Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Egg salad for allergy sufferers...

I have a few weird allergies. Alright, since people who know and love me read this, I will admit to having many weird allergies. One of them is an allergy to celery (an evil green stalk) and celery seed (the concentrated evil spice form of the evil green stalk). It is hard to order any kind of prepared salad (tuna, coleslaw, etc)while I'm out because of my FOC condition (Fear Of Celery). The allergy has evolved so badly that I have actually gotten sick when the sandwich prepared before mine was cut with the same knife that touched celery...
Anyhow, I'm digressing. I do that often. I was out with an old friend last night in central New Jersey at a restaurant called Mastori's. I'm writing about this because this restaurant is an icon of sorts in my humble state. People travel from the tri-state area to come to this fancy diner-of-sorts. In all my years travelling to eat there, last night was no exception.
I love egg salad. I don't know why. I don't have any particular feelings towards eggs or mayonnaise, respectively. Mix them together, however, and I'll come running much the way my non-allergic husband does for ice-cream cake.
Mastori's, as I discovered yesterday, makes their egg salad FRESH TO ORDER. As in, no evil green stalk? No spice? A clean knife? No problem!
I had a delicious sandwich last night and will certainly head back there again in the future. Worth the trip.
Thank you Mastori's!
As always,
Your allergic diner

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beef, medium-rare

Well, allergic readers, I mentioned on Monday that I picked up that fantastic cake from Coldstone Creamery for the non-allergic husband's celebration. It occurs to me that I did not mention how our dinner went.
The allergic parents, your allergic diner, the evening's honoree, non-allergic husband, and the non-allergic in-laws all met at a steakhouse in central NJ that I believe I had written about in a January posting, KC Prime.
In my last posting I had written about how accomodating the staff at the restaurant was, and this visit was no exception. Interestingly, our waiter appeared to have a hearing problem (this is not a sarcastic comment), and we were all slightly concerned that our dinners would not arrive as ordered because of the difficulty we had communicating with each other.
For example: "I'd like that medium-rare please"
Our waiter: "O.K., one prime rib, rare. Got it"
Our table: "No, medium-rare, please."
Our waiter: "O.K. Medium. Got it"
I'd continue, but I'm sure that you catch the direction I'm heading in.
However, we had no reason to fear, as our prime ribs, strip steaks, and filets arrived cooked to perfection (or in the case of the non-allergic husband, practically mooing on the plate, just the way he likes it).
It was a wonderful dinner that yet again, far surpassed the allergic diner's standards. Thank you to KC Prime for being comfortable enough in the quality of your food to abstain from unneccessary and potentially allergic garnish on the plate!Thank you to the non-allergic inlaws for a wonderful meal! To my non-allergic husband, we are all VERY proud of you!!
Your allergic diner

Monday, July 16, 2007

Coldstone Creamery

Well, I must leave my Chicago train of thought for the time being, but at least it is for a good reason! The non-allergic husband has been given a VERY impressive promotion at his place of work and I could not be any prouder! How, you might ask, am I going to relate this to food allergies, or am I just devoting blog space to tell my husband how proud I am of him?
I'm doing both. As part of our celebration, my non-allergic inlaws, my allergic parents, my non-allergic husband, and your allergic diner are all going out to dinner to celebrate his promotion. But really, what kind of celebration would it be without cake?
The non-allergic husband loves ice cream cake. I mean loves it. The way I feel about my stuffing, he feels about the Carvel creation shaped like a whale, or a football, or any other kind of ice cream cake that might cross his plate. Most recently, a Coldstone Creamery opened near us. I went on their website to find a FULL LISTING of ingredients in every one of their ice creams and sorbets (I am not one of the allergic consumers that will believe dairy-free because the 16-year-old kid behind the counter says "really, no dairy, read the sign"). Their sorbets really are dairy-free (and quite good, as I discovered yesterday, the tangerine is a treat!)
I went to Coldstone and ordered the non-allergic husband an ice cream cake for tonight's celebration, and I would like to supply you, my readers, with their ingredient list for their ice cream and toppings. Who would've thought a lactose intolerant (I will tolerate NO lactose) allergic writer would espouse the good of an ice cream store?
Keeping cool in the heat,
Your allergic diner

Friday, July 13, 2007

From a lil' charcoal grill....

I mentioned a few days ago that I would be speaking about this neat restaurant my non-allergic chicagoans took me to, Weber Grill. We stopped in for after dinner drinks and snacks after the Taste of Chicago, and quite frankly, to rest our very tired feet. Weber Grill is a fantastic place with great drinks and allergy-friendly food. I say this because after doing some research and talking to my friends, I learned that all of Weber's food is cooked over...well, Weber Grills! Their kitchen is filled with open charcoal grills, on which they truly provide you with a backyard-BBQesque experience, only a lot nicer. There prices were reasonable and the waitstaff knowledgeable.
But, as you know from my Potbelly's problem, I was a little apprehensive to see their website. Surprise! They offer a gluten-free menu right on their menu lists. That is the sign of a restaurant that is truly allergy-friendly. Please click here for locations, and happy eating, the Weber's way!
Your allergic diner

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another day, another Chicago daydream...

