BurgerFi: Making It Green Style

Where: BurgerFi, 3000 Wake Forest Road, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27609 (near the Trader Joe’s). There is also a location in Cary at 2052 Renaissance Park Place, Cary, NC 27513.

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: Single Natural Angus Burger served “Green Style” with hickory bacon, garlic aioli, white cheddar, and salt & vinegar chips (yes, on the burger). I also tried a “Green Style” 100% Wagyu Kobe Beef Dog with dijon mustard.

How to order it: When placing your order at the counter, let them know you are dining Gluten-Free. My server helpfully informed me that the french fries are cooked in the same oil with the onion rings (which are battered in flour). I avoided the fries.

BurgerFi2

The menu states, “Order any burger or dog in crisp lettuce instead of a bun.”

BurgerFi allows you to “Build Your Best Burger.” For those of us who are adhering to a Gluten-Free diet, this option is ideal. We can choose toppings as we verify whether they are Gluten-Free.

When adding toppings, be sure to ask about the sauces. I inquired about the Bar-B-Q Sauce and learned that it is Cattleman’s. Since I was not certain whether it was Gluten-Free, I decided to pass on it. After looking it up online, I see that the Classic, Smokehouse, and Sweet & Spicy Cattleman’s BBQ sauces are Gluten-Free, but one of Cattleman’s sauces (Golden Honey) is not.

It is important to note that the Veggie Burger is not Gluten-Free (I asked). It is made primarily of quinoa (GF), but my server explained that the recipe also contains panko crumbs (not GF).

What it looks like:

BurgerFi4

The lettuce was satisfyingly cool and crispy, contrasting beautifully with the hearty burger and hickory bacon. As you see here, the cheddar cheese did exactly what quality cheese is supposed to do on a hot burger – melt. There were crunchy salt and vinegar potato chips tucked underneath the burger patty for a flavorful punch. Fantastic!

BurgerFi5

When I saw this 100% Wagyu Kobe Beef Dog listed on the menu, I couldn’t resist trying it. I ordered it “Green Style” with dijon mustard. This is not your average hot dog. Its flavor and tenderness reminded me of kielbasa.

Green Note: The franchise makes a practice of operating its business “Green Style”:

The following note is taken from their menu:

BurgerFi restaurants offer a unique dining experience – one you can feel good about. Each BurgerFi restaurant is built according to environmentally sustainable best practices and includes earth-friendly elements, like chairs that are made from recycled Coke bottles, tables made out of compressed recycled wood and large fans that use 66% less electricity. BurgerFi maintains a low carbon footprint and maintains strict recycling programs for oil, cardboard, bottles and cans. We’re creating an innovative, engaging, and efficient restaurant model that stands for all things BurgerFi. This is our commitment to our earth, to our team members and to you, our valued guests.

BurgerFi3

This dispenser offers recyclable forks, one at a time, promoting less waste.

BurgerFi on Urbanspoon

Published in: on July 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Coming Home: Part Deux – Sweet Gratitude

Hello! So much has happened since I last wrote, and I have some wondrous things to share with you:

  • In case you haven’t already heard, Dunkin Donuts has announced that it will offer a new GF cinnamon-sugar donut and GF blueberry muffin on their menu soon. These will be prepared in a dedicated facility and individually wrapped for sale. The global doughnut and coffee company also plans to phase out its foam coffee cups in favor of eco-friendly paper cups made from recycled material. To read more about the launch of the new GF offerings, click HERE.

Addendum: As of February 2014, Dunkin Donuts has canceled plans to release these items. To read more about this, click HERE.

GFDunkinDonuts

Photo credit courtesy Dunkin Donuts. To see more, visit the June 20, 2013 post on the Dunkin Donuts Blog “Behind the Beans”.

  • I usually feature restaurants located in the American South on this blog, but a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit Israel and France. I’d like to show you what I found there. 

Israel surprised me with its Gluten-Free awareness. I bought delicious GF baguettes in the supermarket, and even ordered a full GF Israeli Breakfast at our hotel in the town of Safed. The innkeepers at The Safed Inn can bake GF bread, upon request, and they even use a designated toaster. 

