Tag archive for "restaurants"

Fong’s Pizza – Gluten-Free Crazy Pizza

GF Friendly Restaurants, Gluten-Free, Travel, Vegetarian

Fong’s Pizza – Gluten-Free Crazy Pizza

3 Comments 29 July 2016

I had a chance to visit Fong’s Pizza in DesMoines, Iowa last summer when visiting my mom. She picked me up from the airport and asked, “Are you hungry?”

Always.

Mom researched and found a pizza place that had great reviews. That’s all I needed to hear. Mom and I are adventurous when it comes to gluten-free food. But when we pulled up to the restaurant we had second thoughts.

Fongs_Gluten-FreeCat

This in no way looked like a pizza place. It looked like a Chinese restaurant. I suppose we shouldn’t have been as surprised with a name like “Fong’s”. We laughed, decided we weren’t feeling it, and went to a Mexican restaurant.

Fongs_Gluten-FreeCat

A few months ago while having dinner in New York with Johnna of In Johnna’s Kitchen, we were discussing gluten-free options in DesMoines, lamenting the closing of the all-vegan New World Cafe, and somehow Fong’s Pizza came up. I must have looked at Johnna like she had two Chinese dragon heads when she said that Fong’s was great and “so much fun”.

Were we talking about the same place?

But if you are going to trust anyone’s restaurant recommendations, trust Johnna’s. She travels all over the country (world) sharing her restaurant experiences in a series called “I Ate Here”.

So a few weeks ago, after sharing Johnna’s rave report, Mom and I mustered the courage to eat at Fong’s. Just one glance at the menu told me that this was going to be an adventurous meal.

Egg roll pizza?

Mac and cheese pizza?

Surrounded by waving kitties and tiki glasses, I had to remind myself that this was a pizza place. But what kind of decor should a “crazy pizza” pizza place have anyway?

I can’t remember the description of the special pizza of the day that the waiter rattled off, mostly because it sounded nonsensical. It just didn’t compute as something remotely close to the paradigm for a pizza. But I swear that it included the words topped with french fries and deep fried.

Crazy pizza!

Mom and I didn’t opt for the crazy; instead we split a very conservative and tasty Thai pizza (with chicken on her half) on gluten-free dough. Adventurous enough for us. Fong’s does have vegetarian options, but the majority of the menu has meat toppings or fillings. It is Iowa after all. They even have a barbecue-type pizza called the Iowan. I was eying the Vegan Supreme made with Daiya, but when I’m in Iowa, eating vegan is hard and less of a priority. Eating vegetarian and gluten-free is my main concern.

I highly recommend that you check out Fong’s Pizza if you’re in DesMoines. Also check out Johnna’s experience as she can give you even more details on the atmosphere and the delicious looking drinks. (We had the 5:00pm, G-rated version appropriate for minors and seniors.)

Readers, dish!

  • What’s the craziest pizza you’ve ever had?
  • Have you been to Fong’s Pizza? How was your experience?
By the Way Bakery

GF Friendly Restaurants, Gluten-Free, New York City, Vegetarian

By the Way Bakery

8 Comments 25 June 2016

There’s a neighborhood gem called By the Way Bakery that I’ve mentioned before, and it’s about time I show it off. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s not on my daily path to and from work, or I’d stop there every day. I have to make a conscious effort to walk a few blocks in the opposite direction to enjoy these tasty treats. And out of sight out of mind is probably a good thing or I just might be a daily customer.

By the Way Bakery is a gluten-free, dairy-free bakery on the Upper West Side where every delicious item is made by hand. Everything I’ve sampled is so light, fluffy, and scrumptious that you’d never know it was gluten free, which was the original intent of the founder, to make delicious baked goods that “by the way” just happen to be gluten free. Owner and founder, Helene Godin, left a successful law career of 20 years to open this bakery which has expanded to three locations including Westchester, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side. To hear her inspiring story click here.

I usually pop in on a Saturday to grab a small treat like a cookie or a muffin.

BytheWayCookies_Gluten-Free_Cat

But if I’m having a chocolate craving, these brownies are the cure. They are the most delicious brownies on the planet. I swear.

