Friday, April 29, 2011

Hey, Where'd My Blogger Go?

I'm off to Camp Blogaway in a couple of hours, and I couldn't be more excited.  Not only for the fun location in the San Bernardino Mountains, or the good company of other food bloggers, or the food (there will be GF options for me, yay.)  All those things are great reasons to go, but I'm ready to learn a ton and bring back some knowledge for y'all and improve my blog.

But don't worry, I'll be back next week! 

Have a great weekend; I know I will :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 4: Risotteria

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

As I look through my photos documenting my meal at Risotteria, I am inclined to tell you it was the best GF and allergic dining experience I've ever had.  So much so I even had a dream that I had returned to NYC to partake in it again.  When restaurants that you've eaten in and meals that you have start to creep into your REM cycle, you know they're just that good.

Risotteria opens daily at 12p, and I had to be somewhere in the early afternoon, so my dining companion and I decided to arrive a little early and be the first ones in.  We arrived in the West Village a little too early (11:30a) and walked around a bit until opening.  When we returned at the restaurant's doorstep at 11:50a, we were third in line to enter.  I guess I wasn't the only one eager to eat there that day!  It was a good thing we had shown up early too; Risotteria is a small eatery and seats go fast in this GF oasis.

Once the family and couple in front of us sat, the restaurant was half full!  We took up the other 25%.  Now seated, I was eager to get underway in asking one of my millions of questions when I eat out:  I see that you offer GF pizza.  I'm allergic to some GF flours; what's in your pizza crust?...  Without batting an eye the waitress put me at ease right away.  She explained that the restaurant was fully aware of preparation issues and allergy concerns.  She made sure that I knew she was going to take care of me, and I trusted her immediately.  She knew her stuff and was so warm as she recounted the minimal ingredients in their pizza flour, and I was able to partake.  This was good news as I had just planned on eating one of the many risottos the menu offered up.

My companion and I decided to do what we do best and ordered a lot of food.  After much deliberation, we ordered the Gruyere & Green Onion risotto and the Parma Ham & Mozzarella pizza, both GF.  She chomped away on breadsticks while we were waiting; only after the meal arrived did the waitress comment that all the sticks were GF and I should try them too, but by then I was too distracted by the beauty in front of me.

Isn't it pretty?

The risotto was perfect, creamy and very mild do to the qualities of the Gruyere.  It was a good companion to the pizza we chose.  The crispy, thin crust was perfectly NY style AND GF.  I took a bite and *sigh* le happy tongue.

The flag denotes it's a GF pizza.

The risotto would have perhaps been a better match for a spicier pizza since it was rather mild, but no matter.  I swear we had stopped talking once the food arrived and both of us began chowing down.  Sitting in silence, I was so happy.  This was the first time I had eaten pizza out in 3 years.  And it was perfect.  I missed pizza, and with each bite, I knew it was going to be harder and harder to leave Risotteria.

I stopped mid-scarf to look around the small yet buzzing hub.  The small family with GF children had a one-stop shop to feed everyone so easily and in such a friendly environment.  The couple next to us could both be happy: one GF pizza, one non-GF pizza.  It was the perfect haven for GF patrons and their loved ones of all kinds.  It was peaceful and easy.  I wished more than anything we had a restaurant this understanding and helpful near me.

With our bellies full and my heart singing, the waitress returned to gather our spotless plates.  Would we like dessert?  Ah, dessert.  I don't know why, but I had somehow assumed that I would have been allergic to dessert.  I think that's because many commercially produced GF desserts include, nut, soy and legume flours.  As my friend patiently waited to see if we could split something, I began to ask many questions, pointing to items and asking for ingredients.  One second, the waitress left and came back with laminated sheets.  Ingredient lists for everything on the dessert menu.  Full disclosure!  I don't know why, but it's sometimes very difficult to get full ingredient disclosure (which always makes me worry that there's something they're hiding.)  I think that traditional restaurants/bakeries are worried that you're somehow going to take the ingredient list and magically duplicate the product they're selling.  Real restaurants/bakeries that understand concerned eaters understand that full disclosure only makes us feel safer and happier about them.

