Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chefs Speak Out in Time Out New York

The Time Out New York "Kitchen report 2008" (October 30-November 5, 2008) offers some insights into the mindset of 40 Big Apple chefs.

One question was
What’s the worst thing about New York restaurantgoers?
The biggest complaint from chefs is that New Yorkers are too discerning, too picky and too bitchy. Some put it politely: "They’re very demanding, they really know what they want. They’re really knowledgeable and have high expectations." Some cut to the chase and called you "elitist and high maintenance." One particularly pissed-off chef hates it when you order sauce on the side.
What customer "faux pas" pisses off the chefs the most? Answers included "Saying they are allergic to something when they’re not." and "Bad tipping and impatience if the restaurant is busy and slammed." One chef also suggested that "If you can’t tip 15 to 20 percent, don’t go out to eat. Everyone is in a financial crisis, and I’m tired of listening to my servers complain."

And then there's "Are your vegetarian dishes truly vegetarian?" Eight percent said "yes" but one chef said "Yes. Well, we use chicken stock, but no one can tell the difference."

So be honest, not too demanding, and generous with your tipping. And wary.

Here's a glimpse at the food prep process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Home-Cured Salmon

Danielle Sucher at Gothamist recently published this recipe for home-cured salmon.

It looks fun and easy...and gluten-free!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zagat NYC Restaurants 2009

Below is this year's round-up of the New York City GFRAP restaurants as listed in the Zagat guide.

Candle 79 and Asia de Cuba stayed at the top of the list, with new addition S'MAC elbowing itself just ahead of Risotteria with its food rating. Price estimates tended to go up, with Candle 79 and S'MAC and Outback distinguishing themselves with rating increases.

Despite any number of trend and health pieces in the media about gluten-free dining, the Zagat guide still hasn't found much of a way to recognize gluten-free dining as a cuisine or special feature, though it is mentioned in at least three restaurant comments.

The guide notes that "Tipping remained steady at 19%, right on par with the national average." So keep that in mind when you want to make a good impression with the restaurant staff.
Candle 79
Food: 23
Service: 22 (up 1)
Decor: 20 (up 3)
Estimated dinner for one: $46 (up $10)

Asia de Cuba
Food: 23
Service: 20
Decor: 24
Estimated dinner for one: $61 (up $3)

Food: 21 (up 2)
Service: 14
Decor: 10 (up 1)
Estimated dinner for one: $16 (up $3)

Food: 20 (down 1)
Service: 15 (down 1)
Decor: 9 (down 1)
Estimated dinner for one: $24 (up $1)
Comments: "Gluten-sensitive gourmets" gather at this "tiny" Village Italian turning out "creamy risottos" and other fare fit for "those with food restrictions" yet "terrific enough for everyone else"; there's "no decor" and little elbow room, but "squeeze in" and you'll leave "happily satisfied."

Gus' Place (reopened, relocated)
Food: 19 (down 1)
Service: 20
Decor: 14 (down 2)
Estimated dinner for one: $38 (up $1)

Food: 18 (down 1)
Service: 19
Decor: 18
Estimated dinner for one: $53 (up $1)
Comments: "Perfect for a romantic interlude" or a shopping break, this UES Italian (seen in the Sex and the City movie) is set in a "lovely and comfortable" townhouse equipped with two fireplaces; "decent" food, including a "gluten-free" menu, and "pro" service help justify the tabs.

Food: 18
Service: 18
Decor: 16
Estimated dinner for one: $40 (up $2)
Comments: Maybe the "basic, family-style" Italian eats at this "kid-friendly" UWS "alternative to Carmine's" "won't wow you", but the "giant portions" may, so "go with a group" and "share"; waiters are "cheery", and - who woulda thunk? - there's a "gluten-free menu."

Outback Steakhouse
Food: 15 (up 1)
Service: 16 (up 1)
Decor: 12
Estimated dinner for one: $34 (up $2)

Friday, October 24, 2008

WABC Eyewitness News Goes to Miller's

WABC's Eyewitness News recently paid a visit to Miller's Gluten Free Bread Co. in Rochelle Park, New Jersey. The video is here.

Thanks to Erin of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG) for the lead. You can find more coverage courtesy of Ben Cappel at the CeliacChicks website.

NOTED My sympathies to go the Coluccio, Dupont, and Milito families on their recent losses. You may know the Coluccios as purveyors of imported Italian gluten-free pasta in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Island Outlook on Celiac Disease

Kudos to Michael Thorn of the Suffolk County Celiacs and Frank Brinka of Island Outlook for a very good, up-to-date, and wide-ranging discussion of celiac disease. The running time is 30 well-spent minutes.

