Saturday, May 18, 2019

Non-Dairy Chobani Review

If you asked me what I miss the most since going dairy-free, without a doubt I would say yogurt. No matter how many brands and new products have made their debut in the refrigerated section, I have yet to find a non-dairy yogurt that has the right consistency and is also not loaded with sugar. 

You see, yogurt was a staple of my pre-dairy-free life, and was a staple of my morning routine, whether eaten on its own or with a sprinkling of granola. Back in those days, Chobani's greek yogurts were the gold standard. Once I discovered my dairy intolerance, their yogurts neared the top of the list of products that have left a yet-to-be filled vacuum in my fridge (and heart).

That all changed when I learned that Chobani has debuted new non-dairy "yogurt" that's coconut-based in a traditional cup and travel-friendly drinkable versions. Ecstatic at the prospect that this company and food group could reenter my life, I eagerly purchased one of each of the offerings my local Giant had in store so as to set up a cautiously optimistic taste test to see if these are the real deal. 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Gluten-Free Tesco Sandwich Review

During my holiday abroad to London back in February, I soaked in every sight and sound of the city, as it was my first trip abroad. While the historic buildings, incredible museums, and London's general buzz were memorable, a large part of how I explored and experienced the city was through the variety of foods and dining experiences I had, spanning humble fast-casual fare to a lavish, unforgettable high tea. 

Of all the restaurants and products I tried, I have to admit that one of the MVPs of my week abroad was Tesco, the British grocery chain whose Tesco Express micro stores are ubiquitous in the city. As the penultimate post from that February trip, I wanted to dedicate this review not only to Tesco, but one particular product: their gluten-free sandwiches. If you're wondering why I would dedicate so much real estate on the blog to one product, read on and discover why this humble offering was a reliable and convenient companion for my travels. 
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Flower Child Review

One thing I love about living in Washington, DC  is that our fast casual dining scene is always expanding. With each new restaurant that comes to the city, the bar is set ever higher for  culinary creativity at an accessible price point. 

I was thrilled when I heard the health-conscious chain Flower Child would open in Foggy Bottom in February, but didn't have a chance to stop by until now, waiting for spring weather to well and truly arrive before making a trek over to the neighborhood. 

This location is part of Flower Child's expansion into the area, and coincides with the arrival of sister locations in Bethesda and Rockville. 

Sporting a menu featuring scratch-made dishes that lend themselves to be gluten, dairy, and sugar-free friendly as well as welcoming to vegetarians, vegans, and paleo foodies alike, I was impressed by their welcoming ethos and fun menu, with quirky and inspired takes on the usual lineup of bowls and salads that are the backbone of any fast casual restaurant. As my first introduction to this chain, I couldn't wait to see how this accommodating approach would translate to the real life experience. 
Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hotel Chocolat Free From Chocolate Review

While on holiday in London back in February, I couldn't help but notice Hotel Chocolat stores almost everywhere I went. This British chocolatier and cocoa grower is the only company in the UK that grows cocoa on its own plantation, and it's stores are filled with a myriad of fun and tempting treats. 

Unfortunately, most of the chocolate creations made by Hotel Chocolat have a warning that they may contain wheat so they are off limit to celiacs and gluten-free foodies. As it happened however, my visit conveniently coincided with the rollout of Hotel Chocolat's new line of free from chocolates, which promise high quality chocolates sans gluten, dairy, and nuts. Naturally, as soon as I heard, I made a point to stop by Hotel Chocolat's Euston Station shop to pick up samples to review.
Sunday, April 7, 2019

ROLLN Review

After all these years of being gluten-free, it still amazes me when I discover new restaurants where I can (safely) experience a cuisine for the first. Such is the case with ROLLN, a New York City sushi restaurant that recently made the bold and brave decision to go completely gluten-free.  

Other than a few one-off occasions of trying sushi (I'm looking at you Wegmans), I have largely avoided seeking sushi out because of lurking gluten in sauces and ingredients such as soy sauce. 

Recognizing that the central components of sushi are naturally gluten-free, ROLLN committed to sourcing higher quality (and therefore gluten-free) ingredients and making everything in-house to set themselves apart as as a sushi restaurant that not only serves safe gluten-free sushi, but serves up a product that's a higher quality because of their attention to real, fresh ingredients. 

Excited to truly try something new and impressed by ROLLN's gluten-free ethos and commitment to our community, I made sure to stop by their shop the first chance I had to visit New York City. During my latest work trip to the city, ROLLN was the first stop I made after arriving to the city, making a beeline straight to their adorable mint green shop in the flatiron district. 
Saturday, April 6, 2019

Chaia Tacos Review

Now that I've finally caught up with my London reviews (with a few more yet to come), I was excited to turn my sights back stateside and resume exploring gluten-free eats in my own backyard. 

