Monday, September 23, 2013

Gluten Free in Pittsburgh

When I visit my hometown, I always have a list of restaurants, bakeries, and stores I want to visit.  After my uncle picked me up at the airport, we went straight to Gaby et Jules Patisseries et Macarons in Squirrel Hill.  After reading about this new establishment in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I wrote them an email asking whether their macarons are gluten free.  Very quickly I received a response that they  are all gluten free!

The first 6 I purchased did not last very long!

I have been enjoying macarons at Le Macaron on Park Avenue in Winter Park since it opened in Orlando. Gaby et Jules macarons are amazing!  I sampled pistachio, coffee, violet, chocolate, almond, basil, raspberry, salted caramel, and another flavor or two that I am forgetting about I'm sure.  

They were so good that I visited Gaby et Jules four days in a row, but on day 4, they were sold out of macarons before I got there.  

Squirrel Hill is also home to Gluuteny Bakery, a gluten free, dairy free bakery I visit every time I come to Pittsburgh.  

I especially love their sugar cookies, and the teacher in me could not resist this adorable apple.  

Last summer, on the way to a play, I spotted Gluten Free Zone in Murrysville.  They have an amazing selection of gluten free products!  I wish there was a store like this in Orlando.  Update - Gluten Free Zone is now called Ali's Marketplace by Gluten Free Zone.  

When I visited last year, I asked the owner what his favorite gluten free pasta was, and he recommended BiAglut.  I couldn't fit any in my suitcase, but I ordered BiAglut Penne from amazon when I got home.  I am surprised that Heinz does not market this fabulous Italian pasta in the United States better.   

On Friday, we arrived at Gluten Free Zone around noon, so I ordered a pizza for lunch.  For a gluten free pizza, it wasn't bad, but it lacked seasoning and the texture I like in a pizza crust, and it was very pricey.  For me, nothing beats pizza made with Chebe.  

I wouldn't order the pizza again, but every pastry I have tried at Gluten Free Zone has been delicious, and this chocolate almond biscotti was no exception.  

I have tried BiAglut Rigatoni, Penne, and Shells (Pipes), but have never purchased their Stelline or Lasagne noodles before.  I hope they fit in my suitcase!  

I also purchased a Zing Cashew Cranberry Orange Bar at Gluten Free Zone.  I ate it today with some yogurt for breakfast. It was pretty good, and I like the fact that I wasn't hungry before lunch like I usually am. 

On Friday night, I met my friend Jeri at Mad Mex for dinner.  I can never resist their Pickadippa. I ordered their pepita hummus, guacamole, pineapple-habanero hot salsa, and Yucatan black bean dip.   It felt like I ate chips and dips non-stop for at least an hour!  We make a version of their black bean dip at home.  I promise to post that recipe soon!  

Noodles & Company is fairly new to Pittsburgh, but they now have 5 locations around the city.  I am so jealous, because there is not even one Noodles & Company in the whole state of Florida.  Night one in Pittsburgh, I had a delicious plate of Pad Thai with shrimp.  Update - Noodles & Company now has several restaurants in Orlando.  You can read my review here.  

On day 3, we went to Noodles & Company for lunch so I could try their gluten free Garden Pesto Sauté.  

Day 4 - same lunch!  I guess that gives you an idea of how good it was.  I am going to try and recreate this dish at home with my homemade pesto, and red pepper, sweet onion, spinach, corn, feta, and lemon juice.  I was really impressed with the gluten free Heartland Fussili used at Noodles & Company.  I might have to purchase some to make this dish when I get back to Orlando.  Heartland is sold at Walmart.
Update - You can view my copycat recipe for Garden Pesto Saute here.  

On Saturday night, I got to see The Lion King for the first time ever at the Benedum in downtown Pittsburgh. Fabulous show!  I hope to take my girls to see it in New York City in a couple of years, but until then, we will continue to enjoy the Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  

Before The Lion King, we went to Ruth's Chris Steak House for dinner.  I ordered my petite filet with extra butter.  It would have been buttery steak perfection if I had remembered that I usually order it medium rare because it continues to cook a lot on the plate.  It was still excellent, but a little overdone for my taste.  

Another Ruth's Chris favorite of mine is the garlic mashed potatoes.  They are no longer putting the pat of butter on top that I am used to, but our waitress quickly rectified that for me.  I am a bit of a butter addict if you can't tell!  Hands down, these are my favorite mashed potatoes. Mine are good, but never this good!  

For dessert, there were several gluten free choices, including Creme Brûlée, Chocolate Sin Cake, Fresh Berries & Cream, ice cream, and the beautiful triple chocolate mousse that I ordered.  It was so huge that there was no way I could finish it all, even though it was incredibly delicious!  I think my husband and I will be having a date night at the Ruth's Chris in Orlando soon!

On Saturday, my aunt and I stopped at McGinnis Sisters in Monroeville to buy rack of lamb for Sunday dinner.  

They had a really great selection of gluten free products on several end caps.  Three of my favorite stores, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, and Trader Joe's, have locations in Pittsburgh.  Naturally Soergel's at Soergel Orchards in Wexford is another great option for gluten free products.  

For dinner on Sunday, my aunt cooked green beans and corn that we picked up at a farmers market, and rack of lamb that she added Boar's Head Delicatessen Style Mustard and Southern Homestyle Corn Flake Crumbs to.  

This recipe is so simple.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cut most of the fat off the rack of lamb, add a light coating of mustard, and sprinkle gluten free bread crumbs on top.  Cook for 30-40 minutes.  

My final stop before heading to the airport was at Mediterranean Grill on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. I have been eating at this family-owned and operated restaurant for about 20 years, and lucky for me, they have a gluten free menu.  Everything we order here is just incredible, especially their hummus, which they served with tomatoes and cucumbers instead of pita for my aunt and I. 

Today, I ordered a skewer of lamb shish kabob. It was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. 

Their Mediterranean salad with feta has always been a family favorite.  

I saved the best for last and the picture doesn't do it justice!  Mujaddara is a blend of lentils and rice topped with caramelized vidalia onions. We always ask for extra onions because they are the best part.  So delicious! 

Overall, I had a great trip back to Pittsburgh.  I was able to go to Penn's Colony, my favorite fall festival, and Phipps Conservatory to see their Glass in the Gardens exhibit. 

I really enjoyed spending time with friends and family, and I certainly ate a lot of amazing food!  


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