Monday, April 7, 2014

Ariana Restaurant at the James Beard House

Back Home

Saturday night I was fortunate enough to dine at the James Beard House.  A friend of mine had an extra seat for dinner and I agreed to go without knowing anything about the food that would be there or if I would be able to eat anything.  At the very least I thought it would be a good opportunity to experience a fun culinary event and drink a fair amount of wine.  What I experienced was such a delightful surprise I am still excited about it many days later.

Not only does the James Beard House hold some great culinary history, but the open kitchen allows guests to watch their food being prepared and talk to the chefs.  When the hors d'oeures were being passed I asked the waiter if he knew if they were gluten free.  He told me they were and that everything that night was gluten free.  I pointed to the gougeres and asked "even those?" with some serious doubt.  He said he wasn't sure but he'd go check. He came back and told me they were.  I didn't believe him.  He told me to go talk to the chef.  Well, this is the whole fun of an open kitchen so I went right in and asked Ariana herself.  When I told her I had Celiac she said her whole family has issues with gluten, herself included, and that the whole meal was in fact gluten free.  What a bit of luck.

Ariana and Andres Fernandez
The night only got better from there.  After enjoying the hors d'oeuvres at cocktail hour, my friends and I found our table only to realize we were sitting with Ariana's parents and children.  This was really special because Ariana owns Ariana Restaurant with her husband, Chef Andres Fernandez, and her parents, Glenn and Susan Asti.  We got to hang out with her three and six year old daughters, who were not only adorable, but eating caviar like it was no big deal.

Speaking of caviar, the food was amazing.  The entire meal I felt so fortunate that I could eat everything I was served without any pre-planning.  The great thing about sitting with the restaurant owners was that Susan and Glenn walked us through each course, describing where the food came from and the wines they chose to go with each.  We talked a lot about why the entire family is gluten free and how much of their restaurant is gluten free as well.

Each course was better than the next.  I'm trying to pick a few of my favorite dishes to tell you about, but I'm not even sure where to start.  I'd have to say the slow braised beef short rib with parmesan heirloom polenta was probably my favorite.  The wild Oregon salmon with black trumpet mushrooms, truffle-caviar beurre blanc, and Oregon truffles was a close second, and I don't even like salmon.  The entire menu is below.

Ariana is located in Bend, Oregon.  Based on the meal I had in New York, I highly recommend you try it.  And if you've never been to the James Beard House, I recommend you go there too.


  • Hors d'Oeuvre
    • Foie Gras Mousse–Filled Gougères with Huckleberry Jam
    • Smoked Columbia River Sturgeon with Roasted Ramp Crème Fraîche and Gold Potatoes
    • Pork Belly with Radishes, Chiles, and Lime
  • Dinner
    • Celery Bisque with Dungeness Crab and Lemon
    • Venison Carpaccio with Horseradish, Spring Onions, and Parmesan Crackers
    • Wild Oregon Salmon with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Truffle–Caviar Beurre Blanc, and Oregon Truffles
    • Slow-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Parmesan Polenta and Spring Garlic Gremolata
    • Passion Fruit Curd, Lone Pine Coffee Espuma, Raspberries, and Cocoa Nib Meringue

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Little Beet

After six months of not working full time I got a new job.  I love the lazy bum that created the name funemployment because I had an amazing six months of fun.  I did a lot of cool freelance projects, had frequent lunches with my brother, went to dance classes in the middle of the day, and did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  Quitting my job was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.  Life's too short to be miserable at work.

Anyway, now I'm back to working full time.  I'm doing something completely different but the work is interesting and the people are super nice.  That's really all I can ask for.  Oh, and the point of this whole post is now I have to (get to?) find new places to eat lunch.  Lucky for me, The Little Beet just opened and it's within walking distance of my new office.  Everything at The Little Beet is gluten free.  The whole place.  Which is really kind of amazing.  It's the friendliest of Celiac friendly places.  They also have super good and healthy food. And if you need a gluten free treat they also have baked goods from Tu-Lu's.

The Little Beet is a pretty casual place which makes it a great place to grab something to go for lunch.  They don't have table service, but they do have two floors of seating if you want to sit for awhile.  I go out to eat a lot, but I'm glad there is now a place that is 100% gluten free for those folks who were still too nervous to eat outside of their own kitchens.  And I'm selfishly glad it's just a few blocks from my new office.  Everybody wins!

