Gluten Free Event at Abby’s Table this Saturday

Hi everybody. I got a couple of notices about this coming event. Here is the blurb (edited for space and brevity). We would totally attend, but had a previous engagement. Here is a direct link to the event page.

From Cocktails to Dessert:

The Delicious Underground World of Root Vegetables & their Nutritional Value

Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing – Locally Sourced Ingredients. Naturally Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free.

Join us for a special evening to celebrate ROOTS cookbook. Come for a cooking demonstration of Radish Top Soup with Chef-Author Diane Morgan along with some health insight from Dr. Samantha Brody about eating beneficial root vegetables, and stay for a wonderful meal.

$75 Dinner fee includes a first print edition of ROOTS (get it signed!), as well as a delicious signature cocktail from the cookbook.

DINNER MENU

  • Beverage – Homemade Gingerale + Cherry Infused Bourbon
  • Amuse Bouche – Radish Top Soup
  • First Course – Crab Cakes OR Quinoa Cake with Pickled Ginger
  • Second Course – Carrot Ribbons with Carrot Top Pesto, Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • Main Course – Seared Duck Breast OR Portobello Mushrooms with Port Reduction
  • Served with – Parsnip Puree and Sautéed Beet Greens
  • Dessert – Red Velvet Cupcakes

Contact
Abby’s Table : Food Your Body Loves
abbystablereservations@gmail.com
503-828-7662

When
Saturday September 29, 2012 from 6:30 PM to 9:15 PM PDT

Where
Abby’s Table
609 SE Ankeny St
Portland, OR 97214

Mi Mero Mole – Guisados in Portland

Gluten Free Tacos at Mi Mero Mole

The Splendid Humble Taco

Mi Mero Mole is a Mexican street food concept restaurant created and run by Nick Zukin (the Zuke in Kenny & Zuke’s). When you enter the SE Division eatery, you’ll find a blackboard with the day’s “guisados”: three choices of meat, a seafood option, two vegetarian options, and one vegan dish. You pick the guisado (which is a stew or filling) and then choose what format you’d like your guisado served in. You can get them in the form of tacos, plates (platos machos), burritos, and quesadillas.

Mi Mero Mole Daily Blackboard

Here a taco is the most basic, consisting of a guisado with rice on a corn tortilla. Platos Machos is about the same except you get chips, rice, beans, and two tortillas. Burritos are off our menu because they use wheat tortillas (sorry). As many of our readers can probably guess, a quesadilla is about the same as a taco, just add cheese and give it some time on the grill. Some examples of guisado choices from the board: Pork in adobo, meatballs in a chipotle-tomato sauce (the meatballs aren’t gluten free), chicken with cactus in a tomatillo sauce, smoked tongue, shrimp in a cream sauce, poblano chiles in a sour cream and cheese sauce, mushrooms and asparagus in a red chile and cream sauce, and the vegan potatoes and cactus in chipotle and tomatillo sauce.

Care has obviously been taken to present adventurous street fare, as the menu includes tongue, blood sausage, rabbit, and even duck. The printed menu is marked for gluten, vegetarian, vegan, and different levels of fire. The atmosphere is an exact cross between a hipster gastro pub and a Mexican hole in the wall. So the seating format screams Mexican restaurant while the music playing is on the hipster/alt side. You order at a counter, but the lighting is subdued.

Maldonado Punch at Mi Mero Mole

We liked the atmosphere, although to me, Mi Mero Mole seems more like a place to grab some tacos on your way to something else. Probably because of the format: You order at a counter and sit down. The food is brought to you very quickly. Besides chips and guacamole, there aren’t really appetizers. The only thing that says “stay a while” to me are the cocktails and beer. Like the guisado menu, the cocktail menu is very interesting. The drinks are strong. There are also aguas frescas, and the horchata is sweet and heavy on the cinnamon.

The staff is very friendly and helpful. As mentioned, the food comes out quickly and is a good temperature. The ingredients seem to be fresh. The times we’ve visited, Zukin himself was bringing out the dishes and talking to people in the restaurant.

Gluten Free Plato Machos at Mi Mero Mole

The chips are awesome and seem house made. The tortillas are fresh and delicious. The salsa choices are good. The guacamole is disappointingly tame, and could benefit from garlic and lime juice. We have tried a bunch of different guisados. The egg ones we found too salty, but everything else we have tried has been great. I’m pretty sure that the pork in adobo is our favorite, but we are also partial to the chicken and cactus, and the vegan cactus and potatoes. Fans of fried plantains will love the Mi Mero Mole version, which is served with a sauce made from Mexican sour cream, sugar, and cinnamon.