Whenever anyone asks me about where to eat out in Washington DC, Chaia Tacos is more often than not my first recommendation. With an entirely gluten-free menu and innovative take on vegetarian tacos that is downright inspired, they have every box checked when it comes to my idea of a perfect restaurant. 

That being said, my one and only complaint over the years has been that their Georgetown location, albeit cute and homey, is just too far out of the way of my daily life to make visits to Chaia a regular habit. That all changed however when they opened up their second location in the more centrally located Chinatown. Now with Chaia just blocks from my office, I was more than ready to rekindle my love affair with them, and write an updated review, since my last review was written several years ago. 
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea at Claridge's Review

I'm not entirely sure whether being gluten-free has made me a foodie (by being hyperaware of what I eat), or if I was a foodie who developed a gluten-intolerance. Either way, if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that food is a central part of how I explore and experience the world. 

In fact, when building my London itinerary, I made sure to prioritize not only the sights I wanted to see, but also uniquely British experiences where food plays a central role. Of course the grandest example of this is afternoon tea, the daily ritual that has been a tradition since the 19th century. 

When researching options for afternoon tea, I discovered offerings from various venues ranging from a casual meal to formal multi-course affairs. As this was my first trip abroad and a perfect excuse to dress up for the occasion, I narrowed my options down to London's most revered and famed purveyors of afternoon tea. After much debate, I decided to book my reservation for Claridge's, won over by their tantalizing menu, storied history, and legendary service. Because I so rarely dine out at such a splendid venue, I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience from the moment I walked in. 
Sunday, March 31, 2019

Gluten-Free Options at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

When I knew I was planning my visit to London last month, I tried to tailor my itinerary so I was avoiding many major tourist attractions. Crowds and queueing are just not my thing and I much prefer to experience a destination by getting off the beaten path. However, as I was planning my trip, I knew I would make one big exemption to my rule: visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden for a chance to see the sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films up close and personal. 

Admittedly, I'm a huge Potter fan (see my reviews from the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando), so this was one outing where I didn't mind the tourist-y trappings at all. As a delightfully simple day trip from London, I made sure to have snacks on hand to munch on throughout the day, but was curious to see if there were gluten-free options available in the attraction's Backlot Cafe.

Hemsley + Hemsley Cafe at Selfridges Review

Now I'm not much of a shopper, but when I was planning my trip to London, I knew I wanted to pay a visit to Selfridges, the storied department store that is the second-largest shop in the UK and whose Oxford Street doors have been welcoming customers for over 100 years. 

While part of my visit was motivated by seeing the spectacle of Selfridges, I was also motivated by the lure of Hemsley + Hemsely, a cafe nestled in the third floor that serves food free from grains, refined sugars, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when dining out in the middle of the swimsuit section of an astonishingly expansive department store, but it certainly wasn't the carefully crafted, almost calming experience I had. With a health-conscious menu and calming vibe, this was among one of the most relaxing meals I discovered in London.
Friday, March 29, 2019

Pho Review (UK)

On my final night in London, I knew I wanted to lay low and have a low-key night after nonstop sightseeing for a full week. With an late afternoon flight back home to DC the next day, I wanted to use the evening to pack and get situated to make sure my travel to London Heathrow Airport went as smoothly and stress-free as possible.

In looking for soothing, safe places to eat out for my final dinner, I quickly zeroed in on Pho, a UK chain serving up Vietnamese street food and soups where "practically everything" is gluten-free. With a menu not only filled with options, but also reviewed and certified by Coeliac UK, I was sold that this was the perfect place to get a cozy, comfort food meal before a busy day of travel.

The location nearest to my Holborn hotel was in Clerkenwell, which also happens to be the chain's first location. Arriving for an early dinner, I was excited to settle in and enjoy a big bowl of broth and noodles.
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Krumville Bake Shop Review

If there's one thing I know for sure, its that the real MVP of the gluten-free world are gluten-free bakeries. These dedicated bake shops not only serve up sweet and savory baked goods, but provide an all-too-rare experience of normalcy for those who have to live free from the number one ingredient in cakes, breads, and so many other sweets. 

When Antonella from the Brooklyn-based Krumville Bake Shop recently reached out offering a sample of her dairy-free products to review on the blog, I enthusiastically agreed. 

