Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's bagelicious Tuesday! This morning, my internal alarm clock forced me to rise 20 minutes earlier than normal, thus leaving me with additional time to make an extra special breakfast. An Udi's Plain Bagel uber delicious breakfast at that!

After removing the zip tie from the bag, I proceeded to try one of the bagels in its "natural" state. Now, I should probably highlight that I am not a big fan of bready foods. I like things crunchy. Regardless, I was strongly misguided in thinking I might not enjoy the bagel based solely on its appearance. In fact, it was light and airy just like its counterpart, Udi's sandwich bread.

Still, I am an experimenter. Having tried the bagel in its "natural" state, I was ready to spice things up a bit. Since I don't have a toaster, I improvised with the oven broiler, and toasted my bagel to perfection. I like my bread a bit on the darker side, as you can see below in the picture, however, toast it to your liking - my way is
not the only way.

My favorite line from all cooking shows, "I wish there was smell-o-vision!" about sums up my toasted bagel experience. It smelled heavenly and tasted even better. After taking the photo, I spread each half with peanut butter - a condiment that is extremely healthy for you being high in protein and good carbs - again, eat the bagel as you like it most, though. My boyfriend loves his bagels spread with cream cheese and strawberry jelly and my friend loves a good "cheese shmeer and lox with onions and tomatoes" (she says it just like that too). Eat as you will.

This being my first bagel in probably 4 or 5 years, though, that first bite quickly turned into crumbs left on the napkin. It was that good. So good that I highly recommend Udi's Plain Bagels. In fact I recommend any one of their breads.

I cannot wait to continue this Udi's product tasting journey - Bagels down, Double Chocolate Chip Muffins - Cinnamon Rolls - and Pizza Crusts left to go. Vroom Vroom Baby!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Treats Courtesy of Udi's

Oh me, oh my - I have been asked to give Udi's a try!

About a month ago, I wrote a post all about Udi's new relationship with Jason's Deli. Since then, word of my blog reached the Social Media Coordinator for Udi's, Jillian. She loved how I was spreading the news and offered to send me a box of different products to try. Of course I said yes - who wouldn't?!

The "box" greeted me on my doorstep one night after work last week. I immediately brought it inside and ripped it open, pulling out the contents in a rush. Inside were Udi's Plain Bagels, Cinnamon Rolls, Double Chocolate Muffins (heaven!) and Pizza Crusts - 3 to a bag. It felt like my birthday - unwrapping gifts and not being able to contain my want to try them out as soon as possible - so exciting!

Due to work and social obligations, I have not been home much the past week, leaving little time to try these tasty morsels. It is my mission though, over the course of this upcoming week to try each product and let you know all about it. I can tell you from looks and smells alone, the Double Chocolate Muffins are going to be out of this world and the bagels, if the other breads are any indication, are going to be amazing.

So check back frequently as I take this delicious journey down Udi's Tasting Lane...definitely a road worth traveling :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vivace Shines! Gluten-Free Menu is Unlike Anything Else Available in Charlotte, NC

Happy 25th Birthday to me! This "new year" was brought in with a bang, that is for sure. First, my little brother, Justin, - he is 21 - came for a surprise visit. He drove 10 hours from Indiana, just to see me and get a look at the wonderful city of Charlotte, NC. Of course he loved it! We walked around Uptown, took in the Charlotte nightlife at the Epicentre and ate out often. It was wonderful.

Although he left on Sunday to head back to Indiana, the fun continued into Monday. My boyfriend, Adam, and I worked through the day and met back at our townhouse after to dress for dinner, which was a surprise to me. It was a great surprise - we went to Vivace.

Vivace had a pulse unlike any other restaurant I had been to in Charlotte yet. The atmosphere was warm, the host/waiters extremely attentive and the food was absolutely decadent...and 100% gluten-free. There was even a menu dedicated to it!

Upon arrival, a hostess walked us through the downstairs portion of the restaurant, which was alive with the music of chefs at work preparing edible works of art from the open kitchen and a lounge/bar for those after work cocktails we all crave, and up the stairs to our table. It was set for two and sat near a panel of windows floor to ceiling tall overlooking the Charlotte skyline. While it was very bright, even at 8pm, it was a gorgeous addition to our romantic birthday celebration.

The menu had many different options, so it was extremely hard to make a decision. In fact, if I could have stomached it, I would have had one of everything, it all sounded so delicious. Instead, I compromised and ordered an Antipasti, Primi and Secondi. If I could not have one of everything, I was at least going to try an item from each section of the menu. Below is a look at exactly what I ate:

Antipasti: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Jumbo Lump Crab and an Infused Lemon Vinaigrette

Primi: Chicken Risotto with Ripened Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts
Secondi: Grouper with Fresh Lump Crab, Seasonal Vegetables, Creamy Polenta and a Carrot Infused Vinaigrette

The food was so good. I am sorry to disappoint,though, but I did not have dessert. There were many selections to choose from, however, I just could not eat another bite. Regardless, the meal took about two hours to complete and was savored every minute along the way. Without a second thought, I would recommend Vivace as a restaurant to be tried soon. The food was delectable, the Chefs are masterful artists and the managers/owners deserve a pat on the back for marrying a trendy, warm atmosphere with food to match.

