Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"The Delight Gluten Free Cookbook" Review and Giveaway

Delight Gluten Free Magazine's Executive Editor, Vanessa Weisbrod, has created a delightful gluten free cookbook! A lot of cookbooks I have looked at since going gluten free do not have much variety, very small photos, and do not accommodate for other food allergies. Vanessa's cookbook is none of these. With 150 recipes and large color photos, it is feast for your eyes. The photos alone make you want to try every recipe!
The first part of the cookbook is a great resource for all things gluten free. It talks about gluten free, how to avoid cross contamination, the best way to purchase gluten free flours, trusted brands and resources, and an allergens and substitution guide. I really like the allergens and substitutions guide, since I have multiple food allergies. It is very easy to check the icons listed next to each recipe to see if it contains other allergens. Vanessa covers the top allergens: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, and nut free, but also some other popular allergens like corn and rice. Corn and rice are not considered Top 8 allergens by the US FDA, so they are harder to spot in food. She also lists which recipes are vegetarian.

I have been traveling quite a bit recently and have not been cooking much recently, but below are a couple of my favorite recipes from the cookbook.

Sausage-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms:
Very tasty! I had not had a portobello mushroom in a while, but this will now by in my meal rotation.  My gluten loving dad even liked it.

Skinny Guava Mojito:
Yum! Who does not like a mojito!? The guava juice was a little hard to find, and I think I prefer my mojito without it. Always a good option for a summertime drink, though.

I can't wait to try more of Vanessa's recipes, and you can too! Enter for your chance to win a copy of Vanessa's cookbook.

Congratulations, Kristi M.!! Thank you to everyone who entered to win. Please check back soon for more giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

EAT: Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub, Winston Salem, NC

I always get excited when I eat at a restaurant I have been to many times, only to find that they have now noted on the menu which items are gluten free! I had this experience at Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub in Winston Salem, NC. Irish pubs tend to be tough places for gluten free eaters because many items are beer battered and fried. Finnegan's has these items, but also a good selection of gluten free items. 
Finnegan's specializes in draft beer and even has Strongbow Gluten Free Cider on tap. They also have Omission Pale Ale and Lager as gluten free options. 
I ordered the gluten free Cider Glazed Scallops. Was it too much that I ordered the cider AND the cider glazed scallops?? No way! Yum! They are also corn and egg free in case you have those allergies as well. 

Finnegan's carries gluten free bread from French Meadow for sandwiches and burgers. I did ask my server about the gluten free chips (fries) listed on the menu and if there was a dedicated fryer. She said they have two fryers, but they tend to be divided between meat items and vegetarian items. Since Finnegan's has beer battered and fried vegetables on the menu, she said she could not guarantee that the fries are free of cross contamination. Those of you who are very sensitive, beware. 

Finnegan's Wake offers a good selection for those with food allergies. They even include a couple of the traditional Irish dishes that are gluten free such as Corned Beef and Cabbage and the Irish Beef Kabobs. It is great to be able to eat safely at an Irish Pub. My Irish Heritage thanks you!

Finnegan's Wake
620 N. Trade St. 
Winston Salem, NC 27101

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Motivation 10/27/2014

"Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed."

~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sunday, October 26, 2014

EAT: House of Prime Rib, San Francisco, CA

Photo Credit: Jason Rodman

What does one order at the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco?! Why, Prime Rib, gluten free, of course! And, boy, does it deliver! No gluten free menu, but when making reservations, I mentioned that two of us in our party of four would be gluten free. I was told not to worry, as everything can be adjusted for gluten free, corn free, and egg free.  House of Prime Rib has an old world English vibe, and has been featured on PBS and The Food Channel. It is a San Francisco landmark and they use the highest quality corn fed beef available. Be careful for those of you who react to corn fed beef!
Our server was well versed in gluten free, stating that our prime rib without the au jus is gluten free, as well as the most of the sides (not the Yorkshire Pudding). We all started with the Salad Bowl, where the server brings a large bowl of salad to the table on a cart, tosses the greens, adds the dressing, and tosses again. Each of us is served a bowl. It was fun to watch the process, as the servers err on the dramatic when adding the dressing.
House of Prime Rib Cut

Decisions, decisions on what size cut of prime rib. Should I go with The City Cut (a smaller cut for smaller appetites), House of Prime Rib Cut (a hearty portion), The English Cut (for those who like a thinner slice), or the King Henry VIII Cut (ginormous cut of beef)?? I went with the House of Prime Rib Cut, no au jus, while two others were brave and went for the King Henry VIII Cut. Our fourth abandoned us and went for the seafood catch of Sea Bass. 

