Monday, December 24, 2012

Hail Merry Macaroons

Hail Merry recently reached out to me to try some of the company's new macroons.  I willingly obliged, of course, as I never turn down the opportunity to try out a new gluten free dessert.  I was already familiar with Hail Merry's delicious flavored nuts but didn't know the company also offered macaroons.

I received both the fleur de sal and strawberry flavors and both were delicious.  Hail Merry's macaroons are bite size, light and delicious.  Unlike many other macaroons they didn't taste solely of whipped coconut; these macaroons definitely packed a flavorful punch.  I also enjoyed that they were bite size so I could have one without feeling too guilty.

Based on the company's website it appears that the fleur de sal and strawberry flavors may not be available to order online but, based on those two flavors, I'd be excited to try the vanilla and chocolate as well.  If they are half as delicious as the strawberry and fleur de sal then they are well worth the purchase.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Hail Merry 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Odd Fellows / YOLO

UPDATE:  This place has since reopened under the name YOLO.  While I haven't eaten at the new establishment I can say I probably won't go back there based on the horrible name choice of YOLO.  Like, really?  Based on my most recent Yelp! check, YOLO has 1.5 stars.  Here is more info about YOLO from Foobooz:

"Do you really only live once? Odd Fellows, located on 1201 Spruce Street, is trying to defy that notion with their revamped storefront, now called YOLO (as in, You Only Live Once). Yes, they are Drake fans.
Under new ownership, YOLO plans on revamping their entire menu and focusing primarily on brunch options and baked goods. While their coffee menu will experience little change, their coffee provider, formerly Counter Culture, will now be the localGreen Street Coffee."
Full article here.

-
I recently went down to Philadelphia to visit my sister, a new Philly resident.  While I'm sad that she left Asheville because it means I won't be visiting Posana anytime soon, I'm also glad to have her closer to me in New York City. 

We walked around the neighborhood near her temporary sublet and decided to eat dinner at Odd Fellows.  It's a bit of a strange place to walk into, as it is a cafe and full restaurant.  The coffee machines greet you upon entrance, creating a bit of an off-kilter vibe.  We stuck with the decision because of the beautiful big windows and airy feel the restaurant/cafe had and the fact that the menu is marked with gluten free options.

I opted for a salmon dish... and unfortunately can't remember what else the dish was served with.  What I do remember, however, is that it was merely okay and not great.  My sister and her boyfriend felt the same way about their dishes, which were not gluten free so I couldn't try them.

I won't be going back to Odd Fellows Cafe... but for those of you who want to try it know in advance that it is BYO.
- - -
Odd Fellows Cafe
1201 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Map)
(484) 897-0633

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heavenly Cupcakes

I recently met up with a friend visiting from out of town, Anjalee, for dinner at Rama Thai in San Diego's Gaslamp district.  While the menu looked delicious, I withheld from eating because I had just finished up an enormous brunch at Snooze (check out that post here).

While walking back to my car from the restaurant I passed by Heavenly Cupcakes.  While it was hours since I finished my brunch at Snooze I was still pretty full from it but I couldn't resist stopping in to see Heavenly Cupcakes offers gluten free cupcakes.  The woman working behind the counter pointed out the bakery's gluten free Red Velvet option and told me that they often have other flavors available.  I couldn't resist indulging myself and bought the gluten free red velvet for myself as a Sunday treat.


The cupcake tasted very similar to Sprinkles' gluten free red velvet cupcake, which is to say delicious.  I'll definitely visit again to check out the other gluten free flavors at Heavenly Cupcakes.  They also hold monthly tastings on the second Wednesday of each month from 4-9pm during which you can visit the shop and try three mini cupcakes and voted on your preferred flavor; the aggregate winner will be featured as a special cupcake flavor the next month.  Parking can be a bit tough in this area so Heavenly Cupcakes offers curbside delivery as a pickup option.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Heavenly Cupcakes
518 6th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101 (Map)
(619) 235-9235

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Supper

I spent this Thanksgiving 2012 in Philadelphia, one of my favorite cities; I love the history, how walkable it is, the museums, and the restaurant scene.  All in all, it is a great city to visit over a weekend with plenty to keep you busy.

Anyway amongst the five members of my family we decided to have dinner at Supper, a restaurant which some members of my family had previously visited.  My mother called ahead to let the restaurant know that we had a bit of a picky group with two vegetarians and one Celiac vegetarian in our party of six.  The restaurant assured my mother that there would be suitable options for me (the Celiac vegetarian... although a more accurate description is pescetarian and the two vegetarians.  During that initial phone call my mother was told to book in advance and that the price was estimated to be around $40 per person based on the prices for Thanksgiving 2011.

Following up on that initial call my mother called back soon and made our family's reservation for the night of Thanksgiving.  Once the reservation was made, my sister went in and visited and spoke with a female manager who told my sister that the vegetarian option would likely be a risotto.  She was assured that there would be a suitable option for the Celiac and vegetarians with the manager repeatedly assuring here that the option would likely be risotto.

When it came time to dinner we were seated and did not see a vegetarian option presented on the menu.  When I mentioned I was gluten free, I was told the butternut squash soup was fine but that the turkey dish would have to be served without the gravy as it contained flour.  When I told the waitress that I don't eat turkey, she was caught off guard and had to check with the kitchen to see what could be made for me.

When the waitress came back to our table it was with a disappointing answer:  tofu would be the vegetarian option.  And not with the gravy, as it contained flour; just plain tofu was the vegetarian option.  I was disappointed but didn't make a big stink of it as I still held out hope the tofu would be dressed up in some way.  Before the entrée was served, however, I had the opportunity to sample the restaurant's amazing butternut squash soup.  It was absolutely amazing with wonderful spices and a perfect flavor.  It was truly a great fall soup.

Much to my chagrin, the tofu was not dressed up in any kind of sauce.  Instead two slabs of smoked tofu were served alongside vegetables as the main entrée.  Tofu and vegetables for a vegetarian option? It was horrible, especially for a Thanksgiving dinner.  The real kicker: the meal came out to about $65/person.  Granted three people at our table had alcohol so the per person for the meal may have been less... so let's estimate $55/person.  The cost would not have been an issue if a suitable option had been presented for me, especially given that my mother had called twice and my sister once to ensure a good eating experience for the two vegetarians and I for a special meal.

For dessert: two scoops of passionfruit sorbet that tasted as if they had come straight out of a carton from Whole Foods.  If they were homemade, then they tasted like every other "homemade" sorbet that I have had.

