Product Review: Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli

Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli
Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli

Product: Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli – $3.00 for 6 ounces

There are moments of absolute amazement when I look at some of the things my roommate has done for me since my diagnosis two years ago.  Seriously.  She basically eats gluten-free and vegetarian at home, all the time,  Not only that, she is always on the lookout for new gluten-free items for us, not just me, to try.  She is honest to a fault when I cook or bake something new, changing up a recipe to now be gluten-free.  Some are definitely more successful than others.

But my entire point here is…she’s full of surprises.

This past Saturday…she totally surprised me.

You see, every Saturday I meet up with a group of runners to do our long run.  This past Saturday, I was heading out with a small group aiming to hit that magic 16 mile mark.  This meant Cathy was going to be left to her own devices for 2 hours or more.  But this never slows her down.  She always finds something to occupy her time.  And on this particularly raining Saturday morning, with a fresh local coffee in hand, she stopped by the local farmers market.  You see, I was in need of a giant watermelon for a recipe I was going to make that night.  She was going to get one from a local vendor instead of hitting up the grocery store.  But, while she was there…she spotted something else.

The words GLUTEN-FREE on a sign for Lexington Pasta.  She swung by the booth and inquired.  And when I finally made it back to the meeting point, a local coffeehouse, after a very long run, we returned to the car and she told me to go look in the trunk.  Aside from a 10 pound watermelon waiting for me, she also had picked up fresh basil.  And buried in the ice of the cooler…she had picked up two small bags of Lexington Pasta’s Gluten-Free Fusilli.

While it’s true, this handmade pasta does look more like macaroni than fusilli, I could see the small twists in the fresh and handmade pasta…giving it that corkscrew affect that you would normally associate with fusilli pasta.

That being said…I was holding a bag of gluten-free handmade fusilli!!!  This was huge!  This was awesome.  This was so awesome I deemed Sunday night to be pasta night.  I’d cook up some of my gluten-free rosemary cheddar biscuits to accompany the pasta and it would be one epic Sunday meal.  Because while some products can wait…fresh, handmade gluten-free pasta is not one of those things.  I had to have it as soon as humanly possible.

We got home from our day of running errands and grocery shopping and I put one of the bags of pasta into the freezer.  The other went into the fridge for use on Sunday night.

Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli (cooked & drained)
Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli (cooked & drained)

What I love about handmade, fresh pasta is how easy it is to prepare.  No boiling your pasta for 12-20 minutes to get it to that perfect al dente.  Nope.  I went ahead and got a pot of water on the stove to boil while I prepared a small salad with some heirloom tomatoes that Cathy also picked up from the farmers market.  When the water began to boil, I simply emptied the little baggie of gluten-free fusilli pasta into the water and let it go for 2-3 minutes.  The pasta does come with an instruction guide on how to cook it and does warn against overcooking.  I then got the sauce heated while the noodles quickly finished up.  After three minutes I drained the pasta and then put it back into the pan with the marinara I had warmed up.  Giving it all a toss, I was ready to plate it up.  Into the bowls it went.  And dinner was served. Yes…that quickly.

First of all, handmade and fresh pasta will always win.  Always.  Pasta that is done locally will win even more.  And what really caught my attention about the gluten-free fusilli from Lexington Pasta was that it didn’t stick together or dry up immediately.  It cooked to the perfect al dente in the water.  Quick.  It was one of the quickest pasta meals I ever prepared.  I almost didn’t have time to warm the marinara.  I forgot what it was like to cook with fresh pasta.

Taste…taste was spot-on.  I believe Cathy mentioned that it was a rice flour noodle.  It didn’t get mushy.  It didn’t stick.  It didn’t fall apart.  In fact, each noodle held the twisty shape through the entire cooking process, the draining, and the addition of the sauce.  The serving size was just right.  And the noodles…light.  Delicious.  They have spoiled me on gluten-free pasta, honestly.  Not only is this local, but it tastes fantastic.  There was no weird aftertaste.  No chewiness.  Nothing that would be off putting.  In fact, if I were to serve this to people, they would never…EVER…guess that it was gluten-free.

I sort of want to go and get more.  Like…now.

I was really that impressed.

Lexington Pasta is based out of Lexington, Kentucky…which is a short car drive for me.  So, when the farmers market closes for the season, I can still go and purchase this gluten-free pasta of awesomesauce from their retail location.  Because I was beyond impressed with this product and find it comforting to see a local business taking strides to work with those with special dietary needs…who love pasta.  You know…people like me.

Lexington Pasta…you made this Celiac one very, very happy pasta-loving girl!  Thank you!

Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli (in marinara) with Gluten-Free Rosemary Cheddar Biscuits
Lexington Pasta Gluten-Free Fusilli (in marinara) with Gluten-Free Rosemary Cheddar Biscuits

The jury is in…Louisville’s Sidebar pays special attention to dietary needs

Sidebar at Whiskey Row, Louisville, Kentucky
Sidebar at Whiskey Row, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Sidebar at Whiskey Row, Louisville, Kentucky

I love eating out with friends.  I really, really do.  Especially when it’s a fellow co-worker who is as much a foodie as my roommate and I.  I mean, how can you say “NO” to trying out new spots right in your own backyard?  I can’t.  I love trying out new restaurants.  But, with my food allergies, this sometimes means an extra level of difficulty, or sometimes…me bringing my own food to eat while they order and dine from the establishment itself.  And…yes…I am okay with that.  It has never bothered me at all.  It bothers the people I dine with at times, but I’m perfectly fine eating one of my protein bars and then grabbing something that is safe for me to eat at home.

It’s my body…so it’s my choice, right?  Right!

Anyway, one of our IT guys at work had gone to this local burger spot in Louisville, Kentucky that he was over the moon for their food.  He’d gone there a couple of times and said that they never gave him something he didn’t like.  Not only was their bourbon amazing, but their burgers were to die for.

