Monday, November 15, 2010

Nam Restaurant

UPDATE MAY 2011 - Nam has sadly closed. Hopefully they will re-open sometime in the future.

I’ve recently fallen in love with Vietnamese cuisine. It is a great cuisine for those gluten free and/or dairy free because a lot of the dishes are already gluten/dairy free or they can be easily adapted.

Nam restaurant in Midtown is an absolute treasure for those gluten free. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about their dishes and whether they are safe/can be modified.

Spring Rolls - The camera phone doesn't
do it justice
For appetizers I recommend the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. They’ll even make them vegetarian if you don’t want the shrimp and pork. The peanut dipping sauce has a bold flavor that pairs well with the freshly prepared rolls. The Rice Flour Tamale is also gluten free.

The Sour Green Mango Salad is gluten and dairy free and is fresh and crisp – the prefect palette cleanser in between courses.

Claypot Chicken - once again bad camera work

My absolute favorite dish (seriously it’s addicting) is the Claypot Chicken. The rich, caramelized chicken is drenched in a savory, piping hot chili sauce. Pair it with a glass of their Malbec and you’ll be in a happy-comatose state afterwards. 


The Banana Leaf Steamed Halibut, “Shaking” Filet Mignon, Lemongrass Chicken and Spicy Claypot Grouper are also favorites.

The best kept secret though is at lunchtime they serve Beef and Chicken Pho. If you’re in the area in the afternoon, their pho is an absolute must! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wisteria Announces Gluten Free Menu

Sorry for the long hiatus everyone! After a long break I was excited to see in my email a message from Wisteria announcing their new gluten free menu. I’ve dined at Wisteria once before and it was one of the best experiences in Atlanta that I’ve had. The staff was extremely knowledge about all menu items in regards to food allergies. So it’s good to see that they’ve created a menu making it easy for those to find gluten free items.

Check out the menu here. I highly recommend the Molasses-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with the Vidalia onion, apple and walnut relish!

Wisteria on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yeah! Burger: Gluten Free Heaven

After weeks and weeks of waiting, Yeah! Burger has finally opened! I couldn’t wait to get myself over there and managed to rope in my parents (also gluten free) to go for lunch on Father’s Day. I couldn’t think of a better father’s day meal than a gluten free burger and beer.

As we walked in co-owner Erik Maier happened to be greeting guests while they were waiting in line. Dressed casually he walked right up introduced himself, shook our hands and asked if we had any questions. Immediately I was put at ease. I mentioned we were all gluten free and asked some questions about the food.

He informed me all the sauces are gluten free; though not officially certified yet (they are working on it). He did note the slaw is not gluten free because it contains soy sauce. I was sad to see they had switched from Bard’s Tale to Green’s beer. My doctor is stricter than most on which grains to avoid, including buckwheat. Maier said they had to switch because they were having a hard time finding Bard’s Tale.

After basking over the simple yet stylish menu I decided to order a bison burger, gluten free bun of course, lettuce, onion, tomato and avocado with side order of gluten free French fries.

10 minutes later and I had this beautiful view in front of me.  

My first bite was sinfully delicious. I couldn’t believe how good it was. The bun tasted like the real thing and was nicely toasted. Every element was in perfect balance – the bun wasn’t too heavy, the bison patty was juicy yet not greasy and the tomato, lettuce and avocado were all high quality ingredients that flawlessly married with the beef and bread.


I was so invested in the burger by the time I got around to the fries there were only a couple left… but from what I had they were tasty.

Leaving Yeah! Burger I was already ready to go back and order another one. It might perhaps even require a quick lunch break trip sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cuba Libre Restaurant: Orlando

In my recent travels for work I was lucky enough to hit a couple of great restaurant in my whirlwind trip to three cities in two and half weeks. While in Orlando my co-worker and I happened to come across a restaurant called Cuba Libre. The restaurant is tucked into one of the corners of Point Orlando, where at least 15 other restaurants are competing for diners.  I checked out the menu before walking in and a greeter was able to confidently alert me that all the servers are well educated on what’s gluten free and what’s not.

Convinced by the doorman we strolled in and were seated at a table upstairs. We started with an order of the Guacamole Cubano, avocados mixed with pineapple, lime juice and olive oil served with crispy plantain chips. I was hesitant about the mixture of avocado and pineapple since I’m not a fan of mixing fruit with anything other than fruit but it was absolutely delicious. The crispy plantain chips were tasty and a perfect combination with the guacamole.

