28 December 2010

Our Dinner Guest of Honor

(First published at Where in the World Am I? on 26 December 2010.)

After Thanksgiving Mike read the Facebook status of one of our friends who had enjoyed a succulent duck for dinner (We've had her duck. It's amazing.) and Mike wondered if we could get duck here. Well, with the help of our driver, Mohammed, my Christmas present to Mike was a duck for dinner.

On Tuesday Muffin and I went to the bird market in the Old City, where there are all sorts of live birds for both dinners and pets. We were surrounded by blue and green parakeets (budgies), geese, turkeys, blackbirds, guinea hens, and chickens. Ducks were scarce but Mohammed assured me we'd find some. First I was offered geese. They looked good, but they weren't what I wanted. And they looked too big to fit into our tiny oven. (I'd been instructed to buy the biggest duck I could find, but I was thinking of the biggest duck that would fit in our small oven and small selection of cooking pans.) The first ducks I found were mallards. They were cheap, but covered in flies. In an outdoor market like this, there are going to be some flies, but I wanted to shop around see what my other options were.

We walked down the street, peeking into every storefront. The parrots and parakeets where beautiful and I wanted a cage full of little blue ones to bring home for our terrace. There were also some beautiful ornamental hens and I wish I had a yard for keeping some in. I saw two of the biggest turkeys I've ever seen in my life. Mohammed said that if Americans want a big turkey they must wait for Christmas; at Thanksgiving time only small turkeys are available. There are enough Christians in the city to demand big Christmas turkeys, but not enough Americans to warrant big Thanksgiving turkeys. (Not that the big ones would fit in our oven anyway.) We passed by dozens and dozens of guinea hens, small turkeys, and geese but after several storefronts we still hadn't seen any other ducks.

Just when I was resigning myself to the possibility of guinea hens instead of duck we came to one of the last vendors on the block, the one Mohammed buys the Americans' Thanksgiving turkeys from. He happened to have two big ducks as well. They were pricier than the first ducks I'd seen, but the conditions seemed cleaner. No flies, less smelly. And the right size -- the biggest I could find and the biggest that would fit in our oven. We made a deal for the three kilo male duck, the larger of the two, for 1200 rupees (about $26). It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but honestly I have no idea how much a duck should cost. He tried to sell me the pair for a bargain price and it didn't occur to me until the ride home that I could have bought them both and put one in the freezer.

Many Americans get excited over buying fresh meat but then make a mistake, only once, about delivery of the animal. After seeing friends have live turkeys and other live animals dropped off at their houses, I knew to ask for the duck to be prepared for us. Plucked, cleaned, no neck, take out the organs, for an additional 100 rupees ($2 -- probably the best $2 I've ever spent).

On Thursday Mohammed went back to the market with a cooler full of ice, picked up our prepared duck, and brought it home. Our housekeeper cleaned it off and wrapped it up to sit in the refrigerator. Mike had his Christmas duck.

Mike did all the cooking yesterday. I'm not confident in my meat-roasting skills, but I was able to stock the kitchen with all the groceries he needed, plus keep Muffin out of the way, tidy up the presents-opening mess, and set the table while Mike went to work with his bird.

Muffin helped a little.

It was delicious. It wasn't perfect, but that's due to us still figuring out the nuances of the oven and the toughness of the bird had to do with the life it led before it met me. But it was tasty and something we'd like to do again. The potatoes and carrots roasted in duck fat were amazing and if duck fat is readily available to you I highly suggest you try it. With some seasoned rice and a cranberry log our friends brought over, dinner was complete.

Note the cranberry log standing upright on the plate...

We had a great dinner with some of our new friends and we couldn't have asked for a better day. I hope everyone else celebrating yesterday had as happy a Christmas as we did.

year-end deals at amazon.com

It's been a little quiet around here as we adjust to our new life in India. Come the new year, I have plenty of product reviews and local food stories to share. Until then, enjoy some gluten-free end-of-year savings from Amazon.

The GoPicnic Energy Boost Care Package includes hummus, multi-seed crackers, popchips, organic energy chews, and other high-energy, gluten-free treats. It's usually $29.99 and is on sale for $9.00. Stock up for your favorite college student who will be returning to late-night study sessions soon.

A case of Pamela's Chocolate Chunk cookie mix is down to $25.20. I love all of Pamela's mixes and packaged cookies and biscotti.

