A Gluten Free Haven at Linn’s Restaurant.

During my time living up on the Central Coast of California in the Santa Ynez Valley, I always loved any chance I got to head to Cambria. Cambria is 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and 230 miles south from San Francisco. A humble, small town, Cambria is known for their stunning Moonstone Beach, as well as their annual Scarecrow Festival and a great Main Street drag of restaurants.

One of their dining staples is the absolute gem of a cafe, Linn’s. Linn’s Restaurant is known for their “Olallieberry”; a Youngberry crossed with a Loganberry. The primary fruit grown on their beautiful farm nearby, a Olallieberry tastes similar to the Knotts’ famous Boysenberry, or blackberry. While very tart, it did not provoke any crazy  “lip smacking” and was a great sweet treat…on the MANY dishes I recently got to experience on a visit to Linn’s!

Heading in on a rainy Sunday, we were quickly greeted by our Hostess, Kim and while the place was bustling, she assured us it would be less than a 20 minute wait. We were so engrossed with their bakery and gift shoppe that it felt more like a 5 minute wait. All decked out and ready for the holidays, Linn’s shoppe may not be ample, yet, they manage to have enough variety and beautiful adornments that you feel inside a proper department store.

Just a glimpse of their gift shoppe.

 

Gluten Free Olallieberry Muffin

We were soon escorted to our cozy corner table with a great window view of the rain coming down and the locals enjoying a stroll under their umbrellas. Mr. Linn himself, Aaron, soon came over to greet us and was an absolute delight to chat with. A Cambria native, The Linn’s have been operating their restaurant and farm since the 1980’s. If you want to know anything about Cambria and their townspeople, go have a chat with Aaron and he can fill you in on the what/where/when of the town. Great guy!

They’re also not shy to encourage you to try the entire menu. I was very excited to head to Linn’s as nearly everything is gluten-free (or they will gladly assist you if an item is not). Aaron’s Mom has Celiac, so they know first hand the excitement  you feel when you hear “Olallieberry Chocolate Brownie Cake….Gluten Free” or, my personal favorite: warm bread baskets that are gluten-free brought to your table.

We began our food journey with one of their most famous appetizers, their Ocean Rose Farm Abalone. Having not recalled experiencing Albalone, I was anxious to see why this is such a special dish. One bite, and I knew. Locally sourced Albalone from nearby Cayucos is served with two hazelnut encrusted medallions, lemon-thyme beurre blanc and a decadent jicama-jalapeño slaw. While not a gluten-free dish, simply mention if you need it to be, and they adjust the encrusted medallions for you. Perfection!

Albalone.

Moon Stone Beach Omelette.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Hearst Ranch Hamburger.
Photo: Michael Farah.

With so much already having gone down (chats with the locals, gluten-free galore, great coffee, great atmosphere), it was time for Mike and I to make our big decision: Whats for lunch?! I decided to take advantage of a late breakfast (Weekends they serve it until 2pm, other days, 12p) and try one of their favorite omelettes, The Moon Stone Beach with an abundance of Shrimp, Dungeness crab, tomato, green onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. While Mike decided on an old reliable: their Hearst Ranch Beef Cheese Burger with fries.

The Moon Stone omelette was to die for. The seafood so fresh, I would imagine it could have been caught that morning, while the flavor combinations of the cheese and veggies enhanced it perfectly. Mike enjoyed his burger, and the presentation was gorgeous and made it hard to want to dig in (Just a little….).

We were very stuffed by the time we had many options for dessert coming our way….check out what Aaron and staff insisted we try….

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

See all this, folks? Mike and I were able to get it all down…and, as some of you know, I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I am pleased to say with the proper amount of insulin injections that day, I was able to keep my sugars in a  good range! I truly thought this could be my last supper. Death of a sugar rush. And, what a great last supper it would have been! 😉

First up, was that irresistible chocolate brownie concoction, followed by their famous Pecan Chew Cookie Delight with Linn’s Pecan Chew Cookie, Brazilian Coffee ice cream, house made caramel sauce, candied walnuts and just a little real whipped cream. Bravo!

 While I could continue to share my love for Linn’s, I will end here, and trust that you will do yourself a favor and head to Linn’s next time you are in Cambria. Learn more about them HERE and make sure to tell them Along Comes Mary sent you! xo
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Linn’s Restaurant in exchange for this feature. All opinions are my own and it was a phenomenal experience!)

 

Alcohol, Gluten Free Style (2nd Edition!)

