Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Better Burger and Gluten-Free

*CLOSED FOR BUSINESS 2012*  
 
After a rather innocuous and mostly positive post about Better Burger, Celiac Guy voiced some serious concerns about cross-contamination.

I sent Better Burger an email through their website and was contacted by Stephanie regarding Celiac Guy's concerns and specific comment.

Stephanie is the Director of Operations at Better Burger AND she’s a nutritionist so she really knows her stuff from a restaurant perspective and a health perspective. Regarding in-service training about food allergies and cross-contamination, all new hires are trained in a program that Stephanie helped to create and every staff member, old or new, receives this training at least once a year. The training stresses that when serving someone with allergies lives are in the servers' hands. Clearly, Stephanie and her team realize the seriousness of food allergies. Great work.

Stephanie’s initial reply to my email expressing Celiac Guy’s concerns was as follows:

1. Regarding the fries and veggie burgers: the veggie burgers are sometimes heated in the same oven, but not on the same tray.

2. We have ingredient lists for most of our food items in the restaurant, just ask a manager to see one (also, always double check to make sure we have not made substitutions and/or changed brands) i.e. check to see that it is the most up to date manual.

3. If you or your readers with allergies have food related questions, you should ask to speak with a manager to place your order. While our counter staff are provided with general information about our food, they do not receive extensive training on allergies.

Stephanie offered to meet over lunch to get the full scoop on all things Better Burger and food allergies.

We met at the Chelsea outpost of Josie’s fast food burger extension. I arrived early and wanted to see if this ingredient list actually existed and was easily accessible. I asked the young man behind the counter if he could tell me the ingredients of the hotdogs. This beautiful binder was produced with every ingredient listed for everything they serve and calorie/fat/sodium etc count. Yay.

I learned a few extra interesting tidbits. Many of the organic products they serve are name brand items you’d recognize and applaud: Yves Hot Dogs, Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen, Eden Foods, Applegate Farms and Soya Kaas. More yay. [PS Their condiments, including the wasabi sauce, have no High Fructose Corn Syrup-the only sugar I saw was organic cane juice. Double yay.]

In direct response to Celiac Guy’s specific concerns, Stephanie delineated how the burgers and fries are cooked-I even had a look at the kitchen to see the process:

-All red meat [beef, buffalo, ostrich] are cooked on one grill.

-All fowl patties, chicken and turkey, are cooked on different grill.

-Veggie burgers are made in-house are cooked in a separate pan. They may be reheated in the same oven as the fries but always on a separate tray, on a separate oven rack. Never together.

I was satisfied that Better Burger has made a commitment to organic and natural foods and that their food allergen training is satisfactory. But on the consumer end, because I believe that having a yummy allergen-free meal is also our responsibility, how can we, the wary allergic consumer, ensure that we have an allergen-friendly, gluten-free meal at Better Burger?

-Speak with a manager upon entering. Get to know them by name. If you like your meal, go back and ask for the manager, establish a relationship.

-Read the ingredient manual. Look for and identify any potential pitfalls.

-Ask if any product substitutions have been made.

-Alert the manager of any over and above needs in a clear manner. For example, if you’d like your cook to wear fresh gloves or cook your burger in a separate, clean pan, now is the time to tell them.

-Enjoy your meal!

I had a burger and fries for lunch, no issues and all was yummy. I hope to be back soon. Thank you Stephanie and Better Burger!

Monday, July 30, 2007

No Reservations

The last movie I saw this weekend…

Even though I suggested that we go to this film, it was with serious reservations [no pun intended]. I saw Mostly Martha when it came out a few years back and loved it. Take one beautiful Chef/perfectionist, whose obsession with food and her work has left her alone and isolated, add in the death of her sister and the inheritance of her niece, it all equals a touching crack in Martha's lonely life, enough to let in a good man and a sweet child to love her.

Frankly, I wasn’t looking for a Hollywood version to replace my German rhapsody. But again, my desire for a sweet, happy ending, chick flick meant this movie suddenly rose to the top of my short list of must-sees.

For the first two thirds of the movie, I was almost impressed by how closely this thoroughly Hollywood-ized version stayed to the original. That and how impossibly beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones, almost as much when I first saw her in The Darling Buds of May in the early 90s.

After that, it was all downhill, fast, into a icky montage of gooey love scenes on a bicycle build for three. Really. The last third dissolved into a sugary-mass of Hollywood propaganda. I saw it with a packed audience of eager Upper West Siders who seemed to enjoy it. My movie date and I were less amused.

