Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Come to see us this Saturday, 21st July!


 We're returning to the beautiful Northside Produce Market this Saturday!
 Yay!  We'd LOVE you to come to see us!

We'll be popping up in a different spot near the Stanton Library
at Miller Street opposite the Guatemalan Coffee man xo 

Venue: Northside Produce Market
Corner of Miller & McLaren Streets
North Sydney

Date: Saturday, 21 July, 2012
Time: 8am - 12noon
Parking: Free parking in Ridge Street Carpark 

If you have any special requests for the day - please let us know so you don't miss out on the treats that you've been craving!  We'll put it aside for you and you won't have to wake up at the crack of dawn xo

With lots of love as always, Miss Lulu xoxo


Monday, 9 July 2012

NEW YORK - Gluten & Dairy free PARADISE!!!!

My favourite NY discovery - Lula's Sweet Apothecary - Vegan, Dairy free, Gluten free Brownie Sundae

New York City.  Let me firstly say that you won't need to bring any provisions to survive in this city - all you have to bring is yourself.  Yes - you heard me right - from my personal experience with a gluten free & dairy free sensitive tummy - I didn't once have to bring out my rice cooker to make sure I had a warm meal and not once did I have to smile through a chokingly dry cracker as a sad excuse for lunch.

If anything - you will have to exercise control because your choices are abundant.  But if you're there for a limited amount of time - why deprive yourself?  Life is just too short.

Because I didn't want to gloss over things - and I know how much I personally enjoy reading, seeing pictures and dreaming about food I can possibly eat - I've given a post to each place... They're by no means an exhaustive list because there was only so much I could fit into my belly!  I hope it helps some of you out there who plan to one day visit the Big Apple xx

Hampton Chutney Co.

Blue Smoke

Balthazar

Risotteria

Lilli & Loo Asian Cuisine

Lula's Sweet Apothecary

BabyCakes NYC

Stogo

Whole Foods Market

Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery


Hampton Chutney Co.

Grilled Chicken, Roasted Peppers, Roasted Onions & Arugula Dosa

Hampton Chutney Co. in Soho was an unexpected and absolutely delicious find recommended by a New York local with a gluten free tummy.  They make fantastic dosas (thin, crispy, sourdough crepes made from rice) and uttapams (the same but in pancake form) that are ALL gluten free.

I regularly visited this place for lunch - it's hard to say no to something that is packed with so much goodness - I became addicted!

Walking into their outpost in Soho - the place is often regularly packed with people but with patience you will find that by the time you've waited for your order someone else will be leaving and you can take a seat amongst the crowd.

When I first received my order I was amazed by the footlong size and couldn't imagine finishing it - but the lightness of the crepe defied the sheer size of the dosa and I found myself finishing it without any problem (unless I have a seriously warped idea of portion sizes - which may be the case!)

Dosa with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Spinach, Roasted Onions & Avocado
In terms of cross contamination - they have sandwiches on their menu - but the dosas and uttapams are all prepared in a different area and since they're all gluten free there are no cross contamination issues.  They do have cheese in some of their dosas - but you can ask to have it removed - so if you have a dairy allergy as opposed to an intolerance it may not be the best idea for you.

A final note is I'm grateful for every sensitive tummy that I've met - what I've realised is that there is an abundant enthusiasm to share places that can cater for us.  We all want to share because we know it can get so difficult and disheartening.  I've had a few conversations with NY locals who have been nothing but generous and kind in offering their knowledge.

Which leads me to my final question - are there gluten free dosas in Sydney?  Can someone tell me because I'm craving one now!!



Hampton Chutney Co. has two locations in NYC -

SOHO NYC – 68 Prince Street
West Side NYC – 464 Amsterdam Avenue

Blue Smoke

Before I begin - let me start by stopping any vegans from reading on - STOP STOP STOP! :) Blue Smoke is definitely not the sort of place you would like to visit. However having said that - if you're a vegetarian they have a special menu just for you. And nut free friends - this place has its own nut free menu!!!!!