Google translate tells me that Mi Mero Mole translates to “My Mere Mole.” Mole is pronounced like “Ole!” but with an M, and means “a mixture.” I’m thinking that in this case, Zukin was thinking “my simple mix” and that is indeed what the restaurant is. If you’re looking for a no fuss, no muss, inexpensive Mexican taste treat on a weekday night, it’s going to be pretty hard to go wrong with a place like Mi Mero Mole.

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly but Ask Questions
Times we have visited: 3 (So we feel pretty good about the rating.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: same

Mi Mero Mole
mmmtacospdx.com
5026 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97215
(503) 232-8226

Miscellanous News: Subway and Burgerville Go Gluten Free Friendly

SUBWAY Gluten Free

We heard about it first on our Facebook group page. SUBWAY has been in the gluten-free news for a couple of months by starting to provide gluten free bread (and brownies?) at their restaurants. We have yet to try the sandwiches, but have heard good things about them. They are also going to great lengths to educate their employees about gluten free issues and to prevent cross-contamination. For these things, I can only be grateful. Here’s a press release they sent us recently:

Gluten-Free goes mainstream: Oregon Subway Restaurants are first casual sandwich shop to offer gluten-free menu items

For the estimated 16 million Americans with gluten sensitivity, eating out can pose a real challenge. Now Oregonians can kick off the New Year with new choices, when SUBWAY restaurants across the state begin offering gluten-free sandwich options and gluten-free brownies as regular menu items after a successful test in Portland and Bend this summer.

Oregon is one of a handful of states to offer these alternatives, based on its reputation for mainstreaming food trends that might be niche alternatives elsewhere. When Subway’s Oregon stores had the highest average number of gluten free rolls sold during the test, it was clear that gluten-free foods are popular locally.

Gluten’s ubiquity can present a challenge for many families and work groups as they try to coalesce around a restaurant choice.

SUBWAY’s wheat-free sandwich rolls and brownies are produced in a gluten-free facility and are individually packaged. SUBWAY sandwich artists are trained to prevent cross-contamination during the sandwich-making process. For example, one employee will prepare a gluten-free sandwich order from start to finish. Other techniques include single-use knives and eliminating contact between traditional sandwich rolls and other ingredients including meat, cheese and vegetables.

Burgerville gluten free bun

Burgerville

Speaking of fast food, Burgerville, Portland’s much-loved burger chain, has come out with gluten-free buns that they are testing at two restaurants locally (25th & SE Powell in Portland and Fisher’s Landing in Vancouver). We went to one of the restaurants to check it out ourselves. As you can see from the photo above, the bun is delivered in a wrapper to help prevent cross-contamination. We were also handed a questionnaire to fill out.

After having heard so much about Burgerville from people we know, we were unprepared for how unappetizing their burgers were. The patties were overcooked. We both felt like the bun, which is produced by Udi’s in Colorado, did not compare well to the buns you can get from Jensen’s. The buns were dry, crumbly, and generally unappetizing. Of course, since the buns were being served in a package, there was no way to toast them, so I guess that would be expected.

On the plus side, the staff was extremely friendly, and the food came out fast. On the minus side, the restaurant was freezing cold. Did we mention that the burger patties weren’t very good? If you want to try them out yourself, Burgerville will be testing these buns until January 12, so you still have a few days left to try them.

Horrible Service at Iorio

Usually I prefer to talk about stuff that I really love, and spread good news about restaurants and cafes that are doing things right. Recently, we had such a bad experience at a restaurant that I feel the need to post it here.

We went to Iorio for New Year’s Eve and had the worst experience at a restaurant since our hair raising Valentines Day at Wild Abandon. We had made reservations and we did notify the restaurant ahead of time that one of our party (me) was gluten free, but all night long the staff kept putting the wrong food in front of me.

When we first reviewed Iorio, we thought it was really great, and definitely want to note that this is one experience on one night. At the same time…

From the very start, our waiter was brief to the point of being rude. When our appetizers came, he basically threw the plates down in front of us without a word and zipped off. I had to wait for him to come back so that I could find out if the dish was gluten free, which it wasn’t. Then I had to wait for several minutes while a dish was made for me. Now I could see this happening once during a meal at a restaurant, but not three times. It happened with almost everything they put in front of me. The one time it didn’t happen, the person who brought us our food wasn’t aware that I was gluten free and didn’t know if the dish was (it turned out that it was, but by this time I was paranoid).