Friday, January 31, 2014


I mentioned in my last post about the diversity in Queens.  My neighborhood, Astoria, is especially known for Greek food.  Ovelia is my favorite Greek place in the neighborhood not only for the good food, but because they clearly mark all gluten free items on their menu.  I've had the opportunity to try a lot of things and haven't been disappointed.  My favorite Meze are the Gigantes Plaki (lima beans in a tomato and onion sauce) and Ovelia Loukanika (house made sausage).  My favorite main dishes are the Lamb Fig Kebab and The Mprizola Hirini (simply seasoned grilled pork chops).  The main dishes come with a side and I'm partial to the sauteed kale.  Ovelia is located in the heart of Astoria on 30th Avenue and 34th Street.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dutch Kills Centraal

Dutch Kills Centraal

Friday night I met my friend and her coworkers for dinner and drinks in Long Island City.  I've lived in Astoria for almost six years and for some reason I hardly ever go out to eat in my neighborhood.  This is ridiculous because Queens is the most ethnically diverse area in the world and with it comes some seriously diverse food.  It's true.  Google it.

We met at Dutch Kills Centraal which isn't exactly in the hippest part of town but the restaurant has a really great vibe, and I never say vibe.  The interior is rustic, cozy, and very inviting.  According to their site, their concept is local, organic, and delicious cuisine at affordable prices.  Concept accomplished.

My friend and her coworkers picked the place and I just assumed I'd make the whole gluten thing work.  The waitstaff made it incredibly easy for me.  I asked if they had hard cider and the waitress said they had two and described them for me.  I asked if they were gluten free and she said she thought so but would double check.  I had never heard of either but decided to go with the Crispen.  When she brought the Crispen over she pointed to the Certified GF label on the bottle and was just as excited as I was.  I really liked the Crispen.  So much that I might even say it is my new favorite cider.  I love Woodchuck, mostly because they are from Vermont like me, but they can get a bit heavy. Crispen is light, and as the name implies, refreshingly crisp.

For dinner I got a burger sans bun and a side of brussel sprouts.  My friend Kristen got a burger with a side of kale. When I told the waitress I didn't want a bun she asked if it was a preference or if I have Celiac so she could let the kitchen know.  One million bonus points for her.  Not only did I feel safe in her hands, but the food was really good.  The burger was well seasoned and I really love brussel sprouts, especially when they are topped with bacon. Kristen's kale was also really good.  I will definitely be back to Dutch Kills soon.

Just a note that there is no gluten free menu here and they don't claim to be gluten free friendly.  However, I found the waitstaff extremely helpful and ate safely.  As with everything, eat at your own risk.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

By The Way Bakery

ByTheWay Bakery

I like to balance exercise with baked goods.  Or, I guess if we are trying to be healthy about the whole thing, I like to balance my baked good consumption with exercise.  I really enjoy taking long walks, and I really enjoy muffins, so twice now I have made the 6.5 mile walk from my apartment to New York's newest gluten free bakery in the Upper West Side.  Six and a half miles for a muffin sounds like a fair trade off, right?  Even if you answered no to that question, these muffins are worth it.

By The Way Bakery is a gluten and dairy free bakery that recently opened on Broadway and 90th Street in Manhattan.  This makes it New York's 7th gluten free bakery.  Seven!  We sure are spoiled here in NYC. I'm going to go ahead and make a big statement here: By The Way Bakery just might be my favorite of them all.  The store is super cute, they have a great selection of baked goods, and the owner and staff are really friendly.  I've been able to sample a few things, but the reason I'll keep going back are the muffins.  My favorites are the Blueberry Corn and the Pear Cranberry.

By The Way Bakery's original location is in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.  If you are in NYC or Hastings-on-Hudson I highly recommend you give this bakery a try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bar Taco

This weekend I went to visit my dear friend Susannah in Stamford, CT.  She's the kind of friend that I can go months or years without seeing and as soon as we are together again it's like we were never apart.  I took the Metro North up Saturday night and within an hour of leaving Grand Central we were sitting in Bar Taco already immersed in what would be hours of nonstop chatting.

Bar Taco is our go to place when I visit not only because of their good food, but because almost the entire menu is gluten free.  In fact, instead of noting the gluten free items on their menu, they mark the few items that are NOT gluten free.  Bar Taco has three other locations, all of them with the same gluten free friendly menu.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dancing Deer Gluten Free Brownies

Last night around 7:30 my apartment buzzer went off with a delivery from UPS.  I thought it must be a package for my roommate but it turned out to be brownie samples for me!  I had just finished dinner and this was basically the best surprise delivery ever.

It wasn't a total surprise because a rep from Dancing Deer Baking Co. had reached out to me last week to see if I would like some samples of their new gluten free brownies and I provided him with my address, so, you know, they were going to come sometime.  Dancing Deer has been selling their baked goods at specialty stores and online for years.  They are now introducing a gluten free brownie and asked for my feedback and to let you good people know about them (provided I liked them of course).

Well, I did like them.  So much that I ate three within an hour of them being delivered.  I am not proud of this fact, although Dancing Deer should be.  When my roommate got home I told her she had to bring the rest to her office today so I wouldn't eat ALL of them myself.  She agreed, after eating one herself and also realizing they were too good to have around our apartment.

