Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a trip to the other coast (NUMBER 1!)

NUMBER 1 - homemade pasta at dad's

Now I want no parental rivalry here. This one goes to dad (and not the buche) because it was a brand new thing for me. When I was growing up, when did anyone ever make homemade pasta? Well, it never happened, but this year my dad got a pasta machine as a gift. The plan was to try it out for the first time and make a scrumptious dinner. Now those of us who know my dad are always confident in his cooking abilities but the pressure had started to build and my dad seemed downright nervous about how he was going to pull this one off. Not only did he pull it off but it was DAMN GOOD. I might even go with the best pasta dish I've ever had--AND it was wheat-free. Beat that!

It had started to get a bit late, everyone was getting a bit nervous about the entire procedure. When I think of homemade pasta, I imagine bubby slaving all day in the kitchen. So, you can imagine the anxiety at Whole Foods at about 5:30 pm. Fifteen minutes later, we were on our way home and a few minutes after that the dough was well underway. The dough consisted of only two ingredients: eggs and flour; white spelt flour in our case. We did a couple of small batches at a time, about 2 cups of flour and 2-3 eggs. Then we rolled the dough, carefully and according to the machine's directions.

Once the pasta (linguine) was cut, we floured and piled it up (not recommended, to avoid sticking). This is when the pasta is supposed to dry but we were hungry and it was getting late, so this step didn't quite happen. Freshly made pasta cooks in just a few minutes. Now here is where it gets fun. Sauteed in a pan (in this order) went: olive oil, turkey bacon (no piggies here!), garlic, truffle paste (black AND white), oyster mushrooms, chives and italian parsley. With parmesan on top! The sauce was perfect; the truffles, mushrooms and turkey bacon melded together into yummy, savory, salty goodness. Definitely worth every bit of effort.

Monday, December 29, 2008

a trip to the other coast (cont'd)

NUMBER 2 - THE BUCHE (de noel)

This one ranks a bit higher than the others since it's a once a year thing. For as long as I can remember, the only Christmas celebration activity done in my family was going to my mom's friend's house for Christmas dinner. My mom (fabulous baker that she is) was in charge of one thing: the Bûche de Noël. It's a thin flourless chocolate jelly roll cake rolled up with fresh whipped cream and then lightly frosted and dusted with powdered sugar. My mom always used a recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook but a similar recipe "Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Roll" is here. In my wheat glory days, the branch stemming off from the rest of the log was a frosted Twinkie, which all of the kids would fight over.

a trip to the other coast (cont'd)

NUMBER 3 - La Playita

Another Santa Monica staple I have been visiting since the youngen days. My dad used to take me here for lunch when I would go with him to work and I have been a loyal follower since. The tacos are good but the seafood is better. Burritos, tacos, tostadas, and my favorite--seafood cocktails! (Specifically shrimp). If you fear eating seafood from a hole in the wall type place, La Playita, my friends, is not for you. But seriously, grow a pair and go check it out. It's delicious and how can so many people be wrong?!

On this visit, I got a medium shrimp cocktail ($6) which has large succulent shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro, all in a tomato juice sauce. Throw on some lime and hot also comes with a side of tostadas.
Notice the classy clear plastic cup. Perhaps a green effort in steering away from the styrofoam?

a trip to the other coast (part 1)

Since I am from LA, I went to go visit my family for the winter holidays (aka, a 4-day extended weekend whirlwind getaway.) Below are some food highlights from my trip, countdown style. I'm going to take a few days here to post these; build some anticipation for my 2 readers out there. Who's excited to see what number one is?!

NUMBER 4- Sparky's

Hands down THE BEST frozen yogurt that ever existed. Granted, I am completely biased since I have been going there since I was toddling. Sparky himself remembers me from those days and reminds me of this when I go with either of my parents. Sparky's always has two flavors of carbolite yogurt, or as my dad calls it, "no-no-no-yogurt" for no fat, no sugar, no carbs, (almost) no calories. My favorite carbolite flavor is angel food cake but flavors change several times a week. As angel food cake was nowhere to be found on my recent visit I went carbolite-free with tart yogurt with white and dark chocolate chips on one visit and fudge and vanilla swirl with peek-a-boos the other.

