RSS Feed

My Glutenfree Salon Experience

The Package Is You, A Complete Makeover Experience

IT started in her smile, rose to her eyes, and then floated like soft smoke around the tiny room.  Past the striking artwork, over the antique writing desk, and amid the fresh, bright yellow daffodils, IT slid into my body on a sip of tea served from a proper English teacup, infiltrating the tension I carried within me.  As the “aah” of relaxation cracked through mDSCN0452y stress, I looked back up at her gratefully.  There IT was in her face…that warm, open, healing love of compassion.  It was like getting a big, gentle hug from your mother or grandmother.  I knew the next hour or so would be extraordinary. It was.

Don’t get me wrong with all this oohing and aahing, Karen Lane is a no nonsense biologist/artist, who has mastered her crafts.  Working for years as a scientist in the medical field left her feeling not quite satisfied.  The tug of creativity, art, and beauty called.  With a career change to cosmology, she not only finds herself owning and operating her own makeover salon, but teaching theory, anatomy, and science in the Cosmology Department at San Jose City College.  For 22 years now, she has found a perfect venue to balance art and science.

Karen has taken the posh salon experience and ratcheted the standard up a notch.  Walking into her salon, you will not hear three or four blow dryers or smell any nasty chemicals.  No, hers is a private salon.  You will be her sole client.  She will devote 100% of her attention to you for the allotted time.  How often in our electronically pinged lives do we get to experience peaceful, refreshing, devoted attention?  What a powerful gift.

An added bonus is Karen’s devoted commitment to designing a nontoxic, allergy free program of products and services to fit your specific needs, be it gluten intolerance, scalp issues, or other allergic sensitivities.  Special attention is given to Gluten Free products, due to her own gluten sensitivity.  For the first time, ever, I had a cut and color without an adverse reaction the next day.  My reactions to the harsh chemicals, even when gluten free, in hair salons were so severe that I knew not to schedule anything important the day after an appointment.

Appreciative of the organic, eco, GF products, I was skeptical of how effective the color treatment would be.  “How would it hold up?” I wondered.  I happily report after five weeks and counting, I have not noticed any loss of color, shine, or intensity.  Tools for the sensitive person are a consideration, too. Unlike industry standard brushes, Karen applies color with a rubber bristled brush, which does not prick the scalp, opening the skin to minute absorption.

Because the products do not contain the harsh chemicals that drive the color, shampoo, and conditioners quickly into the hair, she allows the non toxic products to have a little extra time on the follicles.  For example, she leaves the conditioner on for a full 20 minutes.  However, for a bit of extra money, she will give you a mini facial during that time.  Of course I opted for that! Covered with a “healing” quilt, I relaxed to her feather fingertip massage on my face.  My head wanted to flop down when she tried to lift it indicating that the facial/conditioning experience was over.  “You have to hold your own head up now,” she had to gently whisper in my ear.  I had relaxed into a wet-noodle state.

“Okay,” I was thinking, “This woman certainly has the nurturing gene, but can she cut hair?”  I like a haircut where the cut speaks for itself with very little intervention on my part.  My normal hair dresser is a master at a stylish cut.  With my skepticism in full bloom, I sat in the hair dresser’s chair ready to receive a mediocre haircut for the cause of a blogging review.

As we discussed what would look good on with my facial structure, I knew she had been sincere when claiming to be an artist with people as her canvas.  Thus, her other services: make-overs, personal color analysis, ward robe redos. To help people try to safely be comfortable in their bodies and more authentically themselves is her mission statement.  If the compliments by family, friends, store clerks are anything to go by, I got a great haircut.  Is there any aspect of this business at which this woman does not excel?

For one and a half hours I was steeped in soothing music and nurturing and pampered with wicked expertise the likes of which I had never experienced.

GO! Go to Karen, not only if you are gluten intolerant, allergic, or scalp challenged, just to be wrapped in her MAGIC!

