Posts Tagged ‘lactose intolerance’

New Websites for the Gluten-Free

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ve already heard about some of the websites I love. When I was a newly diagnosed celiac in 2004, I spent a lot of time searching for information online… and when I started traveling again (also in 2004, but much later that year), the Internet was my starting point. Some of my longtime favorites include Celiac Handbook, which has an amazing collection of resources from around the world, Celiac Travel, which provides, for free, celiac translation cards in 47 languages, and Clan Thompson’s Celiac Site, which offers a free online newsletter. More recently, I’ve become a fan of Gluten Free Maps, which pinpoints locations of restaurants that cater to gluten-intolerant diners.

There are a couple of very new sites that I’ve already bookmarked, and I want to share them with you. The first is Social Simmer, which started up late last year. It’s an intriguing mix of resources for people with gluten intolerance and/or food allergies and a social networking hub. Social Simmer links to related articles and blogs, and it also offers original reviews of restaurants. I’m just learning about the social networking side of the site, but I’m already hooked. Since the site lets you search for restaurants by different criteria, it’s a very useful addition to the scene, particularly for people who have a food allergy in addition to gluten intolerance.

The other site that’s caught my interest is Nanette’s Dish. This new site is devoted to vegetarian cooking and dining, and already contains recipes (like this Red Quinoa Tabouli Salad) and restaurant notes. Nanette’s Dish takes a special interest in gluten-free living — the author’s husband has celiac disease — but not everything on the site is for the gluten-intolerant. Speaking as a celiac who’s married to a vegetarian, I’m already sure I’ll be visiting this site often.

Are there other new online resources you would recommend? Please let me know.

On the Road With Allergic Girl

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

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When I started the Gluten-Free Guidebook in March 2008, one of my role models was Sloane Miller. I admired her Allergic Girl blog for its charming style, thoroughly researched posts, and sense of adventure. Many people with gluten intolerance or food allergies focus on what they can’t have; Sloane’s writing inspires me with the sense of what’s possible. A tireless advocate for the food-allergic, Sloane has been featured in many national media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN.com, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, and ABCNews.com. A New York State-licensed psychotherapeutic social worker since 2000, Sloane founded a private coaching practice, Allergic Girl Resources, for the food-allergic community in 2007. Part of her practice includes Worry-Free Dinners, an NYC-based dining club for adults and children with food allergies and intolerances. Here’s what she had to say about her recent travels.

How often do you travel? Not often enough. I fly 2-4 times a year domestically and I get away on weekends throughout the year.

Where have you traveled since going gluten-free? I’ve been gluten-free since 2004, and since then all of my travel has been domestic: Florida, Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Eastern seaboard mainly.

What foods or snacks do you pack when traveling? As someone with food allergies (tree nuts, salmon, some fruits and veggies; and I’m dairy- and wheat-intolerant) my family has been traveling with food for as long as I can remember. My standard complement includes: boxes of juices, packages of applesauce, dried organic fruit (raisins, apricots, dates), granola that I make at home (recipe here), rice crackers and organic cheese, fruit, Enjoy Life cookies and chocolates. Most of my bag is actually food when I travel. I also shop when I get to a new place. I find the local grocery or greenmarket and stock up on allergy-friendly local goodies.

What other things do you always bring with you? Medicines for environmental allergies, food allergies and allergic asthma, always in multiples, and all up to date. A travel pillow, check. Tea, check. (I like PG Tips from England so I always make sure to have some on hand when traveling. Also if I feel wheezy because of a new room, space or hotel, some caffeine helps to calm it down.) Magazines that I never have time to read otherwise: The New Yorker, Oprah, Lucky and Real Simple. Music and movies although I rarely get to those, too. There’s a lot of packing in my world that’s for a just in case scenario. Just in case there are delays and I need food or entertainment, just in case there are feather pillows only and I need something to sleep on. Clothing is always secondary to food because what’s better than shopping for new duds in a new place?

