Friday, March 26, 2010

COBS BREAD




Wouldn't it be great to walk into any Cobs across the country and find a freezer full of gluten free stuff?
I went to one today here in Calgary and bought some baked goods for the staff at Hall's Auction.

Naturally I had to ask the sales clerk about GF options and though she was polite, had no desire to discuss it any further than, sorry there is no demand here for gluten free bread. I see. No worries. But if I were to ask you where COULD I find any gluten free bread in Calgary? She was not aware of any bakeries that are 100% gluten free....
She's gotta get out more I say.

Anyway. No big deal. I will call head office and see if there is any interest that THEY  may have in carrying a select line of frozen breads.

What do you think? Is this a good idea?









Monday, March 22, 2010

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS & HER VIEW ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE

Not that I want to put any fuel in the fire of our neighbor's debate on healthcare....but you really should read this series about health care comparison between France and US.

http://foreignparts.typepad.com/foreign_parts/2009/10/%C3%A0-aimer-getting-sick-part-four.html


COST PLUS WORLD MARKET




It's  wine & beer store. It's a furniture store. It's a kitchen shop. It's a home decor boutique. It's a novelty food store. All rolled in one.  J.Peterman gone crazy. 

During our years in the States we would frequent Cost Plus to find some good wines or condiments and chocolates. Actually, come to think about it we also bought our sparkling sodas there.
Always looked at the furniture and home decor, but we did import that ourself back then anyway.
On my last trip I saw that they opened a new location on the south end of Vegas, in a new retail area just off Blue Diamond. I had an IN-N-OUT Burger right next door, so after dinenr I had to check it out. Bigger, brighter, cleaner I have say. Theior maryland Pkwy loation just got a bit drab towards the end.

But something else has changed over the years. Their buyers really upgraded the look of their home decor and furniture selections. I was impressed actually. Cost Plus always has had a good price structure, which at my opinion still is the case. But back then, the colors were monochromatic at best.  The selection today is more up to date, their buyers are out there it seems to be ahead of the curve, not following other massive retailers in the US.

Add to that some funky wines, a great gloabl beer selection, their own branded lines in chocolates and other fine food items, this all adds up to a must stop in destination if you are from outside the US. I was surprised to find Austrian and german chocolate bunnies in their easter selection.

 268 locations across the US, check their website for a location near your travel destination.


PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGES FOR BETTER VIEWING








GREAT CHOCOLATE


INTERESTING CONDIMENTS


FLAVORED SODA FROM ITALY


LARGE WINE SELECTION


WINE FOR FOOD BLOGGERS?

WORLDWIDE BEER SELECTION


EASTER STUFF










X-LARGE CAN OF BAKED BEANS.....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

GRIMALDI'S COAL BRICK-OVEN PIZZERIA



Quite some time ago in a Blog about Pizza, I read about  Pizzerias with coal brick ovens. Naturally I did discuss this back then with my resident genius in all matters Italian, Chef BRUNO.
But even he has never heard of it. Forgot all about it until my last trip to Vegas, where I saw the Grimaldi's sign on Eastern and Silverado Ranch. That was the Pizzeria in New York I read about.

Perfect. Victoria did not travel with me, so no worries about gluten free Pizza (they don't have any), I could indulge in Italian food without feeling too bad for Victoria eating salad.....

Before you go completely Al Gore on this place, let me tell you that they use Anthracite coal which apparently burns cleaner than wood. So that's my disclaimer....Fans of coal brick oven Pizza claim it is superior to all other pies out there. I wondered where the coal goes and just as with a wood fired oven, right inside, not below.

The place itself is decorated with a heavy Brooklyn accent, checkered table cloth, exposed brick, B&W images of times gone by and some other gimmicky wall decor. Interesting light fixtures.

The bar with an opening to the outside was a perfect spot for the lone road warrior in me. The barkeeper however has never heard the word Celiac. Funny really. Or not, if you are Celiac.
I ordered my standard Pizza when I first go to a new place, Margarita with Anchovies. A simple, tasty pie that tells me all about a Pizzeria. Side of Caesar Salad, no croutons (just for Victoria)

Big surprise. The Pizza took way longer than in a wood fired oven. 5 minutes. Yes, I timed it. You do get bored travelling alone....what can I say.
Anyway, since this is a gluten post (sorry, Celiacs) and I am no critic to begin with, let's just say it was a very very good Pizza, but not the best. Personally, the difference in flavor from wood to coal was miniscule, if even noticeable.  The dough was good, but a touch too crispy for my personal taste buds.
The toppings were very good, plenty of anchovies and good quality sauce and cheese. Basil added AFTER baking, an important detail that even FAMOSO screws up for me. I would go back for sure, but would not fly to Vegas specifically for a coal oven Pizza.