Practical considerations:  organicallycoloringyourhair.com

Address:   The Package Is You

501 N. Santa Cruz Ave. Ste C

Los Gatos, CA 95030

Office 408-395-6927,   cell 408-204-8945

Rates: Cut & color: $140.00

Just color: $70.00

Weaves: $40.00+

Mini facials: $20.00

 

 

Eating out When Traveling

 “How do you handle it when you’re glutened on vacation?” asked a fellow Celiac blogger.

The answer: questions, lots and lots of questions and a bottle of charcoal tablets to relieve the “food baby” bloating.  I have a running list of questions in my head developed over years of traveling that need asking at the three major types of restaurants: fast food and big chains, sports bars, and fine dining.

My husband and I have the travel itch running in our veins.  After only six weeks of eating solely at home when I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease, we were going a little stir crazy.  I was literally afraid to eat out and to risk getting a gluten reaction:  “glutenated, glutenized, glutened,” etc.  My husband, bless his heart,  thoroughly researched  the foods served at a Mother’s Day brunch at a local restaurant,  so I could dip my toe gently back into eating out.  I was so scared of the eighth month pregnancy bloat and ensuing gas pains  from accidentally ingesting a contaminated food that I stuck to cheese and fresh fruit that day with a shockingly okay experience.  (Whew!  Big milestone!)  Since then, I have traveled extensively with him with surprisingly few reactions.

Here are the most basic of basic things I learned, and they work in almost any country:

fast food is nearly always contaminated as a general rule;

bar food and happy hour food is nearly impossible, except for the occasional steamed mussels or plain salad with a plain grilled chicken breast on top;

fine dining with trained chefs is by far the safest way to go, but buckets of money are required.

Big Mom PurseOther practical coping strategies when eating out are carry a big Mom purse that you can stuff with emergency GF protein bars,  GF salad dressing, GF crackers or a crust of GF bread, and those little packages of GF soy sauce.   There is nothing worse than being left out of an otherwise safe hors d’oeuvre, because you have forgotten to pack a baggie of a few GF crackers or a bit of GF bread or baguette to dip in that great olive oil in Italy, for example.  I also hate eating plain sushi without the soy sauce/wasabi dip.  Somehow the joy is sucked right out of that dining experience without it, so bring those GF soy sauce packets.

When you do get stuck at a sports bar, stick with a dressing-less salad with a plain grilled chicken breast.  Put the GF salad dressing from your purse on it or ask for lemon wedges you can squeeze over it.  Anything else in a sports bar gets me a wild reaction.  Can’t quite figure out how they cross contaminate a bun-less plain burger, but they do. Can I tell you how sick I am of 15 years of salad with a flavorless chicken breast on top!  Just the thought of this meal makes my whole body want to gag. Those are the times I have to kick my inner self with the thought, “I am here to enjoy the company of my friends/family.”   If that doesn’t work, I go to the mantra, “It could be worse. At least I am mobile, have my sight,  my hearing, etc.”

Since we live in wine country, eating great food (homemade or from restaurants) and drinking fine wines are hobbies of pretty much…everyone.  Luckily,  after a few key questions (ok, maybe a lot) at restaurants with trained chefs, who understand where glutens hide in meal  preparation, eating out is not a problem.

Yes, my GF diet is expensive, but if I adhere rigorously to these guidelines, I can travel almost anywhere in the world and find something safe to eat.  (My husband always jokes that my Celiac foods and my requirement to eat at fine dining restaurants when traveling are the equivalent of a Beamer, Mercedes, or Tesla car payment.  Of course, he quickly follows that statement with “but you are worth it.”)

I concede that I do not always get to eat what I would really like, but safety must be the first priority with Celiac disease.  I understand, first hand, that “safety must come first”  from having Celiac disease damage not only my intestines but my whole immune system.  I just don’t go to “the cheat”  zone, after crawling slowly back from a nearly non-functioning body.

Just yesterday when discussing with a gluten sensitive person the myriad of questions  I ask wait staff and sometimes the actual chef, I heard the plea,  “But I don’t KNOW what questions to ask! Could you please list them on your blog?”