How do you prepare for a trip? Homework, homework, homework.  All the advance work makes getting there and being there so much more relaxing. Of course, you also need to prepare for the unexpected by remaining calm and flexible and that’s where your just-in-case provisions come in handy. I recently traveled for work to Boston and I had brought enough food with me for three days (dinners, lunches and breakfasts). Very quickly, I made friends with the hotel chef who cooked all of my meals for me, allergen-free. So then I schlepped all of the food home again. There were unexpected train delays because of a bomb scare. Was I concerned? Nope, I had enough food to feed half the line.

Any favorite restaurants? My favorite NYC safe restos are listed here. Now ask me, where do I think I and my dietary needs will be welcomed with open arms, delicious food and excellent service? I have that dream list too: Alinea in Chicago, IL, Per Se in NYC, Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, NY, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, to name a few.

Any favorite hotels? I love small boutique hotels, ones that take an interest in each and every guest. I especially love returning to a hotel year after year, having a favorite room and overlook. The Standard Miami (room 32) is one fave. So is the St Thomas D’Aquin (room 15) in Paris. I’ve been invited to stay at the Winvian in CT for work. The property looks wonderful and like it may be a new favorite.

Favorite city or destination that is not your hometown or current home base? Drat. I do love New York. It is my hometown, my current home base and my favorite tourist spot. I love Paris and London, and Oxford, cities I’ve spent considerable time in. I also love the English countryside, I’d like to see more of it. I love the ocean; ocean towns are some of my faves.

What’s your dream destination? When I was little my dream destination was Hawaii. Probably because of too many reruns of the Brady Brunch goes to Hawaii eps. However, I think I’d still like to go there for maybe a month and explore.

Do you have any other advice for gluten-intolerant travelers? Don’t be afraid to travel because you believe you may not be able to eat safely. There are many valuable resources out there to help you. Seek them out and use them. Here’s an article by Conde Nast Traveler that may help you get on your way. And of course, Gluten-Free Guidebook, which is an invaluable resource. Thanks, Hilary!

Photograph of Sloane Miller: copyright Kenneth Chen.

Vacation Planning for Celiacs: Cruises

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

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It turned cold very early this fall in New York, as it has in much of North America. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking of taking a vacation somewhere warm. One thing that I’ve never tried is a cruise. I’ve taken day-long boat trips in places like Newfoundland and Chile, but that’s just not the same thing.

My daydreaming may have been inspired by a reader, Barbara Collins, who wrote to me in July to share her fantastic experience onboard a Holland America cruise ship. You can read her letter in this post. It was extremely encouraging to hear that a cruise line would go above and beyond the basics to take care of a wheat-allergic and gluten-intolerant traveler.

What I’ve discovered so far is that many cruise lines seem willing to accommodate people on gluten-free diets and other special diets. Each cruise line seems to have a different policy on the subject. Most seem to have a special requests form that you must fill out, often weeks in advance of your cruise. While I haven’t tried any of the following cruise lines — yet — all of them sound pretty great.

Carnival: “Guests with special diets can be accommodated on Carnival Cruise Line,” boasts the company’s website. In addition to gluten-free, Carnival offers meals for a range of special diets, including vegetarian, low sugar, and low fat.

Disney Cruise Line: While advance notice is required to accommodate special diets — at the time of booking the cruise is strongly recommended — Disney is able to prepare meals for an incredible range of special diets. Vegetarian options are widely available on its ships, as a matter of course.

MSC Cruises: Given that Italy is a world leader in celiac awareness, it’s no surprise that this Italian cruise line takes special care of its gluten-free guests. However, there are different offerings on its different vessels. According to MSC’s website, “MSC Cruises works closely with the AIC-Associazione Italiana Celiachia (Italian Celiac Association) to provide gluten-free menus in the restaurants of MSC Fantasia, MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra and MSC Poesia cruising in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe. On MSC Splendida, MSC Lirica, MSC Opera, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, [and] MSC Melody, guests can find pre-packaged gluten-free products like snacks, biscuits, croissants, plumcakes and muffins.”

Princess: This cruise line emphasizes “personal choice dining” so there are plenty of options. Gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free, MSG-free, and vegan meals are all available — when arranged for in advance of sailing.

Royal Caribbean: Special diets this line accommodates include gluten-free, low-sodium, and low-fat. They are also happy to accommodate those with food allergies. These meals should all be arranged in advance. Note that vegetarian meals are also available without any advance notification. As Royal Caribbean says, “We make every effort to accommodate our guests’ dietary requirements whenever possible.”

