Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pala Pizza

This blog post is well overdue and I apologize for that.  I recently had the opportunity to dine with my former roommate, her sister, and her sister's friend, both of whom I had heard so much about and was very excited to meet.  I was the first in our party to arrive and was immediately welcomed by the maitre'd who offered me a seat at the bar while I awaited my company.  Before my former roomie Katie arrived I connected with Maggie and Adele; it was great to meet them after hearing so many great things about them from Katie.  While we waited for Katie we took our seats and peered over the extensive gluten free menu.

Once Katie arrived we dove in to ordering and were assured by our waiter that we were not going overboard in our ordering.  We decided to start with the Arancini, a plate of fried risotto balls filled with spinach and mozzarella cheese and made it in a dedicated gluten free fryer.  It's rare that I stumble across a gluten free fryer so I knew I had to order up something that was fried to take full advantage of the opportunity.

For our entrées we ordered a smorgasbord of food.  For pasta we ordered the Tonnarelli, prepared with fusilli pasta, porcini mushrooms, parmigiano cheese, parsley and rosemary.  For our pizza selection we ordered a Bufala Cruda, made with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato sauce; a Fungata, prepared with porcini, portebello and shitake mushrooms, and assorted cheeses; and finally a Spinaci topped with spinach, ricotta, cherry tomato sauce, mozzarella, and garlic.

Not too shabby of an order, eh?  Needless to say, we did quite a number on the pizzas and pasta leaving barely any to take home.  I think the best part of my meal was hearing each of the girls say that they couldn't differentiate the gluten free pizza from gluten-filled pizzas they had eaten in the past.  The crust was delicious, flavorful, and unlike many of the overly crunchy and thin gluten free pizzas that I often encounter.  Hearing the girls' positive reviews of the pizza at Pala was like listening to a symphony of Britney Spears songs: pure bliss.

I loved everything about Pala, from the superb waitstaff, delicious food, and unique options available to gluten free eaters; perhaps best of all was the wonderful company.  I can't wait to go back to Pala and explore the enormous gluten free menu... I already have my eye on a few options for my next visit!

Do you love it or do you love it?
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198 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002 (Map)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I always love exploring new areas and have been derelict in exploring the great neighborhoods and museums that New York has to offer.  I finally corrected that in a marathon day on Saturday, beginning at the Museum of Modern Art and meeting Traivor there.  After the museum we headed over to a great wine bar in Hell's Kitchen, just a bit west of MoMA, called Ardesia.  It's on a very new block in the neighborhood and is surrounded by beautiful, newly-constructed buildings.  The bar is a large space with a great vibe and a delicious selection of wines.  By the time we had finished our glasses, we were both feeling peckish.  I don't know the neighborhood very well, so I charged Traivor with finding us a good restaurant with gluten free options.  He suggested Nizza and mentioned that the restaurant has an extensive gluten free menu.

When we arrived to Nizza I wasn't disappointed by the gluten free menu, as the restaurant serves up gluten free pasta and their own unique pizza-like dish, Socca.  Soccas are chickpea pancakes that are served similarly to pizzas and are available with various toppings.  They can also be ordered plain, but after asking the waitress' opinion I opted for the Vegetarian Bianca.  We also ordered a bottle or red wine to complement our dishes, although I can't remember which bottle we selected.

While we sipped our wine a busboy came over and dropped off two loaves of bread: one gluten free and one not gluten free.  I was so excited and shocked to have my own bread at the restaurant.  The bread which Nizza serves is crunchy with great seasoning that really embellish the flavor; even though Traivor isn't gluten free, he prefers the gluten free bread.  It's always a testament to the quality of a gluten free product when a non-gluten free person enjoys it.  Soon after I picked my jaw up off the floor after being given gluten free bread, the vegetarian socca and Traivor's dish were delivered to our table.  The vegetarian socca came topped with spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, and roasted peppers and was absolutely delicious.  Instead of being too crunchy with little flavor like many other gluten free pizza crusts, the socca was chewy with a sweetness to it.