If you love food, and chefs, and indie/Euro flicks, rent Mostly Martha. I promise, it's worth it.

The Simpsons Movie

More movies…

I’m not a Simpsons watcher. I could never get through an entire episode but a friend suggested this for a laugh, and I thought, "Yeah, sure, why not. Afterall, I am a Futurama fan".(Don’t ask.) I needed funny this weekend and Simpsons delivered.

The beloved anti-hero Homer does a seriously stupid and very anti-environmental thing [don’t dump Spider Pig’s waste into the town lake boys and girls] which almost obliterates the town of Springfield as well as his family. [Many of the beloved side-characters were there but in only small supporting cast roles as my movie date mentioned forlornly but which I barely registered]. Don't worry, it's all okay in the end.

Equally fascinating, to me at least, was the make-up of the packed audience on Friday night: adults, kids, babies, kids, teens-everyone was there. They clapped, they laughed, they sighed and they stayed through the end credits, which I recommend-there are some cute bits at the very, very end.

We sat next to a father and son duo, both still in work clothes: blue shirts, black pants, dress shoes and blackberries in tow. These two men typified the cross-generational impact of the 14-year franchise. I overheard the father, who was sitting next to me and maybe in his late 40s, talking to the screen when he saw his favorite characters, cheering them on. It was kind of adorable. His kid, a young man in his 20s, was right there with him.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hairspray

I went on a movie jag this weekend. I wanted to see only fun, uplifting, goofy and/or mindless films.

I got what I paid for.

I remember seeing the original Hairspray with Divine and Ricki Lake back in the day and thinking it was, well, horrible. John Waters playing it straight? It didn’t play well. I didn’t see the Broadway show, even though it got raves. And wasn’t intending on seeing the film but Thursday rolled around and some friends suggested going so along I went.

As I’m sure you’ve heard or read or seen on Oprah, John Travolta plays a woman, not a man in drag. He was fascinating to watch: a tour de force of feminine mannerisms, body postures, and voice inflections. Think about Tootsie, played not for laughs but for heartstrings.

It’s not Grease, I didn’t leave humming the tunes but it was sweet all the same.

I left feeling like it was time to go out dancing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cosmetic Allergies

It’s been months since I’ve gone into a spa for a spot of pampering so I treated myself to a facial last weekend at Bliss Spa here in NYC.

I'm always wary when starting with a new person, i.e. anyone using unfamiliar product on my head/hair, toes, hands, face-anywhere basically. I tend to do a lot of homework before I go to a spa treatment and ask lots of questions once I get there. I thoroughly inspect the bottle, the cream, the mask, the oil, the anything that’s going to come into contact with this Allergic Girl. [By the by, did you know there's a Safe Cosmetics Act in Califormia!]

I’ve caught a few mistakes before they’ve happened - sweet almond oil is in everything! And beware: macadamia nut oil was the new darling of industry a few years back. It’s a MAIN ingredient in Sabon body scrubs.

[And in many lip balms. Several prior BFs have slathered on lip balm pre-smooch believing it was nut-free. When I've requested they re-read the label to be sure, 9 times out of 10, it contained either almond oil, shea nut butter or the dreaded macadamia nut oil. I've literally had to ask BFs to wash their mouths out with soap. Sigh.]

Some reactions are a complete surprise: e.g. nothing looked ominous on the label until my scalp started to burn. Of course, any allergic reaction is especially frustrating when you're treating yourself to something nice. It’s seriously no fun to go into a facial and come out with hives. Or kiss your loved one and have a sneezing fit because of their favorite scent.

However, my Bliss facial was relaxing and allergen-free because of Cornelia. She's from Romania and before she came to America, she believed allergies and migraines were made up. Really. That was until she had her son, who at 9 months developed severe allergies to everything. So, she truly understood when I requested no nut or fish oil products, nothing heavily scented, and asked to see the bottles of product she’d be using.

Then she told me a brief story about her husband trying on a cologne he had received for his birthday, kissing his son, and his son’s face swelling up like a balloon. Yes, facial edema from his father’s cologne! Poor little guy.

So what do you do when the allergic person in question is not you but a recipient of your loving touch?

What if it’s your child that has the allergy and any time you hug them whilst wearing you’re favorite perfume they break out in hives?

What to do if you want to wear a little makeup and still kiss/hug/touch your highly allergic child, friend, partner, spouse?

