Category Archives: Restaurants

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

I’ve followed New Cascadia Traditional gluten-free bakery from their humble farmer’s market beginnings to their full-fledged and beautiful cafe space in Southeast Portland. I’ve always been a huge fan of their vegan chocolate cupcake, so much so I don’t allow myself to get it anymore.

Today I tried the margarita pizza for lunch, which was pretty good. It’s a thin crust, which is a nice contrast to the thick crust they serve at Picazzo’s. I got the vegan chocolate chip cookie too, which I think is actually better than the non-vegan variety. I’ll have to go back and verify that several more times, just to be sure (wink).

I also got a sourdough loaf to go. When I got it home, The Man picked it up, chuckled, and said, “Gluten-free, right?” because it weighs a ton. I think there is just no way to make a light and airy gluten-free sourdough loaf. If there is, I have yet to taste it. That being said, their sourdough is pretty darn tasty and makes an incredible grilled cheese when you slice it thin.

I’m super grateful to have such a fantastic gluten-free bakery in my extended neighborhood. I hope someday they decide to add deli sandwich options to their menu because that would be the ultimate for me. In the meantime, I’m happy to make my own grilled cheese at home:

Grilled brie on New Cascadia's gluten-free sourdough

Grilled brie-salami-mustard on New Cascadia's gluten-free sourdough

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Filed under gluten-free, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants

Occupational Hazards of Professional Eating

I thought Katherine Cole did a brilliant job with this piece in last week’s Oregonian. Before I started reviewing restaurants several years ago, one of my favorite reviewers told me she gets food poisoning at least twice a year. Mmmm!

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Filed under food, Glorious Food, Restaurants

Talk to Your Food

Interesting food weekend! Really, my favorite kind because I ate a lot of different stuff. I ate at Gold Coin (hole-in-the-wall Chinese), Park Kitchen (upscale Pacific Northwest), and Vita Cafe (downhome, heavily vegan). Now there’s variety for you!

I did some of this eating with my food-obsessed spouse, pal DL, and, S, DL’s friend visiting from LA (sorry for the alphabet soup). There’s not much in life I enjoy more than eating and talking about food with other food-crazy people. And, even better, S has a nut allergy! It was so awesome not being the only food freak at the table for once, though I did feel a little sorry for the server at Park Kitchen.

This roundabout relates to a realization I had this weekend that I need to think critically about food, and, well, pretty much everything else, too. It’s just not enough for me to say: “That was a good meal,” and leave it at that. No. I need to engage with my food. I need to converse with it: How did they make you, little cod fritter? Where, exactly, did this patacabra come from? Why are they calling this consomme when it is clearly not consomme? Call me crazy, but this is how I am made. I seriously do not get people who say “That was a good meal” and then go home and sleep.

Yes, this is the person with multiple food allergies. How did this happen to me?! I’m still baffled.

In other news, I’ve been trying to make sense of Twitter and Foodbuzz. Who would want to follow (“twit”) an obscure blogger? And why put ads on your blog for a few extra cents a month? Or maybe it’s more than a few extra cents? If you have the answers to these burning questions, I’d love to hear it. If you want to reply confidentially, e-mail me directly at mjennings26 at yahoo.

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Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants

Does the Gluten-free Portland News Ever Stop?

In case you missed it, Willamette Week ran a piece on New Cascadia Traditional GF bakery. You can read it here.

A few sweet years ago, yours truly had to quit writing restaurant reviews due to the celiac diagnosis. At that time, I pitched pieces to editors about GF dining around town and the response? Crickets. Now the local media can’t stop writing about it. Go figure.

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Filed under food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants

Gluten-Free Portland News Update

Dear Readers,

My apologies for the delay in correspondence. I have been on a much needed vacation in southern (read sunny) Oregon watching birds. I will post about those adventures very soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about the Gluten-Free Food Fair and Awareness Walk this Saturday, May 17, 2008 in northeast Portland. Details at Grain Damaged.

While you’re at Grain Damaged, check out the links to the four gluten-free pizza places in Portland. Wow! Sadly, I do know they use egg in the GF crust at Picazzo’s in Sellwood. Oh well. But it’s amazing they are even offering it. So I urge you to go get some TODAY.

