Food Allergy Counseling

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pineapples On The Bay, Newport, RI

Our lovely local guides, the talented duo of Larry and Shelley suggested we go to Pineapples On The Bay the outdoor café grill of the Hyatt Hotel on Goat Island. We went on our second day in Newport.

Elise was our server, lucky me, because Elise is studying to be a nutritionist. When I told her about my allergies, she had the outdoor grill kitchen go through all kinds of hoops: new pans, new gloves without my even asking. Yay, great job!

Still, I had the simplest thing on the menu: a burger:



Sadly, it was a tasteless, tough, and overcooked. But it arrived no bun, with a plain side salad and was cooked just for me, on the grill in a clean pan! So all was allergen-free! For me. This is where Kunjali had the steamers that made her sick. Sigh.

The view is really the star at Pineapples as it overlooks the bay. That day there was either a regatta or a sailing class or both, so the water was filled with bright billowing sails. This made the lunch worthwhile.

Can I recommend Pineapples for lunch? Not really. Without Elise as your server, I don’t know how an allergic diner would fare. But for a drink with a view? Definitely, this local hang was a great suggestion.

Pineapples on the Bay
Hyatt Regency Newport
1 Goat Island,
Newport, Rhode Island, USA 02840
Tel: +1 401 851 1234 Fax: +1 401 851 3201

Brick Alley Pub, Newport RI

On our first day, after telling cutie Brad behind the desk at our hotel about my allergy-free needs, he suggested Brick Alley Pub.

A homey, woody, crowded pub with a huge menu, I was wondering how this would ever work; huge menu usually spells VERY busy kitchen with alot of food pre-prepared, pre-cooked. At the bottom of the encyclopedia menu, there was a note: "Please tell your server if you have allergies". Aha. A glimmer of light.

I spoke with manager Tom, who assured me getting something allergy-friendly wouldn’t be an issue. "No problem," he said.

No problem usually spells problems.

After scouring the huge menu, all I came up with to eat was some steamed broccoli with melted cheese. [I ate more cheese this weekend than in the last three months].



It was delivered by our waitress with a flourish: "Here’s your allergen-free lunch!" she announced. She seemed proud of it. I was starved and bit deflated that this was the best they could come up with.

No problem indeed. But no great shakes either.


Brick Alley Pub

140 Thames Street
Newport RI 02840
401-849-6334
info@brickalley.com

Newport, RI and a Food Caveat

I like to eat well: clean tasting food prepared simply with fresh natural flavors.

My expectation is that a restaurant that values its patrons and the quality of its cuisine will be able to serve me allergen-friendly food that is yummy. I don’t think that is too much to ask and very often that is exactly what I get: great food that’s allergen-free.

So here’s the thing: in charming Newport all of the places we went to took care of my allergy-needs. PS: I used the allergy card, and I think that helped! I didn’t get sick, no tummy issues, no hives: nada. That is a feat and is super great. Yay Newport!

My disappointment was in that I didn’t eat very well. Overall, I found the current collective Newport palate menu overly complicated with strange pairings of fruit and herbs with meats and dishes oddly overly sauced. As I said in a previous post this Allergic Girl couldn’t get a plate of plainly roasted meat with clean vegs. I couldn’t even get a plain baked potato with steamed veggies, anywhere!? [another one of my old standbys as most American restaurants have baked potatoes and veggies somewhere in the back].

So what follows are some places where I ate allergen-free [again yay!] but my food was okay not great.

PS My dining companions had a similar feeling about the flavors of Newport cuisine but had more enjoyable meals.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Newport, RI and Friends

What's food without great company?

This weekend trip to Newport, RI was a mother daughter extravaganza where the great company surpassed the food. My mother and I were joined by another mother daughter duo: Pallavi and Kunjali. Kunjali is a former Allergic Girl. She had a childhood filled with LOTS of food allergies and asthma most of which she has outgrown, lucky girl. However, this meant that both mother and daughter, having lived through, and traveled through, years of medicines and hospital visits and big allergic scares TOTALLY got the whole allergic sitch. These ladies were not merely understanding and completely gracious in their approach of where we should dine together but went so far as to say: “You pick the restaurants that work for you, we’ll make do anywhere.”

This was an unexpected and welcome attitude. I’d like to express a very public thank you to both Pallavi and Kunjali for their flexibility, graciousness, and good humor. Their outlook lightened my load.

