The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide: 2021 Edition

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given free products in exchange for writing this post. I have special relationships with some of these companies and may have been given samples in the past. This post contains a few affiliate links in which I get a small commission that helps maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I genuinely love. As always, double check labels and product information. Ingredients, allergen policies, and facilities can change at any time.

The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide: 2021 Edition is here! It’s more important than ever to support small businesses, so you’ll find many of my favorites listed below.

For the chocolate & sweets lover:

• See’s Candy – Gluten free chocolate truffles! Most of their chocolates do not contain gluten, but be sure to visit the allergen information page of their website for the most up to date information.

• LA Burdick hot chocolate – Kris introduced me to their hot chocolate on our first date. “I hope you brought another pair of socks…because yours are about to be knocked off.” Lucky for me – it happened to be gluten free! Their drinking chocolates are prepared in a dedicated gluten free kitchen.

• Yum Earth – Certified gluten free treats, even licorice!

• Goodie Girl Cookies – If you’re thinking that “Mint Slims” sounds almost exactly like a certain Girl Scout cookie, you are correct. So good, you’ll be tempted to eat an entire box in one sitting.

For kids (or kids at heart):

• Little GF Chefs baking kits – Absolutely adorable, creative and fun baking projects for people of all ages! The founder, Jereann Zann, is on a mission to empower kids, build confidence, and encourage a positive relationship with food. Every baking kit is made in a dedicated gluten free and top 8 allergen free facility and comes with just about everything you need to make the fun treats. Individual kits and subscriptions are available. I loved their rainbow donut kit!

• Cat-shaped cookie cutters – (affiliate link) Visit @howtocoeliac on instagram to learn how to make these perfect calico cookies!

For the experienced cook:

• Nuts.com gift certificate – (affiliate link) My favorite source for gluten free flours, nuts and dried fruit. They have a huge selection of gluten free items, and everything is clearly marked.

• Guittard Chocolate Chips – My absolute favorite chocolate to bake with. Most of their products are made in a dedicated facility and will say so on the label.

• Jovial olive oil – I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried their olive oil from Italy. Wonderfully flavorful and perfect for dipping bread and drizzling on top of pizza.

• Digital Kitchen Scale – Digital scales are essential for measuring gluten free flour accurately! So far my favorite scale is by Escali. I use it nearly every day, and years later it’s still working perfectly.

• The No Gluten, No Problem Pizza Cookbook by Kelli and Peter Bronski – (affiliate link) This book is seriously life-changing, and I make their pizzas at least three times a week. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this cookbook The recipes rival my favorite pizzas in Italy.

• Ultimate pizza-making equipment bundle – (affiliate link) I’ve compiled a collection of everything you need to make my favorite No Gluten, No Problem pizzas! The cookbook, baking steel, storage-conscious pizza peel, digital kitchen scale, and food thermometer.

• Pasta machine – (affiliate link) There’s nothing like fresh pasta! Be sure to check out my video tutorial and recipes for gluten free fettuccine, ravioli, and tortellini!

For those who enjoy easy cooking projects:

• Charlie’s Table fresh pasta – Once you try fresh pasta you’ll never want to go back to dried. Certified gluten free and made in a dedicated facility, Charlie’s Table offers pasta shapes that are difficult to find gluten free – bucatini, rigatoni, garganelli, gemelli, and tagliatelle.

• Still Riding Foods pizza crusts – One of my favorite pre-made crusts. Certified gluten free, dedicated gluten free facility, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, vegan and kosher.

For the makeup lover:

• Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate – (affiliate link) Amazing allergen-friendly makeup with a wide variety of stunning lipstick colors. The Rallye Balm is a lifesaver for chapped/dry lips during the colder months. My personal favorite colors include Vogue and Ooh La La. Get 22% off orders of $50+ with the code “TastyMeditation”.

Gluten free bakeries – All of these 100% gluten free bakeries ship across the US (for residents of Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories please inquire with the bakeries directly), and several offer gift cards:

• Bread Srsly sourdough (affiliate link) – Seriously the best gluten free sourdough (and my favorite gluten free bread, in general) on the market! Made in the Bay Area, this bread nails that traditional sourdough taste. Free from gluten, wheat, egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, potatoes, sesame, refined sugar, and chickpeas. The last day to order for the holidays is December 12th, but I recommend ordering early because they sell out. Use code “TASTYHOLIDAY” for 10% off your order through 12/12/21!

• Krumville Bakeshop – Delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread – everything that comes out of the Krumville kitchen is incredible! I recently made it my mission to try all of their layered cakes (spoiler alert – they’re all wonderful). If I had to choose one favorite, it would be three – chocolate raspberry, lemon & berries, gingerbread & cranberry. Feel free to send me a message if you’re looking for a personalize recommendation.

• Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery – This bakery holds a very special place in my heart. My favorite items include panini bread, burger buns, almond ricotta orange cake, lemon mascarpone almond muffins, shortbread cookies, and pecan snowball cookies. After years of visiting this bakery, I recently tried the cookies for the first time. Normally when I visit in person I opt for the pastries, but wow was I missing out! Their cookies are truly magical.

• Modern Bread & Bagel – You’re not dreaming, these are real New York style bagels! When I was diagnosed with celiac disease I never thought I would experience this joy again. Infinitely grateful to Modern Bread for making this magic happen.

• Meredith’s Bread – A family-run bakery located in Kingston, NY, Meredith’s Bread is well known for selling products at farmers markets around NYC. They have two lines of products (wheat-based and gluten free – look for that GF label!), and their gluten free baked goods are made in a separate/dedicated facility. Excellent pricing. I love their rustic farmhouse breads, black and white cookies, and biscotti.

• Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery – So many free-from statements! This bakery is free of gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, casein, preservatives, trans-fats, refined sugar, and more! Located in Connecticut. Try the yellow cake, it’s my favorite!

• Everybody Eats – Mention Everybody Eats to a gluten free New Yorker, and they’ll immediately start talking about how kind and wonderful the owner, Pedro, is. Check out their instagram for delightful videos of Pedro singing in his bakery, and you might spot a certain special guest (spoiler alert – it’s me!). Highly recommend their gluten free baguette.

• Mariposa Baking Co – Located in San Francisco, so shipping rates are more affordable for friends on the west coast. I highly recommend their cinnamon rolls and flaky pastries. One of the few bakeries I’ve found that makes gluten free croissants!

• The Karma Baker – 100% vegan and gluten free in LA. I highly recommend their donuts.

For the bar:

• Tito’s Vodka – Certified gluten free, corn-based vodka. You might want to get some for yourself, too. I’ve found that you save more money in the long run if you buy the bigger bottle (wink).

• Barr Hill Gin – Lightly sweetened with local honey, so every batch is a little different. Labeled gluten free.

• Deep Eddy Vodka – Flavored vodka that’s labeled gluten free. Cranberry, peach, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and sweet tea flavors.

• Bright Cellars – (referral link) A fun subscription box with wine tailored to your preferences. Each box comes with fun cards to help you learn about the wine you receive. The more you rate your wines, the more the algorithm learns about what you love.

• Wolffer rose cider – Our favorite cider in the Tasty Meditation kitchen, and naturally gluten free!

• Pallini Limoncello – A taste of Italy! Kris and I tried various different limoncello brands during our gluten free honeymoon in Rome, and this was by far our favorite.

Gluten free resources:

• Gluten Free Watchdog subscription – GFW is one of the most incredible advocates in the celiac disease/gluten free community, and her website is a wealth of information. Subscribers get special access to products reports (selected items are tested for gluten in a laboratory setting) and support her overall efforts.

• Gluten Dude app subscription – An excellent resource with restaurant/bakery lists, product recommendations, and moderated message boards created by celiac disease advocate Gluten Dude. See you on the app!

Happy Holidays!

Thyme & Tonic – NYC Restaurant Review

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given complimentary product in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants and products that I truly enjoy. Please always call a restaurant before visiting to verify that it is appropriate for your needs, as policies and menus can change any time.

I have a new favorite 100% gluten free restaurant, and I can’t believe it took me so long to try it. I visited Thyme & Tonic on the Upper West Side earlier this year for cocktails and appetizers. I was incredibly impressed and excited to eventually return to try the entrees and desserts (and more cocktails, of course). In short, I was blown away.

Chipotle Pineapple Margarita

We started the evening off with a round of cocktails. Kris was instantly a fan of the Chipotle Pineapple Margarita. I opted for my favorite cocktail from my previous visit – Besos Calientes (Spanish for “hot kisses”). Featuring vodka, lime, passion fruit, and a cerano ice cube, the concept of this cocktail was so smart. It was on the sweeter side (which I like), but as the cerano ice cube melted, it changed the flavor profile of the drink. And it got spicy quickly!

Besos Calientes – Vodka, Lime Juice, Passion Fruit, Cerano Ice Cube

I normally feel very confident in my gluten free restaurant research, but when this salmon burger arrived at my table I thought, “Oh no, I’ve made a terrible mistake. Am I at the right restaurant? Did I read something wrong? Look at that bun! The height, the color! Is it gluten free?” And yes, of course the restaurant is 100% gluten free. They just do magical things in their kitchen. The burger and fries were simply amazing.

