Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scottsdale, Arizona

The kids had a week off for Spring Break and we were looking to get away.  Friends of ours had visited the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona and raved about how much fun they had.  The husband has a gluten sensitivity and they told us about the gluten free menu and gluten free bread that was served during their stay.

So I looked into the hotel and found that their main restaurant Il Terrazzo has a gluten free menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The restaurant has a special area for GF food preparation even its own GF toaster.  If you choose to eat at one of their other restaurants, or by the pool, the food can be ordered through the main restaurant and brought to you.

The bread is from a local GF bakery called Gluten Free Creations.  The resort also gets GF chocolate chip cookies and I believe some other baked goods that are offered on the GF menu.

When we arrived in Scottsdale we stopped for lunch at Picazzos.  This is a chain of "Organic Italian Kitchen(s)" in Arizona.  They are over 90% Gluten Free.  All of their pasta, bread, sauces are gluten free.  They do serve regular crust pizza but also offer a GF crust.  It is all cooked in the same oven but I did not inquire about the pizza toppings (sauce, cheese, etc) to find out if they were separate or shared.  I had the Chipotle chicken pasta and a side salad.  It was delicious and the waitress was knowledgeable and put me at ease.

We then headed over and checked in at the Hotel.  Very friendly and helpful staff with tons of activities.  We planned on spending most of our time at the pool - and that's what we did.  One evening they had a birds of prey show that we went to before dinner.  The lawn areas had croquette, lawn bowling and jumbo Jenga (essentially Jenga with 2x4s) that the kids enjoyed.  We hiked Camelback Mountain one morning too as the resort backs right up to the mountain.  The kids enjoyed feeding the Koi each morning at 9:30.  Other activities that we did not have time to enjoy included golf, tennis, bikes, yoga, pilates, fitness center, photography school - should I go on.

For meals at Il Terrazzo the staff was great.  Only one time I mentioned that I had celiac and the waiter looked confused;  "I have an allergy to gluten" was my go to and they totally understood and conveyed with the kitchen.  Overall, the staff was great.  The bread service offered bread for the family and with my allergy he would always return with a fresh glove and a plate from the kitchen with GF bread.  I honestly could not believe the number of choices on the GF menu.

Our first dinner I had the octopus salad and for my entree I had the Salmon.  Both were delicious and brought to the table with the added "this is gluten free."

The third night we returned to Il Terrazzo.  I ordered the Octopus again (it was really good) and for my entree I had the pork medallions with roasted pears.  Each night I was given GF bread from Gluten Free Creations that was toasted and delivered to the table warm.  If you have kids that need to observe a GF diet they have a large selection too.

One night for dinner we ate upstairs at J&G Steakhouse which is the creation of Chef Jean George Vongerichten.  They do not have a separate GF menu but they said they could accommodate me.  My waiter seemed to be very aware and knowledgeable.  I started with the beet salad.  It was served by the runner and when I asked if it was GF he said "I believe so."  I looked - beets, yogurt, fried things??  I asked and was told by the server it was fried shallots and they fry them in the fryer.  I ask for the waiter and he honestly looked nervous when I pointed out the fried shallots.  He returned after speaking with the chef who cooked them himself in a separate pan with fresh oil.  It was delicious but another great reason for communication between waitstaff, the kitchen AND the servers.  For dinner I had their special a bone in bison steak - very delicious.

Breakfast was a special treat.  I had eggs benedict.  They serve it on the toasted GF bread and it was delicious.  I used to love eggs benedict but I honestly don't believe I have had it in a long time.

Lunch was a nice treat too.  We ate at the pool each day and I was able to order from the GF lunch menu from Il Terrazzo.  I had this amazing BLT with chicken, avocado and a fried egg on the GF bread with baked french fries.  It was so nice sitting at the pool and having a GF sandwich.