I’d love to hear about your cruise experiences. Please let me know how well you were able to eat while at sea.

Reader Reports: Gluten-Free Paris and More

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

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I often get questions from readers looking for recommendations about where to dine gluten-free in destinations that I haven’t visited (or, at least, haven’t visited since being diagnosed with celiac disease). I make the same suggestion to all of them, which is to check out the Gluten-Free Guidebook Group on Facebook. The great thing about this group is that it has a discussion board where people can ask questions and share recommendations. I’ve been impressed by how helpful people are, and I’m grateful to everyone who has contributed their time to the group.

One popular destination that people often ask about is Paris, a place I haven’t visited in the past five years. Fortunately, reader Ellen Maycock has, and she shared her very helpful suggestions with the Facebook group. She was enthusiastic about one Parisian restaurant in particular:

I’m just back from Paris. I highly recommend a totally GF restaurant, in Montmartre! It is Des Si et des Mets, located at 63, rue Lepic in the 18th. Metro stops Abesses or Blanche, phone 01.42.55.19.61. I had two excellent meals there. What a treat to be able to order *anything* from the menu! Our waitress one evening said she was a celiac. I don’t know if they speak English, but they were extremely friendly. (You might want to bring a small dictionary to translate the menu.) The *entire* restaurant is gluten-free, so you don’t need to worry about cross-contamination. The prices are moderate for Paris — you can get a very nice 3-course meal for 26 euros.

Ellen also had some helpful general recommendations for celiacs who visit Paris:

If you have any cooking facilities, you’ll be in good shape. There’s a great organic market every Sunday morning on the Blvd. Raspail. I found GF items in the Monoprix (major grocery chain), and in some health food stores. I was told about good bread in Naturalia, but didn’t try any.

I was anxious about dealing with GF in Paris — my first trip there after my diagnosis in January — but I felt very well (better than in the States).

Other readers have written recently to share their gluten-free discoveries. One couple, Lynne and Ernie, passed along a terrific recommendation for the Niagara region:

Cafe Amore (211 Martindale Road in St. Catharines, Ontario) is our favorite restaurant. They have rice pasta and all the sauces are gluten-free. They have gluten-free desserts and amazing dinner rolls. They are all very aware of cross-contamination issues and are more than helpful when it comes to ordering a safe gluten-free meal. This is a place that is worth spending time at while visiting the Niagara area.

Another reader, Nadine, wrote to share a couple of discoveries she’d made:

I have a recommendation for a restaurant in La Jolla, California: George’s at the Cove. I had a fish taco that was out of this world delicious. It was one of the restaurant’s specialties and my server told me it was gluten-free. Also, there is a bakery in the small town of Bristol, New Hampshire: Cornucopia Catering and Bakery. It bakes gluten-free breads and pastries. It’s the only bakery for miles and their products are worth the trip. I’ve had their cinnamon buns and a pecan bread, which were fantastic.

One more recommendation came from my friend Danyael Halprin, a journalist who lives in Calgary. She told me about a dedicated gluten-free restaurant called A Tasty Menu. Its offerings include plenty for vegans and vegetarians, and the lactose intolerant. There’s also a special menu for kids.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed suggestions and recommendations. Please keep them coming!

A Dedicated Gluten-Free Ontario Bakery

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

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A while back, I wrote about the impressive array of gluten-free groceries at the Specialty Food Shop at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The store isn’t just for celiacs, and not all of its products are gluten-free. But located in its aisles are gluten-free North American brands such as Glutino, Mi-Del, Enjoy Life, and Kinnikinnick, and international ones such as Australia’s Orgran and Germany’s Glutano. There are plenty of treats — cookies of all descriptions, ice-cream cones, snack bars — as well as healthier fare, including pastas, cereals, breads, soup bases and mixes, baking products, and frozen dinners.

