Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicago: my kind of gluten-free town

I spent the weekend in Chicago and had a couple of fantastic gluten-free experiences.
The first was pizza at Lou Malnati's, one of Chicago's famous deep dish pizza restaurants. They make gluten-free deep dish pizzas with a base made out of sausage, instead of a regular crust.
I went there last year and they made a mistake with my order, so I got a vegetarian pizza on top of the sausage crust. Since they gave it to me for free, because of the mistake, I ate it and it was okay. But it wasn't what I really wanted.
This year, I got a pepperoni pizza. I realize this was a lot of meat and that may not appeal to everyone, but I found it to be absolutely delicious, easily the best gluten-free pizza I've ever had. My only regret is that I don't know when I'm going to get there again.
Unfortunately, it was too dark in the restaurant so I don't have a photo to show.
The next day, I had another wonderful experience at Wrigley Field. The Cubs offer gluten-free hot dogs at a place called the Sheffield Grill, sort of a small cafe under the right-field stands.
They seemed very excited to serve me. When I ordered my two GF hot dogs, the cashier exclaimed "Ooooh, gluten free!" And then I ordered a Redbridge to go with it and she said "Ooooh, Redbridge."
She explained to me that the french fries are not gluten free so they would have to give me chips. I didn't even know that I was supposed to get fries or chips with my hot dogs, so of course I was fine with that.
I was actually planning on taking my dogs back to my seat in the bleachers. But then they called out my number and handed me two big paper plates with hot dogs and a big pile of chips on each plate. There was no way I could carry all this (and my beer) back to my seat. So I had to take a seat in the cafe and eat them.
This was way more food than I anticipated (considering the amount of chips included), and pretty reasonably priced for ballpark food. The hot dogs (with fries or chips) normally sell for $6.75 each, the same as regular dogs, but I was there in time for the 25% early bird discount which brought them down to $5.05 each.
The Redbridge cost $7.25, which is in line with ballpark pricing.
Although the hot dogs were apparently only available in the Sheffield Grill, Redbridge was available at other stands in the ballpark, which made things more convenient once the game started.
I also was able to get a Redbridge at my favorite postgame Wrigleyville bar, the Full Shilling (on Clark Street). And later that night, I found that my favorite downtown Chicago bar serves New Grist: Streeters Tavern on Chicago near Rush Street. When I visited Streeters last year, it didn't have any gluten-free beers.
So yes, Chicago is my kind of gluten-free town.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Company starting clinical trials of celiac vaccine

Ever since I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I've been hopeful that medical research would lead to some type of vaccine or pharmaceutical treatment.
Of course, we all know the only current treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. But I'm even more hopeful today that we're getting closer to a medical treatment that will allow us to eat normally.
I've been following a Boston-area company called ImmusanT which has been working on a vaccine for celiac disease. The company says its product, called Nexvax2 "is designed to re-establish patients' tolerance to the toxic effects of gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye, and allow them to return to a normal diet."
ImmusanT announced today is testing Nexvax2 in clinical trials in Australia and New Zealand. It expects to also launch a clinical trial at four U.S. sites, but it doesn't say where. If it's in Jacksonville sign me up.
This is a development worth following. You can get more information on the company here: