A Tiny Crouton

My plan to catch up on some past reviews this week was derailed by glutening myself for the first time since March.  As I always do after a long spell of not glutening myself, I was starting to wonder if time had reduced the severity of gluten on me.  Apparently not!

I was eating lunch in the work cafeteria on Wednesday with some friends.  I always just eat a giant salad from the salad bar, since it’s a good chance to get some veggies and seems like my most gluten friendly option (although I noticed that they have started specifically listing which items contain gluten, so I may branch out).  Of course, that is a little risky because there are several gluten containing items on the salad bar.  My plan has been to get there early while it’s relatively undisturbed and try to avoid anything right near things with gluten or that look like they may have been cross contaminated.  I’ve had pretty good luck with that.  As my confidence has grown, I’ve gotten more aggressive and stopped avoiding riskily placed items quite so much.

Halfway through lunch, I was taking a bite of my salad and felt an unfamiliar crunch.  It was light and airy, unlike anything I have eaten recently.  It was also totally out of place in my salad, since I hadn’t put anything at all like that in it.  Before I could react, I had swallowed it.  From the texture, I realized it was most likely a bit of crouton or possibly a piece of the little crunchy noodle like things they have on the salad bar.  There wasn’t anything that I could do at that point, so I said a little prayer that it was a piece of dried vegetable with a funny texture and theorized that it was such a small amount that I probably would be okay anyway.

I felt fine all afternoon.  I even ran 10 miles (This probably isn’t a wonderful idea if you have glutened yourself since it seems likely to increase the inflammation).  I totally forgot about the lunch incident actually.  It’s not uncommon that there is some concern over cross contamination eating out and I’ve gotten a lot better about not worrying about it.

I was going to go out that night, but I felt pretty exhausted so I decided to just stay in and watch TV.  My throat started to hurt, but I thought maybe it was just dry from dehydration due to my run, so I had some water.  As the night went on, more fatigue and body aches set in.  I took a massive dose of l-glutamine and some other supplements in case I was coming down with a cold and went to bed early.  Trying to fall asleep, listening to my stomach gurgling, I realized my tiny crouton was probably the culprit.  Thrashing around all night, having issues with hand numbness and temperature regulation pretty much confirmed things.

Thursday was pretty difficult.  I went to work, but just got worse all day.  My throat was much worse and my body was killing me.  My insides ached.  The night really sucked.  I alternated between blazing hot and freezing cold.  Sometimes I was both, even though that makes no sense.  Late in the morning, I finally got a little sleep, but given how bad I was, I called out sick when I got up.

Luckily, I’ve improved a tremendous amount today.  That’s pretty encouraging.  I can handled two or three days of feeling bad.  I just hate the impact that it has on my life when it lasts longer, particularly the brain fog and effect on mood.  Hopefully, that shorter duration is due to some of the measures I’ve taken and will be the norm in the future.

On the bright side, I feel pretty terrible when I get glutened, but I don’t have the severe stomach problems some people have.  It’s more like something worse then a cold but probably not quite as severe as the flu for me with a few other symptoms throw in.  Knowing that, and having some idea how long it will take to pass, has made it somewhat easier for me to deal with as time has gone on.  The really tough part is that in addition to the physical problems, it messes up your head and causes a lot of anxiety which makes the experience much worse.  That seems better this time too, possible due to taking more l-glutamine.

When I couldn’t sleep last night, I read this thread on how to recover after being glutened.  In addition to having many suggestions that I have never heard of (ginger, Epson salts, anti-inflammatory foods), it was somehow reassuring to read how similar many people’s experience is to mine.  It also makes me realize that I’m really lucky to not have reactions as severe as some of them along with other food intolerances.  The next time you gluten yourself, check it out!  It might make you feel better too!

My personal approach after getting glutened is GlutenEase as soon as possible, a probiotic for a day or two, and frequent, some fish oil, large doses of l-glutamine, and a lot of water.  I’m not sure how much the GlutenEase or probiotic help, but I feel certain the l-glutamine makes a big difference.  I also take some vitamins like C, D, and zinc just because it’s never entirely clear to me at that point if I’m glutened or just getting sick.  I’m going to add Advil in the future since many people mentioned it in that thread and I think their reasoning of it controlling inflammation makes sense.

All that from one tiny crouton!

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Bueno Y Sano – Springfield, MA

I tried out Bueno Y Sano, a small local Mexican restaurant chain tonight.  Bueno Y Sano, which started out in Amherst, MA in 1995, now has 5 locations across Massachusetts and one in Burlington, VT.  I went to the Springfield, MA location at 880 Sumner Ave.

