Gluten Free Blog Posts
Cheesecake Factory at the Prudential Mall
This past weekend we had a very interesting experience at the Cheesecake Factory at the Prudential Center Mall in Boston, Massachusetts.
We had a rather large party -13 people. We stopped by for lunch before heading to the Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall. (We made reservations ahead of time and indicated that there were 2 people in the party that had gluten free allergy.)
When we placed our order we told the server, multiple times, that our daughter has celiac and that her food needed to be gluten free. In addition, my wife also placed a gluten free order. My daughter orders a pasta with four cheese.
When the meals came to the table, we asked the server if both dishes were gluten free. He indicated that they were.
My daughter lunch looked a little strange as the sauce appeared to be thicker than normal. Typically gluten-free pasta sauce is a bit watery because you can't add flour to thicken it up.
My wife started eating hers for a bit and then noticed that a macaroni was in her dish. We know from experience that the Cheesecake factory only has one style of gluten free pasta. It was at that point we realized that they cooked the pasta in the same water as regular pasta. This would result in serious cross contamination.
You can see the Macaroni that was mix in with the Rotini. We have learned from past experiences that Rotini is the only gluten free pasta that the Cheesecake factory has. So as soon as we saw the Macaroni we knew something wasn't right.
We immediately asked for the manager.
When the manager arrived we informed him of what we found. He was very apologetic. He informed us that there was nothing on the food order that it was an allergy. (Turns out we had a new server, which explained other problems we had with other dishes.) The manager offered to re-cook the pasta and make sure that they used new water. We told him that only our daughter dish needed to be fixed.
About 10 minutes later, the same server came by with a new plate. This was a bit surprising since I would have expected that the floor manager to bring the dish to the table, as a sign of taking ownership and responsibility. The sauce looked a bit watery than before which is what we would expect.
I thought that the pasta was cooked pretty quickly. ( I can't even boil water and cook pasta at home in less than 10 minutes) My daughter said the food tasted good and looked better than before.
The Cheesecake factory did make some adjustments on the bill, we don't know exactly since we didn't pay for the meal.
We sent an email to the Cheesecake Factory corporate offices and a couple of days later we received a call from the Cheesecake Factory. We explained the situation and the concerns. They said that they would look into the issue and would send us a gift card for our troubles.
Not exactly sure that we would go back to the Cheesecake factory.
Van’s Foods Cinnamon French Toast Sticks
Yesterday was National French Toast Day.
If you're eating Gluten free, you do have some options for French Toast:
- Vans Foods French Toast Sticks
- Ians Natural Gluten Free French Toast Sticks
- Schar French Toast Sticks
Van’s Foods Cinnamon French Toast Sticks
My five-year-old daughter really loves Van’s Foods Cinnamon French Toast Sticks. We have a couple of boxes in the freezer in our basement, always making sure that they are always available.
We find that they are better served with a nice dab of Nutella on the side. She actually prefers that way.
We have tried Hershey spreadable chocolate, but they don't taste the same. Hershey Spreadable chocolate is perfect for other things, just doesn't do well with Cinnamon French Toast sticks.
The French toast are perfect for dipping.
You put the pre-slice bread in the toaster for about a minute, and then take them out and separate around the chocolate. I find they taste better when you click the frozen button on the toaster.
If your kindergarten has celiac is looking for a good breakfast treat, stock up on Van’s Foods Cinnamon French Toast Sticks.
The Cinnamon French Toast Sticks are expensive (~$5 for 12 slices) to have every day for breakfast. They are a great treat when you're looking for something different than the usual cold cereal.
They are also nice snack on a really cold day.
McCormick Gluten Free Options
McCormick is well known for their recipe mixes collection. If your lucky, you may find a store that carries all 25+ different varieties.
Gluten Free Options
McCormick also makes eight different mixes as Gluten Free:
- Gluten-Free Beef Stew Seasoning Mix
- Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix
- Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning Mix
- Gluten-Free Fajita Seasoning Mix
- Gluten-Free Meat Loaf Seasoning Mix
- Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Mix
- Gluten-Free Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
- Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy Mix
We have tried many of these in soups and in crock pot recipes. They are all very good, we have had to add a little corn starch to thicken up the gravy in some recipes.
