July 28, 2013

Vermont: Keeping It Weird

I saw that on a t-shirt at a gift shop, right beside one that said ‘I’d tap that’ underneath a picture of a maple tree. The second fit my warped sense of humour and if I were a guy, I would have bought it. The first one though… We didn’t realize Vermonters were a weird bunch. They seemed pretty normal.

Maybe Vermont is weird because they have great gf stuff and wherever we went, the people got it. When I enquired at Das Bierhaus if they had any gf beer (after seeing them mentioned in a gf posting), the waitress replied “We have many” with such sincere enthusiasm that I was shocked and could only muster an “OK, Thank you”. Returning after dinner, our waitress (a different one from before) helped me choose one to my liking. If that is what makes Vermont weird, then I’m all for it. One day I hope everyone will be just as weird.

A major purchase in Vermont was a few bags of pretzels. Initially we bought one, then returned the next day for more (it didn’t help that The Honey was eating them as quickly as I was). Gratify pretzels really do gratify you. Not only are they gf, they are also dairy free (lactose, milk & casein), and egg free. My belly stayed happy. They are awesome pretzels and what you remember them being like.

A few Red Ales by Harvester Brewing came home with us (in nice big bottles). The red ale has a stronger, but pleasant taste with nuances of coffee (never thought I’d ever write that!). Surprisingly, it is made with chestnuts and gf oats along with the usual sorghum. This is a beer I’d pick up again.

We also brought back a four pack of New Planet’s Tread Lightly Ale. It’s a nice beer. It’s light, crisp and has nice flavour to it. It’s not going to knock you off your chair, but it’s a nice beer. Upon checking out their website they have a few others available (blonde, amber, Belgian) including a raspberry! I used to love raspberry wheat beers! Next time I’m in Vermont (or Colorado) I’m keeping an extra eye open.

Van’s is a great company with lots of gf items. We picked up some of their ‘Lots of Everything’ crackers because they are one of the few that don’t contain potato. They are really great crackers and I could eat them by the box (oh yeah, my life sounds so exciting now!). They remind me of the gluten-loaded vegetable thins you find at the regular grocery store. Van’s are crunchy and full of flavour and perfect on their own or with some cheese (Hmmm, I think I still have some left). Yes, we have great crackers here too and the only comparison would be to those fabulous Crunchmaster crackers, which are to die for. Here’s another item for your next crossborder-shopping-trip.

July 17, 2013

Conference Goodies

One of the great things about conferences (especially ones that discuss food related stuff) is that there are usually ample food products, and the recent Celiac Conference was no different. And of course I left with bags full of goodies. We were off to a good start with our conference bags with mixes from El Peto, cereal and granola bars from Nature’s Path, cookies, cheese puffs, chocolate, and a few packets of gf soy sauce (those would be handy for travelling). There were also some useful pamphlets and cards from celiac-related businesses.

Many vendors in the Gluten-Free Marketplace had goodies for sale, but I had to limit myself because I was flying and luckily, I scored big time.
Being a pierogi lover I had to pick some up from Winnie’s Gluten-FreeFoods in Waterloo. The potato and cheese pierogies were full of goodness. Now in the picture, they don’t look as good as they could, but that’s my fault. I had let them thaw before cooking.


With my European background I grew up with rye bread and gf rye whether called ‘unrye’, ‘mock-rye’, or ‘wannabe rye’, was never up to snuff. However, Tia’s Bakery in Cambridge does a very good job. Although I’ve said it before about other gf ryes, Tia’s tops them all and is by far the best gf rye I have ever had. Another upside: She’s in my hometown and now when my mom visits, she can bring me some.


Although it was tempting to scarf one down right away, I picked only one (yes one) cupcake from SweetTemptations in Aberfoyle. There were so many to choose from and I finally settled on a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake. It made it through till Sunday as an afternoon snack and it was devine.

For breakfast the following week ‘Karma’fins were my indulgence. The Belgian chocolate and banana muffins were rich, dense, and healthy. They also contain one serving of fruit & veg and 7g of protein. Lastly, they tasted good and filled me up for the morning. Now to find them around here…


Now the Conference Marketplace also gave me a goodie bag containing a bunch of stuff including a box of Chex cereal. I’d tried the gf Chex before when it first came to Canada and it didn’t impress me. This new honey nut version is better and has more flavour, and of course, a ton of sugar. I’ll eat it, but I’m not sure I’ll buy it. Maybe I will if I’m stuck.

My sister, who arrived at the end of the day, also scored some All ButGluten focaccia, which is pretty good. It’s not the real thing, but it’s pretty close. She also came away with a few loaves of Kinnikinnick’s latest bread (both a loaf of white and multigrain) which don’t need to be toasted to taste good. I tried a few slices and they were good, but with a potato issue I couldn’t have too much. Instead The Honey enjoyed them in his lunch-time sandwiches.

The last goodie that I came home with was carefully bubble-wrapped and softly packed in my suitcase. It was St Peter’s G-Free Beer. My sister and I came across this by accident at the LCBO while looking for a gf Belgian beer that was advertised in our conference bag. I first tasted this at the Risotteria in NY and instantly fell in love. Upon returning from that trip I asked, every so often, the LCBO to carry it, but to no avail; and of course I found it in Toronto. I came home with six bottles and only have two left. It seems hit and miss in finding it here in Ottawa, and the LCBO product locator doesn’t seem to help either. I’ll either have to order it by the case or buy it in that quantity when I see it. And the taste? Like a good English ale (and no not the flat warm stuff). It has body and flavour; just what I’ve been missing.