Salmon Burger, Watercress, Avocado, Horseradish Aioli

Lucky us, our reservation happened to coincide with their final ice cream special of the summer. The mini lemon donut ice cream sandwich was heavenly. I’m looking forward to seeing what desserts specials Thyme & Tonic will offer in the fall/winter, but I’ll be on the lookout for anything they make with lemon because this dessert was perfect.

Chocolate & Lemon Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Overall, I adored my experience at Thyme & Tonic. The service, atmosphere, food and cocktails were all top notch, and it has quickly become one of my very favorite restaurants in NYC. Book your reservation now. You don’t want to miss out.

Thyme & Tonic is a 100% gluten free, mostly vegan, and certified Kosher restaurant located at 474 Columbus Avenue (near 83rd St). Open for brunch (in collaboration with Modern Bread & Bagel next door) and dinner.

Supporting Small Businesses – NYC Gluten Free Bakeries

Disclaimer – I was not paid or asked to write this post. I am friends with or have a special relationship with some of these bakery owners. I’ve received free samples in the past, but I also recently ordered products myself. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend bakeries and restaurants that I love.

As I do my best to keep track of time, I believe I am currently on my 75th day in my studio apartment in Queens. I’ve only gone out for necessary medical appointments, social distancing walks, and to do laundry/pick up packages in my building’s basement. No subway. No casual trips to Manhattan. The COVID-19 crisis presses onwards, and with no end in sight my husband and I are worried about the future of our favorite gluten free restaurants and bakeries. Unfortunately, my neighborhood has a distinct lack of safe gluten free restaurants, so takeout isn’t an option. What is an option – ordering from local gluten free bakeries and having packages shipped to us.

The following are recommendations and shout-outs for some of our favorite 100% gluten free bakeries in NYC that we ordered from recently. All ship across the continental US (most have pickup options available, as well) and are doing incredible work during this stressful time. Click on the name of the bakery to be taken to their website. In no particular order –

Krumville Bake Shop

A long time favorite very near and dear to my heart, Krumville made our beautiful wedding cake. Kris and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary with a Krumville cake. We had originally planned to order an anniversary cake every year (a great excuse to try all of their cake flavors!), but we decided that we’ll be ordering a cake every month this summer because why not? I also highly recommend their focaccia, cookies and muffins. And yes, they also ship their cakes across the country!

Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery

Always one of our favorite places to dine at in Manhattan, Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery made an incredibly fast switch in their business model and began shipping select baked goods a month ago. I’ve been obsessed with their panini bread. Their Prosciutto & Mozzarella panini was one of my favorite things to order at the cafe, so I’m thrilled that I can order their panini bread and recreate the dish at home. Senza frequently adds new items, and I’m so happy they’re now offering one of my favorites – Almond Ricotta Orange cake. I also recommend their scones and muffins. Dairy free and vegan items available.

Modern Bread & Bagel

Another restaurant that recently began shipping baked goods. Their bagels are incredible. They are truly New York style bagels, not just bread in the shape of a bagel. Tip: order as many as you can, slice them, and freeze. Defrost, toast, and enjoy! Dairy free and vegan items available.

Everybody Eats

A long time favorite of many gluten free New Yorkers, you might recognize their gluten free baguette, as it’s served in several NYC restaurants. I love their baguettes and bagels. I often use their deli rolls as humburgers buns, and they’re amazing. Nut free bakery. Dairy free and vegan items available.

To conclude, a few notes on shipping – Remember, these items are made fresh by bakeries in NYC and are not made with preservatives. They need to be shipped fast in order to arrive in good condition. Shipping may be pricy, but what you get is high quality gluten free baked goods and you support some amazing local businesses. A tip: if you have a local friend who is also gluten free, see if they would like to place an order with you and split shipping costs. Gluten Free Spartan and I are neighbors, so we recently ordered a gazillion bagels and had a hilarious social distancing drop off/pick up.

Also, always remember to follow specific storage recommendations and reheating instructions to ensure maximum enjoyment.

Have you supported any great gluten free businesses lately? Share the love and leave a comment!

Best of Fest – GFAF Expo, NJ 2017

Disclaimer: I was one of the official bloggers for the NJ GFAF Expo. My entry ticket was comped, and I (like many other attendees) received product samples. I was not paid to write this. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I use and love.

The New Jersey GFAF Expo is over, and I am still wiped out! But I’ve got my Best of Fest list ready for you, so here we go!

Everybody Eats

A dedicated gluten free and nut free bakery in Brooklyn, NY (dairy free and vegan options available). It is one of my favorite bakeries, and their baguettes are all the rage in GF restaurants across NYC. Always a huge hit at the expo, I often hear other attendees similarly raving about the bread. I adore the team that runs Everybody Eats (Pablo, Pedro, and Bruce) – they truly care about the Celiac/gluten free community and are some of the loveliest people you’ll ever have the good fortune to meet. No traditional storefront, but they ship and have pick-up options. 

