IMG_0198One of the things I miss since going gluten free is donuts. Sure I can buy some frozen at the grocery store, but most of them are pretty bad (with the exception of the Katz powdered sugar donuts).  There’s no hopping in the car and picking up a dozen donuts on a Sunday morning. I miss the variety, and the racks with all the choices.

On a recent visit to LA, I found the antidote. If you’re in the LA area, you cannot skip Donut Friend.  It’s a bit off the beaten track in a unremarkable neighborhood, but you won’t regret visiting.

Donut Friend has gluten-free and regular donuts. The gluten people can pick theirs out of the case. However, those of us who are GF can customize our donuts. Here’s how it works. There’s a giant menu board on the wall that lists fillings, toppings, sprinkles, and everything else you can imagine wanting in or on a donut. You start with a basic cake GF donut. They cut it in half and insert any fillings you want. I went with Bavarian cream and strawberries. Then you decide what you want on top. I went with chocolate and almonds. You can eat the donut in the shop or take it to go.  There are enough toppings that you could go back again and again and not eat the same donut.

This was an incredible over the top treat for me. More like dessert than just another dry donut. My gluten eating companion also left thoroughly satisfied with her choices. I wished I’d had more than one after I was done!

matzoI haven’t tried to make matzoh balls since going GF, but as I walked past the Passover display in Wegmans, it occurred to me to just take a peek and see if such a thing existed. And it does! Yehuda Gluten Free Matzoh Meal Mix was right there, waiting for me. I bought two containers. Note that if you make this you have to mix it up the day before and let it stay in the fridge overnight. You’ll need potato starch and xantham gum to make these, in case you don’t normally have those ingredients on hand.

I was very pleased with how these turned out. I think they needed to cook longer than the 45 indicated on the package, but they were still good. I made a double batch so I could freeze some. The matzoh balls turn out fluffy and delicious. I didn’t notice that they were gluten-free at all. They were perfect in the chicken soup I made. If you make extra like I did, place them on a baking sheet and freeze them, then store them in a ziptop bag until you’re ready to use them.

mint slimsAlthough the Girl Scouts have come up with a gluten-free cookie (not so great in my opinion), they aren’t making Mint Thins for us GF people. It’s been many years since I’ve had a Mint Thin. I stumbled across a mention of Mint Slims in a magazine which claimed they were just as good as the Girl Scout version. It wasn’t a lie. These cookies are just like the Girl Scout version, except of course, there’s no gluten in them. They’re awesome stashed in the freezer and perfect for when you’re feeling completely deprived of every food you’ve ever loved. I order mine from Amazon, but I’ve heard other people have come across them in Walmart.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

I have been wanting to eat at A Better Way in Lockport for quite a while and we finally got there on a Friday evening for dinner. They are open until 7 on Fridays, but close at 6 Tuesday through Thursday, which makes it hard to go for dinner (they close at 3 on Saturday). They serve lunch daily though. Here’s the big headline for this place: EVERYTHING they sell is gluten free.

We started with the clam chowder. They make lots of soup here, and they sell it by the quart to take home. Our clam chowder was excellent. It was thick and flavorful with pieces of clam, carrot, and potatoes. It came with a piece of herb bread that was very good. For our entrees we both had to have the battered fish fry (only available on Friday). It has been years and years since I have had a

Perfect fish fry

Perfect fish fry

fish fry in a restaurant, although I do make my own at home successfully. This was exactly like a regular fish fry. A big piece of battered haddock took center stage. Thin and crisp fries came in a nice mound and there was also cole slaw on the plate, in addition to tartar sauce. The dinners both came with a roll, which we took home and ate for dinner the next night (heated up). I was thrilled with everything on my plate. The fish was perfectly done and was crispy and not too greasy. The fries were also crispy. The cole slaw was creamy but not too sweet. The tartar sauce was thick and perfect. When we ate the rolls the next night we were pleased with those as well. I highly recommend this fish fry. If you have sorely missed Friday fish fries, this will feed your craving.

There are lots of sandwiches on the menu, as well as eggs, salad, paninis, pancakes, and French toast. We will definitely be back for another meal – maybe lunch? Maybe breakfast? Maybe both?