It sounded like something Cathy needed to try out…because that girl loves her burgers.  I did note that they made a vegetarian burger as well, so took it upon myself to post on their Facebook page as to what, if any, gluten-free options Sidebar at Whiskey Row had to offer.  What happened next was one of the most amazing and wonderful things any restaurant establishment can do for someone who wishes to dine with them, but has certain dietary needs.  I had a quick response from Jason Pierce, Sidebar’s Assistant General Manager and the Culinary Director providing his e-mail address so that I could contact him about my visit on Friday evening.  I immediately sent him an e-mail to which he said that all salads are prepared in a manner that would be safe for me to eat, being that they are properly handled, washed, and plated so that there would be no cross-contamination.  He also said that if I wanted to, I could bring in my own salad dressing that he could dress the salad with as well.  I appreciated that suggestion immensely.  And, finally, he said that they could prepare the Mushroom Edamame Burger (the vegetarian option) without the gluten ingredients.  I told him I was fine with a salad, and that I really appreciated the burger option, but with it needing to be cooked on a separate, and clean, surface…the salad would probably be easiest.

A few back and forth messages via e-mail and Jason ensured me that he would make sure I had a fantastic dining experience on Friday.

Fast forward to Friday.  The three of us left work and headed down to Sidebar at Whiskey Row immediately, not really knowing what the traffic situation in Louisville would be like.  It wasn’t too bad and we were parked and heading into Sidebar by 5 p.m.  We were greeted warmly and shown to a table in the corner.  The three of us settled in and all ordered waters (I was sticking with water as I had a 12 mile run the next morning).  Justin already knew he was getting an Old Fashioned ($10.00), which is sugar and bitters topped with whiskey and then touched off with a twist of citrus rind.  He told Cathy that it was one of his favorite drinks there, especially since Sidebar is known for their barrel-aged cocktails.  You see, Sidebar at Whiskey Row mixes all the shelf-stable components of a cocktail and ages the mixture in a charred barrel.  How’s that for unique.  And you won’t find these cocktails on any other menu in the area.  Anyway…that was all Cathy had to hear, apparently…

Sidebar's Old Fashioned cocktail
Sidebar’s Old Fashioned cocktail

My two carnivorous friends put in their orders after our drinks arrived.  Justin decided to go for the Ambulance Chaser ($12.00), which is a Certified Angus Beef burger topped with smoky BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, tomato jam and tobacco onions.  He opted for the Truffle-Parm fries ($2.00) with his burger.  Cathy decided on the Court Reporter ($12.00), which is a Certified Angus Beef burger topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, honey-chipotle aioli, and roasted red pepper relish.  She opted for the sweet potato fries with her burger($2.00).  And…she went ahead and decided to try an Old Fashioned without sampling Justin’s…so that was put in as well.

I mentioned to our waitress before ordering that I had been talking to Jason Pierce about my meal.  She said she would go to the kitchen and talk to him, so when she returned she said that Jason recommended the Kale Salad ($8.00), without the Parmesan cheese and without the toasted almonds.  I said that sounded great.  After all…I love, love, LOVE kale.  I was super excited.

With the orders in, Cathy and Justin decided to enjoy their cocktails while we sat around, took in the ambiance of the restaurant itself, and had good conversation.  First of all, you might notice a courtroom theme for Sidebar.  You are very observant.  That was entirely the point.  Not to mention, the restaurant itself is located in a grand 19th-Century building next to the Second Street Bridge, and boasts lofty ceilings, towering windows, a beautiful bar, and comfortable seating.  It’s simply a stunning place to dine.  Another thing that Sidebar is quite proud of is that they created their own unique hamburger blend, which is a mix of certified Angus beef, chuck, brisket, and short rib, creating a burger that uses no trimmings, added fats, fillers, or binders.  So, for you carnivores or people with friends who love a good burger…this might be a great place to take them.

It wasn’t too long before our food arrived at the table.  Everything looked amazing.  My salad was a work of art.  Honestly.  A bed of finely shredded kale, piled high with carrots, greens, carrots, and served with a citrus vinaigrette.  Rimming the edge of it was gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and fresh cucumber.  It was not the described kale salad from the menu, but something that Jason did up special for me.  No sooner had the waitress left but Jason comes to the table to introduce himself and tell me a little bit about what he put together for me.  I shook his hand and thanked him for his help and for everything.  This salad was going to be epic…I could already tell.  Jason returned to the kitchen and I dug in.

HOLY COW!  This is definitely one of the best salads I have ever had the honor of eating.  And I’m not just saying that.  First of all, it’s not your typical green salad that most restaurants would give you.  I loved the way the kale was shredded, making it the bed of the salad, and not difficult to eat, nor clunky.  The green onion, carrots, and cucumber made fantastic green vegetables to serve with it.  And those heirloom tomatoes…they were juicy, fresh, and just melted in my mouth.  The citrus vinaigrette was out-of-this-world and made for the perfect pairing with every component of this salad.  It was a nice hit of sweetness that matched the earthy flavors of the vegetables to perfection.  I almost didn’t want to dive into it, because it just looked gorgeous, but I was hungry and I definitely wanted to see what Jason’s salad creation tasted like.  If heaven was a salad bar, then this would be the salad it would serve every day.  I would never get tired of eating this.  It worked.  It worked well.  And I couldn’t stop eating it even if I tried.

Cathy and Justin devoured their burgers and fries and polished off their cocktails.  Everyone was satisfied and happy with their meals.  Cathy and I already decided this is definitely a place we need to take our friend Greg, who LOVES a good burger.  I think he would love what this place served up.

I really wanted to once again express my appreciation to Sidebar and to Jason Pierce, specifically, for not only addressing my dietary needs, but for exceeding all expectations when it came to my dinner choice that evening.  I was blown away and can’t wait to return again for another round of that amazing Kale Salad.  I have been bragging to everyone, my running group included (because we ran by the restaurant on Saturday morning) about the food, the service, and the attention that is given to every aspect of customer service and customer satisfaction at Sidebar.  I was beyond impressed.

Louisville is certainly lucky to have such a great gourmet burger establishment.  Not just because of the value of the food produced, but also the attention to detail and the personal touches that are given…without even being asked.  I will forever recommend Sidebar to people, simply because they took good care of me, someone with special dietary needs, and they did it very well.  Going above and beyond…that’s what they do.

Congratulations, Sidebar…you definitely passed the bar!!  In fact, you just set the bar higher for every other local restaurant!

Sidebar's Kale Salad (done gluten-free)
Sidebar’s Kale Salad (done gluten-free)

Recipe: Gluten-Free Rainbow Chard Lemon Pasta

Tonight felt like a pasta night.  Why?  Because…I love pasta.  Gluten-free pasta, that is.  And it had honestly been ages since I had made pasta for my roomie and I.  With Friday fast approaching, I have bin ingredients that are screaming to be used.  So…I went on the hunt for some ideas.