BytheWay_Brownie_Gluten-Free_Cat

They also have a case filled with beautiful scones, tea cakes, and mini cakes for those wanting a few bites of fancy sophistication, but I’m a simple girl satisfied with a good old-fashioned cookie.

BytheWayCase_Gluten-Free_Cat

By the Way creates specialty cakes like this Pear Ginger Cake.

BytheWay_PearGinger_Gluten-Free_Cat

And this Sour Cherry Coffee Cake as well as layer cakes and challah.

BytheWay_SourCherry_Gluten-Free_Cat

But my favorite Saturday treats are definitely their muffins. I love the Blueberry Corn Muffins.

BytheWay_BluberryCorn_Gluten-Free_Cat

My current favorite muffin is the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip. Oh my heavens, it is to die for with a crumbly coffee cake-type topping and gooey chocolate chips inside.

BytheWay_CinnChocMuffin_Gluten-Free_Cat

Just last month we had a staff breakfast at school, and I brought a few dozen By the Way muffins for the gluten-free teachers. Of course, they were a huge hit with the gluten-eaters as well!
BytheWayPlatter_Gluten-Free_Cat

The next time you’re in the City, I recommend grabbing a box or two of By the Way goodies to take home. Or better yet, let me know and I’ll meet you there!

BytheWayBox_Gluten-Free_Cat

Readers, dish!

  • Have you tried By the Way Bakery’s goodies?
  • What’s your favorite all gluten free bakery?
  • What’s your favorite kind of muffin?
Treat House: Gluten and Dairy Free

GF Friendly Restaurants, GF Recipes, New York City, Vegan, Vegetarian

Treat House: Gluten and Dairy Free

9 Comments 18 June 2016

I’ve walked by this storefront in my neighborhood at least 100 times. Even though they have a sign in the window that says they sell gluten-free treats, I really wasn’t tempted to check them out until a friend wanted to stop in. Why did I wait so long? Treat House is a rice crispy treat shop, and if I’m going to enjoy a gluten-free treat it has to involve chocolate. Well, it actually has to be filled with chocolate, drenched in chocolate, and then dusted with chocolate.

What I didn’t realize was that the rice crispy square itself is just the beginning. There’s plenty of room for spreading, dipping, topping, and sprinkling with chocolate or any other of your favorite flavors.

Treat_House_Gluten-Free_Cat

The creators at Treat House seem to be limited only by their imaginations.

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Which doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. They have 12 original flavors and seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the year.

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It definitely wasn’t an issue to find that much needed bit of chocolate.

Treat_House5_Gluten-Free_Cat

All of their treats are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free unless specified otherwise. It’s pretty obvious that the gluten-containing flavors are s’mores, chocolate pretzel, and cookies and cream. But as always, don’t assume anything is gluten free just because there’s a sign in the window. Ask. Always.

Treat_House6_Gluten-Free_Cat

They even had a little something for Cinco de Mayo.

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Take them home in packs of 1, 2, 4, 12, or 24.

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And this chocolate chip treat is vegan!

Treat_House2_Gluten-Free_Cat

Here’s a flashback to my Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice Treats that I “healthed up” a bit. Vegan, gluten-free, and sweetened with agave instead of marshmallows, these were delicious.

2 Crispy Rice Muffins by Gluten-Free Cat

Readers, dish!

  • Are you a rice crispy treat fan?
  • What are your “must haves” when you splurge on a treat?
Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

5 Comments 05 June 2016

I love hand-lettered menu boards and sidewalk art. In fact, some day I’m going to share a post of all of my favorites. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that misses actual blackboards. These brightly-lettered chalk boards are colorful, quirky, and if they mention anything about a gluten-free item, my heart does a backflip.

It was flipping for sure when I saw this sign.
Menu_Board_Gluten-Free Cat

No, not the turkey burgers.

Check out the bottom.

If a local restaurant provides gluten-free bread, you’d better believe I’m going to try it.

The trouble with being a gluten-free vegetarian is that most restaurants that offer a gluten-free bread option only have meat patties or meat fillings for their sandwiches. So I’m extra excited when there are veggie options too.

