Monday, September 29, 2014

Biscottis now has fantastic gluten-free sandwiches and pizza

I recently learned that Biscottis in Avondale, along with sister restaurant BB's in San Marco, began offering gluten-free sandwiches and pizzas. So I contacted co-owner Barbara Bredehoeft, who invited me to visit Biscottis and try them out.

I'm glad I went.

Biscottis now has a full gluten-free menu which includes several sandwiches and pizzas, in addition to salads, soup and a couple of appetizers. Barbara said she wanted to create a gluten-free menu that looked just like any other menu, so people with gluten issues can enjoy a meal there.

I got a simple smoked turkey sandwich and I have to say, this may have been the best sandwich I had in four years. The sandwiches are made on sub rolls which are provided by food service vendor Cheney Brothers, meaning that these aren't rolls which we can buy ourselves. And that's unfortunate because I thought the roll was fantastic. I just loved the sandwich.

I also got the smoked chicken romesco pizza, which was also great. The only reason I'm not raving about the pizza as much as the sandwich is because I've found a number of great gluten-free pizzas recently. I can't remember ever having a sandwich this good since I started eating gluten free.

The only thing missing at Biscottis is gluten-free beers on the menu, but Barbara is working on it.

In the meantime, enjoy the sandwiches and pizza.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

U. of Chicago expects to find celiac cure

I received a copy of "The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten-Free," a new book by Beth Hillson that really is a "complete guide."

There is a lot of information stuffed into this book on a wide range of topics, which I think would be an excellent resource for newbies on the gluten-free diet. But I also found some new information that piqued my interest.

Beth seems somewhat optimistic that current research will lead to a cure for celiac -- well maybe not an actual cure but at least a medical treatment that would allow us to eat normal foods.

The most interesting thing, which I didn't know, is that the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center has changed the URL of its website to

Yes, one of the top celiac research centers in the country expects to cure it, and they've even set a target date: "we seek to cure celiac disease by 2026," the website says.

That sounds like a long way off, but it does make me more optimistic. And I'm hopeful the cure will come some time before then.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Papa Murphy's passes all the tests

I just had to try a Papa Murphy's pizza over the weekend, and I'll cut right to the chase: the pizza was great, and it seemed like the staff did everything possible to prevent cross-contamination.

I've never been to a Papa Murphy's before so I don't know if every store is the same, and I especially don't know if their gluten-free precautions are the same in every store. But I was very pleased with the response I got at the store on Hodges Boulevard, in the Publix shopping center just off of Butler Boulevard.

When I ordered a gluten-free pizza, they asked if I had an allergy. When I said yes, they not only went to the back to get a gluten-free crust, they also brought out fresh containers for all the ingredients, to make sure I was not getting any ingredients that might accidentally contain gluten.

This is basically the same procedure I've seen at chains like Your Pie and California Pizza Kitchen, which have documented gluten-free procedures.

Yes, they put this all together in the same space where other pizzas are prepared, but I really don't see how any gluten could have reached my pizza. Maybe there were specks of wheat flour in the air, but I felt pretty good about it.

Remember, Papa Murphy's pizzas are made to take home and bake in your own oven, so I didn't have to worry about cross-contamination there.

The pizza tasted great too, ranking as high (in my mind) as any other gluten-free pizza I've had.

My pizza with two ingredients cost $13, which I think was $11 plus $1 each for the toppings (it's not detailed on my receipt). This is a 12-inch pizza, so I thought it was a decent price for what I got.

So yes, if you were wondering, Papa Murphy's is a gluten-free pizza worth checking out.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Papa Murphy's now has gluten-free pizza crusts

As rumored last month, the Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza chain confirmed today that it now has gluten-free crusts available.

The stores will be offering a 12-inch par-baked crust made by Udi's.

Unfortunately, Papa Murphy's does warn that there is a risk of cross-contamination, because the gluten-free pizzas will be prepared in a kitchen that also has gluten-containing pizzas. If you are interested in these pizzas and have concerns, I would encourage you to contact the local store to ask about possible precautions.

