Friday, March 30, 2007


As some of you might have noticed, I've jumped on the CafePress bandwagon by launching the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique, offering T-shirts, aprons, mousepads, and other goodies designed in coordination with Debbie Glasserman Design of Greenwich Village. Naturally, we hope you like them!

I think very highly of designer Debbie Glasserman--dig that gf alphabet!--but I have to admit that, even though we're friends, we've had some "disagreements" when it comes to pricing. Ultimately, though, I get to make those decisions because I'm the proprietor of the boutique. So expect to see prices that some might consider nutty!

Regardless of the pricing, a portion of the revenues will go to a gluten-free cause, where I hope it will have a good effect.

And now for a word from another person whose prices were considered insane.

Source (00:14)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


A lot has happened since last year's round-up of restaurant inspections. Most significantly (and sensationally), the rat scare at the West Village KFC-Taco Bell led the media to take closer looks at restaurant conditions and possibly precipitated a series of very tough inspections and closings from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene(DOHMH). In the short run, this will probably lead to healthier conditions and more accurate inspections in Big Apple restaurants, though don't expect insects and rodents to suddenly absent themselves from eateries or stay out of them over time.

Of course, the gluten-free are aware of a serious health concern that still seems to be of little or no concern to the DOHMH: Most New Yorkers with celiac disease don't know they have the condition and few restaurants have policies about providing or identifying gluten-free foods. The restaurants on this list are the exceptions--and they deserve credit for making the effort.

Despite the efforts of State Senator Jeff Klein to implement a letter-grade system, the rules are the same as last year: The lower the number score, the better the inspection, with a score of 28 or higher constituting a failing grade.

Topping the list with no violations at the moment are Outback Staten Island and the radically improved Risotteria. Getting a failing grade of 36 is Lumi Restaurant. I couldn't find listings for Gus's Place and Peters' Gourmet Diner & Bar. [UPDATE: I've now found Peters' under the name Artaki. I'm told the inspection for Gus' Place, which recently (re)opened in a new location, will occur later this year.]
00 08/17/06 Outback Steakhouse (Staten Island)
00 03/09/07 Risotteria (Manhattan)
02 05/18/06 Outback Steakhouse Chelsea (Manhattan)
03 08/17/06 Carrabba's (Staten Island)
06 05/16/06 Asia de Cuba (Manhattan)
08 01/24/06 Candle 79 (Manhattan)
09 03/14/07 Outback Steakhouse Queens Blvd. (Queens)
09 09/30/06 Outback Steakhouse Brooklyn (Brooklyn)
11 04/25/06 Peters' (Artaki) (Manhattan)
13 12/26/06 Bloom's Restaurant (Manhattan)
13 12/07/06 Outback Steakhouse Bell Blvd. (Queens)
16 01/30/07 Bistango Restaurant (Manhattan)
16 11/14/06 Tini (Lentini Restaurant) (Manhattan)
17 02/15/07 Tropica Bar & Seafood House (Manhattan)
26 05/17/06 Outback Steakhouse Third Ave. (Manhattan)
36 02/15/07 Lumi Restaurant (Manhattan)
For the most current DOH inspection records, click here.

GFRAP restaurants can be found here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Last month Erin at Gluten-Free Fun wrote that she was a source for an upcoming Time Out New York article on gluten-free beer. Lo and behold, TONY covered gf beer at least twice in March!

In "Out pouring" (Issue 598/March 15-21, 2007), a roundup of favorite wine and beer bars, Kirk Miller cites midtown bar The Ginger Man (11 E. 36 Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues; 212-532-3740) as a source of New Grist Beer.

And in "Barhop" (Issue 597/March 8-14, 2007), TONY tackled the question "Where can I get gluten-free beer?" as posed by Vera Blum of Red Hook, Brooklyn. The magazine's answers: Heathers (506 13th St between Ave A and Ave B, 212 254-0979), Rhythm and Booze (1674 Tenth Ave at Prospect Ave, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn; 718-788-9699), and the Hook and Ladder Pub (611 Second Ave between 33rd and 34th Sts, 212-213-5034).

But good news, Vera: There's even more gluten-free beer to be found close to your home! Bierkraft in Park Slope (191 Fifth Avenue; 718-230-7600) carries Bard's Tale and New Grist. And according to the Redbridge website, you can quaff the Bud brew at nearby Angry Wade's (224 Smith Street, 718-488-7253) and also get it in Brooklyn at
486 Henry Street (11231)

252 Court St. (11231)

159 Baltic St. (11201)

216 Pacific St. (11201)

169 Atlantic Ave. (11201)

230 4th Avenue (11215)

215 4tb Avenue (11215)

185 5tb Avenue (11217)

617 5th Avenue (11215)

70 4th Avenue (11217)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Now that winter has waned and spring has sprung, the prospect of a road or rail trip to Soul Dog in Poughkeepsie has a lot more appeal. This promotional video for Soul Dog recently appeared on YouTube; there's also a longer promotion for Poughkeepsie.

And remember: Soul Dog isn't just about the hot dogs.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Friday, March 23, 2007


The other evening I returned to Gus' Place, and it was good.

