Catch: Has Me Hook, Line, and Sinker

Where: Catch, 6623 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28405

When you dine at Catch, you are in for an exquisite culinary experience because Chef Keith Rhodes was named the 2011 Best Chef of the Southeast, he was a NC James Beard Semifinalist, and has been on Top Chef.

Gwyneth Paltrow visited Catch in July 2012 for a cooking lesson with Keith Rhodes. To read about her experience and see more photos, visit her curated site called “goop”. She also gave kudos to Catch’s “mixologist”, Richard Watson, who whipped up a Cucumber Tequila Cocktail for her.

GF Menu: No.

What we ate: Pan-Roasted NC Black Sea Bass Filet from the Daily Menu and Pan-Roasted Organic Salmon from the Regular Menu

How to order it:  We appreciated the descriptive list of ingredients on the menu at Catch. The menu also helpfully notes, “All food is prepared to order”.

Let your server know that you will be dining Gluten-Free. The servers at Catch are very accommodating and want to help you find something both safe and delicious.

We checked with our server to make sure that the salmon dish could be made with a Gluten-Free soy sauce for the glaze. She assured us that the chef could make this dish gluten-free after she confirmed with the kitchen.

What it looks like:

CatchSeaBass3

This scrumptious black sea bass was pan-roasted and draped over a bed of rice noodles, shitake mushrooms, and Shanghai Bok Choy. The gorgeous sauce was a coconut-blue crab fumet. The chef garnished it with a hearty dollop of lemon verbena pesto, fresh cilantro, and thai basil.

CatchSalmon2

(Our table was candlelit, so I couldn’t capture as much detail as I had hoped in this photo.) Tender inside, with a pan-roasted crispiness on the outside, this was salmon prepared at its best. Here, the rice noodles were combined with stir-fried organic vegetables and a soy sauce chili glaze. This dish was garnished with toasted sesame seeds and fresh cilantro.

 Green Note: Catch is doing everything right.

Chef Keith Rhodes and his wife, Angela, recognize the value of buying organic and local. Their website explains: “By striving to support North Carolina’s organic farmers, local fisheries and sustainable fishing practices, our customers help stimulate the local economy.” 

In addition to his second popular restaurant called Phun Seafood Bar, located on Princess Street in Wilmington, Keith Rhodes has launched the Catch Food Truck this year. Follow this fresh, local, organic food truck featuring California and Mexican Street Food here: http://www.catchthefoodtruck.com/. The food truck website boasts: “Catch food truck uses eco friendly packaging and NC soybean oil for frying. We also recycle the cooking oil to produce bio diesel.”

If you’d like to learn how to make sustainable seafood choices, the Monterey Bay Aquarium produces pocket-sized regional guides. These are incredibly handy to pull out of your wallet in a restaurant, market, or when traveling. I recently picked up both the Sushi Guide and the Southeast Consumer Guide. You can download any of the guides here for free.

Catch on Urbanspoon

Agno Grill: 100% Gluten-Free Eatery in Philly

This is my 100th post on “Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free”. Though this blog is dedicated to the quest for Gluten-Free food in the South, I want to share a restaurant from north of the Mason-Dixon line because this establishment is 100% Gluten-Free.

Where: Agno Grill, 2104 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

GF Menu: Yes. Everything on the menu is 100% Gluten-Free.

Agno means “Pure” in Greek. Their brochure states:

Our Food:

  • Always made fresh daily by our trained staff
  • 100% Gluten-Free
  • No white sugar or white flour
  • Organic, All-Natural, GMO-Free
  • All Poultry, Meat, Produce, and Dairy is Organic and Hormone-Free
  • Prepared, Marinated, and Grilled In House Daily
  • Created and Crafted to Maximize Flavor and Nutritional Value

What I ate: Knowing that everything in the restaurant was Gluten-Free, I was like a kid in a candy shop. There were so many choices, and I wanted to try them all. I finally selected a Falafel Wrap, since freshly-made GF wraps are hard to find. I ordered a Tahini Cookie for dessert.

