Archive for February, 2010

5 Seasons Gluten-Free Beer is Here!

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on February 26th, 2010 by Betsy – 5 Comments

I just received the following email from Crawford Moran, the beer guy at 5 Seasons Brewery.  I’m looking forward to trying out their new gluten-free beer and one of their GF daily specials on Monday night.  I love their vegetable plate!

Betsy,
I just wanted to follow up with you and let you know the gluten free beer is finished! We just installed a new draft line to handle it. We’ll be tapping the first keg of it Monday. And we’ll be serving it at both 5 Seasons North in Alpharetta and 5 Seasons Westside in Midtown West.

In addition to the gluten free beer, every Monday night from now on both places will be doing all gluten free options on the daily specials menu. So there will be LOTS of delicious gluten free things to choose from on Monday nights. (Our regular menu always has gluten free items.)

Please pass the word along!

Thanks so much,

Crawford Moran
5 Seasons

Slow Food Family Dinner with Carlo Petrini: Athens to Atlanta Part III

Posted in Atlanta, event, local food, recipe, Restaurants, Uncategorized on February 25th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

I’m a little quirky; I know that.  My quirkiness factor shines through when I talk about my passions.  Three of my favorite things are fresh produce, folk music, and local celebrity chefs.  Yes, it’s an odd assortment but those are some of my loves.  Well, Sunday evening I got to be part of an event that involved all of the above favorites.  Can you believe it?  What a lucky girl I am!

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On Sunday night, Slow Food Atlanta put on this incredible ‘family dinner’ at Watershed Restaurant in Decatur.  Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, was the guest of honor and other important ‘Slow Food’ folks attended. This event was a great way to conclude the Georgia Organics weekend and brought many amazing people from Athens back to Atlanta.  Even a couple of speakers that I heard at the Georgia Organics Conference attended the dinner, including Michel Nischan of Wholesome Wave Foundation and Diane Harris of the CDC.

Not only was this an amazing culinary event, but the money raised from the dinner went towards Slow Food’s Terra Madre Foundation.  What is Terra Madre?  This international foundation works to “bring together different players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity.”  I love the emphasis put on taste and biodiversity.  For example, it’s good to have many varieties of apples and potatoes, not just russet and golden delicious. Agricultural variety is beneficial to all of us because it encourages local farming, develops our taste buds, and allows us to enjoy better and healthier foods, packed with vitamins and tasty goodness.  If we support small, local farmers, we’ll be ‘preserving taste and biodiversity.’  Petrini and Terra Madre believe “eating is an agricultural act and producing is a gastronomic act,” therefore we need to be followers of both farming and flavor.

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How did I get to be at this incredible event?  Unfortunately I was not a paying customer, but I participated as a volunteer server and greeter for the night, allowing me to enjoy the festivities and be a part of the action. This was my first experience waiting tables and let me just say, I have a whole new appreciation for the food service industry and all of the work involved in getting a plate of food in front of the diner.  Watershed’s kitchen is pretty small (at least it seemed small to me) and there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, trying to complete their dishes and get food out to the tables.  The menu for this meal was created by the chefs, and each course represented a meal from that chef’s childhood.   One of the things I enjoy most about cooking is the memories that taste can trigger.  Each of these chefs poured their heart and stories into their dishes and every plate looked absolutely gorgeous.

If you’re like me and love all things foodie, you’re asking yourself, “who were the celebrity chefs?”  The list is long, with an extensive number of James Beard nominees in the group.  So while I was already star struck from shaking hands with Carlo Petrini when he walked in the door, being in the same kitchen with all of these celebs just about put me over the top.  I could care less about Johnny Depp or any other movie star, but chefs fascinate me and I’m awed by their talents.  Chefs for this family dinner included Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, Kevin Ouzts of The Spotted Trotter, Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale, Scott Peacock of Watershed, and Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering.  Ridiculous, right?  To have all of these guys and their cooking entourages in the same kitchen, with me carrying out their incredible food, I felt like I’d died and gone to food heaven.  I didn’t even get to eat the food, but I didn’t mind at all.

