The Pig: Pork and Pickles

Where: The Pig Restaurant, 630 Weaver Dairy Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

GF Menu: Yes! You can view their online menu here.

What I ate: GF BBQ Plate with cole slaw, pickles, and potato salad. Mom ordered a GF BBQ Sandwich, also pictured here.

How to order it: The menu is clearly marked with “GF” next to appropriate items. The daily specials are written on a chalkboard.  If it is not clear what items are GF, be sure to ask the staff for their GF recommendations when you place your order at the counter.

When looking at the menu, you might be surprised that the collards are not marked gluten-free. The day we visited, the cashier said the collards are not GF because a bit of beer-braised pork is added to the collards for flavor.

The “sprouts & shrooms” are also not marked GF. This is due to the fact that the brussels sprouts are flash-fried in the same fryer as the hush puppies. Good to know.

If they haven’t run out of it by the time you place your order, the GF sandwich bread comes from my absolute favorite GF baker, Dave Gardner, at Imagine That! Gluten Free Bakery.

ImagineThatGF2

Dave is based in Durham. I buy his GF bread (flax seed, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel, among others) at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. He produces the best GF bread and pizza crusts I have tasted anywhere.

What it looks like:

ThePigBBQPlateThis NC hickory-smoked BBQ was warm, smoky, and spicy without being overwhelmed by vinegar. It had that fresh red pepper kick that builds pleasantly on your tongue and lips.

Created with finely chopped cabbage, impossibly tiny carrot shreds, and fresh celery seeds, this cole slaw was sophisticated, but not too sweet.

The potato salad consisted of small, red-skinned potatoes that were cooked just right, a very light mayonnaise sauce, and fresh paprika.

I am not a sweet pickle fan, but I could possibly be converted by these subtly sweet pickles from The Pig. I plan to return soon specifically to order their Pickle Plate (GF).

PigBBQSandwichLargeHere’s a photo of mom’s sandwich, which I also sampled. Hickory-smoked BBQ pork was piled high and topped with a layer of slaw on toasted GF bread from Imagine That! Gluten Free, of Durham.

Green Note: Chef and owner Sam Suchoff, who formerly worked at Lantern, Neals’ Deli, and the Barbecue Joint, carefully selects local antibiotic-and-hormone-free meats to serve in his restaurant.

ThePigSign

He prepares locally-sourced meats such as sausages, bologna, and bacon for customers to purchase by the pound and take home. He also sells his homemade “hog dogs” at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market.

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BBQ and ham for sale at the Carrboro Farmers Market.

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Sam at his post at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. This was a rare moment of quiet. Though it was 10am, his table was already being flooded with eager customers purchasing ham, bbq, and “hog dogs” to either eat on the spot or take home.

The Pig’s home page emphasizes local products with the following line:

“Working with the NC Natural Hog Grower’s Association & their antibiotic & hormone-free , pasture-raised piggies to bring regional flavors & local ingredients to the party in your tummy.”

The Pig on Urbanspoon

Saxapahaw General Store: GF Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Happy New Year! In the spirit of adventure, and trying new things, let’s drive west of Chapel Hill to visit Saxapahaw, NC.

Saxapahaw is a happenin’ little hamlet with music (The Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw’s Historic Cotton Mill), a seasonal farmer’s market, and locavore food that garners the attention of The New York Times, Gourmet Magazine, Garden & Gun Magazine.

Today’s venue, Saxapahaw General Store, was most recently praised in the January 2015 issue of Our State Magazine.

Where: Saxapahaw General Store, 735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw, NC 27340

GF Menu: Yes! You can view the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with a multitude of delicious GF options on their website. You can order a GF omelet with a side of GF toast for breakfast. At lunch, there are GF pizzas, salads, and sandwich options with GF bread. The dinner menu changes daily, but one standard you can always rely on is the GF pan-seared fish with risotto and asparagus.

What I ate: GF pan-seared fish with veggies.

How to order it: The online menu is clearly marked with [GF] next to appropriate items. The daily menu is written on a chalkboard.  If it is not clear what items are GF, be sure to ask the staff for their GF recommendations at the counter where you place your order. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable foodies, so will help guide you in the right direction.