It's comical to me that when I sat down and looked at my calendar, I've been in a different city every 2 months for the last year or so. I find it funny because I want to keep writing about Chicago. I will soon pepper you with stories of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and several other cities. To be fair, I did post about my time in Orlando (hail to the mouse!)
Today's Chicago posting is about a place not native to Chicago. I was discussing with my non-allergic friend my recipe for homemade trail mix. I don't care for the pre-packaged mixes because I find them to be oversalted and over crunchy. I tend to make my own with dried fruit, unsalted peanuts, pretzels, and the occassional m&m. My friend inquired as to whether I had ever seen Trader Joe's, and suggested that for someone with my allergies, this was THE place to go food shopping. I'd heard of it, but never been there, so off we went to a grocery store on my vacation.
Trader Joe's was unbelievable. They tout themselves as a neighborhood grocery store (with a focus on healthy food), and it certainly does fit the bill. Once we had gotten past all the plants and fresh produce, she showed me the "dried fruit aisle." That's right, an entire aisle devoted to one of my personal food groups. It was fantastic. In fact, my only purchases in Chicago were made in Trader Joe's. They had all sorts of vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free options. Aisles and aisles of them.
This allergic diner gives trader joe's two thumbs up, and here's the link so you can search for a store nearest you!!
Thanks Trader Joe's,
Your Allergic Diner

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Potbelly's....yum (?)

When your allergic diner was in, yes, Chicago (I'm not tired of thinking about it, are you tired of reading about it yet?) I was introduced to Potbelly's Sandwich Works. I had a delicious sandwich (hoagie?) there of roasted turkey, lettuce, onions, mustard & mayo, with some potato chips on the side. I found Potbelly's through their booth at the "Taste of Chicago," and decided (with the help of my non-allergic Chicagoans) that I wanted to try their restaurant. The meal and the service were perfect. To describe it to those east-coasters who have never been able to indulge, Potbelly's Sandwich Works is a sort of upscale Quizno's.
Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this glowing review, I checked their website to find no allergen info, no ingredient info, and appalling nutritional data (simply fat grams and calories).
How to review this? I shall end this way....Potbelly's FOOD gets 2 thumbs up. Potbelly's website, well, it gets the finger.
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ah, Chicago. I want to go back so badly that I've made it the wallpaper on my computer at work.
I described the city as allergy-friendly because of something that occurred in a restaurant that I've never experienced.
My nonallergic friend met me downtown at Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Magnificent doesn't begin to do it justice, but as this is a food review blog and not a shopping review blog, I will hold my comments for another time. The nonallergic friend and I were both famished, so she suggested a restaurant she and her nonallergic husband thoroughly enjoy, The Grand Lux Cafe.
I had been on a plane for 2 hours and the only thing I'd had to eat was some non-peanut snack mix (United Airlines, very allergy-friendly!), so we settled in to our booth with our menus. The restaurant was reminiscent of the Cheesecake factory, so it took awhile to figure out what to order. But here was the impressive thing: the ingredients were all ON THE MENU. It would list for example, greek salad, and then proceed to list every ingredient in the salad (with the exception of the dressing). The Grand Lux Cafe was one of the few times in my life I've ever been able to order a meal without asking the waiter ANY food-allergy related questions! No special requests either. We had a lovely brunch that morning!
Here's the link to their website, they have locations in a few places across the country.

Happy eating,
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, July 09, 2007

How time flies when you're having...work? I hesitate to call work fun but I realize that I wrote I'd continue to post and then got caught up in the next crisis at my job. Isn't a wonderful thing when your supervisors know you can handle other people's jobs as well? My apologies folks, your allergic diner is back.
Most recently so, from the extremely allergy-friendly city of Chicago, and I'd like to spend my next few posts talking about it!
I was lucky enough to be taken by my allergy-friendly hosts to the "Taste of Chicago," which, according to Wikipedia (**warning, anything posted from wikipedia should be taken extremely lightly) is the world's largest food festival. Let me tell you, your allergic diner has never seen anything like this, and I've attended the "Taste of Philadelphia" (puny by comparison), and the "Taste of Washington, D.C." (overhyped and overpriced).
Chicago's "Taste" was a whole other world. Every restaurant who is somebody was there. And, OH THE FOOD! Finally, an allergy-friendly festival. Every booth (and there were close to 2 miles of them) was willing and able to talk about their ingredients. They didn't necessarily understand why I was asking (as in the case of the nice gentleman making samosas who told me that the spices "wouldn't make me gain weight, not that I couldn't stand to gain a little"), but they were helpful. These booths had full-out kitchens. I kid you not. Corn-roasting machines (?), oven roasting sandwiches, etc. I had the gumption to ask the water ice booth, Chicago's finest, if there was dairy in the water ice. And while the woman manning the counter went to get the owner to talk to me, the lady at my left snapped "in water ice? What is wrong with you? Just eat it!" (it was like having one of my relatives right there with me - thanks grandma!)
Most of the booths had, if not ingredient lists, then an owner or manager who was there to talk to me about the ingredients and cooking process. One was smart enough to tell me that there was seasoning in the oil!!
On the whole, Chicago impressed me far more than any city I've visited yet. My next post will tell you about a nifty little restaurant bar & grill named Weber's.....
Thanks for being patient with me, my readers. The paycheck has to come first, to finance the blog!!!