When our Prime Rib was ready, a large stainless steel cart of meat was wheeled to our table and cut right in front of us! Yet another flair for the dramatic with the opening of the hood revealing large pieces of beef. Trust me, no one leaves House of Prime Rib hungry! The slices were huge, but we managed to just about finish them off (with plans for a workout the next day). We added the mashed potatoes as the perfect accompaniment for the meat.

I was told the Sea Bass was delicious. It was accompanied by asparagus and mashed potatoes and topped with a white wine capers sauce. I was pleased that they offered menu items for those who are not Prime Rib fanatics, although the choices were limited.
King Henry VIII Cut

Anthony Bourdain called the House of Prime Rib, "the American Dream" and I can agree. This is not your average "meat and potatoes" kind of place. It was packed on the Monday night we dined, and each table was just as excited as we were to see that shiny vessel wheeled to their table, leaving them with the ultimate beef experience.

House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA

EAT: Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA

The Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA is a building full of fun little shops and food spots. Located on the Embarcadero, the eastern waterfront along the San Francisco Bay and the Port of San Francisco, it is a gathering spot for locals and tourists, alike. The Ferry Building brings regional vendors who promote traditional farming and production techniques.
In my search for some good gluten free eats in San Francisco, I came across several stops in the Ferry Building that fit the bill. My favorites include:
Boccalone and its "Tasty Salted Pig Parts" is a great spot for cured pork. I had to try the "Cone of Meat" with a mix of delicious gluten free pork.
Mariposa Gluten Free Bakery is one of the only gluten free bakeries in San Francisco. The bakery has a good selection of cakes, cupcakes, pies, and bread. 
Pressed Juicery has a delicious selection of cold-pressed juices. All are made daily and are all natural. I really like the variety and how some are sweet and some have a kick of spice. 

The Ferry Building is a fun place to spend an afternoon browsing. With a variety of local and regional shops and eateries, it is always busy place to get the local flavor of San Francisco. 

Ferry Building
1 Salsalito
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, October 25, 2014

EAT (Drink): The Buena Vista, San Francisco, CA

When in San Francisco, CA, one must make a stop at The Buena Vista, the first place in the US to sell Irish Coffee. Irish Coffee is made of fresh black coffee, whiskey, and whipping cream. The only problem... whiskey is grain alcohol and many people who are gluten free cannot drink grain alcohols. Even though I react to grain alcohols, I had to check the place out to see what the hype was about. 

In 1952, BV owner, Jack Koeppler asked international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to recreate an Irish coffee made in Ireland. After numerous unsuccessful attempts, they finally perfected the floating cream by aging it for48 hours and frothing it to a certain consistency (the secret to authentic Irish coffee).
Upon sitting at the bar, I asked the bartender for a drink menu to see if there were any gluten free, corn free options. His wry sense of humor responded with "We have water and Irish Coffee," as I eyed the full bar of liquors behind him. He asked what I could not have and suggested replacing the whiskey with Disarrono, an amaretto liqueur. I appreciated his knowledge of grain alcohols and the recommendations he provided. He said rum (sugar cane based) would change the flavor too much. I found out later that not only does the BV serve other drinks, they also serve food (can we say breakfast with an Irish Coffee?!). But back to the Irish Coffee, Wow! The Disarrono was a great addition! How delicious and a perfect drink to warm you up after a chilly, foggy day outside! I will definitely be back on my next trip to San Fran for the Irish Coffee and the humor, and better yet, arriving by cable car!

The Buena Vista
2765 Hyde St. 
San Francisco, CA 94109

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Motivation 10/20/2014

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."

~ Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EAT: Bay of Pines Organic Restaurant, Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA is a beautiful place. It is home to some of the best golf courses in the United States: Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and Spanish Bay. It is also home to a great restaurant, Bay of Pines. It is an organic restaurant located in downtown Monterey. While it does not have a specific gluten free menu, gluten free items are listed on its main menu and all of its entrees are gluten free. 
Bay of Pines only uses grass fed beef, which I have found that grass fed beef on the West Coast has a slightly game-ier taste than on the East Coast, obviously due to the different grasses available. 
We started with The Irish Mex Connection for an appetizer. Fresh diced avocados with pico de gallo and black beans on organic potatoes topped with mozerella cheese. I inquired about the fryer and if the fries were the only thing fried in the fryer. The server/manager said yes, but I had a reaction after my visit so I can't say if it was from this restaurant. They do have some non-gluten free items that are fried, so I don't know if they had multiple fryers. The app was really tasty though!
For dinner, I chose The Crow's Nest Burger sans bun as a lettuce wrap. The 8oz organic beef is topped with gruyere cheese, sautéed onions, applewood smoked bacon, and hummus with a side of fruit. The burger was cooked perfectly and the hummus was delicious. 
My dinner companion decided on The Bay of Pines burger, complete with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and melted gorgonzola cheese. He also got his burger as a lettuce wrap (no bun).
The Bay of Pines has a fun decor with a water theme. Ships hanging from the walls, a large aquarium, and a ship's helm at the bar add to the decor. 

The Bay of Pines
150 Del Monte Ave.
Monterey, CA 93940

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

EAT: The Girl and The Fig, Sonoma, CA

The Girl & The Fig, located just off the plaza in Sonoma, CA is a great place to dine after an afternoon of wine tasting. There are several tasting rooms located on the same block for a nice pre-dinner sampling in case your day is filled with non-wine tasting activities. The Girl & The Fig does not have a specific gluten free menu, but our server was very knowledgeable (his wife is a Celiac). 
While The Girl & The Fig Does not have a large dining area, it was packed and reservations are highly recommended.
The Girl & The Fig calls its food "country food with a French passion." I agree. With a menu that changes weekly and highlights the seasons, there is a nice variety of meats, vegetarian, and cheese options to fit any palate. The duck was highly recommended by several people in town who asked where we were dining, so I had to try it. Duck Confit was served with white bean stew, house-made sausage, and mustard jus. The bread crumbs had to be omitted in order for the dish to be gluten free. It was delicious, and the duck was tender. 
My dinner companion decided upon the Grilled Pork Chop with charred brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes, local pears, and pancetta vinegarette. No modifications needed to make it gluten free. It had a great flavor, and I liked the addition of the pears. 

Be sure to check out The Girl and The Fig on your next trip to Wine Country. 

The Girl and The Fig
110 West Spain St. 
Sonoma, CA 95476

Friday, October 10, 2014

EAT: Burgers & Vine, Sonoma, CA

If you are looking for a tasty gluten free meal after an afternoon wine tasting in Sonoma, CA, look no further than Burgers & Vine. Located on 1 St. on the back right corner of the Plaza in the historic Creamery Building in downtown Sonoma, gluten free items are listed right on the menu. In fact, seeing the gluten free items on the menu is the reason we stopped one evening while strolling downtown. 
Burgers & Vine has a fun vibe with large TVs for game watching (the Giants were playing that night, so it was pretty loud) and live music on the weekends. It also has a spacious bar in the center of the restaurant. There is a cool modern jukebox that will play just about any song you want. 
Burgers & Vine has a dedicated fryer, so all French fries are safe. I highly recommend the sweet potato fries, as I find those to be the most difficult to get gluten free (and they were delish!). 
Opened just this past April, one of the managers, Donald, told me that they had many requests for gluten free items, they decided to accommodate. The staff can also help out with other allergies. 

