No GF dice for Ace

Ace Pizza is the newest kid on the Mt Lawley block and in the name of research we tried it out on Friday night. Yes I know, alarm bells should have been ringing when I read the name, however I bought into the idea that this potential new local would be coeliac friendly just like it’s sister restaurant El Publico up the road.

The new fit out – of what was formerly Barolo – was oh so edgy and had a great atmosphere. We sat at the bar, which was perfect because we just wanted to grab a quick bite to eat and head home to watch Suits (we’re hooked on this show!).

The service at Ace was well, ace! The waitress took our drink order, a wine for me and for my date, a Peroni beer in a can imported from Italy. This of course was not GF, but it was a nice touch and left the avid beer drinker with a smile on his dial. The waitress also ran me through the five GF menu items, chop chop beef ($14), occy with potatoes and olive ($18), mussels with lemon and dill ($17), beets and ricotta ($16) and rib chop with bone marrow and potato ($79), but there was no GF pizza on the menu at all. This is something I assumed Ace, with the owner’s great GF track record, would have but I should have called to check first!

I ordered the occy which came out first and was more a jack than an Ace with only four pieces of “occy” on the plate mixed with a lot of potato. It was then on to the mussels, which the waitress had said were quite large but when they arrived they were really only another starter dish, a precursor to the hero dish, the pizzas!

After these two dishes I watched delicious looking pizzas being gobbled up around me and encountered a lot of gluten envy (apparently the pizzas are as tasty as they look). So, I  spent a while trying to get the waitress’ attention to order more food and fill my still rumbling belly. I began to get hangry (the emotion you feel when you’re really hungry, a cross between angry and hungry) so we folded and headed out to San Churros for strawberries dipped in chocolate and macaroons! All gluten free and they filled me right up.

All in all, I think Ace is great for others (read another review here if you’re not on a GF diet), but a bad bet for us coeliacs. I’m eagerly awaiting the day that they get on the GF train so I can eat the equivelant to my body weight in those Ace pizzas!

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MEXICAN HOT SPOT

Firstly, I must apologise for not posting in a while, I have been away with work and collecting lots of content on eating gluten free while travelling the Pilbara…let me assure you, this was no simple task. However, today’s blog post is just a quickie to tell you about El Publico, a Mexican restaurant in Mt Lawley aka coeliac paradise.

I have to admit, I had eaten here pre diagnosis and didn’t enjoy it at all, but we thought we’d give it another go last night in a smaller group of just two people and therefore could choose our own dishes. This was definitely the better way to experience the gluten free friendly menu – only four non gluten free foods are listed on the menu and they are marked clearly with an asterix, meaning I didn’t have to feel like a total pain constantly asking the waiter questions!!!

We ordered the street corn and cuttlefish for starters, these were the highlight dishes of the night. We followed with a lamb belly taco, with Aunty G’s sauce and a chicken taco each. The waiter (who was fabulous by the way!) placed some house made hot sauce on the table with the famous last words ‘It’s really hot… in case you want to party!”. How hot could it be I asked myself, well, with only three drops of the hot sauce on my taco I was sweating up a storm! Beware of the hot sauce, it is in fact, HOT sauce!

Overall I was really impressed with the service and food at El Publico, they make it so easy for coeliacs, you almost forget you have any special diatary needs – that is until your date orders a crispy pork role (Torta ahogada), which had my mouth watering!

On another note, the Coles gluten free and healthy living expo is on this weekend 16 -17 March, 2013 at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre. According to a lovely lady at the Coeliac Society, the expo is a must for coeliacs as you can experience all things gluten free. You’ll find me there, taste testing my way through the expo booth by booth 🙂

COELIAC 101, LESSON 1

Four weeks ago, when I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I thought it was the end of my world. The end to all delicious food which I loved so much (no cakes! no pasta! no bread!) and the start of something much more depressing, frustrating and not to mention embarrassing – “how can I expect people to cook gluten free for me?” I was heard whining.

