Product Review: Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce

Product: Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce – $9.95

When your Cuisine Cube delivers a box that is 1/2 meat-friendly…you get a little creative.  Honestly.  I was willing to part with the Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky, as there was no way I could possibly eat that being a vegetarian.  But the other two items…the sauce and seasoning meant for burgers…those I could use.  I just had to get a little creative in my kitchen.

And I do love it when a cooking gauntlet is thrown down.  And this box did just that.  For months now, I had a recipe idea just percolating, and the inclusion of the previously blogged on Dinner Tonight Burger Seasoning Mix and the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce meant that I was being issued a veggie burger challenge, whether Cuisine Cube knew it or not.  And I guarantee you…they didn’t know it.  Ultimately though…the challenge was accepted.  Using items in my pantry (lentils) and from my CSA bin (VEGGIES!), I set out to make a specific veggie burger that I had been talking about creating for awhile, just never really had a reason to actually do it.  I admit, it was a whole lot of fun getting into that kitchen and getting my creative chef’s hat on.

And that’s how it worked out in the end.  I made this amazing burger with lentils and farm-fresh ingredients, topping it off with some Russian red kale and a green tomato.  But this burger needed that condiment to tie it all together.  And that’s where the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce came in.  While the label itself touts this sauce as being perfect to use with any meat (from poultry to beef to elk to pork and so on)…I was really going to put it to the test by pairing it with…a veggie burger of my own making.  I hope the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. doesn’t hold it against me for not using meat.  But this vegetarian was still willing to give their product a vessel…albeit made from lentils and veggies.  Would it matter?

Let me tell you, this sauce is awesome.  This is literally AWESOMESAUCE!  HA!  The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce was a great flavor elevator.  It brought this nice tangy flavor to the burger.  The sauce brought together both sweet and savory, enhancing each bite.  The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce honestly lifted every bit of my veggie burger and just added a nice sweet and tangy touch.  While it is advertised as being rich and thick, I found it to be slightly runny, and I promise, I did shake it up.  That being said, it went way beyond delicious.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to get more without the $10 price tag.  Because I’m hooked.

The Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce is made from what the company describes as a secret blend of Lowcountry herbs and spices that help bring flavor to any meat (or in my case…veggies and lentils).  It is made from water, distilled water, vinegar, molasses, sugar, onions, salt, garlic salt, cloves, tammarind extract, chili pepper extract, tomatoes, onion powder, garlic powder and gluten free xanthan gum.

A serving of the Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce is 1 tablespoon.  This serving provides you with 15 calories.  It is fat free, cholesterol free, and contains no fiber or protein.  The sauce, however, does provide 200 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.

Yet again, Cuisine Cube brings a product I never, ever would have heard about or tried without it surprising me with its inclusion in the box.  Very happy with this month’s offerings for sure.  And my roommate is already pondering other ways to use this sauce in the future.  Delicious!

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce on my Homemade Gluten-Free Veggie Burger

Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Burger Sauce on my Homemade Gluten-Free Veggie Burger

Product Review: SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce

Product: SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce – $4.99+

SoL Cuisine has been a surprise to me as far as the products they put out onto the market.  For one thing, they are the only brand that offers gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian items that I can’t get otherwise.  For that, I am forever in my debt to this company.  Because of SoL Cuisine, I can have vegetarian breakfast sausages again.  Because of SoL Cuisine, I have another option for veggie burgers.  Because of SoL Cuisine, I can have vegetarian BBQ Ribs again.  Because of SoL Cuisine…I can indulge in Falafel!

YES!

Falafel.  That little Mediterranean cake made from chickpeas that is so awesomely yummy?  Ever tried it?  If not…you should.  I love falafel.  Always have.  Because I am a huge fan of Mediterranean food as well.  So, when I was grocery shopping and spotted SoL Cuisine’s Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce on closeout at my local natural food store…it was time to finally give it a try.  I couldn’t argue with the price.

Unfortunately, I never really had anything in the house to use the SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with.  Normally, it would be served on pita bread…but my local Whole Foods stopped carrying the LivWell brand that had the gluten-free pita bread.  So, that was sad.  But, thanks to my trip to Boulder, Colorado and a stop in at one of their local natural food stores, I picked up these gluten-free sandwich petals (think Flat-Out Wraps).  I picked up one of each kind of petal and brought them home with me.

And after a weekend in Detroit…where I saw Queen in concert…which was awesome.  And…coming home in time to watch the World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina…I needed dinner.  My breakfast was small and my lunch consisted of applesauce and a protein bar.  Yeah…it was only 3:45 but I was ready for dinner for sure.  I had so many options for easy meals to choose from in my pantry and freezer…so I pulled out some options and called in Cathy to help make a decision.  She settled on Falafel (because we had it the longest).  So I asked if I should put it on Amy’s Gluten-Free Sandwich Thins or the Sandwich Petals…and she decided on the Spinach Garlic Pesto Sandwich Petals.  Hey…it was the closest thing we had to a flatbread.  No pita…no problem.