I'm pretty easygoing about visiting restaurants but Supper really messed up my Thanksgiving.  I'm disappointed in the restaurant after my family contacted them three times over to ensure there would be good vegetarian and gluten free options for Thanksgiving dinner.  While the main menu may be more friendly to vegetarians and Celiacs, I will never visit Supper again because of the way the manager mislead us into thinking there would be options for the two vegetarians and I at our family's Thanksgiving meal.

Overall a horrible failure on Supper's part to put together a successful Thanksgiving meal.  Scratch that; it isn't that Supper didn't put together a successful Thanksgiving meal, it is that the restaurant served a horrible Thanksgiving meal to the other restricted eaters and I in my party.
- - -
Supper
926 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147 (Map)
(215) 592-8180

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Barrio Star

After signing on the lease at my new place my future roomie suggested we check out a Mexican place around the corner from our apartment.  I'm always into Mexican food and not only because it is normally a simple meal to eat gluten free.

We arrived and soon order margaritas (me a pomegranate, Adam a regular) and some chips and guacamole.  The chips at Barrio Star are sprinkled with chili flakes which add a nice flavor.  The guacamole is freshly made and delicious.  The margaritas are strong and tasty; I've been to Barrio Star a few times since moving in and usually get the Pomegranate.



You can check out a dinner menu here.  That PDF doesn't mark the gluten free items but in the restauran the menu is marked with "gf" symbols.  Barrio Star is very gluten free friendly and has a lot of options for the discerning gluten free eater.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Barrio Star
2706 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103 (Map)
619-501-7827

Monday, November 5, 2012

2Good2Be

It took me a bit of time, but I finally visited 2Good2Be and I'm definitely glad I did.  I'm not even going to create any buildup; instead, let me just say that this place is unbelievably amazing and is a must for anybody who eats gluten free and is visiting San Diego.  I know it's a bit outside of the city (about a 25 minute drive from downtown) but every millisecond of those 25 minutes will pay off with an unbelievable reward.

I was excited to walk in and see that 2Good2Be was a full cafe similar to a Starbucks.  So many gluten free places that I've visited are small and, while welcoming, aren't conducive to bringing a book and hanging out with your gluten free treat.  And what a treat it is.

There it is in all its glory: the cinnabun.  This amazing confection oozed with amazing frosting and flavor.  I was told to warm it up a bit in the microwave and that advice created one of my favorite gluten free moments ever.  I can't gush about this place enough; you have to go see it yourself.

The day after I had the cinnabun I had a cupcake from 2Good2Be... because obviously I had brought one home as a next-day snack to try more than one item from the bakery.  It didn't disappoint, although heating it up in the microwave was not as effective as it had been for the cinnabun.  Next time I think I'll eat the cupcake fresh.

Regardless, I absolutely love 2Good2Be and am really excited to have found a terrific bakery in my new city.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
2Good2Be
204 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024 (Map)
760.942.4663

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moved to San Diego!

Big news: I'm living in San Diego now!  The move has been in the works for a few weeks now but it finally happened about 10 days ago.  From here on out San Diego will be my home base and I'll be checking out the gluten free options around here and SoCal generally.  I'm really excited to be here and, as always, keep the tips coming!

Thanks,
Stephen

fōnuts

After my brunch with friends at Newsroom my friend Tina suggested we make a visit to fōnuts to check out the bakery's delectable treats.  Never one to say no to a gluten free dessert, I obliged with the caveat that we had to ride with the top down on her new convertible.  What could be better than headed to a dessert shop with the top down driving through L.A.?  It was one of those fall days in L.A. when it had just rained, the sky was clear, and the views of the Hollywood Hills were spectacular.

fōnuts was a short trip over from Newsroom and on the way we caught up.  I hadn't been in L.A. since January so it was nice to be back and drive through my old 'hood of West Hollywood.  Anyway, we quickly arrived to fōnuts and were greeted by a very friendly staffer.  It turns out that she was an owner of the shop and told us that they have had gluten free options since the store's doors opened.  

I picked up two donuts:  a pumpkin flavored one with icing and the banana chocolate.  The latter was chosen after being suggested by the owner as terrific and one of the original gluten free options.  I immediately took a bite out of the pumpkin spice flavor and loved it.  It had great flavor, wasn't over baked to the point of being too crispy.


I waited until I arrived home to bite into the chocolate banana donut... and the wait was well worth it.  This donut was mind-bendingly awesome; there was actual bananas in it rather than just banana flavoring and the chocolate flavor complemented the banana flavor well.  I definitely have a new spot to visit whenever I'm in LA and can't wait to try more of fōnuts' treats.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
fōnuts
8104 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Map)
(323) 592-3075

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Newsroom

I was in Los Angeles last weekend and had the opportunity to brunch with my friends.  It was really great to see everybody, especially without having to take a cross country flight as I did the short, two hour drive from San Diego.

We chose to go to Newsroom because it has a fairly central location to all of us and some of the brunch's members had to go to appointments nearby or at least on the way passing by Newsroom.  I was excited to see that the restaurant now offers gluten free pancakes and waffles.  I waffled a bit on which to choose (pun intended, apologies) but ultimately went with the pancakes.

Instead of being a stack of pancakes the gluten free pancake is served up on a large plate which it practically envelops.  Just as importantly, of course, is whether the pancake was any good.  I have great news: it was awesome.  All of my friends dug in for a bite and really enjoyed it.  It isn't overly thick like some other gluten free pancakes nor too mealy; it tastes just like what I remember gluten filled pancakes tasting like.

The service was great at Newsroom, there was ample street parking (and lot parking with $5 validation) and shops nearby if you want to walk off some of your breakfast; it's an especially great location because West Hollywood is one of the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in Los Angeles.  I'll definitely visit Newsroom again when I'm in Los Angeles and in need of a good breakfast spot.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Newsroom
120 N. Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Map)
(310) 652-4444

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sun In Bloom

My friend Lauren was recently visiting New York from San Diego and requested me as her tour guide. I happily obliged and took her to the High Line, walked by Bar & Books (a bookstore which we had passed by on our trip to Prague together last year), did some shopping in SoHo, and hit up Rice to Riches.  After our day touring New York Lauren left Manhattan for Brooklyn; on our last shared day in the city I met her for breakfast at Sun In Bloom right near the new Barclays Center.

