Monday, October 31, 2011

Troquet - Boston, MA

It's been a while since I've reviewed and I owe quite a few, but two needed to jump the queue. You'll see the second post shortly. My birthday was Friday and this review tells the tale of a romantic birthday evening out with the hubs.

Troquet. I'd never heard of this place, but the hubs did some excellent reconnaissance on French restaurants and found it. It's located on Boylston Street in the Theater District. What a gem. When you walk in you are greeted by the pleasant hostess and if your table isn't ready, you are offered to sit at what might be the cutest bar in Boston. I'm pretty sure there were no more than nine or ten chairs around their square bar. The cocktails looked delicious and I was eyeing one with gin and St. Germaine. Alas, we were called to our table and since this place is ranked as one of the top 100 Wine Restaurants in the nation by Wine Enthusiast I decided that I'd rather dive straight in with some vino.

As soon as we sat, we were asked which of us ate gluten free. The server was quite knowledgeable in describing which appetizers and entrees were safe for me to eat (in their entirety) and which dishes could be altered to be safe.  Out of the entire menu, I believe there were only three that could not be adjusted.

One feature of the menu that isn't run-of-the-mill is that you can order your wines by the 2oz or 4oz glass. Perfect for those of us, myself included, who enjoy flights of wine.

Due to the array of gluten free options before me and due to them all sounding equally delicious, I had a difficult time deciding between appetizers and entrees. Luckily for me, the hubs was overly willing to order my second choices off the menu so that we could both enjoy a smorgasbord of options. In the end, I settled on a braised octopus dish for a starter and their signature roasted suckling pig entree. Gluten-free-by-proxy hubs ordered the duck confit with soft duck egg salad and the Painted Hills ribeye for his main. Every last bite of every last dish was amazing. The flavor combinations used were terrific and sometimes surprising. For example, one cut of my pork (there were three different cuts) was served with a snappy celery root slaw. The slaw cut through the richness of the pork and complimented the flavor. Additionally, the octopus was served with escargot, black garlic, crispy speck, and a veggie sauce - it was perfect harmony. The hubs' dishes were no less impressive - is there anything better than duck lardoons, duck meat, frisee, duck egg on a salad? Perhaps a meticulously executed bordelaise sauced ribeye steak.

Dessert course is always tricky for the gluten-free. While Troquet was willing to offer me selections of sorbet, ice cream or part of the desserts that were safe, what caught my eye was their cheese course. When you select the cheese course you're in for a treat. They have many gluten-free cheese and they are all wheeled over to you on a cart for you to choose. The cheeses were served with pear and quince gelee, sliced apple, and GF candied nuts. After the cheese course, we were served two house-made caramel cups complete with a candle to blow out. What an amazing way to end a meal....or so you think.

A lovely couple seated next to us heard it was my birthday and offered me a glass of their incredible super Tuscan.

Thanks to the hubs for another unforgettable birthday at a new favorite restaurant!

Five out of five stars.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tavolino at Patriot's Place, Foxboro, MA

My first visit to Tavolino was during my bachelorette party. My sisters found out that they make gluten free pizza and have a gluten free menu. I was impressed with the pizza enough to return the other night and to share a few slices with my GF brother.

Tavolino has a good sized GF menu, including around 15 different pizzas. It's a thin crust style, but is there every a non-thin-crust if it's GF? We sampled three different pies: sausage with hot cherry peppers, one topped with steak tips, and a chicken & broccoli pizza. The chicken & broccoli pizza is my absolute favorite. It has this luscious garlic cream sauce that compliments the toppings. My brother preferred his sausage and hot cherry pepper pizza, which I must say was a winner. I think the brother & I both concurred that the steak was the least favorite; that being said, proxy glutard loved the steak pizza.

I'd like to head back and try their chicken pasta dish.  I definitely will be back to try out many things on their menu....maybe even during the remaining patio dining season.

For around $11 per GF pizza (no upcharge!), this is a solid date night place or just a great place to have good pizza with your brother. 4 stars from Yelle. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stuffed Portobello Heaven

Those people over at Food & Wine Magazine sure know what they are doing. There's a fabulous recipe that I made for dinner tonight (Click for Recipe). It's a fabulous, light recipe with lots of flavor...and it's GF without any substitutions. Proxy Glutard (aka my husband, who isn't GF, but eats that way out of solidarity) loved it. I'd recommend saving this one for a night that's spent on the grill or when it's not already 85 and the height of humidity, but still, I'm glad I tried this out today.

I tweaked the recipe just slightly: While I mixed in the cheese as instructed, I sliced some more cheddar very thinly and topped the giant mushrooms with them, for extra flavor. Additionally, I salted the onions and spinach while cooking in the frying pan - I'm a big believer in layering the flavors as I cook, even when the recipe doesn't call for it. I just used a lighter hand with the salt at the end (barely used any) since it was already there in the different components.

I'm a bit obsessed with cilantro right now. It happens every summer. Though there's no shortage of this wonderous herb in my cooking during the three other seasons, I cannot get enough of it in the summer. This past weekend was filled with a wonderful Yelle original salad/salsa which included black beans, mangoes, sugar snap peas...and lots of cilantro. Seriously, it's a good thing there's no issues with consuming massive amount of this flavorful stuff.

High five for the stuffed portobellos. Good work Food & Wine people - keep it up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet Sassy Mo'Lassy - a toast to the end of bad BBQ sauces

About a week ago, I was at the SoWa farmers market here in the South End.  While picking up some fresh peas and some amazing shitake mushrooms (picked that morning!), I found the holy grail of BBQ sauce.

BBQ sauce has been a nemesis for me. You see, not only does it need to be gluten free, but it also needs to be corn syrup free....oh, and it has to taste good and not be sickeningly sweet. I will give props to Trader Joe's, who has a decent sauce but it's a little on the sweet side. That being said, Burnin' Love Sauces and I have started a very exclusive BBQ sauce relationship for the foreseeable future. I tasted their 1919, which is an awesome traditional sauce, but what stole my heart is their Sassy Mo'Lassy, a kicked up, spicy sauce that dances more than a two-step in your mouth. There's heat, there's sweet, and a whole lot of flavor. I'm pretty psyched to try their other sauces, some being fruit based.

I spoke with the company owner about their sauces, which are made in a factory that manufactures other possibly contaminating food. He was so kind about my concerns and he assured me that each batch is tested for the presence of gluten prior to bottling. So, the man is doing everything he can to keep us glutards healthy.

Yelle gives this sauce the blue ribbon...and five stars: *****

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fellow Glutards Unite!

If you're one of the lucky kids on the block who can't digest gluten or simply happen to be intolerant to all the different grains (wheat, rye, barley, sometimes oats), if you're a celiac, or if you eat gluten free for other reasons, this blog is for you.  I affectionately refer to myself as a "Glutard" or "The Glutard" and occasionally, "the problem child" of eating.

The goals:
1. Rating gluten free alternative products so that you don't buy the gross ones I already had the pleasure of spitting out...and so that you can demand the goods that are tasty in a non-cardboard-type way in a grocery store near you.
2. Review establishments that offer gluten free or accommodate us glutards so that other GF people can enjoy the sweet successes I've had.
3. Share good gluten free recipes that I've found, developed myself, or adapted.
4. Other ideas? If you'd like to see something, message or comment.