Archive for June, 2011

Curry Chicken Salad

Posted in recipe on June 29th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

I love chicken salad, especially in the summer months.  It’s a great option for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time.  There are so many varieties of chicken salad that it’s hard to get sick of it.  Well, except when you make a huge batch of it and eat it for a week…

One of my all time favorites is Kim’s Chicken Salad.  This simple, traditional version of chicken salad is a go-to, great summer recipe.

Last week, I brought dinner to a family at our church who just had a baby.  I decided to try making curry chicken salad for the dinner, accompanied with this quinoa salad.  These dishes served their purpose as they were easily transportable, no assembly required and ready to eat upon arrival!  I also included salad and crackers as accompaniments for the chicken salad.

Since I planned on serving the chicken salad to some friends that same night, I wanted to make a lot of it.  In retrospect, I probably made too much.  Four chicken breasts would have been plenty.

A note on the chicken: I think it makes a huge difference to get bone-in, skin on chicken breasts.  The meat will be much more tender and it shreds up better.  Don’t be intimidated.

Curry Chicken Salad (Makes 10 generous servings.  Feel free to cut recipe in half.)

Ingredients:

  • 6 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or more, depending your preference; I used Hellman’s Light Mayo and it worked just fine)
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted*
  • 1 cup grapes, halved

*Toast pecans for about 5 minutes on a cookie sheet at 350.

Preheat oven to 350.  Put chicken breasts on baking sheet, skin side up.  Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for 35-40 minutes, until meat is cooked through.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Remove skin and pull meat off of the bone.  This should happen pretty easily.  Chop up chicken into pieces, in the size you prefer.  I’m not super precise in cutting up the chicken.  You can use kitchen shears or a knife.  Place chopped chicken in large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix mayo, curry powder, salt, and lemon juice.  Add mixture to the bowl with chicken and combine, mixing until chicken is coated.  Feel free to taste along the way.  The amount of mayo, curry and lemon depends on your taste buds.  I start with less mayo and add as I go.  I prefer mine to be a little “curry-heavy.”  Add pecans and grapes.  Stir and refrigerate.  I would suggest refrigerating for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy on top of a salad, with Mary’s Gone Crackers, or on toasted GF bread.  I find it perfect with summer heirloom tomatoes.

Our Top 5 Atlanta Restaurants

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on June 27th, 2011 by Betsy – 9 Comments

When David and I go for runs we talk about anything to keep us from thinking about the fact that we’re running. To quote David, “the best part about running is being done.” (Usually I let David talk and I nod my head, conserving as much energy as possible.)

On Sunday morning we went for a run and in the midst of our huffing and puffing, we created our “Top 5” Atlanta restaurant list.  When making the list, we had nice venues in mind.  Think entrees over $20.  Notice that I didn’t call this the Top 5 Gluten-Free Restaurant List…all of these make great gluten-free food because all of their food is lovely, quality and creative.

Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Bacchanalia (Westside): Favorite dishes: anything and everything.
  2. Empire State South (Midtown): We went here for the first time last weekend and loved it!  Our wonderful dining experience prompted our “Top 5 Discussion.”  Will post more details soon.
  3. Iberian Pig (Decatur): Favorite dishes are “BWDs” and lamb ribs
  4. Rosebud (Virginia Highlands): Favorite dish: scallops with pineapple smoked bacon, caroline rice, and sorghum mustard peppercorn honey
  5. Wisteria (Inman Park): Favorite dish: rack of lamb and mashed potatoes

What are some of your ATL favorites?  What do you like to order?  David and I are always looking for new places to try!

Still to come: Top 5 Atlanta casual spots…list to be determined during our next run.

Summer Cooking Ideas

Posted in cooking, recipe on June 22nd, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Running out of dinner ideas?  Are you in a “cooking funk?”  I feel that way sometimes…that’s when I find myself eating sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts three nights in a row.

Here are some recipe ideas to get your creative juices flowing (and your stomach rumbling):

Roasted Beet Salad

summerbeetsalad

Pesto

summerpesto

Egg Strata with Turkey Sausage

summerstrata

Salmon on the Grill

summersalmon

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas, Spinach & Pecans

summerchickpeaquinoa

Tomato Pie

summertomatopie

Summer Squash Casserole

summersquash

Peanut Butter Crispy Treats with Nutella

summernutella

Peach & Blueberry Crisp

summercobbler

What are you making in your kitchen this summer?  I would love your ideas to bring some creativity to my kitchen.