At Island Burgers & Shakes on the Upper West Side, I was pleasantly surprised to find several vegetarian options and some pretty delicious sounding salads. But I had to order a sandwich to try out that gluten-free bread. It wasn’t vegan, but it was vegetarian and oh so scrumptious, and I didn’t have to pull an apple out of my purse while my friends at their burgers.

Sandwich_Gluten-Free_Cat

Mozzarella, Pesto, Tomato, Onion Sandwich at Island Burger

Readers, dish!

What was your last fun food find?

The Glutening

GF Resources, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

The Glutening

18 Comments 24 May 2016

It began the way most of my favorite New York evenings begin. A much anticipated evening with friends, a train ride with laughter, a new restaurant selected, and theater tickets. This evening was particularly exciting, because our train was taking us out of the city to see a play starring a friend of ours. When I made these plans, I had no idea that the evening would end with a pineapple-infused cloud of impending doom hovering over my head.

The Glutening

I’m not going to slam this restaurant. I’m not even going to mention its name. Despite the fact that I was horribly glutened, the waitstaff and manager did the best they could in the moment, and they did comp the entire dinner for four.

We selected this cute little pizza joint because they had gluten-free pasta, not pizza, but pasta, and it was walking distance to the theater. My friends ordered pizza, and I ordered the gluten-free pasta. I clearly ordered gluten-free pasta. When the pizzas arrived, I assumed my pasta would follow shortly. When my friends had almost finished their pizza, I inquired about my order. “Don’t worry,” the waiter reassured. “Gluten-free pasta takes a little longer to prepare.”

I felt confidentbecause clearly the waiter remembered that I had ordered gluten-free. Clearly the staff knew enough to prepare a new pot of water instead of tossing gluten-free pasta into boiling poisonous wheat water. I sipped my wine, and minutes later a plate of pasta was placed in front of me. I didn’t even question whether this dish was mine. I was the only one without food, I had just asked about my meal, and this plate was served to ME. Clearly, it was mine.

The first bite only served to verify that this pasta was gluten free, because it was a bit chewy like bad gluten-free pasta. It wasn’t going to be a great meal, but I wasn’t going to complain. At least they offered a gluten-free option. I was a little confused about the sauce as it didn’t seem like the marinara and veggies that I’d normally order, but I had hemmed and hawed over the three vegetarian options on the menu. Maybe I didn’t realize I’d ordered a dark sauce. It was marked gluten-free, so I didn’t worry.

I ate the entire plate of pasta minus a few spoonfuls shared with those who wanted a taste. As soon as I put my fork on my cleared plate, a waitress appeared announcing, “And here’s the gluten-free pasta!”

That’s when my memory gets a little fuzzy.

I remember the waitress confirming that I’d just eaten a full plate of gluten-filled wheat pasta.

I remember involuntarily saying a word that I never say.

I remember everyone asking me, “What’s going to happen to you?”

I had no earthly idea what was going to happen to me. I hadn’t ingested that much gluten since before going gluten free 12 years ago. Was I going to get violently ill? Did I need to take the hour-long train ride home right now instead of staying for the show? Did I need to remain close to a bathroom? Was this going to get ugly and embarrassing?

I remember the waiter asking, “What can I get for you?”

He wanted to bring me more pasta on the house! That wasn’t going to make anything better. And I wasn’t going to put another piece of food in my stomach since I had no idea if the food already in there was going to stay put.

I remember the waitress suddenly realizing the severity of the issue and saying, “I will go to CVS and get whatever you need!”

I remember the Husband flying like a superhero to the manager. Their words were lost in the buzzing restaurant noise as the waitstaff swirled around my already spinning head. I just needed them to leave me alone so I could think. And within 60 seconds of hearing the news that sent this perfect New York evening careening off the magical evening track and into unknown waters, my head cleared enough to have the wisest thought of the evening.

I remembered Shirley. I had a blessed vision of Shirley. If you’ve been gluten-free for more than 12 seconds, you most likely already know Shirley of Gluten Free Easily. Shirley is the mama of the gluten-free bloggers, the teacher of newbie gluten-free eaters, and an inspiration to the gluten-free community as she demonstrates to her readers, year after year, that eating gluten free is easy, healthy, and delicious if you focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free. And I’m lucky enough to have Shirley as a friend.

