Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tampa Bay Summer 2007 GF Honor Roll

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."
and I hate it. I know I'm leaving a city with a plethora of resources for the gluten free diabetic, and it seems like so long until my next visit and extended stay.

But before i leave, I wanted to leave for you the Tampa Bay GF Honor Roll, based on my personal testing and tasting.

1. J Christopher's on Dale Mabry. The manager, Bill, is such a great guy. When I asked if I could bring in GF bread (of any kind) to go with my meals, he said "Of course!" Now if you know restaurants, you know they don't usually like this. But not only can I provide some GF bread, they'll toast it, make French Toast with it, and generally help me out. This doesn't cost me a lot of money to do, and it doesn't hurt them. Their service is impeccable, too -- perfect poached eggs, great Tangerine iced tea, and their turkey sausage is outstanding. They're also wireless for those laptop moments.

2. Next door is Abby's, and I think it's the best health food store in town. For one, they have an enormous GF section, but they also have a great restaurant in the back. I spoke with the chef a few weeks ago, and he said they don't cook with a lot of wheat because a lot of people are sensitive. So they make their Tabboule with Quinoa, not wheat, and their roasted beet salad is amazing. They do an awesome hummus, in several flavors, too. It's not just vegetarian, either. There's meat and chicken, plus other things. BEST of all, they can tell you what is in the food. I love that. Eat in or take out, it's amazingly wonderful. PLUS it's a Larabar and Tinkyada heaven, and they have no-sugar added dried papaya, pineapple, and mango in the bins there. THAT is hard to find (and such a favorite treat for me!)

3. The Hurricane at St. Pete Beach gets props because they don't mind the questions and will make accommodations for the GF diner. Fresh seafood, not breaded, prepared nicely, with a decent price. I liked it a lot. Plus they've got a beautiful sunset outside most days...

4. Even though my friend Cary is gone, I still recommend Pannarano on the corner of Himes and Busch. I went on about them a few posts back, but I still like that they will try to make it work for you.

5. Ditto for 5 Guys Burgers at Fletcher and Dale Mabry.

I also had some good dining experiences at Lee Roy Selmon's (love the Pork and Chicken Nachos,) Samurai Blue in Ybor City, Tijuana Flats, and Gino's on Armenia. This means if I asked a specific ingredient question, the server was polite and went into the kitchen to get me an answer!

Besides Abby's, the Health Food Store on McDill and Nutrition S'Mart had a good supply of GF products, as did Wild Oats. But I took issue with something at Nutrition S'Mart -- they labeled a loaf of fresh-baked local bread as "wheat and gluten free" but the label CLEARLY said it "Could contain traces of wheat, rye, and gluten." I could likely get away with a trace, but not everyone can. And I don't want to take a chance. I put the bread back.

The wall of shame....well, check out the list on the side there.

That's my thoughts for now...I'll be Gluten free in Georgia tomorrow, and that, my friends, will be the real adventure.

Much love til later...

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