Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Enjoying a baseball game, gluten free!

Last summer, my husband and I went to Oldtimer's Day at the old Yankee Stadium with both of our fathers. Now, the four of us have gone in the past (pre celiac diagnosis) and while our wallets may not have been happy, we could always find good food. I never actually bought sushi there, but I was impressed to see that it was offered. The men always stuck with hot dogs and Bud Lite, while I was all about the frozen Minute Maid lemonades. Well, OK, and Bud Lite. :-) There's nothing better at a hot baseball game! 

Last year was the first baseball game we'd attended after going gluten free. Obviously hot dogs and beer were off the proverbial plate -- that's gluten central! I researched online and found that we could bring in sandwiches, etc. provided they were in clear plastic bags and we had no glass bottles or other contraband - still, it would be a pain in the butt for a lousy, soggy-by-the-time-we-ate-it sandwich. No, thanks. So - we decided to bring football fan culture to baseball and tailgate before the game. 

We loaded up my father-in-law's SUV with a small grill and a cooler filled with hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese and crackers, chips, and beer (yes, with gluten free buns and alcohol) and had a parking lot BBQ. It was great and I would definitely do it again, provided Yankee tickets at the new stadium were priced reasonably and we could have afforded tickets this year (Sorry, I'm not going to pay in the 4 digits for 2 tickets!)

Anyway, now gluten free people have an option - the Phillies are not only hosting a Celiac awareness night on July 20th but are also offering gluten free hot dog buns in certain sections of the Citizens Bank Park stadium. 

Now, Yankee Stadium needs to offer gluten free stuff as well! (Attn Steinbrenner: Bard's beer). ;-) 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Whole Foods Dinner - Corn Tortilla Tacos

Last night, we had our first meal from the stock of goodies we brought back from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We picked up some organic corn tortillas from Whole Foods and some free-range, hormone-and-antibiotic-free ground beef from Trader Joe's. Combined with an on-hand assortment of taco sauce, shredded monterey jack and cheddar cheese, lettuce, and some jalapenos, we had taco night!

The taco shells were on the small size - about the same size as the Mission corn tortillas you can buy in the store. It's too bad that they aren't readily available in larger sizes, for burritos.

The package instructions were pretty standard; for best results heat the tortilla in a saucepan until it's thoroughly heated, and then serve. There's a fine line between cooking these tortillas perfectly and making them a wee bit too crunchy, so be careful - but when you get it right, they're 10x better than Mission tortillas. Yum! My husband, who's an absolute genius when it comes to incorporating extra cheese into a meal, melted cheddar and monterey jack on his tortillas for a melty, crunchy effect that worked pretty well.

Also - the beef that we bought really made a big difference. I don't know if it's a psychological effect of reading The Omnivore's Dilemma or not, but locally grown, non-feedlot beef just tastes so much better to me! (Though, I guess it's a bit of a stretch to call beef purchased in Hadley, MA locally grown to Albany NY, but at least we didn't do much driving out of our way to acquire the beef).

Overall: Yum!

Massachusetts Trip - Part 2

This post continues from my previous post. To read the original post, click here.

Our second day in the Cape was pretty rainy, and definitely not a day for the beach, mini golf, or any of the other outdoor activities Cape Cod is known for. What were two computer geeks to do but Google what to do in Cape Cod when it rains!? We came across this pretty interesting site, and decided on the ZooQuarium in West Yarmouth and the Maritime Museum in Hyannis. (Note: The ZooQuarium is worth checking out, especially if you have kids, but save your money and don't bother with the Maritime Museum.)

In between those events, we decided we'd grab a nice fried fish lunch. Fried, you ask? And gluten free? In Cape Cod? Heck yeah! I'd Googled around a bit and found the Chatham Fish and Lobster Co. with locations in Dennisport and Chatham. Now, two things:
  1. We made the mistake of assuming both locations had the restaurant. Not the case - the Dennisport location is only a fish market, and in order to get the gluten free fish fry you have to go to the Chatham location.

  2. It's SO worth the drive. Repeat: It's SO worth the drive.
We get there -admittedly a little cranky after making the Dennisport mistake - and finally find their Marine Cuisine restaurant/fish market. We walk in - the fresh fish market was to the right, and the restaurant was in the middle part of the building. They had a counter with all sorts of goodies - desserts, prepared foods, etc. They did all the frying and cooking behind the counter, and they had coolers and shelves all over the place where they sold different cooking ingredients - everything from sushi ingredients to batters and coatings to breads and desserts to go.

We picked up one of the menus on the counter, and asked about a gluten free menu. Their answer: anything fried. Their traditional fry batter is gluten free, so there are no worries about cross-contamination, etc. Not only that, but they have a gluten free baker on premises, so offered gluten free desserts (displayed in their dessert window but carefully packed in plastic containers to avoid cross-contamination), sold gluten free bread and rolls in their freezer case, and sell some gluten free products right in their store. Score! My husband ordered a fried fish sandwich (on a gluten free bun, $2 extra, but who cares!?) that came with potato chips and a pickle. I ordered a platter of fried whole-belly clams that came with fries, onion rings and coleslaw. EVERYTHING was safe - I could barely finish a third of my meal, it was so huge, so my hubby helped me finish and tried a little bit of everything. It was amazing - you wouldn't even know that the coating on the clams was gluten free.

