Monday, August 22, 2011

Gluten free in Dallas, BJ's pizza

The wife and I drove down to Dallas to see a Chargers game yesterday.  We are already home and it has been a whirlwind.  But seriously, how could I turn down $5 tickets??  The stadium is as incredible as people say. 

We started off with a burger from In N Out and I am still drooling looking back.  Please pray they come to Wichita. 

For lunch today we had BJ's pizza, which is all over the place.  I have eaten there with my family in Chula Vista, California and I believe they have one in Kansas City too. 

It was above average pizza and when dipped in Marinara sauce, even better.

The best part of the meal was the pazookie.  It is a gluten free cookie that is wonderfully undercooked.  It is then topped with ice cream! YUM!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gluten free in Salina and Goodland, KS...sorta

Who doesn’t love being spoiled?  On our most recent vacation, we were spoiled.  Sadly vacations end and you have to go back to real life.   On our way home from Colorado we stopped off at two places.  Now, I don’t like to throw around the phrase disaster very often but our meals were…um…lacking.

Crazy R’s Bar and Gril, Goodland KS.
I had read somewhere online that Crazy R’s offered gluten free food.  It was a tiny little review and it was all I had within a hundred miles so we tried it out.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  Also the waitress was a bit sassy.  We ended up ordered burgers and putting them in our fresh bread we just purchased in Colorado Springs.  The Burgers were good but I wish we could’ve found something near Goodland, Kansas with more options for a Celiac.   If you know anything near Colby or Goodland, please respond with a comment.   

The Tilipia was better than the chicken.
Spot #2-  Martinelli’s Italian Restaurant, Salina KS.
Yep, that chicken is plain...
Salina is larger than Goodland and we had some hope that maybe this one might turn out okay.  We looked online and found that Martinelli’s has a gluten free menu.  Yay.  Already better.  It turned out to be a disappointment.  My wife’s chicken was dry and was basically just plain.  The broccoli that accompanied it was also without any seasoning.  Seriously?  You are an Italian restaurant and you don’t even add garlic?   I had the Tilapia and it was okay.  There was some sort of seasoning on it but it wasn’t much until I improvised with some lemon, Parmesan cheese and pepper.   My veggies also were without any seasoning.  Fail. 

Normally, I don’t really bad-mouth a place without talking to them about it.  So I talked to the manager.  He was embarrassed and apologetic.   He said they are working on the menu and when I return it would be absolutely better.  If you go, let me know what you think?  Have they improved it?

The manager was kind and even gave me a gift certificate for the next time.  The question  I have is should I risk it when I found a Hog Wild Barbeque in Salina on my way home?  We will have to see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sad thymes: Wild Thyme Cafe is closing today at 4pm!

I just saw the post on their facebook.  I'm quite sad that we didn't get the chance to go there more often. 
What a sad development.  Below is the post:
"It saddens me to announce the closing of Wild Thyme Cafe, Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 4 PM. They say location, location and it's true. Our little restaurant is just too small to and too far off the high traffic area to produce enough income to keep going. I have a fantastic staff of people who loved Wild Thyme as much as I did and gave so much to the success of the restaurant in quality of food and service. This was a new concept and I think the people who did frequent us appreciated our food as much as we appreciated them as customers. Anyone holding unusedgift certificates please call me at 305-1396 all gift certificates will be redeemed. Also all upcoming catering events will be completed. It was a great 9 months working in the Maize, my home for many years."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Gluten free Vacation: Vietnamese Garden, Colorado Springs, SO AMAZING!

