Gluten Free Desserts in December

Crave Bake Shop on the Food Network

Regular readers will remember that Kyra from Crave Bake Shop in Lake Oswego was on the TV show Cupcake Wars a year ago. It looks like she’s going to be on another Food Network show coming on Sunday, December 18th, at 5 pm Pacific. Here’s the message she sent:

…You might be interested in checking us out on a new (never before seen) show on the Food Network on December 18th at 8pm EST.

We saw the Cupcake Wars episode that she was on, and have to say that reality shows are a lot more exciting when you can root for the home team. We’re hoping to check this out.

Buche de Noel at Pix

Buche de Noel at Pix Patisserie

Speaking of favorite dessert places, Pix Patisserie has some gluten free Buche de Noel available for the Holidays! All of their Buche de Noel are gluten free except for the Candy Cane Ice Cream Cake. Our review of Pix is here. We go there on special occasions and always leave happy. Here are details.

Bûche de Noël is the holiday cake in every French household. Traditionally they are made with a rolled sponge cake and butter cream. Some of the best shops offer creations with fresh fruits, mousse, or even ice cream. Here are Pix’s creations…9” cake $36

Bûche Traditional – The classic cake resembling the Yule log – chocolate flourless sponge cake rolled up with your choice of Hazelnut, Coffee or Vanilla Bean cream. Add a quart of Pix ice cream for $12 (and a real treat!)

Sicilian – Canoli filling, kirsch cherries, chocolate mousse and chocolate flourless sponge cake.

Chocolate Port Fig – Shiny glazed chocolate mousse, port-soaked figs, salted Marcona almonds, chocolate ganache and chocolate cake.

Petunia’s Pies in the Oregonian

Petunia’s got written up in the Oregonian, and the article mentions that a retail store is in the works for next year (see our review of Petunia’s here). The deadline for ordering Petunia’s pastries, cookies, cookie doughs & desserts is this Friday 12/16. Pick up is on December 23 between 11-2.

Event Reminder – Thirst Wine Bar

(Later note: this event was cancelled due to lack of attendees.)

Back in March, we heard from the Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro that they are having a gluten-free wine dinner event in mid May. This would probably make a great Mother’s Day gift for anyone out there who happens to be stumped about what to get their mom. We heard from them that it’s not too late to get seating. Here is their event announcement (edited by us for brevity):

Love Wine? Gluten Intolerant or Celiac? Thirst is a gluten free-friendly restaurant (about 90% gluten free, no flour used for thickening etc)*. We have many GF customers and decided to create a fun gluten free wine dinner. Limited Seating – only 28 seats (we plan on having another dinner in the early Fall). $70 per person (all-inclusive). Ticket Pre-Purchase Required (Get Tickets Here or call 503-295-2747 during business hours)

Three Courses + Appetizer Reception
Wednesday, May 18th
6:30 PM, Thirst’s Cellar Room

Wine & Appetizer Reception
Artisanal Cheese and House Made Savory Grain Free Crackers
Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Reduction
Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms topped with Pecorino Romano
Coleman ’08 Pinot Gris

Starter Course
Seafood Bouillabaisse
Scallops, Shrimp, Clams, Crab and Salmon in a Creamy Saffron Broth
Sineann ’08 Pinot Blanc

Main Course
Bistro Steak with Mushroom Pan Sauce and Potato & Sweet Potato Gratin
Sugar Snap Peas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Youngberg Hill ’08 Natasha Pinot Noir

Dark Chocolate Bourbon Cake
House Made Chocolates
Mycella Blue Cheese with Honey
DavenLore ’08 Syrah Forte

* Note Thirst is not a 100% gluten free restaurant.

Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro
0315 SW Montgomery St, Portland, OR 97201

News Bites: Crave Bake Shop Event – December GIG Meeting

Crave Bake Shop on Food Channel

Local gluten free bake shop, Crave, who we reviewed a year ago, wrote in to announce that they’re going to be on Cupcake Wars on the Food Channel. Let’s say for the record that they make the most amazing cupcakes in the world. Here’s the announcement they sent us:

I’m not sure if you heard, but Crave Bake Shop will be featured on the season premiere of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network this coming Tuesday (December 7th). We’re having a huge viewing party, complete with free samples of the same flavors I made for the judges, if you (or your readers) want to come down and see the show and taste some cupcakes!

The party is at Champions Sports Bar in the Marriott Hotel (waterfront): 1401 SW Naito Pkwy from 8:30-10:30 pm (the show is on from 9-10 and we’re taking over the whole place).

I don’t know who they’re up against on the show, but I pity the fools who would have to compete with Crave Bakeshop when it comes to cupcakes, gluten-free or not. If you have time on Tuesday, head down to the Marriott to lend your support!

December GIG Party

The Portland Metro GIG will not be meeting at Legacy Emanuel this month. Instead, they will be having a December holiday party at Pastini Pastaria in Tigard.

When: Saturday December 11 from 12 noon to 2pm.
Where: Bridgeport Village Pastini Pastaria
7307 SW Bridgeport Rd, Tigard OR, 97224.

They are asking that attendees RSVP with

News Bites: The Holidays are Coming

That’s right: The holidays are coming faster than you can believe. On the great highway of life, I always feel like I spend November and December with my foot on the brake, trying to get things to slow down! On the plus side, there is a lot of gluten-free news to be had. Let’s dig in, shall we?

November GIG Meeting this Saturday

The November meeting for the Portland Metro Area Gluten Intolerance Group is this Saturday the 13th (it’s always on the second Saturday of the month). This month they’re having a potluck. Go here for more information. There is also more info here on Grain Damaged.

Gluten-Free Meet up this Saturday

This Saturday is getting more crowded. Here is an announcement we got from Karen at Dessert Labs:

We wanted to let you, and everyone else gluten free, know that we’ve started a new gluten free meet up group. It’s a chance to get together with other gluten free people to talk, share recipes and tips, and maybe go on some field trips. We’re having our first meeting on Saturday, Nov 13th. The rest of the information is here:

I just visited Dessert Labs last week and hope to get an article out this week about them. Later note – that article is here.

Gluten-Free Holiday Cooking Class

Enjoy delicious gluten-free holiday foods and recipes in this enjoyable and enlightening class from Jan Gagnon ND. We’ll cover gluten-free appetizers, stuffing, desserts and more, with samples included. Jan has been gluten-free since 1978 and learned lots of good tips for eating in or out.
When: Saturday 11/20/10 1:00-3:00pm
Where: at the Garden Sanctuary in Multnomah Village.
Pre-registration required and includes directions. Cost: $35.

For more info. or to register:503-593-3360 or email

Gluten-Free Products at Winco

Reader Allyson sent us information about gluten-free products now available at Winco.

I’m not sure if you guys are Winco shoppers but I thought I’d pass this information along anyway…

I was at the Winco in Tigard today and happened to be walking in their bakery section… and happened to look into one of their refrigerated dessert cases. Lo and behold, they are now carrying Udi’s gluten-free bread, bagles, muffins, and pizza crusts. I remember really enjoying the pizza crusts and bread when I was eating gluten-free. The prices looked comparable or cheaper than other stores in the area…in the upper $4 to $5 mark if I remember correctly. I know in the past, Winco has discounted the prices of new products to see what kind of interest is out there. Now might be a great time to stock up for the holidays :)

Thanksgiving Pies

So far I know of two local places to get gluten-free pies for Thanksgiving. Here they are:

New Cascadia Traditional will be offering gluten-free pies. It looks like they’ll have an apple pie, a vegan pumpkin pie, a regular pumpkin pie, and a mini pecan pie. They are taking pre-orders until Friday, November 19th for Thanksgiving week pick up: 503.546.4901.