The new Place is smaller and cozier than the old Place.

The new menu seems shorter...and I missed a couple of old dishes...but I was very satisfied with what my friend and I shared off the specially-labeled gluten-free menu. (However, as you shall see, my photos are not up to the standard set by the food.)

Soon after our seating, we were served a plate of lightly toasted millet bread with tzatziki.

Then it was time for an old favorite: the grilled octopus salad. If you try this, don't take the lemon for granted--the juice and oil make a delightfully tangy dressing!

For our main dishes we ordered two homey stews. The Clay Potted Chicken was succulent and well-accompanied by figs, apricots, toasted pine nuts, and creamy polenta.

The Kakavia, piled high with fish and seafood, was good to the last drop.

For dessert I asked about the fig and hazelnut ice creams and learned that they weren't available. (Maybe they'll return at some point.) So I simply had to console myself with another bright spot in the meal: a warmed-up slice of gluten-free chocolate cake balanced with whipped cream, a glass of tea, and a complimentary glass of Muscatel. Poor me!

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I didn't make it to last Thursday's fundraising reception at City Center. But, thanks to the blog coverage of the CeliacChicks (the hosts) and Catherine of Gluten Free Guide, I can now be consumed with gluten-free jealousy.

I mean, Peter Green and Mikhail Baryshnikov and gluten-free Foods by George in the same place, at the same time?

And "only" forty or so in attendance, Kelly? I think that's terrific. Congratulations!

Photo of Promethean Fire: Lois Greenfield

Monday, March 19, 2007


Warning: This is a long post. Good luck!

Dr. Jerome Groopman's new book, How Doctors Think, has been getting a lot of attention lately. The CBS Evening News, which covered it last Friday, plans to follow-up on it this week at its website.

One of Groopman's concerns is the diagnostic stage of the patient-doctor relationship. He estimates that doctors tend to give patients a meager 18 seconds to tell their stories before cutting them off. He also figures that "Fifteen to 20 percent of all people are misdiagnosed in the United States." Noting that "In half of those cases it causes serious harm — and sometimes death," he says that it's time for a "national conversation." Part of that conversation clearly should include celiac diagnostics, since (if I'm figuring correctly) people with celiac disease seem to account for about six percent of all misdiagnosed/undiagnosed Americans.

The introduction to How Doctors Think illustrates the ramifications of one misdiagnosis compounded many times over a series of years. It is a case study of a thirtysomething woman Groopman calls Anne Dodge. Here are some excerpts, picked up from the NPR website:
Around age twenty, she found that food did not agree with her. After a meal, she would feel as if a hand were gripping her stomach and twisting it. The nausea and pain were so intense that occasionally she vomited. Her family doctor examined her and found nothing wrong. He gave her antacids. But the symptoms continued. Anne lost her appetite and had to force herself to eat; then she'd feel sick and quietly retreat to the bathroom to regurgitate. Her general practitioner suspected what was wrong, but to be sure he referred her to a psychiatrist, and the diagnosis was made: anorexia nervosa with bulimia, a disorder marked by vomiting and an aversion to food....

Over the years, Anne had seen many internists for her primary care before settling on her current one, a woman whose practice was devoted to patients with eating disorders. Anne was also evaluated by numerous specialists: endocrinologists, orthopedists, hematologists, infectious disease doctors, and, of course, psychologists and psychiatrists. She had been treated with four different antidepressants and had undergone weekly talk therapy. Nutritionists closely monitored her daily caloric intake.

But Anne's health continued to deteriorate, and the past twelve months had been the most miserable of her life. Her red blood cell count and platelets had dropped to perilous levels. A bone marrow biopsy showed very few developing cells. The two hematologists Anne had consulted attributed the low blood counts to her nutritional deficiency. Anne also had severe osteoporosis. One endocrinologist said her bones were like those of a woman in her eighties, from a lack of vitamin D and calcium. An orthopedist diagnosed a hairline fracture of the metatarsal bone of her foot. There were also signs that her immune system was failing; she suffered a series of infections, including meningitis. She was hospitalized four times in 2004 in a mental health facility so she could try to gain weight under supervision.

To restore her system, her internist had told Anne to consume three thousand calories a day, mostly in easily digested carbohydrates like cereals and pasta. But the more Anne ate, the worse she felt. Not only was she seized by intense nausea and the urge to vomit, but recently she had severe intestinal cramps and diarrhea. Her doctor said she had developed irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder associated with psychological stress. By December, Anne's weight dropped to eighty-two pounds. Although she said she was forcing down close to three thousand calories, her internist and her psychiatrist took the steady loss of weight as a sure sign that Anne was not telling the truth.
Yes, I know you know what Anne's real condition is. I figure you figured it out in about 15 seconds. But it took Anne 15 years and consultations with about 30 different doctors before she finally got an accurate diagnosis of celiac disease from Dr. Z. Myron Falchuk of Beth Israel Deaconness, where Groopman also works.

Slow diagnoses--of, say, nine or ten years after worrisome manifestations come to the attention of a doctor, are common among people with celiac disease.