Cuba Libre is also a rum bar so of course I had to order a mojito. I ordered the Passion Fruit Mojito and I immediately turned into a rendition of the dinner scene from “What About Bob?” It was by far the best mixed drink I’ve had. I couldn’t stop raving about it – I’m sure my colleague was starting to say “ok I get it…”

For dinner I ordered the Ropa Vieja (there were so many other good looking choices!). This stew-like dish is made up of shredded beef brisket, tomatoes, maduros, bell peppers, onions, red wine and served with rice.  It was the perfect comfort food after a long day of working. The sauce was rich and nicely spiced. The beef was tender and brought depth to the dish. It was a huge plate of food and I enjoyed every bite of it.

Traveling is always hectic to try and find places that are safe for me to eat and this one made it easy and wonderful for me. I would definitely go back. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Taco Addiction

I’ve had a long addition with tacos. From my early days of knowing only taco bell (how I loved it dearly) to growing up and finding that Mexican food fits perfectly into my diet and is filled with wonderful flavors. 

Growing up in Atlanta, I’ve developed a long list of my favorite (and not so favorite) Mexican places to dine at. So much so that I like to think that I have become a semi-connoisseur of pork carnitas tacos and guacamole.

So with that I give you round one of my taqueria reviews. I hope you enjoy it and expect lots more! 

Taqueria del Sol (TDS) is my favorite taqueria in Atlanta. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The food is amazing and the staff is always helpful with food intolerances, no matter which location. They don’t have a gluten free menu but the staff makes up for it in knowledge and understanding. While the tacos are offered with flour tortillas, they always have fresh and delicious corn tortillas on hand. The tortillas are practically perfect. They’re fluffy, warm and are slightly toasted on the onside to give them the perfect hold and texture. The pork tacos are a dream. In fact, I’ve never been able to order anything else. The pork is tender and juicy and paired with the right portion of onions and cilantro. (Since my GF findings blogger Gluten Free Musings received updated information that the pork is off limits). I like to order some guacamole and throw a dollop on top of the tacos. The bartenders are helpful with ordering a gluten free margarita and they always come out with a harmonious blend of tequila and sour mix.  

Don’t get discouraged by the serious wait lines, they always move fast and the food is worth it. You can always grab a seat at the bar too.

It seems Cinco has been around the outskirts of Atlanta for some time now but I’ve only recently become aware of them. In the New Year they opened a location in Vinings, making it the perfect place for my co-workers to take me for my birthday lunch (I’m lucky that my co-workers love Mexican food almost has much as I do).  The waiter greeted us promptly and said they would take care of us quickly since we were on our lunch break; which we all thoroughly appreciated since the past couple of restaurants in Vinings have been less than speedy.                      
                                                                                                                                
The waiter noted that all the food is freshly prepared and served and he wasn’t wrong. The tacos al carbon were high quality and the guacamole had a great richness to it (you'll see the guacamole was my version of a birthday cake). Similar to Taqueria del Sol, they serve tacos on flour torillas as well but you can easily substitute for corn shells.

This is definitely a new place that has been added to my repertoire of restaurants.  

Update: As for my stance on tortilla chips fried in a conventional fryer with gluten products. I personally have never reacted from cross-contamination in a fryer and I consider myself extremely sensitive to small amounts of gluten. Also, coming from a restaurant based family I feel comfortable with how chips specifically hold up in a fryer. Since they aren't battered (like onion rings) I'm less concerned for the potential for gluten to stick to them. HOWEVER you should choose what is best for you which might include holding off on the chips if they are not fried separately. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Amy’s Kitchen GF, DF, SF Mac & Cheeze

Amy’s Kitchen recently launched several new gluten free products including a dairy free, soy free mac & cheese. The company contacted me a month or two ago informing me they would be launching the new products. I was very curious of how they were going to make it work so when I found it in Kroger last night I grabbed one to try.

The taste was surprisingly decent. It tasted similar to any frozen mac and cheese. However, I didn’t care much for the texture. The cheese sauce was too thick – perhaps I just have an aversion to cheesy products now. Also, the calorie count is pretty high – over 500 calories for the small serving.