I would definitely go to back to Nizza and try another one of the restaurant's soccas; the waitstaff is friendly, the prices are decent, and the ambience is great.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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630 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 (Map)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Madrid Coffee Cakes

I've been keeping busy trying lots of new products out recently, but one of my recent favorites came from Madrid Coffee Cakes.  As regular readers know, I'm immediately attracted to anything to do with Madrid after having spent nine months there a few years ago.  I had the most unbelievable time in the city, despite having a few problems with finding gluten free food; you can check out my post on living gluten free in Spain here.

Anyway, back to Madrid Coffee Cakes.  I immediately accepted the offer to try out some of the company's products.  They sent me a package containing samples of two flavors of cake: Classic Tarta de Santiago and Hazelnut Chocolate.  I could barely resist sampling the products and about five minutes after I saw the package I had already started to enjoy the Hazelnut Chocolate cake.

I'm sorry that this photo is upside down - my iPhone is acting funky lately when taking pictures and by the time I noticed, one of the cakes was already gone.  Whoops.  I really enjoyed the Hazelnut Chocolate Cake but absolutely loved the Classic Tarta de Santiago.  Madrid Coffee Cakes are gluten free (obviously) and dairy free; the company uses almond flour in its production and you can definitely taste the almond flavoring in it.  Madrid Coffee Cakes are a great gluten free snack with simple ingredients that can be paired with a variety of different flavors.  I will definitely be ordered some soon.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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Madrid Coffee Cakes

Monday, February 6, 2012

G-Free NYC: An Entirely Gluten Free Market

My friend Ariel recently told me that as she was walking around her neighborhood she saw G-Free NYC, an entirely gluten free store.  While the Upper West Side is a bit of a trek from my apartment, I couldn't resist the opportunity to check out a potential gluten free mecca and so I made plans to meet a friend for a walk in Central Park and then visit G-Free NYC.

When we arrived I was initially overwhelmed, as the store is small and packed with treats.  I am also used to having to pick and choose through products to find gluten free ones instead of being able to eat everything, so to have so many choices after so many years of not having an available variety made for an exciting shopping experience.

The store carries products including fresh-baked bread, cupcakes from Tu-Lu's, cake balls from The Little Cakes, pastas, chips, cookies, crackers, candy and even breath mints.  Best of all, they had many products which I had never seen before and I always enjoy diversifying my eating.

While G-Free NYC is not in the most convenient location for me, I will definitely be going back to support the business.  I especially loved how many freshly baked goods the store sold and how unique some of the products sold are.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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G-Free NYC
77A 85th Street
New York, NY 100024 (Map)

Friday, February 3, 2012

La Follia

The other night I went to an event titled "The Face of the Ghetto" at the U.N. with my friends Lyz, Danielle, and Chloe.  It was a great exhibition, preceded by comments by the UN Under-Secretary-GEneral for Communications and Public Information, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, and the President of the International Auschwitz Committee.  The exhibition portrayed life in the Lódz Ghetto between 1940-44 through pictures that were taken by prisoners during that time.  The photos had never previously been accessible to the public; it was very interesting to see the photos along with the accompanying text, particularly after having traveled to Germany and Poland this past summer.

Anyway, after we went to the exhibit we headed to my 'hood for dinner at La Follia.  Before going I made sure to check out the menu, as I usually avoid Italian food because of the dearth of gluten free options.  I was delighted to see that La Follia offers gluten free pasta for a $2 surcharge.  When we arrived, I made sure to ask what kind of pasta the restaurant uses (brown rice) and whether the pasta is cooked in separate, gluten free pots (yes).

When the entrée was brought out I was a bit disappointed by its underwhelming size.  Additionally, the flavor of the pasta wasn't outstanding;  I ordered the Spaghetti Pomodoro and thought that the flavors in the Pomodoro didn't pop as much as they could have.  I would definitely try La Follia again because I enjoyed the atmosphere and the location (just a few blocks from my apartment!) but on another go-round I would definitely avoid the Pomodoro sauce.

All in all, I enjoyed La Follia because the price wasn't outrageous, the service was good, and the ambience was great.  I can't wholeheartedly recommend this as my favorite gluten free Italian place in the city (that award goes to Bistango), but I can say that if you are in the need for a gluten free pasta mix you could definitely do worse than La Follia.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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La Follia
226 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10003