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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Restaurant Reviews

Aaah…. Now that the holidays are over, I have time to reflect on how easy eating at restaurants has become for Celiac or gluten sensitive people.  With relatives visiting for 10 days over the holidays, we did our share of eating out.  Below is my Gluten Free assessment of each:

Amici’s in downtown San Jose, CA – ****           

A good solid four stars for their care in creating a pizza with no cross contamination.  The pizza crust was good; toppings, generous.  What stood out was the exceptional service, especially for loud, boisterous multi-generational parties of 10 or more like ours.  With three gluten intolerants (yes, my lovely genes live on), three raucous kids under 7, and each of the “normal” adults with their food quirks of no black olives, no garlic, etc., I was simply amazed at the wait staff’s unflappability to graciously, effortlessly accommodate each of us like it was no big deal.  My head was spinning with the complexity of our order.  The true test at 2am that night/morning was a calm stomach.

Following the meal with a walk in the wonderland-of-lights at Christmas in the Park, a long standing San Jose tradition, didn’t hurt the overall good feeling of the evening.

My Pizza in Morgan Hill, CA – *****

Okay…this gluten free pizza is just as perfect a replica of “real” pizza as any of us have ever tried.  Thus, the Five stars.  The crust is the best of any GF pizza I’ve ever tried, having the perfect “pizza” smell and initial crunch when biting into it, not to mention the right amount of  Italian cheesiness and generous toppings.  Yee Ha for this pizza!

Giuseppo’s Pasta & Grill-****

Although we initially hesitated to lunch here, because the menu did not list one gluten free item; we ventured in on a cold day,because the amazing Christmas decorations with the cozy, lit fireplace looked inviting.  I just figured I would have to order my standard Italian restaurant meal of chicken marsala.  Of course, chicken marsala still involves grilling the wait staff about not dredging the chicken or thickening the sauce with flour.  On a whim, I decided to ask if they had gluten free pasta. Surprisingly, they did.

Apparently, the owner’s wife had just found out she was gluten intolerant, and the owner was a bit horrified that he had a restaurant where his wife could eat next to nothing on the menu.  Consequently, they had GF pasta for customers that needed it, even though the menu did not indicate  that.  The chef knew he had to cook the pasta in a separate pot to eliminate cross contamination; thank goodness.

Consequently, I ordered a pasta dish and was impressed the noodles were not those tasteless transparent strings of pure rice used in Asian restaurants.  The pasta had substance and flavor.  Thumbs up for Giusseppe’s for jumping into the gluten free world.

Orrozco Tacqueria in Gilroy, CA – *****

This is a little hole-in-the-wall diner, which was most likely a former hamburger joint.  They make a gluten free Molcajete meal that is utterly outstanding!  Molcajete is a stew-type dish in a green chile sauce with different types of meat or seafood.  Orrozco lays a piece of grilled, pre sliced cactus over the top of this molten concoction served in a giant lava bowl.  Four people can comfortably be fed from this one dish, especially since the homemade corn tortillas accompanying the molcajete are quite filling…and scrumptious in and of themselves.  For gluten intolerant eaters, they will make quesadillas with corn tortillas.  Also, unbelievably good.  Orrozco’s is the best restaurant/tacqueria food I have ever had, and that is saying something growing up in the Mexican-food-loving state of California.

Maurizio’s in Morgan Hill, CA-***

The chef at Maurizio’s is so agreeable to my gluten free limitations and my boredom with the standard Italian menu that he asks me when I walk in the door, “What are you in the mood for tonight…beef, veal, chicken, fish?”  Now that is special.  Although Maurizio’s just recently added gluten free pasta to their repertoire of gluten free choices, I am only giving them a three star rating,  because the pasta leans toward the transparent, tasteless type of GF pasta, instead of the richer flavors of the multi-grained GF pastas.

However, the non-pasta gluten free meals I’ve had there have been wonderful.  The sauces and layers of flavor have been rich and satisfying.

What I learned this holiday season about dining out…

-always ask for the gluten free item you are hoping to eat.  The kitchen may have it in the back like Guiseppe’s did.

– eating out is getting to be less of a hassle, less embarrassing, and more enjoyable!

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Wheat in sugar?

A neighbor stopped by the other day, outraged, because she saw a wheat alert on an organic sugar package.  How great that people without Celiac disease or wheat intolerance are becoming aware of the prevalence of wheat in our food supply on our behalf!

That said, I believe that many companies put the caveat of “May contain wheat” at the end of their lists of ingredients to simply protect themselves from lawsuits.  Personally, if the ingredient list does not specifically contain a gluten ingredient, I do not worry about eating the product, even if the label indicates manufacturing on wheat-shared equipment.  If I did, I would never eat anything, because almost all products now include this disclaimer.  Rarely do I get stung.  However, each of you must make this call for yourselves.

Here is the info from the sugar label that upset my neighbor.

  • Company:    Rapunzel
  • Product:  Organic Whole Cane Sugar  (Unrefined & Unbleached)
  • USDA Organic – Hand to Hand Fair Trade Program
  • Ingredients:  Organic unrefined whole cane sugar.  *May contain wheat.

I do not find this alarming and would use the product without a second thought.

Hair Product Alert

 

Just saw Wheat as a main ingredient in a hair detangling spray.  Be careful out there, everyone!

Easy, Great H’orduevre

When my husband tried my gluten-free adaptation of an h’ordeuvre I had at book club and loved it, I knew I had to post it. Because it is so easy, fast, and elegant I wanted you to have it for that surprise visit by friends or family.  Will be great for that Super Bowl Party!

The original recipe came from Caprial Pence on his show, Cooking with Caprial.  I have no idea what the original recipe is, because I just made up my own from tasting the h’ordeuvre my book club friend served.

GF Sleuth’s version of Caprial’s Marinated Goat Cheese Spread.

  • 1 log of soft goat cheese
  • Trader Joe’s GF balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • thyme, fresh or dried
  • 1/4 to 1/2  cup of GF mixed olives, coarsely chopped.   I like the tang of kalamata  and GF vinegar-processed green olives
  • GF baguette or GF crackers
  • Throw a whole  goat cheese log into a zip lock freezer bag.  Fill the bag with balsamic vinegar, until it covers at least half  or all of the goat cheese.
  • Then remember it needs a bit of olive oil, so pour two to four glugs of olive oil into the bag.
  • Throw in a couple of scoops or handfuls of dried thyme.  I also threw in some fresh thyme sprigs, about 6-8.
  • Squish gently,  so all the goat cheese turns that wine red color of the balsamic vinegar without altering the log shape of the cheese.  Let marinate for 3 or 4 hours or 2 days.
  • Take out and put the cheese log on a beautiful platter or tray.
  • Top with the chopped olives and a few artfully arranged bits of thyme.
  • Put slices of your favorite GF baguette or crackers around the edges of the platter.
  • Serve with a little knife,  allowing guests to grab a baguette slice or cracker and slice off a bit of cheese log to spread on top.

Voila!  The easiest and most elegant tasting h’ordeuvre I’ve made or served in a long time.

(Thank you, Monica and Caprial Pence.)