I have had so many ups and downs in this past month, I’ve dodged a few gluten bullets and had many a melt down over a restaurant menu, but lately I have noticed a change – news flash, I can still eat most of this stuff! – which is why I thought it a good idea to give a rundown of the basics I’ve learned to date.

Lesson 1 – Cheerleaders

All coeliacs need a cheer squad.

Listen up glutards and coeliacs alike, it is impossible to get through weeks 1 -3 without a posse of cheerleaders behind you. The Queen B cheer squad grew and grew in these first few weeks and is still growing as more family, friends and friends of friends of friends find out about my disease. It has blown me away how supportive everyone has been and I most definitely needed it!

We’ll start with my mum, or as I like to think of her, the base and strongest part of the cheer pyramid. Mum took the reins at home, swapping flours, bread crumbs, dips and anything else she could think of for gluten free products. I now have my own basket filled with gluten free snacks in the pantry, ensuring I don’t even have to look at anything with gluten in it and she continues to fill it daily.

Family (also known as the catchers, the people who catch the person flying through the air) have been crucial in the changeover phase. Regular weekly dinners at home and at my boyfriend’s parents’ house are now totally gluten free. This was something I really struggled with, I felt I was being a massive burden and I initially didn’t want to attend because of the inconvenience I felt I caused. I have since been talked around by cheer captain (the boyfie) and my gluten free diet has now been embraced by all, even my 80 something year old Italian grandmother who keeps gluten free cutlets in the freezer for when I visit – I couldn’t appreciate it more.

My friends and aunties, (the cheerleaders jumping around making lots of noise, shouting give me a Q, give me a U, give me an E… well you get the picture) provide me with tonnes of tips and I receive so many good gluten free product and shopping recommendations from this great group of cheerleaders each week. Most of these cheerleaders aren’t coeliacs or gluten intolerant, just super supportive!

Some of these cheerleaders encourage me by eating gluten free themselves and go so out of their way to help me. One was seen running around the Rottnest pub (on Rotto swim day, their busiest day of the year), hunting down a chef who could tell me which menu items were gluten free – she was on a mission!

And that brings me to you guys, the people who have read this blog, commented, emailed, encouraged and spread the word! Your support has been fantastic and you have given me so many more gluten free options to explore. I look forward to continuing this gluten free journey with you!

Lesson two coming soon… stay tuned!

A COELIAC’S FRENCH WONDERLAND

Over the weekend I was treated to another birthday celebration at one of Perth’s newest restaurants, Bistro Guillaume. Located just off the lobby at Crown Entertainment Complex, Bistro Guillaume instantly transports you to a French wonderland through its modern take on a quintessential French bistro.

The entry sets the tone, with its smashed plate chandelier hanging high enough to direct punters to the bright green doorway and into the restaurant’s impressive foyer. The staff greeted us almost immediately, held up only by one disgruntled guest blasting the maitre d’ because she couldn’t be accommodated (without a booking) in the packed restaurant – even I was shaking in my stilettos…that woman was cray!

We were soon seated and as we were still waiting on one person, we ordered drinks. I decided on a French Martini (when in Rome!), which was almost as good as the  best French martini I have had – it went down way too easy after a long week in the office!

French martini.

French martini.

A few martinis later and with our last guest now present, we began to order our meals. I called the restaurant a few days earlier and spoke to a manager who assured me that most menu items can be made gluten free and our waitperson confirmed this on the night. I was very confident that I would have a wide variety to choose from and I was right.

For entrée, I ordered half a dozen natural oysters and the Spanner Crab salad with avocado, cucumber and capsicum coulis. I absolutely love oysters, but unfortunately these ones didn’t seem to be shucked properly and I had to work hard to get them off the shell – this was a bit of a turn off.

The Spanner Crab on the other hand was delicious, I couldn’t fault it!

Oysters.

The oysters left a lot to be desired.

The delicious crab salad!

The Spanner Crab with avocado, cucumber and capsicum coulis.