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel (cooked stove top)

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel (cooked stove top)

So, I got a pan out and placed a touch of coconut oil in it.  Then, into the pan went six (3 for each of us) of the Sol Cuisine Organic Falafel.  I let them work in the pan while I put the frozen tahini sauce package into hot water to (hopefully) let it thaw before the rest of the meal was ready.  Note to those of you out there about to try this product or thinking about it…thaw the sauce!  Aside from that everything went very well.  I cooked the Organic Falafel in the pan for about 5 minutes on one side…then flipped them over and did the same for the other side.  They turned a gorgeous golden brown on the one side, so it was starting to come together.  I got out the Sandwich Petals and heated up (one at a time) each flatbread, put some of the (thankfully) thawed sauce on each one, topped it with greens, then moved the now golden brown falafel over to the waiting flatbread.  I topped it off with a bit more sauce, folded it over…and dinner…was served.

So, I settled in to finally really start paying attention to the second half of the World Cup final match.  I carefully lifted up my Mediterranean sandwich of sorts and took a bite.  I think I expected a little more of a crunch to the falafel from the stove top cooking, but, it was still quite soft.  In fact, two of them started to meld together when I took another bite.  But, falafel is not crunchy, but a chickpea cake of soft goodness, so this was actually what it should be like.  And, honestly, I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  And the Organic Tahini Sauce that is included in the box is quite tasty as well.  I was impressed.  I found these easy to eat, and really quite delicious.  I never know what it means when my roommate describes a product as “quite tasty” because she never really says anything else, so I can’t really say what her thoughts are truly on it…but she ate her Falafel Flatbread Sammie and that was enough to say that it was at least palatable to her.  As for me…I devoured mine.  The sandwich was a bit awkward, not really having a pocket to tuck everything into, but I made it work and in the end…it was a delicious, and quite healthy dinner.

SoL Cuisine does it again!

Let’s talk ingredients, yes?  The SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel is made from organic chickpeas, organic okra, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder, wheat free tamari sauce, organic tahini, organic expeller pressed sunflower oil, organic tapioca starch, organic sesame seeds, and xanthan gum.  The Organic Tahini Sauce is made from organic tahini, filtered water, organic lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, and organic garlic.  This product is gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, vegetarian, kosher, and organic.

Nutrition-wise…these aren’t a bad option at all.  The serving size of SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel is three of the patties.  These three patties will serve you up 110 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 210 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  These are cholesterol free.  Finally, you will be taking in 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  Filling and delicious.

So far, I have yet to really not enjoy something from SoL Cuisine.  The Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce is a great and easy meal to prepare.  Serve it up on flatbread or crackers…drizzle with the sauce, and enjoy every bite.  This was a fantastic and unique meal to have while watching the World Cup…but it was a delicious stunner of a meal regardless.

Love!

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce on a Gluten-Free Spinach Garlic Pesto Sandwich Petal

SoL Cuisine Organic Falafel with Organic Tahini Sauce on a Gluten-Free Spinach Garlic Pesto Sandwich Petal

Chickpeas*, Okara*, Onion* & Garlic* Powder, Spice*, Wheat Free Tamari Sauce*(Water, Soybeans*, Salt), Tahini*, Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil*, Tapioca Starch*, Sesame Seeds*, Xanthan Gum. – See more at: http://solcuisine.com/american-retail/sol-cuisine-falafel-sauce#sthash.k8FUfHIs.dpuf
Chickpeas*, Okara*, Onion* & Garlic* Powder, Spice*, Wheat Free Tamari Sauce*(Water, Soybeans*, Salt), Tahini*, Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil*, Tapioca Starch*, Sesame Seeds*, Xanthan Gum. – See more at: http://solcuisine.com/american-retail/sol-cuisine-falafel-sauce#sthash.k8FUfHIs.dpuf

Restaurant Review: Rye, Louisville, Kentucky

Rye, Louisville, Kentucky

Rye, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Rye, Louisville, Kentucky

While Indy was in town this past week, we really wanted to treat her to a nice dinner, welcoming her in true foodie style, to the area.  It just so happens that while we were at Disneyland last September, she treated everyone to a tasting menu at the Chef’s Counter of Napa Rose…complete with wine pairings.  It still ranks up there as one of the most amazing meals I have ever had the opportunity to eat.  Disneyland’s chefs work really well around my dietary needs, and my meal was completely gluten-free and vegetarian…complete with the perfect wine to compliment each dish we were served.

