Monday, March 30, 2015

Blue Ridge, Georgia

The small, in between mountain town of Blue Ridge, Georgia doesn’t get a lot of attention compared to Helen, Dahlonega and Ellijay but my hunch is it will be soon. In a recent weekend trip the town, the people and their food surpassed any expectations I had by far. Downtown Blue Ridge is just a few blocks total but it’s packed with good local bars, many restaurants and wonderfully fun locals.

In addition, almost everywhere is incredibly supportive of gluten free needs. Even the B&B we stayed at offered options. There were so many good places I had to share them all.

Note: For those still young at heart and like to stay up late, be prepared to start early as most places close around 11pm. This is due to the current county liquor laws (major progress though for being a dry county just a few years ago!)

L&L Beanery
This is a perfect breakfast spot to either grab a quick gluten free breakfast bar (they had a scrumptious looking blackberry crumble cake) or to sit outside at a bistro table and enjoy a heartier breakfast and coffee.

The brewery had the most surprising and exciting menu. Their chipotle mayo burger, while even though they don’t offer a gluten free bun, was perfectly satisfying with some lettuce, tomato and onion. The sides were equally as delicious with options like roasted potatoes, rice and beans and seasonal vegetables. They are a good stop for lunch or dinner.

For booze selections, they offer a few ciders, wine and full bar. If visiting with non-celiac friends, I’d steer them towards the brewery’s brown ale, named Blood, the Tripel or go for a flight tasting.

Chester’s is the new place in town that has the more modern southern design and vibe that Atlantans will feel right at home at. Their long bar with multiple TVs is a great place to catch a game.

For food, everyone in town recommended the wings and they weren’t wrong. First quickly fried, sauced and tossed on the grill for a few minutes the flavor on these wings is complex and delicious. They also have a large wine selection as well as a few ciders available.

Nestled into one of the historic buildings downtown, this mountain styled restaurant is just what you’re looking for to slow down and enjoy the North Georgia style. Their current chef is delivering beautiful dishes that could easily compete with some of the top Atlanta restaurants. Top dishes include the pan-roasted chicken (to die for) and the roasted duck.

They are also extremely accommodating to food allergies, even bringing out GF bread with a nice selection of pickled vegetables as an appetizer.

Black Sheep is one of the other newer restaurants in town. It’s a few blocks off the main strip and is the hot spot to go to right now. I recommend making a reservation for dinner. While I didn’t try any of the food the staff was very knowledgeable to direct you to dishes that work for your restrictions.

The bar is an inviting space to enjoy a craft cocktail or wine before dinner. The bartender was the perfect host and introduced us to some locals to spark good conversations.

This is a fun, local bar to grab a pint and play some darts or shuffleboard (and soon to be new billiard room). They specifically list GF on the menu and they offer large bottles of the local Mercier hard cider.

The pub is set in a large green panted aluminum shed and run by an Irish priest – need I say more? This quirky, friendly dive bar is a hidden gem in downtown. Walk inside and you’re surrounded by a beautiful all wood bar and tons of mismatched wooden tablet sets. This place gets popular around 8pm on Saturdays with the locals who are more than willing to share a few drinks with you.  It also has the largest draft selection in the town that we could find.

Head to the back of the bar for a game of darts, a small game of pool or to check out the real confessional tucked in next to the bathroom.

Wineries & Cidery
Serenberry Vineyards
There are a few wineries and Mercier Orchards within the area. Mercier Orchards, just 5 minutes outside of town, offers a hard cider tasting bar.  Leaning towards the drier ciders, I recommend trying Adele’s Choice and Lone Tree.

Serenberry Vineyards and Cartecay Vineyards are within 30 minutes of downtown and offer great scenic drives along the way.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Celiac Eats is Back – Top 3: Westside

It’s good to be back from a lengthy hiatus after starting a new job and being diagnosed with histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is the lack of a particular enzyme to break down the histamine in foods. The buildup of histamine in the body causes a host of allergy-like symptoms. This added over 10 foods that I now have to manage to avoid on top of the gluten, dairy and soy free diet. So needless to say my restaurant dining decreased dramatically for awhile. But now that I've gotten a handle on managing my new diet, I’m back with the launch of a collection of my top three favorite restaurants by neighborhood; and to kick it off I’m starting with the Westside!