Falchuk, a gastroenterologist with a specialty in celiac disease, discussed his diagnosis of Dodge with Groopman.
"She was emaciated and looked haggard," Falchuk told me. "Her face was creased with fatigue. And the way she sat in the waiting room — so still, her hands clasped together — I saw how timid she was." From the first, Falchuk was reading Anne Dodge's body language. Everything was a potential clue, telling him something about not only her physical condition but also her emotional state. This was a woman beaten down by her suffering. She would need to be drawn out, gently....

Falchuk ushered Anne Dodge into his office, his hand on her elbow, lightly guiding her to the chair that faces his desk. She looked at a stack of papers some six inches high. It was the dossier she had seen on the desks of her endocrinologists, hematologists, infectious disease physicians, psychiatrists, and nutritionists. For fifteen years she'd watched it grow from visit to visit.

But then Dr. Falchuk did something that caught Anne's eye: he moved those records to the far side of his desk, withdrew a pen from the breast pocket of his white coat, and took a clean tablet of lined paper from his drawer. "Before we talk about why you are here today," Falchuk said, "let's go back to the beginning. Tell me about when you first didn't feel good."

For a moment, she was confused. Hadn't the doctor spoken with her internist and looked at her records? "I have bulimia and anorexia nervosa," she said softly. Her clasped hands tightened. "And now I have irritable bowel syndrome."

Falchuk offered a gentle smile. "I want to hear your story, in your own words."

Anne glanced at the clock on the wall, the steady sweep of the second hand ticking off precious time. Her internist had told her that Dr. Falchuk was a prominent specialist, that there was a long waiting list to see him. Her problem was hardly urgent, and she got an appointment in less than two months only because of a cancellation in his Christmas-week schedule. But she detected no hint of rush or impatience in the doctor. His calm made it seem as though he had all the time in the world.

So Anne began, as Dr. Falchuk requested, at the beginning, reciting the long and tortuous story of her initial symptoms, the many doctors she had seen, the tests she had undergone. As she spoke, Dr. Falchuk would nod or interject short phrases: "Uhhuh," "I'm with you," "Go on."

Occasionally Anne found herself losing track of the sequence of events. It was as if Dr. Falchuk had given her permission to open the floodgates, and a torrent of painful memories poured forth. Now she was tumbling forward, swept along as she had been as a child on Cape Cod when a powerful wave caught her unawares. She couldn't recall exactly when she had had the bone marrow biopsy for her anemia.

"Don't worry about exactly when," Falchuk said. For a long moment Anne sat mute, still searching for the date. "I'll check it later in your records. Let's talk about the past months. Specifically, what you have been doing to try to gain weight."

This was easier for Anne; the doctor had thrown her a rope and was slowly tugging her to the shore of the present. As she spoke, Falchuk focused on the details of her diet. "Now, tell me again what happens after each meal," he said.

Anne thought she had already explained this, that it all was detailed in her records. Surely her internist had told Dr. Falchuk about the diet she had been following. But she went on to say, "I try to get down as much cereal in the morning as possible, and then bread and pasta at lunch and dinner." Cramps and diarrhea followed nearly every meal, Anne explained. She was taking anti-nausea medication that had greatly reduced the frequency of her vomiting but did not help the diarrhea. "Each day, I calculate how many calories I'm keeping in, just like the nutritionist taught me to do. And it's close to three thousand."

Dr. Falchuk paused. Anne Dodge saw his eyes drift away from hers. Then his focus returned, and he brought her into the examining room across the hall. The physical exam was unlike any she'd had before. She had been expecting him to concentrate on her abdomen, to poke and prod her liver and spleen, to have her take deep breaths, and to look for any areas of tenderness. Instead, he looked carefully at her skin and then at her palms. Falchuk intently inspected the creases in her hands, as though he were a fortuneteller reading her lifelines and future. Anne felt a bit perplexed but didn't ask him why he was doing this. Nor did she question why he spent such a long while looking in her mouth with a flashlight, inspecting not only her tongue and palate but her gums and the glistening tissue behind her lips as well. He also spent a long time examining her nails, on both her hands and her feet. "Sometimes you can find clues in the skin or the lining of the mouth that point you to a diagnosis," Falchuk explained at last.

He also seemed to fix on the little loose stool that remained in her rectum. She told him she had had an early breakfast, and diarrhea before the car ride to Boston.

When the physical exam was over, he asked her to dress and return to his office. She felt tired. The energy she had mustered for the trip was waning. She steeled herself for yet another somber lecture on how she had to eat more, given her deteriorating condition.

"I'm not at all sure this is irritable bowel syndrome," Dr. Falchuk said, "or that your weight loss is only due to bulimia and anorexia nervosa."

She wasn't sure she had heard him correctly. Falchuk seemed to recognize her confusion. "There may be something else going on that explains why you can't restore your weight. I could be wrong, of course, but we need to be sure, given how frail you are and how much you are suffering."

