Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

The Best Date I Ever Had: Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Cherrywood Smoked Bacon

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The love affair with these dates started on a beautiful seasonably warm day while overlooking the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

On a whim, I decided to check out a tappas bar, La Tasca. Their menu was extensive, the staff knowledgeable on some of their gluten-free options, and the views perfect… so it was a clear-cut choice of where to dine. (Oh, did I forget to mention that the sangria selection is to die for too? Loved their Sangria Blanca, a crisp white wine served with sliced peaches, whole cinnamon sticks and peach schnapps… delicious!)

But the best part of this tappas visit was the date. No not the date I was with, but the Datiles con Tocino, a skewered and grilled bacon-wrapped date that is stuffed with blue cheese. A date to die for.

Eating each bite, I was planning to recreate this dish in my own kitchen.

And just this week, I created this dish perfectly. I nailed it. Right down to the slightly caramelized fig, applewood smoked bacon and the tart blue cheese – that quietly takes on a mild entrance after being melted and mated with the sugary figs and salty bacon.

The best part about this quick and easy appetizer recipe is that it only consists of three ingredients and is super simple to make. Look for the figs in the produce department of your supermarkets. Also, the Point Reyes Blue Cheese is gluten-free; along with the Jones Cherrywood Smoked Bacon (which I could write a whole blog post alone just on this bacon because I LOVE it so much).

Following is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I and all of my family and friends do too.


Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Cherrywood Smoked Bacon

12-16 fresh dates (I used Madjool dates, but any type of large sweet date will work well)
3-6 ounces blue cheese (I use Point Reyes brand)
6-8 slices of Jone’s Cherrywood Smoked Bacon


Slice each dates in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Wing open each date, and stuff with a good sized piece of the blue cheese. After stuffing “close” each date.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap a  ½ slice of  bacon around each of the stuffed dates. Secure with a toothpick.

On a gas grill over medium heat, or under a broiler, cook the wrapped and stuffed dates until the bacon is crispy, but not overdone, and the blue cheese is starting to melt.

Serve immediately.

Vic’s Gluten-Free Bagel Bar: A celiac’s dream come true

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Imagine going into a bagel shop, being able to get a fresh-baked gluten-free bagel and then selecting your cream cheese along with gluten-free “add-ins” (think Cold Stone Creamery style) to make the bagel exclusively your own.

Add-ins that would pack a flavorful punch like basil, bbq sauce, wasabi, roasted red peppers, and cilantro; or add-ins that are fresh and healthy such as carrots, red onions, cucumber, raisins, broccoli, corn and chickpeas; or even add-ins that are on the indulgent side, including sprinkles, chocolate chips and potato chips?

This is not a dream my friends. This is Vic’s Bagel Bar in NYC.

Vic Glazer, the owner of this Bagel Shop (aka: my gluten-free idea of heaven) was diagnosed with celiac disease six months after opening his bagel shop.

But instead of throwing in the towel with the bagel holes and calling it quits, this Harvard pre-med student is no dumbie. He decided to switch grains and developed a gluten-free bagel mix that could only add to his repertoire of customers.

Customers like me that really, really, really appreciate every single gluten-free bagel he bakes.

After stumbling across his website searching for the newest and greatest in the gluten-free culinary world, I am seriously thinking about a Vic-Trip. Yes, a trip to NYC to meet this ingenious gluten-free bagel maker. I seriously think it will be worth the trip.

Until then, I’ll be dreaming up my gluten-free bagel topping combos.

Note: Please feel free to comment and share if there is a bagel shops near you that offers gluten-free bagels and add-ins like Vic’s Bagel Bar!

BYOC: Bring Your Own Cone – My Gluten-Free Ice Cream at Dairy Queen

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Summer is here my friends and it’s time for the lazy, hazy and crazy days of summer. And what would summer be without ice cream?

But those of us on a gluten-free diet understand that ice cream in a boring little cup is, well…. just that…boring. There’s something to be said for ice cream that is licked, slurped and thoroughly enjoyed from a good old fashioned ice cream cone. Cups just can’t stand up to a cone.

That is why I bought my own gluten-free ice cream cones on and bring my own cone to my local Dairy Queen for a soft-serve treat that is so very, very, very much appreciated by this ice-cream-loving-gluten-free gal.

For those of you who weren’t aware, Dairy Queen soft-serve ice cream is gluten-free and they also have an extensive list of gluten-free treats. Note: If ordering a Blizzard make sure they know ahead of time you’re gluten-free so they can clean the equipment  to avoid any cross-contamination.