Well, this gave us an idea…to treat her to a tasting menu at one of our local restaurant’s chef’s tables.  It happens that three local restaurants have a chef’s table.  And after a little debate…Cathy and I decided on a new hotspot in town, Rye.  Rye is located in the NULU region of Louisville…and it seemed right up our alley.  Cathy got in touch with the restaurant, speaking with PR and Events Coordinator, Erin MacDonaold, and made arrangements, explaining my dietary needs and that she and Indy would be up for anything.  But they had to stay within the perimeters of my diet for me.  The chef and the restaurant had no problem with that, so…it was set.  Friday night…we’d be treating Indy to a tasting menu with drink pairings at Rye.

The most difficult part was not telling Indy we were doing this.  The only instruction we gave her was to bring something nice to eat dinner out in on Friday night.  That was it.  That was all she got.  And we didn’t even give her the name of the restaurant until we were getting close to it, even though she asked because she wanted to look it up on Yelp.  We have our ways.  Anyway, once she knew which restaurant, she seemed pretty excited about that.  The chef’s counter, however, remained a surprise until we got inside and Cathy let them know our reservation.  As we were being walked back to the counter at the kitchen, Indy leaned in and said, “Did I hear chef’s counter.”  HAHAHA!!  Yes, my dearest foodie friend.  Yes…you did!

We were seated at the counter, facing into the kitchen, getting a first-hand view of the chefs at work.  I was soaking this in, just watching how they worked together, talked, and even put together each dish.  It was heaven to me.  I still have a dream of being a chef.  Maybe one day it will happen.  But this…was a treat and I was enjoying it.

At Rye, that evening, we were assigned to the caring hands of Chef Joe Banet, Bar Manager Doug Petry, and Alyssa, who was around for anything we might need or questions we might have.  Let me tell you, this team was amazing.  Doug had the drinks out to us just before the food was brought over by Chef Joe.  And Alyssa made sure we had everything we needed, from fresh silverware to full glasses of water.  It was incredible.  And, within a few minutes of looking over our menu that Chef Joe prepared, he came over to introduce himself and explain that he would have our first course up in no time.  Our first course…of what would be an 8 course tasting menu.

The only difference between my menu and those of Indy and Cathy was that mine was strictly vegetarian, so I was served a cooked vegetable instead of the protein they received.  My drink was different in a few occasions too, better paired with my vegetable than their meat.  Other than that…it was time to enjoy some good food and soak up the experience.

Rye's Radish with Whipped Butter and Black Salt, served with Dolin Blanc, Sugar, Meyer Lemon Bitters

Rye’s Radish with Whipped Butter and Black Salt, served with Dolin Blanc, Sugar, Meyer Lemon Bitters

And it was off to a good start.  Doug brought out our first drink, a Dolin Blanc with Sugar and Meyer Lemon Bitters.  This accompanied our first course, which arrived a moment later…Radish with Whipped Butter.  Granted, they had Caviar Butter with their Radish as well as a Potato Roll…but since I’m a gluten-free vegetarian…I received extra garnish on the radish with the whipped butter just beneath it with a hit of black salt.  The radish was bitter, as it should be…and it was a bit odd being served with butter…especially since I had no way of really eating the butter.  I put some on each bite of radish and it complimented the flavor well enough, the black salt cutting back on the bitterness by adding a little zing to each bite.  Still a bit bizarre, but delicious.  And that’s what mattered.  The pairing with the Dolin Blanc was brilliant.  The effervescence and lightness was a great way to start off the meal.

Rye's Beets with Lavendar-Mango Chutney, Labne, Hazelnut, Chervil, served with a Raspberry Lemonade

Rye’s Beets with Lavendar-Mango Chutney, Labne, Hazelnut, Chervil, served with a Raspberry Lemonade

Our plates were cleared and things were given time to settle.  But, after about 10 minutes our next drink was brought out.  It was a Strawberry Lemonade.  No alcohol in this one.  Just a sweet palate refresher.  Not but a moment later, Chef Joe appeared with three identical plates.  The second course was Beets with Lavender-Mango Chutney, Labne, Hazelnut and Chervil.  THIS…my dear friends, turned out to be my favorite course of the entire meal.  Yes…this one.  The roasted beets were fresh and fantastic.  Perfect, really.  And it paired so well with the labne (strained yogurt).  The lavender-mango chutney was light and fresh.  And topping it with toasted hazelnuts was a stroke of genius, as it gave a hit of texture when it was needed most.  The fruitiness of the raspberry lemonade paired and played well with the sweet, yet earthy flavor of the beets.  I was in foodie heaven with this one.  I could have eaten another plate of that and been a happy girl.

