Gluten Free Rosh Hashanah

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My favorite children's Rosh Hashanah songs are about apples and honey.  Apples and honey are the food symbols that we all associate with the Jewish New Year.  Try baking gluten free versions of your favorite desserts made with apples and honey this year using Blends by Orly Sydney Blend Cake Flour.  Simply replace the wheat flour in your recipe with Blends by Orly.  Try not to let your guests know they are eating a gluten free cake.  I bet you they won't notice a difference!  


Orly's Gluten-Free Sweet and Spicy Autumn Honey Cake

Honey Cake is a Rosh Hashanah dessert staple.  Personally, I'm not a huge fan of traditional honey cake.  After experimenting with a few different recipes, I've created my own version of honey cake that I love and am so excited to share with you!  I've incorporated some of my favorite flavors and spices, and my beverage of choice to bring you this perfect Fall recipe.  Since you only need 3/4 cup of red wine, use the wine that is leftover from your Shabbat meals or from last night's dinner.  I would recommend a full bodied red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or a Merlot- but other varietals will work too. Just don't use super sweet and syrupy kiddush wine!  While honey cake recipes traditionally call for canola or vegetable oil, I like using olive oil in this cake. The olive oil adds a slightly fruity floral flavor that complement the spices and orange peel. It also contributes a moister cake texture.  But if you prefer the taste of canola oil in baking, you can use that instead.

honey cake 1.jpg

300 grams Blends by Orly Sydney Blend (2 1/2 cups), more for the pan
10 grams baking powder (2 teaspoons)
3 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)
3 grams salt (1/2 teaspoon)
2 grams cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 grams ground ginger (1 teaspoon)
3 large eggs
200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
1 ¼ cups olive oil or canola oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good quality honey
¾ cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons grated orange peel or orange zest

Heat: Heat to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan with Sydney Blend, including center tube.  You don't want your beautiful cake to stick to the pan after baking!

Mix: In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients- Sydney Blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  In another large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, oil, honey, the wine and the orange zest until well combined. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until batter is smooth with no lumps.

Bake: Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out of the center clean, about 50-60 minutes. Your oven may be different to mine, so make sure to check your cake before removing from the oven.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely. 

Serve cake topped with powdered sugar.  This honey cake pairs perfectly with macerated stone fruit and whipped cream.  


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Orly's Easy Gluten Free Apple Kugel (Apple Pudding)

This apple kugel recipe is really meant to be a side dish, but I like to make it for dessert!  It's just sweet enough to satisfy any dessert craving, but not overly sugary like so many apple cake recipes that leave you with a tummy ache. This is the most moist and fluffy apple kugel I've ever tasted.  It's so light that you'll be tempted to finish the entire dish in one sitting (like I have)!  The best part is that it is SUPER easy to make.  With only 6 ingredients and an apple corer, you can whip this dish up in just a few minutes. For added richness, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.  Serve as a side dish or for dessert.   Quick, easy and always a winner!

Ingredients
8 Granny Smith apples
1 cup Blends by Orly Sydney Blend
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Heat: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13 inch square or oval baking pan with non stick cooking oil.  

Mix: Peel and core 8 Granny Smith.  Slice apples thinly and line the surface of the pan with the apples.  In a large bowl, combine Sydney Blend,  white sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix together until you have an even and smooth batter with no lumps. Pour the batter evenly over the layer of apples to cover.  Sprinkle a light layer of cinnamon sugar on top.  

Bake kugel on the center oven rack for about 50 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  


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Gluten Free Tel Aviv

Gluten Free Tel Aviv

Israel has been a pioneer in the gluten free international scene.  Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are booming with cafes and restaurants offering loads of delicious gluten free options! 

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Gluten Free Jerusalem

Cafe Aroma

Multiple Locations, Kosher

Anyone who has been to Israel knows that the best place to get blended iced coffee is Aroma.  In fact, I believe that Aroma in Israel makes the best iced coffee in the world.  To be honest, it tastes more like a milkshake than iced coffee.  It is a perfect blend of rich and creamy milk and a sweet coffee flavor with hint of chocolate.  The best part is that you aren’t left with any icy slushy at the bottom of your cup since the drink is blended perfectly every time.  Since I am a coffee obsessed individual, Aroma’s iced coffee would fit into my top three favorite things about Israel.  


