Carrie Meszaros ND
Gluten Free in Guelph
My husband and I just got back from doing a pre-Valentine’s, pre-anniversary getaway. Since it was out little one’s first sleepover at Nana’s house we needed a nearby destination in case things were going poorly (luckily it all went well). So we chose to make out getaway this year to Guelph. When people heard we were having a getaway they seemed a bit incredulous that our destination was so close but it was perfect. Our goals weren’t big, spend some time together, have a nice dinner out, browse around my favourite bookstore and going to a movie without having to hire a sitter or see a movie with talking animals in it. Goals accomplished! Before going to Guelph I did a little research into gluten free options and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few places that see were gluten free friendly. Some things were hits, others not quite as enjoyable but I thought I would write about some of the best things I found.
My favourite find on this trip was The Other Brother Restaurant http://www.otherbrothers.ca/. This is a quote from their website “most of our dishes are or can be prepared without gluten. Additionally, we have 3 – 4 desserts that are celiac friendly also. We are now offering gluten free pastas as part of our regular menu format. The 3 course fondue dinner can be gluten free with substitutions. We would be happy to make a gluten free six course surprise dinner if we are given 48 hours notice. So we encourage our “glutenly challenged” friends to come to The Other Brother’s and really enjoy dining out again.” Our visit to the restaurant was wonderful. It had a lovely atmosphere, cozy and romantic. The servers were very knowledgable and the food was spectacular! Often in restaurants food is made gluten free by leaving off sauces and anything with flavour and you might be left feeling safe but not very satisfied. I’ve been out many times and other people have lovely looking meals and I have the plain jane gluten free friendly meal that makes me wish I’d stayed home and done the cooking myself. This absolutely wasn’t the case, all substitutions were seamless and I wouldn’t have known that the dishes had been modified if I hadn’t been told that I was getting a gluten free version. For example, my flourless chocolate torte (best ever!) came with cassis sorbet and a the tastiest meringue cookie I’ve ever tasted rather than the flour based cookie it would have come with if I hadn’t specified I needed it to be gluten free. My cabernet braised oxtail with seared sea scallop and my duck confit with citrus vegetables were also delicious. Next time we’ll try the 6 course gluten free surprise menu!
Another great Guelph Gluten free surprise was Portions, a gluten free store http://www.portionscanada.com/. The entire store was gluten free and included a large freezer section of prepared foods for gluten free convenience. They also have a large number of pantry items and some freshly baked items. We did find some delicious foods that I had never tried. The Molly B’s gluten free bagels were yummy toasted (though I strongly would advise not trying them without toasting) and the Mrs. Crimbles Cheese Bites were light, delicate, cheesy, baked crackers that were delicious. We also found my favourite gluten free wraps, made from millet and teff http://latortillafactory.com/products-6.aspx. I buy these sometimes when I can find them in a Metro grocery store but they are difficult to find. My favourite find at Portions was Conte’s Pasta Potato & Onion Pierogies http://www.contespasta.com/specialty.htm. I haven’t had Pierogies in over 10 years and was so excited to eat them. We boiled them and then pan cooked them with onions and bacon and I think they may have been one of the tastiest (while not the healthiest) meal I’ve had lately! I’m inspired to try to make my own gluten free pierogies, if I’m successful I will post them down the line. Also in Guelph, I purchased a tortilla press that I’m excited to experiement with soon!
I went to university in Guelph so there was a big nostalgia factor that extended all the way to wandering around campus, seeing my old dorm room and visiting the university centre. One thing that I was happily surprised by was seeing at the university cafeteria one of the entrees posted on the menu board was labelled as gf (gluten free). It made me happy to see that options were getting easier for students trying to be gluten free. In some closer to home news, I found out when visiting The Butcher The Baker here in Stratford (to pick up the bacon for the pierogies) that all of their sausages are gluten free. Their turkey sausage is some of the best I’ve ever had! Stay tuned for more yummy gluten free finds!