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Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery

Another big expo hit year after year, Izzi B’s is a dedicated gluten free bakery in CT that is also free of the top 8 allergens. The owner, Pam, is the absolute sweetest, and this year I met her daughter – the real Izzi B for whom the bakery was inspired by/named for. It turns out that Isabella and I share a favorite cupcake flavor (the golden yellow cupcakes pictured below). They are to die for! Izzi B has no traditional storefront, but there are shipping and pick-up options. 

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Canyon Bakehouse

The best certified gluten free bagels in town! Pictured here are their plain and everything bagels. However, my favorite flavors are their new blueberry and cinnamon raisin. The texture is slightly different – chewier and much closer to traditional New York bagels. Stop and Shop recently started carrying this product, so check it out!

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Eclair Naturals

My favorite gluten free body care products! Also soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and cruelty free. Beautiful scents. The lotions and body butters are my favorite products and have been lifesavers during cold winter months. I frequently stock up when there are sales on Target.com and in Rite Aid stores.

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Gluten Free Gloriously

Amazing dedicated/certified gluten free bakery in NJ. I adore their desserts (they do wedding cakes FYI!), and I kept running into other GF folk at the expo who were similarly raving. Gluten Free Gloriously recently began shipping nationwide. Their dedicated bakery is in Stirling, NJ, and they also have a dedicated display in Bay Ridge, NJ.

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Against the Grain Pizza

Kris and I have been fans of Against The Grain’s baguette for many years, and I was thrilled to try their pizza. The pesto pizza is possibly my favorite pizza on the market. Made in a dedicated gluten free facility.

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Tali Restaurant

NYC’s newest 100% gluten free restaurant! Tali is located on 26th St/Lexington Avenue. Nicely priced Italian food with a gluten free bar and bakery. The NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group recently had a dinner event there, and everyone gave glowing reviews. 

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The Really Great Food Company

I was recently introduced to these baking mixes in one of my American Gluten Free Boxes. I was thrilled to be able to sample more of their products including their heavenly banana bread and coffee crumb cake mixes (now I can’t stop thinking about that coffee cake – so good!!!). Certified gluten free, egg free, soy free, casein free, dairy free, nut free, kosher, GMO free.

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Friends who attended the expo – did you have any other favorites? Please share in the comments section!

Can’t wait for next year!

Everybody Eats Review & Giveaway

There is a gluten free bakery that is all the rage in NYC, and their bread seems to be everywhere. The next time you visit a gluten free restaurant in NYC and are presented with a fluffy plate of delicious gluten free baguette, ask for the name of the bakery – it might just be bread from Everybody Eats.

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Pedro Arroba (diagnosed with Celiac Disease in his twenties) and Bruce Bassman launched Everybody Eats in 2004 in hopes of bringing delicious gluten free baked goods to the Celiac community across the country. Pablo Arroba, Pedro’s son, has since joined the family business. Focusing on taste and texture, Pedro and Bruce worked tirelessly on their technique to create some of the best gluten free breads on the market.

Fast facts:

  • Gluten free facility
  • Nut free facility
  • Dairy free & vegan options
  • Soy free (except for soy lecithin in chocolate items)
  • Made by hand
  • Ships nationwide & available for pickup in Brooklyn
  • Find at restaurants across NYC, Brooklyn & Long Island

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Everybody Eats offers:

  • Dairy free ciabatta bread
  • Cinnamon Sticky Buns
  • Dairy free hot dog buns
  • Pumpernickel loaf
  • Vegan/dairy free challah
  • Old fashioned bagels
  • Dairy free deli rolls
  • Dairy free banana bread
  • Dairy free hamburger buns
  • Pizza crust
  • Panini rolls
  • Multi-grain loaf
  • Dairy free white bread
  • Baguette
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Sugar cookies
  • Specialty cakes and cupcakes made to order

Having met the Everybody Eats family on multiple occasions, I can personally say that they are some of the most wonderful and delightful people in the world. If you ever have the good fortune to meet Pedro, you’ll note the kindness in his eyes, the passion in his voice, and you’ll get a sense of how much he loves both his work and the Celiac/gluten free community. An example of their kindness – they recently hosted a free Gluten Free Panini Party with the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group, and all of the bread sales during the party were donated to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. They are a company that cares about people.

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As for the bread itself – the moment you taste their baguette, you’ll be a fan of Everybody Eats for life. My mother and I first sampled their bread at Bistango (a favorite restaurant in NYC), and we fell in love with the taste and soft texture. Every time she visits NYC, her goal is to visit Bistango multiple times and eat as much baguette as possible. I’ll happily join every time.

