Sushi by Chef David Chung of Akasaka Japanese Restaurant. Guest blog post by JoAnne Bennett Mirsky, aka the Gluten Free Consultant.
My most rewarding gluten-free project to date was planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah this fall—a completely gluten-free affair for 140 guests. I was lucky to have Chef David Chung of Akasaka Japanese Restaurant working with me for this special occasion. There was an Asian-style hut set up in the foyer of Le Parc where people could help themselves to gluten-free sushi that was being prepared fresh by Chef David. The sushi was served with gluten-free soy sauce (tamari). When it was time for the guests to move into the dining room, Chef David got ready the Asian Station, one of the four stations for dinner. The Asian Station included pad Thai, fried rice and chicken yakatori. Not only was the food prepared gluten free, it was also made without nuts and shrimp. Chef David did an outstanding job of omitting the things that we couldn’t have in the food while maintaining the fantastic taste of all the dishes.
I love working with Chef David because he always figures out a way to make food safe while ensuring that it is delicious. He runs his restaurant like that as well, which is why Akasaka is one of my favourite restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area. Chef David and his staff are so accommodating and willing to make the changes that are necessary for people to feel safe while dining out. I helped Chef David make his restaurant gluten-free friendly over five years ago. Akasaka has a gluten-free menu that is plentiful and includes many great items to choose from and the staff is well trained on how to manage a gluten-free order. While dining at the Teppanyaki tables, you are served a miso soup that is gluten free and a salad with gluten-free dressing, and the chefs prepare the meal with gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) and teriyaki sauce. We always get a delicious meal when we go to Akasaka and I leave feeling like the gluten-free request was taken seriously and that they truly know what they are doing with respect to keeping the food safe.
Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the Toronto Underground Market. TUM is a social food market held at the Evergreen Brick Works that provides space for burgeoning home cooks/entrepreneurs to showcase their unique and delicious food creations.
On this crisp evening, I happened upon a wonderful chef named Jose Arato. He owns a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant called Pimenton on Mt. Pleasant. I was lured to Pimenton’s stall by aromas of slow-cooking meat, seafood and rice and remained captivated by the spoon that was slowly churning the paella. This traditional Spanish dish—a Pimenton specialty—is made in a large paellera (traditional paella pan) and is rich and soulful. I devoured every last morsel of my steamy rice stew with fresh chicken, muscles, shrimp and squid. In addition to being tasty and hearty, paella is gluten free!
TUM might be over, but fortunately you (and three lucky friends!) can indulge in Jose’s paella at his gourmet food store or buy it by the pound on Saturdays to take home. Choose from Paella Marinara (fresh seafood), Paella Valenciana (chicken and fresh seafood) or Paella Vegetariana. Pimenton also offers paella cooking classes, where you will learn techniques to make paella like a pro. Better yet, why not host a paella party and have your own personal paella made right in your home?
Pimenton also makes delectable gluten-free baked goods—chocolate beetroot brownies, pumpkin chocolate loaf and ginger cake—and will be bringing them to the Gluten Free Garage!
Rebecca Feigelsohn is a recent graduate of McGill University who now works as a freelance writer interested in food, culture and social justice. Visit her blog at email@example.com to read about her gastronomic adventures.
Today the Gourmet Bitches hit King West! And, yes, I stood in this line in a parking lot on this hot day to get up close and personal to the Bitches…and to taste their gourmet gluten-free truck eats.
Luckily, my dear old friend Callum joined me in the queue and we got caught up while waiting to order our food. Nobody seemed to mind the line-up. These Bitches have a reputation that precedes them!
The Bitches, aka Shontelle Pinch and Bianka Matchett, dished it out – and sweated it out – in their styling truck.
Bitchin fish tacos!
Crispy polenta-battered white fish, crunchy apple, carrot and purple slaw in a soft corn tortilla with a squeeze of fresh lime. What more is there to say?
Supersonic Gypsy cookies
I had one of these crispy, chewy cookies from Bunner’s Bakeshop for breakfast yesterday. Before you judge me, read this, from the Bunner’s website: “Packed full of organic protein-rich seeds, plump cranberries and rich dark chocolate, the Supersonic Gypsy stands its ground when there’s just no time for a full breakfast.” There you go! No guilt. Just me, my wholesome Supersonic Gypsy cookie and a cup of toasted walnut green tea from DAVIDsTEA. (Dunking the cookie in the tea…not a bad idea.)
How cute are the his and hers cupcake characters?
Bunner’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Bakeshop – Toronto’s first bakery of its kind – is a sweet little spot in the Junction. We discovered it last March when I was looking for a gluten-free birthday cake for Lily. She wanted a “real” cake (as
opposed to an ice-cream cake). She wanted chocolate. Well, she had her cake and ate it too! Who knew that something free of gluten, eggs and dairy could taste so heavenly, so moist, so fluffy?
Our first time at Bunner’s, picking up Lily’s birthday cake.
Since then, we’ve become Bunner’s devotees. And we’re not the only ones. This little bakeshop has a big following. Like my friend Bonnie, whose daughter is lactose intolerant. She was blown away by how “unexpectedly moist” the baked goods are. “You don’t have to be gluten- or dairy free to enjoy Bunner’s,” she says. “The brownies are equal opportunity scrumptious!”
What follows is some R-rated gluten-free goodness, just warning you.
I’ll start by confessing right off the bat that my amazing husband, Rob, is one of the owners of Supermarket restaurant in Kensington Market. How lucky can a girl be? Not only does it boast some of the most flavourful Asian fusion food in town – including to-die-for fish tacos – it also has a gluten-free menu!
We eat there with the kids all the time. If you ask either of them what their favourite restaurant is, they’ll both say Supermarket (even when we’re not
paying them to say it). And although Supermarket is not a gluten-free restaurant, Lily has never once had any issues with cross contamination there.
Lily’s go-to appetizers:
Hold the Japanese chili spice if you’re ordering for little ones!
Warning: These sweet potato chips are highly addictive!