Simply Sweet Bakery 11-1-2014 1-53-09 PMI’ve been hearing about the gluten-free  Simply Sweet Bakery on Main Street in Williamsville for a while and we finally made it there. It’s absolutely stunning inside, with a very high-end

Muffin and apple bar

Muffin and apple bar

boutique bakery feel. We stopped on a Saturday afternoon. There were glass jars of huge cookies. Cupcakes, cut out cookies, quick breads, muffins, bar cookies, mini-pies and much more filled the cases and shelves. They also have shelves with gluten-free pasta in some interesting shapes (brought in from Colorado), gluten-free granola and some frozen sandwich and dinner rolls from a local baker. It was exciting to have lots of choices and we brought some things home to taste.

simply sweet cookie

Chocolate almond cookie and pumpkin mini-pie

The cookies are excellent, however, I got an almond chocolate chip cookie and was crushed to find out it had almond extract in it in addition to the nuts. I absolutely hate the taste of almond extract and would never have even thought to ask if it was in it. The regular chocolate chip cookie was excellent – big with just the right combo of crispy and chewy and lots of chips. We got some mini pumpkin pies and those were fantastic.

The breakfast foods disappointed us. We tried the crumb muffins and an apple cream cheese bar. I didn’t care for the bar at all. It was too sweet and too gooey and wet and didn’t have enough apple flavor. The muffins (which we warmed before eating) were ok, but there was that horrible almond extract in the frosting which ruined it. Once I picked that off, there wasn’t a lot of crumb to make it worth eating. The interior of the muffin was very plain. I think if she had some fruit muffins they would be good, but this was blah.

I would definitely go back another time to try some other offerings. I thought her cookies were better than Vin Chet’s and certainly better than anything boxed at the grocery store.

GF ebookTraveling when you are gluten-free can be challenging. Figuring where to eat, what you can eat (if you’re in another country), and how to find food on the go is tough. I’ve been traveling gluten free in the US and abroad for several years and I’ve taken everything I’ve learned and put it together in a great new ebook called The Gluten Free Guide to Travel. In it I cover:

  • How to find hotels that are gluten free friendly
  • Airline food
  • Communicating in another country
  • Researching restaurants
  • Finding gluten free local specialties
  • Gluten free tours and cruises
  • What food to pack
  • Where to buy GF food while on the go
  • How to get help finding places you can eat

This nicely priced ebook is being offered at an introductory price, so don’t miss out!

Texas de Brazil 9-6-2014 7-51-26 PMThis is a national chain and we actually visited a location in Miami several years ago, before we were gluten-free. We’ve also been to many other Brazilian barbecues across the world because they are

Buffet

Buffet

a place where our kids were always happy. Now that we’re gluten-free, this style of restaurant suits us perfectly because of the many options and the fact that all of the meats are prepared without gluten. If you’ve never been to a churrascaria, there are three components. First there is a huge salad bar that includes hot and cold dishes – it is more of a buffet than a salad bar. Next, gauchos come around carrying hot meat on skewers and they slice pieces off for you at your table. They have several cuts of pork, lamb, beef, chicken and usually sausage. Many also have roasted pineapple they slice for you as well, but this location did not. Thirdly, the server brings Brazilian cheese puffs, potatoes, and plantain to the table to share. Some restaurants also offer special sauces for the meats on the table but this one did not.

We asked our server what items at the buffet were safe for us and she had the chef meet us there. He walked us through and pointed out every item to avoid, and we truly appreciated this personalized service. We could eat almost everything and heaped our plates with salad, green bean salad, cheeses, hot salmon, hot potatoes, cold potato salad, pineapple carpaccio, asparagus, pickles, and much more. It was a good-sized buffet with numerous options, although the other restaurants we have visited have often had a bigger selection. Everything on the buffet was excellent so we were quite pleased with it. Our son gobbled up items we could not eat, such as lobster bisque, lots of bread, and some couscous. The cheese puffs that came to the table are gluten-free (and this has been true in every churrascaria we have visited) and they are amazing. Once we made a dent in our salads, we flipped the little

Some of the meats we enjoyed

Some of the meats we enjoyed

coasters next to us over. One side is red and one is green. When it is flipped to green the gauchos begin to come with the meat (and if you want a break or are just done, flip it back to red and they stop). The meat is on big skewers and the gauchos carry knives. They slice the meat directly onto your plate. There was quite a wonderful assortment: filet, filet wrapped in bacon, Parmesan crusted pork, bacon wrapped chicken, Parmesan crusted chicken, lamb chops, leg of lamb, flank steak, sirloin, sausage and more.  My modus operandi is to take one piece of everything and if I don’t care for it, push it to the side. My favorite was the filet, but other items were good as well. The mashed potatoes and plantains (cooked in cinnamon)

One of our plates from the buffet

One of our plates from the buffet

that came to the table were wonderful and also gluten-free.