The Specialty Food Shop introduced me to a Canadian bakery that I’d never heard of before, but a taste of El Peto‘s unbelievably delicious butter tarts made me want to get to know them better. Founded in 1988, the company is a Swiss-style bakery and a dedicated gluten-free facility. Since El Peto is located in Cambridge, Ontario — about an hour’s drive west of Toronto, close to the charming theater town of Stratford — I decided to visit the last time I was in the area.

El Peto is “free” of so many ingredients, I started to wonder what they do bake with. It’s not only entirely wheat-free and gluten-free, it also offers corn-free, yeast-free, milk-free, egg-free, peanut-free and trans fat-free foods. Their product range includes breads and pizza crusts, muffins and pies, hot and cold cereals, cake mixes and cookies, and their own milled flours, made with ingredients such as romano beans, chickpeas, quinoa, potato, and brown rice. Their company store also stocks gluten-free products from other manufacturers, such as pastas from Tinkyada and Gogo Quinoa (a Bolivian fair-trade company), waffle ice-cream cones and wafers from Barkat, and soup cubes from Celifibr.

Then there are, of course, El Peto’s wonderful butter tarts. It turns out that other types of tarts are also available — pecan, lemon, raspberry — and that there are unfilled tart shells, too. El Peto’s prices are reasonable, but the best news is that you don’t need to visit to shop there. You can order via the online store. El Peto’s products are also turning up more frequently in mainstream grocery stores — those butter tarts can now be found at the Loblaws Superstore in Toronto, along with breads, rolls, and mixes.

El Peto [address] 65 Saltsman Drive, Cambridge, Ontario [tel] 800-387-4064 or 519-650-4614 [fax] 519-650-5692 [web] www.elpeto.com

Mail-Ordering Gluten-Free Groceries

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

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Finding gluten-free food while traveling is an obvious challenge, but I’ve been hearing lately from readers who are having a tough time eating at home. One reader in Canada was appalled when she began to place an order at the online Gluten-Free Mall and discovered that it would cost $34 just to ship a one-pound parcel to her (unfortunately, the Mall doesn’t post its shipping charges on the site, so potential customers are sometimes in for a shock when they reach the checkout stage).

Living in New York means having lots of options, since grocery chains such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry plenty of gluten-free products, as do independent stores such as Natural Green Market. In other parts of North America, it can be tough to find gluten-free baked goods, pasta, and other essentials. For those who depend on mail-order to get their gluten-free groceries, here’s some advice:

  • Find manufacturers that ship products to customers directly: A few companies, such as Shabtai Gourmet, make this incredibly easy. Shabtai, which makes cakes, cookies, and other treats that are gluten free, lactose free, soy free, and casein free, ships its products anywhere in the continental US — for free. Kinnikinnick Foods ships its celiac-safe bagels, breads, donuts, and other products to Canada and the US; as you order, a tally of charges, including shipping, adds on the upper right corner of the page, so there are no upsets at checkout.
  • Remember to comparison shop: Gluten-free products tend to be expensive in North America, and there are no government subsidies for celiacs, as there are in countries such as Italy and Turkey. I’ve found Amazon to be a great place for deals on basics such as gluten-free pasta. Amazon is a bit like Costco, in that you have to buy in bulk, so instead of purchasing one package of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix, you need to buy four; in the case of Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals with Rice Bran, you’d need to purchase a pack of 12. However, when you compare Amazon’s prices to certain sites that market themselves to gluten-free consumers, Amazon’s are great deals. Also, “Gluten-Free” is a major category in Amazon’s grocery department, so products are easy to find — and shipping is free on orders of $25 or more.
  • Read product reviews: It can be tempting to order treats that you’ve been missing, but we know that not all gluten-free products are equally good. In fact, some have the consistency and flavor of cardboard. Unfortunately, with products for delivery, you usually can’t send them back if you don’t like them. Before you order something new, be sure to check out sites such as Gluten Free Food Reviews; Amazon is also useful for its product reviews, even when you’re not ordering from the site.
  • Know that some restaurants do mail-order, too: New York’s Risotteria immediately comes to mind. Have you tried the Fudgie yet? You really should. My favorite local bakery, Babycakes, delivers, too. (By the way, Babycakes has its first-ever cookbook coming out; click on “Recommended Reading” to see it.)
  • Check out the great lists of gluten-free retailers that have already been compiled: Gluten-Free in SD has a great one, and it’s not just for people who live in San Diego. The Celiac Handbook has links to an exhaustive list of companies that ship gluten-free products. A listing isn’t an endorsement, but it’s still a great place to start.
  • Shop locally when possible: Some American companies won’t ship outside of the continental US. However, Canadians have the option of shopping from Toronto’s Specialty Food Shop, which I’ve written about before. The SFS will even ship frozen foods. In Hawaii, Sweet Marie’s (which reader Liisa wrote about here), delivers locally and internationally.