Bob's Red Mill products on this page are 15% percent off when you use the code BOBS2010 at checkout. Note that not every product on that page is gluten-free so read the descriptions carefully.

That's enough commercialization for now. Cheers to a happy, healthy 2011. Happy New Year!

*I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase from these links or from my store, I will receive a small kickback.

11 November 2010

breakfast is served. in india

For those of you who don't follow my other blog, Where in the World Am I?, here's a summary of the last few months. We moved from Burundi in June and had the baby in August in the United States (a little girl named Sophie, who goes by Muffin in the blogosphere). Last week we moved to Hyderabad, India.

We are temporarily living in a furnished, "full-service" apartment. One of the services provided is breakfast. We have a choice of Western, which is an omelette and toast, or South Asian, which is idli (steamed rice pancakes) with savory sauces. I don't like eggs and can't eat the toast, so I get a plate of idli with fresh fruit. And I yank a little of the sweet red jelly from Mike's tray because my stomach isn't ready for savory sauces early in the morning. They don't go well with coffee.

Wait, let me be more precise here. On the weekends I get a plate of idli and fresh fruit. Because on the weekends we request breakfast at eight o'clock. But during the week we request breakfast at seven o'clock and they can't source their idli that early in the morning. So despite our protests that we have plenty of fresh fruit, Mike's Western breakfast is served with an additional plate of fruit for me. (I can't wait until our blender arrives and we can go back to making smoothies, which is an excellent way to consume all the freakin' fruit that gets hoisted upon us.)

09 November 2010

glutino frozen pizzas

While I was home in the United States this summer and fall, my pizza addiction led me to try Glutino Duo Cheese, Pepperoni, and Three Cheese frozen pizzas. They were all decent, for frozen pizzas. I doctored them up a bit, adding extra veggies. I also found that I needed to bake them in the oven for longer than the instructions recommended in order to get an acceptably crispy crust and the crust was inconsistent. Sometimes piping hot, sometimes cool in the middle, even though I baked the pizzas the same way.

My favorite was the Three Cheese. The Pepperoni was tasty, but I preferred adding slices of Aidells Italian style sausage to the plain cheese pizzas. The Pepperoni and Three Cheese have brown rice crusts, which was a better crust. For some reason it seemed to cook to a more consistent crispiness and had a better flavor. The cheeses and sauce on all three pizzas were flavorful.

No frozen pizza, gluten-free or otherwise, is as good as a restaurant or homemade fresh pizza. On the scale of frozen pizzas, I'd put these toward the high end if you like a thin, crispy crust.

Image from Glutino.com. I was not compensated in any way for this post. Items were purchased by me for personal consumption.

08 November 2010

against the grain frozen bagels

Whoever labeled these packages "bagels" has never actually eaten a bagel before and apparently doesn't know a single person who has, either, in order to conduct a taste test. This, sir, is no bagel. It's round and that's where the similarities between bagels and whatever this is ends.

It somehow manages to be light and airy in appearance (which is the first clue that it's not a bagel) yet chewy in an undercooked pastry dough kind of way (chewy is good in a bagel; undercooked dough is not).

They were also greasy in a pastry dough kind of way. On their own website Against the Grain admits that people have compared them to croissants. A bagel that can be mistaken for a croissant isn't a bagel.

These bagels just weren't for me.

Images from Against the Grain. I was not compensated in any way for this post. I purchased items myself for personal consumption. 

11 May 2010

eat more

I had a consultation with a nutritionist this week. My blood sugar levels have been up and down and my doctor wants them to even out a bit. Not to worry, everything is absolutely fine with the pregnancy. My doctor is just being extra cautious because I’m here rather than in the United States. He found me an American nutritionist who lived in Nairobi for several years, so has a good idea of what kinds of food are and are not available and she knows what life in general is like in this region. She’s also worked with celiac disease and gestational diabetes (ugh, I hate that term, but technically I have it based on a couple unusually high glucose readings).

Basically, I have to eat more. My weight gain has been slow and steady, but she wants to see it increase a bit now that I’m entering the third trimester. I have to stop eating so much dried fruit and stop drinking juice and I have to increase my healthy fats. I should start taking a calcium supplement, since I’m not getting as much dairy here as I would be in the United States. That all sounds reasonable enough. I just have to buckle down and force myself to eat the same foods, day in and day out, until I get back to the States in a few weeks. And see if any other Americans around here have some TUMS I can buy off them, for the calcium.

