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.

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
·         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
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.