I might use it in the future for holidays or special occasions as a side dish but it probably won’t become part of my usual foods. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gluten Free Beer Sightings

The past couple years I’ve grown accustomed to ordering cider, a glass of wine or the occasional gluten free margarita when I go out; but I’m a girl who still craves a beer every now and again. While I can of course enjoy one a home, I sometimes like to enjoy a cold beer when I go out to out dinner, meet up with friends or go watch a game.

So here are some of the places around Atlanta that I found serve gluten free beer.

Taco Mac - Redbridge
Hudson Grille - Redbridge
Tap - New Grist  
5 Seasons Brewery (Alpharetta & Westside Locations) – They make their own!  
Outback (Roswell Location) – Green’s
Wildfire – Redbridge

The Meehan’s in Sandy Springs also used to serve Redbridge but I haven’t been back recently to know if they still do.

Where else have you found gluten free beer?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is GF Pizza at a Regular Pizza Joint Safe?

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Gluten free pizza is starting to pop up everywhere. Even regular pizza places are getting into the game. But I wonder, are they practicing good food allergen/cross contamination practices?

Pizza Fusion was my first place to have a gluten free pizza in a restaurant in over three years. I had a good experience but when my dad visited the restaurant on two separate occasions he got sick. After some asking it was determined the gluten free pizzas were baked in the same oven as the glutinous pizzas.

In a recent post by Triumph Dining, Mellow Mushroom has now started testing a gluten free crust. Before I was diagnosed with Celiac I had a good 21 years of enjoying regular pizza including many occasions at Mellow Mushroom (one of the few cool places in the Atlanta suburbs when you’re a teenager). While my memories of Mellow include warm, fuzzy thoughts of delicious, garlicy pretzels and cheesy pizza with thick cornmeal dusted on the bottom; I also remember the array of flour tossing and pizza making within the restaurant. While it makes me excited to see such a large company testing gluten free crusts, it also concerns me of whether they can truly control the cross-contamination issues.   

What do you guys think? 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gluten Free Sighting Scoop: Yeah! Burger

Atlanta magazine’s Covered Dish blog recently posted details on Shaun Doty’s new project, Yeah! Burger. They noted the new restaurant will offer a gluten-free bun made by Dough Bakery. I really hope this happens. It would be absolutely wonderful to see a burger concept with a freshly made gluten-free bun.

Show your support by writing on Yeah!Burgers Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/yeahburger. The more people asking for gluten-free options, the more likely it will happen.

If you have any insider scoop, please feel free to share!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vitamin Water Gluten Free



I've become a big fan of Vitaminwater. So when I noticed they recently changed the formula of some of their flavors, including the addition of the ingredient "modified food starch," I was nervous I might not be able to drink them anymore. 

Even though it is now required by the FDA for manufacturers to list any of the top eight allergens (wheat included) on the nutrient label, I wanted to make sure. So I emailed the company to confirm they were using a non-gluten based modified food starch. Here is the response I received from the company:

"All vitaminwater, smartwater and vitaminwater 10 products are gluten free. None of our products contain any of the FDA designated 'big eight' allergens."

So glad to hear it- Thanks Glaceau! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Updated Review: Figo Pasta Round 2

Unfortunately my visit to Figo Pasta at Perimeter last night did not go as well as the ones in the past. After eating there several times and feeling comfortable with their food allergy understanding, I decided to branch out to other sauces.

I was interested in the pesto sauce so I asked the woman taking my order if she could double check that there wasn't dairy in the sauce. She was knowledgeable enough to check the ingredient list and confirmed that she was “100% positive there [was] no dairy in the sauce.” Unfortunately for her, the ingredient list doesn’t seem to include garnishes…

The pasta came out looking beautifully bright green with white specs all over it. I immediately knew they had garnished it with cheese. The waitress actually handled it very well and was very apologetic.

Fortunately for me I was able to recognize the cheese before I ate it. Also, I have an intolerance; it could have been a much different story for someone with a true allergy.

The key thing about this is I don’t blame any of the staff there; I blame the behavior of quick service restaurants. They just don’t provide their employees with the information they need. If you garnish a dish, those ingredients should be listed as well. The employees should be trained to recognize food allergies and note them on the ticket so kitchen staff knows as well.

There are several comprehensive and free programs for restaurants to learn how to manage food allergies properly – from the front of the house to the back of the house. I hope this post will help at least one restaurant learn how to better educate their staff about food allergies.