What it looks like:

SaxHalibut2North Carolina fish was placed atop sauteed local vegetables in this dish. This pan-seared fish had a soft interior and crispy exterior, and just the right amount of umami flavor. The supporting zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and tomatoes provided textural contrast, color, and the organic taste of local farms. SaxGFCookiesYou can purchase goods from the in-store market for dessert, or find GF baked goods like these individually-wrapped GF chocolate chip cookies at the counter.

Green Note: The Saxapahaw General Store is housed in a re-purposed gas station and convenience store (see pic by clicking here).

Chefs Jeff Barney and Cameron Ratcliffe operate their business with a conscious decision to celebrate what is local, promote sustainability, and make good food and products accessible to the community. This page describes their mission:

“They wanted to be stewards of local foods, good wine and beer, nutritious snacks, and eco-conscious dry goods, and they hoped to participate in a new kind of local economy that would strengthen fellow small businesses, promote conscious farming, and become part of a network of small communities finding a better way to live and to do business together.”

SaxGreenNote This sign posted above the trash can encouraged us to leave food scraps on our plate rather than throwing them in the trash. The staff will compost these scraps or help feed chickens at Cozi Farms.

A note on their Home page lets you know how the chefs support local farms:

“We are proud to source most of our meats, all of our eggs, and all the local produce we can find each season, from farms right here in the NC Piedmont. Click for a listing of our most current local farm goods. For a full listing of locally sourced items we offer for retail or through our kitchen, visit our Purveyors page.”

SaxLocalGoodiesThese store shelves are stocked with an bountiful array of NC products. Doesn’t it make you proud?

Saxapahaw General Store on Urbanspoon

Acme Food & Beverage Co.: Gluten-Free Skillet Cornbread

Where: Acme Food & Beverage Co., 110 E Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510

GF Menu: Yes. Though items are not currently marked on the menu posted on their website, they are clearly noted with gluten-free symbols on dine-in menu.

When I contacted Acme about their gluten-free options, the General Manager, Stephen Murtaugh, offered these important clarifying notes:

The icon on our menu is meant primarily for those pursuing a gluten free style diet. Anyone with allergies, or celiac disease, should make that clear to their server when they order to avoid the risk of cross contamination. Certain items, like French fries, come in contact with some flour when fried since we also fry dredged items in the same fryer.

If a guest gives us advance notice of their food allergies by calling ahead and noting on their reservation then we will usually call them ahead of time to discuss their dinner and make sure they get something absolutely delicious and 100% safe for them to consume.

What I ate: Salmon Entree with an appetizer of Gluten-Free Cornbread

How to order it: The Acme menu changes regularly since the Chef/Owner Kevin Callaghan creates daily offerings from seasonal and local ingredients. Look for the GF symbol next to the menu items. As the General Manager suggests, let your server know you are dining gluten-free for health reasons. Acme also offers you the courtesy option of calling ahead to discuss your gluten-free dining needs in advance of your visit.

What it looks like:

AcmeGFSalmon2

A pan-seared, spice rubbed salmon filet was the centerpiece of this dish. The chef cooked this fish perfectly, preserving the sweet tenderness of the meat inside while presenting a picante crispness on the outside. Garnished with a green sauce and fresh cilantro leaves, it was simultaneously light, yet satisfyingly savory. Black beans, gluten-free creamed corn grits, and a fresh tomato completed the dish.

AcmeGFCornbread

The GF cornbread arrived at the table piping hot in a shallow cast iron skillet, which kept the bread warm well into our meal. Acme uses a gluten-free cornmeal in their house cornbread recipe. GM Stephen Murtaugh also informed me that these skillets are used only for the gluten-free cornbread to avoid risk of cross-contamination.

AcmeGFCBCloseup

This cornbread was thick and fluffy, but not dense. It was flavorful, but not overly sweet. The texture was more like bread than cake. It had a lovely brown top and crispy edges.

The huge cloud of butter and the fresh-cracked pepper rounded out the presentation.

Finding an establishment that offers any kind of GF bread is a treat. I was over-the-moon to discover this freshly-made and down-home delicious cornbread at Acme.

Green Note: Acme supports the local community’s sustainable agriculture as well as helps sponsor cultural and educational programming in the area. The following is taken from their website under the “Local” tab:

Acme Food & Beverage Company is pleased to do business with such community-supported programs as The Carrboro Farmers’ Market and Core Sound Seafood.