This question came from a reader and I thought perhaps you all would have some thoughts for her:

“My son's the one with the peanut/nut/sesame allergy -- he's three … for three years I've avoided most bath and body products other than California Baby, and all cosmetics, because I'm terrified of causing a reaction in my son."

"Still, as I try to emerge from the cave of stay-at-home motherhood, in an effort to take on some part-time work, I find myself wanting to look halfway awake and presentable, and I'm wondering if you rely on any particular brand of, say, lipstick.”

Thoughts/suggestions? We’d love to hear them!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mario Batali and Gluten-Free

After an hour long conversation with General Manager Chris and Chef Dan of Otto Enoteca Pizzeria a few weeks back, a gaggle of gluten-free bloggers descended upon Mario Batali's pizza and pasta haven, Otto. We thoroughly enjoyed a gluten-free pasta dinner, easy conversation, and some bloggy gossip. The "we" was Catherine from Gluten-free Guide, Kelly from Celiac Chicks, and Jennifer from Jennifer Ate.

It was truly wonderful meeting these very accomplished women whom I’ve read and admired on the blogsphere for so long. It was an added bonus eating with people who needed no explanation for phrases like: “I can’t have this; I’m allergic to that; I need that on the side; no sorry, thanks but I can’t share your dish.” I think we all felt a sense of comfort and relief dining together.

Now to the dinner: Ms. Guide gives an accurate and excellent run-down of the dishes we all had with pictures and an overall review. I won’t duplicate the effort here. I will say that as a former Otto regular, pre-gluten-free days, I had no doubt that management would be anxious to rectify a previous unfortunate dining experience. I was not disappointed.

Chris served us personally, I believe, to get a sense of concerns so he could better inform his staff about serving special needs patrons. He explained and suggested items on the menu with a food allergy/intolerant eye: “This has dairy. Is that okay for you? We can make it without the dairy?” Also, he checked in with the table often, quite helpful when a diner has special requests.

As Ms. Guide mentioned, my dish was an off-menu item. I’ve always coveted the off-menu items. As an allergic diner, it was a rare opportunity for me to get something “special” that I could eat. I was super excited. My pasta dish, made with Tinkyada this time [all of us had Tinkyada and no one had stomach issues the next day] was especially good. The sauce reminded me of a Bolognese though much lighter and more delicate than your standard Italian meat sauce. It was made with house-cured pork, natch. I’ve only had pork one other time since returning to the universe of meat and I’d go back to Otto anytime for that dish.

Which raises another interesting point about this particular dinner: It’s been over two years since I’ve gone into a restaurant and ordered pasta. [ Jennifer brought up this point as well]. Going out for pasta ceased when I eliminated gluten from my diet. Even in NYC, which has so much to offer for everyone [special needs or not], what mainstream, non-GF specific resto, is serving GF pasta? Many times, I can create a GF dining experience in a mainstream resto by ordering plain steak or chicken and steamed veggies. But I can’t have steak every night, hardly. Unless I go to one of the few known GF-friendly restos in the city [which aren’t necessarily allergen-friendly] pasta is simply not on my menu or my mind. Until now.

Another highlight for me was that Chris sat down with us after the meal to debrief about our experience, and the GF and food allergy community’s needs. This was my not-so-secret wish when I spoke with Chris and Dan: that special needs diners [whether celiac, allergic, diabetic, kosher-any special need] and management would have an open exchange of needs, questions, concerns, likes and dislikes. Communication is key. And on Thursday, for a brief moment our square table became a round-table discussion between resto and diner.

Perhaps more resto groups like Batali’s will take notice. Otto’s adoption of GF pasta could be the first step for many restos to recognize that special needs diners are the loyal of the loyal: once we find a place that caters to our needs, and is yummy, we’ll be back for years to come. And we bring friends!

OTTO
One Fifth Avenue
NYC, NY 10003
T 212 995-9559
http://www.ottopizzeria.com/

PS: Please check out Celiac Chick's gracious post about our dinner and Jennifer Ate's roundup.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blogger Questions and Presidential Debates

Cynthia Samuels at Revolution Health sent this blogger opportunity to me for all of YOU!

You still have time TODAY to get those cameras and questions and USB plugs going! Ok, ok, I have no idea how those videos get onto YouTube; but I bet you know- go for it!