Well with that list, I found I was spoiled with options!  We finally choose the Tiramisu.

And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.  Blissfully, we went up to pay the check and that's when I saw take-out bakery items.  I admittedly went a little hog-wild and took away another small dessert, The Little Fudgie.


Aside from it's regrettable name, the mini chocolate chip cookies sandwiching the chocolate cream was decadent, delightful and the perfect size!
After begging everyone at Risotteria to relocate to Southern California, I left with only the memory of how eating out should always be for the GF and allergic individual- normal.  If you're in NYC and don't make your way to the West Village for some Risotteria, you're just plain nuts!

Did you miss Parts 1, 2, or 3?

Risotteria (Open 7 days / Noon - 11pm, 270 Bleecker Street, between 6th / 7th aves, 212-924-6664.  No reservations, and only parties of 6 or smaller.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 3: Tu-Lu's Bakery

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

A stone's throw from one of my other favorite East Village eateries, S'MAC, a charming bakery resides.  Tu-Lu's is clearly a labor of love from one Celiac to another.  Tully, the friendly owner and creator, brings you in with a sweetly decorated case full of lots of tempting treasures.  Row after row of sugary goodness, just waiting there for you and me.


Tu-Lu's has options for all kinds of eaters: You have several GF choices and you can bring your Vegan friends who have many choices too:

Tu-Lu's also whips up special treats for holidays and occasions, updating loyal customers via Twitter.

The most difficult part of visiting Tu-Lu's was certainly choosing what to sample, and how much to bring back.  You see, my friend and I were traveling back with the goods on the subway in the hottest days of summer.  This would certainly not only be a test of how good the treats were, but how well they stood up in the dismal, crushing NYC heat.

Challenge accepted.

We made it back to my hotel in one piece.  The mini cupcakes did well, however, the frosting definitely drooped.  No matter.  My favorite was the Chocolate w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.  I also tried the Vanilla w/ Chocolate frosting, Strawberry, and Red Velvet.

 a little droopy, but delicious

The flavors were all there.  In terms of full disclosure, I purchased a brownie which didn't make it back to the hotel.  I got too excited on the way back and relished it accordingly.  I would also like to mention that my non-GF friend was chowing down happily on all of her cupcakes (she tried the Peanut Butter one that I couldn't eat) remarking that they were quite good and she would gladly eat them again and again.

 her box definitely had less frosting meltage

I have to apologize both to Tu-Lu's and to you, reader, as you'll notice these may be the worst pictures I've taken to date in terms of my horribly focused camera.  Since then, I have corrected the problem as best as I can, but you'll notice the pictures are a bit blurry.  Please note that Tu-Lu's baked goods are not blurry in person ;)

Make sure that if you want a GF sweet treat when you hit the big apple, that you don't miss Tu-Lu's.  They're perfect for dessert after GF Mac & Cheese.

Stay Tuned for Part 4: Risotteria.
Did you miss Part 1 or 2?

Tu-Lu's Bakery (338 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003, Phone:212-777-2227,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 2: People's Pops

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

As we near summer, tourists and city-dwellers alike are going to be looking for a sweet treat to cool them down while the sidewalks cook their feet.  The perfect solution is People's Pops.  Upon the suggestion of my brilliant friend who had "heard good things" I made a stop at People's Pops store space, also located in Chelsea Market.

A modest counter with a beautifully decorated chalkboard behind it and a very friendly, helpful worker; People's Pops creates temptations with the help of local and sustainable fruits and herbs.

The biggest problem by far with visiting PP is that it's only socially acceptable to eat one popsicle at a time.  I was extremely tempted to order every flavor, which rotates depending on what is in season and available.  I eventually, after much hemming & hawing, went with Plum & Tarragon.