Plates were cleared again and we were once again given time to chat, watch the chefs at work (we were trying to figure out just how many

Rye's Asparagus with a Smoked Egg, Endive, and Pignoli, served with Chono Sauvignon Blanc

Rye’s Asparagus with a Smoked Egg, Endive, and Pignoli, served with Chono Sauvignon Blanc

oysters they shuck per night, because there was a lot of shucking over on our end of the counter!), observe some cooking techniques…and watch as the lights flickered and caused problems.  The owner came over to apologize for the technical difficulties with the lights over the pass and asked if it was going to bother us as they fixed it because he could move us.  We were content where we were, however.  (On a completely different line of though, the phrase ‘where we were’ is kind of interesting to type!)  Anyway, with that decision made, we were soon greeted by our third drink pairing prior to our entree.  Cathy and Indy received a Stillwater Classique beer.  This was a change from what was printed on the menu, so it took them by surprise.  Since I’m gluten-free, my drink stayed true to the menu that was created, and I was served a glass of Chono Sauvignon Blanc.  Cathy tasted her beer and didn’t like it much…but we still had food to pair with it.  And Chef Joe appeared soon after, serving up our third course.  This course was Asparagus with a Smoked Egg, Endive, and Pignoli (pine nuts).  First of all…a smoked egg is the most wonderful thing in the world.  It’s smokey and savory and rich and creamy and just made of complete yumminess.  Seriously…if I had a smoker I would do this every morning for breakfast.  In fact, I asked Chef Joe how to smoke an egg…and now I kind of feel like I need a smoker just to be able to do it.  Yes…this was a rich dish.  The smoked egg was velvety smooth and paired so well with the bitterness of the endive and the perfectly cooked white and green asparagus.  I savored each and every bite.  And because it was so rich, the wine pairing was perfect.  This course was comfort food to me.  For the record, Cathy never did really like the beer.

When plates were cleared, we all gazed down at our menus to see what was up next.  This is where dishes started to really get different.  Cathy and Indy were about to start getting their proteins.  Mine stuck to a tried and true vegetable replacement for said protein.  The rest of the dish would mirror each other.  And, on some occasions…the drinks would be different.

Rye's Sweet Potato Soup with Kaffir Lime Leaf, Coconut Milk, Cilantro, served with a Pineapple Shrub

Rye’s Sweet Potato Soup with Kaffir Lime Leaf, Coconut Milk, Cilantro, served with a Pineapple Shrub

Such was the case for the fourth course of the night.  This one was a light serving, which was what we needed after all the richness in the smoked egg and asparagus course.  Doug brought over our drink pairings for the upcoming course.  Cathy and Indy were given another beer, this time Stiegl Grapefruit Radler.  Cathy was pretty certain she’d hate it since she hates grapefruit, but this turned out to be one of her favorite drinks of the night.  Go figure.  As for me, Doug paired mine with a Pineapple Blush, which he described in great detail and all I remember about it is that it had vinegar in it.  That just seemed strange.  But I gave it a sip prior to the dish coming up and it actually had a refreshing taste.  The vinegar worked.  Chef Joe brought over soup bowls for us.  My soup was Sweet Potato in a broth made from Coconut Milk and flavored with Kaffir Lime Leaf and Cilantro.  The broth was the same for Cathy and Indy, but they had Crab and Clam in their soup, not sweet potato.  I loved how light this course was, and how refreshing.  I am a sucker for soups as it is, and this one was perfection.  Seriously.  The broth was creamy without being filling.  The sweet potatoes were soft and delicate and perfect.  The seasoning was spot on.  And who doesn’t love an amazing soup?  Fantastic.  And the drinks paired perfectly.  I enjoyed sipping my Pineapple Blush between tastes of my soup.  Delish.

Our bowls were taken away and we watched as more food was prepared, put up at the pass, looked over by the expediter, and then sent out to

Rye's Cauliflower with Harissa, Almond, Arugula, Cucumber, served with a Gin, with Lemon, Sugar, Cucumber Sea Foam

Rye’s Cauliflower with Harissa, Almond, Arugula, Cucumber, served with a Gin, with Lemon, Sugar, Cucumber Sea Foam

tables.  It was so awesome watching the kitchen work while we ate.  Doug returned with three glasses of identical drinks.  We were each served one and he explained that we were about to taste a Gin that was done up with Lemon, Sugar and topped off with a Cucumber Sea Foam.  I figured this one would be interesting because I’m not a big fan of gin…at all…but the cucumber sea foam sounded A-MAZ-ING!  I took a sip, and while it did taste a little gin-y…the cucumber sea foam gave it this refreshing taste.  I actually found myself liking this one.  And, on cue, Chef Joe came over with our course.  The fifth course of the night, for me, was a fantastically grilled Cauliflower with Harissa, Almond, Arugula and Cucumber.  Ah…a match to that cucumber sea foam.  Cathy and Indy were served Monkfish instead of the cauliflower.  First of all, the harissa was amazing.  This chili pepper paste was a nice play against the refreshing cucumber and the warm cauliflower.  In fact, I was trying to get a little harissa in each bite because I loved how it worked with everything on the plate.  The almonds added a nice hit of texture.  Yeah…this one was so good.  Now I want harissa in my kitchen to use on my own cauliflower when I cook it.  Cathy fell in love with the monkfish, but Indy wasn’t as sold on it.