Another must try is happy hour from 4-6pm on weekdays. The grilled chicken wings are gluten free and at a special price, as well as their signature cocktails. 
One must order a burger when in a burger joint, so I ordered mine as a lettuce wrap (no bun), but gluten free buns are available. I ordered the B&V Burger with B&V's own Sonoma Creamery Chipotle Cheddar and sweet potato fries. The burger was cooked perfectly and the sweet potato fries were so tasty, we came back the next day for happy hour (chicken wings and sweet potato fries) between wine tastings. 
My dinner companion, also gluten free, was adventuresome on his selection and ordered the Surf and Turf, bunless burger with shrimp and truffle aioli, and the hand cut fries. The shrimp made an interesting addition, but his burger was no less tasty.

I highly recommend this fun, casual restaurant as a nice diversion from the wine tastings. It is centrally located downtown in the Plaza and is easy to find. I was really impressed with their food allergy accommodations, as it is great to just come across a restaurant in my travels that works hard to accommodate allergies. 

Burgers & Vine
400 1st. Street E
Sonoma, CA 95476

Monday, October 6, 2014

EAT: Village Tavern

The Village Tavern is a small regional chain with 11 locations located in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, and the Philippines. I recently visited the original location in Reynolda Village in Winston Salem, NC. It opened in 1984 and is still a popular place to eat. The addition of their gluten free menu has also enabled those with food allergies to dine in a safer environment.
Village Tavern's Gluten Free Menu has a variety of salads, pizzas, and pastas. They carry Schar's gluten free pasta (careful Corn free friends, it has corn flour in it). I find that the entree selection is limited with my corn allergy. I am also apprehensive about ordering gluten free pizzas and pasta in any restaurant serving gluten filled equivalents. One never knows how careful the kitchen staff is. Since I am very sensitive to gluten and corn, I opted for the Grilled Tilapia with Mango and Avocado salsa and mashed potatoes and spinach as my sides. The salsa was pretty tasty , but more was needed to cover the bland tilapia. The mashed potatoes and spinach were good. 
My dinner companion ordered from the gluten free menu as well and selected the Shrimp and Grits. He said it was tasty. The grits were creamy and had bacon and onions mixed in. 

Every Village Tavern location I have dined has been a popular spot. A gathering spot for friends and sports fans in their bar area. The addition of the gluten free menu gives those with a gluten allergy the ability to gather with friends. 

Village Tavern

Monday Motivation 10/06/2014

"Impossible is nothing, in fact perfecting possible is doing the impossible. Only once you have learned to perfect every single day will you wake up and conceptualize doing things you never thought were possible. You can have what you want and be who you want to be if you live to BE PHENOMENAL OR BE FORGOTTEN... Be legendary and leave a legacy!

~ Eric Thomas

Sunday, October 5, 2014

EAT: Hutch & Harris, Winston Salem, NC

Hutch & Harris, located on 4th Street in downtown Winston Salem, NC always has a good variety of food choices. I miss their old menu, which listed the origin of each dish. It was always fun to learn you were eating a dish from some other fabulous city, like New Orleans or San Francisco. H&H's current menu is great too. Gluten free items are not listed on the menu, but the chefs and servers are very knowledgeable about food allergies. Each time I have eaten at H&H, the server was happy to check with the chef for ingredient questions and everything is made in house. 
With a great outside atmosphere on a main downtown street, it is a great place to people watch. The generous outdoor seating is always crowded when the weather is nice (even on cooler nights, patrons venture outside, like the night the photo was taken). There was even some nice live music playing across the street from the buskers duo, The Adventures of Sandman and Thunderdrum. 
This particular night of dining at Hutch & Harris, I ordered the Rajun Cajun, their version of Jambalaya with shrimp, chicken, crayfish, and sausage tossed in Cajun rice and tomatoes. Very tasty with a kick of spice. I chatted with the server about my gluten free, corn free needs and he checked with the chef to make sure the meal was safe. 
My dinner companion ordered the Top Chop, a 12 oz pork chop with caramelized onions and spicy house mustard, served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The pork chop had a nice flavor and this dish is gluten free as well (the server told us the candied pecans that came on top may be questionable, so they were ordered on the side).

Being in a lively part of downtown Winston Salem, Hutch & Harris is in a great spot. Sit outside for people watching and enjoyment of all things downtown. Sit inside for a more quiet and intimate dining experience. 

Hutch & Harris
424 West 4th St. 
Winston Salem, NC 27101