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I was so busy once the guests arrived that I did not get to take photos of the actual event or the beautiful food.  I’ve included some photos of Watershed and the room before the family dinner.  Now just visualize it packed with people, amazingly presented food, chefs wandering the room talking to the diners, and us servers in our white button downs.  Highlights of the meal were the Kevin Gillespie’s ‘One Dish Hog Dinner’ served in individual cassoulet dishes, and Steven Satterfield’s roasted oysters, Savannah red rice, served family style with Kevin Ouztz’ biscuits.    Here’s a look at the program and menu so you can get a better picture of the event since there are no photos to document it.

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Menu
Cocktails
Woodford Reserve Mint Julep
Prepared by: Mark Williams, Slow Food Bluegrass
Daniel Morrison, Watershed
NV Bodegas Matilde Totus Tuus Brut,
Cava; Spain
Red Brick Blonde Ale;
Atlanta, Georgia

Hors d’oeuvres
Scott Peacock, Watershed

Music
Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

Beet Salad
2005 Domaine du Viking Sec Tendre,
Vouvray; France
Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene

One Dish Hog Dinner
2004 Kluge Albemarle “Simply Red” Bordeaux Blend;
Charlottesville, Virginia
Kevin Gillespie, Woodfire Grill

Roasted Oysters, Savannah Red Rice
with Andouille Sausage & Shrimp
served with
Green Salad and Angel Biscuits

2006 Domaine de la Chevalerie ‘les Galichets,’
Bourgueil; France
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union
Kevin Ouzts, The Spotted Trotter

Applesauce Cake with
Calvados-Vanilla Cream and Caramel

Cafe Campesino Coffee
Cathy Conway, Avalon Catering

Each chef is listed with the item he/she created and presented to the diners for this special meal of memories and good food.  You can also click on this link to see the entire program, read about each chef’s culinary inspiration for his dish and learn the evening’s recipes.  You’ll notice that a lot of these dishes are entirely gluten free!  Doesn’t it make your mouth water just looking at it?I also loved that Charlottesville’s Kluge wine was represented on the menu.

The evening’s program was not just about food.  Slow Food Atlanta’s, Judith Winfrey, opened the evening with a beautiful welcome, followed by a performance by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, one of the owners of Watershed, hence rounding out the evening for me by adding some folk music to the event.  Saliers sang two songs, including the crowd pleaser, ‘Galileo.’  It was a lovely way to start the evening.  To hear her play the guitar and sing, just her, in such an intimate setting was incredible.

When Carlo Petrini spoke to conclude the night’s program.  he addressed world wide agricultural issues and the importance of supporting farmers in all countries.  Petrini believes in the importance of connecting and collaborating with all parts of the food system, including chefs, farmers, and consumers.  As we listened to Petrini’s words, it was incredible on to be surrounded by incredible chefs and farmers as we celebrated slow food and mother earth.  When Petrini talks about ‘the pleasures of the table’ and enjoying cultures through food, you feel like you’re there with him, tasting the cuisine and enjoying the people he’s describing.  Petrini has an incredible ability captivate an audience, speak to our hearts, and allow us to feel his passion.  These are rare talents for public speakers in general, but Petrini has to speak through a translator and you still feel his love, energy and enthusiasm for good tasting food.

Many people worked hard and were involved to pull off this incredible evening and I’m so glad I got to play a (minor) role in the event.  Was I exhausted afterwards?  Yes.  Do I ever want to be a full time server?  Never.  Did I love every second of this event that combined my favorites: local food, celebrity chefs, and folk music?  Absolutely.

Athens to Atlanta (Part II): The Importance of Family Dinners

Posted in advice, event, local food on February 23rd, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

My final workshop of the day at Saturday’s Georgia Organics Conference, was called “Family Dinner: The Real Happy Meal.”  Emory Psychology professor, Marshall P. Duke, began his presentation making the disclaimer that he’s neither a foodie, nor a farmer.  Despite this statement, Duke gave a lecture that grabbed directly at my ‘food-heart’ about the value of food, especially preparing and sharing meals.  Duke spoke about the importance of families eating dinner together and the correlation between children’s resiliency and whether or not they eat family dinner.  When I taught at a day school I was always amazed by how few of my students actually ate dinner with their families at night.  We lead such busy lives, that people and children often eat meals on the run or in the backseat of a car.  As you know, David and I love sharing meals together, with friends and family.  We enjoy the time that we have with people around the table, ideas shared and insights learned.  We hope to one day do the same with our children.