What’s my load? Having food allergies, frankly, is a pain in the ass. And the feelings, frustrations, worries, anxieties and panic that surround going to a new restaurant when you’re in a place far away from home are all heightened. And exhausting. Add to that mix eating out with new friends?! You certainly don’t want to land in the hospital when dining with someone new. Or old. Or by yourself. Or with anyone really. [Ironically, Kunjali had an allergic reaction to a steamer on Saturday which knocked her out for the afternoon and evening. She was a trooper and went to dinner Saturday night and ate lightly but was still unwell. By Sunday, she had recovered and was back on track for house tour fun. But it was ironic as she hadn't had an allergic response to seafood in years and here she was being so accommodating to my allergies when she had the reaction! Glad you're better, Kunjali!]

Of course, I tried to pick places that would please everyone. We all had done research through different sources and the same restaurants kept coming up again and again. So those were the places I investigated, looked at their menus online, and spoke with staff ahead of time. And where we went eventually.

Unfortunately [or fortunately depending on your taste of course] every menu we looked at was going through a Caribbean moment. I was told twice that many of the cooks are Jamaican and thus their influence is felt in the kitchen. I don’t know if that is true but I do know that getting a piece of chicken without a mango-pineapple glaze in a blood orange-tarragon-mint reduction sauce was near impossible at any restaurant we explored.

So I had a tricky time getting something “plain” which is my standby. The only thing I could find to order plain were burgers. I had a burger a day, sometimes two. Ugh. But it was the only safe option.

Lucky for me this town isn’t so small that there wasn’t a Stop and Shop or two nearby.

Upon arrival, I did my usual, which was check out the local supermarket for backup snacks: cut carrots, apples, bananas, canned beans, pre-washed salads. These goodies saved me. The first night I actually had dinner in my room with snacks I had brought from home. And each morning I had homemade granola for bfast. Our room had a fridge in it; another saving grace for an allergic person.

Food reviews coming up....

Newport, RI and Allergic Girl

Some general impressions: Newport is a charming hamlet: every inch of it is adorable; narrow streets are lined by darling houses; there's a salty breeze in the air; cars let each other pass with a wave; and the topper for this New York City Allergic Girl, people leave their front doors open. Why? Just 'cause. It's summer, it's hot, and they're neighborly.

New local friends Larry and Shelley [NYC transplants, natch] took us on an excellent mini-walking tour of their 'hood, called The Point. They told us that as Newport hasn’t experienced a major fire, like most American cities, many of its original structures still stand. Every second or third house we passed was protected and preserved by one of the three historical societies. Many of those sweet colonial cottages have plaques saying something like, "Colonel Mustard 1770". Larry and Shelley's office is housed in a converted school from the time of President Lincoln. So cool.

Then there are the major houses, the summer cottages used for only six weeks of the year by the great Robber Barons of the Gilded Age. We visited Marble House, pet project of Alva Vanderbilt. Here's her Chinese pagoda.

Rough Point, the Duke family estate and last occupied by the infamous Doris Duke. And The Breakers.

And not to mention, the great natural beauty: the ocean, the cliffs; greenery and flora. Oh joy.




However, in some cities you can’t have it all and in Newport great food was just not in the cards for me. But eating relatively allergen-free was.

More in a tic...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Top Eight Random Facts Meme

My first meme-thanks for the tag Ms. Guide AND Ms. Bay

Here are the rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

Eight totally random facts:

1. Yentl is one of my favorite movies: that “Papa can you hear me?” kills me every time.

2. I wake up everyday around 7am, naturally, no alarm. Usually well rested and ready to spring into my day! Crazy, I know.

3. If I could have a dog [which I can't; I'm allergic], I’d like it to be Gromit.

4. Autumn is my favorite season. Tart apples, cinnamon, pumpkin pie [minus the crust]; red and gold trees; the air crisp and fine; my birthday [which I celebrate for the whole month]: these are a few of my favorite things.

5. I haven’t met a fast enough roller coaster.

6. Last year, in a yoga class, I did a one handed handstand.

7. I love the sea. The air is fresher, the weather is better and there's sea glass: glass smoothed down to a gemstone.

8. And for my final totally random factoid: I’m a Star Trek fan. Old Trek, yes. New Trek-even better. Yup, I find it soothing. Here’s an imagined earth where there’s no money nor poverty nor disease; people can pursue exploration solely for pleasure. And no allergies or asthma. Ok, let the teasing commence.