Happy Cooking!

101 Cookbooks’ Quinoa with Currants, Dill & Zucchini

Posted in cooking, recipe, Uncategorized, vegetarian on June 15th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

quinoabowl

Last weekend I hosted a baby shower for my friend, Meredith, who’s expecting a little boy in August.  My jobs for the shower included making gluten-free blondies and a quinoa salad.

quinoablondies

Last summer I made this quinoa salad for another baby shower, but when I saw the following recipe on Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, I couldn’t resist.  I love random ingredient combinations and this recipe fits that description.  I was a little nervous about the dill in the salad but I really enjoyed it, especially with the feta cheese.

I tripled the recipe below since I was making it for a crowd.  There were plenty of leftovers too!

quinoapresents Quinoa with Currants, Dill and Zucchini (from 101 Cookbooks)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup dried currants (you could use dried cranberries too)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds*
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Feta cheese, crumbled

quinoashreddedzukes

quinoagreenonions

quinoacurrants

*To toast sesame seeds, I put a dry pan on medium heat on the stove top, added the sesame seeds and toasted for about five minutes, tossing a couple of times during the cooking process.  They will brown and start to smell yummy.  That’s how you know they’re ready.  Toasted sesame seeds are quite possibly my new favorite thing!

quinoasesame

For quinoa: Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add most of the green onions, a pinch of salt, and cook until onions soften, a couple of minutes.  Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains toast a little bit, about 3 minutes.

Add the water, currants, and remaining salt.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, decrease heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.  (Even with tripling the recipe, I didn’t need to cook any longer so you might want to check on it after about 10 minutes.)

While quinoa is cooking, zest the lemon and squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl.  When quinoa is cooked, remove pan from heat.  Stir in zucchini, lemon juice and zest, most of the sesame seeds, and most of the dill.  Add salt as needed.

Put quinoa into a serving bowl.  I refrigerated it for awhile before adding the feta cheese.  Add as much feta as you’d like.  (When eating leftovers, I’ve been adding a little more.)  Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.

quinoabowl This dish is great if your hosting a shower, summer cookout or any other warm weather event.  It would go perfectly with this grilled chicken.

Enjoy!

PS: My friend, Mary Stuart, made this amazing (GF) popsicles, with cool flavors like mango, watermelon mint, and blueberry lemon.

quinoapopsicles

3 Months Ago…

Posted in travel, Uncategorized, Washington DC on June 14th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

It’s hard to believe that three months ago today I left Japan.  In some ways, it seems like ages since I left, and in others, it feels like just days ago.  On March 14th, I left Japan in a whirlwind, after an emotionally wearing four days.  As my plane lifted off the ground at Narita, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but I didn’t regret being in Japan for a minute, and I still don’t.  I’m thankful for that time with my family and getting the rare opportunity to get to know my nephews.

hayama

As I look back on Gluten Freedom during that time, it’s particularly eerie that I published this post 45 minutes before the earthquake hit.  Clearly, I had no idea what was coming.

In those three months, I haven’t seen my brother, sister-in-law and the boys in person. Shortly after I left Japan, Alden, Pete and Chip were able to ultimately get stateside (after many, many flights), thankfully. Rob is still in Japan and his ship actually left Yokusuku yesterday to embark on another tour. He’ll be reunited with his family later this summer.  I’m going to see Alden and the boys this weekend and I can’t wait to be with them.  Chip turned two yesterday and he continues to be a sweet and wonderful child, full of personality.  Pete’s growing and I’m sure has changed so much since we parted ways in March.  Alden remains my hero and has been an amazing mother throughout all of this.  Can you tell I’m excited to see them??

Chip and me on a morning walk in Japan

Chip and me on a morning walk in Japan

From March to June, I finished up a successful lacrosse season, got through exams with my students, and am now enjoying a more leisurely pace of summer.  I’ve had two articles published in Living Without Magazine, on Washington, D.C. and Montana/Wyoming and tried to keep up with Gluten Freedom when I have a spare moment. This May, former students and advisees of mine graduated from college.  (I’m old!)  More former students then graduated from high school in June.  I have a new niece, Anna Lohne Metcalf, born in May.  David and I’ve been to four weddings, in Atlanta, Richmond, New York and DC, with a fifth on the way this weekend on the Eastern Shore.

So many things to celebrate!  Life is good.

