Tag archive for "GF Chicago"

GF Resources

Are You Coming to the Expo?

6 Comments 21 March 2011

In just over a month I will be in Chicago with my mother.  We’ve met in Chicago before for shopping trips.

(You thought I meant clothing shopping trips, but I mean gluten-free shopping trips, of course.)

But this time we won’t have to traipse around Chicago and all of its suburbs to experience all that’s new in the gluten-free world. All of the gluten-free goodness will be located in one place.  The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo!

I first got to know Jen Cafferty, the originator and director of GFAF, through her blog called Gluten Free Life with Jen. Her site is packed with resources and recipes galore.  But when I had questions about which track to sign up for at the Expo, my mom suggested that I call or email Jen.

WHAT?  Call or email a celebrity?  (Just look at her bio and you’ll understand my fandom.)

Mom had met Jen at last year’s Expo and assured me that she was “down to earth” and would be happy to help.  I was amazed that one of my favorite bloggers had time to manage such a huge event as well as answer my silly questions about the Expo via email!  Not only did she answer my questions, but she answered them within the hour.  With that kind of attention to detail, I know this is going to be an amazing event.

Another one of my favorite bloggers, Shirley of Gluten Free Easily, will be a presenter at the Expo!  (One of my questions to Jen actually had to do with Shirley.  Help!  I have to meet Shirley!  If I sign up for the “Beyond Basics” Track, how am I going to meet Shirley who’s teaching in the “Essentials” Track? Poor Jen.)   This morning I awoke to Shirley’s tantalizing post about all of the gluten-free goodness that we will be experiencing at GFAF.  And now I just can’t stop thinking about it!  Please read her post for all of the delicious details.  I’ve almost committed it to memory!

For three whole days, April 29-May 1, Mom and I will be taking cooking classes, sampling products, eating delicious gluten-free meals, and buying the newest cookbooks from our favorite authors…I said FROM them, not from Amazon.  (I’m swooning!)  AND we’ve signed up for a special bread baking session on Friday with Carol Fenster, author of numerous gluten free cooking and baking books. You all know how I desperately need to learn about the nuances of gluten-free bread making.  I think this three-hour class just might be the perfect cure for my Ooey Gooey Zucchini Bread.

And my Christmas Strawberry Bread woes.

If you remember, I finally did get it right, but I may never know why.  Guess and check is such a frustrating experience for a busy girl!

Carol, please fix me!

This year Nashville’s Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon is the same weekend as The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo.  I haven’t missed this race once since my first year as a runner.  So, I’m a little sad not to be a part of the event this year.  Okay, I’m not just a little sad.  It’s killing me!  I’ve been especially jealous as the weather has warmed and I’ve watched the streets of our city become more congested with runners.  This event is a big deal in our city.

But meeting my favorite gluten-free bloggers and authors, learning more about gluten-free products, fine-tuning my gluten-free cooking techniques, and spending a weekend with Mom doing something we both love will be worth missing the race.  And I promise, I’ll share everything I learn right here at Gluten-Free Cat.

So, will I see you at The Expo?  What goodness are you hoping to experience there?



Gluten-Free Italian, and not just spaghetti

GF Friendly Restaurants

Gluten-Free Italian, and not just spaghetti

3 Comments 08 December 2010

Italian food on a night out is usually out of the question for the gluten-intolerant diner.  But every once in a while, we happen upon a restaurant like Maggiano’s Little Italy that surprises us by providing a rice or corn pasta option.  That makes a gluten-free cat like me purr with happiness to be able to eat pasta somewhere besides my own kitchen.  Usually there’s one type of pasta offered, maybe spaghetti or spirals, and the chef is willing to work with me to make sure that the sauce is gluten free as well.  I always want to hug him.

But rarely do we find an Italian restaurant that will offer a gluten-free menu that provides delicious options that you wouldn’t think were possible.  Can you imagine ordering gluten-free lasagna or manicotti while out for dinner?  How about ravioli or cannelloni? Or what if the waiter asked if you’d like gluten-free bread once he found out that you were gluten intolerant?  Would you ask him to marry you?  I almost have.

My family discovered such a gluten-free dream come true just outside of Chicago, and let me tell you, DaLuciano’s is a restaurant worth flying to Chicago for.

Luciano and Ignazio, owners of DaLuciano’s, share their story of why they began offering a gluten-free menu here.  It’s a touching story that you can read on your own.  But take a look at their delectable gluten-free offerings from my eyes.

For appetizers, we ordered the bruschetta on gluten-free bread.

This treat was fresh in my mind on Thanksgiving Day, inspiring my bruschetta recipe.

And while gluten-free spaghetti is a nice offering, DaLuciano’s far surpasses that thoughtful gesture with entrees like this:

Yes, that’s cheese ravioli with meat sauce in all of it’s steamy deliciousness.