Friends, I say this to you honestly…DO NOT FEAR PASTA!  It can be made healthy as long as you don’t drown it in creamy sauces, oils, or have portion distortion.  It’s all about moderation and preparation.  And, thanks to a recipe from one of my favorite Clean Eating sites, I had just the recipe to modify tonight.  The original recipe was already gluten-free…but I changed out ingredients for what I had in my crisper drawer from my CSA bin.  It worked out beautifully.

The original recipe was taken from The Healthy Apple, who put up a great sounding dish called Swiss Chard Lemon Pasta.  Well, I had rainbow chard.  I hate olives, but I had grape tomatoes.  I always have lemon and lemon zest on hand…it seemed ideal.  And tonight…this healthy pasta dish was dinner.  And, wow…did the flavors ever sing.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Rainbow Chard Lemon Pasta

Gluten-Free Rainbow Chard Lemon Pasta
Gluten-Free Rainbow Chard Lemon Pasta

Servings: 4
Time: Prep 5 minutes; Cook 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Gluten-Free Penne Pasta (I used La Veneziane Gluten-Free Corn Meal Farfalle)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head Swiss chard, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup kalamata olives (I hate olives, so I substituted grape tomatoes in their place)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro (I omitted this)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Cook the gluten-free pasta according to package directions.  Remove from heat; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook rainbow chard in olive oil over medium heat until wilted, approximately 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add cooked pasta, tomatoes (or olives), cilantro (if using), scallions, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper; gently toss to combine.

Serve warm.

~*~*~

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this pasta will be lacking without a sauce.  With the lemon and the apple cider vinegar, it’s flavortown!  Honestly.  Just lots of flavor, and it all plays well with the pasta and the vegetables.  I was delightfully happy when I sat down with my bowl of veggies with a little pasta.  I love it when a dish is more vegetables than anything else.

Not only was this dish delicious…it was easy to prepare and simple to make.  Just a little chopping, some action on the stove…and then…viola!  Dinner is served.  A healthy pasta dish…you better believe it’s possible.

Don’t just take my word for it, though.  Try it for yourself.  You know you’re dying to.  Pasta night…starts…now!

Annie May’s Sweet Café gives Louisville amazing Maple Caramel Blondies

Annie May's Sweet Café Maple Caramel Blondie
Annie May’s Sweet Café Maple Caramel Blondie

Product: Annie May’s Sweet Café Maple Caramel Blondies – $3.00

I have to give another huge shout-out to my favorite place in Louisville.  Whenever I am out of town, I miss arriving on Saturday morning to get a delicious vegan/allergen-free breakfast sandwich.  I miss talking to the owners and employees behind the counter.  I miss hearing my roommate talk about how many miles I just finished running and how now it was time to indulge in some allergen-free doughnuts and breakfast!

Annie May’s Sweet Café is my happy place.  I make a habit to frequent their little spot on Frankfort Avenue whenever I am in town.  I have never had anything there that I didn’t care for.  In fact, my eyes have been opened to the amazing gluten-free baked goods that continue to churn out.  And, every now and again, they introduce something new and spectacular…and if I happen to be around for it…you better believe I am going to purchase it to try.

This past weekend, Annie May’s Sweet Café rolled out Maple Caramel Blondies.  I saw them post about them on their Facebook page.  I had been out of town the two weekends prior, so now that I was back, I was hitting up the café for breakfast after an 18 mile run…then going out to a Gluten-Free Fair and Fundraiser later that afternoon.  While they had the Maple Caramel Blondies at the café that morning…I saved that purchase for the fair.

After feasting on an amazing gluten-free crepe from Sweet ‘N’ Savory food truck, I bounced over to say “HI” to Annie May and Kenna, who were manning the table at the Gluten-Free Fair and Fundraiser.  While there, I made a purchase of one of their gluten-free Maple Caramel Blondies ($3.00).  They chose me to find one with lots of maple swirled in there…and I was more than happy to oblige.  YUM YUM!

But…the weekend was a busy one…and I had a gluten-free sponge cake to polish off.  Then my roomie had her last wisdom tooth removed…so the Maple Caramel Blondie sat on my kitchen counter until Wednesday.  But…that didn’t affect it one bit.

Over the entire weekend and into half the week, this blondie was still very light and moist.  I sliced it in half…eager to get a sample of this bar.  Trust me…I think I started drooling when they posted about them.  And I had been thinking about it all weekend…and up until dessert on Wednesday.  The moment of truth was here.

I handed Cathy her half…then settled in with mine.

FLAVOR TOWN!!  I mean…wow.  First of all…this is exactly how I like my brownies/blondies.  It had more of a cake-like texture.  I totally prefer a cake-like brownie to a fudge-like brownie any day.  They are lighter, fluffier, and not as dense or heavy.  The blondie itself was really good.  Not overly sweet, which is good, because swirled throughout it was this fantastic caramel and maple flavor.  I mean…WOW!!  You can see it blended into the baked blondie.  Yes…this was simply awesome.  Cathy thought so too, because she eating another one tonight, but stupid shoppers that we are…we had only bought the one.

So…here is hoping that Annie May’s keeps these in the bake case for awhile.  TOTALLY yummy!

No one would ever guess they were allergen-free…unless you told them.

So…thank you once again, Annie May’s…for making gluten-free look and taste so, so damn good!

Annie May's Sweet Café Maple Caramel Blondie (unwrapped)
Annie May’s Sweet Café Maple Caramel Blondie (unwrapped)

A love letter to Louisville, Kentucky’s Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck

Sweet 'N' Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky
Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant: Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky

Dear Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck:

Let me start by saying how very fortunate we, the residents of the Louisville area, are to have you in our neighborhoods and at our public events.  Honestly, if it weren’t for you, most food trucks would be a bust for me.  In fact, I had never had the chance to actually eat from a food truck until you rolled into my life.  And, since then, I find myself clearing up my busy schedule just so I can come out to an event or hit up wherever you might be parked and serving on any particular weekend.

But you don’t just put out your typical street food and food truck fare.  No…you cooked yourself in a different direction and have set yourself apart from the sorts of trucks (sandwiches, burgers, tacos) that frequent the streets of cities.