WHAT AN OVEN. LOVE THE STYLE






Friday, March 19, 2010

TAQUERIA EL PALENQUE


Authentic Mexican food is not hard to find in Las Vegas. Just don't expect to get it anywhere near the strip. Good Mexican on the strip? Yes. Authentic? No, senor.

So go, rent a car for a day and venture off the beaten path as if you would if you were to visit Paris or London. You are not just going to the Louvre or Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards. You would look for that Bistro which serves excellent boeuf bourguignon, or that really tasty Black Pudding in a Pub in London....why do most people only venture off the strip to go to an outlet mall?

These people did it and found a great spot even I was not aware of while living in Vegas:



Personally I ventured back to North Las Vegas to satisfy my craving for Tacos. You may remember this post:


A bit further east, past La Bonita, I saw this shanty style set up and the sign for .59 tacos (which I did not order). Made me stop. Hungry, tired of looking for even more authentic fare, I stopped in and had my fill. Authentic it was. Heck, even the Coca Cola was imported from Mexico. That's  first. I asked about the difference and got a shrug. It may be that this one was made with sugar and here they use corn syrup? Not sure.

I ordered a Gordita, which basically is a fat Taco. Thicker and more stuffing....I was hungry. Served with rice and beans, they also offered a Taco al Pastor, maybe they saw the tourist in me? All gluten free by the way and the check came in at 8.75.

Do I have to tell you more food stories for you to venture off strip? I got a couple more. Pizza and coffee. Suburbs.















FREED'S BAKERY OF LAS VEGAS



PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW FOR LAS VEGAS' GLUTEN FREE BAKERY:



The most established bakery in Las Vegas is Freed's. Featured on plenty of TV programs, including Rachael Ray, they have provided baked goods to Las Vegas for over 50 years and are maybe the real cake boss when it comes to wedding cakes. After all, Vegas is the wedding capital of the world.

When you enter their new location, though it is clearly a bakery, the first impression was that maybe there is a telethon going on. To the left side of the store is a set up of three tables with telephones ringing off the hook , staffed by wedding consultants. Constant. Non stop.
While I was eating my Napoleon slice, the phones kept ringing and ringing and ringing. I just could not believe it. The cakes on display were very Vegas.....besides the traditional ones, they made some really weird, yet very creative ones, cakes in the shape of a Louis Vuitton  bag, roulette tables, etc.

Needless to say, that made me curious. The manager was too busy to talk to me, I had to come back the next morning as her phone was lit up similar to a switchboard at city hall after a swine flu alert.

When I did finally speak to the manager the next day, my inquiry of course was all about GF.
Well, a short conversation it was. Very short. Nope, don't have GF. No, not even special order. Not on their radar. Cupcakes maybe, gluten free? No.
I can pay extra. Sorry, sir, we do not bake gluten free cupcakes.
Why not ? It's such a small market, they feel no need to revamp their production area to accommodate Celiacs.

Yes, I can see their point. 98% of all people can eat their cakes.  I asked for a referral to someone, anyone really in Vegas who bakes gluten free. Nobody the manager could think of. She was very friendly and understanding, since her grandson is on a gluten free diet and her family needs to accomodate his needs, which in Vegas apparently is not so easy. They bake at home, she told me.

So. The greater Las Vegas area has a large population, similar to that of Calgary. But not only that, there are 34 million visitors yearly. 4 hours drive get's you to Los Angeles......hmmmmm. GF PATISSERIE LAS VEGAS.   There is an idea. That could work.

Doc, are you reading this?









Thursday, March 18, 2010

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COSTCO




While I visited Las Vegas, I had a chance to visit a Business Center Costco. Pretty much the same foot print as your average Costco, this one is more geared towards the professionals, with an emphasis on the hospitality industry. Much smaller selection, no clothing or retail sized packaging at all. 

A thin crowd to be honest. But I guess no household even in the US would buy a gallon of Mayo. I hope....
What I do love about this specific style of Costco, is their appliance section geared towards the restaurant industry.. Click on the images and enjoy. 





LOVE THIS FRIDGE

FOR THE NEXT BAKERY...


ALL THE UTENSILS YOU EVER NEED IN A KITCHEN


SUGAR, MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IN CANADA

CHEESE MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE INT HE USA

SAME FOR BUTTER. MUCH LESS


FOR MY RISOTTO?


BOTTLED DRINKS EVRYWHERE


A GALLON???