After gorging ourselves on fried food, we decided to pick up some desserts to go. I picked up a non-gluten free chocolate concoction (what, my husband hates/can't eat chocolate, so he wouldn't be tempted) and my husband picked up a gluten free coconut layer cake. I also picked up a box of gluten free batter mix that I can't wait to try!

Overalll - a very nice lunch. I also want to point out that everyone there was super nice and accomodating - they didn't even blink an eye and hooked us up with ice for our cooler (so our desserts wouldn't go bad), etc.

Stuffed, we went back to Hyannis and walked around downtown for a bit, before happening upon Spanky's Clam Shack for a late dinner. We sat on the patio - it was a little slow, but great atmosphere and very strong drinks! We gorged ourselves on boiled lobster and steamers, with boiled red bliss potato and corn on the cob. I think I gained twenty pounds just writing the blog entry about all this food!

The next day, we spent the majority of the day at the beach with food we'd brought from home. Still, it was our last night so we'd decided to go out to one more nice restaurant. I would have liked to check out Salty's, but they didn't have any gluten free starch options - they only offered french fries or rice pilaf, neither of which was gluten free. The girl I talked to on the phone was nice, but I've never heard of a seafood place that doesn't serve baked potato! So instead we ended up at the Black Cat in Hyannis. They had good drinks, live entertainment, and a pretty big menu. My husband ordered a grilled swordfish steak (everything was gluten free on it) and I ordered shrimp. It was a great way to end our trip!

Finally, the last morning before we left for Albany (with a pit stop in Hadley for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's) we ate omelettes for breakfast at the Hearth and Kettle. We checked with the waitress and ordered omelettes and home fries - obviously the toast was not safe, but they offered a fruit cup instead to accommodate for it which was very nice.

Some final notes:
  • My husband and I were very impressed with how knowledgeable everyone seemed to be regarding gluten. We got pretty lucky with waitresses, because everyone we asked about gluten ingredients rattled off the ingredients in various sauces or said "oh, all our salads are safe except obviously for bleu cheese" that sort of thing. It made us feel very comfortable dining out - and we can't complain about the quality of seafood we enjoyed!
  • We visited Craigsville Beach in Hyannis. Everything we'd read about the beach said it drew a younger crowd, so we figured it would be good place to go. Well, the beach is gorgeous and we had a good time, but we found out that pushing 30 is no longer considered "a younder crowd!"
  • The Mid Cape area has both a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods. If we do another weekend at the Cape, we'll stop there first on the way to the beach and pick up lunch foods to stash in the cooler - they looked a lot more appetizing than the stuff we brought from home!
  • We had a great time, and my husband didn't get glutened once! :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Massachusetts Trip - Part 1

Last week my husband and I spent a long weekend in Cape Cod.

On our way to the Cape, we visited the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets -- it's probably pretty safe to say that my husband didn't enjoy spending the afternoon shopping as much as I did, but we spent a great afternoon going to outlet stores including Barney's and Saks Off Fifth. For the information of gluten free shopping enthusiasts, there's an Uno's right outside the outlet village as well! (Incidentally - going shopping with my hubby, I found it beneficial to show my husband the prices in the Burberry outlet before taking him to see the purses in the Coach outlet). ;-)

We stayed in Mid Cape (West Yarmouth). We got there right around dinnertime and checked into the Howard Johnson in West Yarmouth. It was a little small, but the price was right, it was clean, and they offered refrigerators and an indoor pool. I'd recommend it for an inexpensive weekend on the Cape. :-) While they advertised a contintental breakfast, we brought a box of Honey Nut Chex and bought a quart of milk at a local store. That turned out to be a good decision, because there would have been no gluten free options at their continental breakfast - not that we expected any. :-)

Tired and hungry, our first stop for dinner was BZ's Mexican Pizzeria. I'd seen them online, and they offered gluten free pizza with shells from the Good JuJu Bakery. It was pretty easy to find in Dennisport. When we got to the restaurant we were a little nervous at first based on the exterior of the building -- but when we got in and ordered a RedBridge beer and one of the best strawberry margaritas I'd had in a long while, we felt a little bit better about our prospects. They offer gluten free pizzas with most toppings available - eggplant, buffalo chicken, etc. were off limits obviously because they contain flour, but everything else is fair game. My husband ordered a small gluten free pizza (12") with pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese. The crust was very thin, and so good that I couldn't distinguish it from "regular" pizza. In fact, my husband was nervous at first -- it was so good that he thought it contained gluten! The price was pretty good as well - the small pizza was $12 plus extra for toppings (a large gluten free pizza runs $20). I went off the "gluten free wagon" and ordered Mexican -- I regretted it though because the pizza was much better! Our entire meal plus drinks ran to about $40, not too shabby!

More tomorrow on the rest of our dining experiences!