A Few of My Favorite (non-food related) Things…

Posted in favorite things on June 8th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Summer, summer, summer time.  Wonderful, hot, humid, Atlanta summer is here.  I’ve officially gotten old and I’m not eager to spend every second at the pool, sweating in the sun.  I’m wearing 55 SPF on my face at all times, and keeping the rest of my body lathered, like I probably should have been doing for the last ten years.

Since I’m not spending my hours worshipping the sun, I’ve got a little more time on my hands…

I’m not Oprah but I do have some of my own favorite things right now:

bossypants

Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants: If you have not yet read Tina Fey’s new book, run to the store and buy it.  (Or download it on iTunes if you don’t have time to read.)  I loved Bossypants and was so sad to see it end.  You know the conflict when something’s so good you don’t want to stop reading it, but you want to savor the final pages as well?  Yep, that’s Bossypants.

Bossypants takes us on a comical re-cap of Tina Fey’s life, from childhood to UVA to her professional career to motherhood.  Some of my favorite chapters include “Breastfeeding vs. Formula,” “Dear Internet,” and the chapter about her honeymoon gone horribly, horribly wrong.  (Hmm, I wonder what that’s like.)

Tina Fey addresses many issues that women face, such as the desire for perfection, constantly comparing ourselves to other women, wanting to have both children and a career, and just being awkward.  She brings up these often depressing topics while adding humor to the truth, to make it a little more digestible.

I’m convinced that Tina (we’re on a first name basis) and I should be best friends.  She’s smart, clever and funny.  David and I sometimes play the game, “What famous person would we most like to be best friends with?” (It’s a pretty self explanatory game.)  At the top of my list are Tina and Justin Timberlake.  I think the three of us could have a pretty good time.

Yes, that's Michael Bolton

Yes, that's Michael Bolton

Captain Jack Sparrow Digital Short: Imagine this: Michael Bolton, Andy Samberg, a night club, an obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean and clever lyrics…hilarity ensues.  In three years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever linked to an online video but you must check out this one.  I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll stop here.

Don't judge me...

Don't judge me...

Big Love: This HBO drama about polygamist Mormons finished up this spring, but I just discovered it and have been Netflixing all of the seasons.  I’ve always found fundamentalist Mormonism to be fascinating (starting when I taught U.S. History and then reading Under the Banner of Heaven) and this show highlights (and probably exaggerates) this group.  The Hendrickson family is full of their own normal drama, but in the midst of the craziness of the Juniper Creek cult, where Bill Hendrickson and one of his wives, Nikki, was born.  Mormons, casinos, local politics, romance, child rearing, and family bickering: this show has it all.  Of course Big Love also makes me want to see the Tony nominated, Broadway musical, Book of Mormon.

vanityfair

Vanity Fair (July 2011): I’ve been a dutiful follower of Vanity Fair since being introduced to it by my sister-in-law a couple of years ago.  The most recent issue is particularly awesome because of these articles:

“Will and Kate’s New Life:” Sure, this article doesn’t reveal anything all that new about the royal newlyweds, but I still enjoy reading about how down to earth Prince William and Kate are, how Harry peaked back at Kate as she entered the church, and how great Pippa looked at the wedding.  Why do these same stories never get old?  I have no idea.

“A Free Man in L.A.:” This interview with Justin Timberlake highlights the down to earth guy that he is.  And, if JT and I are going to be BFF’s with Tina Fey, I need to know him a little bit better.

What are some of your favorite things right now?

My Rice Krispies Say “Gluten Free”

Posted in GF product, recipe, Uncategorized on June 6th, 2011 by Betsy – 5 Comments

ricekrispiesfinal

When I was first diagnosed with celiac, I initially assumed that Rice Krispies would be gluten free.  I quickly learned (thankfully) that they are not.  It seemed to me that Rice Krispies could be easily made gluten free, being that their main ingredient is rice, not wheat.

ricekrispiesbox

Fortunately, the folks at Kellogg’s have figured this out too, and have just released a gluten-free version of their beloved Rice Krispies.  They still make regular, glutenous Rice Krispies, so make sure that you pick up the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” box that says “Gluten Free” on the front.

Kellogg’s nicely sent me a complimentary box of the new Rice Krispies to sample so of course, I skipped right over the bowl of cereal and began making Rice Krispies Treats.  On the Rice Krispies website, they have recipes to try.  If you’re going for the traditional treats that we grew up with, just make sure that the marshmallows you’re using are gluten free.

