Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gluten Free in Waikiki

On our recent trip to Oahu (May 2014) we ate at several restaurants that had good gluten free options.

Tanaka of Tokyo -- this restaurant has several locations; I ate at Tanaka West in the Ala Moana mall.  Tanaka is a teppanyaki restaurant (similar to Benihana's) and is as much dinner show as it is dinner.  Our chef was a lot of fun as he prepared the food in front of us, doing all the usual tricks (like stacking the onions to make a volcano) and a few I hadn't seen before.  

My husband and I were there early, and there wasn't anyone in the restaurant yet, so we were able to get a table all to ourselves.  Normally it is group seating with tables for eight.  Since we weren't sharing the table with others, and hubby was willing to eat gluten free, the chef was able to make our food with the gluten free soy sauce.  (If others had been present, they would have made mine separately in the kitchen.)

Yes, I said gluten free soy sauce!  Woo-hoo!  I love teppanyaki restaurants, but this is the first time I didn't have to bring my own soy sauce.  They have a gluten free menu, and while many of the sauces are off limits, at least they know that and can tell you what is and isn't safe.  

Hiking Hawaii Cafe -- this was the crowning jewel of our gluten-free finds in Oahu!  It has a great location, right across the street from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but you have to go down some stairs to get there, so it is easy to miss.  They have gluten free bread, wraps, and pizza crusts, so most of the sandwiches, paninis, and pizzas can be made gluten free.

Please note that the service here is NOT fast; but that's ok -- we were on island time!  While we waited for our "breakfast pizza"(potato, ham, egg, and cheese on a pizza crust), we played a game of scrabble (they had a small stack of board games, and a large number of hiking magazines) and just enjoyed not having anywhere to be.  Once it finally arrived, the breakfast pizza was very good and very filling.  I was so impressed that we went back the following day to pick up a picnic lunch to take across the street to Fort Derussy Beach park

Bali by the Sea -- Speaking of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, we had made reservations well in advance to eat at Bali by the Sea during the fireworks show on the beach.  Unfortunately, not all the tables have a view of the fireworks, and we were not aware that we were sitting in the wrong section for viewing (strange, especially since the waiter asked "are you here for the fireworks?" and we said "yes!")  So, we were not able to see the fireworks, but we did get loud banging as the fireworks were being set off right outside our window.  Couldn't see fireworks, couldn't hear each other.  Not a very romantic night.  However, the steak was excellent and the Mai Tai was phenomenal.  

Shore Bird -- For lunch, Shore Bird is pretty much a burger joint.  They do not have a lot of gluten free options, but they do have gluten free hamburger buns.  I ordered an Outrigger Bistro Burger, which comes with sauteed onions and brie, but I was told that the sauteed onions are not gluten free.  :(

At dinner, the Shore Bird becomes a "cook-your-own" grill with steaks, chicken, and kabobs.  Gluten free items are noted on the regular menu, but I would be highly suspicious of cross-contamination in this type of environment.  


Gluten Free along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

I saw a sign along NY Route 89 that said "Wood Fired Pizza," and I had kids with me, so I pulled into the Copper Oven, located at the Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery in Ovid, NY.   I didn't expect to be able to eat, but the kids were getting cranky and you can always mollify them with pizza.

They did have a few gluten free things on the menu -- a couple of salads and meat and cheese boards.  When I explained that I was gluten intolerant, they told me they could bring me almond crackers instead of flat-bread with my meat and cheese board.

The cheese board was lovely.  They brought out a wooden plank with three kinds of cheese (one was a blue cheese, which I don't eat, but the other two were excellent), some blackberry jam, and honeycomb.

Here's the thing about honeycomb.  I have had it a couple of times before, and always assumed you were not supposed to eat the comb itself, as it was waxy and tough.  Just recently though, I read an article about honeycomb that explained that older honeycomb may be tough and brittle (especially if you bought it at a tourist shop where it may have been on that shelf for ages), but that fresh honeycomb (less than a year old) will be soft enough to spread on a cracker.

So I spread it on my crackers and topped it with the sharper cheese -- Yum!  The other cheese (chevre) paired very nicely with the jam.

The gluten-eating children gave the place mixed reviews.  Copper Oven does not have a regular pizza sauce, the kind most kids would expect on a pizza.  The had two choices -- a bbq sauce and a white sauce.  All the kids were skeptical, but in the end, two of them actually liked their pizza a lot (they ordered the Fun-Guy, which has mushrooms, green onions, and cheddar with a white sauce).  The other refused to try the pizza and got a charcuterie board with salami, ham, and mortadella, served with pickles and a corn salsa.  The mortadella was not a hit, but he enjoyed the other two meats.

(Note: Copper Oven does NOT have a gluten free pizza.)

To soothe the disappointment over the non-traditional pizza, we next headed south a few miles to the Cayuga Lake Creamery.  To my surprise, they had gluten free ice-cream cones on the menu!  I had a chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve (custard, not the fake non-dairy stuff you get at fast food places) in an actual cone.  Wow!  I had a moment of nostalgia remembering all the swirl ice-cream cones I had as a child, and enjoyed the sensation of biting into the cone, getting ice-cream and crunchy cone in one bite.  Mmmmm.  The cone itself was not great, but as I recall, the regular gluten-containing ones weren't gourmet fair either.  They pretty much all tasted slightly like Styrofoam.   That wasn't the point then, and it isn't now.  The point is, I got an ice-cream cone!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Gluten Free at the Ithaca Bakery

Following internet recommendations, I headed for the Ithaca Bakery while vacationing on Cayuga Lake.  Though I've spent a lot of time in this region, I had never eaten there before, and with htree kids in tow, it seemed likely to have enough variety to make everyone happy.

My initial impression was not positive. The store seemed crowded and disorganized.  The four of us sat at a little table that would barely have been adequate for two.  I had trouble figuring out what was gluten free and what was not, and the signage in general was very confusing.

The food, however, was very good.  I had a BLT on a gluten free bagel.  The menu said "aioli dressing and avocado" came on the sandwich.  Unless there was a smidgen of avocado in the aioli, there wasn't any on my sandwich.  I was going to complain, but then I took a bite of the sandwich and decided that it was perfect the way it was.  The bagel was thin enough to be good for a sandwich, and toasted just enough to have crunch without being hard.  Yum.

My son had roast beef and scrambled eggs on a bagel, my daughter had chicken soup (not gluten free), and my nephew had a roast beef sandwich.  Everyone was happy with their meal.

We also had some shakes, but they took so long to make that we ended up getting them just as we were finishing up our lunch.  My daughter had an espresso peanut butter cup shake, which was delicious, and I had a Banana Dana smoothie, which was a little gritty.

All in all, it was a good choice for lunch with kids in tow, but not a "not to be missed" experience.

I am hopeful that next year we will get to try the Waffle Frolic on State Street, but they were closed for renovations during our vacation.