And the nutritionist knows this, too. She understands that I’ll basically be on a peanut butter and avocado diet for the next month, since they are the easiest of the healthy fats for me to obtain here. She knows I snack on the dried fruit to add a little bit of variety to the limited fresh fruits that are available. And she knows I’ll expand my dietary horizons as soon as possible. It was nice talking to someone who has an understanding of what it’s like here. Other nutritionists I talked to didn’t really understand the living conditions and gave me lists of foods that are impossible to find here, which I can’t really fault someone for if they haven’t been here; but they also didn’t seem to grasp the gluten-free diet, which is troubling.

So, no sugar, no gluten. But eat more. It's hard to do that when your food options keep getting narrower.

20 April 2010


Since my great sugar reduction, I haven't been able to completely break my cook of the habit of making cakes and ice cream for dessert (um, I haven't really tried too hard), but he does serve plain fruit for dessert more often. And he gets creative with it, too. This lovely pineapple was served one day last week.

Pineapple is one of the staples of my diet here. It's cheap and when someone else is cutting it up for you, it's easy. And it's so sweet it's like eating candy, but it's good for you because it's fruit. It goes into my smoothies every day. Several times a week it's my lunchtime dessert or afternoon snack. And there's nothing more refreshing on a hot afternoon than a cold pineapple juice (remember my fruito post?).

I've been looking for some magical nutritional properties of pineapple other than vitamin C, but it seems there aren't any. But what a lot of vitamin C it has! It's also a decent source of fiber and has teeny, tiny amounts of vitamin A, calcium, and iron.*

I don't know what I'm going to do back in the States this summer, where fresh pineapple is expensive and canned pineapple is tasteless in comparison, and pineapple juice comes from concentrate rather than pineapples. And where I have to drive to the air-conditioned supermarket to buy tropical fruit. How can anyone live without fresh pineapple being sold roadside in the heat (and where the good vendors will bring out their machete to slice it open for you, if needed)?

*According to nutritionaldata.com

08 April 2010

how long does it take you to eat 10 pounds of pasta?

How long does it take to eat ten pounds of Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta pagodas? It took me about a year and a half.Back in the summer of 2008 when we were preparing our consumables to ship to Africa, I was thrilled to see that Amazon.com had my favorite brand of pasta for sale in bulk. I bought a case of spaghetti, a case of elbows, and a case of pagodas, a short, squat, twirly tricolor pasta. I received 10 little boxes of spaghetti, ten little boxes of elbows, and one giant box containing 10 pounds of pagodas. While all the cardboard packaging of individual boxes may not be stellar for the environment, it's great for long-term storage and for portions. One giant box of pagodas? Not as convenient.

Our consumables met us here in September 2008. Since then I've been slowly but surely pecking away at my pagodas. I've made the spaghetti and the elbows a couple times, but I really wanted to finish those pagodas. The spaghetti and elbow boxes will keep and can be shipped to our next destination. The pagodas are an open box, so the movers won't take them. I had to consume them all.

And tonight, the last bowlful is boiling away, while a creamy cheese sauce waits to smother every last bit.

Image from quinoa.net.

easiyo yogurt maker

Quite simply, I love my Easiyo yogurt maker. A friend recommended it as one of the best kitchen gadgets you can buy for moving overseas. She'd had problems with infections and was told to eat more yogurt, but she didn't trust what she could buy in Nigeria. And making your own can be difficult, messy, and time-consuming. Then she discovered Easiyo and told all the rest of us living in Africa to give it a try.

The local yogurt and milk here is great when it's good, but really bad when it's bad. I question the amount of refrigeration it receives -- we have city power and a generator and still can't manage to keep our fridge running continuously; I can't imagine what it's like for anyone with less reliable electricity, which is most homes and businesses in the country. So when a nurse here told me to start eating more yogurt to fend off infections, I looked into the Easiyo.

It's so simple. You add cold water and the powdered yogurt mix to a plastic chamber. Then you add hot water to the outer capsule, put the chamber in the capsule, seal it up, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, remove the chamber and put it in the fridge, and in a couple hours you have cool, fresh yogurt. There are recipes for making sour cream and cream cheese, but I haven't tried those yet. I've been happy with adding yogurt to my smoothies and fruit salad every day.