We are proud sponsors of local events like Farm to Fork, Ackland Art Museum’s annual fundraising gala, and Terra Vita sustainable food celebration.
View an image gallery featuring Chef Kevin Callaghan at the 2011 Farm to Fork event.

It has also been our good pleasure to work with children in the Durham Public Schools through SEEDS, a non-profit community garden-based program.

Acme Food & Beverage Co on Urbanspoon

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza: GF Pizza & Beer

Where: Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, multiple locations across North Carolina and the southeast (I visited the 501 Meadowmont Village Cir, Chapel Hill, NC 27517 location.)

GF Menu: Yes! Click HERE to view it online.

What I ate: Gluten-Free Greek Pizza

How to order it: Ask for the Gluten-Free menu. The list of available GF pizzas is long. I counted fifteen, including a classic pepperoni. (FYI, did you know that not all pepperoni is gluten-free? Brixx has us covered, though. The chefs use Hormel’s GF pepperoni.)

Since each of the pizzas on this list can be cooked to order as regular or gluten-free, be sure to remind your server that you want the gluten-free version when you place your order.

The GF menu offers the following information:

We’re proud to offer options for those on gluten-free diets by necessity or choice. Please let your server know of any dietary restrictions you have or if you would like additional information about our gluten-free kitchen procedures and ingredients (updated 5/12/14).

At the bottom of this menu, they go on to describe in meticulous detail the careful process with which they handle GF pizzas in their kitchen. Their website also states:

At Brixx, we we’re all about equality. So, we’re proud to offer all of our pizzas on gluten-free dough for an additional $2. While our pizzas aren’t created in a completely gluten-free environment, each gluten-free pizza is prepared and cooked in its own container. Here’s a link to an ingredient sheet on our gluten-free dough.
Though I didn’t order one when I visited, every Brixx location carries at least one GF bottled beer. On the GF menu, they encourage you to “ask your neighborhood location about their latest gluten-free brew or make a suggestion!”

What it looks like:

BrixxGFPizza2

This pizza arrived hot out of the oven on its own thin metal pie pan (used to avoid cross contamination in the wood brick oven). It featured sliced roma tomatoes, mozzarella, kalamata olives, red onions, and feta cheese topped with fresh basil and a balsamic glaze drizzle.

BrixxGFPizza4

I’m pleased to report that this pizza passed the eat-with-my-hands test! When I picked up a slice, this thin and surprisingly crunchy crust stayed firm, supporting the fresh ingredients. The slices never became soggy, but stayed crisp and light. This is one of the better GF pizza crusts I have tasted. It was crispy, buttery-tasting, and more salty than sweet, as a pizza crust should be, with the hint of woody smokiness only achieved in a wood-burning brick oven.

Green Note: The Chapel Hill Brixx location offers reusable carry-out bags for $1, encouraging us to “buy a bag for two great causes: save the planet and get a nifty reusable bag.” Why carry your own bag? A statistic on igotmybag.org tells us: “Each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic and 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees and 12 million barrels of oil.
Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

DaisyCakes: A Sweet Spot in Durham

DaisyCakes closed its doors in August 2015. Tanya Matta, former owner and developer of her own brand of gluten-free flour (called Equal Measure), announced at the closing that she will be taking more time to develop her flour and also to create a dessert tasting room in Durham, NC.

“Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free” recently hit a sweet milestone, garnering 50,000 hits. Let’s celebrate with some exquisite Gluten-Free cupcakes!

Where: DaisyCakes: Downtown Durham’s Bakery and Cafe, 401 A Foster St, Durham, NC, 27701

GF Menu: For the desserts, yes. DaisyCakes serves both regular and Gluten-Free items. Click HERE to view the GF dessert menu online.

DaisyCakes shares their inclusive philosophy on their website:

“Just because you are gluten free doesn’t mean you should have to do without a delicious pastry. We aspire to make all of our gluten free desserts as delicious as their gluten counterparts.  We’d like to think that if you weren’t gluten free and you tasted  one of our gluten free treats, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.”

What I ate: From the lunch menu, I ordered Celeriac soup with a GF biscuit on the side. Afterward, I purchased two GF “Chocolate Fix” and two GF Red Velvet cupcakes to take home.

How to order it:  You’ll find daily menus on the chalkboards. Also, look for the “Gluten-Free” labels inside the baked goods case.