Rye's Broccoli Rabe with Ramps, Hon-Shemeji Mushroom, Yellow Grits, Lovange, served with Leese-Fitch Zinfandel

Rye’s Broccoli Rabe with Ramps, Hon-Shemeji Mushroom, Yellow Grits, Lovange, served with Leese-Fitch Zinfandel

Another plate clearing and more time to let things settle.  We were starting to get full, but we were over the halfway point.  And thankfully these were small plates.  This time, our food beat the drink to our counter.  So, Chef Joe went ahead and described our sixth course to us.  For me, I was given Broccoli Rabe with Ramps, Hon-Shemeji Mushrooms, Yellow Grits, and Lovange.  Cathy and Indy were served Rabbit with their ramps, mushrooms, grits and lovange.  We waited for a moment and a minute later, Doug was at our sides giving us each a glass of Leese-Fitch Zinfandel.  We now felt ready to dig in.  I sipped the wine first, finding that bitterness that I often find with red wine.  But it was good.  And when I took a bite of the broccoli rabe with the ramps (onions) and the earthy mushroom…it was a perfect pairing.  My favorite part, however, was the grits.  And as I lived in Alabama for six years and never liked grits, this totally surprised me.  I couldn’t say enough good things about these grits.  This was a fantastic course and we all polished it off.  Indy much preferred the rabbit over the monkfish, saying that the cuter your food is, the better it tastes.  Veggies must be really cute, because my food was really good.

Rye's Fennel with Parsnip, Black Garlic, Red Watercress, Pistachio, Orange-Mustard Jus, served with Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir

Rye’s Fennel with Parsnip, Black Garlic, Red Watercress, Pistachio, Orange-Mustard Jus, served with Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir

And so…our plates were cleared once more and we waited, talking about how the impending food wall was approaching.  But we didn’t care.  The food was some of the most amazing I had in a long time.  This was definitely a treat.  Doug appeared at our sides with a glass of Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir and talked about how it would pair well with our next course.  Chef Joe arrived with our plates.  I was given Fennel with Parsnip, Black Garlic, Red Watercress, Pistachio, and an Orange-Mustard Jus.  Cathy and Indy had Duck instead of the fennel.  Wow.  I loved how the Fennel was grilled and cooked down to perfection.  The parsnip puree was perfect.  It wasn’t gritty at all.  The black garlic paired well with everything, seasoning it perfectly.  I loved how the pistachio gave it some texture.  And, surprisingly, the orange-mustard jus was delicious and just amped up the flavor of the dish.  Cathy and Indy definitely seemed happy with the duck.  And when we were done eating, we were all eying the menu.  One course to go…and it was dessert.  I always have room for dessert.

Rye's Lemon Curd with Macadamia Brittle, Pink Peppercorn Meringue, served with Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux

Rye’s Lemon Curd with Macadamia Brittle, Pink Peppercorn Meringue, served with Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux

Gone were our dishes and Cathy was really, really looking forward to our dessert.  Why?  It was lemon.  And we are both huge fans of anything lemon.  Seriously.  Even better, the chef changed the way it was made so we could all have the same dish and it could be kept gluten-free.  This made me a happy, happy girl.  Doug appeared with our final drink pairing of the night.  This was a Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux.  I love dessert wines.  LOVE.  If I could drink dessert wine all the time, I would totally do it.  Pure perfection.  This was light and crisp and just…delicious.  I had to remind myself to save some for the dessert.  Chef Joe brought out the most amazing looking dessert of all time.  Seriously.  It was Lemon Curd with Macadamia Brittle and a Pink Peppercorn Meringue.  First of all…salty and sweet.  Second of all…LEMON!!  This was a fantastic and light dessert.  And I wanted to devour it quickly because it was so delicious…but I managed to keep my  sweet tooth under control and really savor each bite.  The lemon flavor was spot on.  Not too much.  Just right.  And the pink peppercorn meringue was fantastic.  Light.  Fluffy.  Topped with the macadamia brittle that just tied everything together and gave it a crunch, which was needed in an otherwise soft dessert.  This was love in dessert form.  Lemon-y, nutty, meringue-y love.  And I had to make sure I got a bit of everything in each bite.

Rye really, really outdid themselves.  Not only were we treated well from the start, but the food they served up was beyond anything I could have imagined.  They were more than happy to work with and around my food allergies and dietary needs.  Sitting at the chef’s counter was an amazing treat that was worth every bit of money we poured into that meal.  This was more than a dinner out with my foodie friends…this was a foodie experience.

If you haven’t checked out Rye yet…you should.  Their menu sounds amazing and they are very good with dietary restrictions.  Their kitchen is clean and kept that way.  Their staff is knowledgeable.  And I can’t wait to go back again and try some food off their standard menu.