The Blue Smoke Rib Sampler

If you've been craving an all American barbecue but have had to suppress this desire because you couldn't find anywhere safe to eat it then Blue Smoke is well worth visiting...

 Both a relaxed restaurant and a jazz club famous for their pit barbecue - Mr Lulu and I headed to their Flatiron location and were excited to be presented with a gluten free menu. The first thing I explored when reading it was what might have dairy in it, and to be honest there were quite a few items and my heart started to panic a bit. But our knowledgable server said that it wouldn't be a problem and seamlessly pointed out what was safe for me to eat & admitted when he wasn't sure and would check to make sure.

So far, so good - I was beginning to settle in and get a handle on my usual first-time dinner nerves.

The other obvious thing we noticed from the other diners around us were the huge portions. Armed with that knowledge we ordered the Rib Sampler for two which gave us the chance to try a variety of flavours without ordering too much.

Were the fries gluten free? Sadly no - but because I couldn't eat their mashed potato alternative they went to the trouble of preparing special oven-baked sweet potato wedges that weren't even on the menu. I was pretty impressed by that effort.

We also ordered sautéed spinach and rather than using butter they used oil instead. And Mr Lulu ordered the macaroni and cheese which the waiter said was amazing (I tried to close my ears when she said that)...

The verdict? From first bite the ribs were lip-smackingly good. We preferred some styles over others but overall the meat just fell off the bone and the deep smokiness pervading all of the ribs really showed all the time & effort that went into their preparation. This is obviously the star item on their menu because everyone seemed to be eating ribs! Mr Lulu wasn't a fan of the macaroni and cheese saying it was a bit too rich for his taste (privately I was glad - because I didn't feel like I was missing out... Don't tell him I said that though!) but the spinach and sweet potato were comfortingly clean in flavour.

So if you want to experience a quintessential American barbecue experience, Blue Smoke will provide that for you and bless them for making the effort to provide it to as many people as possible.

Blue Smoke Seasoning - Gluten & Dairy Free
 Blue Smoke has two locations:
FLATIRON 116 E. 27th Street(b/w Park and Lexington)
BATTERY PARK CITY 255 Vesey Street(b/w West St. and North End Ave.)

Balthazar


Walking into Balthazar in Soho, my expectations were that I was probably going to enjoy a pot of peppermint tea whilst Mr Lulu enjoyed a few plates of gluten-laden, butter soaked delights for dinner. I was happy with this because we'd been traipsing all over the city sampling every gluten free whim of mine and his patience and encouragement was nothing short of incredible. 

But Balthazar delivered one of the best dinners of all of my adventures - probably because it was so unexpected, but also because what I tasted was warm perfection in a mouthful! 

Once we sat down and got the menus I looked through and wondered vaguely whether or not they would be able to cater for my sensitive tummy. 


After Mr Lulu made his order the girl turned to me to ask if there was anything I wanted. I had spotted the duck confit, knowing it was traditionally cooked in its own duck fat... Was this gluten & dairy free by any chance? No pressure I said, just curious. With a smile the girl said that she would check and she added that she was sure they could find me something to eat. 

Within a few minutes she returned confirming that in fact, yes it was fine for me to eat. However the potatoes would have to be cooked in oil rather than butter. Oh joy!!! Potatoes!!! Rather than saying they would be omitted, they were willing to alter them for me. Being denied the humble spud is one regular disappointment that I hate to endure. 

Suddenly Mr Lulu's dinner became OUR dinner and the smiles between us were electric with excitement! 

And so it came - and there it was in all it's glory... Both crunchy and so yieldingly tender on the inside, the duck confit was exemplary. Served with a fresh frisée salad, sautéed mushrooms and my holy grail potatoes - it was one of the most satisfying meals of my trip. 

Whilst there is no clear allergen menu it's clear that Balthazar know their stuff - all you have to do is ask. 

Balthazar is located at 80 Spring Street, New York

Risotteria


Risotteria was one place I had read about extensively but I got the impression that whilst they had dairy free options there wouldn't be many, so I relegated it to the back of my mind.  But upon speaking to a gluten and dairy free New York local who had nothing but enthusiasm for the place - I couldn't help but jump for joy!  In fact - on the very next day we made the special trip there to try it out...