As always, ask the knowledgeable servers whether an item is GF. For example, when I asked whether the soup was Gluten-Free, the server answered “yes”, and then also explained that they had fresh Gluten-Free biscuits to go with it.

What it looks like:

DaisyCakesCeleriacSoupandBiscuit

This Celeriac (root vegetable) soup had a light broth and was garnished with green onions. The accompanying GF biscuit was an unexpected treat, as it was fresh, buttery, warmed, and perfect for dipping in the soup.

GFChocDaisyCakesCupcake

The primary reason I went to DaisyCakes was for the GF cupcakes. A friend of mine had ordered DaisyCakes’ GF cupcakes to serve at her toddler’s birthday party. These sweet treats were a real hit.

Both the “Chocolate Fix” cake and the Red Velvet cake were moist and soft. Due to DaisyCakes’ own special GF flour blend (Equal Measure: One-for-One Gluten-Free Flour Mix), these cupcakes tasted like cake is supposed to taste! The icings were not too sweet, and they accented these cupcakes perfectly.

Green Note: The day I visited, the chalkboard menu advertised:

“We use local and organic ingredients as much as possible. We use Latta Eggs and Dairy from Homeland Creamery. We proudly serve Counter Culture coffee.”

DaisyCakes also supports local community by hosting “Dessert Room”, a pastry and dessert treat event on Friday and Saturday evenings until 9pm, during which a percentage of proceeds will be donated to a non-profit organization in Durham. The last time I checked online, six out of the eight offerings at Dessert Room were Gluten-Free.

This Elsa Schiaparelli quote is stenciled over the kitchen window in DaisyCakes Cafe: “A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” I happen to agree, especially when the cook bakes Gluten-Free.

Daisy Cakes on Urbanspoon

Published in: on November 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lantern: A Light on the Hill

Where: Lantern, 423 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Lantern, located in Chapel Hill, NC, is one of Gourmet America’s Top 50 Restaurants. Chef-owner Andrea Reusing was the 2011 James Beard award winner for Best Chef in the Southeast, has given a TedX talk on collaborating with small farms, and has written a new cookbook called Cooking in the Moment: a Year of Seasonal Recipes.

GF Menu: No. However, the menu instructs, “Please let us know about any food allergies.”

What we ate: Local heirloom tomato salad and spicy carrot soup for appetizers, Flounder and Salmon for entrees, and Panna Cotta for dessert.

How to order it: Lantern is famous for fusing Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients. The Lantern menu does an excellent job of listing ingredients, but since it is not marked specifically for food allergies, let your server know that you will be dining Gluten-Free, and ask for their recommendations.

Our server checked with the kitchen and marked our paper menu with all Gluten-Free options, acknowledging when and if soy sauce was used in a dish, to alleviate concerns we might have had about sauces. We had more than a dozen choices.

What it looks like:

LanternHeirloomTomThis appetizer was art on a plate. Local heirloom tomatoes were drizzled with fine olive oil, then topped with shiso leaf, shallots, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper.

LanternSoup3This summer carrot soup was served chilled, but it was warm with the exotic flavors of vadouvan curry.

LanternFlounder2The server asked whether I was comfortable with the whole fish being presented on the plate, and explained that some customers will request that the head be removed. Fresh and crispy NC flounder was served in the style of a Vietnamese fish dish.

LanternFlounder3Here’s the closeup of the fish. On top of the tender white meat and delicately fried fish skin were hot chiles, fresh turmeric, dill, fried shallots, the occasional cilantro leaf, and roasted peanuts. This is one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten, and according to our server, it is their most popular.

LanternPickledCarrotsThe flounder came with a side of spicy heirloom carrot salad and a scoop of warm jasmine rice.

LanternSalmonThe steamed wild King salmon was served with house-pickled ginger, lemongrass, red onion, cucumber-mint salad, and a side of warm coconut jasmine rice.

LanternPannaCotta5

There were two gluten-free dessert options the night we visited. I was delighted with our choice of the cherry stone panna cotta. A cool and impossibly delicate panna cotta was garnished with Blue Ridge Mountain cherries and crunchy almond-sesame candy. Warning: you will not want to share this, so go ahead and get your own.

Green Note: Chef Andrea Reusing is a local luminary and a national leader in culinary sustainability.