Thank you, Rye…for such a treat that night.

Restaurant Review: Game, Louisville, Kentucky

Game, Louisville, Kentucky

Game, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Game, Louisville, Kentucky

I admit it…there isn’t too much a gluten-free vegetarian can say about a restaurant called Game, right?  Well, honestly…yes.  There really isn’t.  After all, Game, a hot restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, is known for it’s variety of different proteins that it serves up in various forms, but specifically as a burger.  Although, you can do a meatball flight if you want.

Why was I at Game?

Well, you see…for a long time now, the roomie has been wanting to check out this restaurant.  For one thing, it is the one place in Louisville where she can try bone marrow.  For another thing…she’s turned into quite the foodie as of late.  As for the other reason, the biggest foodie we know, our friend Indy, from California, was in town.  When we first mentioned her coming out to visit, this restaurant seemed like a point of great interest.  Therefore, we made it our first official meal together on her first full day in the area.

We arrived shortly after they opened, having had a light breakfast that morning in preparation for a great lunch.  We walked in and took a seat at one of the tables.  Our server came over with menus and left us a drink menu.  I’m in training for more marathons, so I stuck to water.  So did Cathy.  Indy was hoping to try a local brew of beer, and we finally found one for her to give a try.  And as we were helping, we were all taking a look at the menu.  Cathy and Indy decided they would split the bone marrow appetizer…just to see what it was like.  So, when our server returned, all I had to do was explain that I was the oddball as a gluten-free vegetarian.  She suggested the Seasonal Salad, which, honestly was the only thing I could eat on the menu.  With that being said…we placed our orders.

Cathy and Indy did, in fact, order the Bone Marrow ($8.00) to split as an appetizer.  Then, Cathy went ahead and ordered a Wild Boar Burger ($9.00), which came accompanied with greens, tomato, goat cheese, and cranberry-jalapeno jam, served on an everything bun.  Indy ordered a Meatball Sampler, consisting of Elk ($3.00), Antelope ($3.00), and Wild Boar ($3.00).  So, the carnivores in the group were happy.

I went ahead and, instead of eating my protein bar I packed…just in case…I ordered the Seasonal Salad ($6.00).  The waitress also recommended the fries, which were gluten-free as nothing is fried there except potatoes.  And it was done in Canola oil.  So, at the prompting of Cathy and Indy…we ordered a Basket of French Fries ($4.00) to split amongst us.

And so, we started to get caught up since it had been since September since we last saw each other.  There was much to discuss and talk about.  We were distracted when I guy walked into the window…which was utterly hilarious.  Everyone else in the restaurant thought so too.  Especially his buddies.  It really was funny.  But, soon, the bone marrow made it’s way to the table.  It was a half of a bone, topped with parmesan, poblano, and rosemary.  It was served with crostini as a vessel in which to eat it on.  Cathy was the first to dive in.  She, however, managed to only get the cheesy, bread-y topping on the first go, leaving the gelatinous bone marrow down.  She remedied that, however, and then Indy had a go.  And…they seemed pretty indifferent, both agreeing that it definitely needed the topping so that it just wasn’t this oozey gooey…stuff.  So…they feasted on that and finished up just as the entrees were arriving.  Good timing.

So…a salad.

Not much I can really say about it.  It was a mix of greens topped off with Craisins and some herbed goat cheese.  It has a delicious strawberry dressing, however, I will give it that.  Otherwise, it was a simple salad.  Nothing that really set it apart, save that it was served on a wooden plank with a few apple slices.  I enjoyed munching on the apple slices in between bites.  As for the fries…well…they were really good.  But there were a lot of them there.  The three of us did what damage we could, but there were still too many for us in the basket.  They had the perfect crispness outside with the soft potato inside…yummy.  And definitely fried to perfection.  But, I can only tolerate so much fried food these days and I was done with these pretty quickly, despite how delicious they are and the fact that I love fries.  Eating them in a restaurant is a treat for me, so I’m very glad we ordered them.  Perfectly seasoned.  And really good.  Is it odd I went on more about the fries than the salad?  Let’s face it…if you don’t have something about a salad that sets it apart…it’s greens, cheese, and sometimes nuts or dried fruit.  That’s what this was.  I can make that salad at home, in all honesty.  But the dressing was stellar.  For real.

And that was that.  A vegetarian with food allergies went to eat at a meat-heavy restaurant…and survived.  It was definitely an interesting experience, and I would go back again.  Especially since Cathy has voiced some thoughts on trying other types of meat there.  They do have veggie burgers available for those vegetarians that do not have a gluten allergy.  The problem is they use breadcrumbs as a binder…so that wasn’t going to work for me.  The two different vegetarian patties that they do offer sound amazing, however.  If only I could have eaten one.

So…chalk it up for an interesting experience at Game in Louisville, Kentucky.  I’m glad both Cathy and Indy got to experience it and take in a few different proteins they normally wouldn’t have been able to find on a local menu.

