Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Canyon Bakehouse my new favorite gluten-free bagel

I've been a fan of Canyon Bakehouse for a long time, since I first tried their hamburger buns. They were the first good gluten-free buns I could find when I started on my gluten-free diet more than four years ago.

So, when Canyon offered to send me samples of their new gluten-free bagels, of course I couldn't wait to try them. And they lived up to my expectations.

When I opened the box, I immediately caught the aroma of their Everything bagels, and it was the first time I can remember a gluten-free bagel smelling like the fresh-baked bagels I used to eat.

These turned out to be the first gluten-free bagels I've tried that taste good without toasting. My general rule with other gluten-free bagels is that I have to toast them almost to the point of burning them to get them to taste good.

Canyon also sent me their new plain bagels, which are also good, but it will be the Everything bagels that I will be eating in the future.

I haven't seen these in any stores yet. Target is carrying Canyon Bakehouse products, but I was in my local Target and didn't see them. Hopefully, we'll be seeing them on store shelves soon. These are now my favorite gluten-free bagels.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Milton's Craft Bakers offering some tasty gluten-free crackers

I received samples of some excellent gluten-free crackers from a company called Milton's Craft Bakers.

The gluten-free crackers come in four varieties: Multi-Grain, Everything, Cheddar Cheese and Crispy Sea Salt. They were all good, with a good texture. My favorite were the cheese crackers, but I tend to be partial to cheese when it comes to crackers.

I'd love to be able to find these on Jacksonville-area store shelves, but I haven't seen them yet. When I did a search on the company's website, it didn't show me anything within a 20-mile radius of my home. A Milton's representative told me that they are available at the Harris Teeter store in Fernandina Beach.

The company's website does say that they are available in some other stores that have outlets in this area, including Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Walmart. I'll need to start looking for them. They are also available at amazon.com.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lots of gluten-free stuff at Brick Oven

I finally made it to the Brick Oven Pizzeria & Gastropub on Fleming Island yesterday, and it was well worth the wait.

I should have gone sooner, but it is a 40-minute drive for me. But after having a great hamburger and fries yesterday and looking at its other gluten-free options on the menu, I really want to go back soon.

I'm going to write more about the Brick in my Times-Union column next month. But for now, let me tell you that the restaurant, which is owned by a celiac, not only has gluten-free buns available -- and a dedicated fryer for gluten-free french fries -- but also has gluten-free wraps and bread available for sandwiches, and gluten-free pizza.

It also has gluten-free pasta available for pasta dishes. And, they don't charge extra for gluten-free alternatives, like just about every other restaurant does.

I can't wait for my next visit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forget the Corner Taco truck

I've visited the Corner Taco restaurant in Five Points several times, but I had never had anything from the Corner Taco truck because I've never been in the same neighborhood.

But for the last few days, the truck has been parked in the St. Johns Town Center during lunchtime, so I decided to check it out today. And it was a complete disappointment. There was nothing gluten free available.

I was under the impression that you could get gluten-free tacos from the truck, and I know that most of the menu at the Five Points restaurant is gluten free, which opened after the truck was established. Maybe you could get gluten free tacos when the truck started operating, but I guess they stopped doing that.

The Corner Taco truck was parked at The Players Championship, so I went to check it out there, but then I saw the menu board said all tacos are served on flour tortillas. The line was too long for me to go up and talk to the people, and the truck wasn't parked very far from TacoLu's tent, which did have gluten-free options. So I figured maybe the Corner Taco truck was offering a limited menu at the golf tournament and I went on to TacoLu.

It was more discouraging today to see the "flour tortillas" sign again when I found the truck at Town Center. This time, I went up and asked and was told, no, they didn't have any corn tortillas.

I went instead to Chipotle, which does have gluten-free taco options, but it wasn't what I was hoping to eat for lunch.

I guess we have to forget about the Corner Taco truck.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

French fries are risky in a non-dedicated fryer

I received an interesting email from a reader after my Blind Rabbit review saying that you can't burn off the gluten in a fryer, no matter how hot it is.

The server there told me that their fryer is not dedicated to gluten-free foods, but it is hot enough to burn off the gluten. But he did say people who are very sensitive to gluten shouldn't try it.

As I said, I wasn't comfortable ordering the french fries after his explanation, and I wouldn't recommend a celiac trying them either.

But it's an interesting question: can french fries -- which are otherwise gluten free -- be made safe if they are cooked in a fryer where other gluten-containing food was cooked?

I found a really good post by the Gluten-Free Dietician on this topic. Her blog is very reliable, and she says no, you can't burn off the gluten, but there is still a question about whether french fries cooked in this oil will have less than 20 ppm of gluten anyway. She hasn't tested that, and I can't find any other source that tested that.

So, it is possible that these french fries are actually safe, but most people would recommend that you don't eat food that is cooked in a non-dedicated fryer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gluten-free burgers at The Blind Rabbit

I visited The Blind Rabbit for the first time last night. I was invited to a friend's birthday celebration there and I almost didn't go, thinking that there wouldn't be anything gluten-free there. However, the friend who invited me told me that she checked and they have gluten-free burgers.

Sure enough, I checked the menu online and it says you can get a gluten-free bun as an option for a burger. I had no idea.

I went to the Jacksonville Beach Blind Rabbit, but they also have a location in Riverside.

The Blind Rabbit calls itself a "burger and whiskey bar." I didn't want whiskey, but my friend said they have the best burgers in town, so that's what I wanted.

I was very pleased to find out, when I started asking questions to the server, that he was extremely knowledgeable about my gluten-free concerns. I asked about gluten in the various ingredients of the BBQ Bacon Burger I wanted, and he quickly pointed out that the crispy tobacco onions had gluten but everything else would be gluten free.

I also asked about the sides, which include french fries and hand-cut chips. He explained to me that the ingredients are gluten free but the frier is also used for gluten-containing items. He said the heat of the fryer seems to remove much of the gluten contamination and people with mild gluten issues have been able to eat the fries and chips, but people who are very sensitive should probably avoid it.

I was very happy that he gave me a detailed explanation, which was enough to convince me to skip the fries and have the vegetable medley as my side instead.

So I got my burger with a gluten-free bun (which held together well), and it was an excellent burger. I'm not sure if I'd agree with my friend's assessment that they are the best burgers in town, but I will definitely be back for more.

The one drawback to The Blind Rabbit is that they don't have any gluten-free beers. They do have a couple of gluten-free cider options, which I had.

But I'm glad I went and found this place. If you're looking for a gluten-free burger, you'll be glad too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time is right for Udi's meals

Udi's introduced a line of gluten-free frozen meals last year, which I had been reluctant to try because they cost too much. But Publix this week is offering them with a buy one, get one free deal, so I figured the time was right to give them a try.

So last night, I tried Udi's chicken alfredo meal. It was pretty good, as far as frozen meals go.

I know some people will just not eat processed frozen meals but as someone who isn't much of a cook, I had been eating them for years before I was diagnosed with celiac. I consider them a good option for a quick meal.

The Publix deal lasts through Wednesday, so I'll probably be back to buy a couple of more before they go off sale.