Anne felt even more confused and fought off the urge to cry. Now was not the time to break down. She needed to concentrate on what the doctor was saying. He proposed more blood tests, which were simple enough, but then suggested a procedure called an endoscopy. She listened carefully as Falchuk described how he would pass a fiberoptic instrument, essentially a flexible telescope, down her esophagus and then into her stomach and small intestine. If he saw something abnormal, he would take a biopsy. She was exhausted from endless evaluations. She'd been through so much, so many tests, so many procedures: the x-rays, the bone density assessment, the painful bone marrow biopsy for her low blood counts, and multiple spinal taps when she had meningitis. Despite his assurances that she would be sedated, she doubted whether the endoscopy was worth the trouble and discomfort. She recalled her internist's reluctance to refer her to a gastroenterologist, and wondered whether the procedure was pointless, done for the sake of doing it, or, even worse, to make money.

Dodge was about to refuse, but then Falchuk repeated emphatically that something else might account for her condition. "Given how poorly you are doing, how much weight you've lost, what's happened to your blood, your bones, and your immune system over the years, we need to be absolutely certain of everything that's wrong. It may be that your body can't digest the food you're eating, that those three thousand calories are just passing through you, and that's why you're down to eighty-two pounds."

When I met with Anne Dodge one month after her first appointment with Dr. Falchuk, she said that he'd given her the greatest Christmas present ever. She had gained nearly twelve pounds. The intense nausea, the urge to vomit, the cramps and diarrhea that followed breakfast, lunch, and dinner as she struggled to fill her stomach with cereal, bread, and pasta had all abated. The blood tests and the endoscopy showed that she had celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disorder, in essence an allergy to gluten, a primary component of many grains. Once believed to be rare, the malady, also called celiac sprue, is now recognized more frequently thanks to sophisticated diagnostic tests. Moreover, it has become clear that celiac disease is not only a childhood illness, as previously thought; symptoms may not begin until late adolescence or early adulthood, as Falchuk believed occurred in Anne Dodge's case. Yes, she suffered from an eating disorder. But her body's reaction to gluten resulted in irritation and distortion of the lining of her bowel, so nutrients were not absorbed. The more cereal and pasta she added to her diet, the more her digestive tract was damaged, and even fewer calories and essential vitamins passed into her system.
Now, I think it's great that Falchuk was able to spend so much time with his patient and make the connection between her story and undiagnosed celiac disease. I totally approve of a doctor really paying attention to a patient. But, as I indicated above, I'm also sure that, in Dodge's case, possible celiac disease would leap to the mind of anyone who, like Falchuk, would be familiar with the current research, including the fact that it has been misdiagnosed or undiagnosed so dramatically in the United States. Doctors should listen...and they also should know.

For those among us who are schooled on the subject, it would take 15 seconds--not 15 years--to at least suspect celiac disease. [As noted in the previous post, even doctors have trouble getting correct diagnoses.] If doctors and policy makers are to help the millions of undetected cases currently in the United States, their awareness and alertness must reach that kind of level.

Thank you if you made it this far!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I'd like to share two tales of dermatitis herpetiformus (DH) that I've heard over the past months.
  • An internist who was experiencing an itchy skin rash consulted several doctors before getting a DH diagnosis.
  • A dermatologist(!) who was experiencing an itchy skin rash consulted several doctors before getting a DH diagnosis.
  • Yes, it's true: Even doctors--and even dermatologists--have trouble getting a DH diagnosis!

    Perhaps the most prominent DH specialist in the United States is Dr. John Zone of the University of Utah, which is located somewhere east of New York City. Here are patient and doctor pages from the Celiac Disease Center of Columbia University, which is located in New York City.

    And here is the DH page of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).

    Friday, March 16, 2007


    So where can one find gluten-free Kit Kat knockoffs in New York City?

    Well, as I wrote at the end of my wrap-up of The View's March 14 celiac coverage, I think the species of gluten-free food that is closest to the common Kit Kat is the Glutano Break Bar...which can be found at the Upper West Side Fairway.

    You might think that Glutino Chocolate Wafers come close to Kit Kats, too. I believe they're more available than Glutano Break Bars...and they're also at the UWS Fairway. So you can do an on-the-spot comparison.

    Both products are in the UWS Fairway's gluten-free section, which also seems to double as a utility closet. (They might be available elsewhere in the city, too, so feel free to list locations in the comments section.)

    Here is a den of Fairway Break Bars (and Big Breaks--the male of the species?) tucked behind a ladder.

    And here are the Glutino Chocolate Wafers.

    Photos Focused and Unfocused: David Marc Fischer

    Thursday, March 15, 2007


    And, unless my eyes deceive me, the joint has a somewhat sleeker look....

    UPDATE MARCH 16, 2007 Congrats to Risotteria for getting a perfect Department of Health inspection score on March 9, 2007!

    Underexposed Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007


    Today's much-anticipated View segment on celiac disease could mean a major improvement in the lives of many Americans. Thanks to the speedy work of the The View and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), most of the coverage is already online via YouTube! (There's a little bit missing--I'll cover it in this post.)

