meals

Culinary Inspiration

Posted in baking, cooking, meals, recipe on June 18th, 2012 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Sometimes I need a little creative inspiration so I turn to other blogs for ideas.  I thought you might enjoy some recipes I’ve found recently that are/look yummy and of course can be made gluten free.

Pulled Chicken Barbecue (Eat, Live, Run)

Summer Corn Salad (101 Cookbooks)

Feta Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper Dip (6 in the Morningside)

BLT Corn Salad Wraps (Joy the Baker)

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas (Gluten Free Goddess)

Spiced Tomato Gratin (101 Cookbooks) *I think I would add fresh parmesan to this one

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars (Smitten Kitchen) *Just make sure you use certified gluten-free oats.

Almond Butter Cookies with Chocolate (Gluten Free Girl)

What are you excited about cooking this summer?  What are some of your favorite “go-to” blogs for recipe ideas?

Where Have I Been? (And Recent Favorites)

Posted in favorite things, GF product, local food, meals, Mexican Restaurants, product, vegetarian on May 31st, 2012 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Well, it’s been awhile.  I apologize for my absence, and I wish I could say that I’ll be back at my frequent posts, but I’m not sure that is the case.  The school year finished up at its normal, crazy pace, allowing little to no time for blog posts.  My creative juices also haven’t been flowing as much as I’d like because at the end of the day, I’m wiped, and would rather watch an episode of “Ellen” or “Around the World in 80 Plates” than write.

A photo of the baby bump from a sweet baby shower hosted by friends a month ago

I’m 35 weeks pregnant so we’re in the final stretch.  Baby Girl Metcalf is healthily growing and I’d like her to keep baking for at least a few more weeks.  It’s a relief to get to this point though because if she made her debut today, she would be just fine.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things in the last couple of months.  I’ll give you more in the next few weeks but here is just a “taste”…

Talenti Gelato: This gelato has been my go-to weeknight dessert.  They clearly label which of their gelatos are gluten free.  It is creamy, delicious and a fun splurge.  My personal favorites are the chocolate peanut butter cup and sea salt caramel.  Check out all of their flavors here.

Verde Taqueria: Verde has existed in the Atlanta area for awhile but in the last year they’ve opened one close to us.  Verde notes all of the items on their menu that can be made gluten free.  My favorites include the Verde Salad with grilled chicken and the veggie taco.  Just make sure you clearly explain your dietary needs.  If you’re in the mood for chips and guac (which are delicious), just check with your server to see when they were prepared that day.  Usually they fry them first thing in the morning before the fryer gets contaminated.  While I love Taqueria del Sol, Verde has a bit bigger menu (i.e. the salad option) and you don’t have to wait in line.

Burge Organic Farm CSA: I participated in this CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) in the fall and renewed for the spring and summer.  Getting these weekly veggies has revived my cooking and creativity, making me experiment with produce that I wouldn’t necessarily pick out at the store.  I enjoy swiss chard once I make it, but it’s not at the top of my culinary list.  If you’re feeling like you’re in a cooking rut, you should definitely think about joining a CSA.  What better way to welcome summer, than cooking with the veggies that are the freshest?

Palmetto Pimento Cheese: This amazing pimento cheese has become a staple in the Metcalf household.  We discovered it via our friends, Peyten and Stan, and were thrilled to find it in our local Publix.  I’ve always liked pimento cheese but this brand stands above the rest.  They were recently out of Palmetto at Publix so we went with a different brand and there was no comparison.  We didn’t even finish the container.  And, all three of their varieties (orginal, jalapeño and  bacon) are gluten free.  They use Hellman’s mayo, which is gluten free.

 

What are some of your favorite things right now?

Miami Spring Break 2K12 & Ola Restaurant

Posted in favorite things, meals, Restaurants, travel on March 20th, 2012 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Bienvenido a Miami: The view from our hotel room

David and I spent a restful five days in Miami during early March. We stayed at the brand new St. Regis hotel in Bal Harbor, enjoying his accumulation of hotel points in the past year.  We had the best time, relaxing, reading, and eating.  Always my perfect trip.  The folks at the St. Regis of course accommodated my GF diet and even had GF bread in one of their restaurants that they toasted for me for breakfast.  (Unfortunately I didn’t learn about this until the last day.)  One of my favorite meals was the quinoa salad at the pool restaurant.  I ordered it with chicken in order to get some extra protein.