What else do I love about Aroma?  They were one of the first cafes in Israel to start carrying gluten free bread.  When I visited Israel in September 2011, before the gluten free craze started spreading, I was pleasantly surprised to see that aroma offered sandwiches on gluten free bread.  I was living in Paris at the time, where if you said you could not eat wheat, they pretty much spit on you.   What a refreshing experience it was to sit and enjoy our haloumi cheese and grilled Mediterranean veggie sandwiches while sipping iced coffees and frozen lemonada!  

The gluten free bread was surprisingly tasty too, almost like ciabatta bread.  Back then, only a few Aroma locations offered the gluten free bread.   Today, every store has gluten free bread and gluten free marble cake (which doesn’t look appetizing at all so I would recommend sticking with the bread!)  

Instead of serving a fully prepared gluten free sandwich to customers, Aroma serves the bread wrapped separately in plastic with the fillings and accompaniments on the side- almost like a make your own sandwich.  I can only assume that they had a bad case of cross contamination since they are not a gluten free facility.  And now, to air on the safe side, they still offer gluten free bread but take every measure they can to keep it separate until it reaches the customer.  It’s a less accommodating way to be served, but safety first!

Moses

Cinema City, Kosher

One of the highlights of our trip to Jerusalem was discovering the Kosher Moses restaurant at the new Cinema City.  Moses is a popular Israeli burger chain with many non-kosher locations throughout the country, namely Tel Aviv.  They are acclaimed for having some of the best burgers in Israel.  Now, they also offer gluten free burger buns at all of their locations.  We ordered a side of chips (French fries) and they prepared those specially gluten free as well.  Casual dining with table service and a young cool ambiance.  

Gluten Free Burger From Moses, Jerusalem

Gluten Free Burger From Moses, Jerusalem

Black Bar n'Burger

Jaffa Street, Kosher

This burger joint is in the center of the city of Jerusalem, right off Jaffa St and close to the Mamila Hotel, Waldorf Astoria and David Citatel.  It offers a full range of beef burgers, but only offers one gluten free beef burger option with a gluten free bun.  I don't know why the other burgers can't be made gluten free- perhaps they use a filler.  It's an easily located and in-expensive restaurant with a trendy vibe.

Cookie Cream

Machneh Yehudah, Kosher, Dessert Bar

Cookie cream is an ice cream shop that makes Belgium waffle sandwiches and sundays.  They don't advertise anywhere in the store that they offer gluten free waffles, but we went inside just to check the ice cream flavors and Josh asked just out of curiosity if they have anything gluten free.  The gluten free waffles are not readily available, but can be made fresh on the spot upon request.  We had to wait about 15 minutes for the gluten free waffle.  When it was finished, we picked our ice cream filling and toppings.  The halva flavored ice cream was insanely good!  The waffle on its own was a bit dry but with the ice cream filling and chocolate sauce and whipped cream toppings to moisten it up, it was delicious.  The manager was very accommodating and was eager to get our feedback on the gluten free waffle and the gluten free chocolate chip cookies (pictured in the jar).  

Crave Gourmet Street Food

Machneh Yehuda Markets
Kosher, Meat

Crave was opened by the former chef from Herzog Winery in Nappa. Crave has lots of gluten free options with a cool vibe.  The menu at Crave is based off ‘upscale street food’. You will find carnitas, fish tacos, brisket tacos, sliders, beer, cocktails, and more. Sandwiches include a kosher Rueben: house cured smoked brisket pastrami, spicy Korean kimchi, pickled onions, truffle sriracha mayo, and vegan cheese. There is a gluten free slider bun option and the tacos are served on homemade gluten free corn tortillas.  We went to town on some beef sliders on the gluten free burger buns & pulled brisket and chicken tacos on the house made corn tortillas. The burger buns were just ok.  They were slightly crumbly and were not very flavorful.  The tortillas did not look so appealing because they are hand rolled, but looks can be deceiving!  They were really delicious and soft.  The brisket taco was especially tasty!  The chicken taco had great flavor and nice accompaniments, but it was served with baby chicken (pargiyot) which I wasn't a huge fan of because it was chewy.  