For dessert, a normal piece of cake was placed in front of me, and when I asked, I was amazed to discover that they had forgotten again, and I ended up waiting at least 15 minutes for a substitute dessert to come out. Again, if they had just found out, this would have been OK. Instead, they had my reservation for several weeks, and the waiter knew that I was gluten free pretty soon after he threw the appetizers at us. When they messed up our desserts, Sienna got up, went to the back, and asked to talk to the manager. The manager acted hostile when she complained about the bad service. There’s even more to the story, but we’re choosing not to include it here. Suffice it to say that our dessert was not their last mistake.

Because I’m gluten free, I know that I’m kind of high maintenance. I do my best to express gratitude for the extra trouble that restaurants have to put into serving me. While all out the food we were served was outstanding, the service at Iorio was so bad that I wondered if we had done something by mistake to irk our waiter. Then we noticed that the couple at the table next to us was just as unhappy. We have since then also noticed that the Yelp page on Iorio is starting to fill up with complaints about the service.

I keep reading about how the chef at Iorio is winning awards. So it confuses me that he would turn a blind eye and allow visitors at his restaurant to have such a horrible experience.

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.

News From Around Portland

We’ve got a bunch of news from various places around Portland…

GIG Holiday Fair is this Weekend

A quick reminder that the GIG Holiday Fair is this Saturday. See this post on Grain Damaged for more information.

Where: The International Fellowship Family
4401 NE 122nd St. Portland, OR (NE Sandy & 122nd)
When: Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 10 AM to 2 PM
Entry Fee: $5 per person, $10 per family, Kids under 12 free

Jensen’s Better Buns Now Available at New Seasons Deli

These are the same gluten-free buns that are currently available at McMenamins around town, as well as Dick’s Kitchen. We think they’re the best gluten-free buns around. Now you can get gluten free sandwiches at New Seasons delis.

Petunia’s Pies at New Seasons

Speaking of New Seasons, Petunia’s gluten free and vegan treats are now available at New Seasons. Petunia’s – Our Review

2012 GIG Conference Will be in Seattle

The Gluten Intolerance Group national headquarters are in Seattle, WA. The organization holds yearly conferences in different cities around the country, and has announced that next year’s conference will be held in Seattle. They’ve also announced that the format of the conference is growing from a “traditional program” into a Gluten-Free Health & Wellness Expo. Look for more details coming soon.

Harvester Brewing!


A local tipster alerted us that Harvester Brewing is setting up shop at 715 SE Lincoln St, just a stone’s throw from New Cascadia Traditional. Harvester will be a dedicated gluten-free brewery in Portland OR, and expects to operational and open in Fall/Winter 2011. We were invited to sample their beers quite a while ago, and were impressed. We certainly wish them well! Visit their Facebook page for more details.

Class this Sunday at Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Wow! This is going to be a full month. We just got this notice from Portobello Vegan Trattoria (our review here) that they’re having a gluten-free cooking class this weekend.

This Sunday, we’re holding a gluten-free cooking class. It’s the fourth class in our series…we’ll show folks how to put together some treats to host a gluten-free vegan dinner party, then sit down together and enjoy our work with some wine, soft drinks, or gluten-free beer!

Here’s the link to sign up: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2161956470

And on another note, we’ve added a lot of gluten-free items to our menu! Every night, there are SEVERAL appetizers, entrees, and even a couple of desserts that a gluten intolerant person can enjoy.

What: Gluten-Free Vegan Dinner Party
Where: Portobello Vegan Trattoria
1125 SE Division St. Portland, Oregon, 97202
When: October 9, 2011 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Price: $70.00
For more info, call: 503-754-5993

Another Gluten Free Pizza Contender Appears: Sizzle Pie

Considering that their pizza graced the cover of the Portland Monthly Magazine in February of this year, I have an itching suspicion that we’re a little late to the party at Sizzle Pie. That doesn’t change the fact that their pizza is awesome.

Sizzle Pie on East Burnside

Sizzle Pie is smack dab in the hip blocks of East Burnside, at 624. It’s a couple blocks from the Doug Fir, and practically next door to that one cool bar with no name. Like the neighborhood, the decor, help, and jukebox is also hip. When we went there, the music ranged from The Cramps to a song that sounded like Devo if Devo was playing buzz guitars.

The menu is adventurous/upscale. By “upscale” I don’t mean expensive. I mean there are ingredients like white truffle oil, goat cheese, cilantro pepitas pesto, and even dried cranberries. At Sizzle Pie, a person can get what might be called “gourmet pizza” if the term hadn’t already been ruined by marketers. Obviously, you can also get a basic pepperoni and mushroom slice if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s nice to know there are lots of interesting options. All their crusts are vegan, including the gluten-free crust. They also have an enormous vegan section in their menu.