When I talked to Dessert Labs, they mentioned that they will be supplying gluten-free pies to the Food Front Co-op on NW Thurman. It looks like you can also get them directly from Dessert Labs. More info here.
Food Front – 2375 Northwest Thurman Street, Portland – (503) 222-5658

Thanks to Everyone!

As always, thanks to everyone who emails us. I owe some emails to people and I’m sorry they’re late. Talk to you soon!

News Bite: Gluten-Free Fundraiser Cruise

As a fundraiser for the Portland GIG, Barbara Pugh of Night and Day Travel & Cruises has booked 20 cabins on an Alaska cruise on Holland America for Aug 27, 2010. If you’re curious, her contact info is below. Also , she will have a table at the Portland Food Fair which is coming on May 1. Click here for the cruise flier. More information is also available at:

Barbara Pugh, ACC, CTA, DS
971 255-1420 or 503 703-4117

Gluten-Free Italy: Levanto – Hotel Garden

While we were planning our trip to Italy, one place that everyone said we absolutely, positively, had to go was Cinque Terre. We had a hard time finding lodging there when we were doing our reservations, so we ended up staying in Levanto, which is just a bit north of Cinque Terre.

Gluten Free Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is actually five small towns in the Liguria region of Italy. They are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. When you see pictures of quaint villages with colorful buildings right on the coast of Italy, it’s pretty likely that the photos are of one of these towns. (That’s Riomaggiore pictured above.) There are trails connecting all five of them, and there is also a train line that you can take to travel in between them. Both the trails and train extend to Levanto as well, which was a good thing.

Liguria is famous for its food—for example, Pesto originated in Liguria. The place we stayed in Levanto was the Hotel Garden—two newly-remodeled floors in a building. I don’t know for sure, but would expect that the building is four floors? Hotel Garden occupies two floors. One is the second floor, and the other is the top floor. Apparently, the top floor gets booked up pretty early and is more expensive.

The hotel is clean and the staff is friendly. They serve breakfast, which is the usual Italian fare: yogurt, salami, croissants, and espresso drinks. They do have high-speed internet, but unfortunately the Wi-Fi only worked in one spot in our room (coincidentally, Sienna’s side of the bed). Hopefully they have that fixed by now. (I was surprised at how inaccessible the Internet is in Italy.) The rooms that face the sea have balconies. They don’t really have a view because there’s a building between the hotel and the beach. The balconies aren’t private.

I don’t have a lot to say about Cinque Terre. It could be that our expectations were set too high by all the raving we heard about how amazing it is. We found the five towns to be overrun with tourists, and the locals not as friendly as other places in Italy. We did find some great food, though. Here are some highlights:


Farinata! This like a very thin pizza made out of chickpea flour. It is super-greasy but gluten-free and delicious. I don’t know if all farinata is gluten-free, so you should probably ask to make sure if you find yourself ordering some.

Sardines and Potatoes with Tomato Sauce

Sardines! You may think that I’ve gone off my rocker, but fresh sardines are awesome! One of my favorite things to eat in Italy was fresh sardines and I was introduced to them in Levanto. This dish was sardines, slices of potato, bell pepper, and olives in a light tomato sauce with lots of rosemary. I had this dish at a place called Pizzeria Bar L’Igea Di Nicora Fabio in Levanto, which we very strongly recommend.

Next to the Hotel Garden in Levanto is a restaurant named Da Tapulin. I had their “Spiedino di Calamari Seppe Gamberi e Pesce Spada,” which is skewered calamari, prawns, swordfish, and cuttlefish. The seafood comes out encrusted with finely grated cheese. Amazing. This is another place we recommend checking out.

Also in Levanto is Da Rina. They had the best minestrone soup I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was minestrone with pesto and Parmesan cheese. We also had their smoked tuna and grilled king shrimp. The food there is light and fresh and really amazing. We recommend going elsewhere for your after-dinner coffee, though.

