so good, but how gluten-free are they?

Baked, Red Hook

My blog isn’t known for being controversial, but this is a hot topic lately, ever since Domino’s announced they were offering a gluten-free pizza crust. I feel great now that I’m gluten-free, better than ever actually, but I was never tested for Celiac Disease, and my sensitivity is pretty low — I feel a little bloated if I accidentally consume a bit of gluten, and maybe I’m in a fog for a few hours, but it passes. So I’m a little more willing to experiment. The above dessert, a layered peanut butter and chocolate treat with crispy rice cereal mixed in comes from Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s without a doubt the most amazing gluten-free (flourless) dessert I’ve ever tried. Heck, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever tried, period. But based on what I’ve learned, a lot of people with Celiac Disease wouldn’t risk eating something from a traditional bakery like this.

Dominique Ansel, Soho, NYC

Same goes for this gluten-free (flourless) cookie from Dominique Ansel in Soho. This cookie isn’t just good, it’s insanely good. Why even bother making cookies with flour substitutes when a flourless cookie can taste like this? But again, if you’re highly sensitive, you might avoid a place like Dominique Ansel completely. That got me thinking — Babycakes, a favorite among gluten-free folks, isn’t an entirely gluten-free bakery either. Pala is another favorite in New York City because they offer gluten-free versions of almost everything on the menu, but again, the restaurant itself isn’t gluten-free. Same for Mozzarelli’s on 23rd Street and Cafe Viva on Second Avenue, two popular places with gluten-free pizza. Even the wildly popular Risotteria isn’t totally gluten-free, despite the fact that all of my gluten-free friends eat there. So what’s the difference? I assume it’s that many places promoting themselves as gluten-free-friendly are going the extra mile to prevent cross contamination. Maybe they have dedicated ovens, cutting boards, counters and cooking tools? I can’t really say because I haven’t asked in each of these locations about how the food is prepared, but it just makes me wonder. Heck, I’ve been to traditional restaurants with renowned gluten-free experts who seemed to have complete trust in the staff to accommodate them, seemingly just because it’s an upscale place. That’s a lot of trust. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but I do want to make sure the gluten-free reviews on my blog are clear — when I feature desserts like the two mentioned above, I didn’t talk to the chef and inquire about the conditions under which these treats were prepared. If you’re really sensitive, I urge you to do that yourself any time you’re dining somewhere new. That being said, these desserts set a whole new standard for me for gluten-free enjoyment. Just like those chocolate peanut butter cookies I made, flourless is so much more decadent. If I want something sweet at all these days, I want it to be worth it.

About justcooknyc

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10 Responses to so good, but how gluten-free are they?

  1. gfveg says:

    so beautifully put, justin! thanks.

  2. Those look wonderful. François Payard also has a flourless chocolate cookie. Very, very good stuff. If done well, I don’t miss the flour at all.

  3. Great post—gluten free is so tricky sometimes. If we find a waiter who doesn’t get it or the place is too busy to focus we leave because it’s just not worth getting sick. (Husband is celiac) But mostly, he just wants to go out and be normal like everyone else and have something we might not cook at home. It’s so great that restaurants and places are finally getting it and that gluten free tastes good, Have to be careful of ‘flourless’ chocolate cake though–they often flour the pan so you must ask!

    • justcooknyc says:

      i’ve had the same experience with the waiter who doesn’t get it… makes me very nervous. i had someone tell me all of their appetizers were gluten-free, and then i looked, and most of them were not. scary.

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