Going from Union Square to the Atlantic Av. stop was incredibly easy on the subway and took barely 15 minutes.  I hadn't seen the new Center yet so it was great to see the swooping architecture and unique coloring of the building.  Lauren pointed out that the center looked as if it was old and rusty.  I'll definitely have to read some architectural reviews of the Center, but I enjoyed the spaceship-like entrance with its built in screens and ease of passage into the Center.

Anyway, Lauren found Sun In Bloom on Yelp and recommended it as a place that has gluten free options.  It's a small restaurant with an extensive menu filled with gluten free, vegan, and raw options.  I opted for the Gluten Free Pancake stack with Caramelized Bananas and a side of Maple Syrup.  The pancakes were plentiful but their taste was just fine; not great and not horrible.  They were pretty dry, even after I doused them in maple syrup.

Lauren enjoyed her meal, the location was great, and the restaurant itself is simply decorated with big open windows looking out onto the street.  Overall, I wouldn't order the pancakes at Sun In Bloom again but I would give the restaurant another try.

- - -
Sun In Bloom
460 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Map)
(718) 622-4303

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oat Meals

My sister recently spent a few days in New York and while she was there we decided to check out a new place for the blog.  I know I've been derelict in posting recently but there will be a slew of new posts and some big updates coming soon.

Anyway, we went over to Oat Meals for breakfast after learning about it on ScoutMob.  For those of you not in the know, ScoutMob is an awesome app similar to a GroupOn or LivingSocial.  However, unlike GroupOn or LivingSocial, you don't have to pay in advance to receive the deal; instead you walk in, show the waiter/cashier/etc. that you've redeemed the deal with a simple click of an icon on your phone, and there you have it - the deal is yours to enjoy!  It's very simple and has a lot of great deals in New York City, I highly recommend that you download it if you live in New York and enjoy similar deal sites.

Again, I digress.  We used the ScoutMob at Oat Meals after reading that all of the oats are gluten free and locally sourced from upstate New York.  It's right near Washington Square Park and is a tiny little shop, it would be a great place to go visit on a nice day when you can order your oatmeal and sit in the square to enjoy it.  My sister and I, however, visited on a rainy day when the shop was very popular.  Oat Meals isn't a full restaurant and has limited seating, so if you are going with a big group it it probably not the best option.

I ordered the caramel apple flavor with some pumpkin purée drizzle and the order was up in about five minutes.  My sister ordered something with blueberry and other additions but I didn't sample any of hers.

We both enjoyed OatMeals but weren't sure we would go back; oatmeal is simple enough to prepare at home so it didn't feel necessary to go out for it.  I like the concept of the restaurant but the execution didn't quite go through for me as the oatmeal didn't lack that little bit of special flavor that makes it a unique product difficult to recreate at home.  It was no one thing but a combination of things: the size of the space; the lack of strong flavor in the oatmeal; and the ease of preparing it at home on my own that would make me hesitate before going back to Oat Meals.
- - -
Oat Meals (no link available)
120 W. 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012 (Map)
(646) 360-3570

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Napkin Burger

A new location of 5 Napkin Burger recently opened up at 14th Street & 3rd Avenue right by my apartment.  While I've been meaning to try it for some time, it wasn't until last week that I finally went and checked out the restaurant's offerings.  I have passed by the restaurant's other Manhattan location in Hell's Kitchen plenty of times but don't often eat at burger places because I get too tempted by the french fries and despondent over their lack of gluten free hamburger buns.

Before checking out the 14th Street location, representatives of 5 Napkin e-mailed me and let me know that the restaurant would be offering more gluten free options.  When I was in touch with the people at 5 Napkin they also mentioned the menu would soon feature lettuce wraps for the burgers, fish tacos on corn tortillas, french onion soup, buffalo chicken sandwich, and lobster sliders all served up gluten free.

I visited the restaurant with my friend Dan and made sure to bring a large appetite.  Upon being served the menu I let my waiter know that I eat gluten free; he said there wouldn't be a problem and that the fries were made in a gluten free fryer.  I'm a huge french fry fan and always sad when I can't have them so this news basically made my weekend.

I ultimately opted for the Avocado Ranch with a gluten free bun, without the ranch dressing.  This burger was awesome and the bun was equally delicious; it wasn't crunchy or crumbly like so many other gluten free buns but instead held its composure like what I remember gluten filled buns doing.

The fries being made in a gluten free fryer so I didn't have to worry about cross contamination.  I'll definitely visit 5 Napkin again, especially seeing as they have locations nationwide.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
5 Napkin Burger
150 E. 14th Street
New York, NY 10003 (Map)
212-228-5500

Monday, September 10, 2012

L'Asso

Last week I checked out a L'Asso, an Italian restaurant in the East Village that can prepare every pizza on its menu gluten free.  I ate with my friends Caroline and Henry at Henry's suggestion; he noticed that L'Asso was offering 50% through ScoutMob.  We went on a weeknight at 7ish and had no problem snagging a table for three.  We sat towards the back with a great view of the large, open kitchen and had attentive and friendly service.

The gluten free pizza only comes in one size, so I knew I was on my own in choosing the flavor.  Ultimately I opted for the Tartufo pizza, served with portobello mushrooms, pesto, choice of smoked or regular mozzarella, rosemary, truffle oil.  I went for the regular mozzarella option and was quite pleasantly surprised by the pizza when it was brought out - it was huge!  There were about 8 slices in the gluten free size so it is definitely enough to split with another two or three people depending on your appetites.  The pizza, like so many other gluten free options, is a thin and crunchy crust. 

While it can't unseat Mozzarelli's as my favorite New York City gluten free pizza, but overall I enjoyed L'asso's pizza and the restaurant feel (which Mozzarelli's does not have).  If you decide to check out L'Asso definitely download the ScoutMob app before going and use the 50% coupon; we picked up three pizzas and a bottle of wine for $20 each and since my gluten free pizza was so large I had lots of leftovers for the next day.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
L'Asso East Village
107 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003 (Map)
212-837-2048

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Angelica Kitchen

It's been weeks since I updated and for that I apologize.  My fellow New Yorkers know how it is in the summer; work slows down, people visit the city, the beach begins calling, and little gets done.  I recently hosted my former roommate and now friend Vanessa here in New York.  While our time together was cut short but the siren calls of the beach, she still had a blast exploring the East Village for a night.

Vanessa is a vegan and has been since we lived together in 2008-09.  Back then she would eat gluten while frequently complaining about her acid reflux and stomach problems.  She would consider going gluten free and would do it for a few hours or days but would quickly begin eating it again.  I told her to see a doctor or to try out gluten free for a few weeks, thinking it would help her.  Lo and behold, years later, Vanessa was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity and now eats a gluten free and vegan diet.  Fortunately I knew where to take her here in New York: Angelica Kitchen, a restaurant I have walked by hundreds if not thousands of times and, supposedly, one of the best vegan restaurants in the city.