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Just a reminder: there’s a Gluten-Free Guidebook group on Facebook, where members are posting fascinating news, such as the attempt by Australian researchers to develop a vaccine for celiac disease (thanks, Bruno!). Also, I’m now on Twitter, and if you’d like to follow me there, I’m @hilarydavidson.

Frommer’s Toronto and Food Allergies

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

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I’ve just signed a deal with Wiley Publishing to write another edition of Frommer’s Toronto. This will be my eleventh edition of the book, and I’m looking for ways to make it more informative and more relevant. In the current edition, Frommer’s Toronto 2009, I’ve included a section in the dining chapter devoted to people with gluten intolerance and/or food allergies, and I wanted to mention some of the places featured there:

  • Camros Organic Eatery: This small spot just south of Yonge and Bloor prepares Persian-inspired dishes, all of which are vegetarian. Everything is gluten-free, and the restaurant lists all ingredients in every dish to help those with food allergies. Thanks to a recent renovation, Camros can now seat 30 diners, instead of 12; [address] 25 Hayden St. [tel] 416-960-0723 [web] www.camroseatery.com.
  • Big Mamma’s Boy: This perennially popular Cabbagetown spot sits in a 19th-century Victorian row house. Its gluten-free menu, includes pizzas, pastas, and traditional comfort-food dishes. (For my post about it, click here.)
  • Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar: A great spot not only for celiacs, but also for anyone with a food allergy. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful: not only can they tell you the ingredients in every dish, they’re aware of potential cross-contamination problems. (For my post about it, click here.)
  • Il Fornello: This Toronto chain is my go-to spot for a hit of gluten-free pasta or pizza. (For my post about it, click here.)
  • Swiss Chalet: This allergy-aware Canadian chain provides precise details about allergens in their food; they’ve created a helpful chart that you can read online, or find in any of their restaurants. The chart has categories for peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, milk products, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat/gluten, and sulfites. Toronto locations include: [address] 362 Yonge St. at Gerrard St. [tel] 416-597-0101 [web] www.swisschalet.com.
  • Amuse-Bouche: Speaking generally, expensive restaurants are pretty accommodating on the gluten-free and food-allergic fronts (of course, there are exceptions, like the hoity-toity spot where the waiter told me he couldn’t “bother” the chef with my questions). Amuse-Bouche gets a special mention for going above and beyond: if you give them some advance notice, they will bake gluten-free bread just for you. (For my post about it, click here.)

There are some restaurants I’ve written about recently, such as Relish and Four, which deserve to be listed, and I’ll add Pizza Pizza as well. Do you have any suggestions for restaurants that belong in the book? Please leave a comment below. Thanks.

A Gluten-Free Gem in New York’s West Village

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

New Yorkers are notorious for their impatience, but I think that it’s mostly a myth. I’ve become a more patient person since moving here seven-and-a-half years ago, though it hasn’t happened by choice. New Yorkers are forced to wait in line for just about everything. If you’ve ever visited the Trader Joe’s supermarket on East 14th Street, you know what I mean (the line to check out wraps around the entire store and can take 45 minutes on a bad day). And while I love Risotteria, there’s a reason I haven’t written about it before: having dinner there requires patience.

Risotteria is in the West Village, a few blocks from Washington Square Park. It describes itself as one of the most famous gluten-free restaurants in America, and I don’t doubt that. It’s perpetually mobbed, and since you can basically count the number of seats on your fingers and toes, demand consistently outpaces supply. Even in this economic downturn, Risotteria keeps packing them in — not a surprise when you factor in its very reasonable prices for its excellent cooking. Service is incredibly swift but also quite sweet. Here’s the bad part: Risotteria doesn’t do reservations. That means you wait for your table with everybody else, either in the tiny vestibule or out front on Bleecker Street, where there’s a bench. When the wait gets extremely long, sometimes the waitstaff comes outside with gluten-free breadsticks, guaranteeing that you’ll hang around.

