Category Archives: Gastronomy

Fine dining, cuisine, food, cooking, hunger, nutrition

Near Riot

I was just down at the Whole Foods Market in Walnut Creek. It was an interesting scene. Several people were talking to the person who had been updating stock in the beer case. One looked visibly angry, another looked exasperated. What were they asking about?

Gluten-free beer. Specifically, Redbridge. They were all out of Redbridge, and these people were thirsty apparently. The store employee was saying that they hadn’t had any in stock for some time, and even Anheuser-Busch was out so no new deliveries had been coming in.

My god, can you imagine having a business where multiple people show up at the store to get your product and having people get upset when it is unavailable? Probably the limiting factor here is availability of sorghum malt. These guys could probably sell all the beer that they wanted to, if only they could meet demand.

What was also interesting during the trip was the number of people actively seeking out gluten-free products. There were people inspecting the GF breads, the GF pies, the frozen section which was overly-stocked with GF waffles. This time last year, I felt like I was the only person buying this stuff. Now it seems people are walking out with cartloads of the stuff. Is this a business opportunity?

Saving the world, one beer at a time

I think if we all band together, we can realize our dream of world peace through beer:

Beer: the energy drink for bacteria – Los Angeles Times

Scientists and an Australian beer maker are teaming up to generate energy from brewery wastewater and bacteria.

The University of Queensland was given a $115,000 grant to install the experimental microbial fuel cell at a Foster’s Group brewery near Brisbane.

The fuel cell is a battery in which bacteria consume water-soluble brewing waste such as sugar, starch and alcohol. The battery produces electricity and clean water, said Jurg Keller, the university’s wastewater expert.

Va de Vi

I judge a restaurant based on a) how much I enjoyed my experience and, b) how well this restaurant caters to celiacs on gluten-free diets. Va de Vi Bistro and Wine Bar in Walnut Creek, California gets full marks and a tip of the hat for their performance last Friday night.

First off, our waiter was excellent. Despite the fact that the place was packed, he was always around when we needed him, and spent time to clearly articulate our options and elaborate on any of the dishes we had questions on. As for the gluten-free menu, I simply asked and he consulted with the chef, returning with a menu marked up with the chef’s recommendations for me. More than half the menu was entirely acceptable with little to no modification.

The wine choices were great. I went with a couple of shiraz choices, and the Jade Mountain was delicious. I have never been disappointed with this winery so far.

For dinner, we started out with the Thai Chicken Papaya Salad. It was a delicious crisp starter with an interesting and unique flavor.

Next came the Pommes Frites, basking in garlic and parsley, but not greasy at all. Those were too awesome.

I ordered the Sauted Savoy Spinach, which just barely blanched in hot grapeseed oil, garlic, and lemon, garnished with some delicious cherry tomatoes. This may have been my favorite, were it not for…

The Organic Hanger Steak was Kobe beef and just about perfect. Yes, I think this was my favorite.

That was not enough for us, so we ordered the Grilled Korean Style BBQ Wagyu Beef to finish it off. This was the same Kobe as the Hanger steak, and extremely tasty. I liked the Maui sweet onion kimchee on top.

Dessert was an espresso. All in all this was well done and I’ll go back again real soon.

GF American Food in Taiwan

Chocolate Sin CakeOne of the great things about Taiwan is the unlimited amount of excellent food that there is to eat. You could literally design a vacation in this country exclusively based on food. Unfortunately for me because of the celiac, 90% of it is all off limits to me, mostly because of the prevalence of soy sauce which is loaded with wheat for flavoring, and other unknown sources of gluten contamination. So Last night we went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House – a very GF-friendly restaurant chain that just so happens to have a branch right here in Kaohsiung. (Taipei and Taichung also have locations.)

That isn’t to say that I haven’t found a ton of good food to eat here in Taiwan so far – I have. The roasted chicken from Dongshan was excellent, and tonight we’re going to a local restaurant that is owned by a family friend where they are preparing just for me a gluten-free banquet. But I can’t just go out to any old restaurant or street food cart and pick something up to chow down on, and celiac is almost unheard of in Taiwan.

And hence, an excursion to Ruth’s Chris: A a gastronautical vacation from the vacation. Everything on the menu is made with simple ingredients. Gluten-free in SD has a good list of GF recommendations and pretty much all the good stuff is safe. I had a salad with the remoulade (so delicious!) a 12 oz fillet mignon, mashed potatoes, a few glasses of Mondavi’s Cabernet Sauvignon, and finished it with the Chocolate Sin Cake.

Yes, I did say “cake.” The Chocolate Sin Cake is made with no wheat flour or gluten-containing products of any kind. Just chocolate, eggs, and sugar apparently. It is unbelievably good. It is especially good considering that it it is gluten-free without even knowing it. This is how all food should be.

When I searched on Google for gluten-free dining options in Taiwan, restaurants or otherwise nothing really solid came up. And so, there is at least this one now: A little taste of home far away from home, gluten-free.

Annapurna’s in ABQ

Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine & Chai House in Albuquerque is an excellent little alternative restaurant for gluten-free options, and a wide variety of ’em – Indian, sandwiches, and pastries. And caffeine aplenty. GF pastries – how often do you walk into a cafe with that in the case? If I lived in ABQ, I’d go there almost every morning.

This little cafe is actually two restaurants in one – the Green Light Bistro, which used to be next door, is now a part of Annapurna. For a celiac, this is awesome, because both menus contain a very generous sampling of gluten-free dishes. Mix and match, take your pick. They have dosas, soups, pastries, teff cake (low gluten, not GF), hand cut french fries with homemade dips, and plenty more.

The menus for both Annapurna and Green Light Bistro are entirely vegetarian. The markings on the menu are V for “vegan”, and GF for “gluten-free”. How cool is that? I wound up with this place after googling for “vegetarian” and “gluten-free” because I was planning a lunch with two known vegetarians, and I gotta at least keep an eye out for myself as well. One match came up, and that’s enough for me.

This is a great little meeting spot. We were getting together to discuss the Next Big Thing(tm), and the atmosphere in there seemed comfortable in a way that was somehow conducive to my own intellectual thought and creative energy. (YMMV). I liked the fact that there was free wi-fi, and most tables I saw were MacBook-wielding students frantically working on papers while bobbing their heads to the piped in ragas on the stereo system. I even heard a familiar bit of Zakir Hussein/Hariprasad Chaurasia/John McLaughlin on the hit parade. The staff there was quite helpful in helping me pick out something delicious to eat. It’s nice to have a laid back and comfortable place to retreat to like this – I plan on being back for all my ABQ trips.