Saturday, September 17, 2011

Options for a Gluten Free Diet-Community Lecture

Duke's community education center, Teer House, will be offering a free lecture entitled "Options for a Gluten Free Diet".  The speaker is Lesley Stanford, MS,RD,CSP who is a dietitan that has worked with families and the gluten free diet for years through her position with Duke's pediatric gastroenterology clinic.  I have heard Lesley speak several times, and she offers sound, practical advice to help navigate the gluten free diet.
The program objective is listed as: Learn what's new with the gluten free diet and how to tailor your needs.
The class is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, 2011 6:30-8:00 and registration is required.  You can access more information and register  here.

Teer House
4019 North Roxboro Rd
Durham, NC 27704

Friday, September 16, 2011

California Pizza Kitchen, Restaurant Review Update

I first posted about California Pizza Kitchen's gluten free menu back in January, see earlier review here. If you have been following blogging news you are aware that CPK has launched a new gluten free menu this summer that includes an offering of gluten free pizza crust. There have been many questions raised about the possibility of cross contamination in the food preparation area prior to one actually receiving their "gluten free menu item". In fact California Pizza Kitchen protects itself by stating the following information on it's menu
“Gluten-Free” designations are based on information provided
by our ingredient suppliers. Warning: Ingredients or production
methods used by our suppliers may change, or there may be
product differences among regional suppliers. Additionally,
normal kitchen operations involve shared cooking and preparation
areas, or we may need to substitute ingredients in menu items.
We are therefore unable to guarantee that any menu item
is free from gluten or any other allergen, and we assume no
responsibility for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.

I would like to suggest that really any time a gluten free diner chooses to eat out side of one's own home, there are risks of cross contamination. So how do you reduce this risk?
1. Do your homework before going to the restaurant, gluten free menus help with menu selection
2. Visit the restaurant at non busy times. Friday night 7:30 pm at a pizza restaurant really increases the chance of cross contamination.
3. Talk to your wait staff and the manager. If you have Celiac Disease or severe gluten sensitivity explain your condition as a medical necessary diet. With gluten free diets being somewhat of a fad these days, it is difficult for restaurants to understand how a patron can order a gluten free meal but perhaps still eat a piece of bread from the bread basket!
4. Thank those establishments that follow sound procedures for reducing the chance of cross contamination: different preparation areas, changing gloves, different marked plates for gluten free items, gluten free testing of products, etc.

So my family decided to go check out this gluten free pizza offering one non-busy evening last week. We visited the California Pizza Location at South Point. We ordered two different gluten free pizzas and thought the taste and quality were excellent. As far as we know we were not "glutenized", we had no reactions after enjoying our pizza. So what is a gluten free diner to do? Do you take risks on eating out? How do you minimize these risks? I would love to hear comments on how other gluten free folks approach this dining dilemma?

UPDATE 9/17/2011:  California Pizza Kitchen has pulled the gluten-free crust option from its menu at all locations. CPK says that it is reviewing the pizza prep methods with an eye toward bringing it back in the future.

Bravo to CPK for taking responsibility to correct their prepartion practices so that a gluten free pizza order, has a chance to arrive at your table as really gluten free!

Stay tuned....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe'-restaurant review

A highlight for me this weekend included a visit to Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe' to enjoy some delicious Indian Food with good friends. Now I have been hearing raves about this special place but this was the first opportunity I had to taste the cuisine. My experience was beyond my expectations. Vimala's is located in the courtyard area of West Franklin Street. It has a small indoor dining area and outdoor seating in the courtyard. It was difficult to decide what to order because there were so many gluten free options to choose from!!! The clearly marked gluten free items included: Pakoras, Rice and dal, Tandori chicken,Beef curry, Kofta curry and several others. I enjoyed the Tandoori chicken entree, which came with basamati rice and a salad, reasonably priced at $9.00.

The service and hospitality at this restaurant were outstanding. The staff are accomodating to food allergies and gluten free dining. Vimala personally visited with us at our table and even treated us to samplings of their delicious fish stew, gluten free brownie, and these yummy carrot cookies called Gaajar Halwa.

This restaurant has received great reviews since it's opening in June 2010. They are committed to the farm to fork process, use local foods when possible and embrace the community. To Read more details visit their website here.

Vimala also shares her talent through cooking classes and I learned that she is hosting a Gluten and Vegan Cooking Class Soon! Described on her website
On Sunday September 18th 2-5pm join Vimala for a cooking class: Gluten-free and Vegan cooking. Space is limited to 12 people per class. Please reserve space(s) in the class(es) by emailing Cost is $65 payable at the time of the class. Work trade is available for a few who can not afford to pay the entire price. Hope to see you there!

So whether you are a UNC student, Chapel Hill resident, or other Triangle area foodie who ventures to Vimala's Restaurant you will enjoy the food and the experience.

Vimala's does not take reservations and can get crowded so plan ahead!

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday
Hours 11:30-2 and 5-9
431 W. Franklin St
Chapel Hill 27516
Parking off S. roberson St