Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gluten-Free New Orleans (Part 1)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm in New Orleans and surprised by how many gluten-free options there are.  I've been back to my first find, FARE Food for Health (full review here), every day this week.

My first night here, we went to Drago's, which has a gluten-free menu. If you go, be sure to get a big order of the charbroiled oysters. Heeding the advice of our exceptional waiter (thanks, Errol!), we had the herradura shrimp and red fish special. Both were excellent.

While I generally avoid touristy things at all costs, it's my first time here, so a walk through the French Quarter was in order. A rainy Sunday afternoon seemed a tame time to make that trip. Once fortified by a few stiff drinks (go to Molly's, one of the few bars loved by locals and tourists alike) we were ready to deal with Bourbon Street. I started feeling snacky halfway through, so we popped into seriously old school, no-frills Felix's for oysters.

When in Rome ... 

Btw: It was as we walked to Felix's that the obvious sunk in: Everyone was walking around with booze in hand. No open container laws! As a native New Yorker, this seemed decadent and incredibly novel. Get your cocktail in a go cup - just because you can.

After oysters, we ambled back around to Molly's (go cup!) and hit up Magnolia Praline Company along the way. Yes, completely touristy, but worth it. If they have pralines (sugar + butter + pecans = gluten-free) cooling on the counter, buy one. I don't even like pralines (way too sweet), but warm fresh pralines are a different beast altogether.

After a few more hours of wandering around, we started to think about dinner. I love the wrought iron gates and random little courtyards in NOLA and had just pointed out a lovely one out when boyfriend read the sign on the gate: Cafe Amelie and said "I read about that place:  I think they have gluten-free food." And so they did.

Gorgeous courtyard - picture doesn't do it justice. 

While they don't have a gluten-free menu, they are a farm-to-table joint and easily able to do GF. Our wonderful waiter, Wade, went through the menu and marked off what was safe for me to eat. Get the shrimp and grits and poutine (fries are oven-baked, not fried, so no contamination issues).

Secluded courtyard and twinkly lights - just lovely. 

I'd heard from a NOLA native that the city has amazing Vietnamese food, a cuisine that is generally gluten-free save for some sauces. I had success at Magasin Vietnamese Cafe on Magazine Street, where the food was GF, delicious, and - a nice surprise - cheap. Seriously - my entree (below) was under $8; can't beat that with a stick.

I love the little fried egg sidecar. 

Still here for a few more days, so more to come. Also: suggestions? Would love to hear where you've eaten safely in New Orleans.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FARE Food for Health (New Orleans)

I'm in New Orleans for the week. All pre-trip recon indicated that gluten-free options were going to be limited; happy to report I was wrong! On my first day here, I stumbled upon FARE Food for Health, on Magazine St. Fare offers a 100% gluten-free menu, including baked goods, salads, soups, snacks, and smoothies - as well as coffee and tea.

Everything is dairy/soy/gluten-free and paleo-friendly. Baked goods are made with various non-grain flours like almond, coconut, and flax meal.

Cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cinnamon buns, banana bread, brownies - so many treats to choose from!

My favorite (so far) is the banana bread - flavorful, studded with walnuts, and not too sweet.

You'll find various to-go items in the cooler, such as salad with shrimp and carrot dressing, hummus with olives, paleo chocolate pudding, and soups.

Fare has only been open for about two months and I hear more menu items are in the works.

FARE Food for Health is located at 4838 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA. Phone: (504) 302-9171. Open 9am-6pm daily. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Talde (Park Slope)

I had heard through the grapevine (read: Twitter) that Talde was a gluten-free friendly spot, but didn't quite believe it. It's a seriously happening restaurant - on everyone's short list and always packed when I walk by - couldn't imagine they'd bother to deal with special dining requests. But, assured by a quick phone call that they could handle my GF needs, I decided to give it a shot one freezing Monday night.

I think the weather had scared away the usual crowds, so we were able to score a booth for two immediately. I informed our server, Lindsey, of my GF issues and she steered us through the safe menu items, of which there were many. Woman clearly knew the menu inside and out and had a firm grasp of gluten issues. Still, I am always nervous when trying a new place and it must have showed on my face because she actually made a special trip back just to say (paraphrasing): "Please don't worry. I will take care of everything." And she did.