(* The post I was up late having to re-write as I thought it vanished on me last week, was nestled safely on my homepage under Drafts. Woo hoo! I did not press Save or anything, & thought it was gone. This is a better version for those that love vodka or tequila, as I did more reseach. Yet, I will add this up as a new post & keep up my previous entry. Hope you enjoy & please let me know your thoughts!:-)* )

I have had some friends say, “So, obviously, alcohol is gluten free, because you like to drink!” Well, yes, yes & no (I do like to drink, some are GF & some are not). Beer is a complete no-no if you are following a GF diet; beer is distilled & brewed from wheat &/or barley, which is loaded with gluten. Although, in this day & age, you CAN even find GF Beer. Usually derived from corn or rice & including a very small percentage of barley or rye. I have had GF beer & yes, it tastes just like the real thing. Which is why I am not a fan! I have never been a beer person in the least, so no beer for gluten concerns is completley fine for me. If you are concerned about gluten in your diet AND a beer lover, rest assured, you will be fine!;-)

Here is a quick run down of some other alcoholic faves for the Gluten-Free-bies….

*Vodka: Probably the most tricky, as it can be made from a variety of grains. I have never felt a problem from the various kinds of vodka I have had…I especially love my freind, Erin’s, vodka lemonade! (Check out her blog,
but here is some info I found on vodka & how each brand is made….
Wheat: Stolichnaya (made from a blend of wheat and rye), Grey Goose, Ketel One, Snow Queen, Van Gogh (made from a blend of wheat, corn, and barley), La Chance, Vox, Polar Ice, Absolut
Rye: Belvedere
Barley: Finlandia, Koskenkorva
Corn: Smirnoff
Potato: Chopin, Teton Glacier, Monopolowa, Vikingfjord, Luksosowa
Grape: Cîroc, Bombora
(& it is quite the coincidence, as I usually have Smirnoff)

*RUM: I wrote that in capitals as I am a huge rum lover. It is usually gluten free, woo hoo! Writing this post made me wonder, what IS rum?? It seems it is a distilled product made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses. While you DO need to be careful of flavored rum & pina colada, Rum itself should be safe for the GF inclined.

*TEQUILA: Another I write in big letters, as I love it. I blame watching Pee Wee Herman dance to the song of the same name at that dive bar in Texas in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as to why my drink of choice is usually a margarita/anything with tequila, lol! Tequila is made from the blue agave, a plant of the lily family that is GF. According to Mexican law all tequila must contain at least 51% agave. Really good tequila is 100% agave and the law requires them to be produced, bottled and inspected in Mexico. Because of the regulations few tequileros (tequila distillers) produce this higher quality spirit and a bottle can be quite expensive. Tequila that is not 100% agave is called mixto because it is blended with sugar and water during distillation. “Mixto” tequilas can be produced outside of Mexico. Which is why,  if you are on a strict GF diet, always ask when ordering a Marg. I like flavored margaritas & I am not 100% sure if those are GF as the mixes might be sneaky. But, good ol’ tequila, you cannot go wrong.

*Wine: Yes, there really is no reason for wine to contain gluten. Red or white, so you should be able to enjoy!;-)
*Champagne: Again, should be safe. I especially love pink champagne & peach or citrus flavored champagnes to add an extra sweet shot in a mimosa! My new favorite is adding in OJ with pineapple juice to a bubbly libation….yes, I went there!;-)

Any further concerns or questions, I ALWAYS google. & while these tips are meant to help you out, if you suspect you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac or anything serious, see your Doctor at once. Since I AM NOT A DOCTOR! Just a blogger looking to share advice!!!:-) xo

Alcohol, Gluten Free Style….

Anyone who knows me knows I enjoy a great drink. Luckily, being Gluten Free has not put a damper on that. I, thankfully, do not like beer, which is loaded with barley, wheat & hops, all an obvious no-no for a Gluten Free diet. While you can find delicious Gluten Free beer, it tastes just like the real thing…which is why I am not a fan! 😉 I decided to do some research, though, on alcohol to watch out for if you’re GF….

*Rum: I am a huge rum lover! And, in almost every instance, rum is gluten-free. The few exceptions to this rule include some flavored rums. If you enjoy flavored rums, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer to determine if a particular product is gluten-free.
While pure rum is gluten-free, beware of pre-made drink mixes, such as those intended for piña coladas(which I have not had many of)— several of these contain gluten ingredients as flavoring.

*Vodka: Vodka can be tricky! Some is indeed made from non-gluten sources, such as potato vodka or grape vodka, is always gluten-free. However, there’s some controversy over whether vodka made from a gluten grain source is gluten-free.
Most experts on Celiac believe that distillation removes enough of the harmful gluten proteins to render alcohol made from gluten grains gluten-free.
But, many who are very sensitive to gluten cross contamination get truly symptoms from any form of alcohol that started its life as gluten grains, and that includes vodka made from wheat or rye. In fact, the Celiac Association recommends against consuming gluten-based vodkas. But, if you love a vodka lemonade like I do, always just check if you must try to have it…I know my friend, Erin, over at http://horsingaroundinla.wordpress.com/ makes a mean one that I heart;-)

*Gin: Thats also a GF debate. I am a not a gin drinker so do not have any personal experience to share. But, usually, gin IS made from wheat/rye/barley, & sometimes, corn….note, I said USUALLY wheat & just SOMETIMES corn!