Bueno Y Sano doesn’t have a specific gluten free menu, but on my findmeglutenfree app, it said, “Most of our menu is gluten free as long as you do not have a flour tortilla.  You can order any burrito without a tortilla or with corn tortillas on the side.”  When I asked about this in the store, the woman behind the counter started talking about seitan (this is also mentioned in a Yelp review that I had previously read).  I was pretty confused by that, so I told her I had celiac, wanted a steak burrito, and made a big show of throwing a few bucks in the tip jar so she wouldn’t gluten me.  I ordered my “burrito” with everything on it: rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo (tomato, cilantro, and onion) and mild sauce.

My order was ready amazingly quickly, maybe a minute tops.  While it is fast food in the sense that you order at counter, it comes very quickly, and you seat yourself, it came on a metal plate and there was real silver wear, which I thought was a nice touch.  I would classify it as upscale fast food.  Since I didn’t have a tortilla (I’ll try to remember to ask about the corn tortilla’s next time along with other options beside burritos), the stuffing of the tortilla was piled on the plate.  It was a pretty generous portion (see pic below).

I thought the food itself was very good.  While it is similar to a fast food experience, the food was much, much better.  The most notable elements were how fresh the ingredients tasted and that it had just the perfect amount of kick for me (admittedly, I’m a wuss).  It was an excellent “burrito”!

As far as Mexican fast food goes, Bueno Y Sano is levels above Taco Bell.  As a former Taco Bell fanboy, this pains me to admit, but it is undeniable.  I’m guessing Chipolte is a better (but I’m assuming inferior) comparison.  Shockingly, I’ve never tried Chipolte due to cross contamination concerns.  I’ve eased up quite a bit on my worries about cross contamination recently (I don’t seem to be super sensitive) and I don’t think those concerns are any greater at Chipolte than Bueno Y Sano (they have very similar looking setups) so I will try Chipolte very soon and compare the two.

Overall, I thought Bueno Y Sano was pretty great since I’ve missed eating at places like this.  It is right by my house (and I drive directly by it getting to and from the highway), so I like the idea of being able to grab a quick bite at a reasonable price (the burritos range from $5.75 to $9.00 with my steak burrito being $7.50.).  Plus, I love Mexican food so that is a huge plus.  I’ll be back soon!

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Triumphant Return!

After 6 long months with no updates, byebyebarley’s back!

Obviously, I’ve been terrible about updating my blog.  I actually have had great material, so I have no excuse.  I want to thank all my loyal reader for hanging in there during my absence.  I promise – I won’t desert you again!

I’ve lost track of everywhere I’ve eaten, but expect many reviews of restaurants in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.  Even more excitingly, byebyebarley has gone international!  Exciting gluten free updates of London, Paris, and Italy are coming soon!

While some of the details have become a bit hazy with time (I usually drink while I’m at these places!), I’ll try to post at least short or summarized reviews of everywhere I’ve been.  To get the ball rolling, I will start out with a local Mexican chain, Bueno Y Sano, that I tried out tonight.

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Swine – New York City

I recently tried out Swine, a gluten friendly restaurant on 531 Hudson Street in the West Village.  On Swine’s website it says, “We combine food and drink selections at wide price points, amazing music, sexy ambiance, “rock and roll” vibe, but along with warm service to create a sense of “place” in order to reach our goal of being the fine food and beverage loving New Yorker’s spot of choice.“  I found that to be a very accurate description.

There was a bit of a wait for dinner, so we headed to the bar to a drink.  Swine has an excellent drink menu, with several naturally gluten free rums, tequilas, and even two potato vodkas, Tito’s and Liv.  A couple of the specialty cocktails, The Aristocrat and Hot Love, both appeared to be gluten free, but the bar was pretty loud and I thought it would be tough to ask, so I settled for a Tito’s and Tonic.  I plan on ordering Hot Love next time though!

Our table opened up and we headed downstairs to the restaurant for dinner.  Swine is set up with a bar upstairs and a small dining area downstairs.  I really liked the atmosphere at Swine; I think they hit the sexy ambiance they were shooting for.

We told our waiter that we were dining gluten free and he immediately produced gluten free bread, which he informed us was baked fresh, right in Carroll Gardens, by Karen Freer of Free Bread.  Okay, okay, due to the Tito’s I don’t really remember what exactly he told us, so I just copied that off of their website. :)   I always think gluten free bread is a nice touch so I don’t have to sit there just watching others eat their bread, but honestly, gluten free bread usually sucks.  This gluten free bread was awesome, however!  It was by far the best gluten free bread I have every had!!!  They can substitute the same bread for anything on the menu served on or with bread.