As with most pizza places, alas, they cook the gluten-free pizza in a shared oven. So if you’re in the population who really need to watch out, then you should keep eating your pizza at New Cascadia or build your own with a store-bought crust.

Gluten Free Pizza at Sizzle Pie

Speaking of pizza, the Sizzle Pie crust style is thin, and there are green specs in the crust, so obviously they’re adding in some spices to make it more flavorful. It’s delicious. Along with being thin, it’s also the perfect amount of crunchy. I don’t know how they did it, but this is among the best gluten-free crusts I’ve had. We got the Golden Ring pizza, which is White Truffle Oil, Goat Cheese, and Green Onion, and we added garlic and pepperoni. This was one awesome pizza. We got a 12 inch pizza and it was the perfect size to feed two.

There are two things to note. First, the regular “large” pizza is 18 inches, but the gluten-free large is 16. Apparently the gluten-free crust just won’t get those extra couple of inches bigger. Second, don’t assume that the pizza you’re ordering is going to have red sauce. If you really want a pizza with red sauce, you should probably ask. There’s a place on the menu where it says that all their pizzas feature red sauce “unless otherwise noted” but this ends up being a little confusing, because if you get pesto, white truffle oil, caramelized onion spread, cream sauce, or something else that counts as “sauce” then you’re not getting red sauce. Which makes sense, but we got caught out.

No Red Sauce Here.

Luckily, our pizza was awesome without red sauce.

Everybody we had contact with was very friendly, the pizza came out hot, and the place is nice and clean. We sat out back on the patio, which was great on a warm August night. There was a line when we walked in the door, and there was a line when we left.

Our final verdict: With gluten-free pizza, we think that the crust is most of the battle, and so many crusts lack crunch or aren’t very flavorful. We’re going to have to try some more pies from Sizzle Pie, and it’s definitely not going to be a painful process, luckily! Have you eaten there yet? Let us know in the comments!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly but Shared Oven So Watch Out
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: 1 or 2 bucks, depending on the size

Sizzle Pie
www.sizzlepie.com
624 E. Burnside, Portland OR, 97214 / 503.234.7437

Grab a Gluten Free Pie: Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts Baking Company emailed us recently to invite us to try their gluten-free pies. The owner, Molly Thurston Parker, recently launched a wholesale bakery to sell her pies, which are individual-sized. She sells the pies at the Buckman Farmers Market (SE 20th and SE Salmon, Thursdays, 3-7pm), at Salt Fire and Time Community Grocery on NW 24th Ave, at Pacific Pie Company on SE 7th, and at Flying Cat Coffee Shop on SE Division. When you go to the Buckman Farmers Market, it’s usually Molly who is there working the booth.

Gluten Free Pies in Portland - Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts makes both savory and sweet pies. We stopped by the stand a couple of weeks ago and picked up some pies (which, in the interest of full disclosure, she gave us for free). On the savory side, Queen of Hearts makes a Black Bean & Pepper Jack Cheese pie and a Curried Lentil and Veggie pie. On the sweet side, Queen of Hearts makes a Hazelnut & Apricot pie, a Mixed Berry pie, and a Nutella pie. We tried everything but the Nutella pie.

Queen of Hearts Gluten Free Pies

The pies come packaged in twos. Each pie is an individual meal, and all of them are basically vegetarian. The instructions for cooking are quite simple. You can start from frozen or thawed, but basically you bake them in an oven at 375 degrees F until the crust is golden brown. We ate both the savory pies with some sauteed veggies, but they would also probably be great with a side salad.

Considering we’re talking about pies here, the most important consideration is going to be the crust. The Queen of Hearts crust is really excellent and amazing! It’s the exact kind of crisp and flavor a person wants from a pie crust. We were both really enamored of them, especially because so many gluten-free crusts are so disappointing.

We both also agreed that we liked the savory pies more than the dessert pies. The Curried Lentil and Veggie pie is filled with sweet potatoes, onion, coconut milk, lentils, kale, ginger and spices. Like most curries, we found that the flavor and experience was better with some yogurt on the side to offset the curry. It would probably also be really nice with a chutney. If you’re a curry fan, then these are a real treat.

Gluten-Free Savory Pie

Our favorite pie was the Black Bean & Pepper Jack Cheese pie. Besides the two ingredients in the name, these pies have tomatoes, green chiles, onion, spices, and pepper flakes. Besides broccoli, we added some yogurt here, too (instead of sour cream), and some avocado. These pies have a great flavor and are the perfect level of spicy.

Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Pie

As mentioned earlier, we thought that the dessert pies were just OK. Pictured above is the Mixed Berry pie paired with vanilla ice cream from Portland’s own Fifty Licks. This pie is made with blueberries and marionberries. The Hazelnut & Apricot pies are filled with hazelnut frangipane and apricot preserves, which incidentally contained corn syrup, which we found a little confusing, considering that Queen of Hearts obviously tries to use healthy ingredients in their pies. The dessert pies were a bit bland. This might be one of those cases where the crust is kind of taking the edge off of the ingredients. We both found ourselves wishing that the pies were more tart, or maybe more sweet.

Our final verdict: We really enjoyed the savory pies and think that if you’re looking for something new, interesting, and gluten-free to take home and bake one night, you should give Queen of Hearts a try. Sweet pies are really subjective, so I’d be really interested to hear from any of our readers who have tried Queen of Hearts. Let us know in the comments!

Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: not certain

Queen of Hearts Baking Company
www.queenofheartspdx.com
See locations above / 503.421.6842

Portland Places We’ve Been Recently

Sometimes we find ourselves going back to places we reviewed months or years ago, and we’re often gratified to find that we were right the first time! Here’s a quick run-down on places we’ve been recently. Some new, most not.

Seven Virtues Cafe

Seven Virtues Cafe

If you’re in the NE and want something good for lunch any day of the week, you should check out Seven Virtues on NE Glisan at 60th. They have great espresso drinks, delicious gluten-free and vegan goodies by Petunia’s (our review here), and gluten-free bread available for their sandwiches. I am especially partial to the Frazer Park sandwich, pictured above. They also make a mean iced mocha.

PSU Farmer's Market

Portland Farmers Markets

We recently saw the documentary Food, Inc and decided to see what would happen if we started going to our local Farmer’s Markets. Besides fresh veggies, cheese, eggs, and flowers from local farms, there are a lot of local gluten-free businesses which sell their goods at your local farmer’s market. The PSU farmers market on Saturday morning is host to Petunia’s and New Cascadia Traditional Bakery (our info and review here). I saw Paobread (our review here) at the Montavilla Farmers Market the last time we went there. At the Buckman Farmers Market a person can pick up gluten-free hand pies made by Queen of Hearts (review coming soon). Although we haven’t gone yet, we’ve been told that Happy Camper Bread can be bought fresh at Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Chez Machin

We’ve stopped by Chez Machin (our review here) on SE Hawthorne now and again. Although we wish their savory crepes had more options, they keep blowing our minds with their specials and their dessert crepes. We really recommend getting whatever the special entree of the day is, as long as it can be had gluten-free.

Dessert Crepe at Suzette - Yow!

Suzette Creperie

Speaking of crepes, we went to Suzette Creperie (our review) on NE Alberta for Bastille Day, dined on delicious crepes, and listened to AnnaPaul and the Bearded Lady.

Blackwood Cafe

Blackwood Cafe

A recent Groupon or Living Social deal informed us that the Blackwood Cafe on NE 70th has gluten-free bread available. I went there by myself recently and got their special of the day, which was an intriguing sandwich with gruyere cheese, apple slices, and (if my memory serves) Prosciutto. The sandwich was really good, but the bread was like Udi’s, which isn’t really my favorite. The iced mocha was really chocolatey. They have a fun menu, but their atmosphere is kind of uncomfortable for some reason.

Favorite Things from the Farmers Markets

Things we expected to be better from the Farmers Markets: tomatoes.
Things we might not have: celery, cherries, cucumbers, cheeses, and sausages.
Celery? We found thin, kind of sickly-looking celery at the Montavilla Market recently and what a surprise! It’s got a surprising, delightful flavor. Almost herbal or floral. Mmmmm. At the PSU Market look for my favorite cucumber of all time – the lemon cucumber. Also at the PSU Market, we found Rogue Creamery’s Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese and wow is it amazing, especially with a little of your favorite jam. Finally, we’ve tried some items from Olympic Provisions and have yet to be disappointed.

Summer is Finally Here

Thanks to everyone who emailed us about Subway stores getting gluten-free bread and brownies. We kind of ignored the news because we’re more into supporting our local businesses. We do really appreciate it when people email us, even though sometimes it can take a long time for us to get back to them.

Got any recommendations for shopping at the Farmers Markets? We’re still really new at it and learning. Let us know in the comments!