ABetterWay 9-11-2015 6-51-17 PMWe also dropped some cash at the baked goods counter.  We bought French bread and multigrain sandwich bread which I have not sampled yet. We bought a lot of cake bites (small round cake balls covered in a frosting). These were good, but they were infinitely better after we refrigerated them. The dough can be a bit dry when warm somehow. Once they were cold they were fudgy and good (we tried chocolate orange, cookies and cream, caramel sea salt, and more). We rapidly ate the peanut blossom cookies which were wonderful, but also better cold. We brought home several kinds of muffins (carrot, pumpkin and apple) and the ones we have eaten were very good – moist and nicely made). We bought one nut bar which was kind of soggy and none too good.

Overall we were very, very impressed with this restaurant and bakery. We will definitely be back and we recommend it highly.

Brick House 3-28-2015 5-46-25 PM 3-28-2015 5-25-43 PMOn a recent Saturday, we headed out to grab a quick dinner. We planned to go to Red Robin, which is pretty accommodating for gluten-free diners, but there was a 30 minute wait (at 5 pm!). We ended up eating next door at Brick Tavern & Tap, on Maple Road in Amherst.

Gun Show Burger

Gun Show Burger

No wait there. They do have a separate gluten-free menu but there’s not much on it. It’s paltry. They don’t include any of their burgers. I asked why and they clarified it is just because of the buns. The burgers are gluten-free. Their fries are not battered but are cooked in the same fryer as gluten products.

We started with the deviled eggs which are on the GF menu. They were unremarkable mostly but were a bit dry and a bit salty. I wouldn’t order them again. The husband and I each ordered a burger. I got a cheeseburger and he got Gun Show Burger, which has a fried egg on top. It came with a “special mustard sauce” and our server could not be clear as to whether this had gluten, so he skipped that. We both got fries. The burgers were juicy and perfectly cooked. The fries were crisp, but don’t order them if you are worried about cross-contamination.

Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

Our son who can eat gluten enjoyed the hot pretzels and fish and chips. His food all looked very good.

It was acceptable. Not exciting and not bad. Nobody got sick which is always a bonus. I don’t think I would go back here unless it was a similar situation – hungry family with nowhere to go.

IMG_1378I don’t normally buy pre-made packaged foods. I have never in my life bought frozen regular mac and cheese. Yes, my kids ate Kraft in a box, but if we were going to have mac and cheese for a dinner, I made it myself. Being gluten-free though makes me feel deprived in weird ways. It hits me sometimes that I can’t go out and buy a prepared or frozen meal — even though I never would have in my previous gluteny life. When I spied Udi’s Gluten Free Mac and Cheese at Target, something came over me. A gluten free prepared food! It was like a magnet. I bought it. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. So I cooked it in the oven and we had it for dinner. I didn’t really care for it. It doesn’t even compare to what I make myself and I would never buy it again. It was kind of mushy and tasteless and more creamy than cheesy really.  I guess I just wanted to buy it simply because I COULD for once. My advice – skip it and make your own. Or buy the gluten IMG_1381free Kraft equivalent (I buy Wegmans to have around for the husband to have for lunch).

girl scout cookies1I don’t know about you, but I was totally excited about this. I miss my Girl Scout cookies! In my area, one kind of cookie is available GF and they are called Trios. They’re peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip. They are tiny. Smaller than a thin mint. The bag holds maybe 12. But we all know Girl Scout cookies are no bargain. They taste pretty good, but they are nothing exciting. I want Thin Mints GF! I probably wouldn’t buy these again just for the cookies (but I will if a cute little girl comes to my door and I am guilted into giving her money). There’s nothing earth shattering hear, but at least the Scouts are trying to keep up with the times.

Sun springWe’ve been hearing the buzz about Sun Restaurant for quite a while. However, we weren’t sure that there would be many choices since so many sauces at Asian restaurants contain soy Sun noodlesauce, and thus, gluten. We were encouraged however when we found that their online takeout menu lists gluten free choices. We decided to get take out and take it to our daughter’s apartment, leaving leftovers for her. When we called to order we had a lot of trouble Sun rollcommunicating with the non-native English speaker who took the order. There were definitely things we said that she did not understand and things she said that we could not understand. We tried to make it very clear that we needed gluten-free food, but were unsure how clearly that message was received (we both suspect wesun rice may have had some gluten based on how we felt the next day). I think this would be much easier if you dined in the restaurant and could work with a server in person who understood the concerns.

We ordered (or at least we think we ordered):

sun rice pudMilk tea: this was pleasant but not remarkable we found

Black rice salad: I loved this combo of mango, avocado, red pepper, lettuce, cashew, peanuts and dressing on sticky black rice. Definitely my favorite dish.

spring roll: We asked for chicken and this was done nicely – crunchy and good.