So, I will be starting a series of blog posts sharing the running list of restaurant questions I have amassed over the last 15 years of eating out.  If I can eat out safely, so can you…with a little attention to detail and a lot of questions!

Dedications and credits:

Today’s entry is dedicated to Karen for her blog post requests, and to Amanda’s post called Glutened on the First Day of Vacation, from her blog,  Celiac and Allergy Adventures,  celiacandallergyadventrues.wordpress.com.  The first quoted sentence and the words “food baby,” ” glutenated, glutenized, and glutened” in this post come from Glutened on the First Day of Vacation.

2013 Wine Tasting Trip

Once a year I decide that I am going to take a bunch of gluten enzyme tablets and taste any wine I want during our annual wine tasting trip…this year to the St Lucia appellation of Monterey County, CA.

My husband had recently had a very good Pinot Noir from Sheid Winery (Monterey County) in a restaurant in Carmel on one of our Friday night dates.

With half a roasted chicken, sweet potato chips, a couple of apples and lots of napkins packed in the trunk,  we were off to check out Scheid Winery.   After a year of careful eating and very good health, I was feeling a bit cocky… quite sure that a bit of wine tasting would not bother my new, healthy self.  After all, a Celiac wine lover can get tired of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and champagne.  “What were the real chances of getting the random wheat molecule from the wheat paste used in the barrel making process?” my self confidence reasoned.

Wow!  Did I have fun!  I had the two different vintages of  estate Pinot Noir; one of which my husband had had in Carmel.  I happily worked my way down the six wines in the Reserve Flight.   ” Why not go first cabin when splurging?” Aah, the joy of opening the taste buds as the wine slides over the tongue, instead of my usual “Celiac good girl” swirl, smell, and dump.  To be able to actually discuss, debate, and laugh over wine words at the first hint of fruit and the complex licorice depths at the end taste of a rich, red wine are a wine lover’s paradise.

I  still felt wonderful after the lengthy tasting and after a picnic on the Scheid Winery patio in the February, 67 degree blue-sky weather.  Lovely!

On the way home, I felt wonderfully relaxed and drowsy.  About 45 minutes into the drive home, I frowned with the thought , “I am REALLY tired, the kind where if I don’t get to lie down soon, I will want to murder anyone who stands between me and a bed.”  After fifteen more minutes my stomach started the loud gurgle syndrome.  “Uh oh!” It finally dawned on me that I was having a gluten reaction.  “Yes, I know,  I might be a slow learner or simply unrealistically hopeful.”  By the time we pulled into the garage, I grabbed the keys from my husband, ran for the door, and made a mad dash for the bathroom before falling into bed for a long immune-system-compromised nap.

The bottom line to myself and to everyone else out there with true Celiac disease is that this oak-aged wine “thing” is real.

Next year, my husband will definitely have a built-in designated driver!  It was just not worth feeling like that, and the enzymes are simply a teaser.  Do yourself a favor and heed the wheat contamination validity of oak barrels.  

Scheid Winery Review for Gluten Intolerants/Celiacs          Scheid
2010 Sauvignon Blanc  ****
Aged only in stainless steel.  Crisp, dry, well balanced…tastes the most similar to a Marlborough Sound, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc of any California Sauvignon Blanc that I have tasted to date.  (Believe me, in the last two years of discovering just how treacherous anything but stainless-steel-aged wines are for Celiacs, I have tasted as many Sauvignon Blancs as I can, especially since I don’t really love the other traditionally stainless-steel-aged wines, like Pinot Gris, etc. I find most of the California Sauvignon Blancs a bit too grassy for my taste.)

2009 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve
Some aging in oak.  Not okay for Celiacs.  I thought the 2010 had a better balance of acid and fruit.

2008 “Isabelle” Sparkling Wine**
An interesting take on sparkling wine, being made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, which gave it a hint of blush and a more deeply varietal taste than traditional types.    I liked it. Stainless steel aged only.

Review of the Oak-Aged Wines (Safety of these oak-aged wines questionable for Celiacs)

 I tasted these wines using the Gluten-zyme tablets (which did not work for preventing a gluten reaction.)

