Sunday, August 17, 2014

Columbia Restaurant Gluten Free Lunch Menu

After writing my review of my lunch at Columbia, I wanted to include shots of the gluten-free menu for future reference. While I know my posts can get pretty lengthy, I didn't want a mile-long post laden with pictures. Just as Sanaa's expansive and impressive menu deserved a post all to it's own, Columbia's gluten free offerings deserve a spotlight all to themselves. To see my full review, click here.

Columbia Restaurant Review

When it comes to my favorite restaurants, I must admit right off the bat that Columbia ranks very highly in my book. I've been a loyal patron since I was a little girl as my parents started me early on the foodie path at their original Ybor location when we lived in nearby Sarasota. Even as we moved to Ohio then back to the sunshine state, I quickly fell in love again with this incredible restaurant that was reserved for the nicest of family celebrations: Easter, Father's/Mother's Day, Birthdays and school milestones. 

When gluten, dairy and I broke up almost three years ago, I assumed that I could no longer enjoy lunch or dinner out at Columbia because my favorite menu items (warm Cuban bread with butter and the 1905 salad) were no longer an option. Fortunately, some online research revealed that not only was the restaurant safe for me, but many of my favorite menu items were gluten and dairy free with little or no modification. Not missing a beat, I have since reunited with Columbia and enjoyed many safe and delicious meals there. In my final days left in Central Florida, I came to the realization that my last meal there was almost nine months ago, and that I didn't want to leave the state without having one more taste. Securing a reservation on my final Saturday in town, my family eagerly looked forward to a formal last meal eating out at a restaurant together.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cocina 214 Review

These past few weeks have been dedicated to tying off loose ends, goodbyes, and the seemingly endless process of packing for college. Along the way, I've tried to make the most of my time left by hitting some of my favorite restaurants as well as some I've been eyeing for a while. Cocina 214 falls into the latter category and has been on my to-do list for awhile after reading a review on my friend Alexis' blog (Gluten Free in Orlando). An opportunity arose when I scheduled a lunch date with my my mom and a friend to talk about her career path and catch up on our families' activities over the years. Cocina's gluten-free friendly menu and accessible just-off-Park Avenue location in Winter Park fit the bill nicely and was agreed upon by all. Eager to finally check it out, I had high expectations leading up to the lunch.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All Dried Up Snacks Review

After finishing off my popsicle from Peak Season Pops, I decided to wander around the various vendors around Lake Eola and it's surrounding park. Spotting familiar faces such as Tamale Co. it was cool to see a thoroughly blended mix of food vendors, artisans, and other local purveyors offering items of all shapes and sizes. One vendor in particular- All Dried Up- caught my eye as I strolled through with their assortment of dried delicacies. Seeing their gluten free status, I was curious to see what they were all about. 

Peak Season Pops Review

Let's just face it: Florida is miserable this time of year. No matter how many times we grin and bear it, the inferno-like heat, choking humidity, pesky bugs, unreliable weather patterns, and other staples of a sunshine state summer can get just too much to bear. The perfect (if temporary) antidote? Popsicles. 

Orlando is home to many different "pop shops" featuring icy creations that range from the familiar to more exotic offerings (See this Orlando Sentinel article for listing of local offerings). After looking into the gluten and dairy friendliness of different companies, Peak Season Pops caught my eye with their fresh and fruity flavors and commitment to local/organic ingredients that are not laden down by added preservatives or sweeteners. Though they pop up around town (pun intended!), they are reliably at the Lake Eola Farmers Market which is where I had a chance to stop by and give them a try. At 10 o'clock in the morning, I could already feel the furnace cranking up, so I couldn't wait to get a refreshing break from the heat.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Heartsong Cookies Review

It's not often that I get cookies. Not because they're particularly hard to source here in Orlando, but the few cookies I've tried have been severe disappointments with a few exceptions. The problem with gluten free and dairy free cookies is that they are often small, dry, crumbly, and loaded with sugar and preservatives. After an initial attempt, I had all but given up on the sweet treats until a bakery in Philadelphia proved to me that I still could enjoy them. Since then, I haven't seen a cookie that grabbed my attention until strolling around the Maitland Farmers Market bright and early one morning when a colorful truck and table of gluten-free cookies caught my attention. As I drew near, I soon learned that Heartsong Cookies, a local cookie baking company, is serious about giving gluten-free diners uncompromisingly great cookies.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Where I'm Going... and Other Updates