The Rescue

I sent an SOS email to Shirley. Then the Husband and I walked to CVS and found this.

Gluten_Cutter_Gluten-Free_Cat

I’d never purchased the product before, but I was desperate to try anything that could help. The directions said to take the capsules before ingesting gluten. A little late for that, and confused as to why anyone with a gluten problem would willingly ingest gluten, but I figured it couldn’t hurt and I downed four capsules before even finishing the transaction with the cashier.

By the time we walked to the theater, my phone buzzed with a message from Shirley! With 8 minutes until the show started, my superhero Husband flew back to CVS to get Shirley’s recommended activated charcoal capsules and pineapple juice.

When was the last time that you purchased pineapple juice? At least at CVS, it still comes in a gigantic can that requires that special pointy-tipped can opener that you may remember from snack time in preschool. CVS didn’t have one of those. But the manager found a regular can opener for sale on a shelf and let the Husband borrow it to start the opening process. He ran with a semi-opened can of sticky juice to the theater parking lot.

This was the next step. Two minutes before show time, standing in the rain, we dripped the juice from the can into a water bottle so that I could smuggle it into the theater. Frustration and anxiety turned to hilarity as we realized that at this drip rate we’d be lucky to get to the show by intermission. Thankfully, my superhero made the hole a little larger with a key.

Pineapple_Juice_Gluten-Free_Cat

We did make the show, during which my friend wowed us all with her talent, and I slugged water and straight pineapple juice until I got home.

The Recovery

I firmly believe that Shirley’s timely answer to my frantic email took days off my recovery time. The pineapple juice provided enzymes to break down the gluten, and the activated charcoal helped to absorb it.

For the next week, my body was shock. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like I had a digestive system at all. When I’ve been glutened in the past from cross-contamination, my biggest symptoms have been irritability, tiredness, and a brain fog that lasted a day or maybe two. This time, I felt like I had mono. I woke up exhausted after sleeping for 8-10 hours each night. Moving from the bed to the couch felt like I had just climbed a flight of stairs. The weirdest symptom I had was the sensation that my entire body was buzzing. If I had a normal job, I would have taken multiple days off. But I taught school that week through a mental haze because there was something I had to take care of each day that was beyond the scope of a substitute teacher. So I fumbled for words, lost papers in front of my face, and did the best I could to shape the minds of our future. I really can’t remember much of that week, sorry students. Thankfully I have great support teachers that helped me keep the class running.

And I had Shirley’s wise counsel ringing in my ears to take care of myself. I came home by 4:00pm each day and napped with Maggie until bedtime.

Maggie_Gluten-Free_Cat

I continued taking enzymes, activated charcoal, probiotics, epsom salt baths, and I flooded my body with juices and water. Just when I was wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again, some energy and clearer thinking returned. It took six days for any improvement. I still don’t think I’m back to normal. Shirley warned me that it could take weeks, not to be discouraging, but to remind me to be patient and take time to take care of me. So I’m listening to my body, getting lots of rest, and eating well.

I want to thank my two superheroes. My number one hero is always the Husband. I’ll never forget him running to my rescue with a dripping can of pineapple juice. My number two hero is Shirley. After my brain fog lifted I remembered that Shirley wrote a post in 2011 called How to Recover After Being Glutened that you must read so you’re prepared for that inevitable moment when you will say, “What do you mean this isn’t gluten free?”

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

GF Friendly Restaurants, Healthy Living, New York City, Vegan

The Teacher’s “Lunch”

7 Comments 04 May 2016

I’m pretty freakin’ fortunate to have time during the school day to dash down the street for vegan gluten-free food when I don’t pack a lunch. When “dashing out” results in a meal like this, I feel pretty lucky.