According toe McCormick's website, you can find these in various stores including Target/Walmart and Amazon.com.
Framingham Stop and Shop
The Stop and Shop on Temple Road in Framingham, Massachusetts has discontinued selling McCormick's Brown Gravy Gluten Free recipe mix packets.
I was worried that McCormick has stopped making the gluten free Brown Gravy, but there's nothing on their website or from various gluten-free food blogs.
I am guessing that this particular Stop and Shop is not selling enough of the gravy to justify the premium shelf space. I would highly recommend that they should move it over to the gluten free section.
They did put a strange shelf sign:
Apparently I shouldn't use my Stop and Shop card, otherwise, it wouldn't be discontinued.
Food Allergy Awareness Act
On January 2009, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed into law the Food Allergy Awareness Act. The Act requires that certain food establishments comply with regulations developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The purpose of the Act was to educate the food service community on some food allergies that consumers may have.
The act went into law on October 1, 2010. All food establishments that cook, prepare, or serve food intended for immediate consumption either on or off the premises must be fully compliant.
Food Allergy Awareness Poster
Every food establishment in Massachusetts is required by law to display a food allergy awareness poster in the staff area. In addition, they are required to include a notice on menus that reads “Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy.” ( Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 6B )
Video Training for Certification
The law also requires that a person in charge has food allergy training for certified food protection managers. The training is done via video in collaboration with FAAN Ambassador Who Cares Ming Tsai. The four-part video is available on YouTube.
Food Allergy Friendly Restaurants
The law requires that the Massachusetts department of Public Health designated a program for restaurants to be classified as ''Food Allergy Friendly'' and maintain a listing of restaurants receiving that designation on its website. I checked their site and wasn’t able to find any “Food Allergy Friendly” list.
The law does not require that the food establishment has allergy friendly food, just that they are aware of the issues that people have with food allergies.
Failure to have the Food Allergy poster posted, menu notice or proof of training would be a critical health item on the health inspection report requiring corrective action within 10 days.
If you or anyone in your party has any food allergy, it’s a good idea to view the poster and watch the video. This will help you have an understanding of what information is available at the food establishment. (or at least what people should know.)
Dulce D Leche
Recently we went to Dulce D Leche Gelato Cafe in support of a fundraiser by the Saint Bridget School. The cafe was giving the school a percentage of sales for those that brought in a promotional brochure.
Framingham newest premium cafe is the place to go to get a nice cup of coffee and some delicious gelato ice cream.
Dulce D Leche Gelato Cafe open for business on June 5, 2016 at 5 Edgell Road in Framingham. The location is commonly known as One Framingham Centre.
They are a full-service coffee shop with hot chocolate, pastries, and Argentinian Gelato Italian-style ice cream.
Argentianian Gelato ice cream is a bit different than standard ice cream you get at a roadside farm stand. It's creamier and smooth. If you like soft serve ice cream, you'll enjoy Argentinian Gelato ice cream.
Dulce D Leche has a lot of unique flavors to pick from. If you're unsure of how something would taste, they are happy to give you a small spoon sample.
I liked the Dulce de Leche flavor with chocolate chip. It's a good flavor to start with.
Seating area was quiet and clean. There is free wifi available, for those that want to browse the Internet while enjoying their coffee.
Gluten Free Offering
When we informed the staff of my daughter's need to eat gluten free they were accommodating. The server pointed out each ice cream that did contain gluten. Lucky for us, there were lots of ice cream for my daughter to select from.
She was happy to have the milk chocolate. I think that she wanted to try the brownie chocolate, but she knew that it contained gluten.
I noticed that they had a scoop in each flavor. So there was no chance that flavors could mix up.
Take home or Eat in?
We took a couple of pints home with us. The good thing is that they make the pint for you. These aren't prepacked containers - you can watch them pack it up for you. (They do stuff it all the way to the top!)
The ice cream is better soft than hard. So if you're going to have it in your freezer, keep it out for a bit before scooping so that it can soften.
Its worth going and treating yourself to an afternoon ice cream treat.
An International House of Pancakes is being built in the parking lot near Dulce D Leche. I would suspect that the Framingham Centre will be a busy place with the addition to the iHop.