Having just been to Candle Cafe I was ready to compare the two.  Bringing Vanessa to a vegan spot presented an issue because she showed me the best vegan restaurant I have ever been to: Real Food Daily with locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica.  Despite any potential anxiety I had about showing her New York City's vegan food I chose Angelica Kitchen because of its accessiblity for everybody coming to dinner. 

Upon being seated we immediately popped open a bottle of wine (which brings along a $7 corkage fee).  While perusing the menu I was disheartened to see that gluten free options weren't marked on the everyday menu and asked about the gluten free options.  Our waitress brought over a laminated paper with the gluten free options.  At this point I became even more disheartened, as the options didn't seem so great.  Many of the options were, frankly, very boring.  We ultimately decided to split two orders of the Walnut-Lentil Paté and an entrée order of Thai Mee Up.  The paté was fine; nothing great but served with brown rice crackers so Vanessa and I could eat it.  It was pretty plain, flavorless and definitely nothing to write home about.  At this point, Vanessa and I, along with our companions Jordanna and Annaliese, were so hungry we couldn't resist the food even though it wasn't very good.

Then we all received our entrées.  Our Thai Mee Up came in a large portion which Vanessa and I
split; the menu describes it as "delicate strands of daikon radish, zucchini & carrot, on a bed of garlic-lemon marinated kale, dressed with Thai tahini sauce."  I'm not sure how to phrase this delicately but... this dish was bad.  Really bad.  Flavorless and dull, I practically fell asleep while eating it because I was so bored by my dinner.  Annaliese felt the same way about her entrée, which was one of the specials so I don't have a full description for it.  The only one who seemed to be almost content with her meal was Jordanna; she ordered the Soba noodles as a side and the Kale salad.  The Kale salad had the flavor which the Thai Mee Up was sorely lacking so much that Vanessa and I asked for a side of the dressing on the Kale salad. 

Suffice it to say, we did not stay for dessert.  We considered walking over to Lula's Sweet Apothecary for some vegan dessert but ultimately decided to have a few drinks to wash away the memory of our meal at Angelica Kitchen.  An inattentive waitstaff and boring dishes make Angelica Kitchen a no go in my book.

I doubt I will ever go back to Angelica Kitchen.
- - -
Angelica Kitchen
300 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003 (Map)
212-228-2809

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Candle Cafe

It has been about six years since I first heard about Candle Cafe's gluten free menu.  Six years!  I can't believe it has taken me so long to finally check it out, but I attribute it to the restaurant being a bit out of the way from my normal routine and how busy it is when I have passed by it before.

Anyway I finally checked out Candle Cafe with my friend Kim last night.  When I first arrived I was a bit early, so I put our name down with the hostess.  Upon walking into the restaurant, an array of "green" smells assaulted me in the best way that one can be assaulted.  I don't think I have ever entered a restaurant that had such a fresh scent to it, not even my favorite vegan restaurant Real Food Daily

The restaurant is cozy but didn't have much of a wait on the Tuesday night we visited.  I had checked out the menu earlier in the day and had an idea of what I wanted to order and, after consulting with the waitress, went ahead and ordered the Mole Baked Tofu.  It sounded like an interesting option and one that would give me an idea of how the restaurant dresses up its tofu plates, an otherwise bland food.

Despite a bit of a mix-up with my order it came out fairly quickly and we dug in to our plates.  My dish came with a heaping pile of quinoa, kale, and two sizeable pieces of tofu topped with avocado.  The dish was plenty large and filling but wasn't all that flavorful.  I found the tofu to be a bit bland and the mole sauce to be lacking in strong flavor.  Kim, however, loved her dish (which wasn't gluten free) so it gives me hope that Candle Cafe may have better options on the menu.  If I do go back to the Cafe, I won't be ordering the Mole Baked Tofu again.

All in all, I had great company but wasn't thrilled with the food and am not sure I'd revisit Candle Cafe.
- - -
Candle Cafe
1307 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10021 (Map)
(212) 472-0970

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chocolate Roll Cake

A few weeks ago I went home to run the Boilermaker, one of the largest 15K road races in the country.  It's an enormous event in my hometown, with about 11,000 runners participating in the 15K and thousands of others participating by volunteering or being spectators along the course.  It's a fun race and one that ends with free beer courtesy of Saranac Brewery.  Needless to say that bit of fun is lost on me as they don't have the Bard's Tale Beer available (which is produced at the brewery as a contract brew).  I was happy but not ecstatic with my time (about 67 minutes); after having gone out too fast in the first mile I faded in the following two.  Hopefully next year I'll be able to demolish that time.
After the race my parents threw a barbecue for some of my dad's running friends and, as luck would have it, one of the invitees had a great gluten free recipe she wanted to put to use.  For those of you following my Instagram account you have already seen the beautiful photo to the left... and here it is again in all its glory.  And if you aren't following me on Instagram - why not?  My username is GlutenFreeways and I try to keep a good log of particularly delicious gluten free meals.

Anyway, I've included the recipe for the Chocolate Roll Cake below.  I've already asked my sister to make me one when I next visit her in Philadelphia.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Chocolate Roll Cake
Ingredients
Chocolate Roll (Gluten Free)
5 eggs
3 T baking cocoa
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Whipped cream filling
½ pt. whipping cream
1 t vanilla
1-2 T confectioner’s sugar

Directions
(1) Butter a jelly roll pan (10 x 14 x ½ in.)
(2) Butter wax paper on both sides to fit pan.
(3) Heat oven to 350.
(4) Separate 5 eggs.
(5) Beat whites till stiff.
(6) Mix cocoa and sugar by hand and beat into whites a little at time.
(7) Beat yolks in a separate bowl till thick without cleaning beater and fold
into whites.
(8) Spread batter evenly in pan and bake 20 minutes.
(9) Sprinkle linen dishtowel with confectioner’s sugar and turn cake over
onto dishtowel and peal off wax paper.
(10) When cool, spread whipped cream on top and roll.
(11) Sprinkle confectionary sugar on top.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Updates

You regular readers may have noticed a few updates on my page recently.  First off, I have a new design compliments of my friend Katy Jones.  She does amazing designs for Junk Food Clothing and graciously agreed to do some help designing my new logo.  You can also check out her Tumblr here: http://whatkatyjdid.tumblr.com/.