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Duke works and researches at the Center for the Study of Myth and Ritual in Family Life and he spoke about his findings in regards to the importance of families creating rituals and memories as a family.  If you gather at the table together, as a family, you share stories and memories, as well as create your own.  The study began with asking children questions about their family history and those that knew the answers tended to be more resilient and likely to avoid cigarettes, alcohol and other destructive behaviors.  It turns out that it’s not knowing the answers to these questions that makes children resilient, but HOW they learn the answers to these questions.

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So how do children learn about their family history?  It turns out that these stories are shared around the dinner table.  Conversations at the table allow children to identify with their family history, especially the ups and downs of past generations.  Duke said that those children who are provided with an ‘oscillating memory shape’ (one that shares both the good and bad) will be more likely to identify with those stories of resilience and overcoming obstacles when they encounter their own life hurdles.  By sharing family stories, you send the message to your children that they belong to a family that transcends and overcomes.  When a child then encounters a tough situation, they are more likely to cope with it positively because they know that family members have previously dealt successfully with difficult times.  Duke said that family dinner is the variable within our control that affects our children the most.  Such a simple change that can provide such positive outcomes and be fun.

I believe that food has the power to transform situations.  We’re vulnerable at the table.  We sit facing one another, breaking bread together and sharing who we are.  Even simple conversations connect us. If you’re interested in reading more about the importance of family meals, check out Miriam Weinstein’s book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals. So put away the Iphone, turn off the TV, and give the family meal a try.

Athens to Atlanta: A Weekend of All Things Food (Part I)

Posted in Atlanta on February 22nd, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

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Since our move to Atlanta last August, I continue to be amazed by just how ‘foodie’ this city is and I love it.  Many restaurants here embrace the idea of serving local food, and each week, I meet more people who believe in the mission of feeding our population good, fresh, nutritious food.  This weekend I had the opportunity to take advantage of some incredible, uniquely Georgia, food opportunities, that allowed me to learn more about the food policy world, being a conscious eater, and even work in the same kitchen as some of this year’s James Beard nominees.

On Saturday morning I drove from Atlanta to Athens to participate in the 13th annual Georgia Organics Conference.  While I couldn’t attend the farm tours on Friday afternoon, the nerdy teacher in me was eager to participate in the Educational Sessions on Saturday.  Georgia Organics does an incredible job organizing this huge event.  With eight sessions to choose from during each of the four time slots, the conference’s offerings were large in number and diversity in choice.  Everything from “Bugging Out” (management of pests) to “Small Scale Composting,” to “Rooting the Farmer in Farm to School.”

Every session I attended was informative and led by passionate and incredibly smart people.  It’s refreshing to know just how many motivated people are involved in farming and food policy.  Since I don’t (yet) own my own farm, I chose sessions in the ‘Food Systems’ and ‘Slow Food Culture’ categories and I thought I’d fill you in a little on what I heard.  Definitely a day of inspiring people with insightful (and even hopeful!) thoughts.

Eating for the Future: Led by Anne Palmer, Program Director for Johns Hopkins Center for A Livable Future, this presentation particularly interested me because I lived in Baltimore after college and the connection between food and public health is important to me.  Palmer’s discussion gave many staggering statistics about cities’ (especially Baltimore), lack of access to healthy food.  We can’t expect our low income populations to eat healthily if there’s nowhere to access good food, right?  For example, in southwest Baltimore there are 43 ‘food stores,’ but 76% did not sell fruit and 69% did not sell vegetables.  (Both of these statistics include canned fruits and veggies too.)  Isn’t that unbelievable?  One thing I never thought about was that grocery stores are so big now that they tend to be built in the suburbs.  This is fine for a family with a car that can drive to these locations but many people living in cities don’t have the resources to get to these gigantic Wegman’s and Safeways, making them limited to what’s in their neighborhood.  Palmer is working with local farmers, trying to get produce into city stores and even city farmers’ markets.  Overcoming physical and social barriers that prevent good food from getting to low income populations is her goal.

