Monday, February 28, 2011

MASHED POTATOES. REALLY?!

My favorite supplier and good friend David from Shijiazhuang, a city in China of 4 million you never heard of, took me out to lunch at the most en vogue restaurant in that city. Babela's Kitchen. A franchise founded by a local millionaire with an affinity for all things America. With major American funding (wonder what their taste buds are thinking), this group has tons of places all over Beijing, Shanghai and other cities around the country.
The place could best be described as the love child of a Denny's and Pizza Hut. Grand Slam Pizza would have been a more appropriate name...

The owner of this franchise is a good friend of my supplier so I had a chance to meet this entrepreneur and find out more about the system food industry in China. He also offered a tour of the kitchen which was very much up to American standards.

His ROI was 100% in 18 month. Pause. Think. Yes. One and a half years to recoup his investment. Now that's a nice margin. In the food industry no less. Most dishes are pre made in a central kitchen and then shipped to the franchise locations where a large team of "Chefs" puts the finish on. Kids love it.

David ordered a nice cross selection off the menu and I let the images speak for themselves. When I asked what his number one bestseller is, his reply was fast. Mashed Potatoes. What? I told my friend David (who also always orders this dish) that we eat it at home frequently he got so excited that I will give him the recipe.
Maybe he won't go back to Babela's after he makes it himself....














Sunday, February 27, 2011

COLABO SHANGHAI

In the past I have written plenty about Chinese food in China and you can read some of the stories here:



So this time, I wanted to post something about the ever developing dining scene in Shanghai. One of my favorite cities, I had a 48 hour downtime this trip, no customers tagged along, all business was done, it was just leisure time. Rare and fun.

On purpose I chose an old world hotel in the French Concession over my usual business style hotels, an area not too far from downtown, yet very different. Old world architecture with the best mix of old and new in Shanghai. Lots of young locals and expats alike opened art galleries, boutiques and restaurants in this very walkable area of Shanghai.

Colabo was on my Radar for a while, but this time, by myself, I finally wanted to check it out.  Located on the upper floors of an old Villa, this Italian restaurant is one of the favorite places for expats in Shanghai.

It was my last supper on this trip and all they offered were set meals. I chose the three course one, salad, Pizza and dessert.
Well worth it. After all, six days of Chinese food, three times/day, I deserved some Western food....
The salad was really good, with mixed greens and a nice dressing.
The thin crust Pizza was not Pulcinella or Famoso, but still very very good. Their Salami just did not taste all that Salami. The mushrooms were extremely pungent.
Dessert was a miss, some chocolate pudding cake that really had no distinct flavor. Espresso con Panna, a hit. I did not expect such a good coffee in Shanghai.

Considering that the kitchen brigade is 100% locals, I can recommend this place for a good, solid outing in Shanghai





 FRENCH CONCESSION ARCHITECTURE


 COOL SPACE HEATER

 iPADS EVERYWHERE


 GREENS WITH CHICKEN BITS

GOOD BREAD 

 GREAT TASTING PIE


 SO SO DESSERT

DOPPIO CON PANNA 

ABOUT $18.00 ALL IN, NO TIPS 

Friday, February 18, 2011

LAS VEGAS GETS A GLUTEN FREE BAKERY


NOW OPEN

BEAU MONDE BAKERY
2380 N. BUFFALO
SUITE 110
LAS VEGAS, NV 89128


It's been a while in the making hasn't it? For one or the other reason, none important enough to list, there were some delays. But let me tell you, Celiac People. It's getting  close. Soon Victoria is flying to Las Vegas for staff training at the new gluten free flagship for all future licensees.

Las Vegas gets over 40 million visitors a year, take that formula of 1 in 133 who are afflicted by  Celiacs disease, and you can crunch the numbers. It's going to be a must stop for all gluten free dieters to make that Vegas vacation an even more memorable experience.

Owned and operated by a husband & wife team who are extremely familiar with Celiacs, they are just as eager as Victoria to kick the doors open.
Located about 15 minutes from the Strip in Summerlin ( to read about exact location you should subscribe to this Blog....), they will bake fresh daily, very much to the standars set by GF PATISSERIE.

So stay tuned and look forward to your next gluten free Vegas trip.


TAKE THIS EXIT WHEN COMING FROM THE STRIP


TO GET SOME OF THESE....

..... AND THAT GLUTEN FREE BREAD....

.....SO YOU CAN MAKE SOME OF THESE

OR A CHEESECAKE

 CELEBRATE A GLUTEN FREE ANNIVERSARY....

