Mail-Ordering Gluten-Free Groceries

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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

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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.

Roundup: Gluten-Free Bakeries

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

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!

Sushi for Celiacs in New York

For many people, fast food means the Golden Arches or a food court; for me, it used to mean sushi. I know many New Yorkers who feel the same way. Unfortunately, after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, my sushi consumption dwindled. It wasn’t just the fact that I had to smuggle a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce with me into restaurants — I’ve been shameless about that. But sadly, it turned out that some seemingly innocuous ingredients in sushi were sometimes marinated in soy sauce, and that the fake crabmeat used in many maki rolls is made from wheat. Fortunately, Lilli and Loo has come to the rescue.

I’d first heard about the restaurant in the spring, when one of my favorite bloggers, Allergic Girl, hosted the first of her Worry-Free Dinners there. The first time I tried the restaurant, months later, I found that it offers great gluten-free lunch specials. The pan-Asian options run from Kung Pao chicken to Singapore noodles and Pad Thai, all of which are served with green salad (the non-noodle dishes come with white or brown rice, too). The specials are served Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm and cost $10.95 each.

Still, dinner is what really won me over. There’s a long list of gluten-free appetizers (including tender chicken satay with a sweetly spicy peanut sauce) and entrées… and then there are the sushi rolls. There aren’t a lot of options, but what is on offer is special, like the Tuna Lover’s mix of spicy and fresh tuna with pomegranate vinaigrette and avocado, or the Black Angel’s blend of rock shrimp tempura and spicy tuna with purple basil. LIlli and Loo also gets points for convenience — since you can dine in or get your order to go — and for food-allergy awareness.

I haven’t yet tried Lilli and Loo’s new sister restaurant — Lili’s 57 — but I’ve heard that its celiac-safe sushi offerings are more extensive. Gluten-intolerant New Yorkers, get your chopsticks ready.

Lilli and Loo [address] 792 Lexington Avenue (between 61st & 62nd streets), New York, NY 10021 [tel] 212-421-7800 [web] www.lilliandloo.com

Lili’s 57 [address] 200 West 57th Street (at Seventh Avenue), New York, NY 10019 [tel] 212-586-5333 [website] www.lilis57.com

Time for Turkey

It’s official: I’m traveling to Turkey this November. I’ve just started planning the trip, and all I have right now is a return ticket to Istanbul. I’ll be in Turkey for 12 days, and I’m still working on the itinerary. I know I want to spend the better part of a week in Istanbul and a couple of days in and around Ephesus; the rest of the time is still unaccounted for (I’m also thinking about visiting Cappadoccia, or taking a cruise to visit Troy — but with 12 days, not everything can fit into the plan). If you have already visited Turkey and have any recommendations for where to stay, what to see — and especially, where to get a good gluten-free meal — I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, let me tell you what I’ve discovered so far. Neither of my favorite translation sites, Google and BabelFish, offers Turkish-to-English translation at this time, so I’ve been using Babylon, which gets the gyst of things but seems to miss many words. The Celiac Association of Turkey (Colyakla Yasam Dernegi) has a website that is available only in Turkish. (I’ve e-mailed the association for advice, and I’ll let you know what I hear from them.) Fortunately, Celiac Travel, my favorite site for celiac translation cards, has one available in Turkish.

One great resource I’ve found is a website called the Turkey Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan. I’ve met Tom several times (we’re members of the same writers’ organizations), but it was a pleasant surprise to discover his well-written and comprehensive site. Not only does it cover what to see and do, but there are specific pages of interest to celiacs and the food-allergic: “Gluten Intolerance (Celiac) in Turkey,” “Food Allergies in Turkey,” and “Food Allergy Awareness in Turkey” (there’s also a section for vegetarians).

My Frommer’s colleague Lynn Levine, author of Frommer’s Turkey and Frommer’s Istanbul, also runs a website called Talking Turkey. There’s no celiac-specific information, but there are good overviews about Turkish food and drink, as well as pages devoted to regions of the country, museums, spas, and shopping.

I’ve started reading the Turkish Daily News, a 47-year-old English-language newspaper that can be read online. An article from February 2008 mentions Saf, an Istanbul restaurant where “all dishes are low in salt and fat, raw, organic, gluten free and vegan.” I can’t wait to try it. In the article, Saf’s address is listed as: Akatlar Mah. Cumhuriyet Cad. No:4/6 Club Sporium, Akatlar; the phone numbers listed are 0212 282 79 46 and 0212 282 72 91.