One night, David and I went to a Miami Heat game to see LeBron and Dwayne Wade in action.  And of course, Duke alum, Shane Battier.  We wanted to explore dining options closer to the arena so the concierge recommended Ola Restaurant.  We called ahead to make reservations and they said that they could accommodate a gluten-free diner.  Well, let me just say that this was an understatement.  Ola had many delicious options for me and I didn’t feel restricted at all.

This Latin American cuisine restaurant, located in the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach, is run by the internationally acclaimed Latin chef, Douglas Rodriguez.  The restaurant is cozy and we received amazing service.  Our waiter knew immediately what gluten was and he was well informed about what items on the menu are gluten free.  Regardless of what you order, you should inquire about whether any items in the dish are fried because they do only use one fryer for both gluten and gluten-free items.

Pan de bono=delicious

The meal started off with some of the most amazing bread I’ve ever eaten.  It is called pan de bono and it is made with tapioca flour, sugar, eggs, and cheese.  There might be some other ingredients but no gluten, at least not at Ola.  It was incredible!  The texture and the flavor were like nothing I’ve ever eaten before.  I couldn’t stop at just one piece.

My salmon entree

For my main course, I ordered the popular Panella Salmon, which is cured and seared, and is served with creamy quinoa, broken black olive vinaigrette, and jicama salad.  The salmon has a nice sweetness to it that goes surprisingly well with the quinoa and black olives.  The flavor combination was pretty amazing.  I also couldn’t resist a side of the mashed plantains with bits of bacon.  So good!  David’s dish, Puerca Asado (braised pork), was also gluten free as long as you ask them to not serve it with the piece of fried pork.  This slow cooked pork, served with steam yucca, was also packed with flavor, and tasted so different from my order.  (David’s beer braised short rib empanadas, sadly, were not GF.)

Overall, we had a great gluten-free experience at Ola and had some of the best service I’ve ever received at a restaurant.  I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to splurge on a Latin-inspired dinner while vacationing in Miami.  It is truly worth the price.  Enjoy!

And of course, the Heat game was great too..they wooped Chris Humphries and the NJ Nets.

 

 

 

Family Fun in ATL & Leon’s Full Service

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals, Restaurants, Uncategorized on October 10th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Last week, my brother and his family came to ATL for a visit.  We had the best time showing off our city to Rob, Alden, and my two nephews, Pete and Chip.  Of course we shared many of our favorite restaurants with them too!

Time in the backyard with Rob, Pete and Chip

Some of the highlights of the weekend included, homemade pancakes, Taqueria del Sol, Mellow Mushroom, Star Provisions, YEAH Burger, the Georgia Aquarium, and lots of playing outside.

Chip waiting for lunch at Taqueria

Chip with his new football

 

Sweet Pete!

On Saturday night, my sweet friend, Michelle, offered to baby sit for Pete and Chip so we adults decided to have a night on the town.  We took Rob and Alden to Decatur to see a different part of the Atlanta area.  After a drink at Iberian Pig, we headed over to one of our new favorite restaurants, Leon’s Full Service.

Night out in Decatur

In the last couple of months, David and I’ve been looking for any excuse to go to Leon’s.  We absolutely love their French Fries and dipping sauces that accompany them.  Fortunately you can order multiple sauces because David and I can’t agree on which one we like the best.  (I’m a sucker for the curry and David loves the smoked tomato mayo.)  Leon’s uses a dedicated fryer for their fries so you don’t have to worry about contamination.  Since we’ve discovered Leon’s, we’ve always gotten great service and delicious food.  Don’t be discouraged by the bustle and busy-ness of the restaurant when you walk in: you will be well taken care of from the moment you put your name on the wait list. (PS: Leon’s doesn’t take reservations.)

Best fries in ATL

...And the dipping sauces (yes, we ordered 6!)

Our waiters have always been well aware of the gluten-free options on the menu and I always feel like I have lots of choices.  Even though the restaurant is always full of people, I get great attention from servers and I don’t feel rushed to make my decision. On our most recent visit, however, we learned that the folks at Leon’s have now made a gluten-free menu for their customers.  Now I have even more reason to go to Leon’s!  It’s a good thing we don’t live closer to Leon’s because I would eat there all time!

Leon's GF Menu!

If you haven’t been yet, you must go to Leon’s.  The menu has both casual/light fare as well as fancier entrees.  And they highlight seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farms.  Gotta love that!