But you didn’t stop there with a unique product.  Nope.  You also made a conscious decision to make your products gluten-free.  This is no easy task and it can be quite costly.  Not to mention, there are certain stigmas that come with the term “gluten-free” so you already had to get over that hump.  But you built your truck, you brought it out to the streets…and that was where I found you.

And my hope is that I never have to let you go.

From my first crepe from your truck…I tested first the sweet ones.  I wasn’t too sure how to take those savory crepes…so the ones with chocolate and fruit were my first choices.  But…then…one very warm day at a festival in Louisville, I branched out.  I tried my first savory crepe…and it was love.  It was delicious, heavenly love.  And now…the savory crepes seem to be my choice each time.

This past Saturday at the Gluten-Free Fair held at Apocalypse Brew Works in Louisville…not only did I get to indulge in another (savory) crepe, but talked my roommate and our friend Greg into trying them as well.  My roomie had actually wanted tacos…but in the end went with a crepe.  As for Greg…he can sometimes be a bit picky…but he seemed set on the same crepe I was getting.  So…orders were in.

Sweet 'N' Savory Food Truck's Veggie Caponata Crepe
Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck’s Veggie Caponata Crepe

The Veggie Caponata Crepe ($6.00) was my choice this time…although I was so tempted to get your delicious, rich Caprese Crepe again.  But…this one caught my eye.  This one not only sounded super-delicious, but it was made with local, fresh vegetables.  Therefore…I had to have it.  The Veggie Caponata Crepe was stuffed full with amazing Kentucky eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and roasted red peppers.  But the star…the ingredient that made all of these fresh vegetables shine…was the Parmesan cheese.  Complete and total love at first bite.  It was like eating a delicious gluten-free, veggie pizza.  The flavors sang.  The vegetables were fresh and their flavor, after being roasted, really became elevated.  And that crepe…it is never overdone, never burned, never mushy.  It’s always perfect.

Then…on a perfectly hot summer afternoon, you gave to me the greatest gift of all.  Gluten-free gelato.  I can’t thank you enough for finding a dedicated gluten-free base for your gelato.  I can’t wait to indulge in it more frequently.  And…you offered a Salted Caramel flavor.  Salted Caramel is my favorite flavor…for real.  Nothing tops it.  It’s what I crave…perhaps because, in and of itself, it is both sweet and savory.  That sweet with the hint of salt.  It’s the best combination out there…and you…you gave me my favorite without even being aware of that.  You must have just known…

I bought one scoop of your Salted Caramel Gelato ($2.50) and was blown away.  One of the best salted caramel items I have ever tasted…and trust me…I have had many.  I even make my own.  You made it to perfection.  The right creaminess and richness to warrant a gelato…and the flavor was outstanding.  Salty…caramely…refreshing.  It was the perfect way to end my food truck feast.

No love letter would be complete, however, without a lot of praise and love going out to the owners and operators of Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck.  Much love, much appreciation, and respect go out to Richard and Ashley Giannini.  I know this can be quite a costly venture…and one that you have put a lot of your own hard-earned time and money into…but from the heart of someone like me, I can’t thank you enough for not just building a better food truck, but for giving a gluten-free (and vegetarian) girl a place to come and eat at these fun little gatherings and festivals.  I never have to worry about the food I purchase from you.  I hope to continue to follow you around this beautiful city and give you not just my business, but more business from my roommate (Cathy) and my friends who happen to come along with us.

By the way…Cathy completely loved the Limoncello Gelato.

I count myself one of the lucky residents in this amazing foodie town of Louisville, Kentucky, who have discovered just how beautiful and delicious your products are.  But when you take such great care with ingredients and you prepare them to perfection, it’s hard to imagine anything else.

Basically…the point I am trying to make here is…I love you.

And I can’t wait to indulge in more of that Salted Caramel gelato.

Love…food truck style…defined as Sweet ‘N’ Savory.

Love Always,
Karen
(Veggie Food Lover)

A scoop of Sweet 'N' Savory Food Truck's Salted Caramel Gelato
A scoop of Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck’s Salted Caramel Gelato

Morels The Vegan Butcher dices up spicy goodness with Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Vegan Jerky

Morels The Vegan Butcher Ned's Chipotle Vegan Jerky
Morels The Vegan Butcher Ned’s Chipotle Vegan Jerky

Product: Morels The Vegan Butcher Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Vegan Jerky – $6.50+

Vegan jerky?

Yep…you read that right.  And my roommate and I were just fortunate enough to stumble across this at a little fair in Louisville that highlighted local businesses.  One of the businesses participating was Morels The Vegan Butcher.  And on their table they had these little pouches that caught my eye.  Yep…I spotted them.  I also noticed that not only were they labeled vegan, but they were also gluten-free.

Now you really had my attention.

Morels the Vegan Butcher began as a food truck in 2011 and quickly expanded across the country when they developed their line of vegan jerky in 2012.  Only using premium ingredients, this Louisville, Kentucky company handcrafts their jerky in small batches.  What this does is ensure that the texture and taste remain up to standard.  Morels focuses on providing nutritious on-the-go products for people looking to keep meat and dairy out of their diets.  This is definitely a product that spoke to me.  Trust me…I was ready to try one of the samples.

So…I did…and that was all it took.  A pouch of Morels The Vegan Butcher’s Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Jerky came home with me that day.  I purchased it at the buy local fair and never looked back.  After buying it, I commented to my roomie that it would be the perfect snack to take in the car as we travel up to Utica, New York.  I was running up there and we were driving a long way to get to that race.  Healthy snacks in the car are always a welcome thing.  Always!

So, when the stomach rumblies hit us too late for lunch but too early for dinner (we were eating out for dinner), I reached into the little red duffel of snacks and good stuff and removed the silver pouch that held Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Jerky.

I already knew I was going to like it.  No, it wasn’t based off of the fact that it was spicy.  This was the version I sampled at the fair.  So, I knew what I was doing when I bought it.

Morels vegan jerky is crated using a base that begins with marinated soy curls.  By marinating these soy curls, they achieve tender, chewy, and flavorful snacks.  All they do is season them up for the flavor of jerky they are creating.  In the case of Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Jerky, in addition to soy curls, you have water, Braggs liquid aminos, brown sugar, olive oil, lime juice, lemon juice ketchup (no high fructose corn syrup), vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic powder, chipotle powder, ancho powder, onion powder, pepper, cloves and nutmeg.  Nothing fake.  And…these snacks are gluten-free and loaded with protein…making them a fantastic choice for a gluten-free, vegetarian athlete like me.