There's one drawback. You have to keep buying the Easiyo powdered yogurt mix packets and they don't seem cheap to me. In all honesty, I've been away from the U.S. for so long that I don't know how the cost of a packet that supplies 5 to 6 servings of organic, probiotic yogurt compares to the same number of servings and same level of quality, ready-made in the grocery store dairy case. I'd been buying my Easiyo packets from Amazon.com, but they recently raised the price. Currently the cheapest price I can find is from the Easiyo U.S. website. Easiyo is from New Zealand and doesn't ship to every country, but they have a U.S. distributor. I'll definitely keep shopping around for the best prices, at least while I'm living overseas.

There are several different varieties of yogurt, from "plain," to probiotic, to a luscious, thick, Greek-style yogurt. The different varieties are available in low-fat versions. And there are fruit flavors as well. I haven't tried the fruit flavors because I generally find flavored yogurt too sweet for my taste. But occasionally I'll add a bit of honey to the yogurt powder and water mix to make the probiotic variety a tad less tart. So far, every item I've looked at on the site states that's it's gluten-free, but you should check the ingredients and nutrition information on individual items before you purchase them.

Image from Easiyo.com. I was not compensated for this post in any way. Items were purchased by me for personal use.

01 April 2010

parma ham at pasta comedia

You'd be right in thinking there's very little a gluten-free eater could order at a restaurant called Pasta Comedia. However, it's the newest restaurant in town and they are becoming famous for importing some Italian treats that aren't otherwise available here, such as real mozzarella for the pizzas and calzones. (Pizzas are made with local cheeses here. Fun at first, but tiresome after two years.) Since so many people are talking about the mozzarella and flocking to the restaurant, and I was told they had some plain grilled meat dishes, I decided I didn't want to be left out when some folks at my office were heading there for lunch one day.

I wasn't really in the mood for grilled meat when I sat down at the table. I feared it would be like all the other grilled meat you get here, not especially Italian. I perused the salads and was resigning myself to the avocado salad I tend to get at most restaurants, when I spied jambon du parme avec des fruits de la saison (my French may not be exact) at the bottom of the salad list. I asked a friend who knows food well to confirm what I was reading: Parma ham with seasonal fruits. And by fruits, actual fruit, not fruits de la mer, which is shellfish, which I don't like. He said I was right, parma ham and fruit.

I decided to go for it. I know a plate of ham isn't the healthiest lunch, but it's been ages since I've had something different. I admit I had low expectations, but the plate that arrived erased them right away. It was a huge plate of thin, melt-in-your-mouth parma ham served with fresh mango. Yum. People watched in amazement as I cleaned my plate. It was a lot of ham! And it was better than some of the parma I'd had back in the States. If I weren't pregnant, I would have eaten about half of it and shared the rest. But Mike was relishing a huge, cheese-stuffed calzone which he couldn't have shared with me if he wanted to, and the others had pizzas and lasagnas, so I relished my plate of ham while enjoying the novelty of it all.

I can't describe just how refreshing that lunch was. There's nothing new here and I'm glad that even though I can't get any of the dishes with the mozzarella, I could still take part in the fun that everyone else was having in experiencing a new restaurant and a novel food.

27 March 2010

chocolate banana milkshake

Milkshakes aren't generally regarded as health food (don't even think about SlimFast or anything related). But as a weekend treat for myself, I've figured out a pretty good combination of bananas, unsweetened cocoa powder, and nonfat milk. How do you get a thick creamy milkshake out of nonfat milk? Freeze the bananas!

Frozen bananas are my latest food obsession. Several times a week I send my housekeeper out to buy bunches of the baby bananas we have here. They are very sweet and taste better than any banana I've ever had in the United States. And they are a perfect size for adding to smoothies and shakes without having to cut them up. Not that it's not difficult to cut up bananas, but every bit of time saved seems to help these days. When I get my bunch of baby bananas I peel them all and put them in a bag in the freezer (which also keeps the ants away from them!). Then each morning I pull some out to add to my daily blender beverage. I only use two in fruit smoothies, because there's plenty of other fruit. But four or five added to the milk makes for a cold, smooth, creamy treat that is exactly as if you've added ice cream.

I don't really measure and sometimes I end up with enough for two (or three, depending on if you're counting both Mike and the baby). I use 1 1/2 to 2 cups of nonfat milk (I use Bob's Red Mill Nonfat Milk Powder to make my nonfat milk), four or five frozen baby bananas, and a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder. Blend it up and pour it into tall glasses. It's super-fantastic, if you like bananas.