Walking in - my first thought was for their breadsticks.  I had read about these famous breadsticks however the lady who served us said they had dry milk powder but put them on the table anyway for Mr Lulu - who said they were fantastic.  I myself was still happy when the lady said I couldn't have them - this showed me that they obviously know their stuff so I knew I was in for a great lunch, whether I was able to to have breadsticks of not!


The range of dairy free options was much larger than I thought it would be and I was instantly grateful that I had happened upon the gluten free dairy free tummy from New York - what I would have missed out on!  It must have been fate that I met her I decided...

For our appetizer - we first shared a delicious plate of prosciutto that was freshly cut.  Soft, salty and thin, the prosciutto sparked our appetite for more. 


Then came the salad. Mr Lulu had a green salad whilst I had a salad of corn, beetroot & semi-roasted tomatoes.  Refreshing and substantial.


And finally came a pizza for Mr Lulu (made from gluten but there are gluten free options) and a chicken risotto for me.  The chicken risotto with peppers, mushrooms and parsley was comforting and clean in flavour and the perfect antidote for all of the naughtiness I had been consuming since my arrival in New York.

But for the purposes of research (of course) - I took away with me one of their baked treats - their Orio Cakester.  Soft chewy sponge sandwiched between an oreo-like cream filling - similar to a whoopie pie - it was a perfect mix of sweet richness.


I would most certainly recommend coming here - they have gluten free, dairy free and sugar free options on their menu

Risotteria is located on 270 Bleeker Street, b/w 6th & 7th Aves, New York


Lilli & Loo Asian Cuisine


Lilli and Loo's is a bustling two-level restaurant that is an obvious favourite with the office lunchtime crowd.  By the time we arrived it was almost full and by the time we left, it was packed.

Walking in here I knew we were in safe hands as the owners have a daughter with coeliac disease and as a result of that diagnosis they created a special gluten free menu and sectioned off a special part of the kitchen that is completely gluten free to avoid cross contamination.  Looking around at the number of patrons holding gluten free menus - it was obvious how well known this spot was known to people with gluten free sensitivities.

Specialising in Pan-Asian food - Lilli & Loo's crosses the Asian continent from China with its dumplings to Japan with its sushi and in some dishes they fuse methods together to come up with their own.  So I essentially when you come here - don't come here expecting food from a certain region but an amalgamation of many.


The first thing I was very keen to try were their oriental pork dumplings - a dish that I remember from my childhood and have missed so much that I've been making my own dumplings to quell the cravings.  So it was lovely to be eating some without having to make the effort.  We chose to have them steamed rather than fried and the pastry was sticky and soft and the filling & sauce was exactly as I had remembered.


The next item which I haven't had in gluten free form since I was first diagnosed about a decade ago were the spring rolls!  Oh my expectations were high - way too high - as my parents had given me the best spring rolls since a very young age.  The pastry I remembered was thin, similar to filo pastry, and the layered crispiness that I expected wasn't there.  Instead, it was one layer of thick pastry - but it was still delicious.  I have to commend them for even trying because not many people would - and it still reminded me of childhood yum chas with my family.


And finally came the crispy sesame chicken - and I'm not sure if it was meant to be from China or from Japan - but it sure was yummy!  I think everyone else must have thought so too, because as I was leaving I noticed that a majority of the tables had ordered the same thing.

I think Lilli & Loo's is worth visiting for the dumplings alone.  If I had my time over I would have ordered this plate of dumplings plus a version of their fried dumplings as well for lunch. I haven't managed to find anywhere else that makes them in Sydney (I tried one place but ended up getting really sick and I'm not sure if they're truly gluten free) - if anyone knows - please tell me!

Lilli & Loo Asian Cuisine is located at 792 Lexington Ave, New York

Lula's Sweet Apothecary


Lula's Sweet Apothecary – Classic Sundae
Lula's Sweet Apothecary is an all vegan ice cream shop.

