Friday, August 31, 2012

Move Over Relish -- Slawsa is My New Favorite GF Condiment

I was recently sent a sample of Slawsa, a relish alternative, from Julie Busha at Nicole Foods. A cabbage-based mustard and vinegar relish, the product is from the owner's mother's recipe, a Southern classic.

I'm always thrilled to find condiments that are gluten-free. So many use malt vinegar or stabilizers like maltodextrin and neglect to mention if the maltodextrin is from corn or wheat. Busha assures me that all ingredients have been checked and this condiment is definitely gluten-free. And I didn't have a reaction, so I know it's true. I am VERY sensitive, and I definitely would've gotten sick if there had been any trace. I spent last Sunday night in the hospital when served regular soy sauce instead of gluten-free soy sauce -- that's how sensitive I am. 

My husband and I used the jar as an occasion to have hot dogs for dinner (with a roasted zucchini and feta salad on the side). Nathan's hot dogs (gluten free), and an Udi's gluten-free hot dog bun for me. Usually, when I eat hot dogs, I'm a strictly ketchup person. I'm not a fan of mustard, and I don't really like relish on my hot dogs.

At first bite, the Slawsa was sweet, crunchy, and slightly mustardy, with a touch of vinegar tang. As I chewed, the Slawsa finished with a slow growing heat. I was blown away by the complexity of the flavors, and the balance of sweet and tangy. I checked the ingredients and was very surprised to find that it is low in sodium -- most condiments are super high in sodium. I ended up piling more onto my hot dog and wolfing it down.

Compared to your basic relish, Slawsa is crunchier, with a wider depth of flavors. It's salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy (though not very spicy) all at once. This is a great addition to any Labor Day Weekend grilling event!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eating Gluten Free at Alta Strada - MGM - Foxwoods

Foxwoods is in the type of area where there really is nothing for miles and miles. Though I live near the Wellesley Alta Strada, my friend and I decided to go to the one at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods while visiting my parents for the weekend, who live nearby. I tried googling "Foxwoods gluten-free" to see if anything came up, and the only option was the Veranda Cafe, which is not the type of place we were looking for.

Our server at Alta Strada was incredibly friendly and kind. She went through the whole menu with me, and let me know what I could have and what I couldn't have. I was disappointed that they don't carry gluten-free pasta -- it seems like something easy enough to hold onto, and they have delicious sauces there that I would've loved to try. I opted to start with the Caesar salad (hold the croutons) and got my old standby, the bunless burger with a side of veg instead of fries.

The Caesar salad was wonderful and salty. I was a little bummed watching my friend eat the freshly baked crusty Italian bread, and a gluten-free roll would've been great. I don't understand why restaurants don't carry them -- they're frozen and don't spoil, so they can be kept for people like me. But I enjoyed my salad.

My burger was also excellent. It came with bacon, mushrooms, and cheese, and the veg was broccoli rabe with sauteed garlic and red pepper flakes. It was perfectly cooked, high quality meat, and extremely tasty.

The highlight of the meal, for me, was the dessert. Alta Strada is the sister restaurant to a favorite Boston spot of mine, Via Matta. At Via, they make these Marscarporeos, which are homemade Oreo cookies with a marscrapone filling. One time years ago, they offered a special of stone fruit with the marscarpone filling. I asked the server if the pastry chef could do something similar, and she said it was no problem. I got a dish of brunch fruit (green apples, bananas, strawberries), with a dish of the marscarpone cream -- absolutely delicious. It's always a nice surprise to get something for dessert that isn't sorbet or ice cream.

Overall, Alta Strada didn't really cater directly to celiacs. They don't offer gluten free pizza or pasta, but almost all of their entrees are already gluten free, with the exception of their chicken parmigiana and their chicken milanese. But there were enough options that I was happy with my meal, and the dessert made it completely worthwhile.

It's also worth noting that the Alta Strada at Foxwoods has a different menu than the Alta Strada in Wellesley. The one in Wellesley offers tapas-style small plates, which I love, and I've never seen a burger on their menu.