A more perfect marriage couldn't be orchestrated by Hollywood.  Delicious, in every way.  This deceptively simple offering will please your palette accordingly.  My friend opted for another flavor, I believe it was a Peach & Chamomile (this is definitely the drawback of blogging about places long after you visit.)  They also offer shaved ice if that's more your bag.  If I had my way, with no public stigma or calories attached, I would probably just stick around and eat all the flavors.  Purely as a scientific experiment, to get the best overall impression ;)

Though it seemed silly for me to even ask, I did mention the Gluten Free of it all.  I was assured, as I had imagined, that the popsicle ingredients were fine & fresh local produce (naturally GF of course.)  And I don't worry about the possibilities of contamination in a setting where no gluten is used at all (personal choice.)  Furthermore, the only feeling I had after my consumption was euphoria, so I'm going to say that it was definitely a safe treat!

Unfortunately for us, People's Pops seems to only be available seasonally as of now, so make sure to follow their website and blog to find out where they will be setting up shop and when.  Don't forget to venture outside of the store-front (re-opening April 15th) to visit their market stops.  The best way to enjoy these suckers is on a stroll.  Do not, DO NOT miss out.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Tu-lu's Bakery.  Did you miss Part 1?

People's Pops (locations vary, seasonally,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 1: Friedman's Lunch

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

Having been to New York City several times, I can tell you it is possibly my favorite place to eat in the United States and is arguably my favorite place I've eaten in my world travels (I've been to a few European countries.)  This was true before I had gone GF, but it still holds up.  There are plenty of eats and treats for the savvy NYC visitor and resident, starting with a stop at Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market is a top foodie destination for any NYC traveler; it houses several bakeries, restaurants, specialty food retailers and yes, even the Food Network studio is located in the market building.  Suggested to me as a great GF destination by Kristin of Gluten Free Crumpette, Friedman's Lunch is definitely what you're looking for when it comes to a hassle free breakfast or lunch.

Months before visiting, I emailed Friedman's to ask them about their GF goods: What ingredients were used?  Would I feel safe eating there?  They were extremely helpful and sent me a full ingredient list of all their GF breads.  Not only did I notice I had choices of bread even despite all my allergies, I could eat their bagels!!!!

I hadn't eaten a bagel since 2007, and I certainly hadn't eaten a bagel in New York since then.  Bagel eating in the city is a bit of a religion for me, so you can imagine my surprise at finding that I could partake safely in my favorite lost ritual.  Be warned: Friedman's instructed me that bagels are only available on the weekends and go fast!  Just in case, I was first in line on a Saturday morning to make sure I got one.  This is when I received another pleasant surprise; I had a choice of flavors!  So not only do they have bagels, they have different kinds of bagels.  I ordered my favorite type, Everything w/shmear, and waited with the anticipation of a giddy girl getting waiting to meet her first puppy.

What was delivered to me was a toasty warm miracle for my mouth, neatly wrapped in foil, marked proudly with a GF.

Here we go!  I unwrapped the bagel with cautious optimism.  Would this be as good as I remembered?  Surely it couldn't taste exactly like a gluteny bagel, but would it come close?  Would I mysteriously get sick even though I triple checked the ingredients and stressed to the cashier that I was gluten free, making sure that the necessary safety measures were taken?

This bagel was great!  It was a bit thinner than the traditional NYC bagel, but they certainly added the traditional amount of shmear (I removed a good amount of the cream cheese, less is more for me.)  Although the "everything" wasn't covering the bagel, there was enough flavoring that I could grasp the Everything concept and flavor, even though it doesn't look it.  It had the consistency of a slightly larger Lender's bagel, which being GF, soy free AND nut free, is high praise!  You win Friedman's Lunch, you win.

I did eat breakfast there a second day, ordering the B.E.L.T. sandwich (bacon, over easy egg, lettuce, tomato & herb mayo) on GF white bread and it was DELICIOUS.  In fact, it was so delicious, that I ate it all, forgetting to snap a picture of it for you.  Sorry!  But let that be a testament to Friedman's Lunch- So good, you'll forget all about your food blog picture-taking and just chow down.

Stay tuned for Part 2: People's Pops.

Friedman's Lunch  (Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011, Phone:212-929-7100,

Stay Tuned for Great Things!

Hey all,

I've been back to having stomach troubles and eating very interesting and very little food because of it.  No recipes to share with you, so I'll be showing you some great travel, shopping, and product tips over the next few weeks.  You will not want to miss this!

aka Stomach Drama Rama