Island Outlook is a production of the LI Radio Group, where Eric Schwartz is Senior Account Executive. Kudos also to Schwartz, who is involved in a radio campaign to boost awareness of celiac disease.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breaking: Another Risotteria?

You can find an online interview-profile of Dominick D'Alleva, owner of the restaurants Home and Sway, at BlackBook. Here are some of his remarks:
I did open up a new restaurant that had an Italian flavor ... Risotteria on Bleecker and Morton. It’s still there, and now I can’t get a table! It started out as salads and risotto and reasonably priced Italian comfort food. Then, we got into gluten-free food, and certain people allergic to wheat loved our pizzas and cookies....

We’re going to have another Risotteria.

This Soup for You!

Today and tomorrow you can get free samples of gluten-free Kettle Cuisine soups at two Whole Foods Markets in Manhattan, according to a post on the message board of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG).
Monday, October 20, 3-7pm
Whole Foods Chelsea
Chicken Chili with White Beans
Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder

Tuesday, October 21, 3-7pm
Whole Foods Columbus Circle
Chicken with Rice Noodle
Angus Beef Chili
Grilled Chicken and Corn Chowder
I am not sure if gf bread is included with the samples, so ask about it at your own risk!

Source (0:55)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Joe the Celiac"

For readers of this blog, the good news about the 2008 presidential election might be that both of the major party candidates seem to be sympathetic to the needs of gluten-free people.

During the third debate, John McCain made the point that his running mate Sarah Palin is attuned to the concerns of "special needs" families. And one of McCain and Palin's more prominent supporters is Jane Swift, who is said to have celiac disease herself.

During the debate, Barack Obama echoed McCain in expressing concern for "special needs" families. But when it came to health care and budget policies, there was a clear difference between the two candidates.

McCain talked about freezing the budget and making cuts using a "hatchet" approach, while Obama stressed the importance of using a "scalpel" approach that might even allow for greater allocations for some worthy programs. Furthermore, he supported universal health care for children and preventative medicine as a way of controlling costs over the long run.

Obama's positions should have great appeal for people on gluten-free and other medical diets. As discussed previously on this blog, the FDA needs more support to safeguard our food and drug supply from contamination and ensure that labels are trustworthy. Furthermore, in a nation where the vast majority of people with celiac disease remain undiagnosed, the medical and financial benefits of preventative medicine and universal health care for children could be substantial.

No matter who wins the election, advocates for people with celiac disease might be able to make inroads through the Oval Office based on the principles espoused by the candidates during their campaigns. Gluten-Free NYC happens to favor Barack Obama for many reasons including the positions mentioned above, but if you'd like to share your own gluten-free "Joe the Celiac" or "Jane the Celiac" perspective feel free to do so here!

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shameless Celiac Promotion

During this second celiac awareness month of 2008, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of Gluten-Free NYC Boutique items that stand out when it comes to raising awareness: The totally unsubtle "Ask me about GLUTEN" button pictured above, and the "100% Gluten Free" bumper sticker picture pictured below, which is suitable for use by any gluten-free motorist.

Special Designs by Debbie Glasserman Design

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gluten-Free Articles from NYC to Alcatraz

Rosemary Black's Daily News article "Eating gluten-free will help combat celiac disease" (October 6, 2008) offers an overview of celiac disease and notes the arrival of a new book, Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America. The article includes a recipe for a gluten-free Red Velvet Cake from the book, which is written by CIA chef Richard J. Coppedge with a foreword by Foods by George entrepreneur George Chookazian.

And Newsday recently ran the Merle English article "Man swims off Alcatraz for sister with celiac disease" (October 12, 2008), which describes how Great Neck gastroenterologist David Milkes dedicated his August 2008 "Alcatraz Challenge" swim to raising awareness about celiac disease. His sister suffered troubling symptoms for three years before his partner Chaim Abittan diagnosed her with celiac disease. Milkes raised more than $5,000 with his swim and donated the dough (gf, of course) to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU).

So please note that David Milkes and Chaim Abittan are two Long Island doctors who seem to know their celiac stuff.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mimi Winsberg Completes 2008 Ironman Triathlon

Gluten-free triathlon competitor Mimi Winsberg completed the 2008 Ironman Triathlon in 12:26:55 yesterday. She ranked 1206 out of 1735 overall, and 44 out of 69 among women in her age group. The time of the top woman finisher in her age group was 10:20:36. The time of Chrissie Wellington, the top woman finisher overall, was 9:06:23. The time of top male finisher Craig Alexander was 8:17:45. Sheesh, what's the big rush?

