Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gluten Free Dining in Chicago ~

Dining out gluten free in Chicago is pretty dreamy. I had no idea just how dreamy until I spent four days in the Windy City this month and was wined and dined in gluten free style all around the beautiful city! I was invited to Chicago to attend the Preceptorship Program through the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (, due to the fact that I'm now sitting on their Advisory Board. It's truly an honor and I realize that I've finally found my small (but meaningful) place in the world of Celiac Disease support and research.

The entire four-day experience was a joy and a complete whirlwind! It all began on a very rainy morning in San Francisco on a flight to Chicago I was certain would be delayed or cancelled...but the gluten free Gods were watching out for me and my Virgin Airlines flight took off without issue, even landing early. My mystery host and ride from the airport was the Chair of our advisory board, Lisa. We had never met until she pulled up in front of baggage claim but I knew from the moment we first spoke on the phone this past summer, she was an awesome lady! Lisa's the kind of person who's energy and spirit transcends a phone line, immediately exuding such a wonderful sense of her lovely personality. Needless to say, our senses of humor aligned very quickly and we've decided that we're forever going to be GF colleagues and friends.

I was welcomed into Lisa's home by her beautiful family, as well as being welcomed during the week by all of the board members with such warmth and friendliness. I'm not sure if it's a "midwestern character trait" to be so friendly, or perhaps it comes from the fact that we're all passionate about the same cause, finding a cure for celiac disease, while supporting one another along the way.

One of the highlights of my trip happened shortly after Lisa and I met at the airport. She took me to a family favorite restaurant, DaLuciano's, ( in River Park just outside of Chicago...where they serve homemade gluten free Italian food that will make you weep. Seriously, I did when my plate of lasagna arrived! 

But even prior to the lasagna there was a smattering of deliciousness steadily arriving at our table. The sweet owner, Rosa, ordered several appetizers for us...fried mozzarella wedges (seen in above photo), along with bruschetta made with their freshly baked GF bread, and fresh garlic bread. It was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. It honestly took me several minutes to believe that all of this wonderful looking food was totally gluten free, and that I could eat it without concern!

One of the most impressive parts about DaLuciano's is the fact that the restaurant has two kitchens separated by a small hallway. One of the kitchens is entirely dedicated to gluten free food preparation! The other is the main restaurant kitchen. Let's just say, they take gluten free cooking very seriously there and to an entirely different level. It's an extremely professional operation.

They even have a dedicated gluten free hot oil fryer and separate prep areas, ovens...along with an entirely stocked kitchen that's never seen one crumb of gluten.

This is DaLuciano's gluten free freezer which holds all of the plentiful GF products their restaurant has become so well known for, such as raviolis, lasagna, cannolis, focaccia bread, pizzas and much more...

And please...let's not forget about dessert! Rosa creates her own hand-rolled gluten free cannolis, to boot! I hadn't eaten a cannoli or tiramisu in years until this fateful evening when it was impossible to resist the robust dessert options. It's not often that authentic Italian food is prepared gluten free with such care, passion, and knowledge. You see, three of Rosa's seven children have Celiac Disease, therefore, ensuring that every GF item on the menu has been carefully created by Rosa, herself.

The next time you are visiting Chicago you absolutely must visit DaLuciano's for lunch or dinner...or perhaps you'll decide to visit the Windy City for the sole purpose of dining there - either way, it's completely worth it. It will truly be a dining experience that won't easily be forgotten and the best part is...most of the GF foods at DaLuciano's can be purchased and taken with you! 

Buon Appetito e Buon Natale!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tieton Cider Works = Happy GF Holidays!

A cider/cocktail tasting of our own at Restaurant Zoe in Seattle!

I had the pleasure of working in Seattle this last week on projects for my Aunt and her husband's wonderful micro hard cider company, Tieton Cider Works. They've been producing cider now for over four years and their timing couldn't have been more perfect. 
The world of artisan hard cider has grown exponentially during the past five years in the United States, becoming the fastest growing segment of the alcoholic beverage market, with an astounding 65% growth rate this year alone. Simply amazing.

The other terrific fact, especially if you are a Celiac, is that hard cider is taking the beverage industry by storm, not to mention, offering those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance another delicious and gluten-free beverage to add to our “safe to drink” list. I'm personally very happy to make room on my "favorites list" for this timely and delicious beverage! 

The photo above is a great example of hard cider's variety and ease of compatibility as the perfect base for cocktails, as well! The beautiful beverage in the martini glass was mine! I don't get to drink martinis given that Vodka (unless 100% potato) is on the big no-no list for a Celiac given that it's a pure grain alcohol. Our bartender, understanding the limitations of gluten-free cocktails, created a wonderful concoction using Chateau Pellehaut Armagnac Brandy, simple syrup, Tieton Cider's Wild Washington Apple Cider and a peel of lemon. It was smooth and just the perfect flavor combination given that the cider nicely tempered the brandy making it wonderfully drinkable...too drinkable!

On a side note - it's definitely worth mentioning to any and all Celiacs visiting Seattle or to you local residents, Restaurant Zoe is a safe-haven for those of us GF eaters. I was very impressed with every one of their servers and staff. All were so patient through my triple-checking of every item that I bit into and were very informed about the proper protocol for eating safely and gluten-free in a restaurant. From start to finish they didn't miss a step and the food was fabulous - really. Eat at Restaurant Zoe and of course, inform the staff of your very specific dietary needs, but trust that they do "get it!"

On to the fun stuff...for anyone who wants to taste and enjoy Tieton Cider Works varieties definitely keep reading. All the information you need to fulfill your holiday wish list, for even the pickiest relative is right here - and of course, what better gift for a gluten-free friend or family member (or yourself) than cider?! Remember to have plenty of cider on hand to share with friends, take to parties and serve with all of your holiday meals. And since we've abundantly established that cider is now the new food friendly beverage, order up! 
TSW has made it so easy for your shopping this year. You can mix their 750ml bottles, order a sample box of the 500ml bottles, try the new port style cider or ice cider, 
and join their cider club!

This is the new line up of all Ten of TSW's Products.   
Cider makes the perfect gift for everyone on your personal or business list.  Click here to purchase Tieton Cider Works Cider! You'll see that they have selected products to work together, and they give you the flexibility to make your own selections. Gift wrapping and your personalized message are included.

Wind + Frost  

Be among the first to taste new releases and special offerings including any Small Batch Releases for Members only. TSW Cider Club is on the website, and makes
a terrific gift for the cider lover in your family! It truly is the gift that keeps coming, with four different shipments throughout the year. 

The December shipment includes one bottle of Tieton Frost and one bottle of Tieton Wind.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

  tieton holiday