In Search of a Righteous Porkchop: Nicolette Hahn Niman wrote the 2009 book, The Righteous Porkchop and she spoke at Georgia Organics about her quest to find the righteous pork chop, as well as the history of the meat farming industry in the United States.  A lawyer, Niman worked for Bobby Kennedy in his environmental group and investigated pig farms in Missouri and North Carolina, and how they mimicked the model started by the poultry industry in 1920s.  Referred to as ‘modern agriculture,’ this system involves antibiotics, hormones, terrible living conditions, and polluted air and water for neighboring populations.   Did you know that 70% of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are given to animals, not humans?  Many of these large corporations even convinced local legislators not to enforce federal laws through lobbying and bribery.  I have a confession: I’m much better about making sure I know where my vegetables come from than my meat or dairy.  Nihman was so inspiring and encouraging but also not judging.  She talked a lot about how we should all make changes to our diets, but that it should be incremental.  Make small changes, such as eating one vegetarian dinner a week, not vowing to entirely wipe out poultry from major meat corporations from your diet.

porkchop

I did love one of Niman final lines though: “Everything you eat should come from a place you could enjoy visiting.”  She and her husband, Bill Niman, own a cattle ranch in northern California that is absolutely beautiful and the animals looked happy and comfortable.  Two of the things I loved most about Ms. Niman is that she is a vegetarian, yet believes there is a righteous porkchop and at the conference she brought her 1-year old son, who came to the book signing with her.  I love seeing strong women, who are pursuing meaningful careers that also fit with motherhood.

Policy’s Influence on Food Choice and Access: The name of this workshop is pretty self descriptive, but the people on the panel brought a variety of perspectives to the table.  Dr. Diane M. Harris and Dr. Joel Kimmons, both from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) discussed the importance of prevention when dealing with chronic diseases, and how much diet can contribute to prevention.  Harris mentioned the idea of ‘libertarian paternalism,’ and nudging people in the right direction to make the healthiest choices.  Kimmons discussed the CDC’s initiative, for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  The importance of decreasing high caloric foods, increasing physical activity and decreasing obesity obviously make huge long term health benefits for the American population.  He mentioned there are many components to the Food Systems Network and we need to change the entire system, not just one component.

Christa Essig, spoke next about creating a food system that benefits all of the systems within the system, including economic, environmental and social.  She discussed many different issues involved in getting food to the people who need it but especially talked about just how much buying power large institutions have that feed their employees.  For example, Google really took the lead on this idea by only serving healthy, quality food in their cafeteria.  Essig also went on to discuss the importance of companies working with farmers to tell their story and get access to the food.  Often transportation and time are two of the biggest obstacles for farmers to get their food to different populations.

The final member of this panel, Michel Nischan, President of Wholesome Wave Foundation, spoke about the need to get quality produce into high population, low income areas.  The mission of Wholesome Wave is “to encourage and support increased production, availability and access to fresh, healthy and affordable locally grown food for the benefit of all.”  I love this idea and I hope to some day bring Nischan’s ideas to Virginia.  Nischan was all about the idea of “If you build it, they will come.”  He said that we underestimate our low income, urban populations and if you create access and affordability to good produce, they will buy it.  He pointed out that many urban populations are first generation immigrant populations who, prior to the U.S., bought most of their food at markets.

wholesomewave

A great Q&A session followed this panel and similar to all of my workshops, I was inspired by the passion that the panel leaders as well as those of us in the audience shared for consuming quality food, supporting farmers, and getting more Americans access to the best and most nutritious food.  I found the day to be very hopeful, even though we discussed many issues and policies that sometimes seem hopeless.

Can you tell I had an amazing weekend?  I’ve already written way more than is ‘blog appropriate’ and I didn’t even get through Saturday.  Stay tuned to hear about my final workshop of the day as well as the Slow Food Atlanta Family Dinner with Carlo Petrini at Watershed that I was a volunteer server for last night.

Westside’s Ormsby’s: Wine & Good Times

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on February 18th, 2010 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Ok, so I’m never going to be able to eat at Ormsby’s, but I love the atmosphere of this new Westside tavern.  I literally don’t think there’s anything on the menu I can eat except the peanuts and rosemary popcorn, and perhaps a burger patty, hold the bun.  This tucked away bar in the White Provisions development that opened right before Christmas, is known for its beer, but I must say, that it’s also got a great wine selection.  They do not yet have any gluten-free beers, but Ormsby’s wines by the glass are well priced, with a large selection.  (Sure, it feels a little funny to not be getting a beer at a place intended for beer drinkers, but we celiacs are used to feeling a bit out of place at breweries and taverns.)  My wine preference here is the $8.50 glass of Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon.  The biggest difficulty is finding Ormsby’s as it’s basically in the basement of the building.  If you park in the garage behind West Egg, and walk towards White Provisions, there’s a big wooden door with a small sign saying Ormsby’s.  On a Saturday night, it’s not as difficult to find as this quickly popular spot will have a long line of folks waiting to get through the door.