While we were there it was hot.  One afternoon we took the kids to the Musical Instrument Museum.  They have thousands of instruments from all over the world.  After a while the kids got bored as kids do so we took them to the interactive room.  In that room the kids got to play all sorts of instruments and they had tons of fun - the parents may have played a few instruments too.

On our last day we had breakfast and hit the pool.  The pool was fun - a water-slide for the kids, hot tubs, pools and pools and pools.  The main pool had a volleyball net, basketball net and a series of roped foam pads to walk/run across if you were agile enough.  They also just opened the padded water-fountain, water cannon play area for the kids.

After checking out we stopped for lunch before the drive home.  We ate at Nourish.  All of their dishes are GF, soy free and dairy free.  We started with the Sweet Potato and Avocado salad - it was simple and refreshing.  I then had the duck spring-rolls (but it was actually chicken).  These were very tasty.

For my entree I had the Teriyaki Wild Rice Bowl - this was delicious and my wife almost stole if from me.  The broth of coconut with ginger was a hit and it was topped with carrot, broccoli and cashews.

My daughter had the burger on a GF bun with sweet potato fries.  Its a shame they don't have a Nourish in San Diego.

Unfortunately, it was time to drive home.  We had a great time, the kids (and parents) are exhausted but relaxed.  We will definitely go back for the great service we had at The Phoenician and all of the great GF food I had in Scottsdale.

Safe Travels,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Oregon Cracker Company

I was on a fishing trip in Oregon and stopped in at the local Whole Foods.  While I was walking through the store I saw a few bags of gluten free crackers.  They were made locally in Corvalis, Oregon at a dedicated Gluten Free Facility.  I used to have a soft spot for Cheez-its so when I saw the cheddar flavored GF crackers I had to pick up a bag.

That night I was getting my gear together and opened a beer (Harvester of course) and the next thing I know the bag was empty.  I was licking my lips and craving more but that was all I had, I only bought one bag.  I told myself I would order some when I got home.

I searched online and found The Oregon Cracker Company and learned a bit about Jeff and Eric who are GF brothers-in-law.  They founded the company, and everything is made in a 100% GF Facility.

In addition to the cheddar flavor they also have a harvest bounty, garden vegetable and graham snacks.

The cheddar is made with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar (all of the Tillamook cheese and yogurt is GF) and their multigrain flour mixture.  Sorry for those dairy free people - this is not for you.  It is really good, the cheese gets stronger the more you eat.  I would love a bit more cheese but they are good and a hit with the kids.  The cracker has a nice crunch and texture and it is not brittle like some other GF crackers that fall apart.

I ordered the Graham snacks too - the kids loved them.  We'll be making mini smores soon.  They even let you know that the Graham snacks make great pie crusts.

We also ordered a bag of the Garden Vegetable and Harvest Bounty.  The Garden Veg is good and I think it would be great for a cream cheese and chive dip or with some Havarti cheese.  The Harvest Bounty is a good multigrain cracker.

I'm not sure how long the twelve bags will last.  The kids really like them.

You can buy them online if they are not carried in a store near you.  They run six bucks a bag or six bags for $30.

Eat up,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Some Gluten Free Finds

We have found some new GF products that I wanted to share with you.  It is nice that more and more options are available.  Many items are starting to taste better and better as experience grows.

1. Jovial Gluten Free Pasta

I found Jovial at my local Jimbo's Supermarket and since that time I have found it at Whole Foods.  They also make a Einkorn wheat pasta so be sure to get the GF pasta.  It is certified GF but I have an email out to them to find out if it is produced in a GF facility.  I have had it a number of times with no issues.  This has been the best GF pasta I have found.  Simple spaghetti with marinara, lasagna, pasta salad - it has found a permanent spot in our pantry.

2.  Gletenfreeda Oatmeal

I have been eating Glutenfreeda oatmeal for a while but these are new flavors for me.  Both are very good.  I really like the Cranberry.  I find these are great for taking places when I'm on the go.  Pack them for work, when you are on vacation and it is a perfect airport breakfast - all you need to find is hot water.