July 14, 2013


We ventured to Vermont a few weekends ago, a long weekend with Canada Day. We stayed at a resort in the mountains planning on hiking and lounging around a pool the whole time. We noticed how green everything was and enjoyed driving through the state. Unfortunately, Vermont has been encountering the same weather patterns as us. We arrived at the Stowe Mountain Lodge to a downpour and after driving up the wrong side of the mountain, we made our way to the bar. Some nerve-calming drinks and some dinner were in order. I ordered a salmon burger without the bun and it also came without the specified sauce because it contained something with gluten.

This is what we saw outside our window when we woke up
We woke up the next morning to more pouring rain and the clouds were so low they blocked out most of the mountains. Hiking was ruled out and so was hanging out by the pool. Over breakfast we decided to spend the rainy day at Essex Outlet Mall in nearby Essex Junction. We found some good deals and had a nice lunch at Sweet Clover Market, a natural food store at the mall. I got a roasted vegetable & goat cheese sandwich on a gf bun. The bun was really nice, but I was expecting more vegetables. 

While waiting for our lunches to be made we browsed a bit and found a nicely stocked gluten-free section. I recognized many brands and products, but many more were new to me. Both The Honey and I were pleased and surprisingly, the prices were good. I stocked up on some items to try and got a few gf beers for the evening.

With the afternoon approaching we talked about what to do over our lunch The temperature was nice and warm and perfect for sitting at the store’s patio tables. The sky had cleared but dark clouds were on the horizon. For all we knew it was still raining at the resort. Burlington was just 15 mins down the road so we decided to check it out. We had a printout of some restaurants that had gf options so we’d check one out for dinner.

We found Church St, put money in the meter and began our wandering. Church St was full of restaurants and stores and life. Unlike Sparks St, Church St was full of people out enjoying the weather and out on patios. We thought “If only Sparks St was like this’. We walked down to the waterfront and along it for a bit. We came to The Ice House for a drink on their back patio. When it clouded over and the wind picked up it was a little chilly, but nothing a sweater couldn’t handle. 

We continued walking around and popped into My Little Cupcake where I picked up two little gf cupcakes; vanilla cake topped with chocolate and raspberry icing. They were good, but they were vanilla cake. As a celiac I can get chocolate or vanilla cake; give me something to sing about! 

We took a peek at the menu at Sweetwaters and it looked good, and Das Bierhaus had a few gf beers. We had our plans.

Dinner at Sweetwaters was great. Their gf menu is extensive; whatever is on bread is offered on a gf bun. I got a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and it was good and extremely messy. The cider was a little too yeasty for my liking so I got a Redbridge; better than nothing. The sun was shining again and it was warm out on the patio. After dinner we moved onto Das Bierhaus were they had 4 gf beers and 4 ciders – talk about exciting! I decided on a Ciela made by Ipswich; a smooth beer with strong flavour. It was really nice. 

For The Honey, they had almost a dozen on tap and a long page of domestic & European bottles, some even in a ‘sharing size’ of 750ml. We lamented that we couldn’t stay longer as we had to drive back to the resort and of course as we drove up the mountain it was raining, and not just a light drizzle. Apparently, we wouldn’t have gotten any hiking in anyway. Instead of heading to the bar, we decided to stay in and enjoy the beers and snacks we picked up.

Our day two was a bit of a disappointment. We had planned on going to Burlington our second day and although The Honey still wanted to go hiking (the rain finally let up), but after a few hours of it we’d be too exhausted for the 3 ½ hr drive home. I talked The Honey into visiting Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury and he was surprised by the number of people there. For $4 you get a tour of their small factory and a sample of ice cream at the end. That day it was a new flavour and I wasn’t impressed as it had blueberries (not my favourite fruit). They had many flavours that we don’t get here so I checked out the labels for one I could try (the mint chocolate patty sounded good), but most had a gluten item in some form; even the chocolate mint patty. We went outside to a get a cup/cone of ice cream, but as we got closer to the list I realized that the only flavours I’d be able to have would be the same ones we could buy at home, and for the same price as a tub. The Honey was stunned and we left ice cream-less.

For the rest of the day we did some more shopping, picking up items we wanted and returning to some stores. Hannaford’s was surprisingly disappointing with their lack of gf items and Shaw’s had many varieties of my beloved Woodchuck cider (B&J’s was the same price as a scoop!). Our day ended pretty uneventfully with The Honey being all shopped out and we began our journey home.

July 9, 2013

Wholly Guacamole Batman!!

As you know, I love guacamole and make it often. But sometimes the avocados at my grocery store are not ready for guacamole. We were in a bind a few weeks ago; a bag of tortilla chips, a craving and no ripe avocados.

We have tried the pre-made guac, but have never been impressed. I’d rather do without. At our little metro a new item had been added to the produce fridge, and they were on sale. We picked up a few since the packages looked on the small side. Once home we made ourselves a snack.

Wholly Guacamole is pre-packaged in a clear bag so all we had to do was cut a hole and squeeze the guac into a bowl. On first taste, it’s quite mild and lacks the zip we’re used to. We added some salsa and then it was fine (Note: A ‘spicy’ version is available and it is HOT!).

Now, no packaged guacamole will ever replace fresh, but when in a bind, Wholly Guacamole will do. And to make you feel safer, they’ve labelled it gluten-free 9on the back) just like real guac should be.