From Cynthia:

"How many times have you watched a political debate and thought “I could ask better questions than that!” You can. In this summer’s two CNN and YouTube presidential primary debates – one Republican and one Democratic, the questions won’t come from conventional journalists – they’ll come from you! Get your issues into the conversation – either by submitting questions to YouTube or following up on CNN.com with comments and questions."

"Here’s how: A selection of video questions submitted to YouTube will be “rolled in” as the questions put to the candidates during the debate. For the Democratic debate, any 30 second question submitted at YouTube BEFORE THE END OF JULY 22nd [TODAY!!] has a chance to be chosen. You can submit questions for the first debate up to and including this Sunday July 22nd at youtube/debates."

WHO: CNN, YouTube and the presidential candidates

WHAT: Democratic and Republican Presidential primary debates on CNN

WHEN: Democrats on Monday July 23rd from 7 to 9 pm EDT

Republicans on Monday September 17th from 7 – 9 pm EDT

WHY: To bring Americans into the political process at a new level

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter

This isn’t necessarily Allergic Girl related or even allergy related, but Harry-he’s almost here or already here if you were one of the lucky ones that received the book early as a few hundred people in the US did.

Including the NYT reviewer.

Here’s her book review -there are no specific spoilers, don’t worry. But there was backlash from Ms. Rowling about it, even though it very carefully sidesteps any hard data about who gets it.

Ah well.

I’m still quite excited for tomorrow’s delivery and will be going into radio and TV and blog and news outlet silence whilst I read and discover the ending for myself. What a glorious way to spend the weekend: ravenously reading.

UPDATE: Well, it's done, it's over. I finished the book in a marathon of reading Saturday and I'm elated to know how it ends but sad that's it's over. For those of you about to dig in, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

NYC Food News

-From Eater, Provence is already having firings, as in bye-bye Chef Lynn. It’s such a pretty room, I hope they regroup fast; I’d hate to see all of that hard work and effort and vision shutter so quickly.

-A gaggle of GF gals are having dinner at Otto TONIGHT as a result of this post. Stay tuned.

-I had a sit down with my new favorite Chef Michael Lomonaco of Porter House. Interview coming later this month, stay tuned.

Grand Central Blast

My city, my fair city. And in my 'hood. Sigh. Now there are reports of asbestos flying around. This Allergic Girl is staying inside today. Well, not really, but let's say no jaunts to The Gap on 42nd Street and Third Avenue.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Food Allergy News

-Can you say “Baker’s Asthma” or “Mushroom Worker’s Lung”? Food industry related food allergies are a hazard to the people who make many of our favorite things! This is a disturbing food allergy study that Bureka Boy sent to me for all of you.

-Gina from Allergymoms alerted me to this study that was released back in April 2007 about food allergies and restaurants. There is a shocking lack of a basic understanding of allergies. For any of you who eat out and have food allergies, this study won’t be so surprising.

- Allergy Free Passport is sponsoring a study to combat exactly this kind of misunderstanding. You can participate in their multiple studies here. If the previous study weren’t proof enough that more information is needed for the hospitality industry, Kim had this to say about why they are sponsoring this study: “After talking with over 5000 people worldwide there is very minimal empirical data available to help drive businesses to realize that catering to guests with food allergies, celiac and special diets is big business…We felt that after 5 years of our research on eating out that it needed to be surveyed and information captured.” Bravo Kim!

- Gluten-Free By The Bay did her Karina recipe round-up. What a loving tribute to newly Allergic Girl Karina. Check out the wonderful recipes from around the blogsphere.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter

Did you see it yet?

I went last Friday with a cheering, sighing, laughing, exuberant crowd of adults, kids, teens, and two dear girlfriends who were similarly entranced. We couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards, that and what we think will happen in the last book, of course.

A mini- review: this was a darker, more adult film. Gadgets and tricks were at a minimum, no Quidditch either. They cut a lot out that had been fully indulged in the book. Or only a passing reference was made to subplots and backstory in order to stay with the one strong emotional through line that was repeated again and again. This is not necessarily a fault, just the opposite; I think it was a shrewd move on the part of the HP team to focus.

We asked ourselves how does a filmmaking team make a fifth movie with foreshadowing without knowing how it all ends? The movie indicates a lot of what will happen in Book Six but does it indicate more than that?

We don’t know-how delicious!

