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:


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.


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.


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

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:


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

604 West Village: I’m Just Wild About Saffron

October 2017 Update: This restaurant has now closed.

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.

Mami Nora’s Rotisserie: Authentic Peruvian Cuisine

Thank you to my foodie friend and photographer, Drew Davidson, for recommending this next restaurant, and for sharing his photo.

Where: Mami Nora’s Rotisserie, 2401 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 27608

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: 1/4 Chicken Combo with 2 Sides (Black Beans and Sweet Plantains) + Coconut Water

How to order it: I wrote to Mami Nora’s manager to ask the following questions about the gluten content of some of their menu items:

1. Do your black beans contain any gluten (flour, wheat, barley, or rye ingredients)?
2. Does your chicken seasoning mix contain any gluten?
3. Do the yucca fries have any breading on them, or are they fried in the same oil with anything that might have flour on it?

To these questions, Manager Ranbir Bakhshi responded, “The answer to all 3 questions is ‘no.’ The chicken, black beans, and yucca are all Gluten -Free.”

Special Note: Please see the extremely helpful clarifying comment from Laura Wooten below this post. It informs us that, since the time of this posting, the black beans are NOT Gluten-Free. The seasoning contains barley, which is not safe for celiacs.

I later inquired by phone about the two dipping sauces and the sweet plantains. I was assured that these are also Gluten-Free.

What it looks like:

Photo Credit: Drew Davidson

Pictured above is the 1/4 Chicken with tender, juicy, seasoned white meat breast/wing. (Dark Meat Leg/Thigh is also available.) You will taste the distinctive difference of food prepared in an oven using wood charcoal. The restaurant advertises that this slow-roasted flavor is authentic to what you would experience when dining on the street corners of Lima, Peru.

The black beans were hearty. The sweet plantains were gorgeous – warm, and a little bit tart on the inside, and candied with a light, crispy edge on the outside.

Green Note: Mami Nora’s uses little electricity in the cooking process. The following was taken from their website:

Mami Nora’s is recognized for its unforgettable rotisserie chicken, cooked in a special marinade, then roasted in our imported oven from Perú. This oven uses only wood charcoal, no gas or electric heat is needed.

I’m also pleased to share with you that “Sweet Tea & Wheat-Free” has had more than 10,000 views. Thank you, from the bottom of my Gluten-Free heart!

More good news – North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has declared May “Celiac Disease Awareness Month” again. Read the full announcement on Gluten Free Raleigh.

Mami Nora's on Urbanspoon

Published in: on May 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Foster’s Market: Serving Durham since 1990

Where: Foster’s Market, 2694 Durham-CH Blvd., Durham, NC

GF Menu: No. 12/07/2014 Update: Foster’s Market now features a sign at the Deli Counter offering the option of Gluten-Free bread (for sandwiches) at an additional cost of $2.

What I ate: Super Sampler Plate

How to order it: Walk past the case full of fresh baked goods. Do not look at the blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and seasonal fruit pies. I warned you not to look. You, dear GF reader, are above such temptations. You are here for a salad that is as beautiful as it is delicious, and will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied. Besides, if you must indulge in something sweet, you can purchase some GF candy at the register.

The salads at Foster’s are homemade daily. Choose any combination of 2 vegetarian salads and one salad with tuna or chicken from their daily selections (1/3 pound of each) to make up the Super Sampler. On the day I visited, there were about eight scrumptious salads, but be sure to ask your server to help you pick three salads that are Gluten-Free.

What it looks like:

Eat your colors. My Super Sampler was comprised of the Curried Cauliflower, Chicken Broccoli Mozzarella, and Sweet Potato salads.

Light and crunchy with al dente cauliflower stems, yellow squash, celery, and parsley, the curried cauliflower salad was an unexpected treat. The chicken broccoli salad contained sauteed onions, black olives, roasted red pepper, mozzarella and broccoli, on the crisp side. The sweet potato salad was a great complement to the other items. It was both sweet and savory, with red onions, parsley, bits of bacon, and shredded cheese.

This food is so fresh, it glows! Okay, the sun may have broken through from the Foster’s fabulous outdoor patio and illuminated my dish, but I believe this light came from within.

Green Note: At Foster’s, you order food at the counter and drinks are self-service. When you are leaving, you bus your own table, separating the washable dishes and cutlery from food waste and napkins. Recycling bins are clearly marked near the drink service station.

The following is excerpted from the Foster’s Market website:

Our guiding principles have always been to serve great tasting food, offer superior customer service, have fun and earn a living. The market/cafe was such a success that Sara opened a second Foster’s Market location in 1998 in Chapel Hill. Over the years Foster’s Market has won many awards from “Small Business of the Year” to “Best Lunch Spot in the Triangle.” Sara also received the award for “2010 Restaurateur of the Year” from the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Foster's Market on Urbanspoon

Wendy’s: Taco Salad

If you are a Gluten-Free traveler this holiday season, you may want to drop by a Wendy’s for a quick meal or snack along the way to Grandmother’s House.