Miller Union
This is one of my favorites in all of Atlanta. Steven Satterfield and Neal McCarthy keep the focus on the farm – changing the menu frequently based on that week’s selection of crops. The great thing about true farm to table restaurants is that the chefs are always aware of which ingredients are in each dish. Every time I've dined there my waiter has been fully educated and works with the kitchen to ensure the best meal possible. Their wine menu has ample variety including the hard to find Albert Boxler Grand Cru Pinot Gris – Eat.Drink.Repeat’s Sarah-Ann Soffer’s favorite. I also love the bee hive collection in the back room and the unassuming yet well stocked bar.

Yeah! Burger
I’ve already written about Yeah! Burger but it’s still top of my list. You just can’t beat having a burger with a bun. My favorite addition to the menu is the crispy Brussels sprouts. They started these as a monthly special but luckily decided to keep them around. They are by far the best Brussels sprouts I've had in Atlanta. I've also finally ventured to try their salads which I never thought would be so good. The hydroponic lettuce is full of flavor and then tossed in house-made dressing. I go for the Lemon vinaigrette.

This paleo-focused restaurant, tucked away in a strip center off Huff Rd, is a hidden gem. I love going for brunch and order the vegan breakfast, a plate of roasted sweet potatoes, greens and a spicy pinto cake. If I’m more in the mood for lunch, I’ll get the bahn-mi style burger.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

The second Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, this past weekend, was leaps and bounds better than last year for those gluten free. I remember being so excited in 2011 when there were a handful of dishes I could eat. This year, there was such a selection that I didn’t know what to do with myself. So instead of rambling I’ll just get right on to the good stuff – here are my best gluten free picks of the weekend – separated into the best of each tasting trail.*

The obvious winner for me was the Fox Bros. brisket. Fox Bros. states all their meats are gluten free. Their sauce contains dairy but the meat alone is still perfect for BBQ enthusiasts.

Tacos and Tamales
I was disappointed to see not one but two restaurants serving the basic taco lineup of beef, lettuce and cheese, buffet style; so Alma Cocina knocked everyone out of the water with their pork tamale topped with pico de gallo.

The Whole Pig          
This was the best section of the tasting tents. Farm Burger was the biggest surprise with their crispy pig ear tacos on handmade corn tortillas (made on site) and a trio of sauces.

Bistro AIX also held their own with Moroccan-spiced pork tenderloin with harissa-marinated watermelon and lentil chip.

Southern Sweets
I was so excited to find French Broad Chocolates from Asheville, NC. This family owned artisan chocolate company makes a whole line of vegan truffles – named the Buddha collection after their son who had a dairy allergy when he was younger. Some of the vegan truffles are also gluten free including the strawberry balsamic truffle with Hawaiian chocolate and crunchy cacao nib coating.
Southern Snacks
Blackberry Farm had a host of goodies including cured meats, pickled ramps, ramp jam and pickled okra. Savannah Bee was sampling honeycomb with fresh apples, blackberries and raspberries.  

One of my new favorites is mezcal - an agave based liquor where the agave leaves are smoked before processing – which had a new presence at the festival this year. Illegal Mezcal showcased their three handmade varieties. Their anejo variety had a great smokey flavor and a perfect smoothness for those a bit timid of tequila. For those accustomed to the taste, the un-aged variety had a refreshing bite. In one of the morning sessions, Greg Best of Holeman and Finch showcased Mezcal in his corn-arita, using un-aged mescal, raw corn milk, lemon and pepper infused honey. 

* In full disclosure I received a media day pass to the festival. 

Fox Bros. brisket

Alma Cocina pork tamale

One Eared Stag beef tongue terrine

Farm Burger crispy pork ear tacos

Bistro AIX Moroccan-spiced pork

French Broad Chocolates

Blackberry Farm spread

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Atlanta Chef’s Expo

This past weekend marked the inaugural Atlanta Chef’s Expo held at the Foundry at Puritan Mill with part of the proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The expo showcased a host of Atlanta chefs, restaurants and catering companies and their best dishes. The expo was one of first Atlanta food events to showcase a special gluten free/vegan section featuring Chow Baby, Chef Barry Garber of Creative Vegan Concepts, Dr. Sweet’s Cake Emporium and Honeysuckle Gelato.