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A GF dish served at Uri Buri Restaurant, a phenomenal seafood establishment located in Akko, Israel, included shrimp and eggplant noodles bathed in a delicate, savory broth.

Israel103

Inside the “Old City” of Jerusalem, a restaurant offered traditional (naturally GF) falafel and hummus.

Israel153

At a street market in Tel Aviv, a vendor sold locally-brewed ales. Two GF options were available. The one pictured above is a GF mead. The other was a pomegranate cider. I tried both. They were very refreshing!

France8Cropped

In France, I visited the 2013 Trip Advisor award-winning Helmut Newcake, a dedicated 100% Gluten-Free Bakery in Paris. I ordered three items – a financier, a fruit muffin, and a chocolate eclair. Bon bon bon! You and I could eat anything in this case.

  • Speaking of pastries, I baked this Strawberry Rhubarb Gluten-Free pie for July 4th. I was so pleased with this recipe from Dunn Sweet that I am passing it along to you.

Pie4

Does this look GF to you? This was the flakiest, fluffiest pie crust I’ve enjoyed since I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance seven years ago.

HumblePie5

With this GF pie crust recipe in your repertoire, and the appropriate GF flour in the pantry, you can once again bake a pie from scratch for your family and friends.

  • Over the past three years, many restaurants I have featured on Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free have come and gone. Some of the restaurants that remain, however, are courageously expanding their GF consciousness.

GFNemonde3

For example, Raleigh’s Neomonde Mediterranean Deli has begun offering GF bread and pizzas (pictured above), and bu*ku (also in Raleigh) now offers a Gluten-Free menu. 

  • I’m thrilled to announce that I will be relocating to my beloved North Carolina this summer. I am very grateful for the year I have spent working and dining in Nashville. Music City will always have a special place in my Gluten-Free heart.

Parthenoncrop

Nashville is referred to as the “Athens of the South”. I’ll miss the replica of the Parthenon (complete with a colossal statue of Athena inside) in Nashville’s Centennial Park.

  • Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free is nearing 33,000 views. A heartfelt “Thank You” to all of you who follow, comment, and pass along this resource to others.

A delightful thing happened to me last year while I was shopping at the NC State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. A beautiful pregnant woman overheard me question a vendor about Gluten-Free items. She asked me if I was gluten intolerant. When I replied “Yes”, she recommended my own blog to me as a resource! I am happy to know that this is how information can be shared. We belong to an ever-growing community of people who care about how our food is made, and how we can support each other.

It is my sincere hope that the GF options posted on this site help you feel inspired, improve your appetite for alternatives to wheat, and encourage you to navigate your own GF quest with savviness and optimism. 

Another restaurant review coming soon…

Café Rakka: Heavenly Falafel

Where: Café Rakka Mediterranean Restaurant, 71A New Shackle Island Road, Hendersonville, TN  37075

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: My dining companion and I shared Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Mediterranean Salad, Falafel, Pomegranate Iced Tea, and a Mango Lassi

How to order it: Everything is made in-house, from the hummus to the yogurt and cheese. All menu items are made-to-order. When you place your order at the counter, let the server know that you are dining Gluten-Free.

I asked whether their falafel mix (traditionally made of chickpeas or fava beans) contained any flour. The server double-checked with the chef and announced that it was Gluten-Free. Then he graciously offered cucumber slices instead of the pita bread that normally accompanies this dish.

At Café Rakka, falafel are fried in a container that is not shared with any other items.

What it looks like:

The Baba Ghanoush was incredibly light; and to my surprise, it was garnished with pomegranate seeds. Each bite was a little bit sweeter than the last.

After we placed our order, I heard our hummus being blended in the kitchen. It was that fresh. This magical mix contained chickpeas, the Cafe’s own special recipe tahini, and lemon juice, plus a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of colorful spices.

Posted on a signboard above the counter was a list of the different types of hummus you can try in a “Hummus Bar” sampler. Here are some of the flavors I noted that day: Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Jalapeños, Roasted Onions, Spiced Cilantro, Olives, Roasted Garlic, Roasted Almonds, Roasted Mushrooms.

