Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Even the Good Get Glutened

Last night I had a little celebration to go to for my trainer and friend Maleia Tumulo of Urban Fitness who is off to compete in the Xterra Nationals in Utah!! I knew it would be a fairly large group of people at dinner, so I called the restaurant (k38 Baja Grill) ahead of time to discuss my needs. When I got to the restaurant, I comfortably ordered the grilled veggie fajitas with corn tortillas and began to nibble on some chips and salsa. Actually, quite a few chips and salsa. It had taken the restaurant 45 minutes to seat us even though the girl organizing the dinner had called ahead to give them a head count! After I'd eaten two fajitas I started to dig in to the vegetables sans accoutrements when I suddenly had an alarming bite of food. I tasted....SOY SAUCE. I said it out loud and several of the girls at my table dug into their veggies and exclaimed, "Soy sauce? At a Mexican restaurant?". My lovely dinner and mood were instantly killed and replaced with the dread of wondering how badly this mistake was going to make me feel this week. Stomach ache? Sinus Pain? Breakouts? Brain fog? Huge puffy eyes? When I asked my waitress if there was soy sauce in the vegetables she said yes and that she was sorry. "I guess you don't want a box for those then?" she asked. Uh, no. I sat there shocked and stressed for a moment when my friend asked why I was being so nice about it and insisted I ask for the manager, especially since I had called ahead. (So much for calling ahead in order to NOT make a scene and be a pain in the butt.)

Although the manager did his best to rectify the situation, (he seemed to be the only one seriously knowledgeable about the menu) the damage was already done. He offered to take care of my meal and send me home with another order of veggie fajitas sans gluten and disappeared into the kitchen....BUT NOT BEFORE TELLING ME THAT THE CHIPS WERE NOT GLUTEN FREE EITHER!! (Seriously? I practically ate half a basket! Did that employee I'd talked to before dinner not know anything?!) Apparently they are made with both corn and WHEAT flour. I think my husband put it best when he said, " Who makes wheat corn chips?"

The manager returned with my takeout, continued to reiterate how sorry he was, and told me next time (I can't even eat the chips and salsa, why would there be a next time?) to ask for him immediately in order to avoid confusion. He seemed genuine, but everyone at the table was upset that he seemed to be making it out to be my fault.

Lesson learned? I broke a cardinal rule in allergy friendly dining in order to not stand out at my table of friends (who were not only understanding but supportive AND insisted I say something). Even though I had called ahead I should've checked again. Always check, double check and check again with the waitress, chef, manager, (whoever) and make sure they understand and know what they are talking about. If you are still uncomfortable, leave (or if you're with your friends for a special occasion, order a cocktail and eat later....just don't drink too much on an empty stomach ;)

Until next time my gluten free friends.....

Eat, Drink and Be Gluten Free

K-38 Baja Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Allergy Free Gourmet Bakes

Shabtai Gourmet is a Gluten Free Bakery line specializing in Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Lactose Free, Casein Free, Soy Free and Peanut Free Cakes and Cookies. YES!! FREE OF ALL THOSE THINGS!!  So if you're a skeptic like me you're thinking "how in the world could this stuff be good, when it has nothing in it?". Oh but it is my friends, it is. My first experience with Shabtai Gourmet products was at my Gluten-Free Friends group where I tried the Black & White cookie, a cookie so good it won top honors in my Who Stole the Gluten-Free Cookie from the Cookie Jar review. But there were still so many other delicious snacks to try and when my shipment came I thought, how in the world am I going to be able to eat all this. I must admit, it took some time (I haven't updated my blog since February!), sharing and dinner parties to get through the five different items I had stuffed in my freezer (much to my husband's dismay). Hopefully it was worth the wait.

First up the Raspberry Roll. When I first looked at it I thought, this is not something I would like the regular glutenous version of... but looks are deceiving. I served it to guests after dinner WITHOUT telling them that it was gluten free. My one friend, a man with an unbelievably big sweet tooth who mercilessly teases me about my gluten free-ness, devoured it in seconds exclaiming how delicious the combination of yellow cake, raspberry jam and coconut was. "Did you make this?" he asked with raised eyebrows. "Of course.....not. I don't bake, don't be ridiculous." I replied. When I told him it was gluten-free he demanded to see the box and when I showed it to him, he was shocked.  So I tried a slice and it was crazy good! I couldn't believe I liked it. But what did your mama always teach you? Never judge a book by it's cover.

Next up were the Ring Tings. A completely decadent version of the classic Ding Dong and equally delicious. My husband looked at it precariously when I first served it to him, then asked me every night afterwards if I'd thawed some out for dessert. They disappeared quickly as did their swiss roll, think Little Debbie, counterparts and mostly by his hand (much to MY dismay).

Then I tried the chocolate chip cookies. I hate to be a downer, but these definitely were not my favorite gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookies. There was far too much spice to them with an overwhelming cinnamon flavor, teeny tiny chocolate chips and a texture that just didn't do it for me.

But have no fear for I have saved the best for last:  The Florentine Lace Cookies. I CANNOT believe someone actually makes a gluten-free dairy-free version of this wonderful cookie and was just beside myself to once again eat them. They were AMAZING and hard to put down (remember gluten-free dairy-free does NOT mean calorie free my friends).
Again there was a little more cinnamon then I'd actually prefer but overall
a dang good cookie.

I, and I'm sure you, am so grateful for a company like this that creates delicious allergen free products. Check them out in the freezer section of your local health food store or co-op.

Until Next Time,

Eat Shabtai Gourmet, Drink and Be Gluten-Free

Disclosure: Although Shabtai Gourmet provided these treats at no cost to me, this product review was posted at my discretion and without bias. This review reflects my honest opinion.