Yummy Potato fritter...
Oh, what a bittersweet day.  I am writing this while leaning back on the front porch of our cabin in glorious Woodland Park, CO.  Watching the miraculous sunset over Pike’s Peak and rubbing my very full belly, I am grateful for God’s creation.  Our car is jam packed with gluten free bread products from “Outside the Breadbox” and I just put away the best meal I’ve had in months.  But we leave early tomorrow morning to go back to the hot, hot heat in Wichita.  The gluten free beer has relaxed me a bit.   There is a bite in the wind I wont get in Wichita until the cool winds of fall.
            How I got Ashley to try out a place called “Vietnamese Garden” is beyond me.  Maybe it was the several 5 star reviews on gluten free registry.  Maybe it was the fact that she checked the menu online just to see if she could “handle” it.  It doesn’t matter now, because we went and we gorged.  I wonder if the sweet Indian waitress snickered in the kitchen at how much we ate? In the end my notoriously un-adventurous wife held her own when it came to eating well.
            First off I started with a gluten free beer called New Grist, which was light and smooth.  It was crisp and refreshing.  As my wife and I talked through the meal with the waitress, she gave us several solicited options.  We found ourselves stuck between the spring rolls you make yourself, the egg rolls and the carrot sweet-potato plate.  Realizing it was our last meal in Colorado before we go back to pleading truck stop chefs for something that wont get us sick, we decided to have it all.  Yes, all three. 
            The egg rolls came first.  They had all kinds of succulent meat in them, spiced well with a bunch of other safe foods that allowed my wife to enjoy something “exotic.”  I forgot how much I miss truly great egg rolls.  I like these much better than the Chinese egg rolls, which usually have some sort of cabbage.  The temperature was very hot but it was not spicy.  They had a sweet, slightly spicy sauce, which we dipped them in, cautiously at first and then we started dunking them like Oreos in milk. (I miss those)  By the time they brought out our next course, all six egg rolls were missing and our cup of sauce was half full.  I don’t like spicy but the kick in the sauce was minimal and didn’t stick with you. 
            Next we enjoyed the fried carrot and sweet potato plate.   As with the egg rolls, they suggested we add sprouts, mint and basil before wrapping in lettuce.  Like the mountains I am presently enjoying, I felt like this was another type of blessing.  Oh to experience something so divine at every meal.  The crunch of the lettuce combined with the crunch of the fried potatoes with the sweet spicy sauce was transcendent. 
            Finally the chef herself came out and taught us how to make our main course.  She had a plate of rice noodles covered in chicken, pork, shrimp and beef.  All of them were seasoned to perfection.  Amidst the meat there was also shallots, green onions and some sort of GF fried onion reminiscent of French’s fried onions.  We put these all into our rice paper with the same greenery from before and wrapped it tight.  When we got it right it reminded me of biting into a great hot dog.  When the casing was perfect it was beyond enjoyable. 
She said "Why take a picture of my ugly face with such pretty food?"
            Another thunderstorm announced itself as I sat there with my wife soaking in the last minutes of our vacation.  We watched the light trickle turn to pouring as we finished our incredible, buttery, not too sweet, mung-bean cake.  I was a little sad.  Few people were there on a Friday night.  That was the kind of place people should fight lightning to get to.  (Fight Lightning should be the name of a cheesy Christian band.)  I really hope that when I return one day it will still be there bustling with customers.  The fact is I just ate a meal that 4 people probably could have eaten.  Usually when I eat enough food to feed the entire Chargers starting offense I get so stuffed that I become sick.  On the drive home my wife and I remarked at how we didn’t feel gross.  We were stuffed but felt comfortable, which is good for a guy who just ate his weight in yummy goodness. 

Hopefully someone will google gluten free in Colorado Springs and stumble across my blog.  Dear reader, please make sure you support this place.  Vietnamese Garden HAS TO stay in business. 
            For my regular readers, I hope you enjoyed my blogging while on vacation.  Maybe it will inspire you to do the same on your next vacation.  See you in Wichita! 

As Homer Simpson would say, “Sometimes it’s not that hard being a food cricket.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pizza Time: Gluten free pizza, burgers and sandwiches in Colorado Springs, CO

Today I am sitting in front of our cabin with a feeling of whimsy.  Thunder is echoing in the background, foretelling the rain en route.  Birds are warning each other of my presence and the wind is slowly picking up through the sweet scented pine trees.   It has been raining all week long and yet I find solace in the fact that my friends in Wichita experienced a High of 112 yesterday while ours was 60.  When I want to complain about the washed out roads I remember todays forecast for Wichita is 106 and ours in Woodland Park is 75.  Yeah, I can deal with some rain. 

Amazing burger!
            Anyways, a short 45 minute trip to Colorado Springs yielded yummy gluten free results once again, although not how I expected.  We went to a family owned restaurant called Pizza Time.  We were lured down the mountain with a promise of gluten free pizza, sandwiches and more.   It was worth the trip.  First my daughter and I shared a 12” pizza with only cheese on it for about $11, A deal for a GF pizza.  It was good.  I still prefer Waldo Pizza in Kansas City and Borelli’s pizza in San Diego but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  The crust was a little too crispy and it really was nothing to write home about, although, aren’t I doing that right now?  It was good not great, but good is better than good, when gluten free.  Read that sentence again if you were confused.  It will eventually make sense.  
Pretty Okay pizza.
            As for what my wife got.  It was amazing.  They had a special for a gluten free burger and chips for 6.99. Cheese was fifty cents extra.  That burger was to die for!   So amazing!  My wife only let me have one bite and then she scarfed it down before I could ask for bite numero dos.  Oh well.  If I had to go back I would try the Philly Cheesesteak.  That sounded enticing as well.  The pizza gets three stars but the burger got five.  If you’re within an hour of this place, I would check it out. 
            My wife felt bad that my pizza was only so-so.  She took us another 15 minutes out of our way for Pinkberry frozen yogurt.   They don’t have those in Kansas but they should.  It is off the charts amazing.  Sweet, tart and smooth.  I love Pinkberry. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gluten free Vacation: Biaggi's Italian food, Colorado Springs