I was inspired by some treats I’d seen on one of my favorite blogs, Eat, Live, Run as the ingredient combination seemed to good to be true.

ricekrispiesingredients

  • Peanut butter…check
  • Honey…check
  • Nutella…check

I just couldn’t resist!

ricekrispiessandwich

It had been so long since I made or ate Rice Krispies treats so I had forgotten that you don’t even turn on an oven when you make them AND you don’t have to break out the Kitchen Aid either.  This simple recipe gets a bit sticky but requires very little labor and prep time.  An easy treat to bring to a summer picnic or pot luck dinner!

Peanut Butter Crispy Treat Nutella Sandwiches, from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural, creamy)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup, plus ½ cup of Nutella
  • 5 cups gluten-free Rice Krispies or other GF brown rice cereal
  • Cooking spray

Combine PB, honey and 1/3 cup of nutella in microwave safe bowl.  Mix and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and heat for another 20 seconds if still not melted.  Add Rice Krispies to the mixture, 1 cup at a time.   (You’ll think it’s too much Rice Krispies but it will work.)

ricekrispiesmix

ricekrispiesadded

Spray a large pyrex or casserole dish with cooking spray and add your yummy mixture.  Cover and put in the fridge to chill, for at least 45 minutes.  (The longer you have, the better.)

ricekrispiesdish2

*At this point in the process, you could cut up your treats and enjoy them, just like this.  Or you can add the next steps for even more chocolately goodness.

Cut treats into 2 x 2 inch pieces and cover half of them with Nutella.  (I found that I needed more than ½ cup, but maybe I was just generous.)  Top with the other pieces and serve.

ricekrispiesnutellatop

ricekrispiesfinal2

The gluten-free version of Rice Krispies tastes exactly the same to me as the ones from my gluten-eating days.  The GF krispies hit shelves last week, and are selling for the same price as regular Rice Krispies so pick up a box when you see them.

What do your Rice Krispies say to you?

Tantra Restaurant

Posted in dessert, local food, Restaurants on June 3rd, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last week, I got the opportunity to sample a truly lavish and delicious gluten-free meal at Tantra Restaurant & Lounge, on Peachtree Road.  I left this meal feeling satisfied, full, and thinking about all of the yummy flavor combinations I had just enjoyed.  Since David was traveling for work, I took my gluten-free friend, Jen, to Tantra with me and we wined and dined.

tantrainterior

The culinary inspiration behind Tantra wanders the path of the Silk Road, through Asia, the Mediterranean, southern Europe, and Spain.  Each menu item is a unique and flavorful blend of these cultures, different from anything I’ve tried before.  While many Atlanta restaurants emphasize the trend of the moment, “farm to table” (which, don’t get me wrong, I love), Tantra takes its cuisine in another direction, encouraging diners to try new things and go beyond your typical fliet mignon and Ceasar salad.

During our dining experience at Tantra, the chef brought us many dishes to sample, but I didn’t feel sick or bloated, despite the amount of food I consumed.  Every component of the meal was fresh and highlighted the different ingredients on the plate.

tantradrinks

Before we indulged in food, we enjoyed some libations including the Seven Year Spice: a spin on a margarita, made with tequila, lime juice, cilantro and jalapeno.  We also tried a bubbly drink that combined champagne and muddled blueberries.  A fun way to start our meal!

tantrainterior2

Most of Tantra’s menu is naturally gluten free or can be made GF and the chef is eager to accommodate customers.  Part of the Tantra experience is sharing and savoring dishes with others and gluten-free options abound for you to share, allowing you to feel like part of the group, not restricted to hoarding your gluten-free food in the corner of the table.  Just remember to double check with your server, emphasize gluten free, and contamination.  (You might have to convince your dining companions to forego the naan and samosas which will be a true act of love.)  Some of the gluten free dishes I sampled throughout the evening included:

PEI Mussels (no baguette): Mussels aren’t usually the first thing I choose off the menu, but these were darn good.  The red bell pepper coconut broth was delicious too and added a lot of yummy flavors to the mussels.  I know David will want to get the mussels when I return with him.

tantramussels

Hummus Tahini and Sautéed Lamb: The chef substituted beautiful veggies for the traditional naan bread.  If your gluten-eating friends really want the naan, I would ask your server if they can split the order in half so that your hummus doesn’t get contaminated by the naan.  Or get two orders!  This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  The lamb and hummus taste so different from each other but go together really well.  The crunchy vegetables added another nice texture.

tantrahummus

Short Smoked Salmon Roll: This light and tasty bite highlighted the combination of the smoky salmon, contrasted with the basil, mint and parsley.   Yum.