It isn’t just the booze that makes Ormsby’s a great place to meet up with friends, watch a game or celebrate a birthday.  Downstairs they have a variety of games to entertain, such as bocce ball, shuffleboard and darts.  We went to Ormsby’s one of the first nights it was open and had a great time playing the games.  Now that Ormsby’s has been ‘discovered,’ you should definitely plan on waiting awhile for a game on a Saturday night.  Weekday nights or a weekend afternoon might be your better bet if trying to get in on the game action.

David and I went a few weekends ago to watch the Duke/Georgetown basketball game.  (We don’t have television so during basketball season, we spend more money going out to watch games than an actual cable bill would cost.)  As Duke was getting frustratingly clobbered, David and I noticed Ormsby’s also has board games.  Love it!  We pulled out Scrabble and brought it over to the bar.  I proceeded to crush David at Scrabble, as witnessed by our friend John Jones, making me victorious in at least something that day, since my Dukies couldn’t pull off the ‘W’.

Ormsby’s will continue to be one of our ‘go to’ Westside neighborhood spots due to its  great atmosphere and the entire place is non-smoking.  Ormsby’s has enough TVs so you can watch your favorite game (they’ll even change the channel for you), but the televisions don’t overtake the place like some sports bars.  The wine list is pretty expansive, not limited to ‘house red wine’ like many beer spots.  As I mentioned earlier, gluten dominates the menu, so if you’re looking for a gluten-free dinner, try somewhere else in the neighborhood for dinner, then venture to Ormsby’s for a glass of wine, boiled peanuts and a game of bocce.

Ormsby’s -  1170 Howell Mill Road – Atlanta, GA 30318 – (404) 968-2033
Ormsby's on Urbanspoon

Valentine’s Day Simple Salmon Supper

Posted in Atlanta, local food, recipe on February 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 6 Comments

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As I sat with David at the dinner table on Sunday night, I loved that our meal together was no different from a normal evening for us. We cooked together and ate delicious food to celebrate Valentine’s, but no decadent chocolates or extravagant dishes.  Just us and great (gluten-free) food.

I don’t want to get cheesy, and I’m not even a big Valentine’s Day person, but I must say that I am so thankful for my wonderful husband and our almost six years of marriage. I don’t think I would have ever been diagnosed with celiac if it wasn’t for David encouraging me to go to doctors and always believing me and supporting me when I was sick.  For those of you that don’t have celiac, pre-diagnosis is a miserable time of constant sickness, scary possibilities and false diagnoses.  (Not always great for a marriage.)  David stood by me throughout and has been my number one fan as I’ve entered the gluten-free world.

I love this photo of our two aprons because every time I walk by them tackily hanging on our kitchen wall, it reminds me of us. Many meals have spilled on these aprons, oil splattered from the skillet, flour (GF of course!) from the mixer, but these aprons capture our love of all things cooking and being together. I actually gave David his apron (the manly, black and white one) for Valentine’s Day a few years ago.

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Our dinner on Sunday night was nothing fancy, but it was yummy and used lots of simple, local food and great flavors. I’ve included the recipes from our dinner below. It can be daunting to think about all of the steps involved in making a meal, but I promise, it’s not as complex as it might seem. This is a very simple meal and I would suggest prepping and cooking in the order the recipes are listed below. The cooking time for the salmon is much shorter than the roasted vegetables. You can always just keep the veggies in the warm oven until ready to serve and you can reheat the kale right before serving too. Cooking should be fun and enjoyable so try not to worry about timing everything perfectly. Precisely timing my various meal components used to stress me out but I’ve learned, thanks to my more laid back husband, that making ahead is a great strategy in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Simple Salmon Dinner with Roasted Veggies and Braised Kale:

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Roasted Vegetables: I love roasting vegetables, in fact I roast veggies nearly every night for dinner. I just used the following assortment because the were fresh from The Local Farmstand, but you can use any combination root veggies such as potatoes, radishes, carrots, turnips, or rutabagas, to name a few. Just make sure that you scrub them well and cut your veggies into pieces that are similar in size so they cook evenly. (I don’t even peel my vegetables if they’re fresh, local and organic.)