One final place in Levanto is Ristorante la Loggia. They have a quaint notice about gluten on their menu. It reads, “We serve without gluten-free.” While most of the waitresses and waiters we had in Levanto were friendly and seemed knowledgeable about gluten, our waitress at Ristorante la Loggia was downright enthusiastic. We had salad and dried beef (like Prosciutto but with beef) with mushrooms and cheese. These two were delicious. My entrée was saffron gnocchi with prawns. This tasted like mac and cheese and was only OK. For dessert, our waitress insisted on bringing me a delicious flourless chocolate torte with ice cream. That was awesome. Despite the pluses of la Loggia, we didn’t end up being that fond of it. It was extremely noisy, and we almost had to get rude to get our check.

In Riomaggiore, there is a small place that serves bacon and eggs. They fry it up with rosemary and lots of olive oil. I wish I had written down the name, but it’s one of the meals I think about occasionally and wish I could go back to Italy today and have it again.

I don’t think we felt like the Hotel Garden was special, but I think you could do a lot worse, and according to the TripAdvisor website, Hotel Garden is the number one hotel in Levanto. We both agreed that we were glad that we ended up staying in Levanto. It seemed much friendlier and much less crowded with tourists.

Gluten-Free Italy: Hotel Gallo in Tignale

Hotel Gallo is in Tignale, which is right on the west side of Lake Garda in Northern Italy. Lake Garda is about an hour drive from Germany, so there are a lot of German tourists and the multilingual menus there are in Italian first, then German, and then English. The popular travel writer, Rick Steves, says to avoid any restaurant with their menu in three languages, but we found a couple of restaurants where that wasn’t solid advice. As for the Hotel Gallo, we enjoyed our stay there.

Hotel Gallo Tignale Italy

I’m going to get our complaints out of the way first. Though the place had a newer feel than most of the hotels we stayed in, it didn’t seem as clean somehow. And the beds and pillows were hard (maybe it’s an Italian thing?). We also had some trouble with TV noise from neighboring rooms on our first night. Luckily, the hotel agreed to move us to a different (and in our opinion, nicer) room. Last, the hotel was definitely not fragrance free. The rooms smelled strongly of perfumed soap. It didn’t bother us much because we didn’t spend a lot of time in our room, but I could see it being an issue with someone who is very sensitive to fragrances.

Other than that, I can definitely recommend the Hotel Gallo. It is a three star hotel, which means that it’s mostly about providing a pleasant roof over your head. The nicer rooms in the hotel have a really stunning view over the lake and a balcony. They cost a little more, but from our experiences with European hotels, it is worth it to pay a little extra for a nicer room. Most of the staff spoke enough English that there weren’t any language problems, and they were very friendly, especially Fulvia, who was there during the morning and afternoons. We were really happy that our complaint about the noise was handled so kindly. I keep having the experience here in the US that, when you complain, a hotel will immediately start treating you like a burden—or worse.

Gluten-free pasta in Italy!

The greatest thing about Hotel Gallo is that they are very accommodating for gluten-free dining! Hotel Gallo has a restaurant on the first floor. For an extra fifteen Euros per person, you can get dinner there. This proved to be very economical AND had the added advantage of being able to eat gluten-free pasta dishes, which I did not once, but twice.

Gluten Free Breadfast at Hotel Gallo

Also, they had a separate breakfast table specially set up for gluten-free guests. This is pictured above, and as you can see, they have quite a selection of gluten-free goodies. Packaged rice crackers, some cookies, two kinds of cereal (yes, that’s a bowl of gluten-free cocoa puffs), and coffee cake. The rice crackers were by Schar and called “Fette croccanti.” The gluten-free coffee cake was gluten-free coffee cake!

Gluten-free Coffee Cake

For our two dinners, I had mixed seafood pasta and curried chicken one night, and then penne pasta with zucchini and seafood in an Alfredo sauce followed by some kind of pork steak the next night. The food was very good and all the vegetables seemed very fresh. The house wine was great, and as everywhere else we went in Italy, the espresso was delightful.