The new logo reflects my relocation to New York by including the subway and lettering similar to what you see on the subway.  While I miss the original design of the interchange between the 10 and the 405 freeways in west L.A., I felt that it was time to reflect my new location with a design.  I hope you like it too - I'm open to any and all comments!

In other news I deleted my Facebook page.  I couldn't tap into all of the features and found it very repetitive having Twitter, Foursquare, and (now introducing!) Instagram (under the name Gluten Freeways).  I think with all of these features you'll be able to keep up with me and where I'm eating Gluten Freeways through microblogging, geographic check-ins, and now photos.  Feel free to add me on any of these social media sites (links below) - I look forward to your comments.  If you're averse to social media, stick with the regular blog and you won't miss out (on too much).  Both Instagram and Foursquare are linked to my Twitter, so that is the main source for Gluten Freeways info other than the blog.  You can follow me on Instagram under the username Gluten Freeways.
I'm really excited about these new social media ventures, the site redesign, and what's coming up with Gluten Freeways and hope you are too.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Tweet with Gluten Freeways
Check In on Foursquare with Gluten Freeways

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gluten Free in Tel Aviv

I can't believe it's been four years since took a trip to Israel - it seems like just yesterday hiking Masada to watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea.  Time flies!  Perhaps more importantly, it's 7 years since I was first diagnosed with Celiac.  I can't believe the time has gone by so quickly and easily.  At first it was a struggle; back in 2005 the market was not nearly as saturated with gluten free products and knowledge as it is today.  Now that eating gluten free has become popular (and, some would say, has jumped the shark) it is much easier to find gluten free products and connect with restaurants which are knowledgeable on serving gluten free diners.

This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when I saw that my college friend, Jessica Hochstadt, posted an article in The Jersualem Post about the Top 5 restaurants serving gluten free food in Tel Aviv.  Jessica is what we at Tufts call a "Double Jumbo," having gone to Tufts for her B.A. and then her M.S. at the university's Friedman School of Nutrition.  I was happy to see a fellow Tufts alum diving into the gluten free pool and immediately sent her a message asking her if I could link to the article and thankfully she obliged.  You can read the full article here - hopefully I'll get to Tel Aviv again soon so I can check out some of these restaurants and report back! 

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
"Top 5: Gluten-free options in Tel Aviv"
by Jessica Hochstadt
The Jersualem Post

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ninety Nine Restaurant

I recently visited my hometown and, while there, indulged in a visit to a chain restaurant.  I'm normally a bit opposed to chain restaurants, primarily because it feels strange to me to be able to order something in New York and California and have it taste the same way.  But hey, when you're gluten free, chains are a great places to go because many of them are now offering gluten free menus.

When I was looking through Ninety Nine's gluten free menu I was initially torn: do I get something that is often gluten free like Salmon or do I go for something that is more unique, like a burger with the restaurant's gluten free bun?



I opted for the latter and was not disappointed.  My waitress was talking about the restaurant's gluten free bun as if it were a godsend so I knew I had to try it out.  I'm sorry that I didn't take a picture of the bun because it was great and didn't crumble at first touch.  I realize that is a common complaint of mine, but after having my share of terrible gluten free buns I feel qualified to say that a bun that stays composed instead of falling apart on first touch is worth acknowledging and complimenting.

Overall, eating gluten free at Ninety Nine was an easy experience and one that I wouldn't be against doing again.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -

Citifield Does Gluten Free

In some last minute Friday night planning my friend Eliza invited me to a Mets game.  I hadn't been out to the new Citifield Stadium and, having no pressing Friday night plans, thought it would be a fun way to spend a Friday night.  An added perk, of course, is that Citifield has a gluten free stand that I would be able to check out and report back about.

The stand is a bit out of the way - I believe it was behind section 126 but don't take my word for it; instead, make sure you ask an employee or check out the map here.  I think Eliza and I got a little turned around on our walk to the stand but were very happy once we did find it.  It is by The Marketplace, so you can also ask employees where that is if you need help searching this out.  I also didn't see this on any maps of the stadium even though other places are designated on the Citifield maps.  

Anyway, Eliza and I went for the gluten free burgers with cheese and we were both very satisfied with our purchase.  The stand also sells Kozy Shack pudding, Redbridge beer, brownies, sausages, and hot dogs.  The burger cost somewhere around $7.50 which, in my opinion, isn't that bad for a gluten free burger at a ball park.  At events like this I'm used to overpriced food and, coming from Manhattan, $7.50 for a burger is a steal.

Even better, however, is that the burdger was good!  The bun didn't fall apart and crumble as so many gluten free buns are prone to doing; instead it remained composed as Eliza and I devoured our dinners.  I haven't been to Yankees Stadium yet so I can't compare the two, although I have done a post about the gluten free options there.  Hopefully I'll make it up to the Bronx and be able to report back on how the Yankees and Mets compare in the gluten free realm.  The game was really fun despite the Mets losing to the Cincinnati Reds.  Who doesn't love a baseball game on a beautiful summer night, right?

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -

Iveta Scones

I truly enjoy hearing about new products, restaurants, bakeries, or places I should visit as a gluten free person from my family, friends, readers, Twitter followers, etc.  I was excited when my friend Hilary told me that her mother, Jeanne, had found a gluten free product called Ivéta and wanted to send me some to try it out.  I never turn down an opportunity to try some gluten free snacks so I said send it along.

Hilary had told me before sending them that the Ivéta mixes her mother was sending were for scones, so I decided to hold off on making them until I went home so I could have a large kitchen and my mother's baking skills at my disposal before attempting to bake scones.  Little did I know that Ivéta's gluten free scones are practically foolproof: place the mix in a bowl, add some heavy cream, mix, and pop in the oven.  That's it!  Even I could make these scones on my own which is definitely saying something.  After mixing in the heavy cream you flatten it until it looks like a large pizza crust. After that divide it up into triangles, pop it in the oven, and your scones will be ready soon!  I can't say I've ever been a big fan of scones, almost never having had them in my pre-GF days.  However, I can definitely say that these scones were more moist and light than the often crunchy and over-baked scones I do remember having pre-GF.  I'm definitely a fan of Ivéta's scones and have already ordered three more packages.  Being so easy to bake makes Ivéta a great choice for a quick brunch snack or a nice baked good to bring over to a friend's place.

Jeanne sent me two flavors: Chocolate Chip and Cranberry.  I'm a chocaholic so I much preferred the chocolate chip scones, but on my next round I'm going to venture and try some other fruit flavors.