But…how can something that is created by marinating soy curls taste?  How about really damn good!  Oh yes…this jerky is spicy and addictive.  The blend of chipotle and ancho chile powders really get a nice heat going with each bite that you take.  Nothing that overpowers, mind you, but just adds a little flavor and a little heat to each bite.  I loved the chewy, soft texture of this jerky.  And the flavor was smokey and spicy and just amazing.  Honestly.  I was diving in for more.  My roommate and I were splitting the pouch…and we were only going to have a little…but soon we were polishing it off regardless.

Morels hit a high note with this one.  The spiciness keeps each bite interesting and the taste and texture is dead-on…super good.

So, let’s talk nutrition.  A pouch of Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Jerky from Morels The Vegan Butcher serves 2.5.  In one serving (28 grams/1 ounce), you are served 50 calories and 2 grams of fat.  This vegan jerky contains no saturated fat, no trans fat, no cholesterol.  It has 370 mg of sodium per serving and only 2 grams of sugar.  Each serving provides 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  Loving it.

The Ned’s Spicy Chipotle Jerky variety from Morels The Vegan Butcher brings the right amount of heat to each bite without overpowering and killing off the flavor in the vegan jerky itself.  I went wild for this.  I wish I had purchased more.  But, they are a local company, so it shouldn’t be too hard to dig up another pouch of this amazing snack food.

Easy to travel with…and super delicious.  Loved every handful.

Morels The Vegan Butcher Ned's Chipotle Vegan Jerky
Morels The Vegan Butcher Ned’s Chipotle Vegan Jerky

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza comes to my gluten-free pizza rescue while out of town

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, Indianapolis, Indiana
Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, Indianapolis, Indiana

Restaurant: Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, Indianapolis, Indiana

So, I’m in Indianapolis.  That morning, I ran 10 miles for training.  My lunch was a gluten-free cookie and an orange.  It was after 6 p.m. and I was starving.  I had just finished up a string of back-to-back panels at a local sci-fi convention in Indianapolis, the entire reason I was in Indianapolis in the first place.  My initial thought was a gluten-free sandwich from Jason’s Deli, but that would require leaving the convention hotel, driving out to the restaurant, which wasn’t nearby, and sitting and eating.  And I honestly just didn’t have the energy.

So, my roommate and I hijacked the computer in the business center and started surfing Find Me Gluten Free.

And pizza…that’s not only convention food…it just sounded really, really, really good.

The most highly recommended place on the search was a local place called Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza.  We pulled up the Web site, and…there it was…a 10 inch gluten-free crust.  Awesome.  We wrote down the number and checked the delivery area.  And we were just a block or two outside of the delivery region.  Cathy decided it was worth a try to ask if they would deliver to us, as they weren’t that far away.  So, she called.  And they were more than happy to accommodate.  That was awesome.

We placed our order…one gluten-free pizza with mushrooms, red onion, and pineapple ($14.00).  It just sounded…really good.  With the order in, we were told it would be about 35 minutes, as it was a Saturday.  So, we decided to keep ourselves occupied until we got the call that they were nearby.  We’d meet the delivery guy in the lobby.  We walked around and talked with some people while we waited and when they asked where we ordered pizza from, and we said Jockamo…they all melted and practically salivated on the spot.  If that is any indication of what we were in for…I was beyond excited.  And really, really hungry to boot.

It felt like no time had passed at all when Cathy’s cell phone rang.  We skittered to the front lobby and had only a few minutes to wait before the delivery guy walked through the door and tracked us down.  The pizza was handed over and we paid him, extra tip for coming outside of the delivery area.  And then…no waiting, we hurried back to the hotel room to dive in and get some food in our stomachs.

I flipped open the pizza box and found the typical pizzeria gluten-free pizza.  A cracker crust topped with red sauce, our toppings of choice, and cheese.  I snapped a picture and then it was game on.  We were starving and the pizza smelled fantastic.

So…we dove in.  And devoured the pizza in less than 10 minutes, if that is any testimony as to how good it tasted.  And this wasn’t just the “OH MY GOD I AM SO HUNGRY I WILL EAT WHATEVER IS IN FRONT OF ME REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT TASTES GOOD OR NOT” sort of hungry.  It honestly tasted really, really good.

Let’s start with the crust.  The thin crust was cooked almost to perfection.  Almost.  It had a really good flavor, but it just didn’t have that golden crustiness that I prefer with my pizza crusts, which meant, it came across as being a little soggy.  Of course, some of that could be a reflection of the fact that it was cooked, packed in a box, put in a car and delivered to us.  So, I’m not saying the crust was bad at all.  It just didn’t have that crunch to it when I bit into it.  The red sauce was fantastic.  I’m not just saying that.  The tomato flavors were rich and bold and seasoned to perfection.  The toppings we selected were fantastic.  The mushrooms, onions and pineapple were all cooked to perfection, the pineapple’s sweetness being a nice contrast to the umami flavor of the mushrooms and the bite of the onions.  And then…the cheese.  A nice hit of saltiness that the pizza needed…creamy and gooey and just…the entire package was phenomenal.  Yep.  I was impressed.

Like I said…we devoured that pizza in less than 10 minutes, each of us getting three slices each.  No holds barred. It was gone as quickly as it had arrived and we were left licking marinara off our fingers and happily discussing how every bite of that pizza was beyond delicious.  We were now fortified for the long evening ahead of us.

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza really surprised me.  I didn’t know what to expect, just that all the locals were salivating whenever we mentioned where we ordered pizza for our dinner.  And that was enough testimony to put my mind to ease.  If we had scrolled a bit further through the menu, we also would have discovered that they also offer gluten-free cookies, made by Deihdre Alltop.  I didn’t know about these…but now that I do…next time I’m in Indianapolis and order from Jockamo (there will be a next time…YUM!), I think dessert will have to happen as well.  Because with a choice of three different gluten-free cookies…you just can’t go wrong.

Needless to say, the service at Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, their willingness to come just outside of the delivery area and deliver to us at the convention hotel, spoke volumes of their service.  Their food…especially that house made marinara…did the rest of the talking.  Honestly, one of the best sauces I have ever encountered on a pizza.  It was cooked up really well…the toppings were fresh and complimented the sauce, the crust, everything.  I was beyond impressed.