Vivace is located at 1100 Metropolitan Avenue, Building E, Suite 100 - by the Target and Trader Joe's in Uptown Charlotte. Reservations can be made online at www.opentable.com or by phone at 704-370-7755. To read more about Vivace and see a menu, go to www.vivacecharlotte.com.

Please stop by and mention Leah from the Gluten-Free Charlotte blog sent you. It is absolutely worth it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

pinkberry Comes to Charlotte - Frozen Yogurt That Will Leave Your Tastebuds Begging For More

I have got great news! How many of you out there love frozen yogurt, but hate having to eat from the carton bought at a grocery store instead of out with all your friends? Well you will not have to much longer - pinkberry is coming to Charlotte!

What is pinkberry you ask? Only the best "frozen yogurt" ever. Being a native of the tri-state area and having worked in New York City for 3 years, I have spent many an hour devouring this heavenly delight. It is "...home to Swirly Goodness. Inspired by European gelaterias and yogurterias, Pinkberry's distinctive yogurt flavors are expertly crafted to complement its high quality, daily fresh cut fruit and dry toppings and offer an irresistibly tangy, incomparably refreshing taste so light it leaves you craving more". In a nutshell, on a scale from 1-10, it is a whopping 11 for me! A small fact to throw out there as well, all of pinkberry's frozen yogurt flavors are gluten-free, non-fat and minimal calories. Plus, you create your own cup of yummy goodness mixing as many flavors and toppings as you want.

The new pinkberry is opening a store front at Phillip's Place on Fairview Road next Friday, July 23rd. The Grand Opening will be held on Thursday, July 22nd where free yogurt will be handed out, a band will be playing for all to enjoy and prizes will be dispersed. It is an event not to be missed - or at least a frozen yogurt not to go untried.

I promise you will not be let down if you go out of your way for this sumptuous treat. It is so delicious, a deal was just signed for the second pinkberry to be installed at the Arboretum.

The website link is below to read more about pinkberry. Hopefully you will check the store out and let me know what you think. Good or bad I love hearing your opinions.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jason's Deli & Udi's Team Up to Offer Gluten-Free Goodness

Good Morning Everyone! It is a beautiful Sunday morning - the sun is out, the birds are chirping - what better way to spend it than writing a new post?!

So I want to begin by telling you a story. On Thursday I was doing my usual routine, got into work and checked-up on the news online, and came upon a news release. It mentioned that Jason's Deli was now serving gluten-free bread. I am not sure about all of you, but I was practically jumping out of seat in excitement - I haven't had a real sandwich OUT in forever! Well, I was at work, so I kept my composure (very hard to do) and went about my day. That night, another birdie in a tree mentioned Jason's Deli's new initiative once again. Two times in one day I was told about this, I knew I now had to check it out.

On Friday, a couple of co-workers and I went on over to Jason's Deli and it was true! While they are not making their own bread, they have partnered with Udi's. I had never had Udi's before then, but man was it good (see pics below). The bread was airy and light and tasted amazing toasted. Plus it didn't get all soggy from the sandwich ingredients. Amazing!

One thing to keep in mind when going though, they do not use separate toaster's for the gluten-free bread. Also, they are trained to switch knives and gloves and clean off the cutting boards, but of course since it is not a 100% gluten-free establishment, it is always important to keep an eye on things while your sandwich is being made. Regardless, disclaimer said, Jason's Deli is amazing, even more so now that they have added gluten-free bread onto their menu.

So take a drive, stop at Jason's Deli, order a sandwich and enjoy:-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gluten-Free Cooking Class - July 26th - Must Go!

Now I know it may seem like all I can talk about is The Thoughtful Baker, but I swear it is just ironic that I met the woman behind the company last week and I am now posting about another event involving her coming up soon. I swear!

Thanks to Zach and his amazing knack for unearthing events happening in North Carolina, I am happy to tell you about an upcoming cooking class that might be of interest. The information is below:

Gluten Free Cooking

Date: July 26, 2010
Time: 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: Charlotte Ballantyne Earth Fare
Admission: Free
Contact: clt120community@earthfare.com

With 90 degree heat, make this fun no cooking needed entrĂ©e! Please join Barbara D’Ambrosio, of The Thoughtful Baker, at Earth Fare Ballantyne Monday July 26, 6:30 pm for her free cooking class and learn to make this easy family treat! Fragrant fresh basil and cilantro, shrimp or chicken and cool summer vegetables are nestled in rice wrapper pouches that you and your family will have fun making together. Dip these flavorful treats in sun butter sauce (instead of peanut sauce) and a citrus based traditional dipping sauce. Barbara will share additional treats from her gluten free bakery to top off the class. To signup please call 704.926.1201.

If anything, the class is totally worth attending just for the baked goods alone - no joke, they are that good!

I am planning to attend myself, if you plan on going, let me know. I am always psyched to share my experiences with others:-)