How to order it: This is one of the few places in the world you won’t have to tell your server that you are Gluten-Free. You can just order your food in gluten-restriction anonymity. Follow Agno’s simple steps for building your own meal: 1. Choose your base (salad, black rice, or a wrap). 2. Choose your protein (chicken, steak, falafel, veggies, salmon). 3. Choose 3 toppings. 4. Choose your sauces. Click here to see a lovely layout of options from their seasonal menu.

What it looks like:

Agno2

Everything at Agno is made fresh  from the organic meat marinades to the baked goods. I knew this wrap was going to be delicious and filling. Look at the size of it!

Agno4

At my request, the server loaded this wrap with falafel, brocolini & fennel salad, roasted cauliflower, and white beans with parm and spinach. The falafel is hidden under the healthy heap of veggies.

AgnoTahiniCookie

This photo is the last bite of my warm-from-the-oven, fragrant Tahini Cookie. I forgot to snap a picture until it was nearly gone. This cookie was made from ground sesame seeds and rolled in whole sesame seeds. It was chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and flavorful to the last bite.

When you want more Gluten-Free baked goods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you’re in Philadelphia, walk around the corner from Agno to their sister establishment Pure Fare (with 2 locations on South Street in Philadelphia). I picked up four different kinds of GF Muffins from Pure Fare. Again, it was a treat to have so many safe and delicious options.

Green Note: In addition to offering organic and GMO-Free food, Agno is committed to having a low environmental impact. They offer compostable utensils in the dining area, and special soap in their restroom.

AgnoGreenNote2

The sign perched above this soap dispenser says:

Agno is proud to feature FURTHER HAND SOAP in our wash rooms. The glycerin in this soap is distilled from kitchen waste grease. The grease is converted into clean burning biofuel and the extracted glycerin is purified to become FURTHER SOAP. As you wash your hands, you are completing a perfect, sustainable circle.

AGNO Grill on Urbanspoon

Marché Artisan Foods: Brunch Bouquet

As of March 2012, “Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free” has had nearly 20,000 views. Thank you, Readers, from the bottom of my Gluten-Free heart!

Also, I am over-the-moon to report that this Gluten-Free Gal is getting married! In April 2012, I will start a new life in yet another great Southern town – Nashville, Tennessee.

There, I will continue my Quest for Gluten-Free Food in the South.

My family remains in the Triangle Area, and so I plan to return often and continue reviewing restaurants in this area, too.

Regardless of the restaurant location, it is my sincere hope that posting these GF options will help you feel empowered to seek out healthy GF meals for yourself and your families.

So, next up is a review of a Nashville, TN establishment called Marché Artisan Foods. Enjoy!

Where: Marché Artisan Foods, (located near “Five Points” in Historic East Nashville) 1000 Main Street, Nashville, TN 37206

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: Omelette du Jour, Soup du Jour, and Risotto

How to order it: Unless you are ordering at IHOP (where even the omelets are filled with fluffy pancake batter), you can generally feel good about choosing eggs. As always, though, if you are extremely allergic, be sure to ask the server whether the pan or griddle on which the item is cooked has come into contact with any gluten.

When considering a soup or a risotto, always ask the server whether the broths are Gluten-Free. In pre-packaged broths, gluten is sometimes added as a preservative to extend the product’s shelf life.

A note about cheese: I hope I’m not the first person to tell you this. You may already know that blue and gorgonzola cheeses are off-limits to those on a Gluten-Free diet (as their blueness comes from bread mold). But are you aware that some companies use gluten/wheat flour to dust their packaged shredded cheese? Apparently, the gluten helps keep the cheesy shreds from sticking to one another in the bag. So, whether buying cheese to cook with at home, or ordering an item containing shredded cheese at a restaurant, ask your server/chef whether the cheese packaging denotes a risk for those with gluten allergies.

My server checked with the kitchen, and assured me that the broth was made in-house, without gluten, and that the items I ordered were gluten-free.

What it looks like:

Can you see the vapors rising up from this steaming hot, colorful, hearty cup of soup? Cauliflower conversed with green beans, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and herbs. This soup had texture. The veggies were not soft from over-boiling; they retained their integrity.