    Source (7:11)

    This type of coverage is important and valuable because correctly diagnosing and treating celiac disease is a major public health issue in the United States. "As many as 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease but only about a tenth have been diagnosed, wrote Susan J. Landers in this American Medical News, referring to the findings of an independent panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health.

    So how could more than 2.5 million Americans be unaware that they have celiac disease? Some of them were diagnosed with celiac disease years ago but incorrectly deemed "cured." (They might have been called "banana babies" because of the medical diet they were on.) Others may have been misdiagnosed or incompletely diagnosed by doctors who failed to test them for celiac disease, mistakenly thinking it too rare to consider. Testing for celiac disease with an informed physician is a relatively simple process, but because doctors underestimate the condition, it typically takes many years for patients to get correct celiac diagnoses after they first showed worrisome symptoms.

    That was the case for View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck (left) before she got her diagnosis and then "came out" on The View last January, when the show's co-hosts spent about three minutes chatting about the condition. Today The View devoted more than seven minutes to the subject in its final segments, calling upon Elisabeth's doctor (and mine) Peter Green and NFCA founder and Executive Director Alice Bast to add their perspectives. Also participating (in the absence of Barbara Walters): special guest co-host Susie Essman, who says that her mother has celiac disease and who may or may not have celiac disease herself. (On The View, Essman said that she doesn't know whether she has it, but in March 2003 Alex Witchel of The New York Times once quoted her as saying "I was diagnosed last year with celiac disease. Yeah, you can say it, I can be the poster child for it.")

    The intro to the show promised "Elisabeth's revealing her battle with celiac disease...finding out why it's easily misdiagnosed...and how it can lead to everything from infertility to cancer."

    As you can see in the video, Dr. Green offered a mini-presentation during which he noted that the manifestations of untreated celiac disease can be very varied. The ones mentioned on this particular episode included:
    bloating, gas, or adominal pain (may be misdiagnosed as IBD)
    abnormal stool
    irritability or behavior changes
    fatigue [a very common symptom--Ed.]
    itchy skin rash
    intestinal cancer
    I emphasize that the above are just some of the manifestations, because there are others--such as anemia and osteoporosis (notably among men), thyroid disease, and type 1 diabetes--that are quite common among people with celiac disease. Bast encouraged people wondering about themselves to take the Do I Have Celiac? diagnostic quiz at the NFCA website.

    Dr. Green also showed how the gluten from wheat, barley, and rye causes atrophy of intestinal villi in people with celiac disease and explained that going on a lifelong gluten-free diet leads to healing for those people: "You have to be gluten-free your entire life. It's a lifelong diagnosis. If you get diagnosed in childhood or [as] an adult, it's for the rest of your life. Because as soon as you go back to gluten, you go back in that direction, flattening your villi." Or, as Bast put it: "A change in diet can change your life."

    The genetic component of celiac disease also came up. Because close relatives of people with celiac disease are more likely to have the condition, it is a good idea for first- and second-degree relatives to be tested for it too. The standard diagnosis involves having blood samples taken while one is still eating gluten, then possibly following up with an upper endoscopy. Genetic testing can be useful in certain diagnostic situations, but there is currently no genetic test that, alone, will tell you that definitely have celiac disease.

    There was a talk about foods such as cornbread and soy sauce containing the forbidden gluten--but just about anything (including cornbread and soy sauce, which is why clear labeling is so valuable) can be all right for the gluten-free diet depending on how the food is made. For example, the subject of a KitKat equivalent came up. I think Elisabeth cited Glutino Chocolate Wafers (and--I think mistakenly--said they were sugar-free). The closest KitKat equivalent that I've found is Glutano's Break Bar. (She said Glutino, I say Glutano.)

    The show ended with some closing remarks not in the above clip. Rosie said, "Elisabeth, I think that was great that you talked about that 'cause, you know, it's been, you've had it for a while, right?"

    Elisabeth said, "I have. And it took me so long to find out that I did. If I can just help someone not have six years of just hell before they find out....Especially kids, you know, they need more labeling on foods...and I'm going to try to do anything I can to get that fixed...."

    Then there was this exchange between Behar and Essman (who had mentioned being on thyroid medication):
    BEHAR (conversationally) You don't have it....

    ESSMAN I probably do. I am doctor-phobic so I don't go get diagnosed....You know what? I eat the stuff and I feel bad and then I don't eat wheat and I feel good. So hello?

    BEHAR It sounds like it's a little more complicated. It can cause worse diseases. You need to be diagnosed.

    ESSMAN And my mother has it. And it's also connected to thyroid....

    BEHAR Duh!

    ESSMAN You know, I treat myself as if I do, and I don't eat the wheat.
    That kind of exchange should sound pretty familiar to people in celiac world. My advice: If you think you might have it, consult with an informed doctor about getting tested. It typically all begins with a blood test while you're not on the gluten-free diet.

    You know what I think would be interesting? Offering screening to anyone involved with The View and finding out what the results are.

    In the meantime, here's the latest in the feud between Rosie and Donald Trump--this was also on today's episode.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007


    If the clip below looks oddly familiar, don't panic: It's the Jan 26, 2007 View segment (blogged here) in which Elisabeth Hasselbeck and her co-hosts went over the basics of celiac disease.