We sampled a papaya cream for dessert which was a light very whipped milkshake. I felt it didn’t have much flavor so I wasn’t a fan.

Sides

Sides

Cheese puffs

Cheese puffs

Be forewarned that this is not a cheap meal. It cost us $200 for three people, but if you have a meat lover in your family, you will get your money’s worth. Kids think it is incredible. It’s a fun and different kind of outing and in addition to the food being good, one of the benefits is that meat is HOT and freshly carved when it hits your plate and this makes it taste so much better. If you have vegetarians in your group, you can buy just the buffet portion of the meal for them.

Papaya cream

Papaya cream

This location is a bit small and the tables are close together. It’s also quite loud, but we had an enjoyable evening and left very well-fed! It’s not often you can go to a restaurant and eat almost everything they have.

Chicken souvlaki

Chicken souvlaki

Although Milos has been in Williamsville for a couple of years, we just got around to trying it. We were hopeful that it would be an easy GF experience, since the menu sported gluten free pasta. We thought maybe would be able to eat something other than souvlaki and salad. The husband ordered the gluten free pasta with Greek sausage (loukaniko) and red sauce. This was a nice dish, and the server verified the sausage was GF. The sauce was on the sweet side (which we like) and the sausage had lots of

Pasta with sausage

Pasta with sausage

flavor. This was a definite thumbs up.

I did not make out quite so well. First I asked about the Greek stuffed chicken breast, which is stuffed with rice, feta, spinach tomato and other GF ingredients. The server said it was GF, so I ordered that with a side of fries and the house salad. The server soon returned to say the sauce on the chicken was not GF. It seems maybe the chicken was already made and kept in the sauce since it was not available GF. So I went with chicken souvlaki with no pita (which is what I ALWAYS get at Greek restaurants, so definitely not exciting). There was a lot of confusion with the server over which one I wanted – the open face or the entree. I wanted the entree but then she went on about the size of the salad being small on that (she was confused). Finally we straightened it out and she put in an order for the entree. The souvlaki came and it really was a beautiful plate. The salad was fresh and colorful – no white lettuce or unripe tomatoes. The chicken was cooked nicely. However the side of fries arrived and they were battered. I don’t know how the waitress and the kitchen overlooked this. She assured me she had written gluten free on our order. While I can eat fries cooked in the same oil as other items, battered fries are loaded with gluten. I sent them back and ended up with a baked potato which was not what I wanted.

On the way our, the hostess asked how our meal was and my husband explained about the French fry mix up. She asked if the sweet potato fries were also battered. We had to tell her we had no idea, because they weren’t even mentioned as an alternative when we sent the battered fries back.

We enjoyed our food, but probably won’t be quick to go back after the confusion.

SeaBarWe ended up at Seabar on a Friday night without reservations and snagged a table. They do not have a separate GF menu, but our server was very knowledgeable about what gluten-

Scallops

Scallops

free options we could have. The good news is all the sushi is or can be made GF.  Our server brought us the curried popcorn, but we had to ask for it (normally it is just brought to the table). We enjoyed a crab and mango roll. They have GF soy sauce, but you have to ask for it.  We also had edamame as a starter. For our entrees, I had the scallops with risotto. The dish is supposed to come with chorizo but since they don’t make it themselves, they remove it for GF diners since they are unsure (which I really appreciated). My scallops were huge and the risotto was creamy and flavorful with sweet peppers and a corn puree. It was rich

Short ribs

Short ribs

and comforting. The husband ordered the short ribs, with onions, potatoes and gremolata, which I found a little chewy but he enjoyed. These are not your traditional falling off the bone short ribs. The meat is presented without bone and is sliced like steak and served medium rare. The gluten eaters at our table enjoyed an udon noodle bowl and chirashi-zushi. The only gluten-free dessert is a granita, so we passed. It’s nice to eat someplace where the highlight of the menu (sushi) is safe. We will definitely be back.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