We started off with 5 selections on “the boards”.  Fittingly, that is a board with little appetizers on it.  Everything we ordered was excellent, but my personal favorite was the Grafton Cheddar Cheese with Bacon Marmalade.  Bacon Marmalade!  Awesome.  The Tongue Pastrami was also very good, my second favorite of the five.

Next, we split the Pan Roasted Ocean Trout and the Bone Marrow & Brisket Burger.  The Ocean Trout was good, and we had to order it since we had just had a long conversation about pan roasting (I’m trying to learn how to cook).  The Bone Marrow & Brisket Burger was awesome!

For dessert we split the Gluten-Free Cookie Plate: orange cranberry pecan, dark chocolate toffee, and salted milk chocolate caramel.  Amazing – so many great flavors!

Overall, I loved Swine and I’m looking forward to returning.  I give it my highest recommendation.

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Five Napkin Burger – New York City

I’ve been to Five Napkin Burger twice, once many months ago, and again a couple of weeks ago.  I believe my first visit was to the Hell’s Kitchen location at 630 9th Ave and my second to the Upper West Side restaurant at 2315 Broadway.  My dining companion is in charge of NYC navigation (among other things) so I may be off on which locations we’ve visited.

Assuming I’m correct, the one on Hell’s Kitchen had a gluten free menu, while the Upper West Side version did not.  Despite not having a gluten free menu, the bartender said they could make any (I think ) of the burgers gluten free.  I can’t remember which burger I had the first time, but I had a bacon cheeseburger the second time, which was very good.

To me, the best thing about 5 Napkin Burger is the beverages.  I miss being able to have a burger and a beer in a restaurant.  5 Napkin Burger had New Grist gluten free beer on the menu.  I also love cider, which 5 Napkin has several of on the menu.  I opted for cider on each of my visits.  Finally, several of their signature cocktails are made with Titos Vodka, a naturally gluten free corn vodka!

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Heartland Brewery – New York City

I tried out Heartland Cafe, at 625 8th Avenue (at 41st St in Midtown), in New York City a couple of weeks ago.  I was actually planning to go to Market Cafe, on 9th Avenue, but I arrived around 4 PM on a Sunday afternoon to find them closing.  They informed me they were only open for brunch on Sunday.  I like brunch and going to the website to add the link for this review, I see that they have “unlimited Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, Skrewdrivers, or Margaritas” by adding $12 to any entree (I think this is just with brunch).  I’m confident my dining companion and I can more than get our money’s worth out of that deal:), so I think I’ll be taking a Monday off from work soon!

In this case, I was starving, dining alone, and had stupidly worn very uncomfortable shoes to NYC (my feet were actually bleeding when I got home!).  So, I fired up my gluten free app, hoping for something close.  Heartland Cafe was my closest good option, and although I wasn’t that excited about it, I limped on over.  I’m glad I did!

Since I was alone, I got seated at a little table near the bar.  Perfect.  I asked for a gluten free menu and the waiter informed me that the gluten free options were marked on the regular menu.  Surveying the menu, I spotted Hickory Smoked BBQ St. Louis Ribs as a gluten free option.  I realized that dining alone was the perfect opportunity to eat super messy food, so I quickly ordered them.  The waiter mentioned that they came with fries, so I asked him if they had a separate frier.  He told me they prepared all of the gluten free food in a completely separate kitchen!  Awesome!  I ordered a full rack!

I’ve actually very rarely eaten ribs, because I’m pretty self conscious about eating them in public and I don’t know how to make them (note to blog stalker: we should make ribs!)  So, I’m not an expert or anything.  I thought they were awesome.  The perfect meal to eat when starving!  The fries were decent too, particularly because I felt I could eat them with some confidence (but I popped a glutenease for good measure).  The food at Heartland Cafe definitely exceeded my expectations.

I had read some reviews of Heartland mentioning that they brewed their own gluten fee beer.  I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that ByeByeBarley forgot to ask them about this, but he had a long drive home.  I’ll ask next time and report back!

While Heartland Cafe had several locations, it appears the Midtown West location is the only one with a gluten free menu. :(

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Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zaytinya – Washington D.C.