    The View is scheduled to follow up on the segment tomorrow, with coverage including talks with Dr. Peter Green of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Alice Bast of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

    Source (3:44)

    Monday, March 12, 2007


    Here's a public service announcement that CNN anchor Heidi Collins made for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). It's only thirty seconds long, but it makes some important points: Many Americans don't realize they have celiac disease, and the symptoms (which, I note, vary widely) can include diarrhea, headache, osteoporosis, and pregnancy complications.

    The NFCA wants people to contact local television stations to get them to air this PSA. Here are details about the campaign.

    Source (00:30)

    Sunday, March 11, 2007


    Alice Bast is the founder and Executive Director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), which has become very visible in New York City in recent months. Just last weekend, the NFCA hosted the Winter 2006 Gluten-Free Cooking Spree in Chelsea and then became the honoree at a special gluten-free dinner at Centrico hosted by Redbridge Beer, attended by gluten-free celebs Heidi Collins and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and blogged about beautifully by CeliacChick Kelly.

    Like many of us, Alice only found out she had celiac disease after a long, drawn-out period involving many frustrating visits to doctors. As Alice herself puts it, she suffered diarrhea, fatigue, bloating, a general malaise, and the trauma of a full-term stillbirth as well as several early miscarriages. Her teeth began to deteriorate and her sister-in-law wondered if she had anorexia, though doctors often observed that she looked fine.

    An interesting aspect of celiac disease is that, while the above-mentioned symptoms are common, the condition can be accompanied by symptoms that are markedly different. Or no symptoms might be noticed at all. That is why testing by a well-informed doctor can be crucial. Here's the NFCA on diagnosing celiac disease.

    And here's Alice on Moms on the Move with Linda Swain.

    Source (3:07)

    Saturday, March 10, 2007


    It took years, but the Greenwich Village restaurant Gus's Place finally came back...and just returned to the roster of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program! And now I can hardly wait to return to the restaurant myself:
    Gus's Place
    192 Bleecker Street (between 6th Ave. and MacDougal St.)
    New York, NY
    Here's the menupages entry for Gus's Place. I'm glad the Grilled Octopus Salad and the Chocolate Almond Torte are back--now I just need to find out about the fig and hazelnut ice creams!

    I've already added Gus's Place to my map.

    Other GFNYC coverage of Gus's Place is here.

    Friday, March 09, 2007


    Catherine of Gluten Free Guide has done a great job covering the March 2, 2007 Gluten-Free Cooking Spree--here are Part 1 and Part 2. [And here's Part 3!] Jennifer Romolini of jennifer ate offers this item at the foodsite Epicurious, and Erin of Gluten-Free Fun offers this.

    So I can add just a little bit, such as my own picture of the meatballs in squid-ink sauce, which really freaked people out but turned out to be top-notch--and it wasn't even in the competition!

    Catherine credits Rice on Lexington with this special dish, which one of the terrific volunteer servers dubbed "food noir" because it was so starkly black-and-white. (This particular server would be perfect for a noir film herself--and I mean that in the most flattering sense.)

    I can't comment on all the yummy competing dishes because--unlike the diligent Catherine--I didn't get to sample them all. However, I share her enthusiasm for the entry by Patricia Williams of District: tempura of tilapia with a salad of cucumbers, mango, rice wine vinaigrette, and sesame oil foam. One aromatic whiff of it took me back to the olden days when I traveled through Asia; one crunch of the perfectly delicate batter brought me back to the somewhat more recent time in the past century when I last had tempura.

    Right by Patricia's station was Carrie Levin of Good Enough to Eat. Back in the last century I used to eat at her homey restaurant, but nothing I ate back then made more feel more at home than what she made at the sprue spree: a yummy tilapia chowder made with okra! You can spot a picture at Catherine's blog.

    Near the chowder was yet another delish dish: Jehangir Mehta's coriander spiced tilapia with salty chive biscuits and cucumber cumin raita. In case you haven't heard, many tilapia gave their lives to the cause Friday night. Here they are early in Mehta's preparation...

    ...and here they are, plated!

    Recipes for these (and other) contest entries--including Brett Reichler's winning "Tortilla" Crusted Free Range Chicken--are here.

    What more can I say? It was fun to chat with so many nice people--including "volunteer photographer" Ellen, long-lost Leslie, George of Foods by George, and honoree Dr. Peter Green. And, as far as I could tell, there was only one noteworthy mishap. No, I'm not referring to any of the pans that crashed to the floor, reminding me that chefs are people, too. I'm referring to the containers of GlutenEase that somehow infiltrated our swag bags. This GlutenEase--a product marketed as something that helps one digest gluten and casein--was roundly rejected by the celiacs and top doctors in the gluten-free crowd. Moral of the story: Beware of celiacsploitation!

    Oh yes...of course it would be great if all of the participating chefs and restaurants would join GFRAP. You hear that, participating chefs and restaurants? Sign up now!

    Find more GFNYC sprue spree coverage here.