Where: Wendy’s, Just About Everywhere!

GF Menu: No. However, visit the Nutrition Page on their website to view “Menu Items Without Gluten” (PDF).

What I ate: Baja Salad

How to order it: Wendy’s advises on their Living Without Gluten page:

Living without gluten can be a choice or a medical necessity, and Wendy’s would like you to have all the information you need.

Follow this guide to determine how to make items on the Wendy’s menu work with your gluten-free lifestyle.

Having investigated the ingredients ahead of time, I asked for the Baja Salad (Update: in 2017, this is now called the Taco Salad).

What it looks like:

The Baja Salad was a fresh combination of iceberg, romaine, and spring mix lettuces, served with Pico de Gallo, Wendy’s Chili (a ground beef chili), Guacamole made from Haas avocados, and a cheddar & pepper jack cheese blend.

This salad was a savory parfait of texture and temperature starting with a base of crisp, cold lettuce, smothered with hot chili, topped with soft cheeses, and crowned with crunchy tortilla chips.

With all of these fresh toppings, this meal was already “dressed” to my liking, so I opted to skip the Creamy Red Jalapeno Dressing this time.

Green Note: Wendy’s has an Animal Welfare Program in which they outline the safe handling and humane treatment requirements of the animals supplied to their restaurants. Here is a quote from their Community Page.

Wendy’s Practice

Wendy’s believes that the key elements to humane treatment of animals lie in effective education, employee awareness, ongoing verification of practices and the commitment of each supplier’s senior management team.

Studies have shown that humane animal handling methods not only prevent needless suffering, but can result in a safer working environment for workers involved in the farm and livestock industry.

Click HERE to read more.

Wendy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Watts Grocery: NC Goodness

Where: Watts Grocery, 1116 Broad Street, Durham, NC, 27705

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: Cup of Catfish Gumbo + Dinner Special of Pan-Seared Flounder on Grits + “Listen to your Elders” Cocktail

How to order it: The menu may change based on what is in season and locally-grown. Ask your server to help you identify Gluten-Free menu options. My very helpful server checked with the kitchen to ensure that the gumbo broth did not contain any gluten and that the flounder was not breaded.

What it looks like:

This picture doesn’t do it justice! The beautiful goodies in this gumbo are waiting in the middle of the bowl just under the surface. Delicate chunks of catfish hobnob with andouille sausage, red kidney beans, celery, green pepper, red pepper, onions, and an exquisite blend of seasonings. I could eat this warming (but not fiery) bowl of goodness throughout the year.

A pan-seared fillet of fresh NC flounder luxuriated on a collection of sauteed carrots and pea shoots. I had never tasted pea shoots before, so they were a delightfully surprising addition.

Underneath the fish was a hearty portion of yellow corn grits blended with creamed corn, which gave the dish a delicate, natural sweetness.

The crowning glory was – are you ready for this? – a large pat of bacon and shiitake mushroom butter. Say it with me: “mmmmmmmm.”

Last, but not least, the signature cocktail was called “Listen to Your Elders.” It contained a unique blend of elderflower syrup and Hendrick’s Gin, topped with prosecco, which is a light and sparkling Italian wine. This Gluten-Free beverage was not too sweet, and the taste was satisfyingly clean. Click HERE to see a helpful article from Celiac.com on Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages.

Green Note: This is a farm-to-table establishment. The Watts website explains:

Amy Tornquist has built a reputation for seasonal cooking with local ingredients and is recognized for her commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Featuring her favorite local foods by the forkful – many raised, caught, smoked, pickled, or cured within a two-hour radius – Amy weaves them into her cooking and the result is an updated, distinctive take on North Carolina cuisine.

As the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says, “Goodness grows in North Carolina!”

Watts Grocery on Urbanspoon

Rockfish Seafood Grill: GF Seafood Menu

Update: Yelp and Urbanspoon report that this Rockfish location has closed. Traveling? From a state other than North Carolina? Visit http://www.rockfish.com/ to find a Rockfish near you.

Where: Rockfish Seafood Grill, The Streets at Southpoint Mall, 8030 Renaissance Pkwy. #905, Durham, NC 27713

GF Menu: Yes! Our friendly server, Adam, brought the GF menu to the table after I mentioned my gluten intolerance.

What I ate: Bronzed Tilapia (with no blackening seasoning), White Rice (with no broth) + Steamed Vegetables from the Lunch Menu

How to order it: Ask for the GF menu. This menu lists the items you can have from their regular menu, along with the reasons for some of the items you can’t. Jerry Brooks, the Kitchen Manager, and the Durham Rockfish staff are also aware of cross-contamination issues. Here’s a reassuring statement from their current (as of July 2010) GF Menu:

Any seafood in-house can be prepared without flour or breading and served with vegetables, non-fried potatoes and/or white rice. Any potatoes that are fried are excluded because gluten items are fried in the same oil (includes Skillet Potatoes and our Roasted Sweet Potatoes).