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 bunch baby Hakurei Turnips, greens removed (You can eat the greens by braising them, I just left them out since I was roasting.)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 385. Chop sweet potatoes and turnips. Cut sweet potatoes into pieces about the size of the turnips. Lay vegetables on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, then toss veggies and cook for another 20 minutes.

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Braised Kale

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots (onions work fine if you don’t have shallots)
  • 1 large bunch fresh kale
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 lemon

Heat oil in skillet or large pan on medium heat. Add shallots and cook, about 3 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add kale and toss to coat in oil and shallots, turn heat to low and cover. Let cook for another 20-25 minutes, until tender. Toss in golden raisins for last 5 minutes of cooking.  Add 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and toss at end of cooking, or serve with slices of lemon to use on both salmon and kale.

Simple Salmon: (Inspired by Bon Appetit’s February 2010 Balsamic Glazed Salmon)

  • 2 salmon fillets, skin-on (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)

Sprinkle skinless side of salmon with salt and pepper. Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, put salmon, skin-side down in the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip salmon onto skin side and cook for another 4 minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat.
You can serve your salmon as simply as this or you can make the balsamic glaze…Add balsamic vinegar and honey to skillet. Boil until reduced to a glaze. Serve glaze on top of salmon.

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Enjoy salmon nicely placed on top of kale with your roasted root vegetables on the side. Great colors, flavor, and freshness. I’m all about olive oil and fresh produce. Nothing fancy, right? What a perfect Valentine’s dinner for us. Minimal work, but still making good food. We enjoyed our dinner with a great bottle of wine and a nice, quiet evening at home.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  Yesterday I made these yummy (and easy to make!) simple peanut butter cookies for a friend’s birthday and to serve as a gluten-free dessert at a wedding I’m attending later today. (At least three of the wedding guests are gluten-free).  Enjoy these cookies with your valentine or friends.  I included them with some of my favorite gluten-free candies: almond Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Cups and M&Ms.

The Flying Biscuit: Don’t Let the Name Fool You

Posted in Atlanta on February 12th, 2010 by Betsy – 5 Comments

While I love making scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning or enjoying David’s GF banana chocolate chip pancakes, sometimes you just want to get out of your PJs and go out to brunch. A mimosa in your own house just doesn’t seem as fun, right? Finding a brunch place that is willing to accommodate gluten-free diners, and also be careful about contamination, is tricky. Usually brunch preparation involves one griddle used to cook all breakfast items. So even if the eggs are technically gluten-free, you want to be extra careful to tell your waiter that the pan, utensils, etc. need to be clean. I’ve been to restaurants for brunch that told me they can’t accommodate me and I’m ok with that. I’d rather a restaurant be honest than pretend that everything’s going to be fine and it’s not. Also, go with your gut (ha!) on whether or not to trust the place.  If you feel like your waiter isn’t giving you the proper attention you deserve, just say “no.”  You don’t have to order anything, nor should you feel compelled to eat it once it’s served, if something doesn’t seem right about the dish that’s been put in front of you.  Yes, it’s totally awkward, but better than getting sick.

On a similar note, it’s always a good idea to bring a ‘back up plan’ with you if you’re going out for brunch. Keep a Lara Bar in your purse or a yogurt & granola, just in case there’s nothing on the menu for you or they can’t promise you a gluten-free meal. It’s never any fun to watch the people around you eat a yummy, greasy, brunch when you’ve got nothing to munch on. When I go out for brunch, even at a place I know will be safe, I’ll bring my own gf muffin to enjoy with my meal. I keep a bunch of muffins in the freezer to pull out for occasions such as a brunch outing. I love baked goods for breakfast and don’t want to envy other people’s plates.

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Fortunately, I’ve discovered a few places in Atlanta that have been great brunch spots for me this year. Now when a friend asks if we want to go out to brunch on Sunday, I can confidently say, “Yes, let me suggest a place.”  One of those places is the Flying Biscuit. Just hearing the name of this brunch spot made me nervous about going here. The only reason I went to Flying Biscuit was because we were meeting friends of friends and I didn’t want to be picky upon our first meeting. I brought my own food with me, thinking that I would be limited in my food options on that busy Sunday morning. When I mentioned gluten-free to the hostess, she replied, “Oh, I’ll make sure that our server who has celiac will wait on your table.” Wow. That was unexpected news. It’s always a relief to learn that my server knows what celiac is, but it’s a rare blessing when your waiter actually has celiac. Our server was not nearly as excited as I was about her celiac diagnosis, in fact she was pretty unhappy about it. But, she was great about telling me my options and understanding contamination. She told me that they would make sure they used clean utensils and a ‘safe’ part of the griddle.

