloves?"  <happy sigh of relief>
The new and improved location opened on December 30, 2011.  Although not exactly on my daily Cincinnati commute, it is well worth the drive to Centerville, a suburb of Dayton.
The family behind the restaurant has been part of the gluten-free population for the past five years, according to the website.  The listing of bakery products evolve as recipes are developed, but the restaurant menu is here.  Sinfully Gluten-Free also offers products in some retail locations and has an online store

I encourage you - both my gluten and non-gluten eaters - to visit this delightfully yummy restaurant & bakery and "Like" them on Facebook

Also, just until June 30, Sinfully Gluten-Free is in the running to receive a $250,000 grant from Chase and LivingSocial.  Support this Centerville, Ohio small business by voting here!

Happy eating :)


Sinfully Gluten-Free on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

eating in las vegas: the nightmare version

Our first night in Vegas was not so glamorous...  We had trekked from our room at Circus Circus to our friends who were staying at Bill's Gamblin' Hall.  It was late in the evening, and we were pretty hungry.  We decided on Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, knowing ahead of time that the chain has a gluten free menu.  I had good experiences at the local Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in Paradise back in Cincinnati and expected the same quality.  We waited about 30 minutes on this Tuesday night. 

Once we were seated, I asked for a gluten free menu.  Our host disappeared to find one and never returned.  When I politely asked the server for a gluten free menu, she only asked, "What do you want?"  Her tone made me feel like an inconvenience, definitely not a guest.  I didn't have a menu yet, and I'm not familiar with their offerings - how could I know?

When she returned with our drink orders - one at a time - my friend's drink was wrong.  It was a strawberry daiquiri instead of a strawberry margarita.  That wasn't a good start, but I still had faith in the kitchen.  I was relying on my experience in Cincinnati...and blinded by the fact that the clock was ticking, and my belly didn't want to wait longer.

Eventually the server returned with a small menu that she read aloud to me.  It seemed that I was meant to memorize it, because she wasn't letting me look it over.  When she turned to leave, I asked to take a picture of it.  I set it on the regular menu to give a point of reference for the scale.
A gluten free bun?  That looks promising.  There's no mention of suggested sides, so I thought that the fries were safe.  I ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger gluten free with the sauce on the side.  I'm picky with sauces.  The server didn't suggest any changes. 

She brought out the barbecue sauce first, adding, "I don't know why you ordered the sauce.  It's got gluten." It was as if I should have known, and she laughed at me.  I was in shock and spoke in a staccato rhythm.  "I don't want it if it has gluten!  It was on the gluten free menu, so I thought it was safe.  I don't want it.  It'll make me really sick.  Please take it away."

A few minutes after that hair-raising moment, my meal arrived.  Scott politely asked the food-runner, "And this is gluten free?"  The server - who hadn't written down the order - quickly came over, interrupting the food-runner to say, "Yes, of course it's gluten free."  (In food allergy and intolerance world, you always have to double check.) 
Like clockwork, 30 minutes after my first bite, I was sick.  My unmistakable symptoms had begun, and I was miserable.  It was our first night in Vegas, and we were hanging out with my dear friend, the bride who would be getting married in just a few days.  While I was away, the server checked to see if I liked my burger or would like a box.  Scott said it had glutened me and that I was sick in the bathroom.  The server argued, "No, it's cooked the same way it always is," and offered no remorse, no sympathy.  No one checked on me once I finally returned to the table, and it limited our options for the remainder of the night...  Luckily I wasn't down & out the remainder of the trip. 

May you all have happier eating experiences!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

eating in las vegas: mon ami gabi

I'm a little ashamed that I haven't written at all during Celiac Awareness Month!  I'd intended to write more frequently this month instead of less, but things got all jumbled when I realized that the countdown to our vacation was on.

We spent the past week relaxing in Las Vegas and Newport Coast, California.  A friend from college had recommended watching the Fountains of Bellagio from Mon Ami Gabi - a cute French restaurant on the strip.  The patio has a terrific view of the fountains as they dance.  When I pulled up Find Me Gluten Free on my iPhone, it had a 5 star rating and 8 reviews - plus a dedicated & publicized gluten free menu and the promise of warmed gluten free bread!  We made a lunch reservation for our second day.

Our server was delightful, and the aroma of delectable food filled the air.  I was handed a gluten free menu (and it's advertised on the regular menu!).  I ordered a side salad, the all-natural chicken paillard with shallow-fry frites, and knew I'd want the crème brûlée.  Scott had the steak classique with shallow-fry frites.  Both the chicken and the steak had been pounded thin.  They were tender and flavorful.  Neither of us knew exactly what shallow-fry frites were.  I assumed they would be something like a shoestring French fry.  These were much better!  Wide but thin, they had a crunch similar to a chip but still with the substance of a fry.  The lemon butter and the herbs from the chicken rendered ketchup useless.
Before our food arrived, a gentleman brought out a loaf of fresh French baguette and gave it to Scott.  He put in an order of gluten free bread for me (below).  Both varieties came with a ramekin of sweet cream butter.
The crème brûlée was wonderful, making me realize that I'm bound to eat more of it at a Nordstrom Cafe Bistro in an attempt to relive this little getaway.
(I was too distracted by my own food to remember to take a picture of Scott's.  Guess we'll just have to go back!) 

I neglected to take a photo, but if you enjoy a variety of fine wines, you're in luck. We were surrounded by bottles of things like Dom Pérignon Rosé.

It was an excellent experience overall, and I'm looking forward to returning & checking out the other locations of Mon Ami Gabi.

Happy eating!  (And stay tuned for more food recommendations for Vegas & Southern California.)


Mon Ami Gabi on Urbanspoon