Everybody Eats ships nationwide. If you are in the NYC area, their items are available for pickup at their bakery in Brooklyn (no traditional storefront). For more information and to order visit www.everybodyeats-inc.com

GIVEAWAY! Two winners will receive an Everybody Eats Backyard Grill Pack containing 2 bags of hot dog buns and 1 bag of hamburger buns. Enter via the rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to residents of NY, NJ, and CT only. Giveaway ends Thursday July 6th, 11:59 EST.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit my Instagram for another chance to win – two more winners will be chosen there!

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

99 Bank – 100% Gluten Free Restaurant Review

NYC has a new 100% gluten free restaurant, and it is a dream. I had the great privilege and joy of sitting down to dinner with Frank Baldassare, one of the partners and creators of the restaurant. As a Celiac Disease advocate himself, Frank spoke about his unwavering dedication to the community, safety, high quality ingredients without fillers, incredible flavors, and creating an experience that will not be forgotten.

The ambiance is bright, friendly and open. Giant windows overlook the streets of the West Village. The staff is professional, courteous, and always happy to recommend their favorite cocktail or dessert to suit your tastes.

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“Would you like a gluten free cocktail, Jessica?” Music to my ears! In order to ensure the highest level of safety, all of the cocktails are made with naturally gluten free spirits – you won’t find any wheat/rye/barley-based alcohol  here. Even the whiskey is made from sorghum. The cocktails are skillfully crafted. The Holiday Citrus is one of the best cocktails I have ever had – perfectly sweet and balanced. They also have an extensive cider list with favorites such as Downeast along with other more obscure brands.

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Sorghum Swirl – Highwire Sorghum Whiskey, Cocchi Torino, Cio Ciaro, Orange Bitters

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Holiday Citrus – Vodka, Cranberry, Cointreau, Lemon, Soda

The food was absolutely incredible. I chose a crabcake appetizer – I haven’t had crabcake in years, and this is by far the best that I have ever eaten. Why? High quality crab without a ton of flour and fillers. The aioli sauce that went with it gave it the perfect kick. They could make a fortune selling that sauce.

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Franky B’s Chunky Crabcake – Maryland Crab, Cholula Aioli, Greens

Pate was a new adventure for me, and I loved it. The 7 grain toast is locally made at a dedicated gluten free bakery. Wonderful quality and complimented the food perfectly. The bread combined with pate and preserves made for a perfect bite. The appetizers were so good I could have eaten them all night long.

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Country Pate – 7 Grain Toast, Cornichons Seasonal Preserve, Dijon

I love sea food, and the chef at 99 Bank created a beautiful plate. It was so pretty, I almost didn’t want to eat it. The fish was perfectly cooked, and all of the flavors blended together in perfect harmony.

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Black Sea Bass – Lemon-Garlic Bok Choy, Sunchocke Puree

Simply excellent pizza. I warned Kristopher that I would be coming home with leftovers. After one bite, the regular gluten eater said “This is really great. Can we go there together soon?” When your pizza wins over a gluten-eater, you have done well.

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Stone-Fired Pizza – Local Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil

No, this is not another cocktail. My server recommended the Lemon Mousse – she had excellent taste. Creamy, light, and with just the right amount of sweetness, this dessert was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening.

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Lemon Mousse – Raspberries, Chantilly Cream, Mint

With their unwavering dedication to the Celiac community, I cannot recommend 99 Bank more highly. It has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants and one that I will return to again and again (in fact, Kristopher and I were there Sunday night!). Trust me, you are in for a treat that you will always remember.

99 Bank is located in the West Village in NYC and is open for dinner, lunch, and brunch. For more information visit www.99banknyc.com

 

Disclaimer: I enjoyed a comped meal, but I was not ask nor paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants that I personally love, trust, and will return to.

Bistango 29th St, NYC Restaurant Review

Imagine this – a Celiac-friendly, neighborhood Italian restaurant with gluten free cocktails, baguette, ravioli, tortellini, pizza, salmon, chicken, and the most wonderful desserts in NYC. Is it a dream? No, it’s Bistango.

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I have been in love with Bistango for years. In fact, it was the very first gluten free restaurant that I visited when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Within a week I had dined there three times and struck up a conversation with the owner, Anthony. I told him of my diagnosis and thanked him for the care he shows for the Celiac/NCGS community, because being there feels easy and normal. He gazed at me earnestly and replied, “I’m glad you’re okay.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Bistango is and will always be my favorite restaurant.