Gluten-Free Highlights on Leon’s Menu*:

  • French fries with masaman curry & smoked tomato mayo
  • Grilled pork chop, field peas & greens, carolina gold bbq, red cabbage chow chow
  • Pan roasted domestic snapper baby bok choi, masaman curry butternut squash, lime-mint butter, toasted cashew

Always so sad when the fries are gone

Oh, and make sure to hang out at the bar before you get seated.  The mixologists at the bar are fabulous and they create all kinds of seasonal beverages.

*The menu changes seasonally so expect to find new items when you go (except, of course, the fries).

Leon’s Full Service – 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave – Decatur, Georgia – 404.687.0500

 

Hotel Dining in Laguna

Posted in meals, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on August 24th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

While we relaxed at the pool and lazed the day away in Laguna, the biggest decision of our day was where to eat.  Ah, that’s the life!

Before I get started on where we ate, I thought I’d share some  food related discoveries from the week of luxury:

  • Mojitoes: So refreshing, why not have a tasty adult beverage in the afternoon?
  • Champagne: I think I had one too many bad glasses of champagne in college and early adulthood…I’ve discovered it can actually be pretty good and a lovely way to start the evening.
  • Seafood: It’s more than just shrimp and crab cakes!  I continue to fall in love with fish.  I avoided fish most of my life (besides salmon) but now I can’t get enough of it.  So many varieties to try and almost always a good GF option at restaurants.
  • Hotel food is expensive, especially when ordered by the pool…a $5 Coke!!!!!  You’ve got to be kidding me.
  • As much as I love cooking, I really enjoyed a week without turning on the oven or washing a dish.  It was awesome.

Now to the dining…

Happy Anniversary, Friend!

David enjoying our Motif dinner (and champagne)

During our stay we dined at the St. Regis’ two restaurants, Stone Hill Tavern and Motif. While Stone Hill is the more well known of the two restaurants, we liked our experiences at both.  In comparing our gluten-free experience at the two venues, though,  we got the best attention at Motif.  They brought gluten-free bread to the table to enjoy with their homemade hummus and butter, which is always a huge plus.  Our server was one of the best waiters I’ve ever had, bringing us tastes of wine, and giving his honest opinion on what to order.  Everything was delicious and the servings were plentiful.

A fun (GF) anniversary dessert at Motif

While Motif felt a bit more laid back, Stone Hill Tavern was definitely a trendy, happening, spot.  There was quite a bustle and I felt like we paid the price a little bit since there was so much going on.  Our waiter was nice and willing to communicate with the chef but it felt like the chef didn’t really care much about my needs.  Fortunately, our waiter guided us to make the right decisions.  I understand that restaurants get busy and don’t have time to bend over backwards, but I just didn’t feel as comfortable with my meal here.  That being said, I devoured my delicious tomato salad and the short rib was out of this world.  So, I still had a very nice dining experience at Stone Hill, but don’t know if I would pay that price for that restaurant a second time.

Stonehill Restaurant at the St. Regis, Dana Point

Neither of these restaurants felt like “hotel food.” David and I did notice, however, that when staying at high end hotels and resorts (this was really my first experience at one), it’s difficult to find a simple dinner.  When evening rolls around, the only burger to be found involves Kobe beef and blue cheese crumbles.  So we ventured to downtown Laguna to enjoy a lighter meal, with a lighter price tag.  Stay tuned for those recommendations!

Our favorite view!

Also, Only a short walk from the St. Regis, we loved the bar at the Ritz, 180blu. It had our favorite view and the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten.  Yes, I’m serious.  Perfectly crispy and a great GF bar food.  This was also our best venue for sunsets and people watching…

Enjoying 180blu at the Ritz

Ritz sweet potato fries...definitely got these twice!

Sunset over the Pacific

Taste Unlimited: Norfolk, VA

Posted in favorite things, GF product, meals, travel on July 27th, 2011 by Betsy – 5 Comments

Last week I spent time in Norfolk with my sister-in-law, Alden, as she gets settled into her new home in Virginia.  We unpacked, entertained my nephews, Pete and Chip, watched Bachelorette (of course), and did some good eating.  Alden even taught me how to cook tofu and we made delicious tofu Pad Thai.  I’m even willing to say it’s better than chicken pad Thai

We also ventured out for lunch with both boys to Taste Unlimited, a yummy (and very popular) spot, just down the street.  Taste Unlimited’s Hampton Boulevard location offers a large gluten-free sandwich menu and they use a separate sandwich making station and utensils for all gluten-free orders, to prevent cross-contamination.  Their sandwiches are delicious (reminiscent of my gluten-filled college days spent frequenting Bel Air and Take it Away) and I’m a huge fan of their house dressing.  I got their Northender sandwich, which includes the amazing combination of turkey, havarti, bacon and avacado.  The sandwich gods were looking down on me because they put practically an entire avocado on my sandwich.  I went with the house dressing in lieu of the aioli mayo because I just can’t resist the stuff.  (You can buy their house dressing by the container too…this would be way too dangerous for me.)  All in all, my sammy was a messy, delicious masterpiece.