I wish my blog could feature a “Scratch ‘n’ Sniff” button, because I would install one for you here next to this photo. These lightly-browned, crispy-looking spheres with their hypnotizing aroma beckoned me to dig in.

Café Rakka’s homemade falafel were soft and delicately moist inside, with a thin, crispy crust on the outside. These were the closest thing I have had in years to fresh-out-of-the-fryer hushpuppies! I had to remind myself they were Gluten-Free.

This Mediterranean Salad was all about the cheese. Gorgeous blocks of homemade feta were soft, moist, and flavorful. The “About Us” page on the Café Rakka website explains, “Chef Rakka’s family has been renowned cheese, butter and yogurt makers in Syria for more than five generations.” Practice has indeed made perfect.

Green Note: Chef Rakka and his wife, Linda, emphasize the importance of cooking what is fresh and in season. Their website describes their commitment to this philosophy:

[Chef Rakka's] cooking today continues to reflect that love of fresh food.  Just as he and his father, after a trip to the market in Syria, would bring home only what was fresh that day for his mother to cook, Rakka and his wife Linda decide on the daily menu specials based on what’s available fresh from the market. 

Cafe Rakka 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

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

California Pizza Kitchen: Nice Day for a White Pizza

December 2013 Update: I walked by a CPK the other day and this sign stopped me in my tracks:

CPKSign

The Gluten-Free pizzas are back! Currently, there are four options. See their online GF menu at http://info.cpk.com/documents/gluten_free_menu.pdf. As their website notes, these pizzas are prepared according to the strict regulations of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG). As always, please inform your server of any allergies prior to placing your order.

June 2013 Update: While they still offer a Gluten-Free Menu, California Pizza Kitchen has temporarily pulled the Gluten-Free pizzas from this menu while they review their kitchens and procedures for potential cross-contamination. Still craving a pizza? Try Gluten-Free pies at Lilly’s Pizza, zpizza, or Mellow Mushroom in Raleigh.

California Pizza Kitchen announced the launch of a new Gluten-Free pizza crust in July, offering 29 of their original pizzas available Gluten-Free.

Where: California Pizza Kitchen, 5959 Triangle Town Road, #2121, Raleigh, NC 27616

GF Menu: Yes. At the Triangle Town location, the GF menu is incorporated into the restaurant’s regular menu.

What I ate: Asparagus and Arugula Salad (From the Small Cravings menu) + a White (GF) Pizza

How to order it: Regardless of where you are dining, it is a good idea to inform the server that you (and any other specific party members) will be dining Gluten-Free. This prepares the staff for your questions and hopefully helps ensure your safety throughout the dining experience.

When I mentioned to my server that I would be dining Gluten-Free, he explained that all of the pizzas listed on the menu (with the exception of the Jamaican Jerk Chicken and the Thai Chicken) could be made GF.

When asked how the GF pizza crust is prepared, he responded that it is handled with a designated set of utensils, placed on aluminum foil for baking, and then cut with a designated GF pizza cutter.

Folks who are extremely sensitive to air-borne gluten particles and cross contamination may want to read this discussion, on Triumph Dining’s website, to help guide your dining decision.

Online, the CPK GF Menu bears this disclaimer:

“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.”

The Asparagus and Arugula Salad was light and tangy. Fresh arugula, crisp cuts of asparagus, sundried tomatoes, slivered almonds, and shaved Grana Padano Parmesan were topped with a homemade lemon vinaigrette.

The White Pizza arrived on a platter, crispy and golden around the edges, covered with sauteed garlic spinach, mozzarella, fontina, ricotta, parmesan, and pecorino romano.

A closer view displays the more traditionally thin Italian-style (as opposed to the thicker Sicilian style) crust. This crust tasted pleasantly of rice, and reminded me of a flexible version of a saltine cracker, topped with loads of good stuff.

Green Note: CPK also offers a Vegetarian and Vegan Menu. Why go vegetarian, even for a day? The semi-vegetarian global movement called Meatless Mondays, which advocates “cut out meat one day of the week”, offers this as one of several compelling reasons:

REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.

