HU Kitchen: A Gluten Free DREAM

Human Element MuffinsIf you are gluten free you have dreams about things that you miss. For me, I WISH there was a place to sit quietly over a cup of tea and slowly eat a muffin in the morning. A place where I could get an excellent coffee – not a mediocre EXCELLENT – and an delicious muffin gluten free.

It turns out THIS IS NOT A DREAM!!!

Enter Human Element.  Its rare that I am stunned living here in NYC but this morning I could not even speak as I stood there taking in that the entire place was gluten free.  Not only could I get a muffin or a breakfast sandwich (yes you are reading this correctly!!) I could order GF French Toast, GF Pancakes. I could order lunch…dinner…..maybe I will move in?

This is a gluten free breakfast dream. This is DREAMS becoming a reality.

This place is cool as well – NYC cool. Its somewhat spacious for the city, has a great vibe and seems like a great place to caffeinate, eat, and perhaps have some wine and a treat. HU calls its food “human conscious”  - clean healthy food without GMO’s, with a focus on particular oils… it is a healthy place. BUT ITS ALSO A GLUTEN FREE DREAM because its good.

Go there. Now!

Neighborhood: Union Square

Address: 78 5th Avenue 

Website: http://hukitchen.com/

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Eating Gluten Free at Co Ba: Delicious Vietnamese Street Food

IF you are looking to eating gluten free in NYC, Co Ba is a GREAT spot to escape the crowds of Chelsea Market and the Highline Park AND enjoy excellent Vietnamese food. Co Ba is definitely a local restaurant off the beaten tourist path. It’s also easy to miss. Keep your eyes peeled for a small restaurant with a red awning across the street from some dreary apartment buildings on 9th avenue.

For those of us with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, Vietnamese cuisine is always a good selection because it uses a lot of rice noodles or rice as its chosen starch. The main trick to eating gluten free at Vietnamese restaurants is to ask a lot of questions about sauces.

My favorite gluten free dish at Co Ba is Bun Cha Ca Hanoi.

I am a HUGE fan of Bun Cha Ca. I have not yet been to Vietnam but from my husband’s telling, there are street vendors in some cities that line the streets selling their own version of Cha Ca.

Bun Cha Ca every day? That’s for me!

Bun Cha Ca is a turmeric marinated white fish traditionally served with dill, rice noodles and peanuts.

In other words: Gluten free without any modifications. PLUS, It’s delicious! I have tried Cha Ca at three different restaurants in NYC so far – THIS IS THE BEST. It’s fresh but filling at the same time.

Ordering a Bun, which is a noodle dish, is the easiest route to something gluten free and delicious. There are many other choices on Co Ba’s menu. Buns have rice noodles (gluten free), chicken, lettuce, carrots and mint mixed together. It’s hard to explain how delicious they are!

This place is great for small plates. BUT. Watch the sauces. This is where you can get in to gluten free trouble. Ordering Tom Cuon, rice paper wrapped shrimp, which I did the last time, can lead to problems unless the waiter knows what is in the sauce. ASK!!!

I asked for an alternative sauce after this dish arrived because it when I see a brown sauce I start asking questions to make sure its gluten free.

Usually waiters don’t know about soy sauce having gluten. Let them know when you order. They swapped out the sauce with the same mixture they serve with the Buns – a vinegar sauce – and it was great!

Co Ba means “Miss Number Three” which translates loosely to “Auntie Number Three.” This is what the purveyors of tiny restaurants in Vietnam are called because they cook for those that live right next door to them. Auntie Number Three is usually a housewife that expands her offerings to the locals and she becomes like a family member.