My husband and I treated ourselves to a few days in Bermuda to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Bermuda is a stunning place with pink sand beaches, a lush and flowery landscape, friendly locals and some great shopping. You can read about how wonderful the island is in this piece I wrote for GoGirlfriend. I didn’t anticipate having a lot of difficulty dining gluten free here. First of all, there is no language barrier. And secondly, after vacationing in Ireland last summer we know that there are many, many people

Hors d'oeuvres

Hors d’oeuvres

in Ireland and the British Isles with celiac or gluten intolerance. Ireland is highly attuned to this and we dined quite well there. Since Bermuda is still under the crown, I expected that perhaps we would fare well here. Unfortunately there are only one or two places with gluten free menus on the island and we encountered a general ignorance about gluten most places (one waitress had equated it with dairy in her mind).

We chose to stay at the Fairmont Southampton (read my review of the hotel here)  in part because it offers the Fairmont Lifestyle menu options. All of their restaurants have gluten free options available and the staff is trained to understand what gluten is.  Because there were no other rooms available and because we were celebrating an important occasion, we stayed on the private concierge gold floor. In addition to a separate concierge desk on the floor, guests are provided with a free breakfast (continental with one hot item), free afternoon tea, free beverages, free hors d’oeuvres, and free dessert.

Dessert

Dessert

When we made the reservation we quizzed the reservation agent about whether our gluten free diet could be accommodated and she assured us it could be. Our needs were noted in the reservation. When we checked in, the concierge was aware of it and told us there would be gluten-free options for us at each food service.

There was some confusion the first time we came to the little dining area, but once the staff knew who we were, they always had gluten free options stashed for us in their little kitchen. They provided wonderful little snacks for us and the afternoon tea was over the top with scones, dessert squares, chocolate covered strawberries, and truffles. The hors d’oeuvres each night were completely gluten free so we could just help ourselves. They made little bites on

Ocean Club rock fish

Ocean Club rock fish

cucumbers and had cheese, fruit and chips available. The evening desserts were mousses or macarons, but were always delightful.  We each ended up with a little extra padding around the waist from all of these extra snacks and goodies. It was a wonderful experience.

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

We did not have breakfast on the concierge floor and instead bought the full buffet breakfast. They had gluten free toast available on request and there were always eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, smoothies, and omelets. If we didn’t look at the pastry offerings, we were happy!

Ocean Club mixed seafood grill

Ocean Club mixed seafood grill

We also dined at two restaurants at the hotel – the Ocean Club and the Waterlot Inn. The actual gluten-free menus for these restaurants were quite small, but they say they can make almost anything on the menu GF.

The Ocean Club

This beautiful restaurant is set on a patio above the Fairmont’s private beach. We enjoyed a mixed seafood cocktail and 3 types of oysters as well as gluten free bread as starters. Our entrees were rockfish (a Bermuda local specialty) with banana, almonds and butter sauce and a mixed seafood grill with calamari, shrimp, scallops and three types of fish with tartar sauce. We had a Bermuda strawberry split for dessert (made with meringues). All the fish was of good quality and the dishes were nicely prepared.  Seafood is often a good bet for a GF choice however as we learned while dining elsewhere on the island, it’s almost impossible to get anyone to serve you any kind of sauce with your fish if you can’t

Waterlot surf and turf

Waterlot surf and turf

eat gluten. This was the first place we dined and we didn’t realize how good we had it until we tried to dine elsewhere and often had to eat our fish plain (unless we begged for some butter and lemon to go with it).

The Waterlot Inn

Our final meal in Bermuda was on our actual 25th anniversary so we chose to go to the Waterlot, the fine dining restaurant on the property. The Waterlot is situated on the harbor (the other side of the hotel) and was a bit dark and heavy feeling inside. The staff was excellent and when they learned it was our anniversary they became even more helpful. We were brought gluten free bread to start. We enjoyed a shrimp cocktail as a starter (however we couldn’t have the cocktail sauce since they said it had gluten in it – which is possible if the Worchestershire they use contains gluten, however it really wouldn’t have been hard for the chef to mix some ketchup and horseradish

Waterlot grouper

Waterlot grouper

together). We also had a Caesar salad made tableside which was fabulous.