I’ll know all Saturday because I, like millions of others, succumbed to the hype and pre-paid and pre-ordered the last book. And now you know what I’ll be doing all weekend. Reading and eating; eating then reading [an Allergic Girl has to keep up her strength during a marathon reading-fest], napping; reading and then reading some more.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Revolution Health and Oprah

Did you see the recent ep of Oprah where she featured Steve Case and Miraval, in Arizona? It looked great: both active and restful; a work out for the both body and a spirit; a complete retreat. Who wouldn’t love that, sign me up!

Oprah and Steve Case have formalized that relationship to a working partnership and have produced an Oprah woman’s conference. Truth be told, the feminist in me loves women centered activities. And this, although taking place at the end of hurricane season, sounds like a lot of fun.

My contact at Revolution Health, Cynthia, let me know about this special offer so I could pass it on to you:

“Revolution Health has joined forces with O, the Oprah Magazine as a sponsor of the O You! Conference on September 29 in Miami. To celebrate, Revolution Health is offering visitors to http://www.revolutionhealth.com/oprah/ a chance to win one of five trips for two to the conference in Miami.”

“The contest won’t be announced in the press until Monday but I want to give you and your readers a preview today. The O You! conference is expected to draw several thousand women and will feature speakers including financial expert Suze Orman, exercise physiologist Bob Greene, life coach Martha Beck, heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, and others. Revolution Health, which is led by AOL founder Steve Case, is an official title sponsor of the event.”

“Entering the sweepstakes is easy. From the “O Guide” home page at http://www.revolutionhealth.com/oprah/, visitors can click on the contest form and sign up to enter. Each visitor is eligible to enter once per day. The first sweepstakes closes on July 21 and we’ve got four more after that.”

I happen to love Miami Beach, so I’ll be doing a lot of clicking. Good luck to you all!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Allergic Girl and imoovie

If you haven’t already noticed, I often leave the safety of my allergen-free home and venture out, many times to catch a flick. Because I live in New York City, I have access to independent films, foreign films, and international film festivals. Although a few theaters that show primarily independent films have closed over the years, [so long Thalia 80], many have opened: the Landmark Sunshine is a favorite.

What can one do without access to an art house or independent film theater? imoovie. and Allergic Girl to the rescue!

Background: I was contacted a few weeks ago by a fellow New Yorker, Mike Brown. He has a site geared toward the independent film lover and the indie filmmaker: imoovie. Pursuant to a convo about a mutual love of indie film, this Allergic Girl will be teaming up with imoovie.com to expose you to the world of indie films and to introduce you to up-and-coming filmmakers. [Where indicated, info and copy provided by imoovie.com]

Translation: I’ll watch an indie movie, provided by imoovie, and give you my review. If it sounds good or like something you’d like as well, the movies are available at imoovie.com for purchase so your living room can become the art house theater of your dreams!

Some info about imoovie: “imoovie was founded to provide distribution for independent films and is committed to pursuing new and innovative approaches for distribution of independent films.” A great and much needed innovation; if you’ve ever had a filmmaker friend [or in my case a family member who’s a film producer], you know how tough it is to get into the distribution and the film festival circuit.

More from Mike: “Not withstanding quality, we understand that the majority of independent films will not realize a theatrical release or be picked up by a mainstream distributor. This should not doom a film to financial failure. Our mission is to turn a project of passion into a financial success. Filmmakers make the film and Imoovie.com does the rest. Lovers of independent films can now go to one site to obtain information on independent film releases, film festivals, screenings and all things independent film.”

So Allergic Girl will now feature a once monthly imoovie corner. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Better Burger

*CLOSED FOR BUSINESS 2012*

Went to an excellent art opening last night at Tamarind showcasing my new favorite contemporary artist Mahjabin Mahjumdar. A Bengali beauty, she produces large canvases filled with her face as the backdrop to color, texture and the interplay between nature, animals, dream and past-life imagery. Frida Kahlo seemed to be an influence.

Afterwards, we went for a casual diner at Better Burger . At the last food show I attended, the Brandt boys said they were privately supplying meat for the chain but soon it would be labeled as such. And lo, last night the classic burger said “Brandt Beef”.

I had a well-done burger, no bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle and BB’s baked fries which are too good. And since no deep fryer, no cross-contamination to worry about. It was still greasy, in that yummy burger way, and very filling for a humid summer night. Truthfully, all I wanted was a salad so I was overly full. Maybe next time I’ll try a turkey dog and salad, that is if they’ll show me the package with the ingredients.

In sum: I wouldn’t go every night, cos it’s still a burger with fries but for an organic/natural/no fried treat every now and then, yeah, I'll be there.

