Happily chowing down on Famiglia’s gluten-free pizza at Yankee Stadium- not bad for stadium pizza and for $8.50 a pie!
I am a December baby; born on the winter solstice. I am ambivalent about being born so close to Christmas. On one hand, I absolutely love the holiday season; the lights; the music; the general good spirits. On the other, my birthday will always take a back seat Jesus’. I am reluctant to celebrate my birthday like others would, because it’s always just a tiny bit inconvenient for folks. But, my family makes a point to separately celebrate, even if I’m not insistent. I was insistent on one thing: a gluten-free birthday cake. This year, I chose a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and strawberry filling (we used frozen strawberries and it worked fine). We used a box mix for the cake because I was at my mother’s house, which doesn’t have all the GF essentials for baking, and made the frosting and filling. The cake was a semi-success. It tasted great, although the cake was a little dense, but it did not stay together. It slipped and slid all over the place. If you create a layered gluten-free cake, because the cake doesn’t rise too much and not all that evenly, I recommend slicing the rounded tops to create nice even surfaces for the cakes to rely on. Additionally, to prevent sliding, use less filling!
My mom thoughtfully made reservations for birthday dinner at a restaurant that I’ve been to and reviewed before, Rizzuto’s, in Westport, CT. My mom discovered that it was gluten-free friendly and so it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday. I chose pizza again, over pasta, and was nervous when the below came out from the kitchen:
I reminded the server that I had ordered a gluten-free pizza, and she whisked it away…and then brought it back! They had changed their dough recipe to be thin-crust, different from the thick crust pizza I was used to there. I’m glad they did! The thin crust was much easier to consume than its thicker cousin and provided a better base for the delicious toppings. I highly recommend Rizzuto’s if you’re ever in Fairfield County and itching for some GF pizza or pasta.
For Christmas this year, my sister and I were tasked with making dessert to accommodate our family’s dietary restrictions (gluten and nut-free). We ultimately decided upon
a pear-cranberry pie and the reliably good, flourless chocolate cake.
I chose pie because I haven’t eaten pie since Thanksgiving 2009 and I was feeling selfish. I googled “holiday pies” and came across this handy slideshow from Martha Stewart.
I decided on pear and cranberry because cranberries = holiday and pears are like apples, but aren’t associated so much with Thanksgiving and fall. I have to admit that the crust isn’t homemade, but store bought from Whole Foods. We had little time and a lot of tasks, so we went the Sandra Lee route here. We followed Martha’s recipe and it turned out pretty good. We did, however, create a beautiful true lattice, instead of a faux, like Martha recommends, that was pretty easy to do. My one suggestion to Martha would be to reduce the cranberries and up the pears. It was a little too tart.
I really love flourless chocolate cake. It’s light and rich at the same time, and always a crowd-pleaser. We used Nigella Lawson’s recipe and it was a great success. The only problem we had is that it rose too much! The oven we used is not really reliable, so we think it was a baking error and not a recipe error. Nevertheless it turned out light, rich, and really really chocolatey. We made a cranberry sauce for it to make it look prettier, but I wouldn’t recommend it, since I think it mostly took away from the chocolate flavor.
Viva Herbal Pizzeria
179 2nd Avenue, NY, NY
I am recommending this place with some caveats. It is fabulous to take all of your restricted-diet-diner friends (think vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free) and their pizzas, as evidenced by this photo, were topped with beautiful looking fresh veggies and other ingredients. BUT they failed to provide the basic necessity of a good pizza. The crust. It was flavorless and mushy. AND you had to order a whole pie to get the cornmeal crust, and it was not cheap.
Crust, convenience, cost=not so much.
At least it makes for a pretty picture.
Nizza, 630 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10036
While reading Celiac Chick’s post on her trip to Italy, I learned about socca, the gluten-free chickpea flour bread popular in Italy and Nice, France that can be topped like a pizza. I also learned that I could get it here in NYC, at Nizza.
The timing couldn’t have been better. I had a dinner-date with my friend Erin, who is also a celiac, and I was tasked with picking the restaurant. Reservations for two at 6:15 on a Wednesday were no problem and easily confirmed with opentable.com. Nizza has a warm, cozy ambience, is darkly lit, and mostly arranged in tables of two; but instead of feeling romantic and calm, it is actually quite lively and at 6:30 was buzzing with conversation.
Since Erin was running late, I had a good long time to look at the menu. Nizza has a gluten-free menu that is certified by the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program. Awesome. I knew that I wanted the socca, because that is why I chose Nizza. But, Nizza had some intriguing pasta options made with Le Veneziane corn pasta. THis pasta has ben extolled by many GF-ers and non-GFers alike (just good the name and you’ll see). I have yet to try it. Next time.
When Erin arrived, we orered a half carafe of the house red, because its cheap and I just love drinking wine from a carafe. Reminds me of France. There is also a gluten free beer on the menu- Bard’s- my favorite. NIzza earns extra points for that. Erin went back and forth between the pasta and the socca, but ultimately, we both ordered the socca. Erin had the quattro formaggi and I had the artichoke, goat cheese, and olive socca It wasn’t on the menu, but the waiter said it was his favorite and I’m a sucker for goat cheese. They were beautiful. I forgot my camera, so I can’t show you, but they were beautiful. Erin put her socca in my face to smell and the four fragrant cheeses filled my nostrils. My socca wasn’t as fragrant, but it was quite delicious. The chickpea flour crust was softer than regular pizza crust, which made eating it with a fork a knife necessary. I would have preferred more goat cheese, because you can never have too much cheese, but otherwise it was perfect. The salty olive combined quite nicely with the sweet, rich goat cheese, and the texture of the artichoke kept each bite interesting. Mmmm. It was a satisfying meal with good company, good food, and good wine.
Oh, if you want to make you’re own socca, Mark Bittman has a recipe. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my to do list.
Hi, I’m Claire.
I began my gluten-free life the week of Thanksgiving 2009. After 9 months of blood tests and confusion, my severe iron deficiency anemia was finally attributed to celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder whose only “cure” is to stop eating gluten. Forever. I could go on about celiac disease, but I’ll leave that to the doctors. What concerned me most about the diagnosis was the diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt- i.e. flour, bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods, and a multitude of other food products. What on earth was I going to do? I lived on those foods and there would be gluten abound at our Thanksgiving dinner. It was a tough week.
After the initial shock, I began to pour myself into researching gluten-free this, gluten-free that and found that I had to dig to find where I could get a slice of gluten free pizza, and I still don’t know where I can buy gluten-free beer other than Whole Foods. I live in New York City, probably one of the best places to have this dietary restriction, and eating gluten-free can still be tough. This brings me to this blog. I’m creating this to document my sans gluten adventures and also to share my experiences and discoveries with all of you out there with this diet. Enjoy!