2007 Pinot Noir Reserve ***
Very good Pinot, which my husband loved.

2008 Pinot Noir Clone 667 Reserve ****
My favorite of the two Pinots tasted, because I thought it had a more complex pallette with that luscious undertone of licorice that I love.

2007 Claret Reserve
Not my cup of tea, but am unable to verbalize why.

2007 Petit Verdot Reserve, Napa Valley
Also not my cup of tea.

The tasting room was a charming little house with a lovely patio filled with tables for picnickers.  A bit to the side of the belly-up-to-the-bar tasting area was a wine gifts and accessories area that was not the usual  kitchy, cheap souvenir shop. I found gift items I’d really give to my wine loving friends.

The tasting room staff was friendly and open to discussing the gluten issues of the wheat paste used in the barrel making process.  They wrote down the name of my gluten enzyme product, because each of them knew someone suffering from Celiac Disease.   I hope they read this blog entry, so they find out how the enzymes did NOT work this time.  I would hate for anyone else to suffer needlessly in their experimentation, like I just did.

I recommend visiting this lovely Monterey County Winery.
Thumbs way up for Scheid’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc for those with gluten issues!!!

Scheid Vineyards
1972 Hobson Ave.
Greenfield, CA 93927
831-386-0316
http://www.scheidvineyards.com
Tasting room open daily from 11-6.

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!

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.)

Glue Alert!

For those of us archaic enough to want to send holiday cards that slide into flap-over, glue-stripped envelops, please remember that the glue almost always contains wheat in some form or another. DO NOT LICK!

I spent 48 hours in bed once with a wild gluten reaction from licking 58 Christmas card envelops.

The good news is that these types of cards are rapidly becoming obsolete.  The holidays are evolving into a much more gluten free friendly place with electronic greeting cards (my option for 2013), family portrait postcards, and peel-off strips with self adhesive envelops.  Gone are the days when I’d have to get the sponge out; line up envelops on the countertop and struggle with the sealing process trying to gage the water content of the sponge to keep the envelops from curling …many times resulting in a messy scotch tape recovery.  To add to the silliness, I’d have to throw away the sponge in fear of gluten contamination that could not be washed out.  Thank goodness those days are over!  (For those of you fairly new to the diet, this is what the holidays were like a decade ago.)

So…Yee Ha to progress!

Travel Mysteries

Last weekend, my husband and I escaped to a bed and breakfast inn.  Aaah!  How we love California!  Cloudless 65* weather that felt like 80* made us feel like we were on a Hawaii vacation rather than a northern California Thanksgiving weekend.  (Clearly, I had packed the wrong clothes expecting colder weather.)

Waves literally crashed 30-40 feet from our second story balcony window at The Cyprus Inn.   At high tide, the only thing separating us from the incoming froth was the one-lane road directly below.

What I love about a November getaway is the sun sets just about the time you pour a glass of wine and tuck into a few pre-dinner snacks.  Honestly, I marvel at our luck with the weather, because that first night the sunset flamed every shade of red/coral on the horizon, the likes of which I have only seen recently on the blog, www.CanadianHikingPhotography.com.

Enough about the setting, though.  What I wanted to tell you is how after all these years of trying so hard to be conscientious about preventing gluten from entering my body, I sometimes still have problems when I travel, and I simply can’t fathom where I’ve ingested gluten.  It’s crazy.

Upon arriving in Half Moon Bay, we ate a huge, late lunch at that wonderful Italian restaurant called Mezza Luna.  After fighting bumper to bumper traffic for the last 15 miles, we decided to make that meal our dinner.  I had a wonderful Caprese Salad with a red wine vinegar dressing (a safe bet), followed by a vegetable-stuffed grilled chicken breast with a tomato-based, unfloured sauce (the sauce had the appropriately thin GF consistency.)  A safe iced tea was my beverage.  All safe, right?

At sunset on the balcony, we cracked open a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, (one I’d had many times with no reaction), and some raw crudités from the happy hour offerings of the B & B (safe again) with some TJ’s GF rice crackers and their GF humus.

