Last night, on my way to dinner, stopped for hors d'oeuvres at Whole Foods--and free ones, at that! The Union Square store in NYC was hosting a 5-7 pm Gluten-Free Tasting Night. Good thing I dropped in: almost every department had something wonderfully gluten-free to taste.
The bakery: squares of almond-covered cookies. The salad bar: a perky mix of quinoa, cilantro, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, red onions and grape tomatoes. DeBoles rice pasta spirals served with Braggs aminos, peanut butter, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic, cayenne and edamame--spicy and filling! Samples ranging from creamy chocolate mousse, a tangy cheesecake to a ground flaxseed/coconut mix yogurt topping. More GF dairy and non-vegetarian gluten-free foods, but I skipped those since I'm, of course, vegetarian, and to be on time for dinner.
A quick detour to the 14th Street branch of Trader Joe's where (and I never win anything!) I nabbed the last package of the new, economical ($3.49) store brand, gluten-free English muffins. TJ French rolls are a bit large and sweet so I'm hoping these will be more to my liking. Will report on twitter (where I heard about them from tweeter GFBklyn) after I try them.
Ultimate destination of the evening: S'Mac (see Stepping Out in the column to the right), featuring a dozen varieties of macaroni and cheese, some vegetarian, some not, all available gluten-free or not. Diner/cafeteria/food stand atmosphere but no one minds. Maybe it's that each serving arrives bubbling in its own little cast iron pan, maybe it's the herbs, the variety...I'll stop. It's clear I'm in love with this tiny East Village spot.
I ordered the Nosh (small) Garden Lite gluten-free veg (with broccoli, roasted cauliflower, roasted garlic, portabellos, scallions, lite cheddar and parmesan). Usually it's the Major Munch (mid-size) hypercheesy All-American (no vegetables) topped with crunchy breadcrumbs (gluten-free of course) but, trying to lose those last five pounds, I restrained myself (with mac and cheese?).
My vegetarian, but not gluten-free, niece had the Parisienne (brie, figs, shitake and rosemary), truly luxurious. As we walked toward the subway, I thought that if we'd stayed a minute longer, I would have ordered another dish of mac and cheese, diet or no diet!
And there ended tonight's culinary tour of 14th Street (well, S'mac is on 12th...), a totally satisfying, totally gluten-free vegetarian evening, and, worth mentioning in these difficult times, ranging in price from free to cheap. Not easy with the simplest of diets, so in this case, I might even call it a real achievement!