Monday, April 29, 2013

Better onion rings at Epik Burger

I made a second visit to Epik Burger today. The first time I went, which was actually at a pre-opening event, I said the onion rings were thin and soft. However, since then, I talked to Korey Konopasek, the owner, and he said he finally got the onion rings recipe right.

He did. My onion rings today were big, thick and crispy. Yes, we have gluten-free onion rings in Jacksonville.

I also have to say I continue to be impressed with the buns. I got a regular burger today and, just like with my chicken sandwich the last time, the bun held together.

I met two other celiacs there today who were trying Epik Burger for the first time. They said they were enjoying their meals.

This is looking like a very good place for us. If you haven't found it, Epik Burger is on Atlantic Boulevard in a strip shopping mall at the intersection with Girvin Road.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your Pie impresses with gluten-free program

I finally got to visit the new Your Pie pizza restaurant on Fleming Island yesterday.

It's a long ways away from my home at the beach, but at least franchise owner Mike Sims is working on opening a second location at Tapestry Park. I'm looking forward to that (and possibly a future beach location) because this is a place I want to visit again.

Your Pie is great for celiacs for two reasons: it has a large variety of gluten-free pizza options, and it also has a good program in place to try to avoid cross-contamination.

Mike admits that it's impossible in a pizza place to give a 100 percent guarantee against cross-contamination because of the pizza dough dust flying around (Tommy of Tommy's Brick Oven Pizza says the same thing), but they are doing everything they can.

I'll be writing more about this in my Times-Union column next month. But they took me into the kitchen to show me how they prepare gluten-free pizzas separately from other pies, and I was impressed.

I got to sample three pizzas, a barbeque chicken, thai chicken and regular pepperoni. I liked them all. I'd say the barbeque chicken was my favorite.

If you're not out in Clay County, you may not find your way to Your Pie. But hopefully they'll be opening more locations near you in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Epik Burger opens today

Epik Burger, a new Jacksonville restaurant that features burgers and a number of other sandwiches available on gluten-free buns, opens today.

I was able to attend a pre-opening event last night. As much as I've been looking forward to having a gluten-free burger, I decided to order a buffalo chicken sandwich because that's something I haven't been able to have in more than two years.

I was impressed by the gluten-free bun, because this was a very sloppy sandwich but the bun held it together.

The menu is impressive. In addition to a number of burgers you can order on a gluten-free bun, it also has chicken burgers, veggie burgers and a tuna burger you can order gluten free. There are a whole bunch of things on the menu that I'm looking forward to trying. You can check on the menu on their website at

Instead of fries, I of course ordered the gluten-free onion rings. I've only found gluten-free onion rings in one other place, Yeah Burger in Atlanta.

The rings were thin and soft -- I would have preferred crispy onion rings -- but they tasted good.

The restaurant is located in a strip shopping center on Atlantic Boulevard at the intersection of Girvin Road.

You'll want to check this place out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gluten-free pizza in Delaware

I found myself in Delaware over the weekend, drinking lots of wine because I couldn't find gluten-free beer anywhere I went -- I think at this point, every hotel bar should stock gluten-free beer, but that's another story.

Since I found a new pizza chain with gluten-free pizzas, I thought I should share my experience. I went to a place called Seasons Pizza with a bunch of family members, thinking I may have to have a salad for dinner. But I was pleased to find gluten-free pizza on the menu.

Seasons is a chain with more than 25 locations mainly in Delaware and Maryland, but also in Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

I tried to order sausage on my pizza but the waitress told me that the sausage had gluten in it. I figured that was a good sign, showing that she was aware of gluten-free needs.

The pizza tasted very good. The one problem, that I have seen with other extremely thin gluten-free crusts, was that the crust kind of stuck to the baking sheet. But I did enjoy it.

If only they had gluten-free beer to go with my pizza...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

El's Kitchen gluten-free snacks now at Publix

Another brand of gluten-free snacks has made its way to Publix store shelves.

El's Kitchen, a Stratford, Conn., company produces a line of gluten-free snack "Medleys" that are available now in Publix stores. The medley consists of pretzels, potato chips, corn nuts, bagel chips and corn chips.

El's is also introducing a line of bagel chips, called "Snaps," that company President Eleanor "El" Smith hopes will be in the stores soon. El sent me bags of the Snaps, so I was able to try them too.

El is not gluten free herself but said she starting making gluten-free snacks three years ago when she found that one of her best friends from childhood was celiac.

I enjoyed all the snacks I tried. I only tried the Medley's original, but they also come in cheddar and sour cream and onion varieties.

The Snaps come in cinnamon and sugar, garlic and herb and sea salt varieties.

The only drawback, like with everything else gluten free, is the price. The Medley's cost $5.29 for a 5-ounce bag. I don't know what the price is for the Snaps, which come in 4-ounce bags.

If we're lucky, maybe Publix will have a BOGO sale on them.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Larry's Giant Subs now offers gluten-free rolls throughout the chain

It seems like I keep getting a lot of good gluten-free news lately, and here's another one: Larry's Giant Subs is now offering subs on gluten-free rolls throughout the chain.

Larry's began testing the gluten-free rolls at four company-owned restaurants last fall, but now they are available throughout the system, Chairman and President Larry Raikes said.

Larry's gets its rolls from the Cookie Momsters bakery. Raikes said the company is going through 400 to 500 gluten-free rolls a week.

"It's catching on," he said.

Larry's does charge $2.25 extra for the gluten-free rolls, but Raikes said customers don't seem to mind paying extra. I'm one of those people. I'm just happy to be able to go out and get a gluten-free sub.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gluten-free buns and beer are back at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

I spent Opening Day of the major league baseball season at home with my own gluten-free hot dogs (with Udi's buns) and beer.

But I also have some good news for those of you ready to go out to the ballpark. The Jacksonville Suns will once again have gluten-free dogs and beer, along with other gluten-free items, available at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

"We're going to have exactly the same thing we had last year," said Jamie Davis, the Suns' general manager for ballpark foods.

That means you can go up to the Sundowner Lounge, a bar and lounge inside the ballpark, and order hot dogs and beer.

Davis said the Suns got a pretty good response last year when they first offered the gluten-free items. The response was not big enough for the team to offer the gluten-free items at its regular concession stands, at least for now. They are only available in the Sundowner Lounge. But it least it looks like the gluten-free items are here to stay.

So take me out to the ballpark!