I tag:
Love Me Gluten Free
One Frugal Foodie
Peanut Free
Allergic Diner
Food Allergy Queen

Just Back

I’m back, still in one piece, no major allergic reaction and I had a great time! So much to write about this exceptionally charming New England town that all I have time for right now is to upload this picture. And compile my thoughts and post ASAP!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Traveling With Allergies

I received an encouraging email the other day from a regular reader, Dave, who asked if I’m always as upbeat about allergies and asthma and dealing with them as my blog portrays. I replied, yes basically this blog reflects who I am most of the time.

However.

Traveling, leaving the safety of my apartment, my neighborhood, my city-that’s when I get a little panicky. Still. I’ve talked about that a few times on this blog. Even when I’ve traveled to familiar places like the Hamptons, I’m nervous about it.

But I go. I force myself to go. And to enjoy! Yes, I have to remind myself to do that sometimes.

After years of giving in to my fears about traveling, as an adult, I force myself to make the effort. So for this trip I’ve already gotten a few tips from some of you out there. I’ve checked out the possible yoga spots. I have my dog eared copy of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I did some homework on restaurant using this handy online site, Tablehound.com; it has a nut-free search option-super cool. The hotel is dog-free. I've packed trip snacks. My meds are up to date. I’m good to go.

Yay, summer weekend trip!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gluten-Free BBQ

Summers and BBQs are practically synonymous. We don’t BBQ here much in NYC, no lawns or yards really. Sure, there are events in public parks like the now annual BBQ fest hosted by Danny Meyer. Occasionally, an ambitious friend breaks out the hibachi on their tiny terrace, or illegally grills on their tar beach. If you’re lucky, you may get invited to a BBQ in Brooklyn where they do have back yards, albeit small and paved over. If you’re super duper lucky, you may be invited to a green place like Long Island or Westchester for some outdoor fun.

Or, if you’re like me, your cousin invited you to Stamford, CT for a birthday celebration. My cousin, he’s so smart, he had the BBQ catered so it was hands-free for the parents and more fun for everyone. For me it meant a quick chat with the cook/caterer.

Things looked up when I asked her if she could make my burger without a bun, thinking she might steam/grill the bread like White Castle, which she didn't end up doing.

“Do you have celiac?” she asked. Wow, a caterer in Connecticut who’s aware of celiac. Impressive.

“No I don’t. I’m gluten intolerant, gives me tummy trouble and I can’t have any.”

“No problem,” she assured me.

I had two patties right off the grill [bypassing the bun platter entirely], with undressed salad, onions, corn on the cob and all was yum.

Maybe it’s because I keep it simple: no condiments, no dessert, no overly processed foods like hot dogs that it’s pretty straightforward to be allergen-free away from home. I know it’s not like that for other allergic folks: Allergic Diner wasn’t so lucky at her husband’s BBQ; Gluten-free Guide fared much better at her BBQ.

For the most part, if I keep it simple, I'm okay. The real test for me comes when traveling farther a field.

I’m heading to Newport, RI this weekend. These coastal towns love their seafood which equals a major issue for me. I get spooked even ordering salad when I know it’s a fish/shellfish fest in a hectic kitchen. So stay tuned for the trip-prep plan a la Mrs. Zum.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summertime

It’s all come to a grinding halt: work and blogging. At least it feels like it has. Summer has officially interfered: we’re in the dog days, although quite cool of late, and everyone has left their desks. Even Lisa Belkin of the NYT couldn’t help but remark upon it.

My dearest friends and eating companions have all taken vacations to fantastic places: Cape Cod, San Francisco, Aspen, Istanbul, Taipei, Sydney, and Paris. Lucky them. I was in Stamford, CT yesterday for a BBQ, does that count?

I've visited some new old favorites restos, namely Noah's Ark, Otto, and Better Burger. All came through with happy, allergen-free flying colors.

But new restaurants and new products have gone untried, hence little news on the allergy-free restaurants front. I don’t think I’ve been out somewhere new in weeks!

How's your summer going?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Becoming Jane

Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for this movie, but I looooved it, really loved it. I went with two of my best girls and the three of us were practically swooning in our seats. I found that surprising; I was prepared to be a little disappointed. See, I’m a HUGE Jane Austen book fan, and I've loved the BBC productions of Austen. I was reserving my excitement for the PBS Austen series that’s starting next year. But Becoming Jane was just so much fun I couldn't help but get swept up in the romance of it all.

