Tag Archives: food

Suggestions for restaurants interested in offering gluten-free items

This question recently came in via the Celiac Bay Area email group. I posted a response and figured it would be worth reposting that message here in case other restauranteurs were considering adding gluten free to their menus:

I think it’s great that you’re seeking out more feedback. I wish more restaurants would. Here’s some thoughts:

Of course the pizza process has to be careful of cross contamination. Flour can waft through the air, shared utensils, and doughy hands can carry gluten particles, and those are ways gluten can get in your product, so taking steps to minimize that risk will be very helpful. Separate area, separate equipment, separate toppings, etc., and be sure people are washing their hands before touching the gluten-free stuff.

Consider adding rice pasta as an option. Tinkyada is real good, and DeBoles isn’t bad either. Cook it in a separate pot with water that hasn’t been used for regular pasta. Identify which sauces are gluten free. Consider keeping uncontaminated sauces in a dedicated area too.

Some places keep perishable and pre-made items in the freezer so they don’t spoil, such as sauces and pizza crusts. You could even make a bunch of pre-made gluten-free garlic bread kept in the freezer, and throw them on a frying pan as needed. As we all know, pan frying toast is wayyyyyyy more yummy than broiling… 😉

If you have other entrees such as bisteca, roasted chicken, or salads, see if those can be modified to be gluten free as well. Again the process needs to be dedicated. Salads are usually easy, but they need to be mixed in separate dedicated bowls, check the dressing ingredients, and be sure no-one goes through all that trouble only to place a bunch of croutons on the thing at the end… 😀

If you put a little GF on the menu next to items that can be modified, the gluten-free customers will be very appreciative. Also put text on the menu stating that if customers are ordering gluten-free, to be sure to let the waiter know who in the party has issues so they don’t put the wrong thing in front of them.

Redbridge is a fine commercial gluten-free beer. Some places keep that in stock. Others such as Bard’s Tale and St. Peter’s Sorgham Beer are good too.

I also recommend finding a consultant to review and verify your gluten-free processes and help with training.

I can’t wait to try out your place sometime!

Hopefully this information will provide a bit of guidance in getting started with preparing a gluten-free restaurant menu. This information is by no means exhaustive; merely a place to begin research. For people with any food allergies or severe intolerances such as celiac, eating out can be risky and use the appropriate levels of caution.

At the very least this post might help build some awareness of what a pain in the ass I am to go out to dinner with. ¡Salud!

Accessing the Gluten Free Bay Area Google Map on iPhone

This post is specifically for the gluten-free community in the San Francisco Bay Area in the short term, and I expect this will become a more global effort soon.

Our goal for today is: Access the Gluten Free Bay Area Google Map on iPhone. This can now be accomplished easily using the iPhone Google Earth app.

Why is this cool you ask? Because dining out on a gluten-free diet can be a complicated and depressing experience. Most restaurants don’t get it. The few that do are often hard to find. Many of us in the Bay Area celiac community have lessened this pain by contributing to this map, pinpointing which businesses cater to gluten-free needs (i.e. might have a gluten free menu or a savvy chef or wait staff.) This has turned into a very useful database over the months and years.

But on those times when you need it most, like when you’re on the road, you might not have access to a computer to be able to look up a place for lunch. Now with Google Earth on your iPhone and in your pocket, looking up gluten-free restaurants is more convenient than ever.

Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Add the Gluten Free Bay Area Google Map to your saved maps by navigating to it (a shortened URL for those that need it: http://is.gd/4YuBP ) and clicking on the link indicated:

Click the link "Save to my maps" circled in red

Step 2: Go to the App Store on your iPhone and install the Google Earth app.

Step 3: Launch Google Earth on your iPhone and tap the info icon in the lower right corner:

Tap the info icon on the lower right corner.
Tap the info icon on the lower right corner.

