Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Motivation 11/24/2014

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Motivation 11/17/2014

"Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future."

~ Deepak Chopra

Sunday, November 16, 2014

EAT: The Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington, NC

When on Wrightsville Beach, NC, The Oceanic is the place to be. With its breathtaking views of the ocean and newly renovated pier, it is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. It is also well known for its private event facilities. While The Oceanic does not have a gluten free menu, our server, Scott, was well versed with the menu and double checked when we had questions. He even said that The Oceanic is changing the menu for the fall/winter and plans on adding more gluten free menu items!
We started off with the Shrimp Cocktail with no cocktail sauce. Instead, we requested melted butter. Four generous sized shrimp with no seasoning got us off to a great start.
The gluten free menu items were a little limited, and I hope the new menu has more variety. I decided on the Seared Sea Scallops with garlic mashed potatoes and collards. The sea scallops were topped with pancetta, fennel, and mandarin oranges. Very tasty!
My dinner companion went with the Oceanic Mixed Grill, which included grilled mahi mahi, salmon, and shrimp. Instead of the confetti rice (it contains gluten), he decided to go with the garlic mashed potatoes and collards. The fish had a good flavor, especially the salmon. 

The Oceanic has a great setting on the water. Of course, we were going to try the seafood and Scott made our visit very enjoyable. I appreciated his knowledge in providing us as safe a meal as possible and look forward to the new menu with more gluten free options. Be sure to check out this popular spot on your next trip to the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach area.

The Oceanic
703 S. Lumina Dr.
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

Friday, November 14, 2014

EAT: Edmund's Oast, Charleston, SC

Edmund's Oast, located on Morrison Dr. in downtown Charleston, SC, is in an up and coming part of downtown. But, unlike many downtown Charleston restaurants, it has its own parking lot! I was excited to try out another potentially great restaurant in Charleston (have not been disappointed yet), but what really makes Edmund's Oast a great place for us food allergy warriors is the fact that the chef's girlfriend owns Sweet Radish Gluten Free Bakershop (See my Blog)! Not only does Edmund's Oast carry Sweet Radish gluten free bread and dessert options, they totally get the "allergy thing." Even though there is not a gluten free menu, our server was very knowledgeable and checked on any questions we had that he could not answer.
I almost died laughing at where we were seated. Could we have gotten a better seat in the house to "watch" over the preparation of the food?? Almost like dinner and a show! It was fun to watch the staff prepare each dish and of course, ask what dish is that?
Pre-meal, two small samplings of roasted sweet potatoes with honey were delivered to our table. Now, I am not sure if this is commonplace or if our mention of food allergies and questions about certain menu items prompted this delicious pre-dinner treat to be delivered to our table. Either way, it was a great way to start the meal!
We ordered the Charcuterie Board as an appetizer. The selection of meats was delivered on a large plank and served with bread. Even though we had stated we were gluten and corn free, I thought for sure that they had forgotten and brought the bread anyway (not the first time that has happened!). Not the case, as the bread was gluten free and corn free from Sweet Radish Bakery. Wow, both were excellent!
On a chilly night, the Heritage Chicken and Carolina Gold Rice Porridge was perfect. Mixed in were jumbo lump blue crab and young onions. It was very filling and enough for two to share.
Since many of the menu items at Edmund's Oast are set up like tapas, we also tried the Surryano Ham and Acorn Squash. The ham was very tasty, but I thought the squash could have been cooked longer, as I like my squash a little less crunchy.
Edmund's Oast did a great job of accommodating for food allergies and even had several gluten free dessert items from Sweet Radish Bakeshop. Despite being full, we tried the Pistachio Cookies with rose water and creme fraiche. It was my first cookie sandwich in years. After a couple of bites, though, I had to surrender and take the rest home.

Definitely check out this fun restaurant and bring your non-gluten free friends too, as they have a large selection of beers on tap. Edmund's Oast is also part of the FIG restaurant family and prides itself on working with local farms to bring its customers the finest ingredients.

Edmund's Oast
1081 Morrison Dr.
Charleston, SC 29403

This Is Why I Blog...

I initially started my blog in hopes of help others with food allergies. I have been gluten free for 9 years, but only recently found out in the past year that I have other food allergies as well. Since my job allows me to travel and eat at different restaurants all over the world, I was hoping to help others by posting my findings. At first, I thought most people would find the larger city locations and vacation destinations to be most helpful, but I have had several blogs about more obscure restaurant locations that have assisted others as well.

Then, I received this email from a friend of mine who referred a co-worker who is gluten free to my blog:

"...per Heather’s recent Blog about going to Hall’s [in Charleston, SC], we cancelled a reservation at High Cotton and took our chances at Hall’s... It was delicious and I had fried shrimp for the very first time in 2 or 3 years.  At the end of the night I was hugging the owner!"