    Photos: David Marc Fischer

    Thursday, March 08, 2007


    On Thursday, March 15, 2007, the CeliacChicks will host a reception and performance event tied in with the Paul Taylor Dance Company's 2007 season at New York City Center (55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). It's a fundraiser for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

    The reception, which will run from 5:30 to 6:45 pm, is sponsored by Foods by George, which just provided hors d'oeuvres and other goodies at last Friday's sprue spree.

    The performance, which starts at 7:00 pm, features the works Polaris, Book of Beasts, and Promethean Fire.

    Tickets for the event cost $35, $55, $70 and $85, with 25% going to the Celiac Disease Center. Save on service charges by going to the box office and mentioning code CEC, use the code to get the tickets over the phone at 212-581-1212, or click here and use code 2840.

    Photo of Promethean Fire: Lois Greenfield

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007


    Attention, followers of Elisabeth Hasselbeck: I've gotten confirmation that The View will air another segment on celiac disease on Wednesday, March 14, 2007. Of course, this type of information is always subject to change, but that's how it is at the moment.


    Fans of Franco-Babylonian cuisine rejoice!

    Judging from the website of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program, it looks like Emerson's--a French restaurant in Babylon, Long Island--is now on the roster.

    Here are New York Times and Newsday reviews from April 2006. Here's a Long Island Press review from June 2006.

    GFRAP currently counts two other Long Island restaurants among its participants: Caffe Baldo in Wantagh (Nassau) and Mama's Italian Restaurant in Oakdale (Suffolk). Yazoo City closed early this year.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007


    CNN Newsroom spent just over four minutes covering celiac disease on Monday morning, March 5, 2007. The video is already online at the website of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). You can find the transcript about halfway down this page.

    The segment, hosted by CNN anchor and NFCA spokesperson Heidi Collins basically consisted of two subsections plus newsroom banter.

    The first subsection, presented by CNN's medical correespondent Judy Fortin, covered Virginia Brookhart and the effect of celiac disease on her family, with medical commentary from Dr. Cynthia Rudert. Some of the outstanding points: Celiac disease is a common ailment that is very commonly misdiagnosed or undiagnosed; it can be mistaken for other conditioons (such as spastic colon and Irritable Bowel Syndrome); the condition runs through families, so it is not unusual for more than one family member to have it; treatment with the gluten-free diet often yields very good results.

    The second subsection covered Friday's NFCA Gluten-Free Cooking Spree, with footage of competing chefs Carrie Levin, Ralph Pagano, and Jehangir Mehta. [NOTE: My original post incorrectly stated that Pagano was the winner; the winner was actually Brett Reichler.]

    Collins seemed very happy with the event. An interesting aspect of the newsroom banter was how it touched on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet being unfamiliar to many people, including those in the food industry. Food for thought: There was more than one reference to "gluten-free" not being an especially "delicious-sounding" label for foods.

    For more coverage of the NFCA Gluten-Free Cooking Spree, click here and check out Gluten Free Guide and Gluten-Free Fun.

    Monday, March 05, 2007


    Yes, that's right: The ShopRite of Plainview, Long Island (Woodbury Road near South Oyster Bay Road; 516-938-0329), is carrying Lieber's Knaidel Mix for Passover. [UPDATE MARCH 26, 2007 I've also seen them at the Morton Village ShopRite, on Old Country Road in Plainview.] (As previously mentioned, Lieber's Knaidel Mix makes kosher, gluten-free potato dumplings that make very good substitutes for matzoh balls.) If going to Plainview means a big trip for you, call in advance to make sure the mix is still on the shelves.

    Also in the area (along Manetto Hill Road): Fairway, Get Healthy America, and Dr. B. Well Naturally (8 Washington Avenue; 516-932-9355). Each has an well-curated stock of gluten-free foods.

    Here's another kind of gf matzoh ball--the very hard kind.

    Source (00:17)

    Sunday, March 04, 2007


    I've gotten word about upcoming television coverage on CNN and ABC. This information is possibly subject to change, but it seems reliable enough to give you fair warning so that you can keep your eyes peeled and your TVs tuned.

    The CNN coverage--tied to Friday night's Gluten-Free Cooking Spree--may air as early as Monday.

    And you know how you've been wondering whether The View would follow up on its celiac coverage from January? Well, it looks like there will indeed be additional coverage--perhaps around the middle of March!

    Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Saturday, March 03, 2007


    Please note: Risotteria reopened on March 14, 2007

    What a comedown to return to my blogging nodule after the fun-filled Gluten-Free Cooking Spree and find New York Press and Gothamist both reporting that Risotteria has been shuttered as part of a Department of Health crackdown in the aftermath of the rat scandal at the nearby KFC-Taco Bell.

    Last year GFNYC noted that Risotteria had scored a 27 in its June 13, 2005 inspection, narrowly missing a failing grade of 28. (In its previous inspection, dated April 5, 2004, Risotteria scored an impressive 9.) As of today, the DOH website indicates that Risotteria got an improved score--18--in its most recent inspection, on June 16, 2006. The violations:
    1. Lighting inadequate. Fixture not shielded.