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Anthony is the perfect host – kind, charming, attentive, an absolute gentleman. Whether he’s greeting new guests at the door, chatting with regulars (I swear this man remembers every conversation he’s ever had), or personally serving a special birthday dessert, Anthony welcomes you into his restaurant as if it were his home.

This is where Kristopher and I celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, pretty much any Saturday night, NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group events, and it’s also our go-to spot to take family and friends from out of town. It simply makes everyone happy. Kristopher often recommends that his gluten-eating friends order gluten free for the night to prove to them how amazing gluten free dining can be.

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(Strawberry Basil Martini)

I was thrilled to meet my friend Julie of Goodie Goodie Gluten Free for a blogger date to sample Bistango’s winter menu. Here a sneak peak at our evening….

Upon receiving our menus we were asked if we have any food intolerances. Of course, they are very knowledgeable about Celiac Disease. For guests with many food sensitivities, the staff is more than happy to accommodate with upmost precision. Substitutions and special requests are not a problem. Julie ordered wine and I a blood orange Arancia (a change from my normal Strawberry Basil Martini – our waitress always remembers that’s my favorite). We chatted away while munching on the best gluten free baguette in town.

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(Arancia: tequila, blood  orange, lime & Gluten Free Baguette, olive oil, and garlic)

Anthony sat down with us to chat, and our entrees arrived. The chefs cook fish and vegetables beautifully here. Stunning salmon, artichokes, and mushrooms cooked to perfection. I also highly recommend the Butternut Squash & Ricotta Ravioli with Brown Butter & Sage, Tortellini with Spicy Marinara (insider secret – ask for it if you don’t see it on the menu; they often have a secret stash in the back!), the pizza, and any pink snapper dish on the specials list. I’ve tried a dozen different dishes, and everything is incredible.

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(Grilled Scottish Salmon, artichoke, shitake mushroom, cauliflower puree, lemon)

When you visit, ALWAYS save room for dessert. I’ve sampled the Cheesecake, Carrot Cake, Lava, Black Raspberry Gelato, and various other seasonal desserts. As a dessert connoisseur, I will confirm that these are the best desserts in the city, beating out all the gluten-filled desserts from my pre-Celiac days, too.

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Do I have to choose just one? An impossible decision, so I usually end up with my favorite – Flourless Chocolate Cake, a special of the evening (insider secret – ask for it if you don’t see it on the menu; it’s a favorite of many regulars!). Silky and rich, you won’t find a better flourless chocolate cake (trust me on this – Kristopher and I have scoured the city). I went a little chocolate crazy that night and also ordered a glass of Bicerin, an Italian gluten free chocolate liqueur – thick, rich, an incredibly elegant treat. Some diners pour the liqueur onto the cake! Where else would you find a gluten free dessert combo like this?

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(Flourless Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and raspberry sauce & GF Bicerin, Italian chocolate liqueur)

If you are traveling to NYC, put Bistango at the top of your list. It will be a gluten free night that you will always remember. And New Yorkers – hop on the subway and head over. Tell Anthony I sent you. I’ll see you there.

Bistango is located on 29th St & 3rd Ave in NYC. It is open for brunch, lunch and dinner. For more information, menus, and reservations visit www.bistangonyc.com/29thstreet

Here’s a sneak peak at Bistango’s upcoming holiday menu highlights:

Christmas Eve

  • Mussel Soup
  • Rack of Lamb with Chianti Reduction
  • Fillet of Sole, Artichoke Puree, Lemon Butter

New Year’s Eve

  • Watercress Salad, Roasted Pear, Strawberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup, Oysters, Shiitake
  • Roasted Black Cod, Sauteed Greens, Port Reduction
  • Grilled Fillet Mignon with Lobster Tail
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
  • An assortment of champagne & specialty cocktails

 

Disclaimer: I enjoyed a comped meal, but I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants that I personally love, trust, and will return to.

Krumville Bake Shop Cookie Giveaway

Do you love gluten free cookies as much as I do? When you’re a dessert connoisseur, not just any cookie will do – I’ve gotta have the good stuff. Krumville Bake Shop is one of my favorite 100% gluten free bakeries, and they are here to support your cookie addiction this holiday season with the most incredible sweets.

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I never want to stop eating these Almond Chocolate Amaretti Cookies. Sweet and chewy, amaretti cookies are my very favorite, and no one makes them better than Krumville. Confession – once I bought a mini bag and mistakenly told my boyfriend that there would be cookies for him when he got home….I saved him half of a cookie and ate the rest. Oops (#sorrynotsorry)

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My other Krumville favorite is the Double Chocolate Chip Cookie. Is it a brownie? Is it a cookie? A little of both and loaded with chocolate. Are you getting hungry yet? I wish I had one of these right now….

