Posana Restaurant: Hyperlocal. Sustainable. Dedicated Gluten-Free Kitchen.

Where: Posana Restaurant. 1 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801

GF Menu: YES! No “GF” markings are necessary; the entire food menu is Gluten-Free.

From the bar, they also offer several bottled “Gluten-Reduced Beer” options. (For a good explanation on the distinction between labeling beers Gluten-Free vs. Gluten-Reduced, visit this page from Craft Brewing Business.)

What I ate: We enjoyed appetizers of fried green tomatoes and mussels, and shared entrees of seared scallops and NC trout.

How to order it: Posana Restaurant makes ordering GF dishes a breeze. The menu asks you to inform your server of any food allergies so they can clarify if and when the menu does not list all of the ingredients in a menu item.

Posana has gone the extra mile to dedicate their kitchen “Gluten-Free”. (If you don’t know, getting this kind of certification is an extremely rigorous process and requires a high level of commitment from the owners and staff.) From the “Gluten-Free” page on their website:

At Posana, we work very hard to provide our guests who must avoid gluten with the same exceptional dining experience as all our other guests.  We want you to be able to eat the exact same dishes as those around you, and at Posana, you can.  Awarded the Gluten-Free Food Service Accreditation – Posana Restaurant earned an Excellent rating for our commitment to Best Practices in safe gluten-free food service through the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America’s (GIG) accreditation program.  Posana features a dedicated gluten free kitchen.

What it looks like:

FriedGreenTomatoes Fried green tomatoes were battered and crispy-fried, and then topped with pimento cheese, smoked tomatoes, and thin slices of pickled okra for garnish. These refreshingly crisp tomatoes were a perfect salty treat to warm up the taste buds before a meal. I enjoyed the surprising tang of the pickled okra on top, which echoed the fresh green tomato underneath.

MusselsPEI mussels served in lemongrass curry with charred scallions and kimchi. This was a gorgeous combination of flavors. I was tempted to treat the curry like a soup and slurp it all up with a spoon. However, this is a nice restaurant and I needed to maintain some decorum…

ScallopsSea scallops were seared and set atop grilled asparagus, charred eggplant puree, smoked salsify and tomato jam.

NCTroutBBQ spiced trout from Sunburst Farms was gently placed atop cheese grits from Crooked Creek Mills. Shaved fennel and jalapeno-tomato butter rounded out the flavors and completed the dish.

Green Note: Prior to visiting Posana, I was not familiar with the term “hyperlocal“, but this is what they are: the co-owners of the restaurant have created urban gardens in order to grow additional ingredients they need nearby.

Here is their philosophy from the About Us page on their website:

We are fortunate to have strong relationships with local growers and producers that enable us to offer the freshest ingredients available in every season. In addition, we went hyper-local in 2015 by introducing to our own urban gardens in West Asheville to supplement some of what we are serving.  Moreover, we continue our support of the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project (ASAP) and the wider WNC growing and food producing industry to emphasize the importance of operating in an ecologically-conscious manner.

Posana also makes a point of featuring their Local Partners on their menu and on their website, increasing visibility for these farms and local suppliers of fine ingredients.
Posana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Primal Food & Spirits: 100% Gluten-Free Kitchen

Where: Primal Food & Spirits,  202 West Highway 54, Suite 107, Durham, NC 27713. Primal is located in the Southpoint Crossing Shopping Center, on the corner of Highway 54 and Fayetteville Road, in Durham.

GF Menu: Yes! The entire menu is Gluten-Free, with the exception of a handful of drinks served only at the bar in designated glasses. On the evening I visited the restaurant, there were four GF beers on the menu, as well as local hard ciders.

What I ate: Wood-fired shrimp as a starter, grilled salmon and a side of curried cauliflower as the entree, and lemon pound cake and chocolate flourless torte for dessert.

How to order it: Select any food on the menu and order with confidence. The server explained that everything that goes into and comes out of the kitchen is 100% gluten-free.

Just think of it. Dishes and glassware are all dedicated gluten-free (with the exception of the aforementioned small set of glasses held only at the bar for the purpose of serving non-gluten-free beers).

Chef Tim Lyons, also chef/owner of the award-winning Blu Seafood & Bar in Durham, writes on the Kitchen page of the Primal website:

At Primal we take gluten sensitivities seriously, and representing the needs of the gluten-free community is very important to us. Simply put, it is part of our identity, and it is exactly what makes us different from everyone else. Our kitchen is 100% gluten-free, meaning there is no possibility of cross-contamination.

