November 23, 2010


It was a weekend of surprises, some good and some bad. Surprises can be fun and exciting and at other times frustrating.

I try my best to eat what’s in my fridge, but sometimes things get pushed to the back, forgotten about, or I just don’t feel like eating what’s there. On weekends I try to get rid of the stuff accumulated during the week. Some weekends there is hardly anything to go into the compost bin and I feel happy that very little has been wasted. But sometimes there’s a lot, and I do feel badly about it. This weekend I was surprised. At the back, behind a bunch of bottles of homemade salad dressing, a tetra pack of wine (not much in that either I might add), and a tub of yogurt was a bottle of HP Sauce. I loooovvvvve Hp Sauce. No wait…. I loved HP Sauce. It’s forbidden. After my eyes opened wide in awe, they became small and sad. I remembered pouring that over my vegetarian shepard’s pie or sometimes on my weekend eggs (don’t knock it till you try it – yes, I realize many of you can’t). The flavour is special and brings back many memories. A cook at one of the restaurants I worked in would tease me frequently because of the irony in a vegetarian loving a steak sauce.

There wasn’t much left in the bottle and it had been turned upside down. It had been there a while, a long, long while. At least it wasn’t a potato or an apple that would have gone all gross and stinky. But then maybe I would have found it earlier and not been so sad. Down the drain the last little squirt went (literally it was one little squirt – why did I put that back in the fridge?!) and rinsed the bottle, and out in the blue box it went. It got me wondering if a gluten-free HP Sauce exists.

Unfortunately my second surprise of the weekend wasn’t the same. The Honey and I met some family to celebrate his dad’s 70th birthday. They had chosen an Italian restaurant they all enjoyed in Gatineau. I grew anxious after my mother-in law raved about their bread and how you could toast your own. I checked out the website to see what they had. It was your typical Italian fare. I’d eaten at some Italian restaurants in the last year and had success, plus a wonderful meal, with the help of understanding wait and kitchen staff. On Friday I call Pancini and was assured I wouldn’t have any problems. I only needed to make my waiter aware and I’d be fine. Relieved I began looking forward to it.

My happiness continued as greetings and conversation flowed around the table. The frigid temperatures couldn’t waver anyone’s jovial mood. Decision time came and I informed our waitress of my allergy so asked for salmon, plain, and some salad on the side. After repeating that I didn’t want pasta she realized what I wanted and why.

The Honey was unable to move from his spot at the table (or so he says) and was unable to get himself some bread. After some prodding (aka begging) I relented and went to the bread station, buttered two slices of bread and put them on the BBQ. After some searching our waitress finally found me and I hoped she believed me when I told the bread wasn’t for me (I have no idea why I felt guilty if I wasn’t eating it). There was a problem and she had the allergy booklet with her. So we took a look through the booklet to see if there was something else I could have. Every single item in that booklet (and the corresponding menu) had wheat. EVERYTHING! Everything from the salad dressing to the cheese contained wheat. It wasn’t possible to get something plain because it still contained wheat. Wait, I forgot! The fries didn’t have any wheat in them. It was my second worst nightmare; the first being accidently eating it and finding out afterwards.

I was sad. Then I became frustrated. Then I became angry. And the hungrier I became the angrier I got. Had the person I spoke to been honest, I would have eaten at home first. I didn’t since I thought I was able to have a nice meal. I tried my best to be nice and polite to our waitress, after all it wasn’t her fault. She did her best and brought me an appetizer salad (aka plain lettuce). She probably had no idea that there was a crouton lurking at the bottom of the bowl. My main salad looked a bit nicer, with some tomatoes and artichokes. But given the track record, the sliced ham on top probably had wheat in it as well, so off to the side of the bowl it went.

The bright side: I had a nice glass of wine at hand all evening and the company was thoroughly enjoyable.

A morning in Arnprior was where we decided to spend some of our Sunday. We did go for other reasons but my third surprise made up for the fiasco the night before. We parked the car and began our stroll downtown. We’d never been and so didn’t know what to expect. It seemed like a nice little place. We rounded the corner and saw a sign – something, something, gluten-free. Both of us thought the same thing: ‘Get out! Here?!?’. It was late in the morning and our tummies were beginning to rumble a bit. Our tiny breakfast wasn’t satisfactory enough. We walked in tempted by what we might encounter.

The Cupboard is a restaurant where everyone seems to gather for their weekend breakfast. Friends met for coffee, other friends chatted as they passed on their way out, and many couples were there for breakfast. Our waitress was a happy woman who gladly answered my questions. They had gluten-free toast, cereal and pancakes. The pancakes were tempting, but I really wanted to dip some nice gf toast into my runny yolks. I wasn’t disappointed. The toast was just like regular toast; a crisp crust and soft interior. She was happy to chat and answer questions about the demand in Arnprior. We were shocked when she told us how much bread she goes through in a week as people request the gluten-free bread for any kind of sandwich. The demand is there in Arnprior.

If you happen to be ‘in the Prior’, pop into The Cupboard at the corner of John and Elgin. Have a great inexpensive breakie or a nice sandwich. Or if there is a nice sunny day and you have nothing to do, take the time and decide if it’s worth the trip. I think it just might be.


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