This week has really started off with some great gluten-free surprises. Scratch that. This summer has started off with some great gluten-free surprises, with potential for many, many more good things to come. Yes my fellow Georgians, the heat and humidity are here, and there is no turning back after this. But with it have come several exciting opportunities and sightings in the past couple of days that EVERY gluten-freer needs to be aware of.
On the last day of April, I had the delicious privilege of taste testing some of Yeah! Burger’s new gluten-free items as part of a panel, designed by co-founder and CEO Erik Maier, to help choose the next gluten-free burger bun. Customer appreciation at its finest, indeed; this was truly a magnanimous act by one of Bon Appétit’s top-10 burger restaurants in the country to get in touch with a very distinct sliver of its customer base. After tasting three thoroughly different buns all containing perfectly cooked grass-fed beef, the 12 of us on the panel picked our favorites in several different categories, including taste, texture, shape, etc., and then gave a brief summary of our preferences for alternative grains. Unfortunately for the public’s sake, our gluten-free gathering came down to a dead tie between two of the buns, and so we’ll all just have to wait for the final winner. As for the make-up of the delectable duo I have several guesses, but the twelve of us will have to wait along with the rest of Atlanta’s carnivorous gluten-freers until the release to find out what combinations of grains made the products of Yeah! Burger’s gluten-free taste laboratory so palatable compared to other gluten-free buns. (After an hour of slowly tasting and trying to determine what these buttery buns were made from, we all felt like victims of unrequited love when we were told we would have to wait to find out anything more!) Follow the Virginia Highlands facebook and twitter for the upcoming revelation.
But the tasting panel didn’t end with the bun ratings. Mr. Maier came through where many others, as I have and will probably continue to constantly point out, never do. Yes, if you are thinking of dinner’s grand finale that is inevitably a let down for us gluten-freers; the ultimate course that many of us have given up on; the sweet consummation starting with a d and ending in -essert then, yes, then you are correct. The last time I had a brownie was, well, I have no idea. And the brownies we were served as the finishing touch of the tasting panel were better than I ever remember brownies being (among both gluten-full and gluten-free). Hats off to the chef(s). This gooey piece of heaven, soon to grace the Virginia Highlands location’s menu (and hopefully West Side, but I’m not positive), is a must after your burger. Don’t forget to add on a side of GF fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings. Being too full is not an excuse either.
And yet, the feast continued on after that. This eclectic group of twelve brought to the table many ideas, GF preferences and GF stories, both good and bad (not getting even a bite of your own wedding cake…imagine that, if you will…). Gluten-free goddess Randi Krasnoff of Nana K’s Artisan Quality Gluten Free Goodies took the next step in gluten-free sharing and graced our table with some of her homemade lemon shortbread cookies. With cookies and brownies floating amongst the 12 of us, most of us realized this was the first time we had enjoyed not one, but two (!), delicious desserts while eating out.
Something I had never given much thought to was the fact that I had long ago given up desserts at restaurants. Only occasionally do I eat gluten-free tortes or cakes, and that’s when I make them for holidays, birthdays or other celebrations. And as I found out at the panel, I was not alone in this life devoid of pies, cakes and cookies. Several of us at my end of the table vocalized this sad collective realization almost simultaneously after we had reveled in our delicious treats. As a true lover of everything delicious in life, I’ve decided to do something about this. On top of my resolution to run a full marathon in December, I’m adding another big New Year’s resolution, albeit 5 months late: EAT MORE DESSERT! After eating a couple of Nana K’ s airy, buttery and super-lemony shortbread cookies, there is no turning back in this challenge. They were amazing! GF soy-free carrot cake and several types of pound cakes are just some of the standouts on Nana K’s ever-expanding repertoire, all of which I plan to sample very soon. If this has inspired you to reinvigorate long-lost cravings of your sweet tooth, catch her at the Alpharetta Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and check out her facebook page to find her at other events or contact her directly for something deliciously gluten-free.
Following Monday night, the rest of my week brought even more gluten-free discoveries. The Happy Belly Truck made a very welcome appearance at the Alpharetta Harry’s Food Truck Tuesdays with a gluten-free special:
I was unfortunately not able to make it over in time to get a taste of the Gluten-free 3P. Judging by how quickly it sold out, I think the 3P special might just make it back again in the future (hopefully not just wishful thinking on my behalf!) If not, I’m still going to make sure I make it over to Harry’s on Tuesdays before the afternoon organic shopping crowd arrives en masse. Offering delicious organic, vegetarian and paleo items on their menu, I’m hoping there will be something gluten-free and as creatively scrumptious-sounding as the Pear Pulled Pork next time. Check out Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen’s facebook for upcoming events and menus.
Last, but not least, I finally gave Yumbii a try, after seeing them at every major food truck event in Atlanta this spring. With the option of substituting flour for corn tortillas, all four types of tacos can magically become gluten-free! The chicken taco, with perfectly complementing hints of cilantro and lime, really hit the spot. Yep, so good that I was back the next day for more.
So there you have it, my fellow gluten-freers. Many good things, from hamburger buns all the way up to gluten-free goodies served out of kitchens on wheels, are here for the summer. For now, I’m back to the kitchen to experiment with new GF flours. In the meantime, y’all stay hungry, my friends. And find the food trucks nearest you for a delectably gluten-free break from work!