What it looks like:

primalshrimpThe wood-fired shrimp were seasoned with a maple bourbon bbq sauce, hot out of the wood-burning oven, and bursting with sweet and smoky flavors. The spicy cole slaw comprised of crisp cabbage, red onions, and green peppers complemented the sweet shrimp.

primalcauliflowerThe curried cauliflower was served in an oven-proof pottery bowl, which kept it warm as we ate.

primalsalmonTrust me when I tell you that this grilled salmon was gorgeous. If you’re wondering what was so generously heaped on top of the hot-off-the-wood-grill-salmon, it was lump crab meat! It was a scrumptious, decadent addition to the savory salmon and the fresh greens drizzled with an apple shallot relish.

primalalmondcake2We ordered two desserts to share.  An unusually moist lemony pound cake with its browned burnt-sugary edge rested on mascarpone and was topped with a rum-date compote, almonds, vanilla syrup, and a fresh mint leaf.

primalchoctorteThe second dessert was the chocolate flourless torte. Rich and smooth, each dark chocolatey bite contained the surprise flavor of caramel rising to the surface from the caramel crème anglaise underneath. It was garnished with a fresh strawberry, red grapes, whipped cream, and a mint leaf.

 Green Note: Chef Tim Lyons works with local farmers as much as possible, and promotes them on the Primal website. He explains his reasoning here:

Primal is about getting back to the basics and eating as our ancestors did, offering unprocessed, home grown foods, served unpretentiously. You can literally taste the delicious difference when you bite into a piece of pasture-raised meat that was cooked over a wood fire. It gives the meat that light, smoky natural flavor simply not found with alternative cooking methods. At Primal, we work tirelessly to ensure that everything coming out of our kitchen showcases the fresh ingredients we are using from our local farmer partners. Farm-to-Fire-to-Fork. That is our way. That is Primal.

Some of the Local Farmers listed on the website include:

Primal Food & Spirits on Urbanspoon

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.

ThePigFM2

BBQ and ham for sale at the Carrboro Farmers Market.

ThePigFM

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

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

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

Relish Cafe & Bar: Savor the Flavor

Where: Relish Cafe & Bar, 5625 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, NC 27613 (Corner of Creedmoor and Millbrook)

GF Menu: YES! When we informed the server that we would be dining Gluten-Free, she brought us GF menus.

GFRelish2

Click on the image of the menu to see a larger version.

Note this well-informed disclaimer on the GF menu:

This menu and the information on it are provided as a service to our customers with the express statement that we cannot guarantee to any persons with Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance that NO gluten will inadvertently be contained in these dishes.

Our kitchen does NOT have a dedicated gluten-free area. It is not possible to completely avoid cross-contamination or unintentional inclusion of gluten into dishes that are intended to not have it. We do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer – so we are not suggesting any of our fried items on this special menu even if they do not originally have gluten in them. However, our grill is only used for grilling and blackening plain meats and vegetables so our recommendations are restricted to our salad and grill stations.

To the best of our information, the dishes listed on this special menu do not deliberately contain gluten and we will do our best  prepare them so they do not.

What I ate: Relish Shrimp Salad

How to order it: As the GF Menu suggests, choose from the salad or grilled meat/veggie options, avoiding fried foods and pasta dishes.

In general, it is best not to assume that because a server has handed you a Gluten-Free menu that they will automatically remember that your dish should be GF. In the restaurant business, servers are busy, handling multiple tasks and customers at once. Therefore, they may appreciate a gentle reminder from you, and you will be pleased to receive the Gluten-Free version of the dish you ordered. Win-win.

That said, our server at Relish was on-the-ball and took care of us with panache.

What it looks like:

GFRelish3

In keeping with Southern cuisine, our refreshing iced tea was served in classic Ball mason jars.

GFRelish4

 Cool shrimp were tossed on a bed of romaine garnished with purple onions, chopped tomatoes, boiled eggs, and capers. The dressing was both light and creamy, prepared with fresh dill and a hint of orange.

Green Note: Relish is a unique 3-in-1 business with a local focus. They explain on their website:

Preferences are trending away from the fried and greasy and towards the local farm to market offerings prepared in styles that coax more flavor out of more healthy choices. Through the marriage of a café and gourmet retail market and the innovative addition of a recreational culinary school, we provide a one stop, budget-friendly, epicurean experience which appeals to all ages and types of people. 

Relish offers items from their own kitchen for sale, like salsa fresca and poppy seed dressing. They also sell items produced by other local businesses: creamed or wildflower honey from Vintage Bee, 18-yr aged balsamic vinegar from Midtown Olive Press, and lemon basil hand soap from The Little Herb House, among others. All three of the businesses are Raleigh-based, so by dining and shopping at Relish, you help support your local economy.

Relish Cafe & Bar 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.

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