Game's Seasonal Salad

Game’s Seasonal Salad

Product Review: Gillian’s Foods Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons

Gillian's Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons

Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons

Product Review: Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons – $4.49+

Three years.

Three very long years since I last had croutons on my salad.  Have I missed them?  Eh…sometimes?  I mean, there comes a moment when you just want to have that little extra crunch to your salad…not from the lettuce or the carrots or the other fresh veggies that are making up said bowl of raw veggie goodness.  Sometimes…that little extra seasoning and crispiness is what you desire.  And…when you are a Celiac…well…that doesn’t get to happen.

Sure, I could dry out some gluten-free bread and bake up my own in the oven.  Of course.  But, do you know how expensive gluten-free bread is??!  I’ll use that for my sandwiches and French toast, thank you very much!

Lo and behold, on a recent outing to my mom’s favorite store in the Birmingham, Alabama area – Organic Harvest – I spotted a pouch of gluten-free croutons on the shelf of the very first aisle.  Hence a stocking up of various items that I can’t get around here.

That being said…the croutons were from Gillian’s Gluten-Free.

Now, I’ve had one other product from Gillian’s Gluten-Free product line.  It was their French Rolls, a gift from my friend Kathy, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  And I loved them.  I truly did.  I used them numerous ways…even as hamburger buns.  So, I figured picking up something else of the Gillian’s line-up would be a great way to see what else they can do.

So, into my arms went the pouch of Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons.

Mmmm…garlic.

Ahem.

Anyway…with my CSA bin deliveries back on since I’ve been in town the past couple of weekends, I have a freakin’ heap of lettuce just begging to be used.  So, I took the lettuce, grape tomatoes, onion, avocado and cucumber from the bin the other night and made a huge, but epically delicious salad for dinner.  And…to add to it…I figured why not give the Gillian’s Foods Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons a go.  I got them down from the shelf in the pantry, measured out a serving and…dinner was served.

On their own, the Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons don’t offer much flavor.  In fact, they are a little bland.  But, no one really eats croutons plain, right?  The point is that they compliment the salad and vice-versa.  That was totally the case.  Once blended on the salad and eaten with the variety of vegetables, these cubes of crunchy garlic-y goodness totally transformed.  In fact, I was wishing a serving was bigger than it was, because these were absolutely great mixed in with other ingredients and topped off with a light drizzle of a balsamic dressing.

Both myself and Cathy (the infamous roomie) were impressed.  And Cathy loves croutons…so I knew it would be a miracle to impress her.  Especially since we were both ‘meh’ on the croutons alone.  These little nuggets of goodness add the right amount of crunch and flavor without being too much for the vegetables in the salad.  Loving them!

Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons are made from white rice flour, tapioca flour, water, soy flour, guar gum, egg whites, soy oil, yeast, salt, sugar, granulated garlic, oregano and basil.  They are shelf-stable and are completely gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free.

As far as their nutritional value goes, a serving size of Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons is 7 ounces, or about 4-6 croutons, depending on size.  I weighed my serving out.  This serving will provide you with only 15 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.  Nice!!  Not heavy on calories or fat?  I love that.  You will also be consuming 45 mg sodium.  These are sugar-free, trans-fat free, and cholesterol free.  Also, you will be provided with 1 gram of fiber, but no additional protein.  But if you choose the right veggies for your salad…that’s a non-issue anyway.

Yes…it has been a long, long time since I last enjoyed the crispy, crunchy goodness of croutons on my salad.  My hope is that I can find these somewhere around here…or else I’m stocking up when I head to Birmingham next time.  Definitely more impressed than I expected.  And that…is only a good thing!

Gillian's Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons atop a delicious salad

Gillian’s Gluten-Free Garlic Croutons atop a delicious salad

Recipe: Shredded Rainbow Salad

You ever look at the food you have in your fridge and wonder what you might be able to make with all of it?  Especially when, in the next couple days, another fresh produce delivery will land on your doorway and you’ve barely scratched the surface of the last bin as it was delivered later than usual due to weather?  Or something to that affect?

That’s my life these days.  The Polar Vortex caused there to be a delay in my CSA bin delivery…which isn’t a problem…but it gave me fewer days to work through the fresh produce.  I’ve managed some…but I still have plenty left.

That being said…Jamie Oliver came to my rescue tonight.  For dinner I got out my brand-spankin’-new food processor and whipped up a delicious, healthy, and colorful salad from the fresh produce I had on hand.  The dressing was a magical touch.  Talk about clean eating!