I haven't seen these in stores yet so I'm not sure where they are available other than through Ivéta's website, but I'll keep my eyes peeled and update this post if I do happen upon them.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Ivéta

Monday, June 11, 2012

Domino's Gluten Free Review

I was home in upstate New York this past weekend and finally had the opportunity to check out Domino's gluten free pizza.  I was really excited when I first heard about the chain offering gluten free pizza back in early May because it meant that I would be able to order gluten free pizza in large swaths of the country. 

However I was disappointed over the resulting furor over when it was revealed that the pizza crust was not recommended for people with Celiac Disease as it is not prepared in a gluten free environment.  It is up to you whether to try Domino's gluten free pizza or not; everybody is aware of his/her own sensitivity and as such it is each individual's decision.  I went ahead and tried it because, while I'm generally very sensitive, I decided that it was okay to try it one time. 

I have very fond memories of Domino's pizza from when I was a kid and it was consistently my Friday night order.  I ordered my first Domion's gluten free pizza plain because I wanted to get a better sense of the crust and not be overwhelmed by toppings.  The pizza arrived very quickly and is only available in a 10-inch size costing $14.  The pizza was piping hot when I opened up the box and I could barely wait to dig in... so I didn't!

The pizza was great and definitely reminded me of my childhood favorite, albeit with a much thinner crust.  However it wasn't thin to the point of being crunchy; it had great flavor to it and none of the gritty texture that is so often indicative of a gluten free crust.

I know that many Celiacs and gluten free people are wary of ordering the gluten free crust from Domino's and I understand that decision.  For me, it didn't present a problem as I felt no lingering side effects.  I'll definitely order Domino's gluten free pizza again.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Domino's


Friday, June 1, 2012

Spring Natural Kitchen

I've been wanting to check out Spring Natural Kitchen for a few months now and finally had the opportunity the other night.  I first noticed Spring as I was headed to a nearby restaurant, Blossom.  I still haven't made it to Blossom either but have heard great things about the restaurant's gluten free options.

Anyway, Traivor and I recently checked out Spring Natural Kitchen.  While I had walked by the restaurant before I didn't take into account how large it was; the restaurant is spacious and sizeable, not what I normally expect from a restaurant in New York City.

I was famished when we went so made sure to order a lot.  It wasn't a difficult task because the menu is marked with a (gf) for everything that is or can be prepared gluten free.  We split an order of the Seafood Risotto, the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, and a salad (which one I am now forgetting).  It's been a few weeks since I visited so the details are a bit hazy but I can say definitively that Spring Natural Kitchen is amazing.  We loved all of the food, the atmosphere, and the helpful waitstaff.

I would definitely visit Spring Natural Kitchen again and, when I do, will do a much better job of remembering what I ordered and ate to provide better descriptions.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Spring Natural Kitchen
474 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024 (Map)
(646) 596-7434

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Über by Larabar

After a few nights away at my apartment I came home to a surprise package from Larabar.  I was delighted to open it up and see that the company sent me the new Über bars in all four flavors.  When I looked more closely, however, I noticed that the bar was made of "whole fruits and nuts" and thus seems to compete with so many other fruit and nut bars out there.  I thought to myself: "How many of these similar bars can the market support?"

The original Larabar uses very simple ingredients (dates, nuts, sometimes chocolate chips, etc.) and so does the new Über line so I wondered how truly different they would taste.  My questions were quickly answered when I indulged in the Bananas Foster and almost immediately fell in love.  Damn that bar is good!  It is much crunchier than a normal Larabar but still has a nice chewy side unlike some of the other fruit and nut bars on the market which are all unsatisfying crunch.

Über bars are available in four flavors: Bananas Foster, Cherry Cobbler, Apple Turnover, and Roasted Nut Roll.  I really liked all of the flavors but definitely think that Bananas Foster is the one I will keep going back to.  I'm a huge fan of the original Larabar and infrequently enjoy the company's Jocalat but I think the Bananas Foster has quickly become my favorite Larabar favorite.

I've seen these on shelves around New York City so they should be popping up in your local grocery store soon.  They are definitely going to be in my on-the-go bag this summer!

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Über by Larabar

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pitfire Pizza

This past week I had the pleasure of visiting my older brother Eric in the company of my younger brother Ian and my great friend from high school, Olivia. He has lived in Los Angeles for the past four years and I try to get out to see him as often as I can. We didn't have a strict itinerary for the trip, but my pre-trip GF-scouting (along with tips from Stephen) while "studying" provided me with a substantial handful of gastronomic destinations.

On Tuesday we did something that might be foreign to many Los Angelites - we used public transportation! We caught the metro out by Culver City and took it down to Union Station where we commenced a walking tour. By the time we got there over two hours and a few miles of walking had elapsed since breakfast, so we immediately set off on a hunt for a lunch venue. En route to a cafe recommended by our guide book we serendipitously stumbled upon Pitfire Pizza. Eric had heard really favorable reviews so we abandoned our other plan and went for pizza. I'm so glad we did.


My friend Olivia and I split a GF margherita pizza and a chopped salad, both which were spectacular. I've never had a GF crust that tasty, chewy, and beautifully browned - if I hadn't had my brothers' glutinous pizza beside it for comparison, I might have doubted its lack of gluten. The toppings were not out shined by the crust - I'm a sucker for a tasty tomato sauce and it did not disappoint. The cheese and fresh basil rounded out the glorious preparation. The salad was a great accompaniment to the pizza and I was impressed by its garden-freshness and substantial size.

Having enjoyed our lunch so much, we weren't in any rush to leave. This promped my brothers to order a third pizza (they had already polished off two delectable if glutinous pizzas). Olivia and I split a soft-serve vanilla ice cream. It was no Abbott's, but certainly provided a great conclusion to a fabulous lunch.

After a few more iced teas, we finally resumed our walking tour, thoroughly satisfied. If I had a criticism, it would be Pitfire's limited geographic realm -- I can only hope (and vouch) for Upstate NY as a lucrative future market (I'm sure Stephen would agree?).

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Pitfire Pizza
108 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Map)



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pip's Place

The other day my friend Alison sent me an e-mail about the opening of Pip's Place on New York's Upper East Side.  I was going to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon the following day so I decided to go uptown and grab some carbs to prepare for the race.  I hopped on the uptown select service bus with my trusted Kindle and, in a snap, was exiting at the 86th Street stop. 

