Monday, July 22, 2019

Fresh crust (from pre-made dough) at Hearth Pizza Tavern

Ever since something changed with the Blue Moon gf crust (at least at the Sandy Springs location) and the same thing happened at Crust in Alpharetta, I've been avoiding pizza places.  I'm not paying an upcharge for something that's not as good as a frozen gf pizza I can make at home.  Duh.

However, I keep the faith that someone will start offering a gluten-free pizza worth eating out in the ATL.  While doing my normal gluten-free pizza in Atlanta web search, which I do every month or so, I came upon rave reviews for the option at Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs.  After confirming they have a process in place to keep the pizza crust as safe as possible in a gluten kitchen, we made a date to try it.  The crust comes from a company in Colorado, but it's stretched at the restaurant.  Therefore, it tastes more fresh than the typical frozen crusts that abound in the area.

We arrived to the cool space that is Hearth on a bustling Saturday night.  Even though it was early...around 6 pm, it was so busy there was a wait.  We put our name on the list and headed to the Whole Foods in the same complex.  When we got back less than 15 minutes later, our table was ready.  The server didn't seem to understand much about what gluten-free meant so that was unsettling.  However, the manager on duty (who seemed knowledgeable) oversaw the order.  For reference, the salad we ordered didn't seem to come with any croutons or bread, but you ALWAYS have to order EVERYTHING gluten-free, even salads, so you don't end up with a lovely gluten garnish on your food!  Sure enough, as the server was walking away she said "oh, so you don't want the bread on your salad?".  Mmmmm.....NO I don't want bread unless it's gluten-free.  The look on her face indicated she might not know such a thing exists (LOL!), but at least she got the order in correctly.

The pizza was quite good and most definitely worth having again.  It's no Don Antonio, but let's be real.....we're not in NYC.  I likely would not risk eating at Hearth with a wheat allergy since there's always going to be gluten flour in the air, and the server knowledge (or lack thereof).  My guess is that way more people who order the gluten-free pizza at Hearth have no clue what gluten is in, than people who actually can't eat it ;)

Also, when we called to check on gluten-free ingredients for the pizza, beyond the crust, I also asked if there were any gluten-free ciders.  The answer was "no, I'm sorry we don't have cider" so it was a nice surprise when two were listed on the menu.  I think I had one with blackberry and ginger in it and it was very refreshing!

After taking half my pizza to go, we stopped into WF again and bought the amazing JB's Carrot Cake and another treat from that line we'd not had before - Blueberry Cheesecake - for dessert.

The restaurant group that owns Hearth, MooCoo Group, also offers the "fresh from prepared dough" at Atwood Pizza in the city and some other location in Marietta, which I can't recall the name of....or find online.   


Monday, July 15, 2019

Schar croissants....finally!

OK - if you're someone who isn't able, or interested, in eating something made from gluten-free wheat starch (yes, it's a real thing), then you might want to skip this review.  For reference, Micky D's still lists hydrolyzed wheat as an ingredient (in fryer oil) and I don't know anyone personally that has celiac and can't eat their fries or hash browns.

First a little background....back in 2006, fresh off my celiac dx, we went to London and Paris.  It was one of the most amazing vacations we've taken, even though I had to pass up the amazing treats in Paris patisseries.  In London, at Sainsbury's, I bought all kinds of shelf-stable mini loaves and muffins to supplement my breakfasts in both countries.  I found out much later that the items were made with highly processed gluten-free wheat starch, as was common in Europe at the time.  They were also not made to the US standard of 20ppm, but a much more generous 200ppm.  The EU has changed it's definition to match that of the US, so don't worry if you're traveling there present day.  In any case, the shelf stable goodies were amazing and certainly didn't make me sick.  I likely have a higher threshold than some regarding the amount of gluten that makes me sick.  Sorry - if you think everyone can and will get sick from anything over 20ppm - that's also incorrect.  I cleared this up when interviewing an internationally renowned celiac expert.  As they explained it to me in layman's terms, you have to choose the lowest common denominator when it comes to a gluten-free label standard.  That means some people can't safely take in more than 20ppm of gluten, while others might be able to handle more.  As with all Schar products, they pass the 20ppm standard in every country they're sold in.

So, back to the Schar croissants.  After looking for this item for more than three years, I finally gave up.  I knew the company would run into issues in the US, considering the ingredient label clearly states wheat starch (first ingredient, in fact).  You can't make people understand science and no one should eat anything they don't want to regardless of what science proves.  I assumed the item was no longer sold in the US and didn't think about it again...until I saw the bag of Schar croissants at Earthfare!  Needless to say, I threw the bag in the cart and went on my overly-merry way!

Three days later, I thawed one lone croissant (on the counter) for just over and hour, and baked it for 8 minutes as directed.  It was golden was pretty flaky...and it was DELICIOUS! I slathered it with butter and savored every amazing bite.  Now, it's not like a fresh baked croissant from Whole Foods, but it's probably as good as anything you'd find frozen - even with gluten in it!  Yes - it's really that tasty, people.

And so I say to Schar - thank you, thank you, thank you!  This is my gluten-free find of the year to date ;)       

*Image courtesy of Schar


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Andean Dream pasta available at Whole Foods Buckhead

Many moons ago, I found Andean Dream pasta.  It's a quinoa/rice blend which is not only edible - but delicious - COLD.  I don't like mayo-based pasta salads so none of the gluten-free pastas I tried worked for my favorite summertime pasta.  I went without cold pasta for a few years since most gluten-free pasta (at that time) was pretty much like a brick when cold.

Anyway, after finding, and faithfully using, Andean Dream pasta for years, I started having a hard time finding it locally. Then I couldn't find it anywhere.  And so for another year or so, I did without pasta salad.  Then, several weeks ago, my husband spotted the Andean Dream macaroni pasta on the bottom shelf at the Whole Foods in Buckhead.  I was so excited that I bought four boxes, leaving one on the shelf.  Maybe this brand is back at the WF near us, but at last check it wasn't.  And this pasta is definitely good enough to swing by WF, when in town, to stock up!

This pasta is vegan, corn free and Kosher, and made with non-GMO ingredients 

Below is my favorite cold pasta recipe...please make it your own - and enjoy!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad


Cooked gluten-free pasta (that is EDIBLE when cold)
green scallions
crumbled feta cheese
minced roasted red peppers
sliced kalamata olives
sea salt


Coat cooked, drained pasta with olive oil (to taste)
Toss in all other ingredients (change them up to suit your personal taste!)
sprinkle with sea salt (to taste)
Cover and refrigerate for two hours or more (to let flavors percolate)
Remove from fridge and uncover about an hour prior to serving (it's very good straight out of fridge, but I like it less chilly)

**To make this pasta into a meal, add cooked chicken or shrimp, or even canned tuna fish.  Just don't set it out for an hour with any meat in it.



Gluten-free in a pandemic? No problem!

Not to make light of the current situation the world finds itself in, but I'm so thankful that I learned to self isolate when I was diag...