tantrasalmon

Cucumber & Tomato Salad and Roasted Beets & Arugula Salad: Both of these salads were not your typical starter salad.  Again, the chef used herbs to bring out the flavors of the veggies.  I loved his use of mint, cilantro and lime with the cukes and tomato salad.

tantracukes

tantrabeets

Basil Caramelized Scallops: One of the more traditional dishes we sampled, the mashed potatoes that accompanied the scallops were out of this world.  The scallops were cooked just right, perfectly seared on the sides.

tantrascallops

Grilled Ostrich Filet: I’ve never tried ostrich before but our server told us this entree was not to be missed.  He was right.  I was pretty darn full at this point, but I just couldn’t resist.  Each piece of the ostrich filet was tender and flavorful and the mushrooms were amazing.  I’m officially an ostrich convert and plan on ordering ostrich over steak whenever given the option.

tantraostrich

And for dessert, the chef sent out, Cardamom Panna Cotta with orange and chopped pistachios AND Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with Chocolate Ganache.  I’m not a huge panna cotta fan…something about the texture gets to me, but I appreciated the use of the pistachios as a contrast in texture.  The crème brulee was a-mazing.  I prefer desserts that involve chocolate so the ganache on the bottom was the perfect end to the meal.

tantrapannacotta

tantracreme

I would highly recommend Tantra whether you’re gluten free or not.  I plan on taking David on a date here really soon.  Even though I sampled lots of dishes, there are still many items that I want to try, including the tuna and short rib.  One of my new favorite spots, I only wish that there was cooler outdoor seating for summertime cocktails.  (It’s pretty dark inside.)

Don’t be intimidated by the restaurant’s name either.  Tantra’s not freaky-deaky or limited as a venue for only hot and heavy dates.  Tantra would be a great spot to meet up with friends for a drink and some small plates.  The restaurant is spacious with plenty of seating so would be a good, last minute place to grab a beverage on a Friday night.

Check out Tantra and let me know what you ordered and enjoyed!

And, if you needed more convincing…

  • Tantra has a Scoutmob for 50% off, up to $30 that expires August 13th
  • Monday nights is half price bottles of wine.  Can’t beat that, right?

Tantra Restaurant & Lounge

2285 Peachtree Road Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 228-7963

Gluten Free in the News

Posted in advice, media on June 2nd, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Businesses and the media are realizing that the gluten-free diet is not just a passing fad, but a permanent fixture in many people’s diets.

This article from Tuesday’s New York Times, Gluten-Free: Flavor Free No More, discusses bakeries and companies that are working to create more options and better tasting foods.  The article highlights both the growth of the gluten-free market as well as the improvement in the quality of these goods.  In an interview with Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna, she discusses the different flours that can be used when baking gluten-free treats, as well as the gums that give baked goods their elasticity.

At the end of the article, the NY Times links to 29 gluten-free recipes from past articles.  There are a lot of yummy quinoa recipes, including this one that I’ll be making soon.  Be careful though, as one of the other recipes calls for soy sauce and doesn’t explain that soy sauce typically contains gluten.  (A good reminder never to just blindly trust when someone says something’s gluten free.  Always ask questions.)

Reader, Chili T, passed along this CNBC article, Gluten-Free Foods Paying off Big which discusses the growth of companies, such as Kellogg and P.F. Chang’s,  that are focusing their energies on marketing to gluten-free consumers.  While these products can be more expensive, time consuming and require additional training for employees, it appears from the article that the introduction of these items and services are helping global companies continue to grow.

All Good Things Must Come to an End: Our Last Day in NYC

Posted in bakery, dessert, GF product, meals, Restaurants, travel, vegetarian on June 1st, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

nyc3cetralprk

On our last day in New York, David and I yet again, woke up before the rest of the city, and headed out for a bit of culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  (We’re both former history teachers so we had to get a little history squeezed into this trip.)  I have to eat within about 30 minutes of waking up so we stopped at Dean & Deluca for some much needed coffee and breakfast.  Being the planner that I am, I had purchased a mini-coffee cake at Tu-Lu’s Bakery the previous day.  I have no shame so I broke out my coffee cake at Dean & Deluca and it was oh so wonderfully perfect with my cup of coffee.