Taste uses Udi’s sandwich bread (a personal favorite of mine) and you can also buy it by the loaf at the store as well.  (They even sell Udi’s muffins and a brand of gluten-free ice cream sandwiches in their freezer section.)

Also, if you check Taste Unlimited’s website, they tell you which of the daily prepared foods are gluten-free.  (They make take out foods like chicken salad, ribs, cucumber salad, etc.)  A perfect weeknight dinner when you don’t feel like cooking OR if you’re going to be entertaining someone with a gluten allergy and feel overwhelmed by the task.  Taste Unlimited is a great option.

Save room for dessert because Taste Unlimited offers glow gluten-free cookies, in multiple varieties, and Tate’s Bake Shop GF chocolate chip cookies.  I bought glow’s chocolate chip cookies and they were yummy.  They don’t skimp on the chocolate chips, which is key for GF baking!  I love their packaging…looks similar to a Chinese food take out box.  There are enough cookies in a box to share with your group. (If you’re feeling generous!)  Their other varieties include snickerdoodle and ginger snap.  You know me, I can’t resist chocolate!

Right now Taste Unlimited offers their gluten-free menu at their Newport News location and this fall they’ll roll it out at their new (and bigger) location in Virginia Beach.  I contacted the folks at Taste to get more details and it turns out that one of their co-owners was diagnosed with celiac in 2009, hence the efforts they’ve gone to in order to accommodate customers with gluten allergies or celiac.  I feel reassured when I know that someone personally involved with a restaurant has celiac because it means they get it, and they’re not just serving GF bread for their sandwiches.  Taste Unlimited is taking all necessary precautions to ensure my safety, for which I am grateful.  AND they make delicious sandwiches!

Taste Unlimited - 6464 Hampton Blvd.- Norfolk, VA 23508 – 757.623.7770

Saturday Morning Reflections

Posted in GF product, meals, product, travel, Uncategorized on July 13th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

I’m always in search of gluten-free bread products.  I don’t use gf bread as a major component of my regular diet, partially because it’s a hastle and because I just don’t find it to be that good.  As you know though, I’m always looking for good bread/bagel products for the occasional cream cheese and jam breakfast.  A few weeks ago, I purchased Whole Foods’ Cinnamon Raisin bread and I’m pretty pleased with the recipe they’ve created.  I would say it’s up there with a Sally’s cinnamon raisin English muffin or an Udi’s bagel.

On a recent Saturday morning, when my resident pancake maker (David) was out golfing, I had a rare morning to myself (with no commitments).  In the absence of my weekend chef, I was looking for a “more fun than cereal” weekend breakfast so I decided to break out the cinnamon raisin bread and indulge in a little cream cheese/cinnamon raisin toast.  The Whole Foods Bakehouse bread is perfectly delicious toasted.  It’s got more flavor than plain bread and makes you feel like you’re enjoying a bagel.  There aren’t specific toasting instructions on the packaging but I heated it at 350 for about 5 minutes on each side.  (We don’t have a toaster in our house so we’re limited in our toasting options.)

I devoured both pieces of toast and of course enjoyed my breakfast accompanied with a cup (or two) of coffee.  Why do cinnamon, cream cheese and coffee go so perfectly together?  Not sure, but it’s awesome.

I couldn’t help but think about my brother, Rob, as I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee from my Yokohama Starbucks mug.  I received a postcard in the mail the day before from Rob sent via Okinawa, where his ship was in port at the time he sent it.  I can’t read a word of Rob’s handwriting so it can be a bit of a project to decipher his thoughtful cards (hence I was finally reading it a day later).  I haven’t seen Rob since March 12th, when his ship was sent out to do tsunami relief.  I miss him a lot.  I savor the occasional phone call from him from across the world and I only wish they could be more frequent.  You would think at this point I’d be used to my big brother being a world traveler (he’s lived in Japan, China,Turkey, and Bahrain), but I’m not.

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I wrote this post (“Blueberry Muffins and Childhood Memories”), which is one of my favorites.  A lot changes in a year.  Since then, Rob and Alden have had a baby, I’ve been to Japan (twice), we’ve both survived an earthquake, and Rob continues to serve our country, alongside many others whose families bear a large burden for their spouses’ hard work and service.  The families truly serve us too.