Not everything on the menu is gluten-free, but the many celiac-safe options — including risotto, pizza, and panini — are clearly marked, as are the choices for vegetarians (plentiful) and the lactose-intolerant (slim pickings). There is nothing I’ve tried in my many visits here that I haven’t loved. The gluten-free Caesar salad is a favorite (but so is the spinach salad with goat cheese and roasted peppers). The risotto dishes are irresistible to me (I usually choose them over pizza, a fact that shocks me). I love the carnaroli risotto with roasted chicken, porcini mushrooms, and pine nuts; my husband loves a spicier risotto with shrimp, hot peppers, and mozzarella. And every person I’ve dined with at Risotteria has been wild about the desserts, all of which are gluten-free (don’t get me started on the subject of the “Fudgie,” two thick chocolate-chip cookies with chocolate fudge in-between).

That’s the secret about Risotteria. I’ve met others with celiac disease while dining there (the tables are so close together that mingling is common), but none of the people I’ve dined with at Risotteria are gluten-intolerant. They are willing to put up with the long wait because the food is that good. You can use your wait-list time to explore the neighborhood. Bleecker is filled with interesting shops, the excellent Partners & Crime bookstore is a few blocks away, and the Village boasts stunning architecture and charming streets. Just remember to be patient.

Risotteria [address] 270 Bleecker Street (between Sixth Avenue & Seventh Avenue), New York, NY [tel] 212-924-6664 [web] www.risotteria.com

Roundup: Gluten-Free Bakeries

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I tried all of the gluten-free baked goods I could find… and I wasn’t very happy with what was out there. I remember rice breads that crumbled into bits with the first bite and pastries that seemed to have a substantial styrofoam content. Now, five years later, I’m amazed by how much the quality has increased and how much choice there is. (I’m speaking primarily of what I see in New York and Toronto, and online; I know that there are plenty of places where it’s hard to come by gluten-free baked goods.)

Several bakeries that offer gluten-free treats have contacted me — and some readers have forwarded suggestions — so I wanted to pass along the information. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit any of the spots below, so I would love to hear from any readers who have tried them. For the record, I am a fan of Babycakes in New York City ([tel] 212-677-5047 [web] www.babycakesnyc.com). I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Bewitching Elegance: San Francisco-area artist Diane Rinella specializes in wedding cakes, which are available in gluten-free, vegan, and diabetic-friendly versions; [address] 1170 Broadway, Burlingame, California [tel] 510-469-6976 [web] www.bewitchingelegance.com

Cinderella Sweets: I’ve never used this company’s free mail-order service, but I have purchased their gluten-free Passover treats, sold under the name Shabtai Gourmet, at supermarkets in New York. The selection includes traditional almond macaroons, sponge cakes with raspberry filling, and delicate “lace” cookies topped with chocolate. The products are also free of dairy, casein, and soy, and they are certified kosher; [tel] 516-652-5671 [web] www.cinderellasweets.com

Coffee Plant: There are two Coffee Plant cafés in Portland, but one is entirely gluten-free. The husband-and-wife team who run the business bake the fresh muffins, scones, cookies, cakes, quiches, and breads on a daily basis; [address] 5911 SW Corbett, Portland, Oregon [tel] 503-293-3280 [web] www.coffeeplant.net

GF Patisserie: This dedicated gluten-free bakery set up shop last August in Cochrane, Alberta, a short drive from Calgary. Owner Victoria Edlinger told me that they started by offering three types of quiche, but their product range now includes cream puffs, sacher torte, Italian flatbread, and butter tarts; [address] 122 3rd Ave West, Cochrane, Alberta [tel] 403 990-9565 [web] www.gfpatisserie.com