3.  Organicville Salsa

Salsa is pretty easy to make.  Sometimes you want to just open a jar.  We found this on vacation and since have found it at our local Whole Foods.  Organicville made a good, simple salsa.  They have a lot of great products - we use their Siracha and BBQ Sauce regularly.

4.  Applegate Meats

Applegate has many products and their meats are GF.  We like their Sunday bacon on, well, Sunday.  I like the leftover bacon for BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato panini's).  The sausages were a new find for us and they are really good.  The sweet italian is just right - the perfect amount of fennel.  The fire roasted red pepper is good with a nice kick.

5.  Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies

My daughter was selling Girl Scout Cookies this year but the GF chocolate chip shortbread cookies was not available in San Diego.  We happened to get one bag.  They are certified GF and made in a gluten free facility.

  Unfortunately, they were not very good.  The were dry, crumbly and did not have a good flavor or texture.  I like my Chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I also think for store bought K-Toos by Kinnikinnik are pretty good.

6.  Cookwell & Company

Cookwell & Company makes a really good escabeche salsa - it has a nice smokey flavor.  They have a number of GF items.  These go great with nachos.  I use the tomatillo to make chilaquiles if I don't have time to make my own salsa verde.  If you don't know what chilaquiles is you are missing out - look it up and have it for breakfast.

7.  Lotus Foods

Lotus foods makes rice and rice noodles and all of their products are GF.  I especially like these ramen with miso soup packets.  Its a quick on the go meal.  You can add an egg, vegetables, shrimp or other meat and it makes it a meal.

There you have it.  A handful and a half of GF items.  Look for them in your local store or order them online.

Until next time,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oriental Chicken Salad

I think California Pizza Kitchen is the most well known but I have seen and had this dish at many restaurants.  I was in the mood but needed to make a dressing.  I had been putting it off until I had a kitchen full of ingredients.

I had actually prepared toppings for Pho soup but messed up the broth (I used some frozen oxtail and I think it was bad.)  Anyway, I had a ton of cut up cilantro, onions and other stuff.

What to do with the toppings?  Make a really yummy salad.  Many places use cabbage for their oriental chicken salad, but the nice thing about cooking at home is you can do what you and your taste buds want.

The salad consisted of:

Shredded Carrots and Daikon radish
Thin slice yellow onions
Roasted Peanuts
Mandarin orange slices
sliced grilled chicken that I had seasoned with salt and turmeric

For the dressing combine:

4 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons of GF Hoisin Sauce (I use Premier Japan)
3 Tablespoons peanut butter (I use Earth Balance)
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar or agave nectar
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger (depends on your taste - we like ginger)
1-2 teaspoon of Siracha (I use Organicville)

Pretty easy.  I went a little heaving on the dressing, but it still tasted great.  It will give you enough dressing for about four salads.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gluten Free Recipe Knockoffs

There were two really good dishes I have had recently.  Both were good enough that I made them at home.  Both were easy to make at home.

First up roasted beet salad with micro arugula, feta cheese, hazelnut brittle and honey yogurt.  I had this appetizer at Island Prime which is one of the Cohn Restaurants in San Diego.  It is attached to C Level and you can see my blog post about their restaurant for more information.

We ate here after seeing the Grinch at the Old Globe Theater which is a great San Diego tradition if you are in town around the holidays.  The dish was delicious.

At home I roasted some red, yellow and zebra beets.  Arrange them on a plate.  Top with the brittle and micro arugula.  I found the arugula at a local farmer market.  As for the brittle, we did not have hazelnuts so I used pecans.  There are a ton of brittle recipes on the web but make sure you have a candy thermometer.  For the dressing I mixing some greek yogurt with honey until I liked the consistency.

Here it is.  It did not look as nice as their presentation but it tasted delicious.  You could easily substitute candied or even roasted nut instead of the brittle.  If you like beets your tasted buds will thank you.