GF Coffee Cake + D & D Coffee = Perfect

GF Coffee Cake + D & D Coffee = Perfect

I also bought a fancy yogurt to give me a little more nutrients and protein to get me ready for a day full of walking. I had never tried Siggi’s yogurt before but it said “Certified Gluten Free” on the container so I felt very safe.  (I love it when companies get their products tested and labeled.  Little things like that make travel so much easier.)

Siggi's Yogurt: Certified GF

Siggi's Yogurt: Certified GF

After our morning meal, we started walking toward Central Park to enjoy another day of nearly perfect weather in NYC.  We strolled through the park, watching more ambitious people running and biking.  (There was a big race raising money for Japan so it was fun to watch everyone in action.)  We meandered through the park, and ended our walk at the Met.

nyc3met

We had purchased tickets ahead of time so didn’t have to wait in any lines.  We unintentionally ended up at the Alexander McQueen exhibit, “Savage Beauty” first, which proved to be a smart decision since it was already pretty crowded and the museum had only been open for about twenty minutes.  This temporary exhibit (it ends July 31st) walks its audience through the short career of McQueen, who died last year.  Even if you’re not a fashionista (I’m definitely not, nor is David), you should still check out this exhibit.  It’s intense, provocative, and very educational.  The unique and inventive displays give you a whole new perspective on fashion and a designer’s vision.  It made me a believer that fashion is art.  (Who knew a group of dresses with “rape” in the title could be a reflection of the history of England and Scotland’s relationship?)

nyc3mcqueen

We continued through the Met, checking out the Impressionists, photography, armor and other exhibits, ending our tour with a cold drink in the American Wing Café, which is bright with natural light and a perfect place to rest your feet after a toursity morning.

nyc3palasighn

Following our trek to Central Park and the Met, we splurged on a cab back to the hotel, took quick naps, and headed to the Lower East Side, for a late lunch at Pala Pizza.  I had heard rave reviews about Pala from the gluten-free community and it exceeded my expectations.  All of their pizzas can be made gluten free and they are very careful about cross contamination.  We had trouble deciding what we wanted to order but ultimately went with the fried calamari as a starter.  Pala uses separate gluten-free fryers and corn meal for the breading of the calamari.  It was delicious and so fun to get an item that I can rarely enjoy and would never make for myself at home.  (We all need a little something fried every now and then.)

nyc3calamari

David and I shared the lamb sausage pizza with pesto for our lunch.  Every bite of this pizza was delicious.  The light,crispy crust, the pesto and the lamb went perfectly together.  (Maybe I think that because lamb and pesto are two of my favorite foods!)  I dominated that pizza.  For the first time in our marriage, I ate more than David.  He offered me the last two pieces and I didn’t even hesitate.  Delicious!

nyc3pala

nyc3pala2

After our meal, we walked across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn, in our Sunday best because we were going to a late afternoon wedding on a Brooklyn pier.  Walking across the bridge was a very cool way to get to Brooklyn, but I have to admit, it freaked me out a little bit.  There are bike and walking paths, so the bridge is completely safe, but trip across felt much longer on foot than I thought it was going to be.  The Brooklyn wedding was beautiful, unique and a fun way to celebrate a couple.  We felt honored to be included in the festivities.

View of the Williamsburg Bridge

View of the Williamsburg Bridge

As I can’t normally enjoy wedding reception cuisine (except for the wine), we ended up at Caracas Arepa Bar for a late night dinner.  This Venezuelan restaurant makes arepas from scratch daily.

Wondering what an arepa is?  Well, it’s described on their website as, “”dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle…”  Sounds pretty good to me, right?

nyc3arepas2

We ordered four arepas to go, including grilled chicken with caramelized onions and cheese, roasted pork shoulder with spicy mango sauce, and shredded beef, with black beans, plantains and cheese.  It was a lot of flavor combinations but I enjoyed sampling the different varieties.  My favorite was the grilled chicken arepa.

nyc3arepas

While we waited for our to-go order, I decided I wanted to go back to Tu-Lu’s Bakery one more time.  (And of course, David nicely complied.)  I partly wanted to return to the bakery so I could see for myself that Tu-Lu’s really stays open as late as it says it does (9:00 p.m. on Sunday nights and 10:30 on Friday and Saturday!).  I bought another cupcake (chocolate this time) and a cookie to take back to Georgia with me.

David and I finished up our amazing New York weekend eating arepas and cupcakes in our hotel room, watching the NBA playoffs…perfect.

Recap:

Pala Pizza – 198 Allen Street – NY, NY 10012

Caracas Arepa Bar – 93 ½ East 7th Street – NY, NY 10009