For our fancy date the wife and I left the bunny with grandma at the cabin and we ventured into the city sans baby.  (Already a great break!)  We had read positive  reviews of Biaggi’s and were excited to try them out. 
All this was for one person!
            The menu was two pages full of gluten free options.  We were also stoked to learn it was $10 pasta Tuesday.  Score!  We ended up getting gluten free bread before our meal, which was hot and resembled pizza crust.  Crispy, garlic-y and steaming we devoured it.  I managed to get a picture of a piece before it was all gone. 
Big O' menu
Last few bites of garlic bread
            For the main course we shared two entrees.  The potato crusted Tilapia was surrounded by an assortment of fresh vegetables and some sort of cream sauce.  We enjoyed most of it.  It was well prepared although the tilapia itself was only passable.  Some tilapia, usually the cheaper kind, has a sort of “trashy” quality and every few bites we got a little of that taste.  Kinda spoiled it for us.  However, since it was well prepared, there was none left at the end of the meal. 
            The second dish was an alfredo dish.  Prepared with some sort of green thicker pasta, it was garlic-y, buttery and was accompanied by peas, bacon, onions and some other things I quickly forget.  The picture we got of the two entrees was after we split it.  Obviously these were super large portions.   If we were better behaved, four people could have shared our meal.  If you don’t mind dropping about $35+ dollars on two people, Biaggi’s is a great date night and just a great meal.  There are several throughout the United States and I hope they decide to build one closer to Wichita!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Best Gluten free Bakery Ever! Outside of the Bread box, Colorado Springs

 After our first visit to a gluten free bakery in Denver I wasn’t quite as jazzed about going to another.   However, the wife and I were in Colorado Springs for dinner and we were a bit early.   

So we tried out the “find me gluten free” app to see what we would find.  The bakery was nearby so we dropped by.  (That rhymes and you know it)  The outside was unassuming and we prepared ourselves to be underwhelmed again.  When the door opened a smell danced right up to our noses like in the old Bugs Bunny Cartoons.  Soon we found ourselves floating. 
They had several samples out and the gentleman working there was kind and helpful.  We mentioned my blog, which he had never heard of and he started giving us additional samples.  (Yes, I know I am a celebrity.)  We tried cheese crackers that tasted just like Cheese-its.  We had cinnamon graham crackers.  We had soft spongy gluten free, egg free, vegan oat bread.  How in the world do they make that taste good?  I have no idea. They also had loaves and products that had air bubbles or came out smaller with reduced prices.  Some were up to 70 percent off! 
Free samples??? Don't mind if I do.
Yes, we are pigs, deal with it!
            From the cookies, to the tantalizing teff bread, to the super soft hot dog buns, we were sold.  We ended up venturing back a few days later before we left Colorado Springs.  The prices were incredible for such quality.  They even had teff, gluten free flour tortillas.  They have products available at “Food For Thought” in Wichita but they have to mark them up so much based on shipping and overhead.   These prices were some of the best I have experienced anywhere.  

If you are within an hour of Colorado Springs and you have to eat gluten free, this place needs to be at the top of your list. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gluten free Vacation: Manitou Springs, CO: Coquette's Creperie

The first time we went to Coquette’s, we were famished and the smell wafting through the building made my eyes roll up like I was in some kind of zombie movie.  We consumed the food with such ferocity that our pretty picture opportunity had expired but our stomachs didn’t really mind much. 
       The first time we shared a few different crepes and found ourselves consuming them like competition.   The “Coquette” was our favorite.  It had Swiss cheese, eggs, mushrooms, some other cheesy sauce and black forest ham.  We also had a Farmer John with goat cheese, chicken and other goodness.  Both were served with garlic potatoes, which left us desiring a mint but not regretting our choice one bit.  After dinner we had a bananas fosters crepe.  The caramel, crepe, cream and bananas were bliss.  The food was consumed like a last meal. 
We felt bad that we didn’t get quality pictures for you, my loyal readers so we went back later in the week.  (It’s all about you, not our gluttony, people.)  We got a couple more coquettes for the 3 of us and my daughter got her own kids crepe.  We also shared a blueberry blintz at the end.  It had home made blueberry preserves mixed with ricotta cheese and was served piping hot with whipped cream on top.   I absolutely loved it.   The other ladies preferred the bananas foster.  The ricotta kinda weirded them out, whilst I thought the juxtaposition was perfect.  Then again I have enjoyed avocado shakes in the past. 
             If you are near Colorado Springs, you have no choice but to eat here.  It’s not cheap, so save.  We spend about $38 for 3 and ½ of us.  If you have people with you who can eat gluten, they won’t care.   They will fight you for the last bite.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Gluten Free Vacation: Denver, Deby's grocery store/bakery

While in Denver we stopped over at Deby’s gluten free grocery store and bakery.   They had a large assortment of flours and bakery products although it is smaller than a convenience store.   I was intrigued by much of what they had.  They had a fridge with products as well as a freezer.  The lady in charge told me they put things in the fridge that they would sell that day but I have always been told things get harder and drier when in the fridge.  Those things happened to be as such. 
      The selection was good, the prices were expensive like all gluten free stuff and the people were very helpful.  I had a Oatmeal spice cookie which was soft and sweet. 
We also bought three egg, cheese and bacon sandwiches for 6.95.  (Not a bad price for 3.)  We had them for breakfast the next morning and I must say they were very good.  The egg, bacon and cheese rested between a soft biscuit which was not crumbly at all.  Microwaved they tasted fresh.  If you are nearby they are worth picking up.   She said the most popular thing they sold was her burritos.  They were 5 bucks apiece so we decided not to indulge.
            It was a good experience and worth checking out if you are in the area.