Papa Murphy's said that, beginning tomorrow, you can check the store locator at the website to see if the gluten-free crusts are available. But the company does say it will be available in more than 1,000 locations this month.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Glutino offers good breakfast options

I received a box of Glutino breakfast bars to sample the other day but as it turned out, I happened to find another Glutino breakfast product in a store that same day that I liked even better: English muffins.

I've been on something of an English muffin kick lately for some reason and I don't think I ever saw Glutino's brand before, but then I found them in, of all places, Walmart. My local Walmart (Beach and San Pablo) suddenly has a really good gluten-free frozen food section, as well as a gluten-free shelf section, so I was able to try the English muffins for the first time, and I really like them.

I've actually had the breakfast bars before and I like those too. Glutino is promoting them now as a back-to-school item, but I like them as a travel item. I will pack breakfast bars for a quick and safe gluten-free breakfast when I'm staying in a hotel for a few days.

Breakfast bars are also serving as my hurricane prep food. Before going gluten-free, I used to store a couple of boxes of Pop-Tarts every year through hurricane season as something filling that didn't need to be cooked if we were hit by a major storm. Fortunately, that's never happened, and we haven't even been threatened this year, but it's still nice to keep the breakfast bars around. Hurricane season isn't over yet.

Along with the breakfast bars, Glutino also sent a product I hadn't tried, pretzel chips. I enjoyed those too. I've always thought Glutino makes the best gluten-free pretzels, so I wasn't surprised I liked the chips.

All good stuff.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gluten-free beer options widening

I found a couple of new gluten-free beers -- at least new to me -- at Total Wine to help me enjoy the first full weekend of football.

I went to Total Wine specifically to find something new, for a change of pace. I found these in the beer singles section, where there were several gluten-free beers available. I really liked the selection there and the fact that they make single beers available, to give me a chance to try out new beers.

I picked out two new beers.The first is Fox Tail beer, which is made by Joseph James Brewing Co.

The interesting thing about Fox Tail is that I bought a can of it. This is the first time I've been able to find gluten-free beer in a can, so I just liked the experience of it.

As it turned out, I wasn't crazy about the taste. According to the Joseph James website, Fox Tail is made from rice and has a "solid hop bitterness" which is "complimented by pear like esters reminiscent of dry cider."

The second beer is a German import called Lammsbrau, that I really liked. I probably liked it because this is one of those beers made from barley. Lammsbrau says on its website that it "uses a unique proprietary technology to remove gluten during the production of this beer."

I know that's controversial. A lot of celiacs are rebelling against beers like this and Omission that are made from barley with a process to remove the gluten, and the brewers say that they fall below the 20 ppm standard. Questions have been raised about the testing of these beers.

I've been drinking them with no problem, but I know other people say these beers make them sick. So I can't really make a recommendation one way or the other.

Speaking of beers like that, I should also mention that I finally returned to Mellow Mushroom over the weekend and had a Prairie Path beer.

You may recall my note a couple of months ago that I was served the wrong beer at Mellow Mushroom when I ordered a Prairie Path, which was a very dangerous situation.

I thought the staff handled it well when I realized I was served the wrong beer, and it was confirmed when I walked in to the restaurant yesterday for the first time in more than two months. The bartender immediately remembered my last visit and assured me that Prairie Path was available and that he would make sure I got the right beer.

So, I feel pretty good that nothing like that will ever happen again at Mellow Mushroom.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No gluten-free beer at EverBank Field

Just got some very discouraging news from the Jaguars: there apparently won't be any gluten-free beer available at Jaguars games this year.

The team will be selling a gluten-free cider called McKenzie's, but that's not the same. I want to be able to drink beer at the games.

I could care less about the giant scoreboards and the swimming pools. All I need to enhance my gameday experience is a gluten-free beer.