As I walked up to Pip's Place I was struck by the neighborhood it is in; there are a lot of coffee shops and restaurants nearby.  I'm very infrequently that far up in Manhattan and, when I am, seem to be on the west side more often than the east.  Anyway, I walked into Pip's place and was instantly greeted by employees behind the counter.  The shop also immediately greeted my eyes with visions of beautifully presented gluten free treats with everything from cupcakes to the bakery's own "Heath bars."  I went a little wild and ordered a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie, and a Heath bar... but hey, I was doing a half marathon the next day so I deserved it, right?

I sat down with my treats at the small bar/counter that is opposite the cashier and dug right in.  My first stop was the chocolate chip cookie.  I normally wouldn't order a chocolate chip cookie as I think it is a bit boring, but I decided to go for it to have a wide sampling of Pip's baking.  The chocolate chip cookie was soft and tasted as if it had just come out of the oven.  It was definitely better than a lot of other gluten free chocolate cookies I have had which are often too crunchy and end up tasting stale.  My next treat was the "Heath bar," a layered bar with mashed up Heath bar on top.  This was amazingly delicious; as a huge fan of Heath Bar candy I loved how Pip's replicated the flavor of the Heath Bar while amping it up with a creamy chocolate underneath the crunchy top.

When I arrived home I tore into the fudgey brownie alongside a glass of Trader Joe's almond milk.  The brownie was delicious, filled with great flavor and it was perfectly chewy.  Just as importantly, it didn't crumble upon first bite as so many gluten free baked goods do. 

I loved all of the treats I picked up from Pip's and will definitely be visting again to try out some new snacks.  The location is small but offers an open kitchen so you can see exactly what is being baked.  I have my eyes on the Chocolate Cake for my next visit...

And, on a personal note, the race went well!  I did a 1:36 time which is 8 minutes faster than my time in the last half I did in Pasadena.  The course was great, looping 15,000 runners through Prospect Park and then onto a large boulevard which dead ended at Coney Island.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning and there was nowhere better to be ending than at the beach.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Pip's Place
1729-31 First Avenue
New York, NY 10128 (Map)
212-360-6400

Paradiso 37

For our final day in Orlando Traivor and I went wild at Disney World; for those details, check out my post on Babycakes here.

For this post I'll keep it strictly business.  Before heading over to Babycakes in Downtown Disney we dined at Paradiso 37, a restaurant on the water in Downtown Disney.  We opted for outdoor seating to take advantage of the terrific weather and to have a view of the water.  The menu looked like it had good gluten free options, and when I told the waitress of my allergy she told me to take a look at the menu before the chef came over to discuss my options.  I'm not used to being waited on with such a personal touch and, sure enough, the chef came over a few minutes later to talk about my options.  Before eating we were asked to switch tables and were promised two free drinks to thank us... and who are we to say no to free drinks?  Paradiso has a large drink menu and enormous bar space both of which we took advantage of while downing some delicious margaritas.

I can't seem to find a menu online, but I remember that we both ordered the enchiladas.  My enchiladas, however, would be prepared differently because they are normally lightly fried before being served.  The chef assured me that they would be just as delicious without the last minute fryer action but would have a different taste.

When we received our dishes, I asked Traivor to do a taste test comparison.  After trying his dish and my dish (the same except for the fryer), he decided that he liked my dish more!  I was happy to show him that gluten free food doesn't have to taste different and can in fact be better.  He had his first taste of this at Nizza where he fell in love with the restaurant's gluten free bread, but it's always good to reinforce the idea.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Paradiso 37
1590 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 (Map)
(407) 934-3700

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Visit to Babycakes in Downtown Disney

I can't believe it has taken me this long to post about one of my favorite stops in Disney World: Babycakes!  When Traivor and I first decided to go to Disney World I didn't think we would make it to Babycakes as the bakery is located in Downtown Disney.  I was in store for quite the surprise when we turned our Disney World day into an adventure that spanned Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and an ending in Downtown Disney.  By the end of the day we were exhausted but figured we should check out Downtown Disney for dining options since we were already within the park and didn't have a car to check out other options.
We left Magic Kingdom for Downtown Disney and were surprised by how far away it is; the bus ride to Downtown Disney was definitely the lengthiest of our day.  We were also surprised by how enormous Downtown Disney is, with tons of options for kids and adults alike.  We started walking through the Boardwalk en route to Paradiso 37 (post coming soon!) and on our way I spotted Babycakes right next to Fresh-A-Peel.  It wasn't listed on the official map of restaurants but the bakery's signage was easy to pick out, as I recognized it from my many visits to the L.A. and NYC locations. 



We decided to check out the bakery after our dinner.  Instead of heading right over to Babycakes, however, we took a ride in a hot air balloon.  This hot air balloon was giant and not a typical wicker basket hot air balloon.  Instead where we stood as we went up was made of metal and felt secure; I'm not sure I could ever go up on a "real" hot air balloon ride after the fear I felt going up in this one.  From the top we had a great view of the parks, the fireworks show going on around Disney World, and the water which Downtown Disney sits on.

After our hot air balloon ride we made our way over to Babycakes.  I was a bit surprised that Babycakes is housed in the same building as Pollo Campero as I normally wouldn't associate a vegan/gluten free bakery with Pollo Campero.  I expected it to be housed within the neighboring Fresh-A-Peel, as Babycakes' mission would seem to fit better with that healthy salad shop.  Nonetheless there it was in Pollo Campero - my heaven. 

When we walked in I ducked into the bathroom and by the time I got to the counter Traivor had talked the girl working up about what options were being offered.  Sadly it was the end of a busy day and they didn't have much, but in a very sweet gesture she offered to frost me a fresh gluten free cookie 'wich, my favorite item from Babycakes.  It tasted just as great as cookie 'wiches from Babycakes normally do and I was happy to have the opportunity to eat a gluten free dessert while in Disney World.

Regular readers already know I love this place... and my visit to the Downtown Disney location didn't change anything.  It's great to have healthy, allergy-friendly options in Downtown Disney.  I can't wait to see where the bakery's next location is!

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Babycakes
1674 East Buena Vista Drive
Orlando, FL 32830 (Map)
855.462.2292

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stogo

The other night I stopped in for ice cream at Stogo, which I have walked by a million times and my friend Katie has told me about.  I began asking questions about the ice cream almost immediately upon entering and was excited to hear that everything in Stogo is gluten free, even the flavors with chocolate chip cookie in them!  Magical, right?  Stogo uses Babycakes' gluten free cookies to make that particularl concoction and sells Babycakes' cupcakes too, making it even easier for me to pick up some treats instead of walking to Babycakes' Lower East Side location.