On our recent trip to Washington D.C., we were able to try out three fantastic Jose Andres owned restaurants: Jaleo, Oyamel, and Zaytinya.  All have a similar small plate dining philosophy, extensive gluten free menus, and delicious food.

Our first stop was Jaleo, a Spanish tapas restaurant, located at 480 7th St, NW.  Everything we had was great with the highlight being the Ferran Adria Liquid Olives.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have even known to order that, but fortunately for me, my dining companion is very smart!  Service was just okay as there seemed to be food critic there garnering most of our waiter’s attentions.  ByeByeBarley.com apparently gets very little respect! :)

The next night we hit Oyamel for Mexican at 401 7th St, NW.  The food was excellent, although I felt I might have liked the food at Jaleo slightly better.  That may simply have been a matter of how hungry I was or what we ordered, however.  The food was still great.  I liked the atmosphere and service at Oyamel a little better than Jaleo, so I would rate my overall experience at the two about equal.

Our final destination was Zaytinya at 701 9th St, NW for a Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese lunch.  Of the three, this was the restaurant we there the least excited about, but it actually turned out to be my favorite of the three!  Great food, atmosphere, and service!  The only small issue was that waitress forgot to bring our olive order and brought them out when we mentioned this after we had finished all the other courses.  That was a little disappointing since they would have been good to munch on throughout but were way too strong to just eat at the end.

Overall, these are three amazing restaurants that I very highly recommend!

Obligatory pics below.  Unfortunately, I think I forgot to photograph a few dishes, notably the Liquid Olive. :(

Note: I’ve been informed by my dining companion that this review does not do the restaurants justice, so I will have to rewrite it.  Stay tuned for an update!!!

Jaleo

Oyamel

Zaytinya

 

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Fuel Pizza – Washington D.C.

I’ve been slacking horribly in updating my blog, but I was in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago and tried out a few different restaurants that were gluten free.  The first is Fuel Pizza.  The have several locations in North Carolina and Washington D.C; we ate at the one at 1606 K Street NW in D.C.

Fuel serves other things like wings, sandwiches, and calzones, but I don’t believe any of those are gluten free.  The serve both slices and pies of normal pizza, but only full pies of the gluten free version.  I believe they had a fairly small size available, so this isn’t a real problem unless you are in a huge rush and don’t want to wait for it.  There is a list of 35 “pie parts” to add to your pizza with the vast majority being gluten free.

It has been a few weeks and I didn’t take any pictures of our pizza, so I can’t remember what toppings we had on it.  While I may have been biased a bit by being absolutely starving at the time, I really liked it.  It was wasn’t fancy, just good solid pizza.  Compared to other pizzas that I’ve tried, it had very thin crust.  I have always generally liked thin crust pizzas, but I think it is a particularly good idea for gluten free pizza crust since, unfortunately, the crust usually isn’t the highlight of gluten free pizza.  Overall, Fuel Pizza is definitely worth trying if you’re in the area.

Most importantly, Fuel Pizza also serves gluten free Red Bridge beer.  Can’t go wrong with gluten free Pizza and Beer!!!

More D.C. reviews on the way!

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Nizza – New York City

I recently ate a Nizza Restaurant at 630 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen.  I wasn’t really aware of Nizza beforehand, but while we were searching for a place to eat I noticed it had a bunch of great review on Find Me Gluten Free.  We decided to give it a shot, which turned out to be a great decision.  It’s my new favorite Manhattan gluten free restaurant!

Nizza has an extensive gluten free menu.  Along with many appetizers and entrees, Nizza has gluten free bread, desserts,  beer (Estralla Daura), pasta (La Veneziane corn pasta), and pizza.  Well technically, they don’t exactly have gluten free pizza, but they have Socca, a crispy chickpea pancake, on the menu with exactly the same toppings as some of their pizzas.  I will definitely be trying that in the future.

Our meal started with gluten free bread.  While I’ve never been a big bread eater anyway, it is nice not to be excluded from that part of the meal.  It looked far different than the other bread (picture below), but I generally liked it.  My dining companion, who had the non-gluten free bread tried it and described it as “savory”, which I thought was an excellent description.

I had the Tuna “Nizza”, which is a Ligurian style marinated tuna with caperberries, castelvetrano olives, roasted potatoes & haricots verts.  My dining companion ordered the Porcetta, also prepared gluten free for sharing purposes.  Both of these were fantastic and among the best gluten free meals I’ve had!

Overall, I would rank Nizza as the number one gluten free restaurant I’ve been to in New York.  They have great food, excellent service, and a wide selection of gluten free options.

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