I also love Grain Damaged’s new interactive map of GF restaurants in Portland and the article about how gluten-free menu items help boost restaurant revenues. I knew this would finally be proven to be true. It’s all about customer loyalty, people! I have spent lots of money at my favorite places that have no problem dealing with food allergies.

Thanks again so much for reading this blog and all your fab comments and suggestions. You’re the best!

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Filed under food, Food allergies, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants

Chocolate On My Mind

Chocolate, chocolate,
The whole day through.
Just an old sweet song,
Keeps chocolate on my mind.

Oh! Am I on? Is this microphone on?! I hate when I lapse into my Ray Charles impersonation accidentally.

I have had chocolate on my mind lately, mostly because I’ve been eating a fair amount, okay a lot, of it. I had the serious pleasure of feeling Food Normal in a downtown setting over the weekend for ten delicious minutes. It went like this:

  1. Go to the crazy chocolate store with The Man.
  2. Chat up the lady behind the counter about how I can’t have gluten, dairy, almonds, or eggs with my chocolate because, you know, everyone is as fascinated as I am by my new food allergies.
  3. Look utterly stunned as this lady says: “You know, we’ve been experimenting lately with hemp milk and we may still have some in the back. Would you like a hot chocolate made with hemp milk?”
  4. Barely manage something like: Is the Pope Catholic?

Let me see if I can describe the sensation of sitting in the shoppe (it’s that kind of place) window with The Man, watching the rain (the only weather we have here), and sipping the most amazing cup of hot chocolate ever: well, I can’t. The closest I can come is Ray Charles singing Chocolate, chocolate…

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Filed under food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Restaurants

Road Meals, Denver

I love road trips. I love not going to work every day. But eating on the road is difficult. In fact, I’d say it’s the biggest challenge of having food allergies. We drove for two days to get to Denver from Portland. To accomplish this, we brought along a cooler and some food we had made ahead of time like hummus, white bean dip, raw veggies, some raw crackers, and cans of tuna and olives. We also have an amazing thermos that keeps tea amazingly hot.

But when I’m out on the road, I want to eat. I want to explore. And I explore the world through my tongue. After a nice lunch of veggies and bean dip, I want a real dinner. I want to get out of the van. I want water served in a glass and a toilet.

On the journey to Denver, and it was a journey–they closed I-70 through Wyoming and we had to backtrack and reroute through Colorado–we ate at a decent Mexican place and a steakhouse for dinner. I find Mexican to be do-able if they serve something like pork adobada or carne asada. I have beans too. A steakhouse is also safe–steak and salad no dressing.

When we went sightseeing in Denver, we decided to lunch at the local health food store, Vitamin Cottage. Here’s what we had:

Denver Meal at Vitamin Cottage

This was the first time I had goat yogurt. Not bad! I’m convinced goat butter and goat milk are the most underutilized dairy products in cooking today. Man, they are fabulous! Tell me that goat butter on your baked sweet potato isn’t the best ever. But maybe I just haven’t had cow dairy in so long that I can’t remember. When I can eat sweets again, I am sooooo looking forward to trying goat butter chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I promise that recipe is on its way to this blog very soon. After I get my road trip documented.

Outside of Vitamin Cottage we spotted this clever Homelessometer for Denver’s Road Home organization. You can deposit money in it. The text on the face of the meter explains how your money helps the homeless. Portland needs some of these.

Denver Homeless Meter

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Filed under goat/sheep cheese, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Denver

Every December 26th, my sugar and I make reservations for a spendy dinner as our Christmas gift to each other. Typically, we’re travelling, so past December 26th dinners have included Campton Place (SFO), Olema Farm House, and Mister A’s (San Diego), to name a few. This year, we found ourselves in Denver, where my in-laws have recently moved.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Mile High City, I must confess. My first two picks, Fruition and Frasca (in Boulder) were closed on December 26th. A tad disappointed, I made reservations for door number 3, Restaurant Kevin Taylor at the Hotel Teatro. I figured it would be good, but there’s just something about a restaurant in a hotel. This is crazy-thinking because I used to work in a hotel in Union Square SFO with a kickass and very well known restaurant, but what can I say, I’m weird that way. Also, there was so much hype about the first two, and I still want to find out if it’s deserved. Maybe next road trip.

