Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Waiters we love...Risotto we eat ~

Just when I thought I had mastered the skill of ordering gluten-free, I was reminded once again, just how CAREFUL a Celiac must really be when eating out at a restaurant.

So the story goes...headed to a great restaurant in Truckee, California over the weekend called Moody's Bistro & Lounge. It has a great atmosphere, with Jazz bands playing on the weekends and a really cool and sultry bar, along with fun patio seating and a diverse and delicious menu. I've eaten there several times in the past few years and have always done so safely.

After perusing the menu, I decided upon the Risotto entree - I just love Risotto - Who doesn't?! This dish offered a plethora of garlic and buttery goodness, according to the menu description and the waitress or server's recommendation. I was sold!

Order away!

Now, whenever I have eaten Risotto in a restaurant (or in Italy) it's always been made of Arborio or Basmati Italian white rice, which is exactly what I expected would appear before my eyes and into my tum-tum. I was excited...but when our very well-educated server reappeared at our table she alerted me to the fact that when she put my order in to the chef, she double-checked that everything was gluten-free - and learned that their Risotto being served that night was actually Farro whole wheat pasta NOT rice, as it normally is. Wow!

Here's a proper definition of what I was about to eat, so make no mistake:

"Farro is a whole-grain relative of wheat and spelt with a flavor reminiscent of hazelnuts and barley. When cooked, each grain retains a firm, chewy texture, which makes this risotto practically impossible to overcook. You can find Farro in most Italian grocery stores and in the bulk section of many health food stores, but if you are coming up empty-handed, spelt will make a decent substitute."

And here's a photo of Farro so that you can recognize it's texture and appearance:

Here's a description of what I usually buy and/or order:

"Risotto is a classic Italian side dish that uses short grain rice (one variety is basmati) that releases lots of starch during cooking so the finished dish is very creamy and rich."

Our server and I conversed for a few minutes about this situation and she explained how and why she is informed and educated about gluten free eating, as are their chefs. I told her that she was literally, my life-saver that night...no joking around about that fact. I would have dug into that bowl of delicious Italian goodness never knowing that I soon I would be facing a night of misery and WEEKS of suffering from being so poisoned.

After our dramatic realization and reordering a delicious Kobe 8 oz. steak, I sat quietly in my chair for a few moments feeling so thankful (and stupid) that this woman was educated enough and cared enough to have gone the extra step to ensure that she knew and I knew exactly what I was eating AND and that I would be safe.

It was also a stark realization that I need to re-arm myself with more information and rededicate myself to asking the vital questions each and every time I order my food, whether I'm certain of the ingredients or not. So to all of you out there...take this advice from someone who's been ordering gluten-free for eight years...Always, always double or triple-check that what you are about to eat is 100% safe and gluten free.

The next time I visit Moody's, I'm going to seek out my "life-saver" waitress/server and thank her again for taking the time to be educated and for watching out for my safety.

Here's a delicious and totally gluten free Risotto recipe that you're sure to love, created by my favorite Gluten Free Girl.

Eat well, and as I always say...



Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post on my blog about Dr. Yamamoto! I will be doing my one year follow up with him!

I found out I have celiac last year after months of tests to figure out why I was anemic.

What I didn't appreciate was being told by the GI that I had it, being handed a list of grains to watch out for and that was about it.

It's been a long year of trial and error for me!

I appreciate your blog! I have learned from you! Thanks!

Bowl of Soul Gal said...

That's great news!! You will really like Dr. Yamamoto!

Keep in touch and keep checking my blog - thank you!!


Krissy said...

I was researching brain fog on celiac.com and saw your blog. When I read that you live in Reno, I visited your website and saw that you had a Moody's story. I live in Truckee and am also gluten free. Have been all my life. (Well, except for that permission slip from an uneducated GI doctor in Mountain View, CA who told me to eat everything (in the 90's)......and I did - for nine years. Then I began to suffer like I did as a child.)

Anyway, I was at Moody's this past Saturday, and my waiter also appeared to be educated on gluten free meals. I ordered the duck with polenta, and when he returned from speaking to the chef, I was amazed that the polenta was not gluten free. That really saved me, for I cannot tell you how much I tend to trust what people tell me when I know they don't "get it" and are just guessing. Then the brain fog really sets in. I had the amazing mashed potatoes instead.

Thanks for the tip about the Whole Foods walk through this Thursday. I'm going to try to make it.

I've heard great things about Dr. Yamamoto, but I see Dr. Nachiondo at GI Consultants in Reno. He's very knowledgable as well.