SIDENOTE: Sparky is the man who got me calling these little treats
peek-a-boos. I (happily) blame him for all of the weird looks I have received at other frozen yogurt shops across the country. Come on people, I know they're called nonpareils but how much more fun is peek-a-boo?!! Embrace the sense of humor here! END SIDENOTE.

Sparky's is housed in Santa Monica, on Main street in Arnold Schwarzenager's old building. We're talking pre-governor days here. In any case, Arnold has since sold the building and due to rising rent costs Sparky has decided to only renew his lease for another 3 years (and this was around last summer). The man is resilient but get it while you can! When a Pinkberry opened down the street a year or two ago and then a Red Mango across the street, I was heartbroken. I was sure it was the end but Sparky's held strong! I may or may not have wooed a couple of groups of people not to cross the street to the dark side but I'm not here to take credit. The only reason this is number 5 is because I always visit when I am home. Several times. Take this visit, 2 out 4 full days, I made a Sparky's run. And it wasn't nearly enough.

Friday, December 26, 2008

airport breakfast

Eating wheat-free can be hard enough. Traveling and eating wheat-free is even harder. Eating wheat-free breakfast on-the-go, while traveling can be nearly impossible.

I always travel with food but sometimes I rather die than eat yet another granola bar from my purse or am just in the mood for something different. Who would have thought that STARBUCKS, out of all places, would be the place to save me the other day in the airport at 7:45 am. With oatmeal! Genius! (Although beware, not gluten-free.) Starbucks now offers oatmeal, with a choice of toppings (brown sugar, dried berries, or nuts). Thanks to the friendly midwest attitude, my barista gave me all 3 toppings. The plain oatmeal is instant and poured into a cup with hot water. At less than $3, you can't really go wrong. For the record, I do not conceptually support Starbucks but they are the only place I can rely on for almost guaranteed soy milk stock (and now oatmeal, too!) Think of all the trips I can go on without worrying about bringing breakfast supplies!

Even though it's instant, the oatmeal tastes pretty good. It doesn't get that gloppy, overcooked consistency that you might find in oatmeal that has been stewing for hours. The dried fruit and nuts are a welcome accompaniment, especially compared to your standard raisin topping. It made waiting for an early morning flight positively pleasant--not an easy thing to do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Top 5 NYC Wheat-Free Spots

1. Babycakes Bakery: I would sell my unborn child to have enough money to buy one of everything in this bakery. The cupcakes are no Magnolia Bakery but they’re good. And everything else is even better.

2. Viva Herbal Pizzeria: Spelt pizza! My “normal” friends happily eat it.

3. The Redhook Vendors: Pupusas and tacos and huaraches, oh my! Masa is my friend.

4. Yuca Bar: For brunch that isn’t toast, English muffin, pancake, or otherwise wheat based, try the Yuca Benedictos or Arepas Benedictos.

5. 16 Handles: This had nothing to do with wheat and everything to do with my love of frozen yogurt. I couldn’t leave it out.

More details (and pictures) of each of these to come!

ready, set, blog!

I’m new to the blog scene, so I imagine that at this point I am writing to myself. If there is in fact anybody out there, I’m happy to provide some background for you. I love food. Truly, the only passion I have been able to discover so far in my relatively young life is food: eating, cooking, reading, watching. It just so happens that I am wheat intolerant. So, if you read about it here, beware, it may contain gluten, soy, nuts, dairy, or some other equally poisonous substance. I am also lactose intolerant, but this does not stop me from consuming copious amounts of chalky Lactaid tablets. That being said, I love GOOD food. It just so happens that it is also wheat-free (and sometimes lactose-free). However, I am not usually consuming any sort of vegan, raw, multi-grain substance but it has been known to happen. So if we’re all on the same page here, read on…