Saturday, October 31, 2009


One of the best things about Rice, apart from the very important facts that the prices are reasonable and the food is delicious, is that there are dishes for the meat-eater, the vegetarian, the vegan, the gluten-free diner and probably ones that accommodate other dietary restrictions as well. In short, a great place to bring your friends and family, however diverse a group they may be. For example, above is a chicken soup with vegetables, rice, avocado and lime, for the non-vegetarian gluten-free diner in your group.Here are tofu balls with red rice, for the vegetarian gluten-eater you're with for the meal.Either this butternut squash soup above, or the red rice with black beans (seen below) is great for vegetarians or celiacs, but delicious for meat and gluten eaters, too.
Below is one of Rice's most versatile dishes, an arepa, the exquisitely tasty Venezuelan/Columbian cornflour cake, served with queso fresco and lime.
Order (or share) an arepa as an appetizer before going on to a main meat or vegetarian dish, or have it as a light lunch with a salad or soup. Whether you have no dietary restrictions or a whole list of them, once you taste an arepa at Rice, it's a pretty sure bet you'll be back!

Rice Nolita: 292 Elizabeth Street at Houston Street (212-226-5775)

Monday, October 26, 2009


To many of us who live with medically imposed or chosen dietary restrictions daily, it can sometime seem that once the label vegetarian or gluten-free is on a food, the price is destined to be 50% higher than the "regular" version. We can decide to do nothing but try to live with those prices, and many times, for convenience, that's what we do. 

But i've found that with a bit of organization (every other Sunday a cook-and-freeze day, throwing soup-worthy salad vegetables into the freezer twice a week, making breadcrumbs of stale bread or bread mistakes) and a commitment to making as much from scratch as I comfortably can, there's real money to be saved. Here are some tips:


Above you see a fast and tasty gluten free snack, the Almond Cheddar Nut Thin with a petal of cooked artichoke heart, a piece of roasted red pepper and a slice of black olive. Do you think gluten-free crackers called Nut Thins are so high calorie and full of fat that they'lll ruin your efforts at peeling off the unwanted pounds that appeared after  being diagnosed celiac and going gluten-free?  (Happens to many newbies, by the way.)  Well, think again. As long as you make wise choices with spreads and toppings, these tasty crackers could be your newest gluten-free weight-watching friend.

The same cracker, this time with the addition of a bit of kiwi fruit. (Did you know that when first imported to the US they were called Chinese gooseberries?)  Be sure to choose a firm kiwi, because an overripe one is not a good match for the super-crunchy cracker. This is an attractive and tasty cheese and fruit marriage, the perfect sweet and savory combination.

Be sure to experiment with whatever you have on hand: try low-fat hummus, a bit of hard-boiled egg with a slice of cherry tomato or whipped herbed cottage cheese with a fresh sprig of dill on this Almond Cheddar Nut Thin, or on the other Nut Thins, which are: Smokehouse, Pecan, Hazelnut, Almond and Country Ranch. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


If you are eating gluten-free because you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, or think you may have it, then the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City, will be a great resource for medical diagnosis, nutritional information, and support for you. The people pictured in the slide show at right are some of the staff of the center, which is headed by Peter Green, M.D., considered the most experienced doctor on issues celiac in the United States. 

These pictures were taken at the October 6th roundtable discussion hosted by the Center for adults with celiac disease. There have been roundtables for parents of children with celiac disease, as well as ones on other topics. This particular discussion was attended by several of the Center's staff, as well as Dr. Green, and the discussion was lively and informative. Subjects ranged from the best methods of diagnosis, celiac nutrition and the food industry to health insurance for celiacs and information about local celiac support groups. And the food and drinks generously provided by the center were not only gluten free but many were fine for vegetarians as well. Rare!

Dr. Green's book, Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, is one that any celiac or gluten intolerant or gluten-sensitive person should read. And once you finish reading it, pass it along to family and friends so they understand why you have made the changes in your life that you have. The book is readable yet thorough and, as opposed to some books on the market on the topic, medically reliable. 

My own contact with the Center's nutritionist, Suzanne Simpson, RD, was very worthwhile. She was informative and sympathetic. Especially if you are newly diagnosed, a visit with her is highly recommended!

Be sure to check out the Center's site, where you can find out about the many studies the Center is involved with, which I found particularly interesting.

If you've been misdiagnosed, or had the frustrating experience of having to introduce your doctor to the details of celiac disease, you will quickly realize what a unique place the Center is, with its knowledgeable staff devoted to improving the lives of celiac patients.


As a gluten free vegetarian, I attend most tastings with my own rations in tow. October 5, at the WNET"s Morgan Library event it was lucky I had. The only food I could enjoy was the Ciao Bella gelato. Delicious, as always. And a complimentary bottle of water. Sigh...

Food disappointments aside, I was looking forward to the interview of Mario Batali by local NPR show host Leonard Lopate since I'd seen them at an NYU panel discussion on luxury and food, and they were entertaining and informative. Doors had opened 6:30, interview was to run from 7:15 to 9. Familiar with the Morgan Library in its earlier pre-renovation layout, I waited to be directed by the staff to the interview venue, some large auditorium which I assumed had been built as part of the renovation. I made an incorrect assumption.

Standing Room Only usually refers to a sold out performance where part of the audience does without seats. This was ONLY standing room only: there were only two seats, one for Mario and one for Leonard. The crowd pressed toward them as if at an old-time political rally, the occasional hand-with-camera reaching out of the mass of humanity to get a snap of the stars. There was much grumbling and fatigue, and, eventually, people leaving.

Mr. Lopate unsuccessfully tried to quiet those who, because they were not near the small platform where he and Batali sat, were unaware the "event" had begun.Then, there was discussion of the Gourmet closing, a sketching out of Batali's career, some inside gossip about former partners...but...I apologize, dear reader, discomfort won out and I left before the end. The rambling interview could not compete with its amateurish staging.

Uneven lighting left Mario Batali in moderate shadow, and only part of Leonard Lopate illuminated. Given the duo was out of most of the audience's sight, speaking from some faraway semi-darkness, but the sound quality was good, the experience was oddly that of radio, with a fast-paced pre-show subway-like crush on snack lines so long and tense that one person said people were acting as if the miniscule samples might save them from starvation.

Leonard Lopate is a skilled interviewer, Mario Batali is quick-witted and amusing, and The Morgan Library is one of the treasures of the City. The excellence of the venue, interviewer and interviewee were sorely diminished by the severely flawed organization of that evening.