Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nomato products - tomato free pasta sauce, salsa, barbecue sauce and ketchup

Nomato Gluten-Free Pasta and Pizza Sauce (No Tomatoes)Since I've essentially been away for two and a half weeks now, the contents of my refrigerator are getting kind of scarce. On the upside, searching through it last night for a jar of roasted red peppers led me to discover that I still had an open jar of Nomato sauce that I had picked up in upstate New York earlier in the year. Unfortunately, the roasted red peppers had seen better days and were discarded but I did boil up some pasta instead. For those that don't know, I really can't eat too many tomatoes. Ketchup for some reason doesn't bother me in the least but as far as pasta sauce goes, more than a couple tablespoons or so and I'll be sick.

Nomato is a small company in PA that produces four tomato free products: Pasta sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and salsa. They sell online at http://www.nomato.com or at a small list of regional stores: http://www.nomato.com/stores.htm

I've only ever tried the pasta sauce and it wasn't bad. They seem to use a blend of carrots and beets and the sauce itself is the right color. The pasta does get a slight purplish tinge to it however. It wasn't as good as Mom's tomato sauce and to be honest since I can tolerate small amounts of her sauce, I won't be switching to Nomato's product. I did however, want to share the existence of this company with anyone else who may be avoiding Tomatoes completely. Since their distribution is so small, I doubt I'll be trying their other products, although if you do, please note it in the comments below.

And as a side note, their product line is dairy and gluten free as well.

Update (3/6/08) - this is now also available online from the Gluten-Free Mall here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cruising Gluten and Dairy Free with Princess Cruise Line


For those of you who noticed a lull in posting here, I was away the week after Thanksgiving on a cruise on Princess Cruise Line. (I was then stuck commuting into NYC for a training class for a week - my was it wonderful to go from 80 degrees in San Juan to 18 degrees in Manhattan!)

Anyhow, before booking the cruise I poked around online and found that Princess seemed to be one of the better lines for those following a GF diet. Overall it was a pretty positive experience with just a few caveats.

In the main dining room, any time you mention a food allergy to a waiter, he immediately summons the head waiter who then takes your order. I had selected any time dining which meant that at each dinner I had a new waiter, but always the same head waiter. The head waiter also brings the following night's menu and recommends the dishes that could be modified to accommodate your food issues (in my case, mostly gluten and dairy).

The down side to this approach is that the waiter (the person who picks up the order in the kitchen and delivers it) is sort of out of the loop. My second time eating in the dining room, I had veal cutlets (without the Marsala sauce) that had been dredged in flour. It was hard to be sure there was flour on it, until I took the first bite. Thinking it possible they had a GF flour (such as brown rice flour) on board, I decided to double check. Nope, turns out the chef had removed the sauce but not the dredging. They replaced the dinner and the head waiter became even more attentive to details afterwards. Mistakes do happen, but I think had the waiter been involved in the ordering, he may have caught the mistake before it was brought out.

At my third dinner in the dining room, I had GF spaghetti in garlic and olive oil as an appetizer. The waiter brought the plate out followed by a second waiter with a bowl of Parmesan - the head waiter intercepted him and waived him off. Again, their hearts are in the right place but in having the head waiter as the only point of contact, the other staff isn't as informed as they could be.


On one of the days we weren't getting into port until late, I decided to try the dining room for breakfast. Since they had GF pasta at dinner I figured I'd ask the breakfast head waiter what my options were. Other than bacon and eggs (I can't really eat pork or any more than a fraction of an egg) he offered an assortment of Kellogg's cereals with Rice or Corn in their names. I explained the joys of "Malt" and the fact that this ruled these cereals out and returned to the breakfast bars I brought from home (thank you EnviroKids) and the many fruit options at the breakfast buffets.

