Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Van's 'Say Cheese' crackers bring back memories

No, I really don't have any great new Thanksgiving tips to offer, but I did make a great new snack find. At least I think it's great.

In the crackers section of my local Target, I found Van's gluten-free "Say Cheese" crackers.

I mentioned before how cheddar cheese Goldfish were my favorite snack, so I was happy that Goldfish came out with gluten-free Puffs crackers. They aren't quite the same as the Goldfish I loved, but they are good.

Van's cheese crackers actually bring back memories of another favorite snack of my pre-gluten-free diet: Cheese Nips or Cheez-it crackers. I've tried a lot of gluten-free cheese crackers and these are the first that have the familiar taste and texture of Cheese Nips and Cheez-its.

If you like those as much as I did, give the Say Cheese crackers a try.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen gluten-free program looks good

I had an opportunity today to visit the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant at the St. Johns Town Center and see their gluten-free procedures for myself. I have to say I was impressed.

You'll recall that CPK pulled its gluten-free pizzas off the menu two years ago because of complaints that celiacs were getting sick from them. Apparently, the company was not providing any training on precautions to prevent cross-contamination.

The time they spent to get it right seems to be well worth it. They now have a separate preparation area in the kitchen for gluten-free pizzas and a separate cabinet to store the gluten-free sauces and ingredients. They also, of course, have separate pans and utensils to prepare the gluten-free pizzas.

And of course, just as I thought two years ago, the pizzas were delicious. I was able to try both a barbecue chicken and a pepperoni pizza. I loved them both.

Any pizza on the menu can be made with a gluten-free crust but the company says they can only certify five varieties to be completely gluten free. In addition to the two I tried, you can also get a mushroom pepperoni sausage, a margherita and a plain cheese pizza.

It costs $2 extra for a gluten-free pizza.

I would say California Pizza Kitchen is well worth the trip for a gluten-free pie.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Jags trying to fix gluten-free problems

The Jaguars have had their problems on the field this year but, of course, I'm more concerned about the problems they are having at the concession stands: specifically, the fact that I was glutened at their last home game.

If you didn't read my post last month, I was served a hot dog with a bun they claimed was gluten free but actually wasn't, and I got sick. The people working the hot dog booths clearly had no idea what gluten free means.

With another home game coming up this week, I had a chance today to talk to the people in charge of the concession areas and they assure me they are taking this seriously and working to correct the problems. As they explained, the concession stands are staffed by volunteers that can change every week, so they haven't necessarily been getting any training. Of course they don't know what to do when someone asks for a gluten-free hot dog.

The Jaguars say they are working to change that so that everyone working at the stands knows where to go to get gluten-free buns when someone orders one.

I have also been assured that the bartenders in the Bud Zone will be educated to know that there are gluten-free beers for sale. Last game, at least two didn't seem to know that.

I do believe the Jaguars are taking this problem seriously -- I expressed repeatedly that serving food with gluten that they claim is gluten free is dangerous. Still, I'm not sure I'd feel confident eating a hot dog at EverBank Field right now.

My advice remains: eat before you go.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New York's "premiere gluten free" restaurant

During a weekend visit to the New York area, I was able to visit a restaurant which bills itself as "NYC's premiere gluten free dining destination."

The restaurant is called Friedman's. There are actually two locations: one is called Friedman's Lunch located in the Chelsea Market. I visited its second restaurant, called Friedman's 31st, which is on 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The great thing about this restaurant is almost everything on the menu can be made gluten free. It has a varied selection of entrees. I had a turkey burger, which was good, not great. But I just liked the variety of options I found at this place.

Yes, I would highly recommend Friedman's if you're visiting the city.

I spent most of the weekend in New Jersey, where most of the gluten-free destinations I could find in my Internet searches were chain restaurants. But that did give me the opportunity to go to a Red Robin restaurant for a hamburger on a gluten-free bun. I've been hoping that Red Robin will expand to Jacksonville one of these days.

Yes, I liked the burger. I also like the fact that Red Robin offers "bottomless" steak fries which can be made gluten free.

This was my first visit to that area since I was put on a gluten-free diet. I've read about a lot of other gluten-free destinations in New York. I hope to get back there to try them one of these days.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gluten-free wraps at European Street

On a recent visit to the European Street Cafe in San Marco, I discovered that gluten-free wraps are now available.

Of course, ever since I started on the gluten-free diet, European Street has been a go-to place for me because it offers sandwiches on gluten-free bread as well as gluten-free beers. But I was happy to discover a new option. I assume the wraps are available at all four locations.

European Street gets its gluten-free bread from the Cookie Momsters bakery. I asked the waiter where they get the gluten-free wraps and he didn't know.

When I got the sandwich, the wrap seemed similar to other store-bought gluten-free wraps I've had. It was okay, but it was nothing special. I think I'll go back to gluten-free bread on my next trip there.

But like I said, it's so nice to have options.