Toronto’s Great Gluten-Free Store

On recent trips to Toronto, I’ve discovered that gluten-free grocery-store choices have multiplied. There’s Whole Foods in Hazelton Lanes (though its Gluten-Free Bakehouse options are more limited than what I encounter in the chain’s New York branches). Grocery giant Loblaws now has a specialty-food aisle in its shops that includes celiac-safe options. There’s also Noah’s Natural Foods, a small, health-oriented local chain, and Ambrosia Natural Foods just north of Toronto in Thornhill. However, my favorite in the city — the Specialty Food Shop — is located downtown at the southeast corner of University Avenue and Gerrard Street.

If you know Toronto at all, that location might have sent up a red flag. Right now, you’re asking yourself, Isn’t that where the Hospital for Sick Children is? Yes, and that’s exactly where the Specialty Food Shop is. I know that going into a hospital to shop for food isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but if you can get past that obstacle, this is a real find. There are aisles filled with gluten-free treats — cookies of all descriptions, ice-cream cones, snack bars — as well as aisles filled with healthier fare, including pastas, cereals, breads, soup bases and mixes, baking products, and frozen dinners.

The Specialty Food Shop carries brands many North American celiacs know, including Glutino, Mi-Del, and Enjoy Life, but there are some surprises, too. Who knew that there’s a fantastic Swiss-style dedicated gluten-free bakery called El Peto in Ontario that makes divine butter tarts and pecan tarts? An Alberta company, Kinnikinnick, produces Oreo-like cookies called K-Toos. There are also international brands such as Australia’s Orgran (which makes buckwheat pasta) and Germany’s Glutano.

The store isn’t just for celiacs, and not all of its products are gluten-free. There are also groceries for the lactose-intolerant and the food-allergic, people on low-protein diets, and people with cystic fibrosis. If you live in Canada but can’t make it to the store in person, you can place your order online or by phone instead (shipping is not available to the U.S.). If you do have the opportunity to visit, enter the building through the Elizabeth Street entrance (the Hospital for Sick Children is a massive complex; this offers the clearest route to the store). The store is open seven days a week; check the website for the most up-to-date hours. Its website also features extensive nutritional information and gluten-free recipes.

The Specialty Food Shop [address] At the Hospital for Sick Children (main floor), 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada [tel] 1-800-737-7976 or 416-813-5294 [web] www.sickkids.on.ca/specialtyfoodshop

Roundup: North American Gluten-Free News

I love it when people tell me about their great gluten-free dining experiences. One reader, whose husband has celiac disease, contacted me about their dinner at Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo restaurant in Chicago. They were deeply impressed by the thoughtfulness of the staff. It was clear from the start of their meal, when the restaurant’s manager came to their table to talk, that the restaurant took gluten-free dining seriously. Because the chef was concerned about cross-contamination (apparently the chilies in some sauces were flash-fried in a deep fryer, and could have been exposed to gluten particles), the two gluten-free dishes that made their way to the table were variations of menu items. Topolobampo’s sommelier also did a fine job pairing wines with the special dishes. The reader wrote:

We travel and eat out extensively and have never come across this level of dedication and exemplary service. The manager kept apologizing that our meal was going to take a little longer than normal. It was unreal and did not break the bank either…

Another reader wrote to tell me about Leaf Cuisine, a Los Angeles restaurant that is virtually the only place where she will dine out (in addition to being gluten intolerant, she has allergies to casein and corn). Leaf Cuisine is a raw-food restaurant, meaning that none of the food is heated above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. All of the menu items are vegan and reasonably priced. The restaurant also sells some of its creations in local stores (including several Whole Foods outlets in Los Angeles) and offers courses in raw-food preparation.

One reader told me about a website created by her daughter. It’s a wonderful resource called Gluten-Free Ontario, and if you’re traveling anywhere in the province, take a look at it. The long list of cities represented includes Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Barrie, London, and Sault Sainte Marie. A lot of work has gone into the site, and the results will help many people make decisions about dining out.

Finally, I wanted to alert U.S. readers that a couple of medical centers are offering free screening for celiac disease. This past Saturday, the West Virginia Gluten Intolerance Group and the Department of Pediatrics at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University worked with the Cabell-Huntington Hospital to provide free blood screening (I wish I’d heard about it earlier, and I hope that they will repeat this event in future). The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center offers an annual day of free screening; the next one will be on October 18, 2008. That may sound like a long way off, but participants need to pre-register by calling [tel] 773-702-7593 after August 15, 2008. For a calendar of events of interest to the gluten-intolerant, including free blood screenings, check out the calendar at Gluten-Free Forum. For a list of the Gluten Intolerance Group’s branches and partner offices, click here.