If you are in the Indianapolis or Greenwood area, go by Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza and get a pizza.  Dine in, take out, have it delivered.  Just trust me…you really want to try it.  I was one happy gluten-free pizza loving girl, let me tell you.  And I’ve had a lot of gluten-free pizza in my life.  This one…is definitely near the top of the list.

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza's Gluten-Free Pizza with Mushrooms, Red Onion and Pineapple
Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza’s Gluten-Free Pizza with Mushrooms, Red Onion and Pineapple

The best gluten-free food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory, gets Cluster Trucked and changes it up…one night only…

Sweet 'N' Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky
Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky

Restaurant; Sweet ‘N’ Savory Food Truck, Louisville, Kentucky

I might have mentioned previously how lucky I am to be in an area that actually has a food truck that is dedicated gluten-free and serving the gluten-free (and non-gluten-free) community amazing food.  Sweet ‘N’ Savory is the food truck I speak of, based out of Louisville, Kentucky and run by the most amazing people, Richard and Ashley Giannini, who chose to open a food truck specializing first and foremost in gluten-free crepes, with the additional inclusion of smoothies, gelato, and coffee.  They are the first and only place to offer gluten-free crepes to the Louisville area.  And, let me tell you, this truck is worth hunting down for those crepes.  Both sweet and savory versions are to die for and made to perfection.  I was hooked on one bite the first time I was ever able to check them out.

You see, Louisville is growing in the foodie world and food trucks are starting to emerge in this city.  Nothing could make me happier!  Honestly.  Especially since I can actually eat at one!  Food trucks are amazing things, and thankfully Louisville has places and events where these food trucks gather and people come and choose between the offered menus…making an easy and fun way to dine out every now and again.  This past weekend, Apocalypse Brew Works hosted yet another food truck gathering…this time called Cluster Trucked.

What is Cluster Trucked?  Well, for one night only, the usual menus offered by Louisville’s finest food trucks got turned upside down.  What these trucks would normally offered weren’t anywhere on the menu.  In fact, they were serving up something unique and different…and it just made for a fun and interesting event.

The usual suspects…the usual menus…then…the Cluster Trucked effect…

  • Holy Mole – Usually serves gourmet tacos – went to serving chicken wings (Pok Pok – Vietnamese fish sauce wings w/ fried garlic; Korean Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom tongdak) – Korean BBQ fried chicken w/ sesame; Salsa Verde – green jalapeno/cilantro w/ queso fresco-green onion sauce; Spicy BBQ – spicy sweet tangy BBQ sauce wings; Traditional Buffalo w/ blue cheese and celery)
  • French Indo Canada – Usually serves a banh mi sandwich from Vietnam and the decadent poutine from Canada – went to serving Indian cuisine (Saag Paneer – curried spinach & mustard greens with fresh cheese; Aloo Gobi – curried potatoes and cauliflower; Tikka Masala – grilled chicken served in a spiced tomato cream sauce; Vegetable Pakoras – onion and cauliflower fritters…all gluten-free, mostly vegetarian and half vegan)
  • Lil Cheezers – Usually serves gourmet grilled cheese – went to serving  hot noodle bowls (choice of Hoisin Beef, Teriyaki Chicken or Sweet Chili Pork, or no protein for vegetarian option, served with Udon noodles with bean sprouts, carrots, pickled cabbage and cilantro, or in a traditional Miso Soup broth….with a gluten-free/vegan option of Banh Pho (rice noodles))
  • Johnny’s Diner Car – Usually serves steak sandwiches and fries – went to serving loaded baked potatoes (“Comfort Food 101” – one pound Idaho Russet Potato with clarified butter, covered in pot roast slow cooked in reduction of Old 502 Winery Bourbon Barrel Red with special seasonings, portabella mushrooms, onions, carrots, garnished with house-made roasted garlic sour cream; “The Elegant” – one pound Idaho Russet Potato with clarified butter, goat cheese crumbles, truffle oil, fresh chives, served with side of house-made roasted garlic sour cream; “The Old Fashion” – one pound Idaho Russet Potato with house-made rosemary/garlic infused butter, fresh grated aged Parmigiano Reggiano, whipped sour cream, fresh chives, and hardwood smoked bacon; “Sweet Potato Sundae” – one pound North Carolina Sweet Potato, clarified butter, special blend of brown sugar, korintje cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground orange peel, cloves, & ginger, toasted pecans, whipped cream and a cherry)
  • Grind – Usually serves gourmet burgers – went to serving low country food (shrimp & grits, crab cakes, etc) (fresh, never frozen sustainably caught Atlantic shrimp served with cheese grits and a spicy tomato gravy; custom-made Stone Cross Farms andouille sausage with cheese grits and spicy tomato gravy; jumbo lump crab cake served with cheese grits and a spicy tomato gravy with a tangy remoulade)
  • Sweet ‘N’ Savory – usually serves gluten-free crepes, gelato, smoothies, coffee – went to serving gluten-free ravioli and gluten-free cannoli (Shrimp & Crab Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce; Chicken, Pacetta & Goat Cheese Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce; Three Cheese Ravioli with Homemade Marinara)

As stated before…my focus was on Sweet ‘N’ Savory…although I could have easily eaten at French Indo Canada as well.  Nice to have the option…but I am loyal to my favorite food truck and it had been forever since I was able to actually eat a hand-made ravioli.  Yes…the prepared all their ravioli options from scratch.  Impressive, yes?  When I placed my order, I got the Three Cheese Ravioli with the Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce (it was the vegetarian option) instead of the Homemade Marinara ($10.00).  I spoke with Richard and Ashley for awhile…anticipating my first real (as in not bought out of the freezer section) ravioli since…I had to go gluten-free, honestly.  I was practically salivating.

The line was getting longer, so I let them get back to work.  I loved seeing their truck flooded with orders.  And everything was made to order, which means nothing was done ahead of time, save the actual making of the ravioli.  These raviolis were dropped into boiling water to cook until they were soft and ready.   They were then finished off in a pan with the sauce.  It took a little while, but I was happy to wait.  Quality food is always worth the wait.  I was watching other orders come up ahead of mine and getting really giddy about the moment they would call my name.