It’s as if the movie’s writers wrote down situations, character flaws, and telling dialogue from Pride and Prejudice [and a little Sense and Sensibility] on slips of paper, placed them in a bowl, swished them around, plucked them out, assigned them to a character in the movie and then shot. Lines are literally lifted from P&P and placed in “real" characters mouths. Funny. I saw a bit of Wickham, Mrs. Bennett, Lydia all over the place. And then of course at the end of the movie she writes P&P, based on the (fictional, sigh) love affair with the dashing Mr. Darcy, I mean Tom Lefroy, played by the very sexy James McAvoy.

Becoming Jane is a seriously fun girlie. Grab your tissues and your best gal pals and be ready for some swooning!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Chef and Food Bloggers

Did you watch Top Chef last night?

New York’s own Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz was featured on last night’s ep. Well, there was a two second shot of her eating and then parts of her reviews were read by Padma. One big step for blogger-kind I say. However, it seems the original guest blogger list was longer. Here's the fullish scoop.

Bruni, Eater, Grub Street, Amuse Biatch, and even Anthony Bourdain weighed in. Ok really EVERYONE has weighed in.

My oh my, this is some serious pressure cooker being on a reality TV show about cooking in a country [or at least NYC, can't speak for Chicago or Miami or LA or anywhere else] obsessed with cooking, celebrity, “reality”, and sweaty, baldish, bearish men.

Such catty fun!

Why I Write About Stuff Other Than Food

This is a foodie blog, yes. And I’m an allergic girl, yes, yes.

But if you’re new here, or just curious, you might wonder why posts about food and allergies and restaurants sometimes take a backseat to a mini-review about a good movie or provoking play or a fun trip.

If had you a childhood similar to mine health-wise, or if you're raising children with allergies now, you know that sometimes, often times, you can’t do the thing that everyone else is doing: pony rides, petting zoos, hay rides, playing tag in tall grass, or eating whatever an adult puts in front of you however well intentioned they are.

I spent a childhood reading books about the wonderful adventures everyone else was having with their trusted dog or wolf or dolphin. As a child, I lived a life of the mind.

However, after this childhood of staying in, my adulthood’s been about going out, trying new things, challenging myself, pushing my boundaries and expanding my perceived abilities. Part of living a full-life in spite of some sniggly restrictions is challenging myself on a daily basis. Of course there are days when I feel like a homebody, where I don’t feel like pushing myself to try something new. So I hunker down with a good book or a DVR’d show. But mostly, when I’m feeling healthy I get out there and do something fun, try something new.

Please Don’t Pass The Nuts is a testament to going out despite being afraid of getting allergic to something; leaving my safe zone to try something new despite the risk that I may get sick. So the movie reviews, the cocktail parties, the plays, the adventures are all about yes, I left my house, and I didn’t get allergic, yippee!

I hope that these non-food posts are helpful, even encouraging to those of you who struggle with the same issues. I hope that you derive some comfort knowing that I feel the same way, have the same fears and worries about going out but that leaving the house, having some trust is also important and necessary and very often works out okay!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Breaking Back by James Blake

What happens when a professional athlete has a near-paralyzing accident, contracts zoster, and loses a beloved parent to cancer? James Blake, a professional tennis player currently ranked ninth in the world describes his Annus Horribilis in 2004 and how he literally bounced back in his book Breaking Back.

At 11, Blake met his current coach Brian who taught him not merely to uncover the weaknesses in his game but the weaknesses in his thinking about the game. In the late 90s, he was a student at Harvard playing [and winning] college tennis when he turned pro in 1999. Blake had a few good years on the tour until his frightening accident in Rome in 2004. After the accident, illness, and his father's death he came out fighting to rank in the top ten worldwide. Whew, what a story and it's only just begun.

Blake explains the title “breaking back”: “If you lose the serve, you’ve been ‘broken,’ and unless you can break back by winning a game on your opponent’s serve, and regain equal footing, then it’s impossible to win the set. One of the most telling marks of your character on the court is whether or not you can break back, because you need to pull it off when your confidence is down and your opponent’s is up.” Blake's title is apt, the entire book is a tribute to the act of breaking back, of fighting to stay in the game of life not merely with confidence, but with grace.