My beautiful new home away from home.
As I write this, I'm down to a mere two weeks left in Central Florida before my residence shifts to Baltimore, MD as I embark on latest and greatest adventure... college. Despite all of the unknowns lurking ahead, I cannot wait to explore a whole new city and delve into all the opportunities awaiting me with a fresh start and new direction. Naturally, I'll be bringing Eating Out Without with me along the way which will signal a shift in focus from Central Florida's gluten-free offerings to that of the great state of Maryland. While I will still consider myself a proud Floridian and will continue to cover gluten-free eats when I come back home on breaks, don't be alarmed when I suddenly shift to non-Florida eateries. In addition, this shift will open up more opportunities to promote quick and easy recipes I'm perfecting for dorm-proof cooking, tips for college dining with food allergies, and will hopefully be able to chase down a halfway decent gluten-free crab cake along the way.

Want to stay up to date with Central Florida restaurants during my leave of absence from the sunshine state? I highly recommend these blogs: Gluten Free in Orlando, Gluten Free and Dairy Free at Walt Disney World, and Celiac in Orlando. I'll also keep my local events calendar up-to-date to feature upcoming meetups, expos, and other events.

Here are some other newsworthy points worth sharing...

Magic in November

One of the big things I've got circled on my calendar is the upcoming Food Allergy and Celiac Convention coming to town the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This event is shaping up to be a not-to-be-missed affair showcasing Disney's incredible culinary versatility and a lineup of demos, seminars, and a dedicated expo celebrating awareness of food allergies and sensitivities. As a member of the Blogger Street Team for the event, I'm so excited to help play a part in getting the word out about this event and to cover all of the festivities the day of. Check out more information about the event here.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

Wish there was an easier way to keep up with the blog? Simply sign up for my redesigned newsletter at the top of the right side bar to never miss a post again. Instead of the weekly round-up I used to send out every Friday, subscribers will receive an email featuring each new blog post as they are published. It's a quick and easy way to keep up with the latest and greatest happenings.

The Dog Days of Summer

Though this blog focuses squarely on food, it's hard to not write about my sidekick and service dog Locke. As I embark on my collegiate adventure with him, our shared adventures along the way became too good of a premise to ignore for a new blog. Enter A New Leash on Life, my latest blogging venture delving into life with a service dog and the unique escapades we will have as a team navigating college and new-found independence. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

McCoy's Bar and Grill and Other Gluten Free Options at Orlando International Airport

Over the past few months, I've become very familiar with Orlando's airport (airport code: MCO) thanks to out-of-state medical appointments, college-related travelling, and various conferences and other events that have necessitated air travel. For the most part, I rely on snacks and meals packed at home to sustain me from point A to point B, but inevitably, I have learned more about the airport's offerings thanks to delayed plains, browsing while waiting, and mishaps such as leaving my food at home.

Though I cannot say I have tried all the various offerings at the airport, this post serves as a guide to your best bets when hunting down gluten or allergen safe eats on the go. Know of a great gluten-free option I've overlooked? Feel free to drop me a line via email, Facebook, twitter or comment below!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Side Trip: Darn Good Soup Review and Bucceto's Review (Bloomington, IN)

Although my time in Bloomington was short, I carefully planned to ensure I made the most of the plentiful gluten-free offerings while devoting my attention to the conference that brought me out to the town in the first place. While I had more time on the first day to get out and explore (see those reviews here) day two in Bloomington was more of a take-out and delivery kind of day because I was in educational sessions and meetings and could not escape for hours to explore Indiana University's campus and town itself. While I had hoped that my food allergies would be accommodated, boxed lunches and buffet dinners proved to be barriers  I didn't mind because it allowed me to discover- and rediscover- old and new favorites in Darn Good Soup and Bucceto's Smiling Teeth. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Side Trip: Anyetsang's Little Tibet Review and Anatolia Review (Bloomington, IN)

I firmly believe that colleges and good restaurants are like lightning and thunder; where one goes, the other is sure to follow. That is definitely true of Bloomington, IN, home of Indiana University and a plethora of restaurants and cafes serving up quality fare for hungry college students and locals alike. While the town is populated with restaurants of all stripes- family run establishments to national chains- I knew I wanted to eat locally-owned restaurants during my short time here. After doing some preliminary research, I decided to check out 4th Street which was a short walk from the hotel. This street is home to many authentic multicultural food offerings. Each cute house on the street was home to a different cuisine and each was more enticing than the next. I wish I had a full month to explore each individual house on the street, because Bloomington packs a lot of gluten-free goodness into such a small town. After careful consideration, I selected two restaurants on the street to try on this visit: Anyetsang's Little Tibet and Anatolia.