California Pizza Kitchen on Urbanspoon

P.F. Chang’s: Nice & Spicy

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month in North Carolina, Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free welcomes guest blogger and Founder of Custom Choice Cereal, LLC, Hajo Engelke.

In 2008, Hajo, along with a group of students from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, took on the challenge of creating a variety of delicious gluten-free cereals. At Custom Choice Cereal, you can design your own cereal from a lengthy list of gluten-free ingredients. The following information is taken from their website:

How It Works:

  1. Choose your cereal base.
  2. Add up to 11 ingredients.
  3. Name your mix.
  4. Receive your cereal at home.
  5. Indulge.

All naturally gluten-free ingredients are subject to rigorous testing for gluten to ensure our high quality control standards are met. For our customers’ safety, all cereal and ingredients are stored and prepared in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

Brilliant! Now that you know what’s for breakfast, here is Hajo’s post on what you might have for lunch or dinner…

Dining out gluten-free: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Renaissance Center at Southpoint location, 6801 Fayetteville Rd, Durham, NC 27713

GF Menu: Yes. Click HERE to view this menu.

Dining out still poses an enormous challenge for anyone on a gluten-free diet, but the options increase almost by the day.  Still, just because a restaurant has realized the need to have a gluten-free menu does not mean that the staff is familiar with all the implications for the operations in the kitchen.  That’s why I never tell the waiter that I need to eat gluten-free, but instead ask them if they know what that means. Trust me, it can be very revealing…

Fortunately, there are restaurants that really understand their gluten-free customers’ needs and go out of their way to please their guests.  One of these awesome places is P.F. Chang’s.  I recently went to their Southpoint location, and I was truly impressed.

First impression

The lady who showed me to my table saw the “Gluten-free” button on my shirt and immediately turned the menu to the gluten-free side. And what a menu it was!  Everything was clearly labeled and they had notes about the gluten-free menu, which clearly stated that the guest should ask for gluten-free soy sauce.

When I asked my waitress about the term “gluten-free”, she immediately knew what it meant and explained to me that the P.F. Chang’s kitchen has a separate preparation area for all their gluten-free meals, uses separate oils, separate grills, and different dishes for easier distinction.  She finished by saying “Trust me, we take gluten-free very seriously and know your needs.”  Wow, the first impression definitely gets 5 out of 5 stars!

The food

I was very hungry and decided on the Gluten Free Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps as a starter, and then went for their Gluten Free Chang’s Spicy Chicken for an entree.  I was torn about the entrée for a while though just because I liked the name “Moo Goo Gai Pan”…

Chicken Lettuce Wrap

The lettuce wraps came with four pieces of lettuce, which turned out to be the perfect number. The lettuce was chilled and the chicken had the perfect temperature. It needed to be spiced up, though…

Sauces

Fortunately, the waitress had brought a tray with sauces and spices so that was easily done. Another plus: the red bowls contained the gluten-free sauces, again clearly marked.

Spicy ChickenOn to the spicy chicken entrée.  I thought that it came to the table a little early. Having grown up as the youngest of four children, I learned to be a very fast eater, but even I can’t finish four lettuce wraps in 2 minutes. But when I turned to this dish a little later, it was still hot.  If I had tried to eat it right away, it probably would have been too hot, so I give P.F. Chang’s the benefit of the doubt and say they did this on purpose. The chicken was very good and deserved “spicy” in its description.  It had a decent kick to it and was tender.  Overall the food gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Green Note + Conclusion

Besides the really good food and the knowledgeable staff, I really liked that they use washable cloth napkins and have absolutely no throw-away items on the table.

The staff knows the needs that gluten-free guests have and can explain the measures taken to minimize the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen.  At the same time, they aren’t entirely unrealistic and warn that all dishes are prepared in the same kitchen. Overall, I highly recommend P.F. Chang’s to anyone who has to eat gluten-free.

Many thanks, Hajo, for this post! We appreciate your commitment to gluten-free excellence.

For those who don’t know, Custom Choice Cereal is located in Durham, North Carolina, and distributes its gluten-free cereal to consumers throughout the United States. Support your local gluten-free business!

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

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