A tennis-playing ex-BF once told me that tennis is more of mental game than anything else. As I’ve watched it over the years I’m compelled to agree. Unlike other sports, soccer, football, or basketball, tennis is not a team sport; it's played solo, one player against another. There's no coaching allowed once the game is in play; no huddle, no headphones, no gatorade bucket at the end. A player must solve their problems solo.

Watch tennis for more than a few minutes, really watch and you can see a player become intimidated, lose confidence, lose hope just as easily as you can see a player get revved up and psyched up. What other game do you see the full range of emotions on a players face as part of the game; hear their rebel yells, grunts, curses and cries as they push their bodies past the breaking point?

James talks freely about his mental game, about how “…your relationship with the ball is your relationship with life…[r]ight after talent, health and conditioning, confidence is about the most important thing a tennis player can posses.” A well of personal confidence for Blake is his father. Blake Sr., who looms large and ever present in Breaking Back, was a strong believer in the healing power of hard work. One of his personal mottos was: “You can’t control your talent but you can control your level of effort.” It reminds me of a saying I'd heard about perfectionism: “Don’t strive for perfection; strive for excellence.” Blake's father’s years of unwavering support, love, and discipline and Blake's strong support system sustained him through a year of wondering what if he never played again due to his neck injury. It also allowed him to move forward, not to wallow in self-pity, doubt or mourning for his losses but to focus on his gains.

Breaking Back might not be groundbreaking non-fiction sports lit; however the lessons are sound: work hard, don’t be hard on yourself; life demands discipline not desperation; you can’t control your level of talent but can control your level of effort; hold on to your friends with both hands; don’t worry about winning, just get better.

You can watch James Blake play in a few weeks during the US Open. Perhaps during a rain delay they will rerun one of his greatest matches with Andre Agassi in 2005.

Monday, August 13, 2007

2 Days in Paris

Julie Delpy, probably best known for acting and co-writing Before Sunrise and it's lovely "sequel" Before Sunset has finally directed her own feature which opened this weekend. It's a funny, human look how relationships can alter when scrutinized under the bright lights of the home playing field.

Despite the many comparisons to Monsieur Woody, the movie’s loose plot reminded me more of My Wife Is An Actress. [If you haven’t seen that one yet, you must]. It’s also French film, written, directed and starring a real-life husband-wife team, expertly realized by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Yvan Attal. [Julie Delpy’s mixture of life and art included casting her parents, her cat, and her ex-BF.] Both couples are half Jewish, half not; both men are highly suspicious of their love’s imagined extra-marital doings; and both take place in a less-romanticized film-version of Paris.

Both My Wife is an Actress and 2 Days in Paris also explore the pressures of relationships, gender roles, and modern love: men feel emasculated by successful, beautiful, accomplished women; and women who want to balance success and independence and remain feminine. None of us have figured it out very well yet; at some point, we’ve all fallen into the stereotypes we never imagined we would [read: our parents]. It’s fertile territory for a 30-something filmmaker: valid, contemporary, true.

Go see it, support an independent, funny, feminine voice.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Friends

I want to give a shout out to some new bloggy friends:

Alisa of Go Dairy Free has started a sub-site, One Frugal Foodie. I can't wait to see what she cooks up.

Speaking of cooking, Diet Enlightened has a recipe search engine especially geared for those of us with special requests, like no dairy, no nuts, no seeds, etc. Check it out and add your favorite dish!

Celiac Handbook has some great resources nationally and they'd love your GF input!

My buddy Jim is hosting New Jersey Greendrinks August 30th in Hoboken. If you're in the 'hood come join in the green fun [and see the town where Sinatra was born]!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

PLEASE DON'T PASS THE NUTS is 1 year old TODAY!

What a year it has been.

You may not know this, but my idea for this blog started as an experiment, a Ghandi thing: “Be the change you want to see in the world".

I didn't see much out there about how adults with allergies and asthma were dealing with life, especially how they were eating out and where they were going for great food that was allergen-friendly.

So I created this space:

I’ve reviewed restos like Brasserie and Otto Enotecca Pizzeria that have been able to take care of my needs successfully and deliciously so that you know you can enjoy these chefs and managers and servers who really care about feeding people safely and graciously.