I want to take omelet-making lessons from this chef. The form was so light and fluffy, and also cooked to perfection – not runny on the inside, and not burnt on the exterior. It arrived hot-off-the-pan, and each cheesy bite just begged to be combined on the fork with the cool, crispness of the greens, seasoned lightly with a vinaigrette and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Fresh butternut squash, herbs, and parmesan. Sounds simple, right? Due to the expert balance of these ingredients with the risotto, the taste was so rewardingly complex.

Green Note: Marché creates delicious meals using local and seasonal ingredients. Their website contains a page called “Partners & Friends” in which they list their local farm sources for produce, meats, and market goods. You can purchase free-range eggs produced by local hens, artisan chocolates from Nashville’s own Olive & Sinclair, and other culinary delights at Marché.

Marché Artisan Foods on Urbanspoon

Angelina’s Kitchen: Local and Seasonal Delights

Where: Angelina’s Kitchen, 23 Rectory Street on Business 64, Downtown Pittsboro, NC 27312

GF Menu: Yes. Check the dry erase board for GF options and Daily Specials. Angelina’s menu features ingredients that are local and seasonal, so items are updated regularly.

The paper menu includes a key for “GF” and “V”, indicating “Gluten-Free” and “Vegan”. The restaurant also offers Gluten-Free pita bread.

What I ate: Gluten-Free Brown Rice Bowl with Green Chile Beef Stew and Greens Bake + GF Sweet Potato Brownie.

How to order it: Place your order at the counter, confirming with the friendly server that your choice is Gluten-Free.

What it looks like:

A meal I could eat every day…

The Green Chile Beef Stew was made with local green chiles, Cohen Farm local beef, homemade beef broth, with corn, carrots, tomatoes, and black beans.

I especially relished the warm “Green Bake”.  Chef (and Owner) Angelina explained that this menu item is created with fresh local greens (whatever is in season – often collards, swiss chard, kale, arugula, spinach, and always loads of parsley). It is then baked with diced carrots, sauteed onions, and flavorful ricotta, or a special type of Greek gruyere cheese.

Served on a large bed of nutty brown rice, this was exactly what I craved on a chilly day.

This dessert was both GF and Vegan! This unique Sweet Potato brownie came from the brilliant Abilicious Bakery, and was moist, chewy, and lightly spiced.

Green Note: Occasionally, my heart sings when I see a particularly beautiful business model in action. What does this kind of model look like? It looks like Angelina’s Kitchen. It is a model of awareness, in which the business owners’ primary intentions bend purposefully toward community development, public health, and responsible environmental stewardship.

Angelina’s:

1. works with, and promotes (via their website and word of mouth), local farmers.

2. partners with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

3. uses compostable cutlery within the restaurant

4. offers recycling bins in order to reduce waste

5. features the work of local artists and offers handmade products for sale (see pic below)

and

6. encourages us all to eat healthy, local, and in season.

Handmade herbal soaps from Anole Nook Farms, Abilicious Bakery Gluten-Free products, a calendar of Pollinators from Debbie Roos Photography.

Angelina's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Simply Crepes: “Mais Oui!”

Crepes originated in northern France and are traditionally made with wheat flour; however, I’m delighted to report that a new restaurant in Raleigh, NC offers buckwheat crepes!

Buckwheat, also called a pseudocereal, is not related to wheat. It is not a grain and does not belong to the grass family, but still produces fruits that can be used to make bread flour.

Where: Simply Crepes, Lafeyette Village, 8470 Honeycutt Rd, Suite 110, Raleigh, NC 27615

GF Menu: Yes! Their menu states,All entrées and desserts can be made with a Gluten and Lactose Free buckwheat crêpe for [an additional] $1.00.”

What I ate: Turkey and Smoked Gouda Cheese Buckwheat Crepe + Chocolate Peanut Butter Creme Buckwheat Crepe

How to order it: Select a crepe from the menu, which currently features about 16 different entrees. Double-check with your server whether or not the contents of that particular crepe are in fact Gluten-Free. Place your order, stating that you want your dish to be prepared in the GF buckwheat crepe.

