News and Notes

I wanted to share some good gluten-free experiences we’ve had recently, with a Harry & David gluten-free gift box, King Arthur gluten-free cake mix, and four restaurants in Chicago: Hub 51, Wilde, Lula Cafe and Nano Sushi.

Harry & David Gluten-Free Goodies

Harry & David Gluten-Free Hat Box
Harry & David Gluten-Free Hat Box

– The good folks at MB Limited, who help us out with our computers, sent us a Harry & David Gluten-Free Hat Box. It’s always exciting to open a Harry & David gift tower, so it was fun to unwrap the two hat boxes. Imagine our delight when we discovered that the hat boxes were filled with gluten-free brownies and cookies.

The brownies were some of the most scrumptious brownies I’ve ever had — gluten-free or regular. I looked at the ingredients and was surprised to see that they used black bean powder instead of flour. I was also surprised to see the high amount of fat, but let’s not go there (on the positive side, they had high protein). The gluten-free brownies — two fudge brownies, two walnut brownies and two chocolate chunk brownies — were rich and thick and chocolate.

The gluten-free cookie assortment included two macaroons, two chocolate chip cookies, two peanut butter cookies and two mint chocolate cookies. They were quite good, but the brownies were definitely our favorite. I sent Harry & David an email, asking if their gluten-free goodies were made in a dedicated gluten-free area etc., but I did not hear back.

UPDATE 10/29/11: I just found out that Harry & David has discontinued their gluten-free brownies and cookies. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation from them. I’m sad, those brownies were really delicious.

King Arthur gluten-free birthday cake

gluten-free birthday cake
Birthday cake made with King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix

– Speaking of rich desserts, it was recently my older daughter’s birthday. Although she does not have celiac and usually orders a bakery cake, she requested that I bake her cake this year. I told her it would have to be a gluten-free cake, as I don’t bake with regular flour any more since flour can remain airborne for a few hours and settle on kitchen appliances and counters.

I’ve heard raves about King Arthur products, so I used the King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix. Wow. It produced a light, airy chocolate cake that rivaled any bakery cake. I used two boxes of mix. Each made a 9×13 cake. I sandwiched the two cakes together with cherry preserves and used the “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting recipe printed on the box of Hershey’s cocoa powder. Delish.

Gluten-free Chicago

– My husband and I were downtown on a date night and ate at Hub 51, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant in Chicago. I was pleased to discover that they have an extensive gluten-free menu, including tacos with homemade corn tortillas, hand-cut french fries, pulled chicken nachos, sushi and salads. Lettuce Entertain You, Rich Melman’s successful restaurant enterprise, operates many restaurants with gluten-free menus — a comprehensive list of GF menus is on the Lettuce site.

– Our friend Jennifer of Be Free Bakers — a gluten-free, nut-free and vegan bakery in Lee’s Summit, Mo. — was in Chicago recently. We met her at Wilde, an Irish pub and restaurant with consistently great food. Wilde has a substantial gluten-free menu with GF mac and cheese and burgers with gluten-free buns — to me, GF bread is the hallmark of a restaurant that cares about its gluten-free customers.

– Our family had a tasty dinner at Lula Cafe, a Logan Square spot that offers organic produce and locally sourced farm-to-table food. Lula does not have a gluten-free menu, but they were very friendly and accommodating in pointing out which menu items were gluten-free.

– We also had a good gluten-free meal at Nano Sushi, a sushi/Thai restaurant in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. I called the restaurant and asked if they could make dishes without wheat or soy sauce and was pleasantly surprised when the woman said, “You mean gluten-free?” Wow, gluten-free certainly is going mainstream. She served us gluten-free sushi, tom kha soup, chicken satay and pad Thai, which we enjoyed.

– I intend to post a list of Chicago gluten-free restaurants at some point. If you have any GF restaurant recommendations, please leave a comment below.

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4 Comments

Filed under celiac, restaurants

4 responses to “News and Notes

  1. beanta3@hotmail.com

    Urban Vegan on Montrose and Ashland makes great Thai food and will make a majority of their dishes gluten free. Lady Gregory on Clark St in Andersonville has a GF menu. Hamburger Marys brews their own GF beer and its delicious.

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    • Thanks for the restaurant news! I really do intend to post a more comprehensive list of restaurants soon (even though I’ve been saying that for a while). Lady Gregory is owned by the same folks who own Wilde, and I love their GF menu.
      Thanks again for the update!
      Eve

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  2. Kristin

    I enjoyed your blog. I have a restaurant to add to your list. Last night I went out to dinner to Francesca’s on 95th. This specific chain of the restaurant I went to is in a suburb right out side of Chicago called Oak Lawn. They do have many chains in Chicago and other states. Being an Italian restaurant I wasn’t sure my options, but they were willing to take most of their dishes and make them gluten free. All of their sauces were made naturally gluten free which helped the selection. My husband and I actually had the same dish, with different pasta and it was wonderful! I will definitely go back again.

    http://www.miafrancesca.com/

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  3. Phyllis Adams

    I enjoyed reading your website this evening. I particularly liked your illustrations as well as your healthful and helpful cooking hints. I have modified a waffle recipe to be gluten free simply by substituting gluten free flour. But what makes this recipe really outstanding are two suggestions by my older granddaughter. She encouraged me to add a teaspoon of vanilla and to add cinnamon as well to the waffle batter. This makes them really irresistible. And to make them even better, she adds chopped bananas, chocolate chips, and chopped apples. One almost does not need to add syrup they are so good.

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