Various Locations
http://www.betterburgernyc.com/home.html

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Three Oddly Fancy Items

I’m sure there are more but these three caught my eye.

- Nip N Tang -fruited horseradish sauces. I overheard the rep saying he couldn’t quite stand by the blueberry version but apricot was his favorite. Uh, ok.


- A rose water drink, sort of. Lovely packaging, but the product, well, imagine drinking what a rose smells like. Plus sugar. It’s a nice idea but it seems more gimmick than substance. Rose-tini anyone? Rose-pagne? Rose-sour?

-Drinkable gazpacho anyone? No? How about a carrot bisque with chicken stock slurpee? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a low-salt, vegan, veggie juice alternative to V-8, but I don’t think Go Appetit is quite there yet.

Gluten Free at the Fancy Food Show

Both organic and gluten-free were in abundance at the Fancy Food Really Big Shew. Exciting! I saw some old friends and met some new ones. Roll tape:

-I met the Cherrybrook Kitchen folks. A GF pancake mix is rolling out into markets now but they’d love to hear suggestions from the GF community. I suggested less sugar or at least healthier sugars, whether agave or maple or honey based in the GF products. If you have thoughts, let me know or email them!


-I also met Eric from the Glutino/Gluten-Free pantry group and asked them about their nut-free-ness. This comes up frequently for me with gluten-free companies: they're strict about gluten free but nuts or other allergens simply aren’t their focus thus they can make no guarantees. I understand but Gluten-Free Pantry’s products are just so good, I want them to be certified nut-free as well. Eric and I will have a conversation about this post fair and I’ll keep you updated.

-These three beaded guys were having a party in their booth, so I had to stop in and check them out. Of course, they handed me the one flavor of lollipop that I wouldn’t want: mango, I’m a bit allergic to the real stuff. But then I received a pomegranate one and all was well. I know you’ve seen these guys and these pops: they’re organic, gluten free, corn syrup free and all yummy. In fact their company is called yummy earth. Insider scoop: butterscotch and root beer flavors are on the way. Woo hoo!


-The Edward and Sons folks were there and they have a much bigger line of GF products than what’s represented at Fairway or WF. I’m a major rice cracker fan but there’s so much more, very exciting.

- Remember the croissant the Ms. Guide delighted in? Well, I met the I Can Eat It folks yesterday. And yup, I ate it! A flaky, VERY butter-y, crescent roll. I had another one with eggs this morning, see the layers? Impressive feat of gluten-free baking. I love these folks and these products and can’t wait to see more of them around.

Harry Potter

It's coming. I'm seeing it Friday. I so can't wait. Seriously. And yes, I pre-ordered the book. Two weekends from now you'll know what I'll be doing: devouring the last book. Can't wait, can't wait, can not wait!

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Fancy Food Show

More food show from yesterday.

-I met Beth Nielsen, third generation of the Nielsen-Massey family- only the purveyor of the best vanilla extract. Aside from being delicious and organic for the last 11 years, the product is gluten-free. Love that. PS: did you know that almond extract isn’t actually almond? It’s made from the “oil of bitter almond” which in Nielsen-Massey’s case is actually peach pit. Now this I did not know.


- King Arthur Flours had a great booth highlighting their new relationship with Jacques Torres in what else but chocolate goodies. I asked the rep if they had considered getting into the gluten-free market [I know odd question for a flour company but you never know]. And to my surprise he said they had been “thinking about it", as in thinking but no research and development yet. He mentioned that by show time next year they may have some initial offerings. Interesting.

-Stacey and I had a chat about her gourmet [from Israel] jams; organic and without sugar. I tried a yummy fig, cinnamon-y good. Did you know that Quince is grown locally in Israel? I didn’t.

-Here’s a new offering from Junior’s. Not anything I could try but it looked so outrageous I needed to take a pic: red-velvet cheesecake. Yes the red velvet is the cheesecake. Crazy!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fancy Food Show

This is my first Fancy Food Show ; I see now why there’s so much excitement surrounding it. Imagine a convention center, the biggest one you’ve ever been to, filled with food vendors from around the world.

Talk about foodgasm.

I only did a morning stint today. It was so overwhelming, even though I have a very specific focus: natural, organic, and allergen-free or allergen-friendly, of course. [If say my focus were ham, I would have been overwhelmed too. Tons of ham!]