Dining in Toronto’s Distillery District

One of Toronto’s newest attractions is actually one of its oldest: the buildings of the Distillery Historic District have stood since 1832, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the complex was reinvented as a historic center. This 45-building site was once the home of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, Canada’s largest distilling company in the 19th century. For much of the 20th century, the buildings sat in ruined splendor, put to use occasionally as a site for film shoots. More recently, the district was restored to its Victorian red-brick glory, and now it contains art galleries, shops, theaters, and restaurants.

I’ve written already about SOMA Chocolatemaker, a particularly delicious chocolate shop in the Distillery Historic District. Other notable spots include the Corkin Gallery, the Sandra Ainsley Gallery, the Deaf Culture Centre, Bergo Designs (cutting-edge housewares), Lileo (clothing for men, women, and children), and Corktown Designs (jewelry). And then there is Perigee.

When I think of places I’ve dined since being diagnosed with celiac disease, few have inspired such confidence as Perigee. This could be because the staff is incredibly well-versed in the gluten-free diet (and considerate of food allergies as well). I didn’t need to explain that not only wheat, barley, and rye were off my particular menu, but so are kamut, semolina, bulgur, and couscous (I have, on several occasions, had well-meaning waiters tell me that couscous is “like rice”; for some reason, it’s commonly mistaken for a gluten-free food). Another part of Perigee’s appeal is the glass-walled kitchen, which sits in the middle of the dining room, allowing diners to watch the chefs at work.

This is an expensive place to dine, but whenever I’ve splurged it’s been worth it. The cooking is classical French with a twist, since ingredients from South America and Asia spice up the plates, too. The restaurant offers several prix fixe menus: one for theater-goers (a great bet if you’re seeing Native Earth Performing Arts or Soulpepper that evening), one for vegetarians, and an extravagant nine-course omakase tasting menu, in which you advise the chef of your dietary issues and food preferences, and put yourself in his capable hands. Of course, you can order à la carte as well, which means you can enjoy grilled yellowfin tuna paired with Japanese diver scallops in a mild green curry sauce, or venison with a leek-and-fennel sauce (but minus the phyllo-wrapped greens that usually accompany it).

Perigee [address] Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada [tel] 416-364-1397 [web] www.perigeerestaurant.com

Roundup: Gluten-Free Dining Across America

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been in the news lately (May is Celiac Awareness Month, after all). I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find mainstream media coverage of the subject. ABC-7 in Chicago featured a story, “More Gluten-Free Restaurants in the Chicago Area,” that is still up on the channel’s website. The long list of restaurants, bakeries, and shops includes Adobo Grill, Vinci Restaurant, Swirlz Cupcakes, and Venus. It also includes a link to the Celiac Chicago blog.

The Boston Globe ran a series of articles about gluten intolerance, including “Gluten Free Dining Out.” This list includes Elephant Walk, Rendezvous, and Rocca, and is still available online (you may need to sign up to use the Boston Globe’s website, but registration is free).

Vanessa Maltin, the Director of Programming and Communications at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the author of Beyond Rice Cakes, e-mailed me after our interview to let me know about another restaurant she found in Florida. Vanessa wrote:

I went to dinner tonight in Jupiter, Florida, at Masa’s Sagami. It was incredible. It is a hibachi-style Japanese restaurant and the chef who cooked at our table was a dream come true. I brought my own bottle of Tamari sauce and he was so careful to make my food in a clean area of the cook top and even made me a special batch of fried rice that was gluten-free. He didn’t even flinch when I asked. He simply called for the kitchen to bring him fresh ingredients to cook mine with. it was awesome and made for a fabulous night out!
(Masa’s Sagami [address] 1200 Town Center Drive, Jupiter, FL 33458 [tel] 561-799-6266 [web] www.masassagami.com)

Vanessa also mentioned that the new Nationals Park in Washington D.C. has a Noah’s Pretzels with gluten-free pretzels and Redbridge, the celiac-safe beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you may want to take in a game if you find yourself in D.C. this summer.

One of my favorite bloggers, Allergic Girl, was featured in New York magazine (“Ask an Allergic”) with her tips for successful allergy-free dining. Also, my friend and Frommer’s colleague Bob Fisher, who has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and green peas, wrote an article called “Travel Health & Safety: 7 Food Allergy Tips” for Frommers.com. It ran a few months ago, but it’s still up on the site and it’s a piece everyone should read.