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.
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.