The gluten free brownies are made in a dedicated gluten and nut free facility so you can rest assured they are safe to eat.  They come in packages of four and are currently being introduced at retailers mostly in the Northeastern US, but can also be purchased online at the Dancing Deer website.  Not convinced quite yet? Well, not only are these brownies pretty damn good, but Dancing Deer donates a portion of their profits to charity, making them a really awesome company to support as well.

Ok, I'm off to the gym now.  Does one Shred class cancel out three gluten free brownies?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

KuKu Canteen

KuKu Canteen

I love the New York City Celiac community.  Last Friday I found myself on my way to a bar near NYU to meet a friend for drinks.  I realized I was starving and remembered there was a place in the area people had recently been talking about as having a gluten free menu.  I couldn't remember the name of the place so I took to Twitter and had an answer within minutes: KuKu Canteen.

KuKu Canteen offers "fresh Asian fare using signature Korean ingredients."  They have a separate gluten free menu and I tried the Bibimbop.  Their bibimbop sauce isn't gluten free so they let you substitute any sauce you'd like.  This is a very casual restaurant with reasonable prices.  I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to go back, but if you are in the neighborhood and need a quick bite to eat definitely give it a try.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gluten Free in 2014

Happy New Year!  2013 was a year of change for me.  I quit my job and I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years. Everything turned upside down and now I'm entering 2014 wide open.  I don't make resolutions, but I am calling 2014 The Year of Opportunity and I'm hoping it's going to be super awesome.

A lot of people make New Year's resolutions and that's cool, but I get confused when I hear people with Celiac say things like "I'm going to stick to my gluten free diet better."  Um, what?  What have you been doing all this time? Going half assed and dying a slow painful death?  Literally?

But I get it.  Sometimes it seems like gluten is everywhere and I don't just mean in your food.  Does anyone else worry when they sit down at a cafe and the table is covered in someone else's pastry crumbs?  This happened to me today and it reminded me of a scene on the subway I encountered a few weeks ago.

It was morning rush hour and there was a 20 something man sitting down eating a muffin.  Seats were prime but no one was sitting next to him because he had inadvertently covered himself, the seats on either side of him, and the floor, with muffin crumbs.  So covered that no New Yoker would sit next to him.  I certainly wasn't going to.  I wish I had a picture to share with you.  It was outrageous.

It also reminded me about a time I was at work (before I smartened up and quit my job) and my dear friend Adrienne and I were chatting.  We were standing quite close and Adrienne was eating pretzels.  Adrienne is taller than I am and as she ate, pretzel crumbs rained down on my head and face.  It was my own personal food allergy hell.  I quickly jumped away and we had a good laugh about it, but yikes, a girl's gotta be careful out there.

Sometimes it seems like society is sprinkling bread crumbs everywhere just to F with us.  But if you can help it, don't eat gluten in 2014.  Because that's just dumb.  And it will make you sick.  Here's to a healthy new year full of opportunity!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Salted Triple Chip Cookies, My New Favorite GF Flour Mixture, and a Gluten Free Cookie Swap

Salted Triple Chip Cookies are my favorite go to cookie to make.  I've been making them for about a year and I can promise you they are a huge hit wherever you bring them.  Or with yourself if you are sitting home eating them alone. No judgement over here, just know they make A LOT of cookies.  I originally got the recipe from my friend Mallory and instead of re-typing it, here is the link for you.  Seriously, make these.

The only thing you need to do to make these cookies gluten free is swap out the flour.  For a long time I used 3 cups of Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour and 1 and 1/4 cups rice flour.  This works, but I've been meaning to make the gluten free flour mixture suggested by the Gluten Free Girl for a year and I finally got around to it.  You need a food scale for this, and I realize that can be annoying, so don't worry about trying this yourself if you don't want to.  If you do want to, I mixed together 300 grams of millet flour, 300 grams of sorghum flour, 200 grams of sweet rice flour, and 200 grams of potato starch.  This makes a bit more than you need for the cookie recipe, so once it's combined just measure out 4 and 1/4 cups for the cookies.  I also used this mix to make corn bread and it worked really well in both recipes.  Shauna originally said to use 60% whole grains and 40% starches.  In an updated version she uses 70% whole grain and 30% starches.  I'll try this next time.  She also encourages you to play with different kinds of flours. See her post for more information.

I made these cookies for a gluten free cookie swap I went to last weekend.  The recipe really does make a lot of cookies so I also brought a dozen to a holiday party I had the night before and a dozen to a book club I had the next day.  Cookies for everyone!  Speaking of cookies for everyone, there were a whole lot of cookies at this gluten free cookie swap.  We had Jaffa Cakes from Candice, sugar cookies from Molly, and so many more.  There weren't even any duplicate cookies.  It was quite impressive really.  Mmm cookies.