Sweet 'N' Savory's Gluten-Free Three Cheese Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Sweet ‘N’ Savory’s Gluten-Free Three Cheese Ravioli with a Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

It happened and I hurried over to claim my gluten-free ravioli and duck out of the warm sun into a shady spot to enjoy.  My roomie was already devouring her meal.  She opted to go with the chicken wings that Holy Mole offered…and went Korean as an added twist…and was already devouring them.  She had sauce all over herself.  Which meant she was eating them right.  So, with my tummy rumbling and this amazing looking pasta feast in front of me, I was ready to dive in to the eight…yes EIGHT gluten-free ravioli that Sweet ‘N’ Savory prepared.

One bite…and I was almost in tears.  The ravioli was, perhaps, one of the most perfect foods I have ever had the option of eating since going gluten-free.  The pasta was cooked to perfection.  So light, soft, and that perfect al dente that you want.  The cheesy filling was melt-in-your-mouth savory goodness.  Literally, the ravioli just melted against my tongue.  It was the most perfect thing I have eaten in a long time.  And holy ravioli, that red pepper cream sauce…I want that recipe because it was the perfect topping for this ravioli.  Honest to goodness great food.  I gave a ravioli to my roommate to try and she said, “I like your food better!”  HAHA!!  Victory.  We both finished off our meals of choice, me taking my time to just let the various flavors sing across my tongue and taste buds.  It was still gone way too fast.

But…there was also mention of gluten-free cannoli ($4.00).  Now, I like cannoli and haven’t been able to have it in years.  My roommate, however, calls cannoli one of her most favorite desserts to eat…ever.  In fact, if we go to an Italian restaurant or any place that offers cannoli…you better believe she’s getting it for dessert.  We skittered back over to Sweet ‘N’ Savory and placed an order for two of the cannoli.  Ashley got to work on that one as Richard continued to push our the growing number of ravioli orders.  Like I said…I love seeing my favorite food truck so busy.  This is only a good thing.  A short wait later and Ashley was handing over a plate of two fried rolls filled with cream and pistachio, dusted with powdered sugar.  They looked…awesome!!

We got out of the way and each took our dessert in hand.  This was no ordinary cannoli.  The cream on the inside had a fruity flavor…I think it was strawberry.  And they had chocolate bits scattered within it as well.  Nice touch.  It was definitely unexpected.  The pistachios on the outside gave a bit more texture and flavor.  And then…that sweet confectioners sugar…it was the icing on the cake, as it were.  Every bite was just…fantastic.  Crunchy, sweet, and bursting with fresh flavors.  It was my ideal dessert that night.  Nothing could have been better.  Not even ice cream.

I loved that this event happened.   It was so much fun to come out to a Louisville Street Food Alliance event and see the regular food trucks serving up something out of their comfort zone and norm.  It was an absolute blast.  And I loved going around and seeing what each truck did to their menu.  It was definitely a great time.

Thank you, Sweet ‘N’ Savory…for once again providing this vegetarian and gluten-free foodie a food truck option of amazing, homemade, hand-prepared goodness.  Nothing compares to the care, dedication, and love that you put into your business.  Your products reflect it.  I can’t wait to see you next time!

Sweet 'N' Savory's Gluten-Free Cannoli
Sweet ‘N’ Savory’s Gluten-Free Cannoli

Allergen-free dinner rolls from Annie May’s Sweet Café a must at any dinner table

Annie May's Sweet Café Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls
Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls

Product: Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls – $4.50

So, I got a little impulsive when I was at Annie May’s Sweet Café on Saturday morning.  It happens.  Especially after a good race.  And even more so after having not been to the cafe for two weeks.  Two long weeks.  UGH!  Way too long to be away from my favorite place to grab food that I know I can safely eat.  But, I’m finally back in town for a little while and that means…I’m back to my routine.

After running a great 5K race in Louisville on Saturday, my roomie and I headed to Frankfort Avenue and pulled up (FINALLY!) into Annie May’s Sweet Café parking lot.  It was breakfast sandwich time.  And as we were sitting there noshing on our delicious breakfast (which also included an allergen-free doughnut…because…they are doughnuts and I love them!), Cathy spotted a bag of dinner rolls up on the top of the bakery case.

While we were polishing off breakfast, she asked if I wanted to get them to try.  I gave her that, “Are you really asking me that?” look and nodded my head while happily stuffing my face with more of the allergen-free vegan breakfast sausage sandwich.  With that decided and our breakfast consumed, we went to the bakery case (where I resisted ordering one of the amazing chocolate chip cookies…despite really, really wanting one) and just snagging up one of the two bags of the allergen-free dinner rolls.  We went to the register, paid for them, and went on our way.

I had no idea what I was going to use them for at that point.  But my roommate had suggested I make tzatziki with the cucumbers I got in my CSA bin.  And I had these gluten-free and vegan pablano chickpea patties in my freezer so I thought…why not make sort of a mock falafel slider?  These dinner rolls would definitely make the perfect slider buns.  Saturday we indulged in both Annie May’s Sweet Café and then gluten-free crepes from Sweet ‘N Savory Food Truck at Louisville’s Buy Local Fair.  So, we were pretty full upon returning home that day.  But…that’s what Sunday’s are made for.

Sunday evening, I made up my homemade tzatziki and then got the poblano chickpea patties into the oven.  While they were starting to cook, I got the bag of dinner rolls off the counter and undid the tie.  I pulled out all six of the dinner rolls (carb happiness, yes?) and put them all on a baking sheet.  When the chickpea patties were about halfway done, I slid the dinner rolls into the oven to toast for about 15 minutes at 350°F, just to get them golden crispy on the outside.  I did make sure I watched them though, as I didn’t want them to burn.  The chickpea patties and rolls finished at the same time.  I let them both stand for a minute while I sliced up a leaf of romaine lettuce and pulled the tzatziki out of the fridge.

Annie May's Sweet Cafe Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls
Annie May’s Sweet Cafe Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls

Now…the fun part.  I sliced each of the dinner rolls in half.  They were so soft and steamy on the inside.  They looked absolutely fantastic.  It was definitely food porn of the drool=worthy type.  I placed a dollop of tzatziki on each bottom half of the dinner roll, added some lettuce, put 1/3 of each patty over the lettuce, topped it off with a little more tzatziki, then put the top of the dinner roll over it.  BAM…instant mock falafel sliders.  All gluten-free.  LOVING it.

But, the real test would come with the dinner rolls.  How would they hold up?  How would they taste?