If you are in the United States, you may be able to find these baby bananas at an international grocery store. I'd get them at an Asian grocery store in Falls Church, Virginia, and I'm pretty sure I saw them at some of the Mexican/South American stores in the area also. They really are tastier than the oversized, over-produced, under-flavored Chiquita or Dole bananas you'll find at Stop & Shop.

26 March 2010

taqueria monte cristo, berkeley, ca

This is the last of my restaurant reviews from my California vacation. It wasn't part of the Pizza Safari. Tacqueria Monte Cristo is one of our favorite restaurants in the Bay Area. They serve some of the best Mexican food we've ever had. We saved it especially for lunch one day after I had to fast for some blood tests.

It was worth the wait and the restaurant was every bit as great as we remembered it. I ordered my usual cheese enchilada platter, with green sauce, rice, and pinto beans. Mike ordered his usual carnitas platter. The salsa bar still had it's assortment of fresh salsas. Mike got an agua fresca and I splurged on a Mexican hot chocolate (I was freezing!) and we sat down to a fantastic lunch. We both agreed that my cheese enchilada was the best we'd ever had. And I'm not just saying that. I truly believe it was more than nostalgia talking, because honestly I've had some mediocre cheese enchiladas from there, as well. Generally, the are very good to the best, though. Mike is always completely satisfied with his meals there.

This isn't healthy Mexican food. It's fresh, and you can taste the freshness especially in the salsas. But it's greasy and cheesy. They are not shy with the sour cream and queso fresco. But do you really have to be healthy all the time? No. That's what special treats are for.

They have a full menu of Mexican cuisine, plus beer, wine, sangria, agua fresca, horchata, and a variety of other beverages. They have counter service with sit-in tables and they do take-away orders.

Taqueria Monte Cristo is on University Avenue next to the Andronico's, a few blocks from North Berkeley BART. There's a small parking lot and some street parking, but we usually hike over from the BART.

20 March 2010

uno chicago grill, san diego, ca

The final stop on my California Pizza Safari was Uno Chicago Grill in San Diego, California, at the Fashion Valley mall. (I remember growing up calling this restaurant Pizzeria Uno. Did they change the name or did I always just call it the wrong thing?) I admit that pre-celiacs, despite it being a chain restaurant I really liked Uno's deep-dish pizzas, so I had high hopes for the new gluten-free pizza.

I was a little disappointed. The crust was thin and crispy, but not chewy enough and not very flavorful. It was like eating pizza on a giant cracker. The cheese and pepperoni were tasty; the sauce could have been a bit more seasoned.

Overall, though, I appreciated the restaurant's attention to detail. They have a separate menu that lists all the gluten-free items, such as a variety of chicken and fish dishes and ice cream desserts. You don't have to search through the regular menu for gluten-free possibilities if you want something other than pizza. They also know to omit the croutons in the salad if you're ordering off the gluten-free menu and they list which salad dressings are safe. It was one of the more positive gluten-free eating experiences I've had.

I liked the pizza, but didn't love it. When I'm in an emergency food situation and there's an Uno's nearby, I'll go back. When you're on the road a lot, chain restaurants are usually your best bet for a reliable meal, if it's not the greatest meal.

Image from Unos.com. I was not compensated in any way for this post. Food was purchased by me for personal consumption.

05 March 2010

day 1 without sugar -- not very successful

I've decided to make a concentrated effort to give up refined sugar for the rest of the pregnancy. (Notice I haven't gone all the way and said "entirely eliminate" yet. Baby steps. Attainable goals.) Just to avert any worrying, it has nothing to do with diabetes or any other pregnancy-related issues. It's something else that I'm trying to manage holistically. (It's a personal thing that I'd rather not spell out specifically.) I've already given up wheat, because of the celiacs. I refuse to give up fruit and dairy to solve this problem, because without them I have few other food groups to choose from. The only thing I can realistically eliminate at this point is refined sugar. And if the problem isn't better after a few months, I'll look into further options.

So this morning my smoothie was nothing but fruit and yogurt, sans juice. I refrained from all chocolate throughout the day. I did not eat the leftover crepes sucre for an afternoon snack. I did fine except for lunch.