What it looks like:

White, flaky, & moist tilapia was buoyed by a bed of white rice and decorated with tender shrimp, mango salsa, buttery carrots, and bright green broccoli florets with a lemon squeeze. Without the blackening seasoning, I could distinguish the subtle flavor of the tilapia and the individual notes of fruit and fresh cilantro in the mango salsa. This meal was exactly what I wanted. To prove it, I’ll show you the “after” plate:

Seven-and-a-half grains of white rice mingled gently with a splash of butter and were kept company by a spent lemon slice. As you can see, it WAS delicious!

Green Note:


Partnering with Lemons to Aid they will operate Lemonade Stands on August 25th, 2010 at all 15 locations and give 100% of the proceeds to The Greater New Orleans Foundation. It will also donate 10% of restaurant profits that day to the same foundation.

“We’ve all been looking for a way to give back to the Gulf Coast and this is a great opportunity for us to do that.” says Rockfish CEO/President Tommy Lee.

VIsit http://www.rockfish.com/ for more details.

Rockfish Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm  Comments (2)  

Kemp’s Seafood House: Treats You Like Family (Now CLOSED)

Update: Both Yelp and Urbanspoon report this restaurant has closed.

Where: Kemp’s Seafood House, 115 Page Point Circle, Durham, NC 27703-9121

GF Menu: No. However, Kemp’s is extremely accommodating to those with food allergies. When my family expressed that we have a gluten intolerance, our friendly server, Charles Anderson, explained that it is restaurant policy for the manager-on-duty to be alerted any time a member of your dining party has a known food allergy. Manager Christy Wagner came to our table to ask us clarifying questions about our menu choices. She then assured us that she would personally supervise the handling of our food in the kitchen.

What I ate: Broiled Flounder + Garden Side Salad + Baked Potato

How to order it: Let the server know that you are dining Gluten-Free. Avoid the breaded items such as the hush puppies and the fried seafood (as these are most often a mix of corn and wheat flours). Scan the lengthy menu for the Grilled and Broiled options. Kemp’s also offers steaks, chicken, angus burgers, and BBQ. Ask whether the menu item you have selected contains any wheat/gluten.

What it looks like:

Fresh Atlantic Flounder fillets, broiled in butter, dusted with paprika, and topped with a squeeze of lemon. The garden side salad arrived first and contained crisp, ruffly, hardy greens, tomatoes, and shaved carrots. I opted for a simple oil and vinegar dressing. The baked potato was an old-fashioned spud, slow-baked in aluminum foil.

Green Note: Kemp’s lets you know where your food is coming from. Most menu items include the basic geographic origin, such as:

  • Jumbo Shrimp  Wild Caught Large Gulf Shrimp
  • Catfish  North Carolina Farm Raised
  • Trout  Atlantic
  • Oysters  Select Gulf Oysters
  • Ribeye  12 oz. Aged Omaha Ribeye Perfectly Marbled

Kemp’s Seafood House is owned and operated by the same folks who bring you the NC Seafood Restaurant at the Farmer’s Market, Raleigh.

Kemp's Seafood House on Urbanspoon

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chipotle Mexican Grill: All That & a Bag o’ Chips

Where: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Raleigh, NC

GF Menu: No, but they feature a helpful “Special Diet Information” page on their website that addresses common allergens. Click HERE to view the allergen chart.

What I ate: Burrito in a Bowl + Chips & Guacamole

How to order it: Order a Burrito in a Bowl. The server will then ask you what toppings you’d like.

Chipotle’s website says: “Most people wanting to avoid gluten can eat anything we serve except for our large and small flour tortillas, and possibly our red tomatillo salsa (there is a small amount of distilled vinegar in it which some gluten-oriented websites still say might be problematic, although most don’t). Everything else is fine to eat for most people wanting to avoid gluten, including our crispy corn tacos and our corn chips.”

What it looks like:

Pictured above is a bowl stacked high with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, beef barbacoa, tomato salsa, corn salsa, lettuce, and cheese, with a bag o’ chips and a side of guacamole. Packed full of protein and fresh veggies, this is a satisfying meal.

As their website menu says, “It’s a burrito, in a bowl & filled with dreams.” You can have all the fun goodies from a burrito, without worrying whether the tortilla is gluten-free!

Green Note: Chipotle keeps the big picture in mind when considering even the small details. As you can see in the photo above, the plate is made of biodegradable materials.

Their website addresses their decision to focus on organic, family-owned farms, and local ingredients. Here’s an announcement from their website:

“In 2010, Chipotle plans to serve at least 50% of at least one produce item from local farms when it is seasonally available (more than 50% and more than one item any time we can).”

If you’d like to learn more about Chipotle’s environmentally-friendly business model, check out these links:

Chipotle: Food with Integrity


Chipotle: Sustainable Design