Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs

A recent visit to Naples meant a new search for gluten-free dining. Naples is slowly catching on to the need for GF food at last. We had a wonderful meal at The Hobnob, on 5th Avenue South, one night. We were thrilled to see a menu with items clearly marked GF (a rarity in this neck of the woods), but there were a few hiccups. While the app and entree items on the menu are marked, the sides are not. We asked and were told they were all GF. Another glitch was the grouper and chips was marked GF yet said it came with malt vinegar, which is never GF. We asked and after checking with the kitchen were told there was no malt vinegar in the dish and the menu had been revised after printing.

There was no GF bread service, so we watched our companions enjoying corn muffins. My husband started with fresh oysters which he enjoyed immensely. He sampled a variety from around the country and pronounced them all fresh and wonderful. I started with deviled eggs, something I’ve made many times at home but never had at a restaurant.  They had big hunks of bacon and tomato jam – I could have eaten a dozen more. The flavors popped.

Grouper and Chips

Grouper and Chips

We both enjoyed the grouper and chips for our entrees – finding GF grouper and chips is so rare we both had to get it. The grouper is cornmeal coated and fried crisp. The fries were crisp and perfect. The tartar sauce was creamy and a nice contrast to the fish. I would have liked to see a piece of fish just a smidge bigger.

We ordered two side orders of vegetables for the table since our entrees included NONE. Garlicky spinach and roasted vegetables were both done nicely.

There was no GF dessert other than ice cream and flourless chocolate cake. This is a HUGE gripe with me! You can manage to create a menu with some actual choices, yet you just give up on dessert? There is a well-known GF baker in Naples restaurants could order from if they don’t wish to make their own.

My other note is that the waitress gave me attitude about my GF questions. If your menu specifically lists GF, then you must be prepared to cater to those diners and answer their questions. My question about the malt vinegar was an annoyance as well as my query about whether the side were GF. A friendlier and more supportive attitude would have been appreciated.

This restaurant is quite loud, so be prepared to shout.

The other diners at our table enjoyed their food as well, so we would definitely go back when in the area.

mar vista smoothieWhen I found myself on Siesta Key in Florida (near Sarasota), I

View from the dock

View from the dock

enjoyed the sun and sand, but I also need seafood! We had a lovely meal at Mar Vista, located on the water on Longboat Key. They offer a separate gluten free menu. This restaurant does not do any real substitutions, but they at least clearly articulate what is gluten free and what is not, and there is a nice list. First off, know that you can get any fish on the menu grilled. I was close to ordering this, but then decided to spice things up and order what the restaurant is known for – crab.

mar vista shrimp1I started with a wonderful gluten free strawberry daiquiri (sans alcohol) which was exactly what I needed as we sat at our table right on the edge of the sand. The restaurant has a sandy area with tables as well as a covered patio area. They have a dock with seating if you end up waiting (as we did). There are many islands just offshore and we saw lots of fish jumping as we mar vista crabwaited. It was beautiful and relaxing.

My companion and I shared a plate of peel and eat local shrimp that were simply heaven.

My bucket o’ crab was fantastic, with king, snow and Dungeness. It came with corn on the cob and red potatoes (the Dungeness is underneath so you can’t see it in the photo – this was a deep bowl!).

The waitress was not terribly knowledgeable about gluten and brought a homemade mango and coconut loaf of bread to the table, saying to me “I don’t know if you can eat this…” (my companion said it was very good). Nevertheless, the separate menu was easy to navigate and my dinner was tasty. My gluten eating companion had some pan-fried flounder she enjoyed very much. I would eat here again.

chic pizza foccI recently found myself in Chicago for the first time. I’d never had gluten free deep dish pizza (or any deep dish pizza).  My mission was clear! Lots of Googling later revealed there to be only one place in the entire area that offered a true deep dish pizza without gluten. Chicago’s Pizza.  While this chain is not as well known as say, Giordano’s, it met my needs! We went to the branch in Old Irving on a Thursday night. Ambience was lacking and the pounding heavy metal music did not enhance our visit. The menu was big with gluten free options clearly listed. We could have had a stuffed pizza (which seems to be their specialty) but went for the traditional deep dish. We also ordered a Caesar salad, which, without the croutons, was GF (dressing made in-house). Our dinner started with complimentary focaccia, GF. This was a nice surprise but we didn’t eat a lot of it since we were saving room for the main event.

The main event took a while to arrive -almost an hour, but we didn’t mind since we knew they werechic pizza caesar actually making it fresh on the spot. The salad was good, with some radicchio mixed in for color. The pizza itself looked almost identical to the gluten deep dish pizza that also came to our table. For the GF pizza we chose broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and ground beef. It was a treat. The crust was slightly thinner than that in the gluten pizza but it had a nice crunch and a good flavor – the gluten eater at our table sampled it and declared that it was really indistinguishable from the regular gluten pizza. The toppings were good. In true Chicago style, there was little cheese and little sauce, but it was an experience. They clearly marked the boxes with our leftovers so we would not mix up the two pizzas.  The gluten free pizza was only $2 more than the gluten pizza.