When we visited, our server asked us, “Are you ordering Gluten-Free based on a dietary preference, or do you have an allergy?” Surprised at this question, we asked why they needed to know. She informed us that the kitchen requires this information in order to take extra precautions when preparing dishes for those with food allergies.

What it looks like:

A warm and savory mountain of thinly sliced turkey, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese, fresh greens, tomatoes, and maple mustard vinaigrette, swaddled in a fresh-off-the-skillet buckwheat crepe.

Why stop at one crepe when you can have two? The crepes are so light and fluffy, I didn’t feel guilty about ordering dessert. I opted for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Creme Crepe. Fresh peanut butter cream, chocolate fudge, bananas, and vanilla ice cream were gift-wrapped in a delicate buckwheat crepe topped with double chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

Green Note: Buckwheat is healthy for your body and the earth. While researching its properties, I found a page titled “The Basics of Buckwheat”, which explains how buckwheat is also a smart agricultural choice for farmers:

Buckwheat has a variety of healthful properties. It’s an excellent plant source of easily digestive protein and contains all eight essential amino acids, so it’s close to being a “complete” protein. Buckwheat is also high in fiber (a big bonus for celiacs), B vitamins and, according to a USDA study, keeps glucose levels in check better than other carbohydrates — which is good news for celiacs who also have diabetes. It’s also said to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.

Buckwheat is hardy, which makes it resistant to damage and therefore relatively inexpensive and easy to grow. Tom Bilek, a Minnesota buckwheat grower, says “buckwheat will grow on anything.” According to the National Buckwheat Institute, Buckwheat is one of the few commercially grown crops that does not use chemicals.

To the Owners and Staff of Simply Crepes, I’d like to say, “Merci Beaucoup!”

Simply Crepes on Urbanspoon

Miel: A Real Honey of a Place

Where: Miel Restaurant, 343 53rd Avenue North, Nashville, TN, 37209, located in the historic Johnson’s Meat Market building in Sylvan Park, Nashville.

GF Menu: No. All meals at Miel are seasonal and made-to-order, so most items can be modified to meet GF needs. Servers will mark “GF” on the ticket so the kitchen staff will know not to plate anything containing gluten.

What I ate: I don’t usually eat this much in one sitting! I have been fortunate enough to dine at Miel twice, so here are descriptions of Miel’s Heirloom Tomato Salad, Diver Scallops, Risotto, PEI Mussels, a Chef’s Choice Veggie Plate, and Chocolates from Around the World.

How to order it: As always, inform the server in advance that you will be dining Gluten-Free. Ask for his/her recommendations from the current season’s menu. Once you have zeroed in on a menu option, your server can double-check with the kitchen to make sure the meal can be prepared Gluten-Free.

When ordering risotto, I asked about the broth in which the rice was prepared. The server assured me the kitchen would use a Gluten-Free vegetable broth.

What it looks like:

This petite potato appetizer was spread with creamy goat cheese, then topped with lightly marinated diced tomatoes and a sprig of parsley.

Gluten-Free sesame rice crackers with a rosemary garnish replaced the usual complimentary bread basket.

The heirloom tomato salad was a colorful Jenga tower, as artistic as it was delicious. Ripe heirloom tomatoes were stacked between house-made fresh mozzarella, basil oil, pinched basil leaves, and balsamic vinegar.

Diver Scallops are hand-picked when they are mature, and are considered a more eco-friendly seafood choice. Because they were never dragged along the ocean bed in a net, they are also less likely to contain sand grit. These plump scallops were pan-seared and served with a scrumptious golden beurre blanc.

In August, Miel’s risotto contained summer squash, zucchini, tomato jam, green beans, confit mushrooms, gruyère and parmesan cheeses, and a basil pistou. By September, in keeping with the changes in harvest, the dish offered roasted butternut squash, spinach, seasonal mushrooms, and white truffle oil.

Prince Edward Island mussels were steamed in a light vermouth broth with whole cloves of roasted garlic, yukon gold potatoes, and chopped tarragon, then topped with a garnish of Thai basil.