Sabayos

Machaneh Yehudah Market

Kosher Dairy

Walking inside the machaneh yehudah markets (The Shuk) we passed by this creperie that had a big sign in English and Hebrew that said "Gluten Free Savory and Sweet Crepes."  It's a cool little stall with a few small tables outside.  We were too full to eat a crepe there and then but will keep it on the list for next time.  If you try it before me let me know how it is! 

Hasandak 

Machaneh Yehudah Market
Kosher Dairy

We went on a search for some grub while we were waiting for our gluten free waffles from Cookie Cream to bake.  We spotted Hasandak Pasta and Pizza restaurant nearby at the Machaneh Yehudah Markets (The Shuk). We were excited to see that the menu has gluten free pasta and pizza, especially since there are not a lot of gluten free pizza options in Jerusalem.  They told us that they never got their delivery and so they didn't have any gluten free pasta or pizza available.  We asked them if they normally have it available and they said yes, but they were a bit sketchy and evasive in their reply. I am suspicious that they may not always have the gluten free options available , since what are the odds that they were completely out of pizza and pasta.  But if they were telling the truth, this restaurant is a great win for the gluten free community and visitors to Jerusalem!  We'll try to check it out next time and try it out.  Hopefully they'll have the product available! 

Gluten Free Paris

My favorite part about living in Paris was walking through the streets and discovering the most beautiful boulangerie and patisserie windows with their baguettes, croissants and decadent pastries.  While I could indulge in the world’s finest breads pastries, my husband with celiac disease had to stick to macaroons! In 2010, the words “sans gluten” were foreign to restaurant and bakery owners.  The concept of pastry without the gluten was unthinkable.  And yet, 6 years later, gluten free has taken hold. In Paris, you can now find bakeries selling gluten-free breads, sandwiches and pastries.

Helmut Newcake

28 Rue Vignon, 75009 Paris

The city’s gluten-free dedicated gluten free bakery is Helmut Newcake, a pastry shop less than a 10-minute walk from the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in the Ninth Arrondissement. The display windows at Helmut Newcake are stacked with delicate fruit tarts and cream filled éclairs, typical of the traditional boulangerie. 

Eric Kayser

4 rue de l’Échelle, 75001 Paris

Not far from Helmut Newcake, near the Louvre, the famed French baker Eric Kayser, too, has gluten-free offerings on the Rue de l’Échelle.  Since Eric Kayser is not a dedicated gluten free bakery like the others, they pre-wrap all of the gluten free offerings.  The cellophane wrapped cakes and cookies appear un-appealing in the case, especially compared to their neighboring fresh regular bread and pastry options.  

There is a separate area dedicated to various types of gluten free breads including chickpea bread, buckwheat bread, and multi-grain bread.  We bought one of each loaf to try.  To be frank, I didn't like the gluten free bread at Eric Kayser as much as I hoped I would.   The loaves were dense and heavy.  But it's so fun to be able to purchase gluten free treats at one of Paris's most well established bakeries!  

Chambelland

14 Rue Ternaux, 75011 Paris

Post from May 2015:

You can also find artisanal leavened breads made with flours like rice and buckwheat at Chambelland in the 11th Arrondissement.  At Chambelland, as at La Maison Kayser and Helmut Newcake, they don’t use the food-grade preservatives that are the norm in North American gluten-free products. We sat outside the very crowded restaurant and enjoyed the most delicious lunch.  There are a select number of sandwiches offered daily and once they are sold out, they don't make more.  We finished eating at 12:30 and two out of the three sandwich options were already sold out!  Josh and I shared the tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich and the tuna sandwich on a large fresh focaccia.  We could not resist tasting the raspberry tart for dessert.  It tasted as beautiful as it looked in the bakery case.  

We loved Chambelland so much that we went back the next day again! We bought a loaf of Chambelland’s pain aux cinq grains (the five grains being buckwheat, sunflower, gold and brown flax, poppy seed and sesame) to eat at our hotel breakfast.  Most Paris hotels still don't offer gluten free bread at breakfast.  We can't expect them to progress that quickly!