And that is the feeling you get in Co Ba. You suspect that someone’s mom is cooking in the back… but she is cooking up stuff that no mom I have met has mastered. Not surprisingly, this is what chef Steven Duong had in mind: A restaurant offering foods typically found on the streets of Vietnam. It’s a great place to go for small plates, clay pots and of course Bun Cha Ca. (Additional Posts on Co Ba)

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Websitehttp://www.cobarestaurant.com/

Address: 110 9TH AVENUE (BTW 17TH &18TH ST)

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Eating Gluten Free at Dorado in NYC

dorado gluten freeUnion Square has become a taco haven over the last two years and I am loving it!

Dorado Taco is about 2 blocks from my house. What makes this restaurant so different from the other taco places I have written about is the menu at Dorado Taco is clearly labeled with Gluten Free symbols.

How easy! For a glimpse of what they offer check out their online menu (also with gluten free markings) here.

I eat a lot of tacos and Dorado shines in one area: fish tacos. Specifically grilled fish tacos. Usually fish tacos are breaded in NYC – its rare to get a grilled fish taco like you can on the west coast. For this, I heart Dorado Taco! Its one of the only Baja style gluten free taco’s I have run into.

The corn chips are thick here – obviously cut from the hand made corn tortillas. I prefer a thinner chip but if you like these they are good here!

Neighborhood: Union Square

Websitehttp://www.doradotacos.com/

Address: 28 East 12th Street (near University)

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NYC Gluten Free Bakery: Pip’s Place

It surprises me at times that NYC doesn’t have more gluten free bakeries. Perhaps I don’t know enough about the economics of running a bakery to really comment on this but it does feel like there should be a GOOD one (there are people in NYC making kinda crappy gluten free cookies and cupcakes and we are putting up with it) in every neighborhood.

Pip's Place Gluten Free BakeryPip’s Place just opened on the upper east side. For those of you that don’t live in Manhattan you might think it ridiculous that going to the Upper East side – a mere 2 miles from my apartment – is “far” but this is how we New Yorkers roll. I asked my friend Angela a few weeks back if she wanted to go with me and she said “no way am I going all the way up there.” Its “far” from Union Square for New York standards at 89th streets and 1st avenue.

But, I went anyway. I can’t resist trying out every possible place for this blog and reporting back! It was worth the trip up there in the end…even at 38 weeks pregnant!

Pips place new york city gluten free bakery

Pip’s Place Cakery is the NICEST bakery I have ever been in. It blew me away. Every other bakery in NYC that caters to the gluten intolerant has major issues with their air conditioning. I can’t tell you how many times I have waited at some of these places (and some I have refused to return to) and found myself getting so furious while I was dripping with sweat. There is something unsettling about being forced to wait in the blistering heat because you have no other options. It feels like prison.

Pip’s was a cool breeze. The interior is gorgeous! with a few stools to enjoy whatever you select from the case.

I tried the Almond Apricot Cake, the Sour Cream Coffee Cake, a chocolate chip cookie, a double chocolate chip cookie and a slice of vanilla layer cake. No, I didn’t eat all of these at the same time!! I wanted to try several things to get an understanding of what their capabilities were.

I was very impressed with the chocolate chip cookie. It was not as thick as the cookies are made at Tu-Lu’s bakery, my neighborhood favorite. But it was very good. I liked the simpler approach as it felt like a homemade cookie. The chocolate chocolate chip cookie was ok. I would steer people back to the basic chocolate chip version.

The Almond Apricot Cake was good but I liked the actual slice of cake much better because it had much better moisture. The Sour Cream Coffee Cake was excellent.

What I appreciated most about Pip’s Place was its approach to everything they baked. It felt like the difference between getting something homemade and getting something outrageously over the top because it was sold in a bakery. The former is Pip’s. You feel like Pip’s mom is in the back cooking away – oh wait, she is!

And this is what really struck me about the shop. It felt like a wonderful mom was ready and willing to offer up something delicious when you entered. And perhaps this is what I miss the most being a celiac, that impromptu offering of something delicious that I can actually eat.

Address: 1729-31 First Ave

Website: http://www.pipsplacenyc.com/

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

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