Monday, April 30, 2012 posts gluten-free reader's choice results

Here's something to peruse to kill time on a Monday morning (let's face it, it's hard to start working on a Monday).'s celiac disease website recently published the results of a survey of readers on their favorite gluten-free products and restaurants:

It's nice to see that all the restaurants on the list have outlets in Jacksonville. But it still boggles my mind that Carrabba's always ends up on these lists of gluten-free favorties. How can you enjoy an Italian restaurant that doesn't offer gluten-free pasta? If I'm going to an Italian restaurant, I expect pasta. I'll take Enza's in Mandarin, a local family-owned restaurant, as my choice for Italian food. And if I want to visit a chain, Maggiano's has gluten-free pasta. I won't set foot in Carrabba's until they make pasta part of the gluten-free menu.

One other note on pasta. My favorite gluten-free pasta brand, Heartland, didn't make the About.choice list. As I've said before, Heartland's spaghetti seems just the same as regular spaghetti. And it's available at Walmart stores at a reasonable price.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tweason'ale doesn't do it for me

I finally found Dogfish Head's new gluten-free beer, Tweason'ale, a couple of days ago at Broudy's in Jacksonville Beach. I'm always interested in trying a new gluten-free beer and I've been waiting for three months, since the company said it would begin distributing the beer in Jacksonville.
Dogfish Head says this beer is brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey. I've never been a big fan of flavored beers, but I figured I'd give it a shot.  It was selling by the single bottle at $2.75 each, so it was no big risk.
So I took a sip and my initial reaction was, "Ugh!" I thought it was awful.
Somehow, it seemed to get better as I drank through the bottle. You didn't think I was going to waste any beer, did you?
But that's probably the last time I'll be drinking Tweason'ale. I give Dogfish Head credit for trying and maybe some of the rest of you will like it. But I'll stick with the regular gluten-free beers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forbes spotlights Bold Organics' frozen gluten-free pizza

Interesting story posted by Forbes magazine today on Bold Organics' frozen gluten-free pizza. I got to try this at the gluten-free expo in St. Petersburg last month and I agree, it was pretty good.
It's available in the Jacksonville area at Whole Foods and Native Sun.
Here's the story:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hidden Valley adding gluten-free labels

Hidden Valley Salad Dressings announced this week that they have added a "gluten free" logo to their salad dressing bottles that are gluten free. That's something I consider good news.
A good number of salad dressings are gluten free, but I'm never quite sure unless the company confirms it. I generally buy Ken's salad dressings because the company provides a complete list of its gluten-free products on its website:
I've also found Ken's Buffalo wing sauce, which is on the gluten-free list, to be pretty good.
On the other hand, I refuse to buy any Kraft products because they make it so difficult. On Kraft's website, it tells you to read the list of ingredients on the label, rather than telling you which products are gluten free. And in my opinion, they make it as complicated as possible:
In it's press release this week announcing the gluten-free labels, Hidden Valley said its manufacturing plants have "stringent allergen control programs to prevent cross-contamination and all of the products listed as gluten free undergo scheduled testing to ensure that the quality of the claim matches the quality of the products."
Thanks, I think I'll give Hidden Valley a try.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Local Oven gluten-free buns pass the test

As we well know, one of the challenges of eating gluten free is finding suitable bread. Even the best brands tend to crumble in your hands when you try to pick up a sandwich.
So I was quite pleased to receive a sampling of breads from a Dallas area company called Local Oven. I received hamburger buns, hot dog buns (which I actually used as a sub roll), baguettes and pitas. And they were all good.
What sets these products apart are their texture. I don't know anything about baking bread but one of the problems with gluten-free rolls is that when you cut them open, you can basically see holes in them. That explains some of the flimsiness.
But the Local Oven products had a very thick texture, which probably explains why they hold up so well. Todd Fitzerman, Local Oven's director of sales, hopes that will appeal to those of us who had to give up gluten.
"We created a product with the same texture and taste of what people remember eating," he said.
Local Oven sells its products in individual wrappers and recommends keeping them in the freezer until ready for use. After thawing, it recommends toasting or putting them in the oven.
But I also found the hamburger bun held up well without toasting. That's important, because I like to take my own bun to a place like Five Guys, which has gluten-free burgers and fries but no buns.
So yes, the Local Oven products passed all my tests.
The company's products are available at a lot of restaurants in the Dallas area and are also available for sale through its website (
Fitzerman said the company is looking to expand the products into other markets. So maybe we'll be seeing them at restaurants in the Jacksonville area soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Suns' gluten-free experience everything I had hoped for

I hope you've read my latest Times-Union column that provides more detail on gluten-free ballpark eating.

As it turned out, I made my first visit of the season today to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to check out the Jacksonville Suns' new gluten-free menu. It was too late to add any of those details to the column, which you can read here.

But just to update everyone, the gluten-free ballpark experience was everything I hoped it would be.

The hot dogs are a bit pricey, like everything else gluten-free, at $6. But it was a good hot dog. The bun, which they tell me is from Rudi's, crumpled just slightly in the middle but otherwise was a very good bun.

The other gluten-free sandwiches, including chicken, burgers and pulled pork, are a bit higher.

But the Redbridge beer is priced at $6, which is not outrageous for a ballpark beer. So I'm happy about that. Remember, the Jaguars charged $11 for a Redbridge.

So yes, it looks like a good season of gluten-free hot dogs and beer with the Jacksonville Suns. Enjoy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

TacoLu adds Redbridge to gluten-free options

How can a gluten-free friendly restaurant get even better? When it adds gluten-free beer to its inventory.
TacoLu in Jacksonville Beach was already a favorite of many of us and on my last visit over the weekend, I found they now have Redbridge beer available. Yes, the margaritas are great, but sometimes you just want a plain old beer with your gluten-free tacos.
It also added Woodchuck cider as a gluten-free option.
TacoLu doesn't have a separate gluten-free menu but it says on the regular menu that if you need gluten-free, just ask. The staff is ready to help you.
TacoLu features a number of specialty tacos that can be served on soft gluten-free corn tortillas. Some of the tacos on the menu can't be made gluten-free because of the ingredients, but there are still many to choose from them. And they're all delicious.
And don't forget to ask for gluten-free chips when your server puts the chips and salsa on the table. The regular chips are not gluten-free, but they'll be happy to bring substitute chips.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

P.F. Chang's expands gluten-free menu

A favorite restaurant of the gluten-free crowd is expanding its menu. P.F. Chang's on Monday announced a number of new menu items, including new gluten-free items. Here is the list of new gluten-free items, according to a company press release:

Vietnamese Crab Salad
Crab Fried Rice
Asian Tomato Cucumber Salad
Lemon Scented Brussels Sprouts
Caramel Mango Chicken
Dali Chicken
Philip's Better Lemon Chicken

P.F. Chang's already had a good gluten-free menu. You can find it on their menu page here.
But in addition to a wide range of choices, the chain is also committed to preventing cross contamination by providing a separate preparation area for gluten-free items and also separate plates.
It's easily one of the best if not the best chain for gluten free.