I’ve interviewed chefs like Mark Zeitouni and Michael Lomonaco who really get it: how to feed everyone, whether you can eat anything or you have a limited/restricted diet.

I’ve gone to food shows like the SOBE Food Fest to see what’s new and coming up for the growing allergy community and am so heartened to see more and more foods being created for us!

I’ve posted about my cultural and travel escapades because to me that’s part of the whole asthma/allergies-aren’t-going-to-stop-me thing: you gotta leave the house, good stuff happens out there.

And I’ve found so many of you, or you’ve found me, that daily I smile and shake my head in absolute amazement and thankfulness for this community building we’re doing together: sharing recipes, encouragement, support, restaurants reviews, awareness, traveling stories, product reviews, health information, drug trials, laughter and understanding.


Thank you all for reading-I've got big plans for year 2, stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

State of Mind

Indie favorite Lili Taylor in a Lifetime one-hour dramedy? Yes, it's true.

I know, I know but a girl’s got to make a living. Even Parker Posey’s landed a TV show, produced/written by the Gilmore Girls’ team, coming this fall. [I sat next to the GG hubby/wife team whilst they were interviewing production staff - it’s a funny NYC story].

You remember Lili: her voice is still barely above a whisper and her eyes smile even when she’s shooting Andy Warhol-she’s very Lili and I enjoy her work.

And I like this show. Despite myself. Perhaps because it’s about a therapy practice, written by the therapist slash writer slash now co-creator Amy Bloom. Or maybe it’s because the first ep I saw had a romantic encounter between Lili and the grown and sexy Courtney Vance [where has he been all these years?]

I’ll DVR it and see how it unfolds. Have any of you been watching?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I Can Eat It - Sale

I Can Eat It, importers of that decadent gluten-free croissant informed me they are having a sale!

From Bruno: “We're having a 10% sale on the products listed below; prices are BEFORE the 10% discount. We have limited quantities available as the products need to be consumed before September. First call, first served."

"Shipping will depend of the quantity your order. If your order fits in a priority mailbox, it costs approximately $10 ( which is 5 to 6 products). Otherwise we ship UPS and we inform our client about the cost before shipping."

SALE PRODUCTS:
Olive Bread: $7.50
Petite baguette: $6.20
Country loaf: $6.70
Sliced fiber bread: $6.20
Mini chocolate muffin: $7
Chocolate marble: $6
Madeleine: $6

** Additionally, if you order any regularly priced item and mention "ALLERGIC GIRL SENT YOU", you will recieve a 5% discount. Nice!**

Molière

If you enjoy 17th century costume dramas, in French, with heaving bosoms, rakishly handsome men, and a cuckolded husband or two, you will really enjoy Molière.

There were only six of us in the theater at the Quad Cinema but each couldn’t help but snicker, snort, giggle and laugh out loud at the imagined behind-the-scenes farce as Molière creates the life of Tartuffe. Yes, that Tartuffe; the man about whom the play will be written and for which Monsieur will become quite famous.

However, much like Becoming Jane [which I will be seeing with a gaggle of girls, oh yes], this story is made up. No matter, it's fun, light, historical, swashbuckling-ish fare; everyone's dressed Musketeer style, it's the 1600's after all.

If perchance this movie comes to your town, or you do netflix, I recommend this for a fun evening. If you speak French all the better; the translation lacks in some spots, particularly at the end and most crucial love scene.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Health Central and Allergic Girl

Please Don't Pass The Nuts has been chosen as a recipient of HealthCentral.com's "First Annual Top Site Award"! The Top Site Awards are awarded to the web's very best web sites and individual blogs dedicated to providing informative, insightful and inspirational health care advice. Woo hoo!

From HealthCentral.com: "I've spent a lot of time cruising around your blog, and I love how you relate your personal experiences to others facing food allergy -- your writing is fresh, witty and above all helpful, which is why my company has chosen to award your blog as one of the best allergy sites on the Web!

"I'm thrilled to congratulate you on this award, one of six "Top Allergy and Asthma Sites" that the HealthCentral Network has given out this year. Experts from HealthCentral chose your site as one of the best because it gives users a place to feel at home, and we applaud you for fostering that sense of community!

"Health Central's a consumer-driven online health destination comprised of 26 condition targeted Web sites focused on such conditions as depression, diabetes, and breast cancer. In addition to providing the latest clinical information and news, HealthCentral.com focuses on the 'whole' person who wants not only scientific answers, but ways to take action as an individual, parent, or friend. Through expert columns, videos and social networking forums, HealthCentral.com's sites strive to create a community of patients, caregivers, and family members, who can inform, share, and support each other."