Post from May 2017:

Chambelland was the first restaurant we came back to on our trip back to Paris.  It was a rainy cold day, but we made it our mission to make the trip back, despite its non central location.  We were most excited to eat that amazing bread that we remembered so fondly, and the lemon meringue tarte made with the creamiest richest French meringue you have ever tasted in your life.  We actually got a seat inside this time- usually this place is PACKED around lunch.  They haven't changed much since we went two years ago, but the food was just as consistently delicious as we remembered.  All of the breads resemble a focaccia shape but made with different ancient grains, rice flour and seeds.  We took four different types of breads home with us to try.  It's most exciting that they bake all of their breads in the back of the restaurant, as many of the other gluten free bakeries that we went to purchase their bread from a supplier.  Nothing like fresh (gluten free) bread in Paris!  

 

NOGlue

Posted May 2015: 69, rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris

NOGlue is an entirely gluten free restaurant featuring French cuisine.  Located in an alleyway in the 7th arrondissement, they are open for dinner only and require reservations in advance.  The space is tiny, so they fill up quite quickly.  If you can't make it to the restaurant, be sure to stop by the take-away bakery just across the way.  We stopped their for an afternoon snack when the restaurant was closed.  The tomato and mozzarella panini was just delicious!

Posted May 2017: 38, rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris


We went to have lunch at a new NoGlue location near Le Marais, which was a nice sit down restaurant.  It seemed like every patron in the restaurant was American. Even the servers preferred to speak English to French.  This was very illustrative of their main customer base.  As I always say, the French are very negative on gluten free, since baguettes and croissants are part of their underlying culture.  We ordered gluten free fish and chips, spinach and goats cheese quiche, and raspberry tarte for dessert.  The fish and chips were nothing to write home about.  The quiche was absolutely phenomenal!  It's hard to get the same flaky crust without the gluten but the buttery flavor was delicious.  The tarte was very impressive- similar to the quiche crust.  The presentation of the tarte made it all the more delicious.  

Bears and Raccoons

21 Rue Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris

Bears and Raccoons is a new gluten free cafe since the last time we visited Paris 2 years ago. A dedicated gluten free cafe that offers sandwiches, cakes, cookies and organic coffees and teas.  They don't offer classic French patisserie like Chambelland and NoGlue (tarts, eclairs, chouquete) but they have a nice selection of sweets including carrot cake, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.  Not your genuine Parisian culinary experience, but a cute spot to sit for lunch.  They don't make their bread in house, and the sandwiches were just ok.  The carrot cake was moist and very delicious.  

Le Grande Epicerie

38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris

The Grande Epicerie is the most grandiose multi level food and beverage hall that I have ever witnessed.  The store is so beautifully merchandised that it makes you want to buy and eat everything.  There are foods from around the world and all different types of cuisines.  The almond croissants are the best I have ever tasted in my life.  I was excited to see that since I've last visited Le Grande Epicerie, they have added an entire gluten free section next to the bakery with packaged breads, pastries and cookies.  We bought a loaf of bread seeded bread to eat with some truffled goats cheese at the cheese and wine bar and it was pretty impressive!  Everything is pre-packaged so you can make sure there is no cross contamination.  

Yummy & Guilt Free

3 Rue du Temple, 75004 Paris

Le Marais is filled with trendy and creative food concepts.  If you have any dietary restrictions, you can bet that there will be food for you in Le Marais.  One of the new gluten free and vegan concepts in Le Marais is Yummy & Guilt Free Gaufres.  Gaufres means waffles in French.  The waffles are vegan and gluten free.  There are sweet and savory options- similar to the French sweet and savory crepes.  You can choose your own fillings and watch them hand pipe the fillings into the waffles in front of you. The place is very tiny with only a few tables, but it's more of a quick fix take away type of place.  The gaufres are light and delicious.  It's hard to stop at just one!

Chapon Mousse Bar

69 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris

Chapon is another concept eatery in Le Marais.  This is the first chocolate mousse and toppings bar that I have ever seen.  Choose your mousse base and then choose your toppings.  Served either in a cone or a cup.  

Hank Burger Restaurant

55 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris

The entire menu is vegan and they also have a gluten free patty and gluten free bun.  Their vegan and gluten free burgers are delicious! Choose from an interesting mix of flavors and variety of toppings and accompaniments. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is vegetarian or gluten free!  Most customers in the restaurant sounded American. Even the guys at the counter spoke English perfectly with no French accent.  Le Marais is filled with lots of x-pats since it has turned into such a trendy and "yuppy" area.  