Some of my favorites of the day included Dr. Sweet’s Cake Emporium's gluten free and vegan Ginger Cookies with Blackberry Juniper Jam, Barrelhouse’s Braised Short Rib and Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails’ Espresso Rubbed Apple Brined Pork Loin. While Honeysuckle Gelato didn't have any sorbet samples on hand their list of flavors like Apple Rum Cinnamon, Grapefruit Campari, Lemon Lavender and Orange Anis left me wanting to go pick up a pint.

Dr. Sweet's Cake Emporium's Ginger Cookies
Be sure to check out the event next year! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sun in my Belly

East of Decatur, nearby the train tracks lay a row of restaurants including Wahoo! Grill, Radial CafĂ©, Fox Brothers and Sun in my Belly. Sun in my Belly sits at the corner of College Avenue and Murray Hill Avenue in an unassuming brick building. Walk in and you’re greeted by a deli set up in front of you, to your left you’ll find a small waiting area squared off with antique suede couches and an intimate dining area, and further on in the back room you’ll find warm wood all around and a giant bureau covered with candles. The tables are topped with hand painted mason jars and Tibetian-esque paper streamers hang from ceiling.

While there isn’t a plethora of gluten free and dairy free dishes, the ones on the menu are definitely worth it. The Antipasto Starter includes a selection of cured meats, organic salami from the local producer Patakmeats, lemon zested artichoke hearts, rosemary scented olives and a selection of cheeses with sliced baguette. The staff is very understanding of intolerances and allergies and will happily serve the cheese and bread on a separate plate if you have others dining with you.

The Hermes salad made of fresh arugula, roasted pears, champagne vinaigrette and blue cheese can be ordered without the blue cheese. Many of the other salads can be gluten free and dairy free as well. During dinner hours, you can order off the Supper Club menu. I appreciate how you have the option to order the full Supper Club dinner or order off the menu al a carte. I ordered a green chicken chili soup that was heart warmingly homemade.

Overall, Sun in my Belly is a great place to enjoy a cup of espresso or a light dinner. It’s a good place to have on your list for when you’re looking for a restaurant to appeal to a large group.

Sun in My Belly on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 26, 2011

Norwegian Christmas: Gluten Free Krumkake

Something I tend to forget is that my great grandfather was Norwegian. I never met the man but I know he was the epitome of a Norgwegian. He came to the states as a teenager with nothing but a giant truck he carried on his back. I’m reminded of his legacy by my lumberjack of a father, the excitement I get for Thor Hushovd during the Tour de France and the few Norwegian recipes my grandmother taught me.

One of my favorites is krumkake, a Norwegian cookie similar to a waffle cone. My family celebrated this past Christmas by figuring out how to make krumkakes gluten free and dairy free; and they turned out just the same! Here's the recipe my dad created on a whim. 

First one - added too much batter!

Gluten Free Krumkake
Makes:  about 30

2 cups sugar
½ butter alternative (I like using coconut butter)
2 eggs
2 cups milk alternative
1 ½ cup gluten free flour mix – see recipe below
We used what we had available in the house but pre-mixed would work as well
½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (freshly ground is key)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup corn starch

Gluten Free flour mix
·         5 cups sweet rice flour
·         5 cups rice flour
·         1 cup brown rice flour
·         1 cup sorghum flour

Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated. Pre-heat your krumkake iron. Pour about one tablespoon of the mixture onto the iron and slowly close; allowing the mixture to spread evenly. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip the iron. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the iron gently and quickly roll with a rolling cone. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stress + Gluten-Free Eating

These past couple months have included the most challenging time in my life along with some of the best. The amount of changes I’ve gone through is safe to say enough to knock anyone on their heels – and the reason why Celiac Eats has been lacking in posts.

Through my life, career and location changes, my eating habits have severely diminished. Shamefully I can count several occasions where I ate French fries as a meal because I was either too busy, too tired to cook or to go to a decent restaurant. Of course my health has started lacking as a result. It’s been a cycle of tiredness, weakness, and achiness from eating poor/processed food. Finally, the other day when a rash appeared on my inner elbow I decided I had enough of eating poorly. I’ve started to get back into the habit of eating well but it’s challenging. I forgot how time consuming it can be to maintain a healthy diet when gluten-free.

Lunch at work is still my biggest challenge – sandwiches aren’t great because the bread needs to be heated and I have been too exhausted to make a big enough meal at dinner to leave leftovers. There aren’t many healthy restaurant options by my office either.

So, how do you maintain a healthy diet during busy times? I must admit I’m in a rut and in need of some help and inspiration!