She is referring to my blog on Hall's Chophouse which can be found here. Now, I might add that I have reviewed High Cotton (Blog Post) as well and it is very good, not to mention very accommodating to allergies. The point is that it really makes me happy to see others with food allergies finding great food that is safe for them! I hope I can continue to help others. As always, I love hearing about your food allergy friendly experiences and please let me know if you have any suggestions on topics or restaurants you would like to see on the blog!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Motivation 11/10/2014

"Anytime you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this earth."

~ Roberto Clemente

Thursday, November 6, 2014

EAT: Halls Chophouse, Charleston, SC

For a great steak when in Charleston, SC, head to Halls Chophouse on King St. A dimly lit two-story restaurant, Halls is famous for its steaks and its southern hospitality. Upon entering the restaurant, my dinner companion and I were warmly greeted not only by Billy Hall, son of owners Jeanne and Bill Hall, Sr., but also great live music from the piano in the corner. Billy welcomed us and found us a seat at the bar for the few minute wait for our reserved table to be available. Even on a Sunday evening, Halls was packed, but not overly noisy and the piano music gave the room a nice ambiance.
Steve, our server, was very knowledgeable about the menu, despite the lack of a gluten free menu. He assured us he could assist us in finding a great gluten free meal. In fact, Steve said that all fried items are dusted in rice flour and cooked in rice bran oil, so all fried items are gluten free! How awesome! Why is this not publicized?! Unless it is an obvious gluten item, like the pre-meal bread, pasta, and most desserts, it will be gluten free. Armed with this knowledge, we anxiously ordered the fried green tomatoes. They did not disappoint! Topped with crab, shrimp, and bacon succatash (minus the corn), the tomatoes were so perfect, we debated ordering another!
For the main meal, I ordered the Petite Filet (8oz). It was a nice medium (maybe more medium rare, which was ok by me) and very tender and flavorful. One of the best filets I have had in a long time. Something to note is that when ordering a steak, no sides come with it, so be sure to order a side or two. I recommend the Fried Green Tomatoes!
My dinner companion ordered the 24oz. Bone-In Rib Eye. It was a large slice and very juicy with a great flavor.

I was really impressed with Steve's knowledge of the menu and the gluten free options available. He even saved another diner from choking during our meal. He quickly did the Heimlich before many of the diners even knew what was going on. My dinner companion and I vowed to cut our meat in small pieces and chew completely before swallowing, but felt safe that Steve could assist us if needed. Stuffed from the great meal, Billy was there at the front door as we left to make sure we had a great time and to thank us for dining at Halls. Don't worry, Billy, we will be back soon! Thanks for taking great care of us!

Halls Chophouse
 434 King St.
Charleston, SC 29403

EAT: The Ordinary, Charleston, SC

The Ordinary in downtown Charleston, SC is anything but. A restaurant that calls itself a "fancy seafood and oyster hall" definitely knows how to spice up the ordinary seafood dishes. It, however, does not have a specific gluten free menu. No worries though, as our server, Graham, was so well versed in the menu items that he rattled off ingredients to make sure we had as safe a meal as possible.
The Ordinary was busy on a Friday night and with the upstairs loft, it had plentiful seating. Graham informed us that the building was formerly a bank, but the high ceiling and arched windows were covered up when the building was in use as a bank. The bank vault is still in place behind the oyster bar! A James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant 2013 Finalist and run by the same team as another great Charleston restaurant, FIG, The Ordinary strives to support local fisherman and farmers. Bon Appetit named it one of the Top 10 Favorite Oyster Bars across America.
With the menu set up like "tapas," we ordered a variety of dishes to enjoy several different types of seafood. We started out with a half pound of cold boiled shrimp. We substituted melted butter for the cocktail sauce, as it had Worcestershire Sauce and Graham could not confirm its gluten free status.  The shrimp came out in a bowl of ice with seaweed accent and fresh lemon. Cold boiled shrimp are always a great gluten free, corn free, egg free option.
Next out to our table was the Bay Scallops Ceviche. Very tasty with the added accompaniments, although a small portion (just enough for two to share).
We also tried the Pickled Shrimp, Cumin, and Coriander. It had a nice flavor with a little kick. Again, a small portion, but enough for two people to split.
Our last tapa dish to arrive was the Blacked Wahoo Salad with yogurt and soft herbs. The Wahoo had a good flavor and the yogurt had a little spice which paired well with the Wahoo.
After Graham told us that they fry their Sea Salt Potato Chips first in the day and switch out the oil daily, making them gluten free, we had to try them. They had a great crunch and were perfect to dip into the yogurt from the Wahoo Salad. 

I was really impressed with the knowledge of gluten free items and the options available to those who are gluten free. It is always fun to be able to order fresh potato chips or fries because they take care with the fryer. The Ordinary is a fun seafood restaurant with a great atmosphere and an interesting mix of menu items to choose from. You won't find the traditional fried seafood on the menu, but you did not want to be "ordinary" anyway, did you??

The Ordinary
544 King St. 
Charleston, SC 29403

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Motivation 11/03/2014

"I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
With every broken bone
I swear I lived"

~ OneRepublic "I Lived"