Gluten Free Bread Machine

Baking with a gluten free bread machine can be an easy and less messy introduction to gluten free bread baking.  It’s as simple as adding the ingredients, pushing a button and letting your machine do the rest of the work!  Personally, I prefer to mix my bread dough in the machine and then shape it by hand and bake it in the oven.  I can form my dough into whatever shape my heart desires, while baking bread in a bread machine always yields the same loaf shape.  But if want to avoid the extra sticky mess and are short on time, baking bread in a bread maker is your best option!

Now that you are excited to start baking bread, what bread machine should you buy?

Well known brands like Oster, BreadMan and Cuisinart are all in the affordable $50-$125 price range and the newer models have gluten free settings.  Regardless of which brand you use, follow the same order- liquids first, then dry ingredients, then yeast. Always put liquid ingredients (eggs, oil, butter, water, etc) into your bread maker pan first. Dry ingredients go on top. If you can whisk the dry ingredients together before pouring them into the pan, that will give you a more even mix.  Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the yeast.  If you are using eggs in your bread, bring eggs to room temperature before mixing the gluten free bread dough. If some ingredients get stuck to the sides of the pan while mixing, use a dough scraper or spatula to wipe down the sides of the bowl.  You want to make sure your ingredients are fully incorporated.

The most frustrating issue that I've historically had with baking bread in a bread maker is that even when the baking cycle is complete and the outside appears to be beautifully browned, the inside can be undercooked and doughy.  The solution?  Instant read thermometer!  Using a thermometer is an easy way to determine if your bread is fully cooked.  Always take your bread’s temperature before you take it out of the bread maker. If it’s not over 205° F, it’s not fully cooked in the middle. Add extra time to your bread maker or put the bread maker pan straight into your oven on 350° F for another 5-10 minutes and check the temperature again.

Store your fully cooled bread loaf in a ziplock bag for up to three days.  Alternatively, slice the fully cooled loaf and store in the freezer.  If it is wrapped and sealed tightly, the bread will last several months in the freezer.

What if your bread machine doesn't have a gluten free setting?  Can you still use it to bake gluten free bread?

It is preferable to make bread in a machine with a gluten free setting, but if your bread maker is an older model, read your manual to find out how to program the machine for:

1.  a 20-minute mix cycle
2.  a 1-hour rise cycle
3.  a 1-hour bake cycle

Do not allow the machine to do a “punch down” or second rise.  Those are settings specific to gluten breads and should not be used on a gluten free loafFor the rest of the baking instructions, follow the directions above.  

Here are two recipes to get you started.  Use the ingredients in these recipes to make your dough.  For mixing and baking directions, follow the instructions on your bread machine. 
Gluten Free Health Sandwich Bread
Gluten Free Challah Bread

You can also bake Blends by Orly Gluten Free Challah Mixes in your bread machine.  My favorite is the Poppyseed & Onion flavor because it makes a delicious sliced sandwich bread!

 

 

Gluten Free Vietnam

The Asian population in general has a very low rate of gluten intolerance.  This is likely because the majority their diet is based on naturally gluten free grains, namely rice.  They don’t eat a lot of bread like we do in Western societies, where gluten intolerance is all too common. 

The gluten free industry in Vietnam exists because of tourism.  At all of the hotels we stayed at in Vietnam, the staff aimed to please.  Especially the 5 star hotels and international hotel chains like Hyatt and Accor attract travelers from the US, Australia and Europe, with a high rate of gluten free guests.  The good news is that Vietnamese food is naturally gluten free friendly.  Two of the most well known Vietnamese dishes are Pho, which is a soup made with rice noodles, and Vietnamese spring rolls, which have an outer wrap, made of rice paper.   

Vietnamese food is naturally gluten free friendly, but it is not vegetarian friendly.  Most of the Vietnamese cuisine is very heavy in pork and shellfish, so having a vegetarian section on every menu at the hotels we stayed at was also extremely helpful.  

Hyatt Regency, Da Nang

At the Hyatt Regency, the Food and Beverage manager told us that they have increased their gluten free offerings since they have been progressively getting more and more gluten free customers.  They have especially seen increases in the number of children with gluten intolerance.  They have started to educate their staff about gluten free awareness. 