By now I’m sure my local Dairy Queen employees knows me as “the girl that brings her own gluten-free ice cream cone”. But to me I’m just one happy gluten-free gal… taking life one single lick at a time.

A Bully Chef that Needs a Lesson Learned: Chef Damian Cardone

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

All across the internet, facebook and twitter today were posts, tweets and blogs regarding a chef in Colorado who, on his public profile on facebook, ranted & bragged under a picture of a slice of cake, that he purposely served high gluten pasta to patrons that asked specifically for gluten-free pasta.

Here is an excerpt of the tag under the facebook public picture on his profile:

“Gluten-free is bull*%#@! Flour and bread have been a staple of life for thousands, and THOUSAND, of years. People who claim to be gluten-intolorent dont realize it’s all in their disturbed little heads. People ask me for gluten-free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, then I serve em our pasta, Which I made from scratch with high gluten flour. And you know what? Nothing. NOTHING! ever happens! People leave talking about how good they feel gluten free and guess what, They just had a full dose! Idiots!”

Here is the “snapshot” of that comment noted above, as well as more posts made by Damian Cardone where he continues to rant that chefs love to use people as, “experimental test subjects”.

Talk about a “Kitchen Nightmare”.

After reading these posts, I was doing the ranting and raving. How DARE… HOW DARE someone purposely, intentionally prepare and then serve someone gluten? Who is this man to think he has the right to “decide” if someone is on a gluten-free diet for medical reasons or not?  Even if he was joking…this is NOT funny. Does he do the same for patrons that have a dairy-intolerance? Nut-allergies? Soy-allergies?

This guy is a bully. Any way you look at it, any way you slice it a BIG FAT  B-U-L-L-Y.

But what this Bully Chef didn’t realize it that he was picking on the wrongs peeps. We gluten-free folk are of a tough stock. We also like to chat. And we like to share. And we like to spread the word… about the good and the bad.

As expected, the gluten-free on-line community was abuzz. Tweets… facebook posts… and blogs were popping up everywhere regarding this chef.

And at last look, Damian Cardone had taken down his facebook page. He’s probably hiding somewhere under one of his high-gluten flour sacks… shaking in his hopefully soon to be taken away chefs coat.

Domino’s Pizza Goes Gluten Free?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Am I the only celiac that transfixes on the television every time a Domino’s Pizza commercial flashes across the screen? The cheese, the sauce, the toppings… and that crust.

Ode to the days of ordering a gooey & cheesy Domino’s Pizza that is delivered to your doorstep.

Well, fret no more gluten-free friends…It looks as if Domino’s Pizza has come out with 13 gluten-free pizza varieties. Although at this time these gluten-free pizza’s are currently only offered in New Zealand market, celiacs everywhere have to hope that Domino’s Pizza is taking a step in the right direction and will roll out the gluten-free pizza’s across the globe soon.

According to a press release Domino’s reports, “… After months of development and testing we have found a gluten free base which tastes great. The Thin’n’Crispy style base means gluten free customers can now enjoy take away pizza and with more than 13 regular menu pizzas made with gluten free ingredients plus the option to design their own, they have the freedom and control of enjoying pizza without the worry.”

When I find out more about the Domino’s gluten-free pizza availability, as well as any preparation / cross-contamination pre-cautions, I will update this blog posting.

Oh, and one more thing… does anyone know if Domino’s Pizza will deliver to North America from New Zealand?

Ask Shelley Case: Eating Out – Resources & Tips

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Question: I just got diagnosed with celiac disease and my two children also have food allergies. Can you give me any tips on eating out safely… and easily?

Answer: Eating out can be a real challenge, especially when you are first learning about the gluten-free diet, so I recommend mastering the basics of the diet before venturing out to eat in restaurants. But once you’re ready to eat, there are a growing number of restaurants that are gluten-free (GF) friendly. Many have a GF menu or they’re willing to make adaptations and substitutions in order to meet the needs of the GF customer. Also it’s exciting to see initiatives like the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) from the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) that includes educational and training materials for restaurants and their staff. Once they meet specific criteria they are listed on the GFRAP website so that individuals can search participating restaurants in North America by restaurant name or city and type of cuisine. Check out

There are many other great resources to help you eat out and travel safely:

1. The Celiac Scene™ features a free database and downloadable maps of restaurants that locals with celiac disease trust in cities across the USA and Canada. Owned and updated by an individual with celiac disease. Many restaurants bear the special symbol of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program.