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Also at the bakery are Cinnamon & Spice Cookies (a spin on the traditional Dutch shortbread biscuit – perfect for tea time) and Double Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookies. They also makes most delicious cakes, muffins, and focaccia – some of the best gluten free baked goods that you will ever eat!

Krumville ships nationwide so you can have any/all of these fresh cookies delivered right to your door! This is an online bakery (no storefront), but if you’re in NYC they will deliver or you could arrange to pick up an order up yourself.

There is still time to order before the holidays! Krumville will be closed 12/24-1/1, so be sure to order your treats now!

Find out more at www.krumvillebakeshop.com

GIVEAWAY! One lucky winner will receive a cookie gift box (12 cookies) from Krumville Bake Shop – you choose the cookie! Enter via the rafflecopter link below. Continental US residents only. Giveaway ends Tuesday January 3rd at 11:59PM EST.

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Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

Krumville Bake Shop Review & Giveaway

I love Krumville Bake Shop so darn much! I feel like doing high kicks and back flips whenever I think of their food. It might just be my favorite bakery ever (gluten free or not! – and I don’t say that lightly). It’s rare that I like every single item at a bakery, but Krumville can do no wrong. From their muffins and focaccia bread to their amazing cookies and cakes – I simply cannot get enough.

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Krumville Bake Shop was founded by fellow Celiac Antonella Zangheri (read my full interview with her HERE!). A 100% gluten free bakery, Krumville uses wholesome, fresh ingredients to create the most fabulous and flavorful recipes inspired by Italian and Dutch cooking traditions.

A look at some of my favorite products:

  • Olive Oil/Rosemary Focoaccia – perhaps the most perfect focaccia bread ever created.

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  • Chocolate Amaretti Cookies – I brought a bag of these home to share with my boyfriend. When he arrived, there was half of a single cookie left. That says it all.

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  • Double Chocolate Cookies – SO GOOD. Simply the best.

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  • Coconut Bundt Cake – LOVE!! I would eat this all day if I could
  • Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake – I’ve discovered that it is very tricky to find a really good gluten free chocolate cake. I have had way too many that were dry and crumbly. But Krumville’s blew me away with its’ flavor and texture. And isn’t that just the prettiest cake ever?!

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  • Muffins – Blueberry-Apple, Cranberry-Lemon, Apple-Ginger, Banana-Walnut – so many wonderful flavors to choose from!

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Other items that I am looking forward to trying:

  • Coconut Layer Cake (if it’s anything like the coconut bundt cake – wow! I MUST TRY THIS CAKE)

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  • Strawberry Vanilla Cake (Ditto. I must eat all of the cake!!)

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  • Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel
  • Chocolate Raspberry Cake
  • Lemon Bundt Cake
  • Quiches with Spinach & Gruyere

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  • Olive & Pecorino Focaccia
  • Double Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookie
  • Cinnamon & Spice Cookie
  • Olive Oil Croutons

“Okay, Jessica,” you may be thinking, “you’ve convinced me. I’ve gotta try their yummy treats myself! Where can I buy them?” –  Krumville does not have a storefront, but they do ship nationwide! You heard me, California! You can have Krumville’s baked goods delivered to your door! For those of us in Manhattan, you might find a few muffins on display at Dean & Deluca and various coffee shops (find their list of NYC/Brooklyn retailers HERE), but to get the total Krumville experience (especially if you want to order a cake or multiple items) it is best to order directly from Krumville’s website.

For more info and to order visit www.krumvillebakeshop.com

A special GIVEAWAY! – One very lucky winner will receive this Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel! Yes, a whole cake! Best giveaway ever???

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Enter via the rafflecopter link below. Continental US residents only. Giveaway ends Friday June 3rd at 11:59 pm EST.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

 

Senza Gluten Review

It was a sunny afternoon when I first stepped into Senza Gluten, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, and I instantly knew that I must soon return one evening for dinner. The rustic Italian feel, the dark tables that were dressed with wine glasses and fresh carnations in small mason jars – I could only imagine how classic and romantic it would look in the evening when the lights were dimmed and candles were lit. The diner next to me was served a bowl of soup, and the most exquisite and enticing aroma permeated the air. I could hardly wait to try the food myself.

Senza Gluten is a rare restaurant in that it is 100% gluten free and focuses on serving their Celiac/gluten intolerant customers classic Italian dishes that were once thought to be off limits. It is a place that stresses the importance of safety, comfort, community and the joy of good food.

 

After my interview with Chef Jemiko L Solo (which you can find here), I was thrilled to sit down with his business partner, Teona Khaindrada, to talk more and sample several of their dishes. She told me how everyone in the restaurant works together to create a wonderful dining experience. The kitchen is a place of laughter and camaraderie where Chef Jemiko encourages and guides new cooks who show great potential. And the wait staff is so kind and just the loveliest people to have a conversation with. When I left later that evening, I couldn’t help but feel like I made a whole host of new friends.