In any case, holy foie, RKT did not disappoint. Not only was everything incredibly delish, but ordering was like a dream come true because I only had to ask for one modification: 86 the “cinnamon donut” (wheat bomb) served alongside my foie gras, which, by the way, was the best FG I’ve ever had, daintily mounted atop a mandoline sliver of magical pineapple. For an entree I had seared Australian barramundi, a white freshwater fish that reminded me of something my dad would catch fishing when I was little (except that it tasted good and wasn’t fried Okie-style in cornmeal). Last, and maybe even my favorite course, the cheese plate. I selected a sheep’s cheese (cana de cabra from Spain) and two goat cheeses (pantaleo from Italy, and miticana from Spain). The pantaleo was semi-hard, grainy, and salty–pretty yummy. The miticana was downright spicy on the finish, which completely tripped me out and made me feel so lucky to try it. And the best, the cana de cabra, was a little miracle: grassy, buttery, and like a field on a beautiful spring day. I’m planning to look for it in P-town. Keep your fingers crossed.

Having done this December 26th thing for eight years now, I can tell you that some meals come together and some don’t. RKT really knocked it out of the park. Everything was perfect–food, service, atmosphere, but especially the food, which is always the most important thing. I would go back tomorrow if I could.

When I get all down about my food situation and its unfortunate restrictions, I can think about RKT and be happy again.

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Filed under goat/sheep cheese, Restaurants, Uncategorized

How Dare My Body

I’m not sure how my body can have the nerve to ask me to give up dairy. Get out the violins, but how dare it? Have I not given up ten years of my life to food allergy insanity? Have I not given up gluten, soy, and sulfites for the past three years? And for what? To now suffer joint pain, swollen, rashy hands, and an ongoing, albeit mild, rash all over my body? So that now I have to try giving up dairy for starters? No! No! No! It’s unfair. Un-fucking-fair. Because it wasn’t bad enough to have been struck down in my prime—when I had finally begun freelancing as a restaurant critic for one of the better weeklies in town, or that I was finally earning enough money to afford a steady diet of the city’s best bread, pate, cheese, and crème brulee. Forget that I had never been to France and now have no reason to go. What’s the point? Everyone knows you only go to France to eat. I can hear people speaking French on television or buy some Pimsleur CDs. And I just don’t want to be one of the Special People. One of the people you meet at parties that rattle off like a train schedule all the things they’re allergic to until you’re wondering if they’re making it up and living off tree bark and native snails. I recently overheard a list that went something like this: wheat, chocolate, eggs, corn, MSG, preservatives, caffeine, beef, sugar, alcohol, dairy, vinegars, citrus, fish, and most nuts. And don’t get her started on “cross-reactivity.” Hell, no, I won’t. In fact, she’d just had pine nuts that very morning and she’d had a migraine ever since. As she talked she had a maniacal gleam in her eye as if there were a part of her that enjoyed the shock value, the sacrifice, the glory. That is not what I want to be.

I want to be M.F.K. Fisher or Julia Child, enjoying all of Mother Nature’s bounty, in moderation, with intelligent, well-mannered friends discussing art, beauty, love, and philosophy whilst in warm and tastefully decorated environs. Preferably overlooking a lake. In Europe. Instead, I’m on this path to the convent of Our Lady of Food Sacrifice and Virtue, where I’ll be digging snails and cultivating the tree bark. But it won’t be a choice I’ve made myself, like a real nun. It will be this body-imposed prison-of-being that shackles me like some poor motherfucker on a chain gang. Even as I write this my knuckles swell and little blisters bubble to the surface. And didn’t I already go through this once, no, several times? Aren’t we done with this yet? What will there be left for me to eat?

And doesn’t the universe understand that I don’t want to lose weight? That I don’t want to take up less space in the world? And that you can’t maintain your weight on cabbage and Udo’s Oil Blend? I thought the Universe was all-knowing? What is my brain going to do without all this food? It’s going to shrivel up like bad fruit, neglected and left to rot. There won’t be anything feeding the damn thing. It’ll be like that pumpkin the neighbors left on their porch through November until it fell in on itself, its destroyed face and defeated, sad lump with one eye still peeking up at the sky like a melting wicked witch. Yes, that will be my brain. Not on drugs, and not on food.

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Filed under Candida, Cooking, Food allergies, Recipes, Restaurants, Uncategorized