Monthly Archives: September 2014

Ciao Baby Dinner

Last night, we went for dinner in Barrington at Ciao Baby.  This is a small local Italian restaurant.  They have gluten free pasta, and other preparations for the gluten free diner.  I ordered a daily special from the chalk board – a Parmesan-crusted tilapia.  The presentation was very nice,Crusted Tilapia and I very much enjoyed the meal.   The tilapia was placed on a bed of sticky rice, and the grilled zucchini, asparagus, peppers, and mushroom added a colorful and tasteful accompaniment.

Definite thumbs up!

Chinese Mooncakes

My introduction to Chinese food and customs is continuing.  Last week, I was given a lovely gift of mooncakes, made with rice flour so that I could eat them.

My neighbor explained that mooncakes are associated with a mid-autumn festival for moon worship and moon-watching.  The mooncakes are gifted between friends and family as part of the celebration of this important festival.

Checking the internet, I found that there are a variety of recipes.  The cakes my neighbor prepared had a rather soft exteriormoon cakes with a sweet bean filling.

The texture of the cake was unexpected.  It was both soft and firm at the same time.  The filling was sweeter than I would have expected for a bean-based filling.  It almost seemed to have a slight blueberry flavor, although there were no berries used.  As you can see from the photo, they were presented to me on a beautiful plastic plate.  I have to find out where she found it.

I treasure my friendship with my Chinese neighbors, and am so pleased to be introduced to the traditional culture.  It has brought unexpected richness to my life.  This week, a Chinese man came to the antique shop, and I was able to talk with him about mooncakes.  He was pleased to have me bring up the subject, and added his own comments about the festival.

On the Road Again

We just returned from another trip East, to celebrate my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary.   While our meal stops included the usual Olive Garden and Red Lobster, we tried a few off-the-beaten-path places.  (Note – both Olive Garden and Red Lobster can provide nutritional menus if you ask.)

One such stop was in Zanesville, Ohio.  We have been there in the past.  There had been a pottery industry, and we had taken the opportunity to combine a lunch stop with browsing in some of the antique shops.  This time, we used our Map app to locate a place to eat, and found ourselves at Muddy Misers.  It is located on the bank of the Muskingum River, and had a pleasant-looking patio for outdoor eating.  Let me say that this restaurant isn’t the best choice for gluten-free dining, but it was an interesting stop.  For my meal, I ordered a hamburger without a bun, with sides.  The deficiencies of the menu for me were compensated by the collection of items that belonged to Zane Grey.  There is a section set aside to display a framed letter, chaps, and other items that were the property of Grey. The menu includes some history of his years in Zanesville.  (Zanesville was his birthplace, but Grey became synonymous with the Western novel – “Riders of the Purple Sage” was his most successful work.)

We stayed at the Mayflower in Washington, D. C., and ate at Edgar several times.  Pricey.  Reviews on this restaurant are very mixed, with frequent complaints about the service.  The first time we ate there, they left something off our order.  (Fortunately, they didn’t charge us for it.)
For breakfast, expect to pay about $60.00 for two.   Check the menu before you order water. Their menu doesn’t carry any gluten free designation, so you’ll need to be pro-active.

Other restaurants we ate at during our trip:  Panache in Washington, D. C.  Middle-Eastern fare, with tapas-type options.  No gluten-free designations on the menu.
Schulas Grill and Crab House in Hagerstown, MD, on our way home.   Again, no gluten-free designation on the menu.

The wait staff at the above restaurants was able to advise me about the dishes on the menu and which preparations would be good choices for me, but I continue to be surprised at the lack of menu information.  Is the Chicago area a Mecca for the gluten-free?