From writing about “Egg Economics” in Gourmet magazine to organizing tours of a pollinator garden in Chatham Mills, NC, to hosting Farm-to-Table dinners to benefit Kitchen Patrol, her mission is clear. She aims to use locally-sourced ingredients from small organic farms and build community, all while educating others about sustainability. She also chairs the Triangle’s Slow Food convivium. These are just some of the reasons Chef Andrea was named one of “15 Green Chefs” on Grist’s international list.

Lantern on Urbanspoon

Margaret’s Cantina: Organic, Local Fare Since 1993

Where: Margaret’s Cantina, 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 (Located in the Timberlyne Shopping Center.)

GF Menu: Yes! “GF” is clearly marked on the menus.

What I ate: Sopa Seca Picosa (Spicy Mexican Lasagna) from the Dinner Menu + House Sangria

How to order it: Refer to the menu markings of “GF” for Gluten-Free when making your selection. Additionally, let the server know you are dining Gluten-Free.

The menus also indicate “V” for Vegetarian and “VV” for Vegan. As Margaret explains on the About Us page of the restaurant website: “Because my dishes are made in-house from wholesome ingredients, you can make pleasurable and healthy choices, no matter your preferences.” With food that is cooked-to-order, you CAN have it all!

What it looks like:

MargaretsCantina

Think you can’t have lasagna in a restaurant because you dine Gluten-Free? Think again! This spicy Mexican “lasagna” may be my new go-to comfort food. In this dish, corn tortilla chips are layered with cheese, your choice of chicken or black beans, and spicy salsa. The whole dish is then baked, and finally topped with additional salsa, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. The result is packed with texture and flavor. The chips and black beans still maintain their freshness and integrity despite being smothered in melted cheese and salsa.

MargaretsCantina2

Here’s the close-up. This was a very generous helping. I took some of it home and enjoyed it right from the fridge the next day. You gotta love a dish that is fantastic both hot and cold! It’ll be good to revisit year-round. 

Green Note: Margaret is committed to using local, seasonal, and organic produce, whenever possible, and she has been doing so for twenty years. She explains on the website, where she lists some of her local suppliers:

Long before locavore entered the lexicon, I was buying organic produce from farmers like the legendary Bill Dow of Chatham County. Today I still work with Bill and other growers, among them Rose & Mark Lyon, Jan Mann & Tom Jackson, Bill & Joanna Lelekacs and Lisa & David Pope. I’ve been a member of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association for years and I also purchase produce from Eastern Carolina Organics, a farmers’ co-op. “The Egg Man,” Gerald Hall of Pleasant Garden, NC, brings me fresh brown eggs from his free-range chickens.

 I use organic brown rice and black beans and locally milled organic flour. North Carolina is represented year round on my “South meets Southwest” menu in the form of sweet potatoes, grits and greens. Seasonal produce includes asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, apples, tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles, salad greens and shiitake mushrooms… the list goes on!

And speaking of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, this weekend is the 19th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour! Saturday, April 26th and Sunday, April 27th, 2014 from 2-6pm both days, rain or shine. You can visit more than 30 local and organic farms in the Triangle area, meet the farmers, and tour the farms. Support your local food systems. Oh, yeah, and take some charming photographs of baby goats.

Margaret's Cantina on Urbanspoon

Sage Vegetarian Cafe: Naturally Delectable

Where: Sage Vegetarian Cafe, 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

GF Menu: YES!  I am pleased to update this post to tell you that the regular menu at Sage Vegetarian Cafe now contains a visual guide to safe dining. Separate symbols on the menu indicate a vegan item, an item with vegan options, and an item with gluten-free options available. 

What I ate (on 3 separate visits): Caribe, Bud-m-Joon, and Gormeh Sabzi

How to order it: Let the server know you will be dining Gluten-Free.

Sage Cafe’s menu is wonderfully detailed, as it lists the contents of each dish. Knowing what ingredients are in each item helps you make an informed decision when you order. Some ingredients may contain hidden wheat/gluten, so it is always best to ask. For example, when I asked about the Caribe, my server explained that she would need to let kitchen know to use the Gluten-Free Tamari soy sauce.

What it looks like:

SageCafe1

Caribe is a well-rounded combination of black beans and grilled spicy tofu garnished with pineapple on a bed of brown or white rice. This dish is served with fresh avocado slices and sweet plantains.

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Here is a close-up of the Tamari-seasoned tofu with fresh grilled pineapple.