Not only did I have a knowledgeable waiter and a willing kitchen staff, but there were also a variety of options available to me on the menu. I enjoyed the special, which was an egg scramble with grilled chicken, sautéed vegetables and cheddar cheese. Both the oven-roasted “mood dusted” potatoes and creamy dreamy grits are gluten-free and since I couldn’t have the biscuit, I got both of these sides. I love any type of hash browns so I was thrilled I could have them in addition to my egg scramble. Most of the egg dishes are GF so you do have a variety of brunch options.

I really enjoyed my brunch at Flying Biscuit and liked the atmosphere at their very busy Buckhead location. A word of warning though; be prepared to wait for awhile (like 30 minutes to an hour!) for a table. This place is bumping and crowded, but worth the wait. The Flying Biscuit is a franchise, so I don’t know if the other locations are gluten-free savvy, but it’s worth paying them a visit. My experience here was a perfect reminder of why it’s good for us celiacs to venture out into the dining world and explore our culinary options. We just might be pleasantly surprised!

Stay tuned for more of my favorite Atlanta brunch spots…

Flying Biscuit: Buckhead – 3515 Northside Pkwy. NW. – Atlanta, GA 30327
Flying Biscuit Cafe on Urbanspoon

One-Dish Wonder with Winter Greens

Posted in local food, recipe, vegetarian on February 11th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

My friend, Carter, passed along a recipe from Whole Foods last week that I just couldn’t resist. It looked so yummy and had the makings of a great one-bowl vegetarian dinner. This particular recipe appealed to me also because it used seasonally appropriate winter vegetables, like swiss chard and carrots. Red onions are another veggie favorite of mine, but I felt like they lost a bit of their flavor in the cooking process. (When I make this recipe again, I’ll probably add the onions to the greens halfway through the cooking process.)

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You get all kinds of wonderful fiber and nutrients in this meal from each ingredient, including the brown rice. The feta cheese gives this dish a little ‘umph’ to prevent the potential ‘blah’ factor, especially if you’re preparing it for someone who doesn’t really appreciate the beauty and flavor of fresh vegetables.

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I made this meal for dinner on Monday night, in honor of Carter (who sent me the recipe) and her team, the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory. Did you know Drew Brees is gluten-free? Who Dat?!

Winter Greens w/ Carrots, Feta Cheese & Brown Rice
(Adapted from Whole Foods Market recipe)

Ingredients:
1 pound carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bunches leafy greens, such as kale, collards or swiss chard (I used swiss chard)*
½ red onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste (yes, you’ll want salt)
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 cup brown rice prepared & cooked as instructed on packaging

*The original recipe says to remove stems and thinly slice. I like the stems so I used the entire leaf and I like bigger pieces of greens since they cook down so much anyways. My pieces were probably bigger than the recipe intended.

Preheat oven to 385. Toss chopped carrots in olive oil and lay flat on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, flipping with a spatula at 20 minutes.

Put greens, onions and ¼ cup water in a skillet. Add salt and pepper. Toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Toss pine nuts in a little olive oil, s&p on a piece of tin foil. Put in the oven for the last five minutes the carrots are cooking. You’ll want both your carrots and your pine nuts to have a nice brown color to them.

Toss rice, greens, carrots, pine nuts and feta. Serve in one bowl of for a great combination of yummy deliciousness.
This Monday night dinner made great lunch leftovers, I only wish there were more! Since I didn’t have enough for a whole meal, I combined it with some leftover chunky lentil soup and reheated in the microwave. Mmmm..

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Exciting News!  I just ordered a new camera.  My old point & click camera has served me well, but it’s time for an upgrade.  I’m eager to post higher quality photos  on Gluten Freedom, with less blur.  I’ll let you know when the long awaited camera arrives.

Guest Blogging for Foodie Buddha

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on February 10th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

One of my favorite local bloggers and restaurant reviewer, Foodie Buddha, recently agreed to let me ‘guest blog’ for him.  Last week I wrote a review of the restaurant, Two Urban Licks. Click here to check out my review.

foodiebuddha(Image from Urban Spoon)