A veggie medley of carrots, green beans, onion, cauliflower, eggplant, beans, and potatoes offered fresh farm taste as well as diverse color and textures.

One of the GF dessert options was a selection of five crafted chocolates from around the world. In case you relish cocoa-related details as much as I do, here is the layout (provided on its own printed menu) of this exquisitely pleasurable platter of sweets:

  1. Askinosie White Chocolate Sonoscuso Beans with Trinitario Nibs (34% cocoa butter, Mexico)
  2. El Rey Milk Chocolate, caramel-like, smooth (41%, Venezuela)
  3. Callebaut-Orange Chocolate Ganache
  4. Vintage Plantations, Rainforest Alliance Certified (65%, Ecuador)
  5. Madécasse, dark, strong with mild acidity (75%, Madagascar)

Just when I thought my dining experience couldn’t get any sweeter, the server brought out the final signature touch. Every meal at Miel, ends with a teensie spoonful of local honey!

Green Note: In addition to serving organic, fair-trade, and Rainforest Alliance-certified ingredients, Miel also owns a farm, and reduces the restaurant’s food waste by composting.

The following text is taken from their website:

Miel’s Farm is located steps away from the Cumberland River just 10 minutes from the restaurant in a plot that was used for hog farming decades ago. The rich soil and well-water produce high yields of many heirloom vegetables chosen by Seema [Seema Prasad, Owner of Miel]

Miel Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Ice Cream Cottage Cafe: Maple View Comes to Wake Forest!

June 2013 Update: Since the time of this posting, the Ice Cream Cottage Cafe moved from 401 Wait Avenue to a larger and more centrally-located site on 105 S. White Street in downtown Wake Forest. Visit their website or their Facebook page for the scoop.

Maple View, the 2011 Winner of the Rose and Indy Awards for “Best Ice Cream”, is now available in the town of Wake Forest!

Where: The Ice Cream Cottage Cafe, 105 South White Street, Wake Forest, NC 27587

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: A Medium Cup (2 Scoops!) of Double Chocolate and Orange Cream hormone and antibiotic-free local ice cream from Maple View Farm in Orange County, NC.

How to order it: Despite my numerous attempts asking about gluten in their ingredients, Maple View Dairy did not respond; therefore, I am unable to provide specific information from the source. However, At FRESH in Raleigh, I was informed that many of the ice cream flavors from Maple View Farms are naturally Gluten-Free.

To be safe, always ask the server about ingredients when placing your order. Use your best judgment, avoiding flavors like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies & Cream.

What it looks like:

Dreamy, creamy euphoria served with a spoon. The Double Chocolate flavor is dark and rich, with terrific mouth-feel. The Orange Dream is my new favorite, airy and delicately citrusy. Combining these flavors, I imagine a frozen version of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges from the UK.

Green Note: The Ice Cream Cottage Cafe is local and independently-owned. The cottage features ample indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a variety of plants and herbs for sale. In addition to homemade baked goods, the owner’s wife sells her organic herbal handmade soaps, shampoos, lotions, and candles in the cafe shop.

Top of the Hill: French Quarter Jambalaya

Where: Top of the Hill Restaurant, 100 East Franklin St., Third Floor, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

GF Menu: Yes. If you ask, they offer a laminated menu on which everything that is NOT Gluten-Free is marked with an “X”, making your decision-making that much easier.

What I ate: French Quarter Jambalaya from the Dinner Menu.

How to order it: The jambalaya was listed as one of the Gluten-Free options when I dined at Top of the Hill.In general, though, if there is no GF menu available and you would like to order a rice dish, it is a good idea to inquire whether the rice has been cooked with soy sauce or in a broth, both of which may contain wheat.

What it looks like:

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a form of the word “jambalaya” first appeared in print in a Provencal poem published in 1837, meaning a “mish mash.” Top of the Hill’s steaming hot, hearty jambalaya contained shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage tossed with risotto, onions, tomatoes, and roasted okra. This was an exemplary mish mash, incorporating both flavor and texture to create a well-rounded, satisfying meal.

