Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Good pizza, but bad ordering process at Pizza Hut

Since yesterday was opening day for Pizza Hut's gluten-free pizza, of course I had to try it.

The pizza did taste good but I have to say, the process of ordering it was confusing and disappointing.

I ordered my pizza from Pizza Hut's website, which had a clear link for "gluten free." However, I was not happy with the process once I clicked on it.

First of all, Pizza Hut promised that its cheese and pepperoni pies are certified gluten free, but they can't guarantee a build-your-own pizza would be gluten free. So, I expected to see something indicating I was ordering a safe product if I got a pepperoni pizza.

There is a warning before you order that there is a risk of cross contamination, but there is nothing to indicate that they have a different process for cheese or pepperoni pizzas. The only thing you can do is build your own pizza with a gluten-free crust and indicate you want pepperoni on it. That raised a lot of questions for me about the safety of the process, and I did not feel as comfortable ordering as I thought I would.

Then, on an unrelated issue, when I finished the ordering process, the website said my carry-out order would be ready in "about an hour." That would be ridiculous for a carry-out order, so I called the store immediately and they told me that my pizza was already being prepared and would be ready in 15 minutes. They had no explanation for why the website said it would take an hour.

So, I was a bit frustrated when I went out to pick up the pizza.

The pizza did come in a special gluten-free box, as promised. And it was quite tasty, so I was happy about that.

However, I really hope they can improve the ordering process to make us feel better about it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Here's something to annoy you

If you've never read the Gluten Dude's blog, he often quite bluntly attacks people who express their ignorance about celiac disease and gluten-free issues.

He caught this very annoying segment with Joy Behar on the Morning Joe show. I've managed to annoy Joy Behar for most of my life, but I can't ignore this:

http://glutendude.com/media/joy-behar-gluten-free-train-wreck/

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Uncle Maddio's features many gluten-free pizza choices

I visited the new Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint at the corner of Baymeadows and Southside, the chain's first Jacksonville location.

Uncle Maddio's promises on its website that it has "over 20 gluten-free options." I was definitely impressed by the gluten-free menu because it includes a number of specialty pizzas. Of course, many restaurants that offer gluten-free pizzas only have a limited number of options.

So, looking for something different, I ordered a Jamaican Jerk pizza.

This is one of those places where they make the pizza right in front of you. When I ordered a gluten-free pizza, they asked if I had an allergy and immediately changed gloves and brought out some fresh ingredients. Like just about every other pizza place, they don't have a separate prep area for gluten-free pizzas but seem to be aware of the issues and take steps to try and prevent cross contamination.

As for the pizza, I was disappointed that the chicken didn't seem to have much flavor to it. On the other hand, I thought the gluten-free crust was great, one of the best gluten-free crusts I've had.

So, I would visit Uncle Maddio's again, but I might stick to a more traditional pizza like pepperoni.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Coors has gluten-free beer, but not close to us

Along with Pizza Hut's plan to introduce a gluten-free pizza, the other big gluten-free news this week was the announcement that Coors Brewing Co. is coming out with a gluten-free beer.

Unfortunately, we won't be seeing it anywhere near Northeast Florida. Coors is introducing the beer in the Seattle and Portland markets, with no plans to expand its distribution.

The beer, called Coors Peak, is made with water, brown rice malt, brown rice, protein from peas, hops and caramel sugar, according to a company spokeswoman.

It will be brewed separately from other beers to ensure a gluten-free certification, she said.

The best news out of this for us is that more major food and beverage companies are coming out with gluten-free products, and these companies are not being cavalier about it. They understand the issues of celiac disease and gluten intolerance and are taking steps to make these products safe. I'm hoping to see more of this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pizza Hut introducing gluten-free pizza

Pizza Hut is the latest pizza chain to come out with a gluten-free pizza, announcing this week it will introduce its gluten-free pizzas on Jan. 26.

The gluten-free pizza will be available in about 2,400 locations, which is only about 30 percent of all of its U.S. restaurants. But from the list they sent me, it looks like it will be widely available in the Jacksonville area.

Pizza Hut is using crusts from Udi's and has partnered with the Gluten Intolerance Group, which runs the most well-known gluten-free certification program, to ensure the best procedures for making their pizzas as safe as possible. The kitchens won't have separate preparation areas but from what I can tell, Pizza Hut is using all the proper procedures. It's probably as safe as the gluten-free pizzas from any other chain.

Pizza Hut is basically offering cheese-only and pepperoni pizzas gluten free. You can order other ingredients that may be gluten free, but the company won't certify those pizzas as gluten free. The cheese and pepperoni pizzas will be much safer bets.

The gluten-free pizzas are 10 inches and cut into six slices, with pricing starting at $9.99.

You can read more information on it here: https://order.pizzahut.com/glutenfree.

Here is the list of locations in the Jacksonville area that will be offering the gluten-free pizzas:

12961 N Main StJacksonville FL
9501 Crosshill BlvdJacksonville FL
13799 Beach BlvdJacksonville FL
4311 University Blvd SJacksonville FL
5421 Roosevelt BlvdJacksonville FL
7939 Normandy BlvdJacksonville FL
1141 Dunn AveJacksonville FL
6140 Merrill RdJacksonville FL
5751 N Main St, 106Jacksonville FL
5615 San Jose BlvdJacksonville FL
8221 Southside BlvdJacksonville FL
2771-13 Monument RdJacksonville FL
5844 Atlantic BlvdJacksonville FL
11018 St Augustine RdJacksonville FL
3952 3rd St SJacksonville Beach FL
11233 Beach Blvd, Ste 20Jacksonville FL
10950 San Jose BlvdJacksonville FL
1020-17 N Edgewood AveJacksonville FL
3035-1 Dunn AveJacksonville FL
1630-32 San Marco BlvdJacksonville FL
8102 Blanding Blvd, Ste 25Jacksonville FL
940 Cassat AveJacksonville FL
12525 Philips Hwy, Suite 112Jacksonville FL
6733 103rd St, Suite 20Jacksonville FL
815 Atlantic BlvdAtlantic Beach FL
868 Blanding BlvdOrange Park FL
5000 US Hwy 17Orange Park FL
2285 Kingsley AveOrange Park FL
1609 N Orange AveGreen Cove Springs FL
119 Bartram Oaks Walk, Suite 107St Johns FL

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

National Gluten-Free Day????

I got emails today from P.F. Chang's and Pei Wei saying today is National Gluten-Free Day.

I never heard of this "Day" and a quick Google search didn't really turn up anything, except a Facebook page that hasn't been updated since exactly one year ago when somebody was trying to promote Jan. 13 as this "Day."

P.F. Chang's and Pei Wei were using the emails to promote their gluten-free menus, but they weren't offering any special discounts or anything. So what's the point?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yes, these are good cookies

After checking up on the availability of gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies in Jacksonville, I was fortunate enough to receive free samples of the gluten-free Toffee-tastic cookies. So I can tell you, yes, they are very tasty.

The cookies are described as buttery with toffee bits, but I'm not sure I tasted the toffee. They basically taste like a good old fashioned butter cookie. That's a good thing.

The only thing keeping me from buying more of these is that I've decided it's time to lose the weight I've gained over the last four years on my gluten-free diet. I'll say it again: no, the gluten-free diet is not a weight loss regimen.

Anyway, the gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies should be available at cookie booths in the Jacksonville area, in limited quantities, starting on Feb. 13. They will also be available online from Girl Scouts who participate in the program, beginning next week.