Friday, January 11, 2008

Sugo = Gluten Free Heaven!

Well, our Meetup event last night did not disappoint and even though it's difficult to believe, it was even better than I could have ever imagined. Truthfully, I'd been a little nervous that all our rsvp's would not show up - 50 people on a week night is quite a turn out and 21 of our 'yes' rsvp's were newbies that had never attended an event before. Statistically speaking, about 50% of new people don't show up. For instance, if we have 10 newbies signed up for an event, we can safely assume 5 or 6 of them won't make it - never changing their rsvp, for reasons unknown to us. But last night my fears were totally unfounded and by 7:05 pm, we had over 40 people in our private room at Sugo. We had a few stragglers who were caught in traffic (some driving well over 20 miles to the restaurant) but by 7:3o or so, we had 46 people there to experience an abolustely amazing event!

Earlier in the day, Fred from Sugo had called me to reconfirm the head count and to inform me that they had prepared special tapas dish for us. It was their signature Moussaka, only made with gluten free breadcrumbs. If you read my previous post, Fred was cooking this dish at the Whole Foods food demo. That night, I didn't bother to hang around to taste it because of course I couldn't, as it's normally full of gluten. Needless to say I ordered this dish to start my meal last night and it was obvious why it's won awards in the tapas catagory at some food competitions. It is out of this world delicious - even when prepared gluten free!

But I should back up and start at the beginning. I arrived early to find the private room wonderfully decorated with candles on the tables and white decorative lights was really quite charming and lovely in almost a surrealistic way. To say the owners and staff at Sugo treat our group (and all their patrons) like royalty is an understatement. It's one of the few places in the Atlanta area that makes you feel like family whether you dine there every week or twice a year. When you dine out in family run establishments in Italy, they make you feel like family and you get that same feeling at Sugo. When everyone in our group was seated, Fred Sr. (also known as Mr. "C") gave a short speech on the origins of the dishes so lovingly prepared for us that night. Besides some fabulous descriptions of the evening's offerings, he shared the story of his family - how a Greek married an Italian, and how they also married Green and Italian cuisines to create spectacular exclusive dishes. You can even watch Mr. "C" explain it in this video.

Some of the dishes offered besides gluten free lasagna were : Pasta and Meatballs (the size of your fist for real), the Three Tenors (divinely prepared lamb, pork tenderloin and homemade sausage), Pesce del Giorno...oh and a fabulous duck dish - Anatra di Sugo - that one of our members proclaimed to be one of the best dishes he's ever had! There were several other entrees offered and well as scrumptious salads which were drizzled with the best balsamic vinegar and an olive oil made from olives never touch the ground! To top off the meal, many of us could not resist the Bomba dessert. This is a vanilla and chocolate gelato ball with a cherry and hazelnut center, which is coated with a dark chocolate's one of Sugo's most popular desserts and it's naturally gluten free - no modifications needed. Simply put, Bomba is the bomb! Forgive me - I realize I'm a little too old for that phrase, but I could not!

Now, if you'd like a gluten free meal like the one described above you have two choices. You can come to Atlanta and dine at Sugo - assuming you don't live in the area, or you can talk to your local Italian restaurant (don't bother with chains) and see if they'd be willing to try and feed you safely. If they will, it's up to YOU to make sure they understand exactly what that means - check ingredients, cross contamination issues - the works). But it never hurts to ask and that's all it took on my part to make this memorable night possible for our Gluten Free Dinner Club. Try it - you have nothing to lose and think about what you might gain - fabulous gluten free meals...and I promise you that is aboslutely priceless!

In the end, last night's event was our best attended dinner ever. In large part this was due to us being offered gluten free lasagna but over half the attendees ordered something besides lasanga. As one of our new members put it (and I'm paraphrasing here) - "I will be at tonight's dinner even if I have to push my car up a hill in pouring rain"- lol! Well obviously he was really determined to be there and just joined our group that day. I'm happy to report that he made it and as far as I know there was no car pushing! But even if he'd really had to do that, he would have been rewarded supremely for his efforts. It was a gluten free experience we won't soon forget, and we'll keep pushing until those are more common than infreqent events in our lives.

Have a lovely weekend everyone! Oh and I've been asked to post photos on my site and I fully intended to start with this post but I was so overwhelmed by everything last night, I never took my camera out of my purse. I promise to do better next time!

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