I have fantasied about visiting this place for years. So when Mr Lulu & I finally made our way there on a hot summers day I tried my best to check my high expectations at the door, counselling myself not to expect too much - because sometimes my imagination and my hopes will get away from me and before you know it, I'm disappointed.

But as I watched the lovely girl build my banana split (I had to do it - it was my responsibility to make this dream come true) I was overwhelmed by the nostalgia of the place and my childhood excitement was palpable. I was so excited I almost had trouble choosing flavours! I hastily chose scoops of chocolate, strawberry & mint choc chip with hot fudge, caramel & marshmallow toppings with a smoosh of coconut whipped cream and the obligatory deep mahogany cherry on top - an excess of different flavours to ensure I got the most out of my sundae!

Mr Lulu ordered a brownie sundae for himself (they can also make a gluten free version of this) with scoops of vanilla & cookies & cream (not gluten free) sprinkled with candied pecans and the same coconut cream and cherry on top.

So we took a seat outside the store, a worn, deep chocolate wooden bench and dipped our stainless steel spoons into our treats. The smile on my face was, according to Mr Lulu, one of the highlights of his trip.

I was smiling from ear to ear because my banana split did not disappoint. In an instant I felt like a kid again, being treated to an afternoon ice cream that instantly brought me back to the comfort of the familiar of which I had expected never to experience again. 

I loved it so much I went there again a few days later and had a double sundae with coffee and mint choc chip again... Divine!


Lula's Sweet Apothecary – Vegan Banana Split & Brownie Sundae






















 Whilst I admit that you can faintly taste the coconut in the whipped cream and some flavours are more successful than others - it's still very clear that Lula's Sweet Apothecary knows how to make ice cream. To be honest there is nothing this good in Sydney - I've tried every vegan, gluten free ice cream in Sydney and the texture and creaminess just doesn't come close.

Here's the important information - most of their flavours are gluten free and they most certainly try their best to accommodate gluten free, with all items marked with GF symbols and not many are marked without. They have soft serve which I really wanted to try, but on the days that I visited there was only one flavour "cake batter" which contains gluten. But if you're a coeliac like me or gluten intolerant you will be spoilt for choice and if you're dairy free like me you won't even have to think about what you can or can't have in that regard, because EVERYTHING is dairy free. If you have nut allergies I would probably give this place a miss as there are nuts on the menu. I'm also not sure whether their ice cream is soy based, so if you have issues with soy it might be best to get in contact with them before you plan on going to avoid being disappointed.

I loved coming here (twice) and would highly recommend it - even Mr Lulu with his tummy of steel enjoyed it.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary is located at
516 East 6th Street 
New York, NY 10009

BabyCakes NYC


For me - any trip to New York is not complete without a trip to BabyCakes NYC. When I walked in for the first time many years ago I realized how much I missed the experience of being able to walk into a charming bakery and having the freedom to choose a selection of beautifully presented treats. 

 I love being able to tuck into something unapologetically and to also have zero side effects. I wanted to capture this feeling and BabyCakes was certainly one factor that inspired me to try and bring this feeling back to the good people of Sydney. 

I'm somewhat biased whenever I think of BabyCakes - because they made me hope for more again. So unashamedly - I love them - for what they stand for and for what they did for me. 

On the evening of our arrival in New York City, and fifteen minutes before the clock struck midnight and my birthday had officially begun, Mr Lulu had arranged to have a BabyCakes chocolate cake waiting for me when we walked into our hotel room. Gosh - can I just say I love Mr Lulu so so much?! Having a cake by them as my birthday surprise was the ultimate - because I have to admit I thought about them the moment I touched down! Mr Lulu obviously knows me too well and arranged it so that I didn't have to wait until the next morning! 

So with a big cake to consume over the next few days (amongst many other things!) it was only on my last day in New York that I finally managed to visit BabyCakes. 


It continues to exude such charm and character - and on the morning that we visited it was very full with a line almost out the door! I told Mr Lulu that I was going to get one thing - but suddenly I found myself with a full box of donuts, a cookie, a cinnamon bun and a banana cupcake. Hmmm I wonder how that happened?! Sinking my teeth into them was a delight - its so different when you eat something that isn't made by you - I guess you become less critical and more able to enjoy the experience. 