Backing up… Every other school where I’ve taught has given teachers a whopping 30 minutes for lunch. And every teacher in America knows that dropping off kids at the cafeteria takes a few of those precious minutes right off the front end, especially if there are some special someones who need a little extra “support”. After walking down to the teacher’s lounge, waiting your turn at the microwave, returning an email to a parent on your phone, and trying to remember if your lesson plans are ready for the afternoon, you might be able to sit, shovel, and have a few minutes of adult conversation. After scarfing down a few bites, you zip up your half-eaten lunch mid-conversation, and you speed-walk down the hall to promptly pick up your students in order to stay on the good side of the lunch aides. Turning the corner to the buzzing cafeteria, you silently curse, or school appropriately curse aloud “oh, banana grams!” when you realize that you’ll be hopping ’til 3:30 because you didn’t factor in 90 seconds to use the restroom. Forget a mirror to check for lettuce in your teeth. No worries, your kids will find it for you. Conclusion, teachers have an average of 10.5 minutes to eat lunch.

Speeding forward… My current school gives teachers 50 blissful minutes. Just shy of an hour to heat up a lunch, eat a gigantic salad while actually chewing, make a personal call, have a conversation with a colleague, look over afternoon lesson plans, and even use the restroom. To top it all off, we are actually allowed to walk out the front door like other free Americans to spend our lunch time however and wherever we want. We can go out for lunch! And there are days, like today, when I take full advantage of that option.

juice_generation_Gluten-FreeCat

Today I walked a few blocks to Juice Generation. Instead of grabbing a salad from their selection of raw food goodies, I opted for vegan sushi. The spicy mango roll with black rice, green mango, sweet potato, watermelon radish, and cayenne pepper was exactly what I needed to spruce up my lunch rut.

MangoSushi_GlutenFreeCat

Washed down with “The Professional” and I was ready for an afternoon of fourth grade acrobatics.

Professional

(What is it about me that was attracted to a juice called “The Professional”? Clearly the marketing genius who came up with this name was targeting those of us who aren’t satisfied with a green juice of apple and kale. The professionals go all the way! The more greens the better!)

Thankfully I remembered I needed an afternoon snack while paying for my lunch, and I was so glad that I had looked in Juice Generation’s gluten-free vegan goodie case when I headed back to my quiet classroom after saying goodbye to my charges. This almond butter muffin was not only delicious, it supported my “highly effective” lesson planning this afternoon.

Almond butter muffin

Feeling thankful, well-fed, and highly effective, I’m calling it a day. Teachers, how long do you get for lunch? Are you allowed to leave the building?

Raw Foods Thursdays 5/8/14 and an announcement

GF Recipes, New York City, Raw Foods, Raw Foods Thursdays, Vegan

Raw Foods Thursdays 5/8/14 and an announcement

14 Comments 07 May 2014

Friends, I’ve been meaning to write this post every week for the past 3 months. But every week, I put it off and host another Raw Foods Thursdays, because I become incredibly inspired by your submissions and faithful participation. So I set aside a few hours to write a highlight post, and the post I meant to write is pushed to the back of my mind.

Until the next Wednesday evening.

Raw Foods Thursdays is going to take a little break. I love this event, so this is a hard announcement to make. But my life has changed so drastically since moving to NYC that blogging has become less of a priority. I’m finding that instead of my normal 2-3 posts per week, my only posts lately have been Raw Foods Thursdays posts. Why? Because I’m busy with other aspects of my life, but I have an obligation to our wonderful participants and readers.

Realizing that I’m posting out of obligation finally made me write this today.

This isn’t goodbye.

This isn’t an announcement that Gluten-Free Cat is closing down.

I just won’t be writing as frequently for a season. And when I do write, I will write because I’m excited to share something with you and not because of a schedule.

I’m also finding that my diet is changing. While I will always love raw vegan foods, and my diet will mostly consist of plant-based meals, I find myself not sharing certain experiences with you because of the raw vegan label. You might be disappointed if I told you that I’ve been eating some non-vegan foods. (There, I said it!)

That I enjoyed this very delicious not-so-dairy-free risotto from my favorite gluten-free restaurant on Saturday.

Rissoto_Gluten-Free_Cat

That when I stumbled upon this sign in the West Village I just had to try the pancakes and didn’t ask if they were made with eggs.

Pagani_Gluten-Free_Cat

I don’t believe I’ll ever be a meat eater again. There are just too many ethical reasons why that no longer works for me. But I’m no longer swearing off all animal products. Living without them mostly? Absolutely. But completely? No.