Rob & Chip

Rob’s going to be back in the States (hopefully) as of August.  I can’t wait to see him and have him back in the same time zone.  I know he’s eager to be home too.  You’re greatly missed, Rob.  Hurry home!

More Nashville Highlights

Posted in dessert, GF product, meals, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on July 11th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

On our recent trip to Nashville, there were a few other spots that I felt worthy of a mention.  I love Atlanta but I could really see myself living in Nashville.  Great neighborhoods, family, fun coffee shops and ice cream.  What more could a gluten-free girl need?

Bongo Java Coffee: This east Nashville coffee shop is a great spot for a morning get together.  They have large tables with plenty of space to spread out, and park a large stroller!  My iced coffee was one of the best iced coffees I’ve ever had.  Wonderfully smooth and refreshing after a long walk.  They roast beans in the shop so prepare to take the scent of coffee with you when you leave.  It was so good we went again for breakfast on Saturday too…

Fido: Gluten-Free Muffins: Fido, another local spot, makes gluten-free muffins that they also sell at Bongo.  I tried their strawberry banana gluten-free muffin and it was a great alternative to the glutenous bagel “bombs” (which look delicious!) that everyone else enjoyed for breakfast.  They also have a coconut variety of muffin that gets rave reviews.  They only use rice flour (not a flour blend) but it was pretty good, despite being a bit misshapen.  I’m always appreciative when breakfast places have items I can enjoy, not limited to a plate of eggs.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: This delicious ice cream shop in East Nashville is worth the $4 for two half scoops.  Many of their flavors are GF including my personal favorites, salty caramel and pistachio & honey.  Yum!  Their sorbets (such as Riesling poached pear) look refreshing too but it’s hard for me to resist fancy ice cream.

In researching Nashville, it seems that there are a bunch of spots that offer GF options including The Wild Cow, Matteo’s Pizza and others.  I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Bongo Java – 107 S. 11th St., Nashville, TN 37206 – 615.777.EAST

Fido – 1812 21st Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37212 – 615.777.FIDO

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream – 1892 Eastland Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206 – 615 262 8611


Aunt April’s Entirely Gluten-Free Cafe

Posted in bakery, GF product, meals, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on July 7th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last weekend, David and I drove to Nashville to meet our new niece, Anna.  We have three nephews so it’s fun to add a niece to the mix!

I got to spend most of Friday, hanging out with my sister-in-law, Blair, and sweet little Anna.  They live in East Nashville and of course Blair had scoped out her neighborhood for GF goodies for me.

We went to lunch at The Green Wagon, which can be described as an environmentally friendly general store.  Lots of “green” cleaning products, alkaline water and other products.  Their goal is to minimize businesses’ and consumers’ carbon footprint.  The most exciting part about The Green Wagon though, is Aunt April’s Cafe, in the back of the store.  Aunt April’s is totally, 100% gluten free and she makes lots of baked treats.  You can also enjoy a sandwich or panini for lunch, made on April’s delicious, homemade bread.   There aren’t a ton of sandwich options but I was a very satisfied customer.

Aunt April's Cafe: Entering a Gluten-Free Zone

Blair and I enjoyed delicious paninis at The Green Wagon.  (They have seating inside so you don’t have to order to-go.)  Mine was composed of turkey, cheddar, tomato, spinach and mustard.  Yummy!  It was so nice to not have to worry about contamination and know for sure that everything I enjoyed was safe.  April’s bread was perfectly textured, with no funky after taste, and it’s clear April has been working on creating the perfect recipe for some time.

Paninis!

 

I also picked out a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for dessert and a blueberry muffin that I patiently saved for breakfast the next day.  The pumpkin muffin was so delicious and might have been the best flour blend I’ve ever tried.  Perfectly pumpkin, with a taste of cinnamon and maybe nutmeg.  And of course everything tastes better with chocolate.  I only wish I’d bought more.

And a pumpkin muffin for dessert

 

You can also special order goodies from Aunt April.  All of her items are dairy free and can be made soy free, without the chocolate chips.  She offers cupcakes, brownies, cookies and other items as well.

I can’t wait to go back and sample more of her goodies!  You can also find her treats at other Nashville locations, including The Wild Cow and Edgehill Café.

The Green Wagon & Aunt April’s Cafe

1100 Forrest Ave
Nashville, TN 37206

615-891-1878

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