Tiger Sun roll: avocado, cucumber, crab, shrimp made up this sushi roll

Grilled salmon roll: This was also tasty, salmon with avocado, seaweed, and cilantro

Mango roll: this contained sweet potato and avocado

Rice noodles with chicken curry sauce: the curry sauce was mild (we don’t do well with spicy foods) and it was a nice mix of noodle, veggies, and herbs

Burmese fried rice: We asked for chicken and this was a very good fried rice version

Thai basil fried rice: another excellent fried rice bowl with chicken, veggies, and basil

Black rice pudding and Mango sticky rice pudding: Our two desserts were very similar, one with mango and one with sweet potato and coconut milk. Both were good, but by that point we were on rice overload.

I would consider a repeat, but only if we dined in since it was simply too hard to communicate by phone. I definitely want to have the black rice salad again.

 

Potato chips

Potato chips

Oshun provides a beautiful setting and very creative food. We were bowled over by the murals on the wall and the elegant yet comfortable setting. They do not have a separate gluten-free menu

Oysters

Oysters

but our server was well-versed in what was and was not gluten-free. She was also willing to make any inquiries we had of the chef.

We enjoyed the basket of homemade potato chips that began our meal and could have filled up on those dangerously quick (they do not have separate fryers here, so skip anything fried if cross-contamination is an issue for you). There was a large specials menu

Trout

Trout

with ever changing oysters. The husband had an assortment and Oshun salmonpronounced them fresh and wonderful. They come with dipping sauces. I started with the crab Louie salad, which is served rather oddly so that the sauce was all at the bottom of the dish. It required some mixing to achieve a complex bite. Once I managed that, I thought it was fresh and tasty and particularly appreciated the pomegranate gelee.

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas

For the main course I ordered the rainbow trout which is accompanied by grilled pear and manchego. The husband ordered the salmon kabobs which came with a honey mustard glaze and sauerkraut. I found I could not eat the trout since it had

Broccoli

Broccoli

truffle oil on it (something I just don’t care for – and which was not mentioned on the menu), so we switched. I enjoyed the salmon immensely and the sweetness of the glaze contrasted well with the saurkraut.

We also ordered some sides: black eyed peas (with coconut milk succotash, water chestnuts and apple Brussels sprout slaw) and broccoli (grilled with mushrooms, grits and avocado). Both provided unique and interesting flavors. They are things you might not think to put together, but which we found refreshing.

There were no gluten free desserts worth pondering (as always: someday I will go to a restaurant that understands this and makes the effort).

We would go back here again because the seafood quality was superb and the flavor combinations are so complex that we know we are sure to be surprised.

Anchor Bar 11-8-2014 5-43-14 PMIf you’re from Buffalo, you know the Anchor Bar is the original chicken wing home. We hadn’t been to the Anchor Bar in many years, until their new location on Transit Road opened. I anchor bar coleslawsnagged a local groupon for it and we had a $20 certificate to spend that only cost me $10. This new location feels a little crowded and small. The anchor bar friesservice was excellent, despite the crowds. Our server told us all the wings are gluten free and French fries can be cooked in a dedicated fryer to be gluten free. Music to my ears. We ordered a bucket of wings for our group (50 in all), made up of mild, medium and garlic Parmesan. We ordered fries and coleslaw as well.

The coleslaw was very heavy on the mayo with little other flavor and not much carrot to brighten it up. The fries were very good – crispy and delicious. We were a bit disappointed by the wings. They came with the paper dishes for the bones covering them, so by the time we got them, they were soggy from the humidity under those paper dishes. They dumped them all on one plate with no delineation for hotness, so it was very difficult to find what you wanted. We were also quite disappointed by the garlic Parmesan wings- they were medium hot wings with some garlic powder and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The menu did not explain this, and they were too hot for my palate. We were looking forward to some wings that didn’t have hot sauce on them. That was a missed opportunity to introduce new flavors I think. How great would it be to get some crunchy fried wings that don’t have the Buffalo hot sauce on them? The mild wings were often bordering on medium since all the sauce puddled at the bottom of the plate, soakinganchor bar wings everything.

We decided the wings at Duff’s make us happier – served separately and crunchier; we’re definitely on the Duff’s team. Obviously, like most Buffalonians, we’re really picky about our wings, which is coloring our judgment. This is definitely worth a stop for a gluten free local meal.