Recipe: Shredded Rainbow Salad

Shredded Rainbow Salad

Shredded Rainbow Salad

Servings: 8
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 2 raw medium beets (any color) trimmed, scrubbed & quartered
  • 4 leaves kale
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed & trimmed
  • 1/4 white cabbage, quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly bashed


Ingredients for Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & ground pepper
  • Gluten-Free Tamari
  • hot sauce (I used Sriracha)


Directions:

Put a coarse grater attachment into a food processor and push ingredients through in the following order (to stop the beets from staining everything): beets, kale, carrots, white cabbage and apple. (If your food processor is small, do this in batches.)

Turn vegetables out onto a platter so get a pile of rainbow colors.

Mix the mustard, vinegar, and oil, then season with salt, pepper, tamari, and hot sauce.

Add walnuts and toss everything together until you get a big, beautiful plate of dressed vegetables.

~*~*~

Simple…but the flavors are amazing and work well together.  You get this great sweetness from the beets and the apple.  The cabbage and carrots give this earthy flavor.  And the kale…just a bit of that bitter zing.  Topping it with walnuts gives an added boost to the texture.  And the dressing…necessary.  It ties it all together.

My roommate declared this her favorite way to eat a salad.  Me…I devoured it!  Healthy and delicious.  Definitely making this again!

 

Product Review: Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

Product: Vegenaise Tartar Sauce – $4.49+

Ah…tartar sauce.

I have a love-hate relationship with this condiment.

For one thing, when I used to eat fish, I normally would drown it in ketchup.  Mmmm…ketchup.

But every now and again, I’d give the tartar sauce a try.  And I never really liked it.  Sometimes…I was pleasantly surprised and then lulled into this sense of false hope…and I would try it somewhere else and it would be gross and just…not to my taste.

Then, when I had to go dairy-free…I totally ditched this sauce all together.

But, when I was reviewing some items from Sophie’s Kitchen (vegan sea food, FTW!), my friend Kari mentioned the crab cakes with the tartar sauce from Vegenaise.  Vegan. Tartar. Sauce.

Okay…I was intrigued.  I knew two local grocery stores carried the vegan crab cakes from Sophie’s Kitchen…and I knew Whole Foods had the Tartar Sauce from Vegenaise.  So…I set out a spot in the budget to purchase and then consume both.

My roomie was on board and so…we hit up Whole Foods and purchased both items.  Dinner was going to be interesting.  I just prayed it all was good.

So…a little while ago, I pulled the vegan crab cakes out of the freezer and said that dinner would be those…with a healthy helping of homemade kale chips.  And I would serve the cakes over bibb lettuce from my bin.  Originally I was going to place them between gluten-free buns…but I was out of those.  So…this was my compromise.  I heated the crab cakes as instructed on the box, and while that was working, I got the vegetables working and finally…the sauce.

My roommate has the same sort of love-hate relationship with tartar sauce as well.  She is not gluten-free nor vegetarian, but since I am the cook in the apartment, that’s what she eats.  She is a huge aficionado for fish and chips when we go out to eat, however…and she has made a habit to at least try the house tartar sauce.  Sometimes she raves…sometimes she picks up the ketchup and goes to town.  But we thought we would give Vegenaise a fair shake.  So, into a little dish, I spooned out a serving of the Vegenaise Tartar Sauce.  The crab cakes finished, I plated everything…and it was time to dig in.

I was a little worried about flavor, but I trusted my friend Kari.  She raved.  She and I like a lot of the same flavors and foods…so…I was worried, but I had high hopes.  I know now to always trust Kari…because the Vegenaise Tartar Sauce was some of the best sauce I have tasted in my life.  Not just tartar sauce either…spanning ALL THE SAUCES! Filled with a tangy, delicious flavor, it was the perfect compliment to the vegan crab cakes and the greens I served them on.  OMG…so freakin’ good!  It was love at first taste and I took the opportunity to pile it onto my vegan crab cakes until it was gone.  Now I keep thinking of other vegan sea food dishes where I could utilize this sauce.  It is SO good.

Veganaise Tartar Sauce is made from a base of Vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise), sweet relish, yellow onion puree, white wine vinegar, vegan Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and xanthan gum.  Not bad when it comes to ingredients, right?  My thoughts exactly.  And nothing is weird…it’s all ingredients I have heard of and trust.  Vegenaise is also vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, and soy-free.  Loving it!

Nutritionally speaking, on serving is 2 tablespoons.  This serving will serve you up a side of 120 calories and 13 grams of fat.  It seems high, but it is a vegan mayonnaise-based sauce, right?  And regular mayonnaise would be the same way.  So, it’s really not too bad for what it is.  This small serving also gives you 125 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  That’s awesome.  This is also trans-fat free and cholesterol free.  In addition, this sauce has no fiber in it, but you do get 2 grams of protein.  So, yeah…it’s not totally healthy, but it isn’t bad for you either.

And did I mention how freakin’ good it is?  Seriously.  In love with a sauce.  It’s my new favorite.  YUMMY!!

A serving of Vegenaise Tartar Sauce

A serving of Vegenaise Tartar Sauce