The property has three restaurants.    All menus items are marked with common allergens including gluten free, vegetarian and contains nuts.  On the evening we arrived, we ate at The Beach House restaurant.  We were exhausted after flying in from Ho Chi Minh.  The extraordinary food at this restaurant awakened our taste buds!  There was so much on the menu that we wanted to order and so many delicious items marked gluten free or vegetarian!

Every morning an international hot breakfast is served at The Green House restaurant, which is also open for lunch and dinner as an Italian restaurant.   The hotel staff prepared gluten free "pumpkin bread" for us. Thick pieces of gluten free sliced bread that are yellow in color and smell like sourdough bread, the bread likely had only a teeny bit of pumpkin in the dough to add color.  The texture was dry and fluffy, almost like sponge cake, and the bread didn’t taste like pumpkin at all.  The taste was quite bland compared to the delicious sourdough smell, but definitely does the trick when eaten toasted with an omelet or dipped in olive oil.  The Green House offers gluten free spaghetti at lunch and dinner as a substitute to all pasta dishes on the menu.  In fact, the box of gluten free pasta is on display with the other regular pastas, which is pretty cool!

Vin Pearl, Da Nang

We ate breakfast at the Vin Pearl buffet one morning during our trip.  We were gracious that they have a gluten free bread alternative for gluten free guests.  However, the bread was almost inedible.  It was crumbly and tasted like cardboard- would bring you back to gluten free bread in the pre-historic era (like 1990s!). 

The highlight of this meal was that we got to try salmon Pho for the first time! Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped white rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken.  Pho is traditionally served at breakfast time and is staple of the Vietnamese diet.  Most pho, even salmon pho, is prepared with a chicken or meat stock.  The salmon pho at the Vin Pearl was made with a vegetarian stock, so we got to taste this traditional dish that everyone raves about!  

Angsana Lang Co

During breakfast on the first day of our stay, Josh requested gluten free bread from the kitchen staff.  The issue is that no one seemed to speak English well enough to understand him.  The thing about the Vietnamese people is that they have a very friendly and pleasant manner, but their English is generally very poor.  There were other naturally gluten free items on the buffet including eggs made to order, vegetables and potatoes.  My favorite items on the buffet were the different flavored yogurts.  I especially loved the bircher muesli, the passion fruit yogurt and the aloe vera yogurt!  Of course, every Vietnamese hotel offers traditional Vietnamese breakfast items that are naturally gluten free including congee, pho, shrimp spring rolls, Vietnamese soups and banh chung- a sticky rice cake wrapped in banana leaf and packed with fatty pork and mung bean.  Side Note: We had ordered a vegetarian version of Bahn Chung from room service the first night that we arrived to try to get a sense of this popular Vietnamese dish.  I usually love a dish with sticky rice, but the center filling tasted very weird and reminded me too much of animal fat.   Let’s just say I wouldn’t order it again. 

That afternoon, we met a woman at Yoga who told us that the hotel had been preparing gluten free bread for her every morning at breakfast and that we had to speak with the head chef who spoke English.  The staff was so apologetic about not understanding our request the day before that the next morning, they prepared a special plate of gluten free breads and muffins for Josh.  Josh enjoyed the mini gluten free rolls and said they tasted just like bread sticks.  The sliced bread was not very enjoyable, as it was had a gummy and cakey texture, even after being toasted.   The muffins were dry and crumbly.  But they definitely got an A for effort! 

There is an Italian restaurant on the neighboring Banyan Tree Hotel property that is open for lunch.  On the first day, we brought our own gluten free pasta and asked them to prepare it for us.   They did so happily.  The next day, they prepared a gluten free pizza for us.  Although they don’t normally do this, the hotel is clearly eager to please guests.  The chef used a gluten free bread mix for the base and explained to us that the dough was too soft and kept falling apart.  When she baked it longer, it held together better, but she still struggled with the consistency.  It actually looked AMAZING, which is half the battle!  The pizza had a very funny flavor and chewy texture.  We requested a side of pizza sauce and dipped it in the sauce to mask the flavor.  But since it looked so pretty, we continued to eat every last morsel.  

The Nam Hai, Hoi An

The Nam Hai was not only the most beautiful resort I have ever stayed at but the most accommodating to dietary restrictions too.  Upon check in, reception asks if you have any dietary restrictions and make a note on your room account so that the kitchen and wait staff is aware when they serve you.  