    2. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.

    3. Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
    Nothing in this rating from last year would have resulted in a closing. However, doubts have recently been raised regarding the reliability of DOH scoring. Also, there may be an unusual problem in the West Village that goes beyond Risotteria and the KFC-Taco Bell, as it seems that the venerable John's Pizzeria (which scored a 6 due to mice in its last inspection) has also been closed by the DOH.

    Risotteria's management is reportedly hoping to recover from this episode and reopen soon. I hope to see the restaurant come back--better than ever. Naturally, I hope that the DOH will get its own act together and work with restaurants to help them serve food safely. In the meantime, I wish the Risotteria staff well.

    UPDATE MARCH 4, 2007 This amNewYork article by Justin Rocket Silverman deals primarily with the closing of John's Pizzeria, but the item ends by quoting a sign in Risotteria's window stating "we have fallen victim to the health department's zeal to cover their tracks for past sins and will have to be closed...temporarily."

    UPDATE MARCH 8, 2007 One week after the inspection date, Risotteria's March 1, 2007 inspection results are now online here along with a statement that "The Notice of Violation issued as a result of this inspection is awaiting a hearing decision." The score is an 82 (for what it's worth, John's Pizzeria got an even higher 90) resulting from the following violations:
    1. Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained.

    2. Lighting inadequate. Fixture not shielded.

    3. Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist.

    4. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.

    5. Sufficient refrigerated or hot holding equipment not provided to meet proper time and temperature requirements for potentially hazardous foods.

    6. Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided.

    7. Other live animal present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.

    8. Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.

    9. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.

    10. Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.

    11. Cold food held above 41°F (smoked fish above 38°F) except during necessary preparation.
    An interesting angle on Risotteria's situation has to do with its participation in the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP). According to this government report, gluten from wheat, barley, and rye is toxic for an estimated 1% of the population, which makes it a serious health concern as far as I'm concerned. Yet I'm not aware of any Department of Health policy addressing the fact that virtually every restaurant in New York City offers food containing gluten but doesn't inform patrons of any potential danger. Risotteria, as a GFRAP participant, is actually one of very few restaurants that makes a voluntary effort to offer and clearly identify many gluten-free dishes even though doing so apparently means nothing to the Department of Health.

    UPDATE MARCH 8, 2007 Here are two signs that were in Risotteria's windows yesterday.

    And here's a sign that was up at Joe's Pizzeria.

    UPDATE MARCH 12, 2007 I'm told that Risotteria will officially re-open on Thursday!

    UPDATE MARCH 15, 2007 I'm now told that Risotteria re-opened on Wednesday, March 14, 2007.

    Photos: David Marc Fischer

    Friday, March 02, 2007


    A family-friendly program awaits those who attend the next meeting of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG) from 2:00-4:00 pm on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow.

    The guest speaker is Tracey Keegan, co-founder of the Celiac Support Group at Children's Hospital in Boston. According to the WCSSG newsletter, she'll talk about cooking and children, shopping and eating out, emotional strategies for families, and "what kids have to say." (I hear they say the darndest things!)

    What's that you say? You've actually got kids?? Well, good news for you: There will be a separate, supervised children's meeting with a puppet show about coping at school. It includes a section about explaining gluten and celiac disease to friends.

    For all attendees, there will also be samples of Gaga's Sherbetter, sales of the books Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic and The Gluten Free Kid, and vendors Mr. Ritt's, Gilbert's Gourmet Goodies, and Julianna's Delectable Fruits. I apologize for posting this a tad late for a guaranteed Mr. Ritt's pre-order, but you can still try for a late order by calling 1-877-677-4887.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007


    Two new articles on Medscape deal with celiac disease.

    "Coeliac Disease: Relationship to Endocrine Autoimmunity" is a case study of a man who was treated successfully for Addison's disease and type 1 diabetes, but received a diagnosis of celiac disease after showing symptoms of fatigue and iron deficiency anemia about 15 years into his treatment for the other conditions.

    An accompanying discussion identifies common celiac symptoms as malabsorption (60%), lethargy (50%), and anemia (12-22%) but notes that physical examination is often normal. It lists associated disorders as fatty liver disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, epilepsy, neuropathy, male and female infertility, Addison's disease, and type 1 diabetes. It also observes that cigarette smoking reduced the risk of celiac disease by 80%--though I'd recommend consulting with a physician before taking up smoking as a preventative therapy. The article appears in The British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease (Volume 6, Number 6, 2006).

    "Advances in Celiac Disease" is a multi-part summary of "recent critical research in celiac disease." I could actually use a summary of the summary, but here are three of the points that stood out for me:
  • Celiac disease screening among women of reproductive age could yield significant health benefits.

  • Primary care doctors are increasingly involved in identifying celiac disease patients.

  • A Finnish and Hungarian group is developing a point-of-care testing kit that would yield results within 30 minutes.
  • This report appears in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology (Volume 23, Number 2, 2007).

    The former study put the frequency of celiac disease at 1 in 200; the latter as possibly as high as 1 in 100.