.....OR A BIRTHDAY OF COURSE

BECAUSE IF IT'S 100% GLUTEN FREE.....

 ....THIS IS SO MUCH MORE FUN

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ENJOY LIFE - EAT GLUTEN FREE COOKIES

A while ago, for the very first time probably because of my single minded blogging about GF stuff, I received an inquiry from a company if I would like to try and review their cookies. Newly formulated, GF and even better than before. Is the Pope catholic? If it has sugar, I eat it.

So we are clear, right? This is an official review paid for with three boxes of gluten free cookies.

"Made with natural ingredients, unrefined sweeteners, no trans fats and nothing artificial, they're a real hit among kids (and sugar addicts like me)" was a statement in the email.

Enjoy Life - Eat Freely is an Illinois based company that makes a wide variety of fine foods that are not only gluten free, but also free of the 8 most common allergens. Good thing. You can check all details on their website: http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/index.php

Back to the cookies. I received No Oats Oatmeal cookies, Snickerdoodles and double chocolate brownies. At work. Not at home. Always a great place to test gluten free food. Normal people, not Celiacs. A good way to see how good GF foods are. If regular folks eat something (unknowingly) GF and don't comment, you know it's good.
I put some on a plate as I  usually do when testing one of Victoria's new creations and left the cookies at the front desk where all staff usually comes by ever 10 minutes or so to check something or slack off.
Not really a surprise, all gone in 20 seconds.

Gotta love human guinea pigs. Casual inquiries about taste, consistency or anything remarkable was met by shrugs at first (believe me, it's a good sign at that office), and after revealing about them being GF, an even more positive reaction. Can't taste a difference. Just softer they said. And they had plenty of good and bad GF products that I schlepped to the office.

Brought the rest home because we all know, kids and drunks always tell the truth. I can't get Victoria liquored up no matter how hard I try, so Isabella had to tell the truth about these cookies.
To my big surprise that girl was already familiar with the Enjoy Life brand.
It turns out that whenever there is something to celebrate at school (way too often), a very nice parent brings these cookies for the handful of Celiacs so they too can partake in whatever celebration is going on.

Isabella didn't quite understand how I, the one who can and will eat anything, gets free gluten free cookies. HA! Just maybe she will start a Blog now.








Sunday, February 13, 2011

GLUTEN FREE PASTA




We do eat gluten free Pasta frequently in our house. Usually in the summer, when you can find fresh, pungent Basil, Pesto sauce is one of my favorite.

I have seen the Kirkland brand Pesto at COSTCO a few times when shopping there, but only this weekend finally bought a jar. It's good, some decent few ingredients and does the trick if you are craving Pesto.

I added some Chicken breast and our go to brand of GF Pasta, Rizopia and dinner was done in under 20 minutes with two pots only. Gotta love easy dinners.







PESTO AND CHICKEN

 TWO POT DINNER


BROWNED CHICKEN BREAST

Friday, February 11, 2011

GLUTEN FREE BACON CHEESE BURGER

Burgers are somewhat considered summer food when made at home. All of us love to grill a Burger or two. But living in Calgary, the BBQ season is shorter than BLINK, so once in a while I make them at all seasons.

Today's gluten free version is made with Bacon as well. It's Friday. Live a little. Calorie counting is for Sissies.
Don't buy ready made patties, make your own mix. I bought some ground sirloin, added my favorite spices (Paprika) and a couple of eggs to bind it a little and three the patties in a regular frying pan. Medium to medium high heat, flip after a few, top with cheese of your choice to melt ( I hate cold cheese on a warm Burger)

Omitted are onions (Victoria can't eat them) and pickles (none in the fridge). When it comes to condiments, it's a personal choice really. But as you see it here, it's my favorite version of all.



IT'S ALL GOOD


 MEAT, S&P, EGGS, WORCESTER, MUSTARD, PAPRIKA


 THE TRUE STARS OF THE MEAL, GFP HAMBURGER BUNS


 GREENS, TOMATO


 DOUBLE SMOKED, FRIED BACON


 MEDIUM TO HIGH HEAT ( I USED THE LEFTOVER BACON FAT....)


 SECRET SAUCE (MAYO, KETCHUP, WASABI)


 COVER WITH A LITTLE BIT OF HEALTHY STUFF


 BURGER WITH MELTED CHEESE


 BACON. AS MUCH AS YOU WANT


 THE BEST DIJON MUSTARD IN TOWN