I know that most of you don’t care how I eat, but there are some of you who read this blog because you’re a vegan. Not wanting to disappoint you is one of the reasons my posts have been dwindling. But I really just want to be me. Without a label.

Me_on_Morton

So, let’s share some raw foods before my hiatus begins! And I will definitely let you know when RFT starts up again!

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Simply link up a raw foods recipe (see What is Raw Food?), mention Raw Foods Thursdays, and link back to this post so your readers can join in the fun!
  • Please link to the recipe, not to a blog’s home page, so we can all find your raw foods recipe.
  • You may link up a recipe that you’ve made in the past. Just make sure to share something different each time you participate.
  • Be sure to leave a comment letting us know who you are and what you’re sharing.
  • Feel free to use the Raw Foods Thursdays blog badge created by the lovely, talented Heather Peters!

Sharing the Raw Love:

  • All raw submissions will be pinned on the Raw Foods Thursdays Board.
  • All raw submissions will be shared on Facebook.
  • Feel free to share this event in your social media communities as well!

What are Raw Foods Meals?

  • Plant-based meals that are not cooked.  Dehydrators may be used.  (The raw foods community has differing views on temperature, but the range is between 104 and 118 degrees.) Feel free to link up recipes that use a slightly higher temperature as long as they could be made at 118 with a longer dry time.
  • Raw Ingredients: vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, gluten-free sprouted grains, beans, and oils.

What isn’t raw?

  • Anything cooked or heated above 118.
  • Anything processed.  If it comes from a can or a package that lists more than one ingredient, chances are it’s not raw!
  • If your recipe contains an ingredient like maple syrup that makes your submission “almost raw”, please share it anyway. Raw sweeteners are easy to substitute.

What do you have to share?


Friday’s Find at The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

New York City, Raw Foods, Vegan

Friday’s Find at The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

4 Comments 07 March 2014

Last weekend I went to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and had a great time. It was fun to rub elbows with other veggie lovers, talk to vendors, and try a few new foods. I was excited to see that most items were vegan and naturally gluten free. So today’s Friday’s Find will highlight a few of my favorites.

As a vegan I love finding cheese alternatives, and it’s a double bonus when they’re raw! Imagine my surprise at finding two great raw vegan cheeses at the festival.

Treeline Cheese has two delicious soft cheeses and a new line of hard cheese that is coming out soon. The hard cheeses were there to sample, but one of them is not gluten-free. Not wanting to risk it, I only tasted the soft cheeses which were incredible!

Cheese_Gluten-Free_Cat

Treeline products can be found at Whole Foods and other natural markets.

I also found another raw vegan cheese by Nuttin Ordinary that I really liked. They had a Cashew Cheese Spread and a Spicy Cashew Cheese Spread available to try. Guess which one was my favorite!

Nut_Cheese_Gluten-Free_Cat

Nuttin Ordinary started in New Hampshire and is spreading (pun intended) throughout the Northeast. I hope to be able to find them in New York soon.

But nuts aren’t just good for making raw cheeses. I found another company that blends them into nut butters combining 7 nuts and seeds in each product. NuttZo butters are organic and come in three different flavors: original, a peanut-free version, and dark chocolate, which is out of this world.

Nutzo_Gluten-Free_Cat

There were snack bars, protein bars, and nutrition bars everywhere, but these Amrita bars were delicious and packed with plant-based nutrients. Check out their store locator to find a sample for yourself.

Amrita_Gluten-Free_Cat

And just for fun…I couldn’t believe that we have this is Manhattan!

Sushi2_Gluten-Free_Cat

Beyond Sushi creates 100% vegan sushi at two locations in NYC, Chelsea Market and Union Square. Forgive my blurry iPhone pictures, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse of the artistry. There was one roll for sampling which immediately caused me to put Beyond Sushi on my list of NYC eateries to try.

Sushi1_Gluten-Free_Cat

Have a great Friday!

Readers, dish!