I neglected to tell my housekeeper about the new no-sugar rule. And when he served strawberry ice cream for dessert at lunch time, I couldn't help but have some. I ate about half of what I usually would -- my usual amount is about half of what he actually serves. But eat some I did.

I don't feel guilty exactly, but I feel like I really need to reign in on these occasional treats, or else they'll turn out to be not-so occasional.

One thing that should help me manage is the sugar shortage going on in the country right now. If it's not for sale at the markets, it can't be bought and turned into delicious baked goods.

27 February 2010

bob's red mill gluten-free specials

There are more yummy treats on sale from one of my favorite gluten-free vendors!

Brownie Mix
Chocolate Cake Mix
Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
Shortbread Cookie Mix
Vanilla Cake Mix
Rolled Oats

Note that not everything on the Monthly Specials page is gluten-free. Read the product information carefully.


I was not compensated for this post in any way. I'm just a fan of Bob. Image from BobsRedMill.com.

what I eat while pregnant

I have celiac disease, I live in Africa, and now on top of that I'm navigating the world of eating for two. The gluten-free part is easy. The lack of variety here is my big challenge. I haven't really had cravings, but I've had some very strong aversions, which makes the lack of variety even more challenging. Like every expectant woman I want to make sure the baby and I are getting enough of everything that we need.

A friend here gave me her copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and I immediately turned to it for dietary guidelines. Most of the foods on the list are either unavailable here or inedible for me, which didn't surprise me. What surprised me was the gigantic amount of food that they want you to eat in one day! I'm working hard to gain the weight I need to with the proper nutrition, but I can't get anywhere near the daily calorie recommendation. (My husband looked at it too and was amazed. He doesn't even eat that much, and he's a fit, athletic guy who consumes mass quantities.)

I have a gluten-free prenatal vitamin. I'm eating a lot of quinoa and quinoa pasta, which has protein and folic acid. I'm also eating a lot of rice and beans, another good source of protein and folic acid. I try to get one serving of meat per day, but sometimes meat is my greatest aversion. I started making my own yogurt and I found a nonfat powdered milk that I can tolerate, so I'm getting plenty of calcium and my healthy yogurt bacteria. Every morning I start my day with a tropical fruit smoothie. (Sometimes on the weekends I make a banana-chocolate milkshake instead for a treat -- with my yogurt and nonfat milk of course.) I can get broccoli, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers here for my veggie intake. The baby craves carbs more than anything so I'm baking my own bread and eating cereal like mad. And my ultimate comfort food is Annie's gluten-free macaroni and cheese.

Besides the nonfat milk, I also drink a ton of water. Most of the other beverage choices here are too sugary for me and even before the pregnancy I drank them sparingly. I occasionally have caffeine-free coffee or tea. I gave up caffeine and alcohol as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and within two weeks my blood pressure plummeted from borderline too high to the low end of normal.

I know my efforts are paying off with every visit to my local nurse, who checks my blood pressure and does a urinalysis every other week. Without adequate medical care here (for anything more in-depth I have to go to Nairobi, South Africa, or even Europe or the States), my diet has to be my primary source of health maintenance. As you can see, I'm eating good stuff, but I am dreaming of the day several months from now when I will be back in the United States and can walk into any grocery store to face a huge variety of food.

21 February 2010

doughboy's pizzeria, grover beach, ca

The second stop on my Pizza Safari was Doughboy's Pizzeria in Grover Beach, California, which is right next to Pismo Beach. My pizza there was one of the best pizzas I've ever had, gluten-free or otherwise.

Doughboy's is owned by a couple from the East Coast, so if you're looking for New York pizza in California, this is one of the best places to go. The wife was a nurse who specialized in food allergies and she worked tirelessly to create a gluten-free pizza crust that was just as good as a "regular" crust. Her work paid off.

I ordered the Grandma's Pizza off the gluten-free menu. I also ordered a spinach salad (living where I do, it's been ages since I'd had fresh spinach; the local epinard is not quite the same) and they whipped up a fresh vinigrette dressing to top it off with. The salad and the pizza were both fresh and tasty. The pizza crust was perfectly chewy but crisp where it was supposed to be.

My only complaint was that service was a bit casual. Lots of locals walked back into the kitchen to place their orders directly with the owners, who were the only ones working that night, and that slowed down service for those of us waiting at tables. By the end of the evening the place was getting full and there had been a nonstop parade of take-out orders; it was obvious that this is a popular restaurant among both gf- and non-gf-eaters.