Congrats to Winsberg and all the other competitors!

Friday, October 10, 2008

New York Times Spotlights Gluten-Free Athletes

Climber Dave Hahn and endurance athlete Mimi Winsberg both improved performance after being diagnosed with celiac disease and eliminating gluten from their diets, reports Anna Seaton Huntington in the New York Times article "A Debilitating Disease That Is Often Unknown" (October 9, 2008).
"It was like doping," Winsberg, 42, said. "Suddenly I was running six-minute miles instead of nine-minute miles. Before I had placed in the bottom third in triathlons. Four weeks gluten free, and I placed second in a triathlon. It was like reverse aging. I went from feeling 38 to 28 to 18."
Chiming in is Dr. John Reasoner of the United States Olympic Committee: "In six to eight weeks, if they’ve followed the diet, it’s night and day."

Also in the article, Dr. Peter Green continues to disseminate the key message that "Celiac is grossly underdiagnosed in this country." How is it diagnosed? Huntington writes that "Celiac disease is diagnosed through an inexpensive panel of blood tests" though it is confirmed through endoscopic biopsy.

Tomorrow Winsberg competes in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Hawaii, an event that involves a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile coastal run. The article asserts that she could hardly have considered participating had she not discovered that being gluten-free was crucial to her well-being.

Thanks to Laura S. for the lead!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Protecting the Vulnerable

My heart goes out to anyone trying to maintain a gluten-free diet in an institutional setting such as a hospital or a nursing home. Jokes about the poor food quality in such places are common, but it's no joke to actually be poisoned in a place that is supposed to be protecting your health when you aren't necessarily in a position to articulate your needs or advocate for yourself.

Tricia Thompson recently addressed the nursing home situation in her post "Gluten Free Meals for the Elderly," which includes an interview with nutrition consultant Ronni Alicea, who works with health care facilities to address medical diet issues and also owns Celinal Foods, which markets microwaveable gluten-free meals to such institutions.

One of Alicea's interesting suggestions is to have a celiac blood panel administered upon admission and annually thereafter, to monitor compliance with the diet. Makes sense to me—that's something anyone with celiac disease can do, in or out of a facility! I also like the emphasis on sticking to medical gluten-free diets to stay healthy and thereby minimize any need to resort to a nursing home.

Alicea also suggests that one raise dietary issues when considering nursing homes.
When selecting a nursing home, first discuss the diet with administration. As we know, gluten free diet management impacts every aspect of life.

In addition to receiving properly prepared gluten free meals we need to assure that (1) nursing reviews medications and snacks, (2) the activity department includes gluten free options in their activities, and (3) rehabilitation therapies are aware. It is vital that a person following a gluten-free diet does not isolate themselves because of the fear or perception that the staff does not understand their needs.

The facility administrator will coordinate the interdepartmental education with the guidance of the facility dietitian. Once you are comfortable that the facility is committed to continuing your parent’s gluten free lifestyle, it is time to discuss menu planning with the dietitian.
That's good advice, but the fact of the matter is that the selection process might be made under very rushed and frantic circumstances, that the possible nursing homes might be very limited in quantity and quantity, and that many people have their nursing homes chosen for them. That is one reason why the standards and practices maintained by nursing homes ought to be high enough to accommodate gluten-free and other medical diets with ease.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Gluten-Free Cooking on Emeril Green

Vanessa Maltin of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) announces a segment of Emeril Green on gluten-free shopping and cooking to be aired Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 8:30pm on Discovery Green.
During this episode Emeril will help a newlywed couple learn to cook delicious gluten-free food. The wife was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and wants to make sure she can cook awesome food for her new husband! Emeril takes the couple on a shopping trip through the new Whole Foods store in Virginia and just happens to bump into Vanessa in the bakery! Vanessa will share tips for gluten-free cooking and baking and offer advice on various gluten-free grains and flours.

In the episode you'll learn to make Pizza, Gazpacho, Italian Salad, and a delicious Pasta dish.
Emeril's previous gluten-free coverage includes a segment on New Orleans cuisine and a segment on gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free cooking for a toddler, as previously noted at Gluten-Free in the Shaolin.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gluten-Free Mari Wilson

Mari Wilson topped British charts in the 1980s with her retro-pop singing and beehive hairstyle. Now she's "out" as a coeliac celebrity and feeling much better to boot.

Here she interprets "Cry Me a River."

Source (3:25)