For our main dishes we ordered surf and turf (beef tenderloin and a local fish called red hine) and grouper with mango salsa. Everything is a la carte here, so we ordered potato gratin and asparagus. The asparagus was supposed to come with hollandaise, but again we were confronted with a sauce with gluten, so our asparagus came plain with lemon (a good hollandaise should not have gluten in it – it is egg yolk, lemon juice, and butter – that’s it!)

There were no desserts on the menu that really appealed to us so the chef put together a flourless chocolate cake with some fruit sorbets in a beautiful presentation

Waterlot sides

Waterlot sides

(including a piece of chocolate that said “Happy anniversary!”).

The food here was good but it does not rate as a top meal in my mind at all. I was disappointed that a hotel and restaurant that claim to understand and cater to special diets could not do a better job with substitutions and

Dessert at the Waterlot

Dessert at the Waterlot

creative options. However, in comparison the rest of the food we had in Bermuda, it was excellent.

If you stay at the Fairmont you know that you have safe, tasty food options (which is really in stark contrast to some other meals we had on the island) and a staff that at least understands your needs. We were deeply impressed with the food service on the concierge floor, as well as the extra attention that was put into making sure we were happy.

3-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 7-04-54 PM.com_2F4DJeDhP1BUinYsCCyWnuUj9cbkicjY3QrKsdTbBvnKdb_3Ds0-dWe had a wonderful gluten free dinner at Dick and Jenny’s on Grand Island, NY recently. They have a separate menu with lots of options, so we were excited to give them a try. The restaurant is a little small inside with some odd configurations (a curtain separates the dining room from the kitchen and a piano sits in the middle of the room). The walls are2-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 6-14-38 PM.com_2FLt_dbt2swHpeMQgNq5nG_paQvCZ-vhKsLeb7waClLhmh_3Ds0-d decorated with plates that were painted or drawn on by customers which is a cute idea. Our server was pleasant and very helpful when it came to gluten free options. When we ordered, he asked if we would like some fresh fruit instead of bread to

Oysters

Oysters

start. This was a very nice touch that was much appreciated.

I started with a portobello mushroom with fontina cheese and balsamic

Shrimp and scallops

Shrimp and scallops

glaze. It was nicely done. The husband had

Pasta

Pasta

smokey char-6-Dick and Jennys GI 7-26-2014 6-26-50 PM.com_2F2q3bD40iQE0DVVXIjoe3sfEYoANJx6NMRZ_CX2Jx-6_m_3Ds0-dgrilled oysters which were a bit like clams casino and he definitely approved. For my main course I had the shrimp and scallops with sweet potato grits and spinach. It was perfectly done and a wonderful mix of flavors. The husband had the black and blue pasta which included tri-tip and brisket in a cream sauce with Gorgonzola and bacon with rice noodles. It was a big, flavorful wow, other than one bite I had that was gristly.

It was a nearly perfect meal, but then we looked at the desserts and were disappointed as always. Our choices? Creme brulee and ice cream. Which is what I would have predicted. I wish someone would offer something else just once in a while! So we passed on the desserts and went home happy anyhow.

Other than that gripe, this is our new favorite place for GF food in Western NY!

LibertyPound ToastHarry’s Continental Kitchens was another foray into the GF dining options in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. There are lots of restaurants to explore on Siesta and Longboat Keys,

Shrimp-cargot

Shrimp-cargot

about a 30 minute drive from Bradenton. Harry’s looks nondescript from outside. It’s tucked behind the Harry’s retail store and has some tables outside. The inside is really quite lovely though. The back dining room is all white with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking a very tropical and lush garden area. It feels elegant and upscale. The wait staff was very professional.

We were thrilled that they have a separate GF menu.Our meal began with some GF bread served with butter and roasted garlic.

Grouper with risotto

Grouper with risotto

To be honest, it was toasted commerical sliced GF sliced bread – essentially toast- but we were still thrilled to have it. We were also happy that my husband’s iced tea came with a pitcher of simple syrup for non-grainy sweetening. We were off to a good start.

We started by sharing the shrimp-cargot – a take on escargot. 10 shrimp were cooked in butter, cheese and garlic in a traditional escargot dish. It was decadent and delicious. I had the grouper with tropical risotto and it was fantastic. The risotto had tiny piece of pineapple in it. The dish came with a mango gastrique that added a nice flavor. I am going to have to go back here to have this again. The husband got the pomarola pasta with shrimp.