We highly recommend this for your deep dish pizza experience. chic pizza deep dishNext time, we’ll try the stuffed pizza!

Pizza and wings

Pizza and wings

I’ve finally found it! A really, really good take out gluten-free pizza! The bad news? If you live in Buffalo, it’s not a short drive. The Livingston Pizza Company is located in Avon, NY, home to the famous corn festival. We spend a lot of time at Conesus Lake which is how we happened upon this gem. It’s hidden down a side street in Avon and we only know about it because we saw an ad in the local Pennysaver. If you’re heading out to the Finger Lakes, definitely take a detour through Avon.

This is a pizzeria and bakery. The pizza was as good as what I’ve made at home. At last, a take out GF

Brownies

Brownies

pizza that tastes like real pizza! We got ours with spinach, mushrooms, and broccoli. They have a full extensive menu of GF pizza choices to choose from. The pizza had none of that gumminess or cardboard texture you get at most places. The deal was sealed when we saw it was hand shaped – no prefab dough on an aluminum sheet here. Their sauce was tasty – not too sweet, not too tangy. Everything about this pizza was spot-on.

The menu also has GF pasta dishes, sandwiches, paninis, wings, and salads. The wings we had were

Chocolate pie

Chocolate pie

excellent.

We bought a chocolate cream pie which was to die for. Thick, rich, not cloyingly sweet – it was heaven. The crust was thin and flaky. Nothing gummy about this.

We sampled a variety of cookies, which are not cheap at $10 for half a dozen, but there were many choices: chocolate chip, M&M, peanut butter, molasses, butter crunch, kitchen sink, and ranger cookies. The cookies were  soft  with a tendency to fall apart, but the flavor was good. The peanut butter and M&M were our faves.

Their brownies are very light. I like my brownies thick and dense. These were airy and more like

Cookies

Cookies

cake, but they were good.

We bought a raspberry coffee cake for breakfast. This was excellent. The cake was moist and dense and did not taste like it was GF in any way. It had a raspberry crumb topping that gave it just enough sweetness and a little bit of zing. I’m going to have to stock up on these coffee cakes.

They have a lot of other baked goods you can order in advance. I’m going to order cinnamon rolls for sure!

Coffee cake

Coffee cake

 

Ember_Pizza2South of Rochester, NY, just east of Conesus Lake (and west of Canandaigua) lies the tiny village of Livonia. There’s not much happening in Livonia, other than 2 restaurants, an ice cream shop and a small grocery store. Most of the clientele are locals, but in the summer the area burgeons as people flock to their cottages on Conesus Lake. There’s not a lot of dining choices in this neck of the woods, but Embers has made a big name for itself in the year or so it has been open.

Fries

Fries

The biggest caveat about Embers is that they do not bring your food together. They bring whatever is ready first. So one person could get an entree and eat halfway through it before the other person’s entree might arrive. They are adamant that they do this so that food is served hot and fresh and they won’t do it any other way.

We were pleased to discover they have a gluten-free options (marked by a “G” after the item on the menu) and even more excited to find out they have gluten-free pizza.

The gluten-free items at our table were: French fries, Pizza Margherita, Asian Sesame Beef, and

Chicken kabob

Chicken kabob

Free Range Chicken Kabobs.

Let’s get to the knife in my heart first. The pizza crust is not made on site, so guess what? It’s the same piece of round cardboard you get everywhere else. The pizza had a few glops of tomato, a few pieces of basil and a couple puddles of mozzarella. It was nothing worth eating, unfortunately. (And I recently made a GOOD GF pizza at home myself so I KNOW it is possible).

The fries were not great – kind of dry and hard. Note that the fries are designated GF on the menu, but the restaurant does fry other items in oil. I did not ask if they use separate oil for the fries since this is not an issue for me. If you go, ask to be sure.

The Asian Sesame Beef could have been good but was a big bland. It needed more rice and it would have been nice to have more than a tiny few bites of rapini – it needed more vegetables. Overall though, it was good. The chicken kabobs were the hands down winner. We loved that there peaches and nectarines on the skewers with the chicken and onion. The quinoa underneath it was moist and flavorful, with nice veggie mixed in, as well as some honeyed cashews, but note it is a cold salad.  Despite this weird juxtaposition,

Sesame beef

Sesame beef

I loved this and it was the winner.

We didn’t have dessert – creme brulee was the only contender possible. Instead we walked around the corner and had ice cream. You’ll want to do the same!

Here’s a recent piece about gluten-free dining in Toronto, if you’re headed north.

A beautiful pineapple carpaccio dessert

A beautiful pineapple carpaccio dessert

My daughter and I took a trip to St. Martin recently. We dined several times in Grand Case, on the French side of the island. Despite somewhat of a language barrier, I had many wonderful gluten-free meals there. You can read all about it here.