What sets Krumville Bake Shop apart from other gluten-free bakeries is that their artisanal products are made in small batches with carefully selected ingredients, including their own proprietary flour blend. Their ultimate goal is to make products that not only compete with their gluten-free competitors, but can stand up to (and apart from) gluten-containing baked goods. As I reviewed their website in eager anticipation of my order, I got the sense even before my samples arrived that Krumville Bake Shop was going to impress me.
Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beyond Bread Review

Wherever my travels take me, I try to seek out and support 100% gluten-free establishments. Few and far between, these dedicated cafes, bakeries, and restaurants are truly an oasis in a gluten-full world and provide the rare experience of dining out without fear. 

That's why as soon as I landed in London, I started my first morning in the city with breakfast at Beyond Bread, a lovely little gluten-free bakery whose stellar reputation put it on my radar long before my plans were set to visit the UK. I've seen countless other gluten-free bloggers and foodies share mouth-watering photos of their gluten-free baked goods and couldn't wait to have my turn to enjoy their delicious offerings.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Oliver's Fish & Chips Review

Of course I couldn't travel thousands of miles to the UK without seeking out one of Britain's most iconic food pairings: fish and chips. 

After crowdsourcing recommendations for the best gluten-free fish and chips eateries via social media, Oliver's Fish & Chips in Belsize Park quickly made my short list of restaurants to visit. Not only do they have an abundance of gluten-free options, but they dedicate each and every Wednesday to going completely gluten-free.

Dedicating an afternoon to the enjoyment of fish and chips and exploring nearby Camden Market area, I eagerly anticipated enjoying one of my favorite pre-gluten-free meals on UK soil. 
Sunday, March 10, 2019

Leggero Review

For gluten-free diners, dedicated gluten-free Italian restaurants are the closest thing we have to the iconic "candy room" scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You mean everything on the menu is safe? Even the pasta and bread? Absolutely. Therefore, any opportunity to visit such a restaurant makes me want to burst out in spontaneous song. 

In doing my pre-trip homework on eateries I wanted to dine at in London, Leggero topped the list not only because they were a 100% gluten-free establishment, but the pasta, bread, and other dishes on the menu are all crafted with care in-house. Promising attention to detail and an innovative take on Italian cuisine, I made sure to arrive at Leggero with a hearty appetite and culinary curiosity. 
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Leon Review (UK)

Leon's Oxford location.
For my gluten-free, dairy-free review of Leon in the United States, click here.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the United States because I live and work in the only US city (to date) that has Leon. This British fast food chain wowed me last year with their American debut and impressively delivered gluten-free friendly fare that was not only healthy, but absolutely delicious. 

As I was planning my recent UK trip, I knew for certain that stopping by one of Leon's many locations in London was a must, both as a comparison to their stateside shop as well as to try their highly-regarded gluten-free chicken nuggets, a menu item that has not made it across the pond (yet). As it happened, I was able to stop by Leon twice while overseas: I had lunch at their Oxford location and breakfast at Heathrow Airport before jet setting back to the States. 
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Gluten-Free Options on United Airlines International Flight (2019)

Up until now, my frame of reference with airplane food is the pint-sized and often gluten-laden snacks handed out at cruising altitude. Now that I've been gluten-free for several years, I've learned to approach any air travel like a chipmunk, stashing snacks in my carry-on to ensure I'm never without safe sustenance when traveling. 

However, when booking tickets for my first international flight to London, I was excited to see a gluten-free option listed as the meal selection option. While I would still plan to have plenty of snacks (because I guessed there'd be a high likelihood of dairy showing up in the meal), I was excited to see what would be served, and how edible it was (or looked). 
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jaleo Review (Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week Menu)

Here in DC, Jose Andres is one of the district's most beloved residents. Not only are his restaurants excellent and very allergy-friendly (I've reviewed Oyamel, Jaleo, and China Chilcano), but Andres is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization to empower and strengthen communities around the world with education, training, and social enterprise. 

Of his many restaurants, Jaleo is definitely a crown jewel, and features an exciting menu of Spanish tapas, paella, and sangria in a colorful and energetic space. With a recent visit from my mom coinciding with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington's winter restaurant week, I knew we had to make plans for lunch at Jaleo to seize this unmissable opportunity to sample several courses off the menu. Although I have dined a Jaleo once before (several years ago), this visit would be my first time dining at their flagship location in Penn Quarter so I eagerly anticipated this opportunity for the full experience.
Monday, February 11, 2019

Shouk Review

If there's been a theme emerging in my recent blog posts, it's that I've been delightfully surprised by new-to-me fast casual restaurants that have elevated the build-a-bowl model to exciting new levels. As such, I was excited to give DC-based Shouk a try, as their website promised a fresh take on bowls inspired by Israeli cuisine.