Now for the positives:

1) Eating at a different table each night, I met a lot of different people, including one woman who is allergic to milk. No, not intolerant, actual "rush me to the hospital" allergic. She was thrilled with how careful everyone was being and at the fact that she was being fed so well. If she felt safe, then that is a pretty solid endorsement.

2) The grill out by the pool had a menu on which the only fried food was french fries. This meant by default these french fries were fried in a dedicated frier! I see nothing wrong with a large bowl of french fries as a snack! :-)

3) There were three buffet rooms on the ship, at least one of which (and as many as all three of which) was open at all times 24 x 7. The staff at the buffet instantly knew (or, if as was rarely needed, instantly found out) the ingredients of all of the buffet items. There were certainly some items I couldn't eat (lots of rice dishes had butter) but plenty of others that I could.

Overall the dining on the cruise was a good experience. No, not perfect, but then again my own mother tapes her flour canister shut before I visit for dinner so she doesn't accidentally gluten me!

As with dining out anywhere, make sure you ask and double check on everything. I would certainly consider another cruise with Princess in the future!

And then Gluten Free Sesame Chicken for lunch today!

My GF tour of the Bergen County area continued at lunch today. I stopped by Peter Wong's Homemade Ice Cream & Asian Cafe in Montvale today. Unfortunately, the woman who greeted me at the front of the restaurant didn't speak English very well and had no idea what I meant when I asked about eating gluten free.

Luckily, before I left, the owner came in and assured me that there were a number of GF options on their menu. They are even working on an actual GF menu, but it hasn't been published yet. In addition to anything not breaded, one of the dim sum dumplings was made with rice flour and he mentioned that they could even make Sesame Chicken using a corn starch coating. I stopped him at that point as I was sold and ordered the Sesame Chicken for lunch. It was quite good and I can't wait to return and try some of their other menu items. (Note: the soy sauce on the tables has wheat but the take out packets are from WY Industries and do not.)


Here are some important details:
Peter Wong's Homemade Ice Cream & Asian Cafe
26G Chestnut Ridge Road
Montvale, NJ 07645
201-391-2797
(located in the strip mall with The GYM)
BYOB

Hours:
T-R: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Fri: 11:30am - 9:30pm
Sat: 12:00pm - 9:30pm
Sun: 12:00pm - 9:00pm
Closed on Mondays

Yet again, if you work or live in this area (or at some point are passing through) stop by and give them a try!

I ordered a sandwich for lunch yesterday!!!

I ordered a sandwich for lunch yesterday! No, I didn't just order the contents of a sandwich (as I usually do), I ordered an actual sandwich! I had roast beef with mixed greens and roasted peppers on Sunflower seed bread. It was pretty good and it was reasonably priced. It turns out that yet another GF option has opened here in Northern NJ. This one is a brand new GF sandwich shop/GF store in Westwood:

Livin' Gluten Free
419 Broadway
Westwood, NJ
201-383-0392
(there is a large yellow Livin' Gluten Free sign in the window and they are across Broadway from Iron Horse.)

Hours:
M-F: 10am - 6pm
Sat: 9am - 4pm
Sun: Closed


Unfortunately for me, all of the desserts in the display case had dairy in them (although they did have Arico Cookie Bars so lunch wasn't dessert free!). They do have a limited amount of gluten free groceries for sale as well, and assorted frozen items in a large white unlabeled freezer. For sandwiches they have a full line of Thumans products with a choice of different Schar breads and rolls (not sure what brand the Sunflower Seed bread was but all their breads were dairy free). Everything in the store is gluten free and quite a bit was dairy free as well.

They've only been open for about two weeks now and they still have some kinks to work out. The signs from the old Panini shop are all still up (including the main outdoor sign over the shop) and supplies do seem to be limited, as is the menu. However, they are trying and it can't be easy to run a sandwich shop that is completely gluten free.

I would recommend to anyone who lives or works in the area, do try to get over and check this shop out!

Visitors (Counted on Gluten Free/Dairy Free Waffles!)

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