The Culinary Institute of America has a great free, online program that I highly recommend to all restaurants.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), one of the world’s leading food advocacy groups, also has a program for restaurants.
http://www.foodallergy.org/page/food-allergy-training-guide-for-college-and-university-food-services1

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy National Margarita Day!


With all this warm weather, a margarita sounds perfect. Being naturally gluten-free, tequila is one of my favorite liquors. Mix up this Passion Fruit Margarita to brighten your Monday (after work of course). 


Passion Fruit Margarita
from Food Network Emeril Lagasse
Ingredients
·         3 cups passion fruit juice
·         1 lime, juiced
·         2 1/2 cups good quality reposado tequila
·         1/2 cup Orange Juice (substitute for Grand Marnier)
·         Raspberries, for garnish
Directions
Combine all ingredients and stir well. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Pour into margarita glasses over ice. Garnish with a few raspberries.

Don't feel like breaking out the blender? Uncle Julio's makes a killer passion fruit margarita, not to mention guacamole and fajitas. You can also celebrate at the Tin Lizzy's in Buckhead which is offering $1 off margs today only.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Figo Pasta

Mmm pasta. It has always been one of my favorite comfort foods, even into my gluten free days. Surprisingly gluten free pasta is pretty good when you smoother it with sauce J

Luckily, I found out through Gluten Freedom Atlanta that Figo Pasta recently started offering gluten free pasta. All of their sauces are gluten free (not all are dairy free) and so are a whole host of their salads.  Their Ragu’ alla Bolognese is absolutely sinful for a quick service restaurant. The smoothly, rich tomato sauce is blended with tender beef and veggies. It tastes like something your grandmother would serve you on a cold, snowy afternoon. You can taste the fresh tomatoes and basil in the Pomodoro sauce and the Arrabbiata is perfectly spicy.

(Ragu’ alla Bolognese to go)

The first time I tried the pasta I had to double check with my server that it was in fact gluten free. The pasta held up so well, I thought they might have confused it for the regular kind. 

So far I’ve been to the Perimeter and Vinings locations and all staff members have been very helpful in dealing with food intolerances. During my first visit, an employee at the Perimeter location went through recipes with me to ensure there wasn’t any dairy in the sauces I was interested in. The manager checked to see if I enjoyed the pasta – wanting to make sure they had the tastiest gluten free pasta.


Vinings Location - The rain and camera phone make for a not so good picture. 

While the pasta averages around $9 it’s definitely worth it. Whether it’s for a hearty dinner or a quick, comforting lunch (great for those crazy work days) I would recommend Figo any day of the week. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Atlanta’s Own Fifth Group Restaurants Go Gluten Free



Fifth Group Restaurants, home to South City Kitchen, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco, El Taco and Bold American Events and Catering, recently rolled out new gluten free menus for all their restaurants.

In a press release from the company, Partner Robby Kukler says "People who suffer from gluten allergies suffer 365 days a year, therefore restaurants should offer practical solutions for every meal, every day of the year, too."

I couldn’t agree more Kukler. It’s great to see large restaurant groups taking on gluten free menu options in their kitchens.

While I couldn’t find the gluten free menus on their website yet, the press release offers a good amount of detail. From chile braised short ribs at El Taco, to mushroom soup at Ecco, Smoked risotto with butternut squash at La Tavola Trattoria and Coca-Cola braised beef brisket at South City Kitchen it seems there are many delicious offerings to choose from.

Being the Mexican food fanatic that I am, I’ve been dying to try El Taco. I’ve been waiting for February so I could get their great deal of a free taco with the purchase of any margarita (Tacos and margaritas- who can say no to that?) but now with the release of the gluten free menus I’ll definitely make sure to dine there soon.

Look for reviews to come!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thank You John Kessler




Celiac Eats has made John Kessler’s blog roll!

The AJC’s "Food and More with John Kessler" is one of the best blogs for Atlanta’s restaurant scene. Kessler reports on anything food from restaurant openings and closings, to the most tasty treats of the city (and the not so tasty) and everything else in between.