  • Have you tried any of these products?
  • What new gluten-free, vegan find have you found recently?
  • Have you had any fun food adventures lately?
Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegan

Valentine’s Day at Candle Cafe West

8 Comments 19 February 2014

On Valentine’s Day, the Husband took me to one of the vegan restaurants in our neighborhood that we hadn’t yet been to together. I was thrilled to be wined and dined at Candle Cafe West with my love on this special occasion, and he definitely knocked it out of the park with the restaurant choice. We had to chuckle when the waiter asked if either of us had ever been to Candle before. I had been there with some girl friends, but the Husband had not. So the waiter looked at the Husband and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. This is vegan food for people who like food.” Obviously he had no idea who he was dealing with!

There are two Candle restaurants in the city. We had a wonderful experience at Candle Cafe East several years ago, so I knew this was going to be an incredible dinner.

We had the option of ordering dishes off the prefixed menu or going for the whole kit and kaboodle by choosing a soup, an appetizer or salad, an entree, and a dessert.  There was also an option to have each course paired with a different wine. Guess which one we chose!

Every single item we ordered was outstanding. There were at least two gluten-free options in each category, so there was plenty for me to choose from. We both ordered something different so we could enjoy more of the menu.

The Soups

Both soups were creamy and unique, starting off our meal with warm tummies on a cold evening. The portions were huge, but they were so delicious I just couldn’t help eating the entire thing! I wondered how in the world I would be able to eat 3 more courses. Don’t worry, I managed.

Valentine's1Gluten_Free_Cat

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Arame Caviar and Truffle Oil

Valentine's2_Gluten-Free_Cat

Smoked Red Pepper Soup with Bread

(The soup was gluten free, but the bread was not.)

I appreciated that there was plenty of time between courses to enjoy the wine and actually start feeling ready for more food. We weren’t rushed on this busy night but were given time to savor and anticipate the next course.

The Appetizers

Again, the appetizers were ample. Mine was almost a mixture of an appetizer and a salad. The Husband’s was almost a lunch portion entree.

Valentine's4_Gluten-Free_Cat

Grilled Artichokes with Green Beans, Hearts of Palm, Kale, English Peas, and Red Pepper Aioli

Valentine's5_Gluten-Free_Cat

Yes, I actually ate peas! There are few foods that I dislike, and peas are one of them, but these weren’t bad disguised in the delicious flavors from the rest of the dish.

Valentine's3_Gluten-Free_Cat

Spinach Ravioli with Tofu Cheese, Sauteed Spinach, Garlic, and Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce

(This was not gluten-free, so the Husband enjoyed this one all by himself.)

The Entrees

I actually can’t say which entree I liked better. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them in the restaurant as well as the leftovers the next day. I am determined to improve my tempeh and tofu-baking skills after tasting what can be done with them! The tempeh tickled my tastebuds with spiciness while the tofu had a Asian flair similar to Suzanne’s Dragon Sauce at Hello Veggy.

Valentine's6_Gluten-Free_CatVegetable Stuffed Tempeh with Grilled Tempeh, Sauteed Peppers, Shallots, Oyster Mushrooms, and Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

Valentine's7_Gluten-Free_CatSesame Crusted Tofu with Ginseng Infused Black Rice, Sauteed Snow Peas, Edamame, Ginger, and Sake-Miso Sauce

The Desserts

Love. Love. Love. Three out of the four desserts offered were gluten-free. So we narrowed it down to chocolate and chocolate. I’m a firm believer that if there is a chocolate option there’s no need to look further. I’m sure we ordered the best two desserts, because I can’t imagine a dessert tasting better than either of these.

Valentine's9_Gluten-Free_Cat

Almond Joy – Chocolate and Almond Mousse, Candied Almonds, and Raspberry Coulis

Valentine's10_Gluten-Free_Cat

Brownie with Candied Pecans, Strawberries, Kahlua Ice Cream, and Chocolate Sauce

It was a delightful evening with incredible food and wine and great service. I would highly recommend Candle West for a special occasion or just a fun dinner out. Put it on your list!

Candle Cafe West
2427 Broadway
New York, NY

Readers, dish!

  • What did you do for Valentine’s Day?
  • Which of the above dishes would you order?
  • Have you ever been to Candle Cafe?

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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