Doughboy's has a small eat-in restaurant, delivers within the area, and you can place take-out orders. They sell their gluten-free pizza crust at several local grocery stores. The gluten-free menu includes an appetizer, a number of salads, nearly all their pizza toppings, and Redbridge beer. (I did not have a beer even though it was tempting. Redbridge isn't really my favorite among the gf beers and lately I've been saving my alcohol for extremely special occasions -- I'm eating gf for two now!)

*I was not compensated in any way for this post. Goods were purchased by me for personal consumption.

14 February 2010

mary's pizza shack, walnut creek, ca

Mary's Pizza Shack in Walnut Creek, California, out in the East Bay, was the first stop on the pizza safari that was part of our Cali vacation. We lived in Walnut Creek for about 18 months and I don't think this restaurant was here when we lived there. If it was, it didn't turn up on my gluten-free radar and it's not the sort of restaurant we'd usually go to. The only reason we went now was so I could try the gluten-free pizza.

If you've been out running errands and you're crashing and need a place for a casual gluten-free lunch, Mary's will do. But there's definitely better pizza out there. I ordered the cheese and pepperoni. The crust was thin and a little soggy in the center, but crisp at edges. The taste wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. The crusts are made off-site, supplied by local gluten-free bakeries. The pizza was also on the expensive side. The gluten-free pizza only comes in a 12-inch size and it costs about $17, before you start adding toppings. However, I did take leftovers home and was able to get two more lunches out of my pizza.

Even though the address for Mary's is on a main road, Oak Grove Road, you can't see it from the street. It's in the same shopping center as the Nob Hill grocery store. There are several other locations through NorCal. It has the feel of a family-style chain restaurant, which isn't really my taste, but I know it works for a lot of people. If I had no other options, I'd consider one of their pizzas for takeout, since reheating it in the oven at home would help to crisp up the soggy crust.

*I was not compensated for this post in any way. Items were purchased by me for personal consumption.

04 February 2010

mariposa, oakland, ca

The Mariposa Baking Company in Oakland, California, was a baked-good dream come true. It's an entirely gluten-free bakery and many of their treats are so good you'd never even know they were gluten-free. While on a recent visit to the Bay Area I popped into the shop and bought cinnamon toast biscotti, cheese ravioli, a coconut cupcake and a red velvet cupcake (I'm usually a chocolate fiend for but for some reason I wasn't feeling chocolate that day), multi-grain bread, and sesame seed bagels. I was on the go, so didn't stop to eat and get coffee in the cafe area. You can get many of their baked goods fresh on the spot, with a cup of coffee or tea to complete your snack.

The biscotti, ravioli, and cupcakes were totally awesome. The ravioli was one of those items that, to me, tasted exactly like the "real" thing. The cupcakes were moist and cakey and my non-gf husband liked them a lot too. The package of biscotti lasted me for several days' worth of afternoon tea times.

The bread and bagels weren't bad, but were noticeably gluten-free. Part of the quality issues were admittedly my own doing, because I left them in the refrigerator for several days, then they lived in the back of the car and in a hotel room for several days before I got around to eating them. Not exactly ideal conditions. But they toasted well and were a good vehicle for jams and cream cheese.

At the cafe in Oakland, they serve pizza by the slice daily from noon to 3:00 pm. They have a shop in the San Francisco Ferry Building (I don't believe it's a cafe, but I don't know for sure) and some of their products are available at nationwide retailers such as Whole Foods. You can also order their products online (and they're having a special right now -- a free brownie with the online purchase of a gift set -- I don't know how long this offer lasts, but a certain gf blogger has a birthday coming up next week...). :) They also supply pizza crusts for several restaurants in the Bay Area. Check their website for more information on locations, distribution, and special offers. I unfortunately did not have a chance to try the pizza, so someone else will have to try it and report back to me.

Mariposa is a must-visit for anyone living in or traveling through the Bay Area. In the Oakland location there's ample parking and the San Francisco location is easily reachable by BART.

*I was not compensated in any way for this post. All items were purchased by me for personal consumption.

18 January 2010

carnivore restaurant, nairobi

I have to say that after hearing some great things about Carnivore in Nairobi, everyone in our group was disappointed. We expected it to be somewhat touristy because most tour packages include a stop off at the restaurant to try exotic African game meats. But we were hoping the delicious meats would make up for the tourist trap factor. The meats weren't all that delicious though, unfortunately.