Sage3Sage2

The Bud-m-Joon contains eggplant, split peas, saffron, tomatoes, sautéed onions, and fragrant spices, including cinnamon. This is served with basmati-saffron rice and a side of shirazi (a traditional Iranian salad of cucumbers, onions, garlic, olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and tomatoes).

Sage1

Gormeh Sabzi is a meal that is comforting, yet exotic. Described as a “classic Persian stew”, it contains potatoes, red kidney beans, tempeh, and dried lemon. I found this dish both warming and enjoyable. This stew is also served with a side of basmati-saffron rice and shirazi.

Green Note: On the Sage Cafe website, they explain their commitment to fresh, quality foods:

Sage is pleased to offer natural foods made using organic and local ingredients whenever available. Each dish is prepared from the highest quality ingredients, and entirely without the use of any meat, poultry, fish, or harmful additives.

They also offer Organic Shade Fair Trade Coffee and Organic Teas. Click HERE to see 7 reasons to choose Fair Trade coffee. 

Sage Vegetarian Café on Urbanspoon

Mediterranean Deli Bakery and Catering: Organic Gluten-Free Pita Bread + Dessert!

Where: Mediterranean Deli Bakery & Catering, 410 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

GF Menu: Yes. The menu on their website highlights Gluten-Free options. When you visit the restaurant, all dishes in the deli case are carefully labeled with both Gluten and Nut allergy information.

What I ate: I have tried both the Fatayer and a Sampler Platter with Falafel and GF Pita Bread.

How to order it: Select your preferred GF items from the printed menu, or by viewing the dishes in the expansive deli case, then place your order at the counter. When/if the server asks whether you would like pita bread with your meal, be sure to insist on the Gluten-Free pita. The menu claims all Fatayers are available on a Gluten-Free bread, but always ask to be sure.

Mediterranean Deli’s GF pita bread is baked fresh every morning with organic GF flour in a 100% GF facility and is certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

What it looks like:

MeditDeli

A fatayer is a pastry that can be filled with meats, veggies, and cheeses. Traditionally, the dough is formed in the shape of a boat to hold all the goodies. In the Gluten-Free version, this Greek Fatayer resembles a pizza.

MeditDeli2

The Closeup: A lightly browned crust supports a scrumptious combination of fresh spinach, roasted roma tomatoes, calamata olives, red onions, garlic, and feta cheese. It is served with an accompaniment of light tzatziki sauce.

MeditDeliPita

Have some GF pita with your meal, then purchase a bag to take home with you.

I like to heat mine in the toaster oven for one minute. Serve with hummus, olive oil, or even scrambled eggs at breakfast. Or create your own fatayer.

MeditDeliPoundCake

What sweet words: “Pound Cake – Gluten Free and Dairy Free”. This fluffy cake is a recent addition to the lineup of gorgeous desserts in the deli case. As you can see from the photo, its neighbor is made of phyllo dough, so those with extreme gluten sensitivity may wish to exercise caution.

MeditDeliHalva

This is my current dessert addiction. Dark chocolate-enrobed, marbled halva.

If you are not familiar with it, halva is a type of sesame fudge made primarily with nut butter and sugar. There are flour-based halvas in the world, so be careful when you see it in stores. This heavenly halva has been labeled “Gluten-Free”. Buy by the pound. Attempt to eat by the morsel.

MeditDeliChocCake

In case the other two dessert options aren’t enough for you, there is also a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake. This one seems to be quite popular.

Green Note: The Mediterranean Diet offers benefits to our health and the environment. It encourages us to reduce the presence of meat on our plates. Large-scale meat production and factory farming are recognized as being heavily linked with destruction of our natural resources

The following is taken from the Mediterranean Deli website:

The Mediterranean diet is a wonderfully healthy diet and an extremely easy one to adapt to our stressful and fast paced lifestyles. As a matter of fact, the Mediterranean diet can be the very aspect of our life which can give balance, harmony, and a sense of soothing and control over our lives. The diet does not require any sacrifices. It only requires us to limit our consumption of meats to perhaps a few times per month. The other important factor is to make the consumption of fruits and vegetables a daily habit. The vitamins, minerals, photochemical and fiber provided by the diets large amounts of vegetables, fruits, grains and beans are believed to account for the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries lower incidence of cancer otherwise commonly found in the United States.

Mediterranean Deli on Urbanspoon

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.

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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…