Shrimp pasta

Shrimp pasta

This would have been good, however the GF pasta wasnot even close to al dente and was actually crunchy. It was almost inedible.  The flavors were good however. There were no GF dessert selections other than ice cream – a disappointment. I continue to be frustrated by restaurants who make such an effort to have a robust GF menu but then forget about dessert.

Overall we give Harry’s high marks and will likely come back here on our next visit.

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

We’re going to be spending a lot more time in the Sarasota area since our daughter is moving there for med school. Our recent visit to find her an apartment gave us a chance to

Grouper

Grouper

start scoping out the gluten free dining options. Our first try was at YachtSea Grille in Bradenton. It sounds like it’s in a lovely location (right near the water) but in fact it’s basically situated between a highway and a parking lot with no view. That didn’t deter us and we were thrilled they had a separate gluten-free menu. There is a large outdoor area that is enclosed with a tent-type enclosure. The indoor area by the bar is very small.

We started with Caesar salad, however both our salads came out with croutons, even though we asked for gluten-free menus and specifically told the waitress we were gluten-free. They offered to make new salads, but since we are just intolerant and not celiac, we just picked them off. The salads were good other than that. The husband got the ribs, which were smoky and good. The waitress however asked him how he wanted his ribs done – a very odd questions since ribs require slow roasting or smoking and must be cooked in advance.  I had the macadamia encrusted grouper which came with a lemon basil aioli. It was nice to have something gluten free that had a crunch to it! The fish was cooked nicely and the sauce was a nice variation on tartar sauce.I had fries as a side and they were good.

We were thrilled to see that the menu had a gluten-free brownie sundae as a dessert. Finally, something other than ice cream or creme brulee as an option. The menu also LibertyPound Ribsoffers GF buns for their burgers. We would definitely come back here for a casual dinner or lunch, but it’s not a place that lends itself to relaxing and enjoying a view.

 

lib hound musselOn a recent rainy Saturday we decided to check out the Liberty Hound, a relatively new addition to the growing Canalside neighborhood. The restaurant shares a building with the naval museum, so it’s a little confusing to find the entrance. The restaurant was smaller than we expected, with maybe 12 tables inside. There is also an outdoor patio which was not usable on the cold and rainy evening we visited. The restaurant has a quaint and cozy feel and there is some view of the canal as well as big ships. The menu is on the small side, with an emphasis on seafood. There are nightly specials as well. They do not have a separate gluten free menu but our waitress assured us almost everything could be made GF and she also told us that “the guys in the kitchen are totally on top of gluten-free.”

We started with the Liberty Mussels. They are cooked in a broth that uses beer, but the waitress said they would be made with gluten-free beer for us. They arrived and smelled wonderful. The menu said they were made with bacon and there was plenty of it. We did not see any of the sweet onions or bleu cheese the menu said was included in the dish. It could be that the bleu cheese was left out since some people believe it contains trace amounts of gluten. The mussels were fresh and tasty and we loved the hunks of bacon lib hound burger2that joined them.

For our main course, the husband ordered the Bistro Burger without a bun. The menu promised brie, caramelized onions and dijonnaise. The only item that appeared was the brie. This was a little disappointing, but we got over it since the sirloin burger was truly magnificent. It had a crunchy outer and a tender, flavorful center. It came with fries which we enjoyed.

I ordered the Lobster Cobb Salad which was beautiful. There was plenty of lobster, a sliced hard-boiled egg, cucumber, onion, bacon and avocado on a bed of different lettuces. It was served with a too small little dish of creamy tarragon dressing. The salad definitely needed more dressing. Everything in the salad was fresh and wonderful though.

We loved our food, despite the missing elements. Now for the bad news. I am afraid I may have been glutened. I’m not sure how though. The husband had no effects at all, so if it had been the mussels (real beer instead of GF maybe?) he would have felt it too.We both ate the fries.  The only item I can imagine is the salad dressing, since he had just one bite of salad. I did not ask if it was made in-house and assumed it was. I also assumed that it was GF since we had been very clear about our needs. I have some questions about the chef’s knowledge lib hound saladof gluten because the waitress told us we could order a salmon and couscous dish on the menu since the chef told her there was no gluten in the couscous. Couscous is always made from wheat. I don’t know if that was her misunderstanding or there is a lack of knowledge in the kitchen.

I would go back and give this another shot since the food was just so good and we enjoyed seeing a part of the city we don’t usually visit.