Menu items are served family style, so was glad my dining partner was down to eat all GF. First two dishes up: brussels sprouts - in an incredible spicy sauce - and grilled calamari, with charred napa, pickled cranberries, and Chinese sausage. Both were fantastic.

Delicious *and* beautiful

Next, my new favorite thing: Korean fried chicken. Apparently, this is a trend that I've missed out on (damn you, celiac), but I'm in the know now. Talde serves theirs with a spicy kimchee yogurt sauce, mint, and grapes. The combo is spectacular.

The stuff dreams are made of

By this point, we were perfectly full and had forgotten about the whole roasted branzino we'd ordered! No picture to share of that one, but I highly recommend it.

Talde offers one dessert item which changes periodically. That evening it was a deconstructed apple pie, which contained doughnuts and other gluten-y components. They offered to modify the dessert for me, but I was in a blissed out food coma, with no need for dessert.

That meal was, by far, the best I've had in years. And Talde took such great care of gluten-free me. I was so pleased, I went back a week later for my birthday dinner and asked to be in Lindsey's section again. Since she already knew my food issues, was an easy, relaxed meal, with hardly a mention of my dietary issues.

Big thanks to everyone at Talde. I'll be back again - soon.

Talde is located at 369 7th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

One Stop Beer Shop Event (Greenpoint)

One Stop Beer Shop in Greenpoint goes out of its way to make GF folks feel at home, with GF beers, ciders, and eats. In fact, they contacted me about hosting the Brooklyn Gluten-Free Meetup for a gluten-free event back in November. The first event went so well, we're doing it again. Join us on Wednesday March 5th for burgers and beers! Details are over at the Meetup

Please note: One Stop Beer Shop does not have a 100% gluten-free kitchen. Please see the Meetup event page for more info.

One Stop Beer Shop is located at 134 Kingsland Ave., Brooklyn NY 11222. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Meetup and EatUP! (South Slope, Brooklyn)

In case you haven't heard: Brooklyn (finally) has its own gluten-free pop-up, the Gluten-Free EatUP! The market debuted in February and is back on Sunday March 9th at the fab Freddy's Bar in South Slope, from 2-6pm. Members of the Brooklyn Gluten-Free Meetup are invited to a special Early Bird Hour, from 1-2pm. Not a member yet? Join us!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Oh, Valentine's Day. Such an odd little holiday. Packed restaurants, tacky tchotchkes, and banal cards. Most years, I ignore it. Some years I rebel against it. See: The year I wore head-to-toe black. (Yes, I was 16.) But every few years - like this one - I embrace the fun of it: the chance to wear red and hearts with abandon, to eat chocolate for lunch (and dinner), and send some love notes to my people. Celebrating too? Here is my favorite gift idea for your honey or homies, GF or otherwise:

Candy grams from Babycakes NYC! Remember candy grams from your school days? This is the grown-up GF version. Order by February 11th and Babycakes NYC will deliver their GF/vegan "Mounds" candy along with a message from you on Valentine's Day. Go look at how lovely they are!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Walk-In Cookbook (Park Slope) [CLOSED as of 2/17/14]

There are a lot of businesses offering meal kit delivery these days, like Plated, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh. You choose recipes from their website and they ship the measured out ingredients to your door. (Most have a number of gluten-free options.) The idea is that you'll cook more often at home, expand your repertoire, and waste less food, since everything will be measured out precisely - all good things. I just take issue with the waste created by the shipping process - the plastic used to wrap those individual ingredients - single garlic cloves, teaspoons of spice, etc; ice packs to keep things cold; and all those cardboard boxes. Fret not! A solution to this problem exists: The Walk-In Cookbook.

Located on 7th Ave in Park Slope, the Walk-In Cookbook is a storefront biz offering the same sort of service as online - you choose recipes you'd like to make and they provide the portioned out ingredients. They source high quality ingredients, local and organic when possible. Many of the items are kept loose and packaging, when used, is minimal. By shopping in-store you can also decline any ingredients you already have at home.

Gluten-free recipes are clearly marked (orange ribbon at lower right):

It's also just a lovely space to shop in.

In addition to the meal kits they also offer individual grocery items like olive oil, ice creams, and gluten-free baking mixes:

Pick-up, local delivery, and subscription options are available - check them all out here. The shop also hosts special events like product demos and cooking classes.

The Walk-In Cookbook is located at 72 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217.