We were given the fixed price all-you-can-eat meal. They place a carousel of different sauces in the middle of the table (a sauce for each meat) with a flag on top. Then servers walk by with giant skewers of meat and carve some off right onto your plate. When you're full, you take your flag down. The meats include different cuts and preparations of chicken and beef, there's lamb and goat, and the exotic meats for the night were ostrich and crocodile. 

I'm not a huge meat eater but I like it when it's done well. My favorite piece of meat was the chicken drumstick that was served at the very beginning of the meal. Mike liked the beef. We can get better lamb and goat here in Bujumbura. And none of us were impressed by ostrich or crocodile. The ostrich was ground and made into meatballs and it tasted like strong turkey. Crocodile does not taste like chicken. Anyone who says that is a liar, or has no imagination or has absolutely no idea what chicken tastes like. Crocodile was salty and chewy and full of tiny bones. If chicken were like that, I'd never, ever eat it.

I know I'm not the best judge of a meat restaurant, but Mike is a carnivore and he was disappointed in this place. If you're going to Nairobi, take the time to find some lesser-known establishment that will treat you to a more authentic African meal. Carnivore is a tourist trap.

10 January 2010

whole grains from bob's red mill

For anyone who's vowed to eat healthier this year, Bob's Red Mill has some of its popular whole grains on sale for 20% off this month, including some that are gluten-free. When I started the gluten-free diet, finding a source of whole grains seemed like a huge problem. Everywhere you look in the grocery stores, "whole grain" means wheat. But thanks to Bob's Red Mill's quinoa, I've found a tasty, healthy, protein-packed grain to love.

On the Monthly Specials page, the quinoa, millet, and kasha are all gluten-free. Note that the popcorn and rice are not necessarily processed in a wheat-free facility. Read labels carefully and ask questions if you have them before ordering. 

Don't know what to do with these grains? Check out the Recipes page. I love using the quinoa in place of wheat in tabouleh. 

*I am a regular consumer of Bob's Red Mill products. I have not received any compensation for this post.

02 January 2010

buffalo guys buffalo beef jerky

Did you miss me? Thank you to all my followers who have stuck by me in this month-long dry spell. December was the most ridiculous month I've had in a long time. But I have lots of gluten-free food notes to share in the coming weeks.

You may recall that my previous post had me jetting off to Kenya for a few days of hiking, biking, and chilling with the warthogs. I was in the market for a high-protein hiking snack and I brought along Buffalo Guys Buffalo Beef Jerky, in both the Mild and Sweet Peppered varieties.

Once we finally arrived at our camp and got started on our bike through Hell's Gate National Park, we didn't really need to bring lunch with us, but we did need snacks. I packed the sweet pepper jerky and some dried mango that I'd bought in a Nairobi supermarket. (I love buying local dried fruits--it's only the fruit, no sugar or anything else added.) After a few kilometers of biking, slowly, stopping to observe warthogs, maribou storks, and all the other fun safari creatures, we reached a good place for a snack, i.e., a spot with a picnic table and toilet. I went to the bathroom and when I got back Mike had already broken into the jerky, which he proclaimed to be the best jerky he'd ever eaten. He should know; he's eaten a lot of it. I tried some, and I really liked it. I can also say it's the best jerky I've ever eaten, but I've only had it once before! 

Some reviews I'd read said the sweet pepper was too spicy, but I didn't find it spicy at all. And the dried mango was an awesome complement to it. We chowed down on our jerky and mango.

The next day we brought the mild jerky with us. This one was good, but neither of us liked it as much as the sweet pepper. The mild jerky was chopped and reformed into rectangles, whereas the sweet pepper was left in more natural strips. It was still pretty good with the mango on the side though.

So, I am officially a buffalo jerky fan now. I could eat the sweet peppered jerky every day. I wish it weren't so pricey, but I know that's the price of high-quality meat. (When more people start demanding high-quality, healthy, nutritious meats, the price will fall, right?) Buffalo Guys sells range-raised, antibiotic-free meat products. You should check them out. Since I live overseas, I can't purchase any of their fresh meats, but I'd certainly try them if I could.

I purchased this product and was not compensated in any way for this review.



Related Posts with Thumbnails