To find out more about the award and the other winners including bloggy buddies Our Story, Allerjeez and AllergyMoms, please visit HealthCentral.com

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern

What executive thought this would be a good idea?

It’s a battle of the high art of Anthony Bourdain’s world traveling and eating local, traditional cuisine and the low art of Andrew Zimmern's world traveling looking for “freaky” foods that slither down his throat.

Clearly I have a favorite mainly because I can’t shake the feeling when I watch Zimmern’s show that he’s a big, white American strolling through the culinary back woods on a dare; to give his viewers the voyeuristic thrill of watching him eat seemingly inedible local “bizarre” foods, half of which he says he can’t stomach.

To be fair they both do that. And they’re both chefs. And they’re both white, Americans and starkly different from the cultures and countries they visit. Maybe it’s just the title of Zimmern’s show that puts me off, “Bizzare Foods”; at best, it’s condescending to those cultures.

Anyway, I wonder who twisted Bourdain’s arm to do a show with a food co-host, he seems like a solo kinda guy.

It’s on Monday night. I’ll be taping the fireworks or the duds if it falls flat.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Porter House New York and Chef Michael Lomonaco

“I love you”.

I didn’t expect to be blurting this out to a virtual stranger, even if he had soft curly dark brown hair and smiling brown eyes. It made him blush and I spilled my glass of water in my rush to declare my foodie love but I only said what any woman would to a man who had just declared: “It’s not about me, it’s about you.”

The man is Chef Michael Lomonaco and the woman blurting out declarations of love and devotion was this Allergic Girl.

If you haven’t been to Porter House New York yet save up your shekels, eat salad for a few days and prepare to be received in meat heaven at this classic new American steak house. The room was designed by Jeffrey Beers, also responsible for the sexy Ono at the Hotel Gansevoort among other spaces. Cherrywood paneling creates a physical warmth throughout the large and potentially imposing space. The entrance hall, bar and club area have low ceilings, inviting private banquets, and high-backed chairs. The bar leads into the light-filled main dining room, with double-height ceilings, buttery banquets lining the large windows, and white tablecloth covered tables.

After two delicious and allergen-free dinners of braised short ribs at Chef Lomonaco’s less than one-year old baby, I knew I had to talk to the man behind the meaty magic.

Specifically I wanted to know how he got so smart about food allergies [he has a dear friend with severe peanut allergies and has cooked in many great NYC kitchens for over 20 years], who had trained his staff so well [he did], and what braised meat he would be making me next [Moroccan lamb shank in the fall].

When I probed him about food allergies and the dining experience not only at PHNY but also at any restaurant, Chef Lomonaco said, “I consider food allergies a public safety issue and part of standard and mandated safe food handling procedures.” He said this as if it was a given, as if every executive chef, line cook, server and busboy in New York City considered food allergies a public safety issue when in fact he’s the first chef I’ve heard say it quite this way. I couldn’t agree more. And I hope more chefs appreciate the value of his line of thinking.

When I inquired how his restaurant handles a guest with special food needs Chef said, “The minute a staff member of Porter House hears ‘allergy’, we go into crisis mode. Everyone in the kitchen is made aware that there is an allergic diner; the Chef becomes the point person for that diner’s food and the server is the link between diner and kitchen/chef.” Excellent and exactly what I evidenced on my visits.

Chef continued in his easy and reassuring manner about his personal philosophy: “Our first responsibility is to the pleasure and dining safety of our guests. We want them to have a total experience. We’re not afraid to customize a dish if it’s within our means to do so. The more specific information you give us the better.”

When I asked about the dreaded eye roll that some us receive when explaining our needs to servers, even managers, Chef said that he believes the opposite about special requests: “You are doing us a favor by telling us what you need so we can make it a better experience for you.”

If this isn’t enough to convince you that this is a man you’d like to make your dinner, I wish I had the words to describe his braised short rib other then falling apart and fork tender. I dream about these short ribs. It’s not on the menu right now, too hot outside, but I can’t wait to return soon for the famed Brandt beef chili rubbed rib eye. That’s a summer food, right?


Porter House New York
www.porterhousenewyork.com
10 Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9500