Breakfast is served every morning at a beautiful space overlooking the hotel property, the expansive pool and the quiet beach.  Sitting at breakfast was absolute serenity and I never wanted to leave!  The quality of the food at the breakfast buffet was exceptional and all of the food was laid out so beautifully that it made me want to try everything! 

The hotel had delicious gluten free English muffin style bread prepared for us every morning.  They also prepared gluten free crepes made to order for us that were so incredibly delicious. They tasted exactly like the regular crepes on the buffet.  Other items that they offer made to order for us were omelets any style and Indian Dahl (lentils).  They had an impressive array of cereals, yogurts and fresh fruits.  There was an incredible mix of toasted and caramelized coconut, almonds, cashews, pecans and seeds that paired perfectly with the fresh yogurt.

 

There are two dinner restaurants on property.   One is an Indian restaurant and the other is Vietnamese.   Both are very expensive but the quality of the food and the elegant ambiance at each restaurant helped to justify the bill.  The fish at both restaurants was extremely fresh and sensationally prepared with fresh spices and herbs grown on the property’s garden.  The staff prepared special gluten free bread rolls for Josh at the Indian restaurant.  At the Vietnamese restaurant, all tables are served rice crackers to start.  They actually looked and tasted very similar to Passover matzah and like matzah, they were pretty addicting!  

The gluten free highlight of the Indian restaurant was the gluten free dessert that they prepared for Josh.  It was a gluten free passion fruit soufflé served with coconut ice cream and a crème Anglaise.   Other gluten free dessert items on the menu were crème brulee and home made ice cream, but it was great fun for Josh to be able to eat a soufflé!   

The pool side service at Nam Hai was also exceptional.  As we sipped our delicious cocktails while reading the lunch menu, Josh exclaimed "I wish I could have some gluten free pasta or pizza right now."  We asked the server if the kitchen would be able to prepare gluten free pasta or pizza for us.  Typically for these last minute requests, the hotels respond that they need 24 hours notice to prepare ingredients.  On the contrary, the server informed us that the kitchen would be happy to prepare gluten free pasta to our liking straight away.  If we wanted gluten free pizza, we would have to wait two hours to allow them to make the dough from scratch and let it rise!  Hunger trumped patience and so Josh ordered some gluten free pasta with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.  He finished the bowl before I could blink and said it was some of the best gluten free pasta he had ever tasted.  He said it tasted like they made the pasta from scratch.  Then he ordered another bowl! 

Gluten Free Byron Bay

Naked Treaties, Byron Bay 

This raw vegan cafe has a cultish following.  They offer a wide variety of delicious fresh superfood smoothies, cold pressed juices, raw desserts, cold pressed coffees, herbal teas and more.  They are only open until 4pm every day and seem to be busy at every hour that the doors are open.  They are so popular that they get away with charging a 10% surcharge on weekends!  

Cardamom Pod, Byron Bay 

We went to the Cardamom Pod Vegetarian cafe on the Gold Coast a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  The second location is in central Byron Bay. This cosy small restaurant with a very earthy feel is hidden in the back of an alley way off one of the main streets.  Order at the counter and choose from a selection of hot Indian vegetarian dishes that are displayed in chafing dishes.  We stopped into the cafe for a quick afternoon snack and ordered a plate of Dahl and chickpeas with a side of basmati rice.  

Italian at the Pacific, Byron Bay

This Italian restaurant is situation right near the beach and has a really charming dining environment.  The courtyard is lit up at night with fairy lights.  Our service was very attentive and the food was tasty.  The restaurant offers any pasta dish on the menu with a gluten free penne substitution.  The gluten free Fettuccine con Melanzane was just as good with the penne sub (I tasted both).  The pasta is tossed in a homemade tomato sauce with grilled aubergine, fresh mozzarella, basil and parmesan.  It definitely hit the spot for our Italian food craving!  Dessert was the highlight of the meal.  The Cioccolato Torta is a warm Flourless chocolate cake with a soft inside, Nutella sable biscuit, salted toffee & homemade banana yoghurt ice cream.  The mixture of the nuttella, banana, salted caramel and chocolate flavors was just incredible!  I would almost just go back there for the cake!

