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Monday, March 19, 2012

Gluten Free In New Orleans, It Is Possible!

After years now of being diagnosed with celiac disease, I remember the beginnings and wondering whether or not I would survive in a city based on roux, deep-fried foods, and the myriad of other gluten-laced standby's that make New Orleans the food capital that it is. Would I ever use the heel of my french bread to soak up the last bits of gumbo in my bowl? How could I retain the strong Italian influences from the culinary culture of my city which filled my childhood home with the aromas of baking fig cookies and lasagna? 


Two Layer Chocolate Truffle Cake with Fresh Raspberry 


For a time, and I believe it is a time that most of us go through in the early period after diagnosis, I rebelled with all my being. A little treat every now and then (more now, than then) would end up leaving me sick for weeks. I couldn't break with enjoying a meal that wasn't strictly composed of defrosted gluten free bread, boxed gluten free pasta mix, or any of the other early GF foods that I found lacking in taste, but more importantly texture. I fell into a loop of grilled meats and rice pasta with red sauce. It was time to make a change.

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." - Julia Child

A different rebellion began, it was no longer going to be food from boxes that was also free of flavor. This wasn't a weight loss plan, this was a lifestyle change to avoid destroying my body through food. With a background in baking, the only change was "chemistry." After dozens and dozens of failures, breads billowing over the edges of the pan, sinking to an inch high, and gummy/dry textures, a true loaf was born. Then I got the pizza crust down, and I was ready to roll! Mistakes became fun, each time a learning experience of how an ingredient would interact with the others. I was building more knowledge for myself, but what about everyone else in my position?

My number one issue with gluten free items has always been the price tag. It isn't a matter of being cheap, but it is a matter of price for quality. Nine dollars for a loaf of bread that is small and crumbly is impossible for most people, including myself. Could I begin baking for people, supplying them with gluten free baked products and keep it affordable? More play, more research, finding the right ingredients and making sure they were safe. The owner of Who Dat Coffee Cafe offered me the chance to exclusively sell my products out of the cafe, so home base was set up. Everything finally was ready to roll. Whether it is freshly made savory biscuits, cookies, cakes, breads, or pizza crust shells to take home and fix up the way you want, I now offer you the fruits of my labor at a fair price with safety in mind. Bon Appétit!

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Rosemary Focaccia

7 comments:

  1. fabulous fabulous fabulous !!!!!!! what more can I say!?!?!!!
    lori lorio!

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  2. My family will be traveling to New Orleans soon. We are seeking restaurants with gluten free menu items. Do you have any suggestions? We would still like to experience New Orleans food if at all possible with our restrictions.

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  3. @V Besides the cafe that I work at (Who Dat Coffee Cafe / Cafe Nero)other options that you may want to look into... Mimi's in the Marigny has apparently been taking great care of a friend with Celiac's. It's tapas, but they have been outgoing for her and I'm looking to stop in there soon. Also if you like Mexican (not Tex-Mex) you can try El Gato Negro across from the French Market. They have taken excellent care of me and I try to go at least once every two weeks. Green Goddess on Exchange Alley is a great place, a little pricier, but they have delicious food and my waitress at least knew exactly what I could have on the menu and was enthusiastic about taking me through the menu. Casamento's on Magazine fries their food with cornmeal, and list themselves as GF friendly. I haven't been there because I don't have a car to get down there, but will at some point. Wandering Buddha on St. Claude and Marigny (inside the HiHo Lounge) is a wonderful vegetarian/vegan restaurant with Korean cuisine and many GF options.

    Haven't experienced any bad moments, but I use caution on some of the reviews listing a place as "Gluten Free Friendly." Check the menu first, some places seem almost impossible as far as safety goes. Also other places may only have a side salad and claim the GF friendly title. Have a great stay in NOLA, and I hope you get a lot of different tastings while you're here!

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  4. My best friend is heading to NOLA for a convention. She has celiac and has heard me rave about beignets. Are there gluten-free beignets in NOLA?

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  5. There aren't any gluten free beignets in NOLA. This link: http://www.examiner.com/article/beignets-gluten-free-pastries has a recipe that I have heard worked well for two friends of mine. I personally wasn't a big fan of beignets growing up without being diagnosed, so I haven't attempted any gluten free beignets myself.

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  6. Josh please get in touch with me if you can love Lori lorio. I am completely out of Newton free baked goods!!!!!! This cannot be!!!!!! Please ca!(nnot be with me'') you are the best Baker around. I am desperate! :-)

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