The people working at Stogo were extremely kind, offering to let me try as many samples as possible.  All of Stogo's ice creams are free of dairy, animal, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial flavorings and, obviously, gluten.  I really enjoyed my ice cream at Stogo and picked up a Babycakes treat to go.  I would visit here again; it is a bit expensive but for gluten free vegans I definitely think this is one of the best spots to get your summertime ice cream fix.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Stogo
159 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003 (Map)
212-677-2301

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yankee Stadium Does Gluten Free

This is probably old news by now but Traivor just sent me the photo below.

Looks awesome!  I hope I get to a Yankees game so I can check it out for myself.  As per the official Yankees website, the stand offers Hebrew National hot dogs and Premio sausages, Boar's Head deli meat, Carvel soft-serve ice cream, Melissa's farmers market vegetables and fruit salads, Kozy Shack pudding, and Famous Famiglia gluten-free pizza.  Redbridge is also available at all Beers of hte World locations.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Yankee Stadium Information


Gluten-Free Fare: There are several gluten-free food options: Hebrew National hot dogs and Premio sausages*, Boar's Head deli meat, Carvel soft-serve ice cream, Melissa's farmers market vegetable and fruit salads, Kozy Shack pudding (sold at all Highlanders locations) and Famous Famiglia gluten-free pizza (Section 125 only). Redbridge, a gluten-free beer, is sold at all Beers of the World locations.
*Hot dogs and sausages not served with buns.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lavagna

On Friday night Traivor and I planned to explore one of my favorite areas of New York, the East Village (or Alphabet City, whichever you prefer).  We started off with drinks at The Summit, a really cool bar on Avenue C that has artisanl cocktails, a great space, and lots of room.  We arrived around 8pm and were happy to see that it wasn't overly crowded.  If we had walked a few avenues west we would have been in the middle of friday night revelry; being over on Avenue C gave us a nice respite in which to leisurely enjoy our drinks.  We sat overlooking the street and people watching as we had a few rounds before dinner.

Walking over to Lavagna I was reminded of why I love New York so much: nowhere else that I have been has such an amazing pedestrian culture.  Whether it was walking through Tompkins Square Park earlier in the night or seeing all of the great new restaurants on Avenues B and C, it was a terrific night to explore a new area while visiting some of Traivor's old favorites.  When we arrived to Lavagna the maitre'd promptly seated us at a great table which took advantage of the beautiful New York weather; behind Traivor the large windows had been opened to allow plenty of air into the restaurant.  When I I first looked down at the menu I glanced briefly at it, thinking that I already knew what I would order from perusing it previously online.  In that quick glance, however, I saw that there was a note that said the restaurant offers gluten free pasta!  Traivor had been talking about his favorite dish, rigatoni with sweet fennel and spicy sausage, peas, and tomato cream, so I was excited to see that I could order it.  The gluten free pasta the restaurant uses is Spaghetti but our waiter still recommended going with the rigatoni dish.  With two recommendations in its court I couldn't say no and opted for the rigatoni.  We also split the scallops as an appetizer after confirming that they are gluten free. 

Everything was great.  The scallops came with deliciously creamy potatoes underneath and were served in a large portion.  When our pasta came out I was thrilled, as I haven't been to a great gluten free Italian place in some time.  I was even more thrilled when, upon first bite, I experienced the amazing flavors that Traivor had been telling me about.  The sausage wasn't chunky as I had feared when ordering and instead was in miniscule pieces spread throughout the spaghetti dish.  The peas and tomato cream were excellent additions as well.  My only complaint was that the spaghetti was a bit tough and undercooked, although this is likely owing to the fact that I was initially brought an incorrect (and gluten filled) ravioli as Traivor was served his correct order.  I'm assuming that, because of the mix-up, my dish was rushed to be prepared and wasn't given the proper cooking time.

Regardless of that snafu I would definitely check out Lavagna again.  The flavors were great, the waiter was knowledgeable about gluten free items, and the ambience was terrific especially in the warm weather.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Lavagna
545 E. 5th Street
New York, NY 10009 (Map)
(212) 979-1005

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tokyo Dining - Disney World

Despite being exhausted after our day at Universal's Islands of Adventure (check out my post on gluten free eating at Universal here), Traivor and I decided that when in Orlando we should do it up... and that the only way to do that was to conquer Disney World the following day.  We let ourselves sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast before we set out on Round Two of our Orlando adventures.

My last time at Disney World was in 2008 with my family.  While I love theme parks, nobody else in my family was enthused about visiting the parks and I couldn't convince anybody to join me.  That meant that I was on my own in Disney World.  In some ways it was great; I didn't have to consult with somebody else's wishes and could use the single rider line often.  In other ways it wasn't great; I was alone in the Happiest Place on Earth! 



Luckily Traivor and I were on the same page.  He was excited to hear that at my last time at Disney World I hit all four parks - that's right, in one day I visited Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.  We decided to be ambitious and try for the same, especially after hearing that the Magic Kingdom park would be open 'til Midnight.  Crazy!

We started our day at Hollywood Studios, visiting Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  From there we made our way to Animal Kingdom, where we did the Everest Adventure rollercoaster and the Jungle Safari. 

View from Tokyo Dining
After Animal Kingdom we decided to head to Epcot, where we would try and do Soarin' and have lunch.  While we made it to lunch, Soarin' was a misfire: the wait was insane and the FastPass would have had us coming back to Epcot between 7 and 8pm!  Instead of Soarin' we did Captain EO, the cheesy Michael Jackson 3D show that was re-released after his death in 2009.  It was made in the 80s and that time period definitely shows, but all in all it was good fun especially after having read about it in the wake of his passing.  Since we were in Epcot we took a walk around the different countries, finally landing on Japan as we were both craving sushi. 

When we chose Tokyo Dining we made sure to tell our hostess that I am gluten free.  The restaurant's manager promptly came over and addressed my dietary concerns.  I was really happy to have such an attentive staff and it definitely made me feel more comfortable eating there.  The restaurant also has gluten free soy sauce on tap, a nice addition that not every sushi place has.  Overall our meal was tasty and less expensive than Mythos in Islands of Adventure with nice views of the large body of water in the center of the countries section of Epcot.

After Epcot we headed over to our final stop of the day: Magic Kingdom.  I'll have more on what we did in Magic Kingdom in my next post.

Do you love it or do you love it?
- - -
Tokyo Dining
Epcot, Disney World