Rose’s Wheatfree Bakery: This Chicago-area bakery and cafe is entirely gluten-free, and it also offers dairy- and egg-free options. Rose’s bakes up everything from snickerdoodles to chocolate-cherry-hazelnut biscotti, and from breads to pizzas; [address] 2901 Central Street, Evanston, Illinois [tel] 847-859-2723 [web] www.rosesbakery.com

Swirlz Cupcakes: Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Swirlz offers gluten-free cupcakes in flavors like chocolate grasshopper mint (I’m not sure what that means, but I’m curious); [address] 705 West Belden, Chicago, Illinois [tel] 773-404-2253 [web] www.swirlzcupcakes.com

Triple Oak Bakery: This dedicated gluten-free bakery opened in Virginia’s Rappahannock County in the fall, after owner Brooke Parkhurst found that demand for the treats she was baking in her home kitchen just kept growing. Offerings include carrot cupcakes, mocha dream cake, and cream puffs, and they are also available at The Natural Marketplace in Warrenton and Better Thymes in Front Royal; [address] 11692 Lee Highway, Sperryville, Virginia [tel] 540-675-3601 [e-mail] tripleoakbakery@gmail.com.

New York City Day by Day… for Celiacs

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Back in 2005, I wrote a New York City guidebook for Frommer’s Travel Guides. That slim little volume (it’s all of 192 pages, tiny compared to most guidebooks but a perfect fit for pockets or handbags), New York City Day by Day, was designed to be a cheat sheet to the best of the city. Not only does it highlight the best of the five boroughs, it maps them out for readers in a series of 22 self-guided tours.

As comparatively compact as it is, the book was the most labor-intensive of the 17 guidebooks I’ve written. That’s the reason I’ve been so pleased to see it take on new life recently as an eBook. Better yet — the eBook is available as a free download from different libraries around the United States. I am not sure if every one handles it the same way, but at the New York Public Library, you can download the book as a PDF and read it on both PCs and Macs. The NYPL download is for 21 days, the usual length of time you can borrow a book from the regular collection. Best of all, you don’t need to visit the library to get it — you can download it from the NYPL’s website so long as you have a valid library card. (If your public library offers eBook downloads, but doesn’t yet have New York City Day by Day, you can request it.)

One tough thing about writing the book was that the restaurant reviews had to be kept incredibly short — most are a mere two sentences — which didn’t allow for comments on their celiac-friendliness. As an addendum to the guidebook, I’d like to point out a few of my favorite New York City restaurants. These are all places where I’ve found great gluten-free dining, and I’m happy to report that they’re still in business four years after I did my original research for the book!

  • Blue Smoke: If you love rich, smoky barbecue flavors, you’ve found your heaven. This spot offers special gluten-free, nut-free, and vegetarian menus; [address] 116 East 27th Street, New York [tel] 212-447-7733 [web] www.bluesmoke.com
  • Eleven Madison Park: Elegant dining with farm-fresh ingredients and impeccable service; [address] 11 Madison Avenue, New York [tel] 212-889-0905 [web] www.elevenmadisonpark.com
  • Pure Food and Wine: This Irving Park raw-food restaurant is a vegan gem; here’s a full review; [address] 54 Irving Place, New York [tel] 212-477-1010 [web] www.purefoodandwine.com
  • Rice: Always a delicious spot for brunch; click here for the full review. [address] 2 locations in Manhattan, 2 in Brooklyn [web] www.riceny.com
  • Rosa Mexicano: Excellent Mexican cuisine, much of it naturally gluten free; [address] 3 locations in Manhattan [web] www.rosamexicano.info
  • Ruby Foo’s: It’s impossible for me not to think bordello when I walk into this restaurant — but I come back for its gluten-free menu; [address] 2 locations in Manhattan [web] www.brguestrestaurants.com
  • Tocqueville: This is a splurge spot, but for special occasions it would be hard to imagine anyone taking better care of a gluten-intolerant diner; [address] 1 East 15th Street [tel] 212-647-1515 [web] www.tocquevillerestaurant.com

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Facebook Update: I mentioned in my last post that I would be creating a Facebook group for the Gluten-Free Guidebook. The group is now up and running, and I invite every reader to join. I hope that it will be another helpful resource for you as you plan your travels, as well as a place where we can share information and advice via the messageboard. I look forward to seeing you there!