Visit his blog here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Leon’s Full Service: An Ode to Aioli

I recently got to eat at Leon’s Full Service. I had been hearing some hype about the new restaurant and was excited that a friend requested to have her birthday dinner there. With over 15 people listed for the dinner party I decided to call ahead to determine whether or not they could handle dietary needs. Generally the receptionist will hand off the phone to a manager but I was pleasantly surprised that the receptionist was able to answer all my questions. She informed me that they make everything from scratch and can easily deal with dietary restrictions. She also mentioned one of the waitresses was also gluten-free and made sure the kitchen handled all allergens appropriately. Great- I was ready to go! Now I just had to wait the couple days until the party…


                                          Gourmet

Finally the day came and my roommate and I made our way through the freezing temperatures to the restaurant (Note: Decatur in the winter is not great due to all the walking involved). But before I really start bragging on the food I must mention the one minor negative. Leon’s doesn’t offer reservations and is a quite small restaurant. So with 15 people the wait for a table was quite long. But even still, standing cramped together in the bar area the time seemed to pass quickly. The atmosphere is relaxed and social. The bar menu is posted on giant chalkboards on the wall where they also offer staff favorites. The intricate beer names and types keeps you busy for awhile.

Finally after an hour and half wait we get seated. They squeezed us into a back booth which we were lucky enough to not mind. Being prepared I had already looked at the menu before hand and determined some items that looked most likely gluten/diary/soy free; however the waitress changed all that. I had planned on ordering the pork chops but she insisted that the burger was amazing. Almost half the price of the chops I decided to take her up on the idea and ordered a burger without the bun. To add some flavor to it I added pickled onions as a topping. My roommate and I decided to split an order of fries as an appetizer.

Leon’s serves up a bucket of fries with your choice of two different sauces (one if the fries are a side item). With 14 different sauce selections we were baffled of how to narrow it down. We finally settled on the garlic aioli and BBQ sauce (another recommendation from the waitress).


                                              Decatur Metro 

I must admit that I’m generally not a condiment or sauce person. I don’t like ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish or most sauces except for BBQ. But I decided to branch out and test the creamy, saucy waters.

When the fries arrived I gingerly dipped one into the garlic aioli, still determining if I should be grossed out that I was eating mayo. The first bite was intriguing, by the third I was hooked. The garlic flavor was fresh and delicate. The aioli was creamy and light, perfect for topping just about anything. It blew my mind that a mayo could be so heavenly. It made me wonder where my taste buds had been all these years.                                            

Once I recovered from the flavor immersion, the BBQ sauce and ketchup were next. The BBQ sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and smoky. I ended up smearing some on my burger. I decided to really risk it and tried the ketchup – even though I hate ketchup. One bite and I was asking if I could get a jar to go. It was hinted with peppers and not all sweet like processed ketchups. If a salsa and ketchup got together they would have made this.

But I couldn’t keep my mind off the aioli. With each bite the flavor and texture grew. Luckily I ordered fries with my meal so I got to enjoy a second round of fries and sauce J


By the end of the night I was in a food coma of goodness. Yet I hadn’t even tried some many of the other highlights of Leon’s. The next round will have to include cocktails and another selection of sauces -  I’m dying to try the masaman curry and bacon & tarragon mayo. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back soon.

My Tip: A great happy hour spot. Go for the beers/cocktails and French fries. You won’t even realize that you didn’t eat a full meal.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Product Review: So Delicious Coconut Milk

Having dairy and soy intolerances, it's been hard to find a replacement for milk. I find rice milk too bland and almond milk too sweet. I'll use them for baking (the key is to use unsweetened), but I had given up eating cereal and drinking coffee.

Luckily my company's marketing manager recently told me Turtle Mountain had added a coconut milk and creamer to their So Delicious® line. I have known about their coconut ice creams for awhile so I was excited to hear about the new products.




I must say, I was a little hesitant at first. I was afraid it might have too much coconut flavor but it is absolutely delicious. There isn't a strong coconut flavor nor is it too sweet. The taste is almost the same as skim milk. I'm finally eating cereal again!

The creamer is great as well. I've tried the original and french vanilla and enjoy them both. Just a little bit thicker than the milk the creamer works well in coffee. I do have to add a bit more than a dairy creamer though but that's ok.

There are also some great nutritional benefits to the milk and creamer. They are both dairy, lactose, soy and gluten free. They provide medium chain fatty acids and the milk is an excellent source of B12 - which is a great thing for celiacs. I'm always battling to keep my vitamin B levels adequate. They're also cholesterol and trans fat free.

Out of all the milk alternatives this is my favorite by far. You can drink it straight from a glass, use with cereal, coffee and cooking.