Dish number 2 was a dish I had at the Harvester Gastropub.  This was a simple soup that fills the soul on a cold, wet day.

This was a hearty broth with roasted squash, escarole, red quinoa and feta cheese.  Cook red quinoa and set aside for later.  At home I made a vegetable broth.  I think it would go well with a mushroom broth but I believe they used some pork stock.  Cube the squash and roast it.  Sauté some shallots in a pot, add the broth then the escarole.  Add the roasted squash and cooked quinoa.  Ladle into a bowl and top with the cheese.

If you can get your hands on a Harvester IPA it goes great with the soup.

Enjoy and thanks to the chefs at Island Prime and Harvester Gastropub for their creations,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, February 1, 2014

SuperBowl 2014


There is not one other day where so many Americans will be parked in front of a t.v. and eat and drink and eat.  This year we are laying low and going to watch at home.  I might just spend all day in my pajamas.

In case you were wondering what to cook for you and your friends here is a short list of options.

1.  Super Easy Pulled Pork.  This is one of our regular recipes but it is great for the Super Bowl because  everyone can make a sandwich throughout the game.  You can even make pulled pork sliders by using Brazi Bites.

2.  What can serve along side the pulled pork?  Creamy Cole Slaw of course.

3.  Wings!!  You can't go wrong with Buffalo Wings.  Here is my simple recipe for the wings and sauce.

4.  Want something cheesy?  These Cheese Crisps are one of my kids favorites.  I guarantee if you make them they will disappear like a bag of potato chips and everyone will want more so keep the oven on.

5.  Dessert.  Flourless Chocolate Cake.  It couldn't be easier.

As for beer - I have one bottle left of Harvester IPA - and I'm not sharing.

Have fun, eat a lot and go Seahawks (Since my Eagles and Chargers are out I have to cheer for one team and since those Broncos beat the Chargers) Go Seahawks.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, January 27, 2014

Harvester Brewery and GastroPub

First of all - I want one.  It was so nice to go to a true GF GastroPub where you can order a flight of GF  beer and anything on the menu because it was all GF.  If they want to open one in San Diego I would in line to be an investor.

I found Harvester Beer when I first traveled to Oregon.  I have been through the GF beer train and have settled on New Planet as the closet anyone has come to making a GF beer taste like a beer.  That was until I found Harvester - their beer is incredible and I would easily serve it to non-GF friends and not feel embarrassed that they had to drink it - I'm sure many people wouldn't even notice it was GF.  Actually I'm too selfish to offer it to friends since I can't find it in San Diego yet.  Any bottles I bring home I cherish and save for special occasions.

When I heard that Harvester opened a Gastropub next to the brewery I made plans to go there on my next trip to Oregon.

This was a good sign that I was close.

I started with the beer and had a tasting of their new experimental coffee pale ale.  Super good with a coffee finish - just the right amount - not too much or too little.  If you like coffee and beer you won't be disappointed.

As for food I started with the squash soup.  Not your typical puree.  This was a hearty broth with roasted cubes of squash, escarole and red quinoa topped with feta.  It was so good I got one to go.

For my entree I had the salami sandwich with pepper-mustard relish and manchego cheese with pickled veg on the side.  It was delicious.  It went well with their IPA #2 (one of my favorites).

I got beer to go since I was there for a long weekend - a coffee pale ale, IPA #1 and IPA #2.

Unlucky for me the weather did not cooperate to allow fishing on Sunday, but this allowed me some extra time before my flight to stop in for lunch at the Gastropub.  I ordered an IPA and tried the flatbread with espelette roasted squash (so nice to have GF flatbread), the pan roasted pork chop.  For dessert I ordered the cocca nib cake with persimmon - it went well with a tasting of the coffee pale ale.

They are open Thursday to Sunday noon to 9pm and you can see their menu here.

Next time you are in Portland you would be crazy not to stop in.

Can't wait until next time,

The Un-Gluten Guy