Then…in the middle of the night, the gluten rash’s itching woke me out of sound sleep.  I just couldn’t believe it and couldn’t fathom where I got gluten, at least not in my food.  The only thing I did differently was use a bit of the B & B’s lotion before going to bed.  Even a gluten-filled cosmetic, as you read from past entries, is not a guarantee of a gluten reaction.  And yet…I was having one, albeit without the stomach cramps (thank goodness), nor the tiredness the next day.

Saturday brought more crazy, fabulous weather!  After a breakfast on plain scrambled eggs, plain chopped, fried potatoes with melted cheese on top and my normal cup of coffee (I know…it’s a bit of a food  sin that makes life simply great, doesn’t it? Thank goodness it’s GF), we took a two mile walk on Miramar beach followed by a simple lunch of GF humus and  GF crackers and fruit. (That should have been safe.)  Because we didn’t want to fight the horrendous traffic again, we walked to the Miramar Restaurant five properties down for dinner.  They even had a gluten free menu.  (How cool was that?)  Everything I ordered was off the GF menu, except for the Mai Tai “I needed” to complete the feeling of being in Hawaii.  (Love, love, love Hawaii.) Because Mai Tais are just fruit juices and different types of rum, I usually don’t have a reaction.  (Oh,  and it was GOOOOD!)

Dun, da-dun dun dun…the 2am itch and cramps set in!  (Seriously? This is getting sooo old!)  I am more careful and conscientious about this GF diet than any other Celiac or gluten intolerant I have ever met.  I am annoyingly careful. (Just ask any relative or friend that has ever shared a meal with me.)  And still…I have these reactions.  Honestly, sometimes, I just don’t know what else to do.  I need to be free to travel, because I was born with the travel bug in my veins, but sometimes…

I don’t know if it was an accumulation of miniscule bits of unidentifiable gluten or what, but Sunday morning I woke up with “the debilitating” tiredness, the kind where I drag myself around like a heavy sack of potatoes.  With that, comes an inability to smile…a moroseness.  It just feels like too much effort.  (I really hate that part, because normally I have a sunny disposition.)  Not wanting to ruin my husband’s joy in the getaway, I gave myself a mental shake and planted a fake smile on my face (which he saw through, of course, and felt badly for my discomfort.) I told him in an overly chipper voice, “No it’s okay.  We are just riding home today, anyway.  I will enjoy the heck out of the beautiful coastline on Highway 1 down to Santa Cruz and Hecker Pass.”

And I did…giving thanks the overwhelming tiredness waited until the last day of our escape weekend.  The headlands with the crashing surf were shrouded in a bit of mist, a precursor to the dense fog bank hanging farther out to sea.  An Irish kind of day. Thank goodness I was able to sit quietly in the car and soak in the beauty of the day as we made our way home.

The only possible culprits for the reaction—

Something in the Mai Tai

Something in the lotion

Something on a cooking utensil that cross contaminated the restaurant food.

Honestly, I would like to know if this happens to any of the rest of you gluten sensitive people out there?

This entry is dedicated to my father-in-law, who is starting to realize that my journey through life is vastly different from what he thought.  Thank you for your compassionate concern.

Hit or Miss

Two days ago, my chiropractor friend, Diana, who recently started the Paleo diet, said, “I think wine is sometimes bothering me with a gluten reaction.  But it is only sometimes.”  Of course that started the whole wheat paste in oak barrel production discussion from my first wine blog entry.  What I didn’t discuss in that entry was the “hit or miss” syndrome in wine drinking or tasting, which furthers the confusion and controversy on the topic.