Step 4: Sign in and then tap on My Maps. Tap on Gluten Free Bay Area in the resulting screen. Now when you use Google Earth on iPhone, all the gluten free locations will show up on your map!

Gluten Free Bay Area map detail.
Gluten Free Bay Area map detail.

How cool is that?

Pennini’s Gluten-Free Pizza

Gluten-free pizza. ‘Nuff said.

Gluten-free pizza at Pennini's

OK I’ll say some more. Pennini’s began serving a gluten-free pizza option yesterday. My pizza orders this evening were numbers three and four. The reason I give five stars is this: The guys have nailed it with regards to serving up a gluten-free pizza in a laid back and casual atmosphere.

I ordered two pizzas just for the heck of it, and stuck to the basics: Pepperoni. My two boys and I (they are 4 and 7) dusted everything. Gone. Zip. Destroyed. Game over man! One, two, three, up with the skirt, and it’s gone! I am the only celiac in the family, but the boys could have cared less. They ate more pizza than you could shake a stick at.

The things were delicious. Real pizza on a thin crust, nice and traditional-like. But the best part was that the guy that cooked it, Greg (I asked if I could print his name here), came out and described in detail the steps he took to ensure that this pizza was indeed as free as possible of any potential gluten contamination.

Since I like to work as a human guinea pig, I can attest to the quality of their process. It is several hours later, and I am happily here sitting on my recumbent bike machine at home doing at least an hour’s penance for the debauchery that just ensued – grease, cheese, oil, and processed meats are the stuff of pizza made the way god intended. If there were even a tiny bit of contamination with wheat, I’d be sick by now. But I’m great!

In summary: Great gluten-free pizza, totally laid-back atmosphere, awesome friendly staff, family loved everything else they tried on the menu, and I’m stuffed.

See you guys again real soon.

Gluten-Free Bao Wan Recipe

Bao wan are these killer little dumplings that I love to have whenver we go to Taiwan. I haven’t had these since the celiac diagnosis, but Yingwen and one of our friends came up with this recipe and they are delicious. Here is the recipe.

bao wan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 12 oz. potato startch
  • 1 lb. chopped, minced, or ground chicken or pork
  • gluten-free soy sauce (black bean soy sauce or wheat-free tamari both work fine)
  • 1 cup rice wine
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 to 6 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 cup Shittake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • white pepper to taste
  • chili sauce to taste
  • cooking oil

Equipment:

  • large pot (for boiling)
  • wok
  • large steamer
  • mixing bowl
  • 12 small bowls approximately 3″ to 4″ in diameter (small rice bowls work great)

Skin: Combine rice flour and water and bring to boil. Let cool until the mixture appears sticky. Mix in potato starch and set aside.

Filling: Combine meat, rice wine, sugar, garlic, bamboo, mushrooms, soy sauce, and rice wine in a mixing bowl and stir fry. Set aside.

Use cooking oil to grease the inside of the rice bowls. Using the rice bowls, wrap the filling inside the skins so that no filling is sticking out. Each bowl should be filled to the top.

bao wan in the steamer

Place the bowls in the steamer and steam them for 28 minutes. Let cool, cover with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Bao wan should then be fairly firm to touch.

Reheat them in a microwave or steamer, cover with chili sauce, white pepper, and cilantro to taste, and enjoy!

Mandarin version:

米粉1杯加7杯水,攪拌一起煮,煮到成糨糊狀,等冷卻( 我都拿到後院涼較快)
米粉冷卻後,加入片栗粉(potato starch, not sweet potato starch) 12 oz, 一起攪拌
現在肉圓皮有了.可以炒內餡
內餡材料有;
雞胸切丁塊,罐頭筍. 香菇, 加醬油,酒, 蒜頭,白胡椒。不用炒熟(因要蒸29-30 分)
準備12小碗,碗要油抹過, 先層皮,中間內餡加入,在層皮
蒸29-30 分
之後加甜辣醬,好吃.

這個食譜對我這種料理白癡來說,實在太easy 了