 

In terms of the food, I was blown away – some of the most delicious dishes that I have ever eaten. The thing that struck me the most about all of the dishes (besides how stunningly gorgeous they were to look at) was how perfectly balanced the flavors were. It was almost as if you could taste just how many attempts it took Chef Jemiko to finally create that one perfect bite. You could taste the passion that he has for his food and the care and love he puts into catering to the gluten free community. No wonder Senza Gluten is developing such a loyal following.

 

Onto the food…

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Bruschetta Originale – fresh tomato, garlic, basil and olive oil

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Bruschetta Ai Funghi – mushrooms, shaved parmesan and truffle oil

As I mentioned earlier, everything was perfectly balanced. Thin slices of bread toasted to perfection, with just the right amount of toppings and drizzles of olive oil.

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Rotolo Di Melanzana Con Spinaci E Ricotta – eggplant rolatini with spinach, ricotta, and parmesan cheese baked in tomato sauce

I’m normally not an eggplant fan, but this dish won me over. This is a restaurant where you should take chances on a new dish – whatever they cook, they cook it well.

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Cavolfiore Alla Parmigiana – breaded, fried and baked cauliflower with buffalo mozzarella and parmesan in a fresh tomato sauce

The chef told me an amusing story about how he was accidentally sent a crate full of cauliflower. Instead of sending it back, he decided to experiment. We should thank whoever made that shipping mistake. I had never tasted cauliflower this way. Very inventive and a must try.

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Classic Lasagna – with layers of bolognese sauce and cheese

It’s easy to see why this is a customer favorite. It’s simple and classic. You half expect your grandmother to stroll out of the kitchen in her apron and join you.

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Pollo Alla Parmigiana – breaded, fried and baked chicken breast with buffalo mozzarella and parmesan in a fresh tomato sauce served with arugula salad and shaved parmesan.

Before going gluten free, my aunt took me to an Italian restaurant that she had worked at when she was my age. Together we shared a breaded chicken dish. When I went gluten free, I thought that I’d never be able to have it again, and yet here it was! It tasted just as it should, and I didn’t miss gluten at all.

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Gnocchi Di Patate Ai Quattro Formaggi Fatti in Casa Con Spinaci – home made spinach gnocchi with 4 cheeses (mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta, and taleggio)

This was one of my favorite dishes. The sauce was simply sublime. You could taste how much love and care the chef put into getting the flavor combinations just right.

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Tiramisu – layers of mascarpone cream and home made savoiardi biscuits

I am always on the lookout for the best desserts in the city, and this one zoomed right to the top of the list! It was so soft; my fork slid through the cake effortlessly. And the flavor! It blew me away. I also love the fact that the chef makes all of the desserts in house. My favorite dish of the day.

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Biscotti e Cioccolato – apricot and pistachio biscotti drizzled with warm chocolate sauce

I have never had homemade biscotti before, so this was a delightful treat. The chocolate drizzle created a very fun and playful experience.

 

You’ll find many more options on the menu for a variety of tastes and preferences – asparagus soup, risotto with shrimp and saffron, filet mignon, wild snapper. I’ll admit that since I began writing this review I have gone back to Senza Gluten and am making my way through the dessert menu. The molten chocolate cake and espresso crème brulee are to die for. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite dessert (though maybe I should try them all again to decide…).

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I must also add that eating here felt so normal. Sometimes when I go out with friends, there is an exhausting amount of talk about “Is the fryer safe?” – “Your fork can’t touch my food” – and “Shoot, we just contaminated the butter dish.” As a Celiac, you always have to be on your guard. But this felt so blissfully easy and lovely. I sincerely hope that other chefs and restaurant owners will be inspired by Chef Jemiko so that we may see more restaurants that are 100% safe for the Celiac and gluten free community.

 

It is clear that you will be in for a beautiful and delicious culinary experience at Senza Gluten. The chef truly cares about everyone who walks in the door as well as every dish and every bite. It’s that place where Chef Jemiko and Teona will greet you at the door and ask how your kids are. They will sit down with you at your table and ask if you have a suggestion for a new dish. The chef will remember what you ordered and will welcome you back on your next visit. You may come for the food (and you will not be disappointed), but you leave as a part of their family.

You can learn more information about Senza Gluten at www.SenzaGlutenNYC.com.

Visit the restaurant in person at 206 Sullivan Street in Manhattan off the A/B/C/D/E/F/M trains.

Disclaimer: I was invited to sample some of the wonderful food at Senza Gluten, but I was not paid to write this review.