Sunday, October 17, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN IN SAN FRANCISCO: JAPANTOWN

BLOGHER FOOD '10
PEACE PLAZA MALL, JAPANTOWN


In town for BlogherFood '10, the original goal for the side trips to Japantown and Inner Richmond was to find tools for gluten-free vegetarian cooking, specifically bento box accessories made of silicone which could be used for baking to temperatures as high as 450 fahrenheit. But, as often happens, best laid plans....

See the pink and lime cupcake-shaped cups with the tiny bows at the edges? Technically, the goal was met with these items, but as you can see the bulk of the purchases were not made of silicone. But are they ever useful, not to mention well-priced! Here are some great shops we visited:

INNER RICHMOND:

SUPER TOKIO
251 Chestnut
KAWAII
5406 Geary
KAMEI
507 Clement

JAPANTOWN:

KINOKUNIYA MALL
1581 Webster
ASAKICHI
1730 Geary, Kinokuniya Mall

NIYAKO MALL
1625 Post
ICHIBANKAN
Niyako Mall,22 Peace Plaza #540
DAISO
22 Peace Plaza #400

Some of the most useful items for a gluten-free diner would be the tiny bottles, usually used for soy sauce in bento boxes. Fill them with tamari, order wisely, and you've made your local Asian restaurant gluten-free! Many of the gadgets you see in the slide show were purchased for no more than $1.50 each. Shops ranged in size from that of a small corner store to a small supermarket, each with varied selections of fascinating items for anyone who loves to cook. I'll be back!

Monday, October 11, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO: GLUTEN-FREE PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN

BLOGHER FOOD '10
The chance to receive a $500 gift certificate from Chefs Catalog if I'd won the Blogher treasure hunt at the Ferry Building? Or the definite opportunity to have lunch with a bunch of gluten-free bloggers I've always wanted to get to know? The bloggers triumphed, and I'm glad they did. It was a great idea for all of us to hop on BART for a short ride to the Mission district for an inexpensive lunch at Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. I'd had a peek at the area a couple of days before (see Gracias Madre) and wanted more time there--another reason I was happy to join this group.
Even the BART stop with its ironwork mimicking Mexican cut paper designs was special. A glimpse of a palm tree over an evil-looking fence, a thrift shop where items were sold by the pound, I never would have seen any of these at the Ferry Building (and anyway, I've never won ANYTHING!!) I could spend days photographing the Mission District.
I've never seen a more beautiful use of succulents than at Pica Pica, where they are the best part of the sign---but you've got to look up, these plants were 15 feet above ground! Inside, crisp clean color and design, and there's plenty of natural light in this corner eatery. Service was friendly and fast, especially considering how quickly we descended en masse on the Pica Pica staff. Lots to eat for vegetarians or carnivores, and everything gluten-free due to the use of corn flours to the exclusion of any others. Arepas, empanadas, soups, salads, yucca fries, platanos maduros with queso fresco and even cookies filled with coconut and dulce de leche.
Pica Pica is a fine spot for a moneysaving lunch for the gluten-free and glutenous alike. Loved it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BERKELEY: BOBBY G'S PIZZERIA WITH GLUTEN FREE MARIPOSA CRUST

BLOGHER FOOD '10
For someone who isn't a gluten-free vegetarian, ambling into a standard-issue pizzeria isn't anything to write home about. But for those of us who want and/or need to know exactly what ingredients are in every item we consume, sitting in a regular pizza place, nothing fancy, with a bunch of neighborhood folks is, well, nothing short of fabulous.
Bobby G's in Berkeley is spacious, casual and friendly. A bar at one end and several large TVs keep everyone who cares about such thing up to date on sports scores. No one rushes you out, New York style. In fact several patrons were deep into their newspapers and seemed to have been there for a while. If you're traveling and need a place to check your guidebook, make some phone calls or just catch your breath, this is the place to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

The pizza crust at Bobby G's, from the remarkable Mariposa Bakery in Oakland, is neither sweet nor flat, two problems often seen with gluten-free crusts. If you like the puffy-edged, chewy old-fashioned type--thin in the middle, with a profile that says pizza and not flatbread, you'll be glad to know this is exactly what Bobby G's serves.

You can't ask for better toppings, either: a rich tomato sauce with no raw edge to it on the Veggie, with plenty of peppers, mushrooms and olives, creamy whole-milk mozzarella and fresh basil. The sharpness of the Mediterranean was refreshing, with its feta, chopped red onions, Kalamata olives and baby spinach in addition to the mozzarella. (Skip the radishes that found their way into it, though.)

Although there is a surcharge on the price of the small glutenous pizza, when you order gluten-free, this pizza is by no means small. Good value. Comfortable surroundings. Fresh ingredients. Thumbs up.

OAKLAND: MARIPOSA GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY

If there was ever a reason for a gluten-free vegetarian to switch coasts, Mariposa Bakeshop might be it. Everything I've tasted from this bay area institution has been superb.

New York City never considers itself a culinary backwater, but in the category of purveyors of freshly-made gluten-free food, some improvement might be welcome, or at least it's possible to feel that way after trying several Mariposa products at their Oakland, California bakery.
Tu-lu's and Babycakes are two of New York's best gluten-free resources, but when you're at Mariposa, there's so much to choose from that you feel, well......normal. Here's a list of current products but they always seem to be adding to the list, so it might be out of date by the time you read this: Pizza crust, bagels, biscotti, brownies, cupcakes, tea loaves, cinnamon rolls, breads, focaccia, rosemary rolls, ravioli, muffins and scones.

Where can you find such variety in the Big Apple? If such a place exists within city limits, please, please let us all know!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO: GRACIAS MADRE VEGETARIAN GLUTEN FREE FOOD

BLOGHER FOOD '10

Within an hour of my arriving in San Francisco, several days before the start of Blogher Food '10, I was whisked off to Gracias Madre in the Mission District for a gluten-free lunch. We didn't mean to, but we over-ordered. In fact, we thought we were being cautious, but, no, there was almost one entire dish we could hardly begin. The servings were that generous! This is an organic, vegan restaurant, and what appears to be cheese sauce in these photos is,in fact, nut cheese, and a quite spicy nut cheese sauce at that. Perfect over the steamed red potatoes. Had them later that night with an omelette. But I digress...
The problem was the appetizer: butternut squash and caramelized onion folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa (as delicious as it was decorative, see slide show above). Though it only cost $8, it was large enough to be an entree. And the entrees which we had ordered were so oversized that it was clear dessert or even the potatoes were out of the question as far as lunch that day. The Mole Poblano Enchiladas, which came with beans and greens and the spicy cashew cheese as well, were incredibly filling. Great beans, great sauce and I was even able to eat the kale, which wasn't bitter, and which normally I would avoid.

A siesta is recommended after a long flight and truly comforting comfort food like that! Exactly what occurred.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

GLUTEN FREE VAN'S WAFFLES

Gluten-free waffles give you the freedom to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner with them--they're that versatile. Pictured above are two apple cinnamon waffles from Van's. No, they're not burnt, I prefer them dark! And another point you might disagree with me on: anything topped with cottage cheese is immediately transformed into diet food. Well, I almost believe that. In any case, this is a great combo of the devilish and the divine, the delicate cinnamon and apple flavors of the waffles, topped with some scoops of whipped cottage cheese, pure maple syrup and a dusting of cinnamon. Call it lunch (I did) or breakfast or even a mid-afternoon snack with a mug of hot tea, but whatever you call it you will love this gluten-free treat.
(And thanks to Van's for the waffles.)