2. is another free online global directory of over 6000 GF listings of restaurants, bakeries, hotels, resorts, spas, cruises and more. Recommendations are submitted by individuals with celiac disease or others following a GFD, as well as individual GF eating establishments.

3. has a variety of resources on safe GF travel and dining. One is a great book called Let’s Eat Out with Celiac and Food Allergies that provides practical information on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants. It includes 7 international cuisines with hundreds of menus items showcasing common ingredients, hidden allergens and food preparation techniques used by chefs and restaurants. In addition they have cuisine specific pocket size guides that include sample menus, menu dish descriptions, preparation techniques, quick reference guides and questions to ask to ensure safe meals. Another handy resource is the multi-lingual phrase pocket guide that has over 1200 translations from English to French, Spanish, German and Italian. The phrases include dining requests, ingredients, specific preparation requests, sample menus and over 300 health phrases in 4 languages. They have also just released new iPhone/iPod touch applications for some of their resources.

Listen to my podcast (scroll down to podcast #3) with Kim Koeller, co-author of “Let’s Eat Out: Your Passport to Living Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free.” It features an informative discussion on Kim’s newly released revised edition on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants around the world and tips to eat out safely.

4. Triumph Dining has an Essential GF Restaurant Guide that features over 5000 restaurants across the US listed in a state by state directory and every listing is verified and updated each year by an individual with celiac disease. And the Guide has 80 GF lists from various chain restaurants. Triumph Dining also has laminated wallet sized dining cards for 10 different cuisines. One side of the card is in English and the other side in the foreign language.

5. Bob and Ruth’s Gluten-Free Dining and Travel Club is a company specializing in assisting individuals on a GFD. They offer escorted GF getaways to resorts, on cruises and tours of exotic places all over the world. All the arrangements are taken care of and you can eat safely in these various locations with fellow gluten-free travelers while enjoying a wonderful vacation. My husband and I booked a one week trip with Bob and Ruth a few years ago to the Caribbean. We stayed at the Club Med and not only was the food fantastic and safe, but we met so many nice people.


Here are a few tips for a safe and successful dining experience for those with celiac disease, as well as any intolerance or dietary restriction:

1. Call the restaurant the day before or earlier in the day and ask to speak to the chef or manager to discuss meal options. They can often substitute other ingredients or create an alternative menu or menu item.

2. If possible try to avoid peak meal times. Dining early or late will allow more time and easier access to the staff that can answer questions and usually accommodate special needs.

3. Explain your dietary restrictions briefly. The terms celiac disease is still often unfamiliar to many to those in the food service industry. So I often find it easier to explain that you have a serious food allergy and will get very sick if your order is not handled properly. Indicate that you must not have any  foods or ingredients containing gluten which means no items made with wheat flour, breading, croutons, etc. It often helps to ask to speak to the manager or chef to make sure the order gets placed properly and prepared safely.

4. No matter whether the restaurant has a special GF menu or some GF items on the menu, it is still essential to ask specific questions. You need to inquire about cooking methods, specific ingredients that are in the item and how it is served.

5. Request that your food be prepared on a clean grill or in a clean pan. If this is a problem, suggest cooking it on clean aluminum foil.

6. When they bring your meal make sure you ask again if this is the special meal and were your instructions followed.

7. Don’t forget to thank the server, chef and manager. Leave a generous tip for good service and patronize the restaurant again.

Tips adapted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case and Restaurant Dining by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

The British Beer Company: Out-of-this-World Gluten-free Food with a Right-at-Home Atmosphere!

Monday, July 27th, 2009

When a friend told me that our local British Beer Company (BBC) pub had recently come out with a gluten-free menu, I was hesitant to say the least. When I think of British food the thoughts of gluten-ridden dishes such as fish and chips, pasty pies, Yorkshire pudding and Ploughman’s lunches come to mind, polished off with a mug full of frosty off-limits beer.

However,  I was thrilled when I checked out the British Beer Company’s website and found a downright extensive, packed to the hilt, full-fledged gluten-free menu. BBC’s gluten free menu currently offers six (6) appetizers, including Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms and homemade hummus; Ten (yes 10!) entrée tantalizing salads such as Wensleydale Chicken & Pear Salad topped with cheese, peas, caramelized walnuts, dried cranberries and fresh veggies; Three (3) types of gluten-free wrap sandwiches (Yes… sandwiches!); several entrees and burgers; as well as over a dozen pizzas made with gluten-free dough!