What's notable about Shouk is that the restaurant's menu is completely plant-based. They use no animal byproducts, and rely on fresh vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds as the building blocks for bowls. That means everything is dairy-free, and much of the menu is gluten-free friendly too (but be sure to skip the pita). 
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Little Sesame Review

If you are a hummus-lover, this review is especially for you, because DC's Little Sesame elevates the middle eastern spread from a grocery-aisle staple to the star of the show. 

Located in the bustling Golden Triangle neighborhood (in the former home of Veloce, may it rest in peace), Little Sesame brings a decidedly different take on the current fast-casual bowl craze. With a fun and inviting space and focus on real, artfully prepared ingredients, the restaurant is a refreshing break from the mold of my usual go-to bowl places around the city.

Enticed by rave reviews and an intriguing menu, I was excited to see how Little Sesame would measure up compared to some particularly impressive experiences I've had lately.
Saturday, January 26, 2019

Momo Yakitori Review

After doing quite a bit of travel to New York City recently, I have definitely been looking forward to pay renewed attention to gluten-free eats in my home city of Washington DC this month. 

As it happened, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington's (RAMW) winter restaurant week, occurring right in the middle of January, was the perfect excuse to seek out new eats in the new year. The beauty of RAMW restaurant week is that the menus are structured so that you get the rare opportunity to have a multi-course meal for an unbeatable price at some of the region's top restaurants.

RAMW's website makes searching by neighborhood and cuisine a breeze, which is how I discovered Momo Yakitori, a Japanese restaurant in the quiet Brookland neighborhood. Serving up creative takes on the traditional yakitori style of street cuisine, Momo Yakitori's menu also happens to be completely gluten-free, which sold me on dining there in an instant. Excited to discover another dedicated gluten-free restaurant in DC and have a rare opportunity to enjoy Japanese fare, I eagerly anticipated my dinner each day leading up to it.
Thursday, January 24, 2019

La Esquina Taqueria Review

If there's one genre of food that I simply don't get enough of here in DC it's tacos. 

When I lived in Baltimore, I was spoiled by having two 100% gluten-free taquerias in the city to satisfy my cravings. Since leaving Charm City, my taco consumption has dramatically decreased, so when 100% gluten-free La Esquina's midtown taqueria popped up as nearby restaurant when I was looking for a lunch spot close to Studio 54 (where I was catching a show), I didn't need more than a second to to decide that was the perfect pre-show stop.

On the brisk, grey, January day I visited, La Esquina's colorful exterior was a wonderful break from the less-than-magical streets now that the magic and cheer of the holiday season are over. From the moment I walked in, their helpful staff welcomed me, and immediately asked without my prompting if I had dietary restrictions (and also explained that they were completely gluten-free without me having to ask). Already at ease and eager to see how their tacos would measure up against some of the greats I've enjoyed over the years, I ordered a small feast to sample around the menu.
Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dig Inn Review

Over the past few months, I've been lucky enough to find myself in NYC for both work and for fun. On one such trip, I received a tip from an Instagram follower (thank you @shrinkmuch!) to check out Dig Inn, which serves up seasonally-inspired bowls that are made with farm-fresh ingredients that are naturally gluten-free.

With this description I'm sure Dig Inn sounds like every other fast-casual, healthy fare, build-a-bowl concept that is popping up in these days. I must admit that I too was skeptical initially because this mold of restaurant has reached a saturation point. However, always on the lookout for quick, affordable, and (most importantly) safe food in New York, I decided to check my preconceived notions at the door and see if Dig Inn could break the fast-casual mold or stand apart from the pack.
Sunday, January 6, 2019

Mänchi Review

If there's one edge New York City's culinary scene has over Washington DC's, it's the abundance of 100% dedicated gluten-free restaurants. While I greatly appreciate non-dedicated restaurants that go over and above to accommodate gluten-free guests, there's just nothing like the peace of mind that comes from walking into an eatery and being to eat anything on the menu (or almost anything, as I am also dairy-free).

On my latest weekend jaunt up to city, I wanted to make a point to seek out new restaurants, as during my most recent trips I have revisited old favorites I have reviewed before. To aid my planning, I pulled up this list of gluten-free restaurants in New York City from Erin Smith (from the Gluten-Free Globetrotter blog). 

After reviewing her list, the fast casual Indian food eatery Mänchi jumped out to me. Located just steps from my arrival point, New York Penn Station, I knew this would be the perfect first stop in the city after my three hour train journey from Washington DC.