Lake Garda Italy

Although we can’t say our stay there was perfect, it was among the best places we stayed in Italy and we would go back again. I think it would be a great place to go and spend a lot of time exploring the beautiful surrounding countryside, going on hikes, and getting a massage. The Hotel Gallo has a fitness center, a hot tub, a hamam (which is like a sauna), and if you’re there in late September, you can catch the Tignale Truffle Week. For the gluten-free traveler, Hotel Gallo is a great place to stay in Italy.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions.
Times we have visited: 1 (One stay, four meals. So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Hotel Gallo
Hotel Gallo
via Roma, 30 – 25080 Tignale (Bs)
Lake Garda Italy
tel. +39 0365 73010

News Bites: Gluten Free Ales and Thanksgiving

Gluten Free Brewing

First up, we were invited to a tasting hosted by Harvester Brewing. Harvester is a start-up in the process of creating Portland’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery. They served a couple of their new ales along with gluten-free food pairings created by local chef Ralph Capolupo. We attended the event and had a great time.

We got to meet Lisa Shaver, who is one of the branch managers of the Portland Oregon Metro GIG. Also at the event were some folks from, a local blog that covers beer in the great NW. You can check out their coverage of the event and a review of the brews here. The food was amazing. Especially a delicious polenta cake they served that was sweet and dusted with fennel pollen. Wow.

Harvester Brewing is in the process of developing recipes. We tasted an American Brown, an Amber, a Pale Ale, a Scottish Ale, and a Pumpkin beer. The American Brown was a little strange, but I can’t really say why. I liked the Pumpkin best, followed closely by their Pale Ale. The Pale Ale had a wonderful home brew kind of thing going on. We’re looking forward to more from them.

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Announcement One

Speaking of the Portland GIG, to celebrate Thanksgiving in a gluten-free way, on Saturday November 21, there will be a Thanksgiving GF Potluck in McMinnville. Here are the details:

Saturday, November 21st, noon-2pm
at First Baptist Church, McMinnville
125 SE Cowls Street, McMinnville

Sponsored by Gluten Free Friends (McMinnville GIG) and Portland Metro GIG

WE PROVIDE: Turkey, ham, bread, beverages, plates, cups, utensils, etc.
Rolls donated this year by Cascadia Traditional Bakery!
YOU BRING: A Gluten Free side (stuffing, potatoes, veggies), Salad, or a Dessert
ALSO BRING 40 copies of your recipe with ingredients and directions!

We would appreciate an RSVP so we can plan, but everyone including families are welcome. It’s a potluck where you don’t have to ask which dishes are gluten free because they ALL are!

To RSVP or for more information: email or call 503-435-9952

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Announcement Two

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery is taking orders for gluten-free pumpkin and apple pies, mini tarts, and soft rolls. The apple pies are double-crust. Orders must be placed by Friday, November 20th. We’ve had a lot of comments from readers that the service is slow at New Cascadia, but they have a dedicated gluten-free facility, and seem to know their desserts (especially when it comes to cakes). I have high hopes for their pies. They are also offering soft rolls and french rolls.

Kind of unrelated to Thanksgiving, but also about New Cascadia, they are having a pizza night on Saturday, November 28, from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. More details are coming, but they plan to serve gluten-free beer, wine, and pizza.

News Bite: Gluten-Free Father’s Day Brunch at Sweetpea Baking Company

We know it’s kind of late notice, but we found out that the Sweetpea Baking Company on SE Stark Street in Portland is experimenting with gluten-free brunches, and on this Sunday, Father’s Day, they will be serving a gluten-free brunch from 9 AM to Noon.

They have a blog and update it with details of what will be on the menu. Click here to see information on their brunches. Here’s the blog post that caught Sienna’s eye. I haven’t sampled their food but our beautiful and talented Head of Research, Sienna, has had one of their gluten-free soy-free pumpkin ginger muffins and thought it was delicious. (Did I mention that Sweetpea is a vegan bakery?)

Sweetpea Baking Company
1205 SE Stark Street
Portland Oregon