I should have known, given that these came from Annie May’s…that they would be epically awesome.  I never doubted it for a moment, to be honest.  One bite…and I knew that these little dinner rolls had to come to Thanksgiving with me this year.  They were soft to begin with, but I wanted to be sure they could hold up to the sliders I was making.  So, just that short time in the oven and they got this golden crispness on the outside, but remained soft on the inside.  It was dinner roll perfection.  And, they didn’t hollow out.  You actually got an entire dinner roll.  They were light and fluffy on their own, without skimping on the bread part on the inside.  They tasted awesome.  Perfect.  And completely allergen-free.

Annie May’s Sweet Café lists the ingredients for these allergen-free dinner rolls as millet flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, quinoa flour, water, olive oil, egg replacer, agave nectar, apple cider vinegar, and xanthan gum.  I recognize all of those ingredients and think that they have really hit the nail on the head when it comes to their bread mix.  The flours they use just bake up beautifully.  Light.  Not dense.  Not heavy.  And perfect.  I was in love with every bite.  And I meant it when I said I would buy a dozen or so of these for Thanksgiving, which I am hosting this year and keeping gluten-free…because that’s how my kitchen is.

A big shout-out to my local gluten-free bakery, Annie May’s Sweet Café for once again bringing me allergen-free perfection.  This time…in the form of a simple dinner roll.  Sometimes it’s these little things in life…these little kitchen miracles I bring home from your business…that make my gluten-free life so much more amazing.  I love you…and can’t wait to try more of your goodies that I have yet to try.  Until then…see you on Saturday for breakfast.

Mock Falafel Sliders made using Annie May's Sweet Cafe Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls and Moo Moo's Vegetarian Cuisine Vegan & Gluten-Free Poblano Chick(pea) Patties
Mock Falafel Sliders made using Annie May’s Sweet Cafe Allergen-Free Dinner Rolls and Moo Moo’s Vegetarian Cuisine Vegan & Gluten-Free Poblano Chick(pea) Patties

Forget the frozen store brands, the best gluten-free hamburger buns are from Annie May’s Sweet Café

Annie May's Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns
Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns

Product: Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns – $5.50+

You might have realized that I spend a lot of time at my local allergen-free bakery.  There is a reason for that.  Not only do they provide some of the best food in Louisville, Kentucky, but owners Annie May and Kenna put a lot of time, care, and love into the products they serve up.  And it’s not just cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and the like.  Nope.  They provide lunches and even breakfast every Saturday morning.  Oh yes…this is more than your average bakery.

One of my favorite things to get when I head into Annie May’s Sweet Café every Saturday is their Allergen-Free Vegan Breakfast Sandwich, which consists of a vegan and gluten-free sausage, made by Louisville’s own Grind (a food truck!), Daiya cheese, and all of it goes on this amazing roll.  Ever since I first had one of these breakfast sausages, I had been trying to figure out what they use for the bread.

And, after browsing about the case inside the shop on Saturday morning…it all became clear.  It appears they toast up and use their very own allergen-free (gluten-free and vegan) hamburger buns.  With this incredible revelation, I had to have some for myself.  After all, I had tons of fresh produce to use, so I figured I could do up some of my homemade vegan and gluten-free black bean and soy chorizo burgers and make use of the amazing and very light hamburger buns.

So…yes…I purchased them.

I mean…they were one of my favorite parts of the breakfast sandwich.  I had to have some for my own use.  So, yes…I brought home a pack of four.  And tonight, I mixed up the ingredients for my burgers and prepped all the veggies, some hand-cut shoestring fries from organic russet potatoes, and then sauteed up some shallots and white button mushrooms for these burgers as well.  One thing I did have every intention of doing, however, was toasting those buns like they do at the café for their breakfast sandwiches.  So, after unwrapping two of them, I gave each a light spritz with olive oil, then placed them on the skillet to get a light toasting on them.

Annie May's Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns
Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns

With the burgers on the skillet, and the buns getting a light toasting, I got everything ready to plate.  And with the homemade fries fresh and crisp from the oven, I started to stack them on the plate.  I took one half of each bun and set it on each plate.  Bibb lettuce was the next addition, followed by the vegan and gluten-free black bean and soy chorizo burger I mixed up.  I melted some cheese over each patty and then stacked some shallots, mushrooms, sliced cherry tomato, and avocado on top.  It then got a light spread of vegan sriracha sour cream.  Then…the top of the bun was placed over the entire burger, completing the package.

Dinner was served.

And…yes…these hamburger buns are exactly what they use on Saturday mornings for those amazing breakfast sandwiches.  Oh.  My.  God.  I was so thrilled to be able to have these in the comfort of my own home this evening with my dinner.  They are so light, fluffy, and delicious.  They have this subtle buttery flavor to them, which just makes them taste all the more amazing.  And they hold up, even with all the layers and textures going on in my homemade veggie burgers.  That’s the best part.  These buns didn’t flake or wilt or grow soggy.  They remained in one piece and, despite being so light in texture, they are sturdy.

The remaining two will be used tomorrow when I toast up the other two homemade veggie burger patties I have already prepared.

Annie May’s Sweet Café is one of those little gems that Louisville should realize how fortunate it is to have in the city.  I would be lost without my allergen-friendly bakery.  I have enjoyed not only the sweet treats, but also the savory pieces I have picked up from there, eaten there, and purchased to take home for later.  Everything is made with great care, and the owners pour their heart and soul into every product they put out for the public.

With the onset of summer, I am hoping hours will be extended once again so I can make it over there for dinners sometimes.  Their daily specials always sound so intriguing, but I work in Indiana and don’t get out of work in time to make it over there currently to enjoy their specials.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert…all in one place.

And, you can easily purchase their baked goods, including their hamburger buns, right there at the shop.  So head over to Frankfort Avenue and give their products a try.  You’ll never guess that all of them are gluten-free…and most are also allergen-free.  And all of it…super delicious.

These hamburger buns, especially, make a nice addition to the dinner table.  Don’t take my word for it though.  Go in there and purchase some for yourself.  They’ll beat out any store-bought brand from the freezer any day!

My homemade gluten-free and vegan black bean and soy chorizo burger sandwiched between Annie May's Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns (shown with homemade hand-cut shoestring fries)
My homemade gluten-free and vegan black bean and soy chorizo burger sandwiched between Annie May’s Sweet Café Allergen-Free Hamburger Buns (shown with homemade hand-cut shoestring fries)