Between entrée and main we were treated to Chinese New Year fireworks. I got so distracted by the spectacle happening outside the window that I subconsciously reached for the bread roll, so sneakily placed on my side plate. It wasn’t until my gluttonous side kicked in and I asked for the butter that I realised what I was doing…eeek! The butter saved me from eating the bread (I never thought I would hear myself say that!).  After this little incident it was hard to forget about the doughy fresh bread that I couldn’t eat, but thankfully it was nothing another French martini couldn’t fix!

It was then onto mains for which I ordered Chargrilled King Salmon with roast fennel, oyster mushroom, clams and beurre blanc. It was cooked perfectly and was a great gluten free choice. The serving was fairly big and after my entrée it was a struggle to finish it all.

Chargrilled king salmon.

Chargrilled king salmon.

When it came time to order desert, our waitperson explained that there were only two gluten free deserts, the sorbet and the fresh raspberry and rose macaron. With such a small selection to choose from, I was lucky that I already had my mind set on the macaron. It was like nothing I had seen before, a huge macaron with an amazing creamy centre. It was extremely sweet (even for me and my sweet loving tooth), but I would still recomend it to all you glutards!

THE macaron!

THE macaron!

All in all, the food was very nice however the service (especially the drink service) was not on par with that of neighboring restaurants Nobu and Rockpool. We found we drank less because our glasses weren’t filled regularly (first world problem, I know, I know!), and the significantly pricey Hennesy Paradis ordered by the males at our table was more expensive (and less quantity) than that served 20 metres away at Nobu, this was a bit disappointing.

Although I wouldnt rush back, I would recommend you try it at least once for the decor alone, oh and they cater very well to us coeliacs, which is a big plus in my book!

GLUTEN FREE PARTY FOOD: MEATBALLS!

Friday marked my one week anniversary of gluten free (GF) eating – Hooray I survived!

In preparation for my birthday celebrations (which I dragged out all weekend long!), my mum and I put our heads together and came up with some gluten free party food ideas – no small task for two people who are very new to GF eating! We decided on bite size meatballs and ordered other gluten free products from all over Perth to get us through the festivities. I will post a full re-cap on all the gluten free treats we were munching on later in the week.

I have to say, I was very skeptical of how the gluten free version of our family meatball recipe would turn out. However I was pleasantly surprised with the end result, they tasted exactly the same and maybe even better because I didn’t feel sick after eating them! As the gluten free meatballs made the cut, I am pleased to share the recipe with you here!

WHAT YOU NEED

  • A large bowl
  • A frying pan
  • Olive oil
  • 1 egg (I used fresh organic eggs from our farm, but if you can’t get your hands on organic eggs, at least make sure they are free range!)
  • 3 tbls GF bread crumbs (I used Lifestyle Bakery from Woolworths)
  • 3 tbs parmesan
  •  A handful of parsley
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  • 750g of mince (I used a combination of veal and pork).
  • 1 tbs GF self-raising flour (I used Organ, also from Woolworths)
  • 2 tsp MasterFoods All Purpose Seasoning (Spicy)

HOW TO MAKE GREAT MEATBALLS

1. Whisk your eggs in a large bowl.

2. Add bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley, to make a paste.

Mix the paste.

Mix the paste.

3. Add the mince and mix the paste through, ensure it is evenly spread.
Tip: wear two pairs of latex gloves when combining mince and paste, it can get quite cold on your fingers!

Mix the mince with the paste.

Mix the mince with the paste.

4. Sprinkle self-raising flour and all purpose seasoning and mix with mince.

5. Once you have thoroughly mixed the paste and mince together, begin rolling the meatballs.
Tip:It is a good idea to roll them tight (and bite size for your party guests), so they don’t split open in the pan.

6. Coat the meatballs in gluten free bread crumbs (this is an optional step, I actually found them really nice without the crumbs on the outside too!).

7. Place a liberal amount of olive oil in the pan (around 2cm high) and heat.

8. Once the oil is very hot, place your meatballs in and cook until they are golden brown.

Cook your meatballs in oil in a hot frying pan.

Cook your meatballs in oil in a hot frying pan.

9. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice! I made the chili jam from the Must Eat cookbook, which work perfectly!

Voila! Gluten free meatballs!

Voila! Gluten free meatballs!

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