And enjoy it I did! Some of their flavours are radical - some I tried included pink lemonade and a crazy cookie crunch donut peppered generously with cookie crumbs and chocolate chips. The cinnamon bun was very moist - I've had to avoid yeast as it makes my tummy unsettled, so to have a cinnamon bun without yeast was a revelation! The banana cupcake was lovely, however because of the heat of the day the frosting had melted considerably (they use coconut oil for their frosting and it melts easily) and was a bit of a mess. I have to say that if you're trying their cupcakes for the first time, don't expect the usual frosting that you remember, it tastes different with a smoother texture but it's still well worth trying. 

So here are the facts about BabyCakes NYC - they are all vegan and dairy free, but they're not all gluten free as they use spelt flour in some of their products. They're careful though and use separate utensils for the gluten and spelt products to avoid cross contamination. They can't guarantee nut free as some of the products that they use may contain nuts.

BabyCakes NYC is located at 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow)
(They also have stores in Los Angeles & Orlando Florida)

Stogo


Stogo was a very welcome surprise - we stumbled upon it on our way back from Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery - and boy was I happy when I spotted their sign! An organic dairy free ice cream shop that is also gluten free with no refined sugars, I was ecstatic to be there. It was on my wish list but I thought wanting to go to two vegan ice cream shops was a bit greedy. 

As you can see below - going into Stogo my flavour choices were abundant!   I was also happy to see that they label each flavour describing what "cream" base they use, and they use a variety of dairy free substitutes such as coconut, soy, hemp and sorbet.


I settled on their most popular flavour, caramel pecan and mint choc chip and was amazed by how there was absolutely no detection of funny aftertaste - it was just great ice cream, vegan or not.

And here are the facts - they are all dairy free, organic and gluten free with no refined sugars.  You can't get better than that!

Stogo is located at 159 2nd Avenue  New York

Whole Foods Market


 Whole Foods is like a Disneyland for the sensitive tummy.

It's a supermarket packed to the brim with delicious options - the sheer range of gluten free, dairy free options is so advanced and astounding.

You could very easily spend a few hours here poring over everything that is available to you.  I particularly loved spotting ...  Rice & soy whipped cream in a can!  Ice cream tubs with delectable flavours!  Gluten & Dairy free Cheese!  Oh yummy, vegan jelly!  Bagels of my GOODNESS bagels!!!  Ohhh and my favourite - Gluten and Dairy free Oreos (known as KinniToos) that taste like the real thing...


So I guess you could say this place is well worth the visit - have I made it obvious enough do you think?!

There are Whole Foods Market locations dotted all over New York - visit their website to find your nearest location

Tu-lu's Gluten Free Bakery


I initially thought I might give Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery a miss because I thought there would be very little for me to try. However a NY local that had a fellow sensitive tummy encouraged me to go - and that was more than enough for me to get there quick smart. 

Sadly though I went there on the wrong day! Apparently Friday and Saturday are the days to go if you're vegan or dairy free as they make a range of cupcakes that you can gobble. 

Instead - I sampled an agave brownie, morning glory cake, choc chip cookie. The girl that served us also offered a panini as well and I decided to take up the offer. 


The reviews I've read about Tu-lu's are that their cupcakes are the star so I was kicking myself that I didn't make my way there on the right day. But as one friend said to me - never be disappointed for missing out on something while you're away because it just means you have an excuse to come back. So hopefully there will be a next time for me to try their dairy free cupcakes. 

So here are the facts about Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery - everything is gluten free - there are vegan and dairy free options - but if you're nut free sadly this isn't the place for you as they do use nuts on their products.  There are no mentions of soy free - so you may have to get in touch with them before you go.

Tu-Lu's Gluten Free Bakery is located at: 338 East 11th Street New York

Friday, 6 July 2012

Have a great weekend!




Hi everyone,

I'm still compiling a big report on my adventures in New York - but thought I'd share a little clip that never fails to bring a smile to my face... I wish I could dance like this extraordinary man!

Enjoy!

Love from Miss Lulu xo