*Tequila: Blame it maybe on my watching Pee Wee Herman dance in the dive bar to the Tequila song, I LOVE tequila, & margaritas. Usually always my drink of choice, ask anyone. & is normally an ok GF choice as long it is made from 100% agave; if not, it can potentially contain sugar as well as gluten. Alot of marg mixes nowadays have corn, but sometimes wheat.

*Whiskey: Another hot debate if you’re in the club. Whiskey is indeed often derived from barley, & even if it is distilled, may cause a GF person grief.

*Wine: YES! Almost all of the time, wine (& that goes for champagne, woo hoo!) IS gluten free. I am a big lover of reds, as well as champagne. Have at it…but carefully!

While I hope this post is informative, it is always important to check when ordering anything if you have a concern, as I am not a Doctor. Happy drinking!

“So…Mary…what CAN you eat?!”

Let me begin by saying I am very pleased at the responce to my very first post on my brand spankin’ new blog! My friends have shown their support, as well as new peeps I have ‘met’ via Twitter & even some fellow bloggers have liked & followed the page–strangers actually stopped by, woo hoo! It was kind of random that the first post covered my gluten-free excursions in New York; I want this page to cover an array of topics that interest me as well as those around me, & those 2 subjects seemed like a good place to start. (Sort of ironic, though, that I state I am ‘Just another SoCal blogger’ & you know…my introduction is a story about NYC, lol).

In under 24 hours, I have had some of you e-mail me & want to know more about this whole ‘Gluten Free Lifestyle’, & I also found out it is getting some buzz since Disney Pop Girl, Miley Cyrus, announced this week shes on a GF diet. In Miley’s case, though, it sounds like its more for the dieting boost it CAN indeed give you short term; I don’t think she gets migraines & frequent bathroom visits (gross…sorry…but true!) if she decides to eat pizza. That brings me to the next hot topic….losing weight. Yes, I did notice I got extra skinny initially, but, I also think that could have been because I was actually able to feel GOOD again to get out & move. If you have an intolerance to wheat, that can also make you dangerously underweight since you are not keeping your nutrients in you. No fun. Now, I am about my average weight. I have discovered such an array of GF food & desserts….& desserts…already high in calories, but tend to be higher in GF products when it takes more alternative ingredients to make them, just sayin’.

So…what CAN I eat?! Well, like I mentioned in the previous post, at home, I pretty much eat the same things you gluten-eaters do. Markets are seeing the demand for GF products, & even mainstream stores like Ralphs are carrying cupcakes, bread & muffins now. I buy quite a bit at the local SoCal health food market, Sprouts. There, I can find frozen pizza, pad thai noodles, muffins, english muffins, breads, cakes, pretzels, sandwich cream cookies, pastas, croutons & cereals all GF (& yes, all those products I just listed commonly do have wheat & gluten in them). Another market that is really with it is Trader Joes; they will even give you a print out of all GF friendly foods in the store. Most recently, I found out their almond horns are GF as well as a special flouress chocolate cake! They also have pancakes & waffles GF in the freezer area. They are great too because you can find them in more suburban areas; being that I am originally from Santa Barbara County, it can be tougher to find some foods in the middle of nowhere, yet we had a TJ’s about a half hour away.
Whole Foods is another good resource; their delis usally are loaded with GF yummies as well as a knowledgable staff who are used to hearing, “These tofu sticks have tamari in them, so is there wheat??” all day long (& for the record, tamari is usually safe, but still always ask!).

With all these great resources…there is a downside. The sticker price. Unfortunetly, if you are stuck with an allergy, that doesn’t also mean you are wealthy. Yet, the manufacturers must have the wrong idea, since alot of these products are indeed more money. A GF pie can be $12.99. If you feel you have a problem digesting gluten, you should by all means not care about the cost as much as possible, though. I recommend even starting a piggy bank for your GF foods. Everytime you are considering a coffee drink, or something you don’t truly need from the mall, think of your loaf of bread or that pizza to eat when you get home from a long day.

I had mentioned I would pass on my favorite GF friendly places in SoCal, now that you know all about the NY hot spots! So, as promised….
*BJ’s Brewhouse: They even are making their famous Pazookie GF-option now, how awesome are they?!?
*Pei Wei: I always get the GF spicy shrimp, you can ask them for the menu though & see what else there is.
*Deanos Gourmet Pizza at LA’s farmers Market: They will do GF pizza or any pasta dish you don’t mind having spaghetti noodles used….my favorite is the alfredo!
*Chipotle: As long as you ask for corn tortillas, or a burrito bowl, you are good to go.
*Rubio’s: They are popping up all over down here, & I really like their tacos!

If you are serious about learning more, I also recommend Elizabeth Hassleback’s (Co-Host of The View) book, The G Free Diet.
Before I end this post (with plans for a new topic next time, promise!) I do want to make a shout out to all my friends over the years who have made sure I am comfortable when I have visited them in that they have made sure to have things I can eat at their homes for me; I have never gone hungry!;) That goes for when I am out with them, too, they always make sure to accomodate me & my pesky needs, & it truly warms my heart! Thank you!!! xo