Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

I’ve read a lot about Domino’s Pizza not being suitable for a gluten-free diet, and I have to say I breezed right through their website’s disclaimer and took the chance – with mixed results.

First and foremost, I didn’t get glutened by the pizza.  I ordered the hearty marinara sauce, sausage and pineapple, and I ate the whole thing in one sitting, so obviously it wasn’t terrible.

But there was a lingering stickiness to the crust as I chewed it that I can only assume came from the xanthan gum or guar gum used to replace the gluten. It was off-putting, for sure, but again, it didn’t stop me from eating the whole pizza at once.

I do wish the pizza chain would consider making a larger  version of the pizza so that my boyfriend and I can share without having to order three pizzas. I will say I was happy with the price tag, given that it cost less with the toppings than most plain gluten-free pizzas in my area.

I’ll order it again, but I’m not sure I would give it this blog’s seal of approval. For one thing, it’s definitely taking a risk to order a GF pizza from a fast-food pizza chain that may not be concerned with cross contamination. For another, that pasty, gummy consistency of the crust is hard to get past.

Let me know what you think!

-Taylor

Domino’s Pizza announced today it would be rolling out gluten free pizzas available for delivery starting, well, today. The latest restaurant chain to join the gluten-free circus drew a lot of buzz today simply because it’s providing many people with something they thought they may never have again: Pizza. Delivered.

Here in Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, I’m fortunate enough to live within two miles of a local pizza restaurant that delivers freshly made gluten-free pizza with all the toppings. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited to hear that a major pizza chain was getting on board as well.

I already tried to order the pizza, and noted a few things. The online ordering service does warn you that the pizza is made in an almost certainly contaminated kitchen. And the pizza only comes in a small size. I’d also be interested in finding out where the crusts are made and what the key gluten substitute is.

Still, my curiosity is peaked, and I will be trying the pizza and reporting back later this week.

All Can Eat Bakery

Nothing in the above display-case contains gluten. All Can Eat Bakery, located at 937 Main St. in Randolph, Mass., is worth the trip from anywhere in the Boston area. I’ll tell you why in a second.

In November, I took a job in Mass. and moved to a city just to the northwest of Boston that happens to be the home of at least two large bread factories. On any given night, driving through the city can make you feel like you’re standing in the kitchen of one of Boston’s famous Italian bakeries. Pretty ironic for someone who can’t eat bread.

But I ventured into one of the wholesale outlets of these factories one day, just to see if they had any specialties of the gluten-free variety. They did not–at least nothing beyond the gratuitous refrigerator of Rudi’s and Udi’s bread I could find anywhere else. But one of the bakers was kind enough to give me a tip – about 20 minutes south of Boston sat a bakery built for me–or rather, for the Autistic children attending a special school down the street–but for me and people like me as well.

All Can Eat is 100 percent gluten-free, and often dairy-free as well. When we arrived, I was overwhelmed at the display case, full of odd favorites of mine – lemon squares, oatmeal raisin cookies – that I hadn’t yet found a good substitute for. They also sold frozen pizza crusts, a plethora of cookies, cupcakes and pastries, as well as a full menu of gluten-free items made to order.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich, which may seem like an odd choice, but sometimes it’s the simplest things we miss ordering the most. It was delicious. I also took home a lemon square, a black and white cookie, two pizza crusts, seasoned bread crumbs, and a promise to return.

Everything was delicious and very reasonably priced, but just the feeling of being in a place where everything is up for grabs is worth the trip. I guarantee you’ll find something you didn’t even know you missed.

-Taylor

8/27/2012 Update: I am sad to report that I tried to visit this wonderful bakery again last weekend, only to find that it had gone out of business. This post offers some insight, but doesn’t soften the blow.

Boy do I have a lot to catch up on. Moving to Boston in November opened a whole new world of gluten-free goodness for me, and I look forward to sharing with you what I have found. Stay tuned.

Dear Readers,

I feel I may owe you an apology, as I may have led you down the wrong path concerning gluten-free food at California Pizza Kitchen. I wrote a couple months ago an entry about my pleasant back-to-back experiences eating gluten-free at a West Palm Beach California Pizza Kitchen. Well apparently my experience was a lucky one, as many people have been sickened due to cross contamination at the chain restaurant all over the country; so much so that CPK has pulled the gluten-free crust from its menu.

The last thing I ever want to do is make anyone sick over a recommendation I gave on this blog, and I hope this post will right that wrong. The staff at the location at which I dined seemed very knowledgeable, but I now know that to have been an anomaly.

A Celiac.com article alerted me of CPK’s lack of training for its chefs and workers on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, writing:

…The company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

We can only hope.

Happy reading and pleasant eating,

-Taylor

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

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Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!

 

-Taylor

Last week  I spent 8 hours in Atlanta, Georgia (and 10 on the road), and man did I make the most of it.  I had heard about a burger joint called Yeah! Burger from a snippet in another blog, and I didn’t even give my travel companions a choice: we were going.

Yeah Burger! offers two things I really thought I would never order at a restaurant again: a hamburger with a bun and, wait for it…

Onion Rings.

Both gluten-free.

Here’s a quick break down of this gluten-free diner’s dream:

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  • Yeah! Burger has two locations in Atlanta, one in the Virginia Highlands area and one on the west side. We hit up the west side, which was in a gentrified area just outside downtown.  It was packed with young urban professionals.
  • All of the meat (you have your choice of beef, bison, chicken, turkey, or veggie) is all-natural or grass-fed.
  • The fries are homemade and hand cut. And even the fifty-fifty (half fries, half onion-rings) is available gluten-free
  • The buns are locally made, and provide that old burger-eating experience you remember, without taking away any of the taste. It’s nothing special, but it’s a good bun.
  • The GF onion rings seem to be made primarily with rice flour, as the breading tended to dissolve in my mouth rather quickly.  Again, not out-of-this-world, but more than satisfactory.
  • The place is a little pricey, but think about what you’re getting. It’s gourmet food with the feel of a down-home burger joint.
  • They also have a full bar.

Here’s the disclaimer from the menu:

Our gluten-free buns are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and are toasted in a dedicated toaster. Our gluten-free fries, onion rings and wedges are made in a separate, dedicated fryer to maintain purity. Our gluten-free onion rings are made with gluten-free flour. Please note, however, that trace amounts of gluten may exist due to the proximity of the dedicated fryer to our other fryers. If you have severe reactions to trace amounts of gluten, we recommend you skip the fries, onion rings and wedges.

All I know is the staff was highly educated on all things gluten-free, and I didn’t  feel one bit glutened.

Now I just wish I didn’t have to drive five hours to eat there.

-Taylor

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