Green Note: Top of the Hill is set to open a distillery in 2011, creating handcrafted and distilled vodka, gin, bourbon, and rum. The new Topo Distillery will use local and organic agricultural products as the base of all of its products. According to the list of Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages on Celiac.com, these alcohols, if distilled thoroughly by the manufacturer, are rendered Gluten-Free.

Top of the Hill has also been voted “Best Outdoor Dining in the Triangle”. Check out their patio seating for an enjoyable al fresco dining experience.

Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery on Urbanspoon

The Chelsea: Worth the Trip!

Where: The Chelsea, 335 Middle Street, New Bern, NC 28560

GF Menu: Yes! According to a helpful reader comment below, The Chelsea now has a GF menu.

What I ate: Potato Crusted Salmon and Southern Osso Buco with seasonal vegetables from the Dinner Menu

How to order it: The Chelsea is famous for its “New American Cuisine”. In addition to traditional Southern dishes, they serve Asian, Italian, Cajun, French, and German-inspired plates. Whenever entering new culinary territory, it is best to ask the server for Gluten-Free recommendations. Our friendly and GF-savvy server was happy to point out several entrees my mother and I (both GF) could enjoy.

What it looks like:

This was a jewel box dish. The lid was made of thinly-sliced fried potatoes. When I lifted it, I discovered a pan-roasted salmon that was the color of orange cream saltwater taffy. The fish was plated atop a complementary dijon cream sauce.

In Italian, “osso buco” means “pierced bone”, referring to the marrow section of a cross-shank of meat. The dish above included a roasted pork shank which had been braised with olive oil, red wine, fire-roasted tomatoes, olives, and capers. The succulent meat just fell off the bone. The complex mix of tomatoes with salty capers and olives was similar to a fresh puttanesca. The garlic smashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables provided the perfect palate cleansers for each sensational bite of pork.

Green Note: The Chelsea is located in a renovated historic building in the heart of New Bern, North Carolina’s second oldest town. The following information was taken from their website:

Built in 1912, this historic structure was first used by local pharmacist Caleb Bradham, inventor of Pepsi-Cola, as his second drug store.  Completely renovated in the mid-nineties, every effort was made to retain and enhance the history of this place, and its people.  Today, each room in the restaurant holds a different and pleasant surprise…The bar and casual dining is on the ground floor which features the building’s original pressed tin ceiling, and its carefully restored mosaic tiles floor. 

Chelsea on Urbanspoon

Published in: on June 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm  Comments (4)  

604 West Village: I’m Just Wild About Saffron

Where: 604 West Village, 604 Fernway Avenue, West Village Section of Downtown Durham, NC 27701

GF Menu: No.

While the menu at 604 West Village offers many (non-GF) pasta and pizza items, the entrees include several salads and dishes (such as risotto and polenta) that are GF, or can be GF-modified.

What I ate: Risotto of the Day (Saffron Risotto with Scallops, Truffle Oil, and Goat Cheese) from the Dinner Menu

How to order it: Ask the server whether the risotto is prepared in a broth that contains gluten. Also inquire about the scallops – Are they breaded or seasoned with a spice mix that contains gluten?

When my server checked with the kitchen, the chef verified that these items were Gluten-Free.

What it looks like:

Creamy golden saffron-infused risotto was the foundation for these sensational seared scallops. Truffle oil deliciously enhanced the overall effect with fragrant essence and mouth-feel.

I eagerly played the game of creating the perfect bite combination – would it be a forkful of risotto, arugula, and goat cheese? Or perhaps a bit of scallop with risotto and tomato? The verdict? It disappeared before I could declare. I’d love to go back and do more research!

Green Note: 604 West Village has lovely exposed brick walls, wooden floors, and outdoor patio seating in the heart of Durham’s West Village Section, the largest historic renovation in North Carolina. The West Village blog explains:

No expense has been spared to ensure that the rich architectural style of these 19th-century buildings is preserved, while incorporating such socially responsible and environmentally friendly features including bioretention gardens and energy-efficient lighting.

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