And this:

Homemade Cannelloni!  Yes, the tender cannelloni are down there under that rich sauce, stuffed with pure goodness.

And should I mention dessert?  Or do you need a little time to recover first?

Homemade Cannoli?  Yes, that’s right, magical enough to bring back memories of Italian Christmas Eves with Coleen’s family and walking down the brick-paved streets of Little Italy in Boston while munching a cannoli from an Italian bakery.  Mmmmmm.

But hold on, there’s more.

Tiramisu!  Unbelievable!

And that’s just a small sampling of the incredibly extensive gluten-free menu you’ll find at DaLuciano’s.  Just take a look at it!

If you’re in the Chicago area, give DaLuciano’s a try.  If not, jot this restaurant down on your “must try” list for the next time you’re even close to Chicago.  No travel plans in the near future?  Well, you’re in luck.  DaLuciano’s also has an on-line Gluten-Free Shop offering their dried pastas, frozen entrees, and frozen bread.  I’m thinking we just may need to do a little shopping for Christmas Eve dinner.

This restaurant definitely gets two paws up from the Gluten-Free Cat.  Meow!

Shopping in Chicago (the GFC Way)

GF Product Reviews

Shopping in Chicago (the GFC Way)

5 Comments 23 November 2010

Every time I travel I have to check out the gluten-free offerings in that city.  Of course, restaurants and bakeries are the first things to Google.  But I also have to check out the local grocery stores.  It’s so much fun to see what different products have made it to the shelves of the same grocery stores where I shop in Nashville.  And many times I find products that I’ve never heard of before.

It’s even more fun to shop with my mother, who is also gluten-intolerant.  (I can scientifically blame her for my inability to digest gluten.  Thanks, Mom.)  Most mother-daughter shopping trips involve malls and dressing rooms and sound something like this:

H:  What do you think of this dress?  (twirling in front of the mirror)

M:  Oh, that’s really cute.  The length is perfect on you.

H:  Do you think it will work with my little strappy shoes? (up on tiptoes)

M:  Yes, and I have the perfect necklace you could borrow.  If only you lived closer…

H:  I know, I know.  Now, wait, let me show you the other dress.

And while we’ve had our share of fashion shopping trips, Mom and I are more likely to go on a gluten-free shopping trip where you’d hear something more along these lines:

M:  Oh, Heather, have you tried these chocolate-covered gluten-free pretzels?

H:  What???  Are you serious?  No!  (Into the cart it goes.)

H:  Mom, have you found the Bionaturae pasta I’ve been telling you about?

M:  Ooooh, no!  I’ve wanted to try it.  And they have the skinny spaghetti!  (She puts one package into her cart.)

H:  You’re going to wish you had more than one.  (A second package goes in.)

M:  Have you ever heard of WOW Cookies?  They had the at the gluten-free potluck.  I wonder if they have them here.  (No luck.)

The trip will end hours later after multiple conversations with managers and a cart filled with goodies to take home.

We found several incredible restaurants in Chicago, but we also had a lot of fun at the local Whole Foods.

Who else but my mother would get just as excited as I do about a display that looks like this?

Or understand my little dance in the aisle when I find such a huge selection of one of my favorite gluten-free bread mixes?

We had a lot of fun shopping, but I had to be selective about which products I brought home.  With TSA restrictions and baggage limitations I couldn’t take everything that struck my fancy.  But here are 8 items that made the cut.

1.  Double Dark Chocolate Mate Tea by Republic of Tea

2.  Glutino Chocolate Covered Pretzels – No brainer.

3.  Glutino Yogurt Covered Pretzels – I can’t even remember the last time I had yogurt covered anything.  It had to be PG (pre-gluten).

4.  Daydreams:  Brownie Cookies with White Chocolate Chips from Deerfields Bakery – I just love that Whole Foods carries products from local bakeries.  Next time, we’re visiting this bakery.

5.  Cranberry Bread Mix by Simply Organic – It’s a seasonal mix, so grab a few while you can!

6.  Cranberry Pancake and Muffin Mix by Breads from Anna – I’m thinking Thanksgiving breakfast?  Sadly, our Whole Foods does not carry my beloved Anna’s mixes, so I usually have to order them online.

7.  Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter – Never even heard of these, but how could I pass this up?  You can’t go wrong with nut butter and chocolate.  They come in jars and individual serving packets.

8.  Cornbread and Muffin Mix by Pamela’s – (Okay, we have this at home, but it was convenient.  It’s cooling on the stove so I can make cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner.)

I’m thrilled with my 8 purchases, but one Chicago find didn’t even make it home.  It was delicious.  Guess which one.

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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