To that end I hit the natural and organic pavilion [yes, they had their own pavilion] first and made lots of new foodie friends:

-I met Chris, quite a jolly fellow, who proudly showed off his line of organic spirits [organic grains used to make the stuff]. I didn’t have a taste as it was only 10am; a bit early for this Allergic Girl.



-I had a long chat with the sales rep, the guy in the hat, from the Republica del Cacao, an Ecuadorian confection manufacturer. Forty years in the hard candy and cheap chocolate biz, this high-end premium chocolate has been two years in the making. Regarding nuts [chocolate and nuts are a common marriage and thus not tops on my list of goodies], this chocolate [which comes in three different percentages of cacao from three different regions] is processed in a facility that also processes peanuts. In the same building that is, but on different machines, separate lines; just in the same building. Peanuts are the only nuts used. The sales rep pointed out that other nuts aren’t native to Ecuador and thus aren’t around.


-Speaking of chocolate I also met Debra from Theo Chocolate , a Seattle chocolate company. They process their own beans, from roasting to product and they produce vegan and soy free choco bars-Yippee! In terms of other allergens, they make one product with gluten [a bread chocolate bar] and one chocolate filled confection with peanut butter. But those are it. So again depending on your level of sensitivity and comfort, they assured me that their vegan and soy-free products are made on essentially GF and nut-free lines.

-I had a nice chat with Rich from my favorite ginger beer company, Reeds. Have you ever had their soda? It simply excellent ginger-y soda goodness [without corn syrup and other bad stuff]. I’m told, next time you’re at a Marriott and you order a dark and stormy, you’ll be drinking Reed’s ginger beer.

More tomorrow!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Three Friday Nibbles

-So many of the chefs with whom I’ve consulted love the allergy card. Springwise features a new card for travelers with translations!

-From the BBC, peanut allergy article. a Potential good news for you peanut allergic folks.

-Funny localvore challenge from the UK [via Ethicurean ].

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Butter

I made my own butter, once. Well, I made the attempt. It was for a tea party in the back garden of my house in England. I had made banana bread and apricot jam and as I had seen fresh butter made very simply on a BBC cooking show, I thought it would top off this homemade extravaganza with style.

The recipe [I found a US version just now] called for milk, a wooden clothespin, and a jar. The process: add milk and clothespin to jar, close and shake until whipped butter begins to collect on the wood. For some reason, I thought they had said you could use skim milk, so I did that. No surprise [well not now] it never came together. After the party I figured it out it was whipping cream that was needed. Sigh. No homemade butter.

Flash-forward many years later, my dream of homemade butter still lingers and my memory of my butter-disaster still festers. The NYT has come to the rescue with an article about homemade butter. The recipe is a bit more complex as it calls for more equipment but basically the concept is the same: whip whipping cream past the whipped point onto the butter point.

Now if I only ate bread.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fireworks

I’ll be spending the holiday in a garden, picnicking, and watching the fireworks overhead.

Hope you're doing something equally fun filled- have a great holiday!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cooking for Karina

One of us, a gluten-free blogger, has just found out she’s also a highly allergic girl. GF blogger Ms. Bay has railed round to create a bloggy food fest to supply the Goddess with some Karina-specific allergen-free recipes.

Knowing the she’s-allergic-to-everything-what-can-she-eat territory well, I found myself on the other side of the allergic equation: what to make for a friend who has a long list of allergies?

My first response was a slight sinking feeling: what did I have in my arsenal to suit? The second response was a quick mental inventory of go-tos, each of which were shot down: no chicken, no dairy, no peanut butter, and pasta’s too simple. What to offer?

Then, I remembered this simple burger salad. I had created a variation of this for my ex-boyfriend and we both loved it.

So please enjoy this Allergic Girl to newly-diagnosed Allergic Girl Variation on Burger Salad [adapted from Rachel Ray's lamb burger salad ]

1 bulb fennel trimmed sliced thin
1 pound organic grass fed beef or your favorite chopped high quality meat
1/4 red onion, finely sliced [to taste, i love raw red onion in salad]
Salt and pepper
1 heart romaine lettuce, chopped
1 head radicchio, sliced thinly
1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil [or any favorite vinaigrette]

Make your favorite yummy burger recipe. Create small burger balls and flatten them into 3-inch meat patties. Grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

Combine lettuces in a shallow bowl with sliced onion, fennel and oranges sections. Dress with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, to your taste. Top portions of salad with 3 mini meat patties and serve.