I quickly made plans with my friends and headed over to the BBC. It was phenomenal! My first visit I had the Philly Cheese Steak Pizza, and it was … heaven! The 12” crust was perfect (chewy on the inside and with a lightly crunchy crust) and the toppings plentiful and gooey. This pizza is an absolute must-have for anyone that is gluten-free and having “real pizza” withdrawals. I can’t wait to try more of these pizzas – they were that good!

After my first visit I immediately made plans to return a second time. This visit I ordered up the Prime Rib Wrap. The consensus: The gluten-free wrap had just the right softness, not stiff and breaking apart, even while being jam-packed with the tenderest beef, lathered with horseradish sauce, and topped with lettuce and tomatoes. I requested the Cheddar Mashed Potatoes as my side, and they, along with the crispy half-sour pickle were awesome too. I also met the restaurant manager during this visit, when he came to our table after my gluten-free meal was served to make sure everything was perfect – which it absolutely was.

Although the gluten-free food at the BBC is out of this world – the atmosphere and décor of the BBC made me feel right at home. Its corner pub familiarity made it a comfortable and welcoming place to be. Although the BBC is technically a small restaurant chain (which was founded in 1997 and currently has 8 locations – with two more to follow soon) this pub could have been located on the backstreets of London with its one-of-a-kind antique fireplace and superbly hand-crafted in London mahogany bar.  

And the gluten-free beer? Take your pick from two selections – the St. Peter’s Sorghum Beer, which comes in a full 1-pint bottle, containing no wheat or barley and brewed in the UK or the crisp and fresh New Grist Beer made from sorghum and rice extract.

I happily ordered my gluten-free beer and when it arrived, I lifted my mug high, smiled, and toasted the BBC for a job well done!


USA: The Home of the Free – But not at Mickey Dee’s?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

What’s more American than a cheeseburger from McDonalds? For me and the million of other Americans suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance we would say a cheeseburger on a gluten free roll from McDonalds.

Impossible you may say. McDonald’s could never get the recipe right or the training perfected to correctly offer a gluten-free roll on their menu.


McDonalds is already offering a gluten-free hamburger bun and many, many other gluten-free options in Sweden.

Anna, a gluten-free blogger from Germany, has experienced firsthand the convenience of walking into a McDonald’s in Stockholm while on business and grabbing a cheeseburger on a gluten-free roll. Ahhhh – The luxury.

McDonald’s USA website describes “New Burgers” that offer, “Fresh toppings that are new for McDonald’s, like sautéed mushrooms, red onion slices, crinkle cut pickles and thick tomato slices all served between a perfectly toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll”.

This Fourth of July holiday week, I say we should all practice our right to speak our opinion. Let’s contact McDonald’s and ask them to carry the gluten-free rolls in the states.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the description of McDonald’s new products changed to, “… bakery-style traditional or gluten-free perfectly toasted roll”? 

I’m Lovin’ It!



Uno Chicago Grill Partners with American Celiac Disease Alliance to Raise $$

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

If you haven’t tried the new gluten-free pizza yet at Uno Chicago Grill, here is a good reason to check it out…  From May 25 through 31 Uno is hosting a Dough Rai$er to benefit the American Celiac Disease Alliance!

If you are interested in participating in this Dough Rai$er, go to and secure a voucher that you can bring to your local Uno location. 20% (yes folks – TWENTY PERCENT!) of sales generated from those who participate will support the ACDA cause!

Another good reason to make a stop at Uno is the debut of their new Veggie Gluten-free Pizza, which now complements the Gluten-Free Cheese and the Pepperoni Pizza offered.

I love the Unos pizza, and thank them for being so pro-active in the celiac community!  Three Cheers for Uno Chicago Grill!

Cold Stone Creamery: FREE “Like It” Size Ice Cream / Gluten & Allergen Free Listing

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Now here’s something to scream about!

On Sunday, May 10 from noon until 10 PM, my local Cold Stone Creamery will be offering a FREE “Like It” size ice cream (with one mix-in) to all Moms when they visit with their child!

Please note that all stores are not participating in this promotion! So look up your local store by using the Cold Stone Creamery location finder, and call your local store to find out if they are participating in this FREE Ice Cream offer for Mom’s!  

What I like best about Cold Stone Creamery is that they are aware of gluten and food allergies. Check out the chart on their website listing allergens.

Also, if you opt for the mix-ins – It is smart to ask that your ice cream is mixed with CLEAN Spades, and have it mixed in a clean plastic bowl rather than on the mixing stone. For severe allergies, ask to have your ice cream scooped from new ice cream tubs from the back freezer.

Does anyone else know of any good ice cream stores that are aware of allergens in their products? If so, let us know by responding to this post!

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