After MUCH original research, i.e. wine tasting, hours on the phone with coopers in Napa Valley, and talking to the actual wine makers in many, many boutique wineries throughout California, I discovered several things from the wine makers and coopers:

  1. Huge bulk wineries usually cannot afford to age their wines in oak barrels.  They use the more economical stainless steel tanks to age wine.  Thus, wineries like Gallo can claim that their wines are gluten free, which they are if aged in stainless steel.
  2. Some quirky boutique wineries reuse their barrels over and over, thoroughly cleaning all residue out of the barrels each time.  Chances are these wines are gluten free.  The wine maker at Kirigin Winery told me that he had not bought a new barrel in 17 years.  He could pretty much guarantee that there would not be one molecule of gluten in any of his wines after 17 years of cleaning and recleaning, and I believe that is probably true
  3. Some wineries filter their wines to such a degree before bottling that the gluten molecule, which is rather large, gets filtered out, usually making these wines safe for gluten intolerants.   Sycamore Creek Winery in Gilroy sterile filters all of the wine under their new Flagship Reserve label.  I have never had a reaction to sterile filtered wines.  Yeah!   Plus, I will be talking about the filtration process in length in my next wine blog entry.
  4. Some of the coopers, who merely use the wheat paste to glue the ends to the staves, would like to claim the wines made in these barrels are gluten free because they thoroughly rinse the insides of the barrels before sending them to the wineries.  Theoretically, the chance of getting a random wheat molecule that did not get eliminated during the rinsing process would be nil.  Yes, I have had reactions to wine made in these barrels, so this is a less than perfect method for removing the wheat molecules.
  5. Coopers from other countries may not use this wheat paste practice, maybe making foreign wines okay.  I talked to a friend yesterday, who just got back from a two week trip to the Mendoza wine region in Argentina.  After talking to an extremely well informed sommelier at one of the wineries, she thought the Malbec and all the the wines from that winery might be safe.  The sommelier assured her that she had watched the wine barrel making process, and there was no wheat paste or powder used.  As soon as I get the name of this winery,  I am going to Bev Mo to find it.  I like to test a potentially iffy wine on a Saturday night when I have nothing important planned on Sunday, in case a hidden gluten takes me out on Sunday.  My daughter, another Celiac impaired, has had some good luck with red wines from Bordeau and Italy.

YES, with all these variables in any given oak-aged wine, drinking wine and having a reaction is a Hit or Miss proposition.  That explains why the reactions or non reactions to oak-aged wines are exactly that…Hit or Miss.  It’s a confusing proposition at best.

How I have dealt with it is to not drink oak-aged wine, unless I have talked to the wine maker about filtration and the source and use of their barrels.  Short of being able to talk to the wine maker, not the wine pourer at a tasting room (who may or may not know anything substantial about the actual wine making operation at the winery), I forego.  It is sad, but safe.

My go-to varietals:

                Unoaked Chardonay

                Sauvignon Blanc  –  a few are aged in oak barrels, so you need to talk to the wine maker if possible or take your chances

                Pinot Grigio

                Riesling – preferably dry

                Champagne and Sparkling Wines

 

Reds…

                Sycamore Creek Vineyard’s Flagship Label

                Kirigin Winerytheoretically ok, but have not tested them yet on my own digestive tract

                Gallo

                A Sniff and Two Sips – our backyard grown and made Merlot and Cab.

Diana update… she stuck to Sauvignon Blanc last weekend and had no cramping. Today’s entry is dedicated to you, Diana.

As an aside, 98% of these busy winemakers and coopers in Napa and the less famous wine regions all over California (Anderson Valley, San Luis Obispo, South Bay Area Counties like Santa Cruz and Santa Clara, Hollister, and the Folsom, Sierra Nevada Foothill areas, etc.) were unbelievably generous with their time and genuine interest in helping me explore this issue with them.  I found it remarkable how open and patient they were with my inquiries, because who am I, a random person asking in depth and detailed questions for my own interest and personal health. I was especially stunned that the actual coopers in Napa Valley, supplying some of the most famous wineries in the world would not only get on the phone, but willingly detail the barrel making process with me.  I can only assume that the gluten issue has become so well publicized in the last five years that they were interested in talking and thinking through the issues with a wine lover trying to weave her way through the landmine of a GF lifestyle.

Thank you to each and every one of you in the industry, who have helped me learn so much!