 

Graze at Elements Hotel, Byron Bay

Our wedding anniversary falls on Valentine's day, so we usually get stuck eating dinner at a restaurant with an over-priced pre-fixed menu.  Luckily, the restaurant at the newly opened Elements Hotel in Byron bay was offering their full menu for V-Day dinner, so we decided to give it a try.  The service was dreadful, but the food was incredible!  They were understaffed and underprepared for such a busy night as Valentine's Day.  In fact, it took so long for the server to take our drinks order that we ended up going over to the bar-tender ourselves and designing our own cocktails.  The bar-staff was very accommodating and enjoyed being challenged by Josh's discerning pallet!  Everything that we ordered was sensational.  My personal favorite was the Smoked Burrata served with tomato jam and really delicious gluten free bread.   Josh's favorite dish (pictured above) was the gluten free truffled potato, goats cheese and onion flatbread.  I have to say that I was very impressed with the quality of the gluten free flatbread, so much so that when they brought it out we thought they for sure brought us the normal version.  Once I tasted it, I could detect a difference, but the presentation was so impressive.  

The Three Blue Ducks on The Farm, Ewingsdale

The Farm at Ewingsdale is touted as an institution in Byron Bay and is on everyone's list of "must eats."  I have been to the Three Blue Ducks in Bronte and was unimpressed by the limited breakfast menu there.  The menu at The Farm is much more extensive and the coffee was the best I had during my time in Byron.  The food is as fresh as can be, as it is literally "Farm to Table."  We ordered a whole smorgasbord of dishes, since Josh wanted to try almost everything on the menu!   Many of the menu items were naturally gluten free and marked as such.  Inside the restaurant, there is also a market with beautiful products from local manufactures of chocolate, muesli, crackers and other specialty grocery items.   

Quattro, Lennox Head

Lennox Head is another beach town about a 15 minute drive from Byron.  Walk along the charming main street across from the beach and you won't miss Quatro restaurant from the big sign outdoor and the busy terrace dining spot.  All of the pizzas are available gluten free and there is a whole menu of pizza varieties.  We had already eaten lunch at Lime Cafe but Josh was too excited and made me promise to come back here for lunch before heading to the airport the next day.  The gluten free Pizza Margherita (pictured above) was ACTUALLY the size of a regular pizza!  Kuddos for that!  This was one of the only times that Josh and I ordered pizzas (mine regular and his GF) and I didn't feel bad that mine was 2x the size of his.  The restaurant buys their GF crust from a local bakery.  It is very rare to find a restaurant that makes their own gluten free pizza dough these days.  The gluten free pizza was very delicious- we especially enjoyed the sauce.  We ordered some salads too, which were fresh and flavorful and filled with tasty herbs.  The best part about eating lunch at Quattro is being able to look out on the beach just across the way the whole time.

Harvest Cafe , Newrybar NSW

Harvest Cafe is a quaint and expensive cafe in the tiny town of Newrybar.  The restaurant looks like a cottage with outdoor seating on a charming deck that is surrounded by nature.  In fact, we ate lunch with an iguana! The food was delicious and the fish was especially fresh.  The most memorable part of my dining experience at Harvest cafe (aside from the iguana) was that this was my first time trying an LSD (stands for dandelion soy latte) and now I'm HOOKED!  This drink is caffeine free but delivers the beautiful spicy tasting notes and warm sensation of drinking a chai latte.  And best of all, it's filled with health benefits for those of us who suffer from tummy and digestive issues (celiac, IBS, etc)!  

Le Cordon Bleu Orientation Guest Speaker

After speaking at the Le Cordon Bleu graduation in May, I was asked to speak to the incoming students at orientation this year.  It's a really huge honor that I feel like I have become the go-to alumni guest speaker for Sydney's campus.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a majority of my class didn't speak English fluently 😉. But I believe they are proud to show me as an example of a student that started a project at school 4 years ago and turned her passion project into a business.   The highlight of my day was seeing my former teachers, all of whom remembered me as the gluten free girl! 

To watch my speech and "words of wisdom" to the new students, click on the video link below.

Blends by Orly Noted as "The Highlight of the Evening" at the Ft. Lauderdale Yacht Chef's Show

I was invited to participate in this year's Yacht Chef's Show in Fort Lauderdale.  Every year, the Boat Show held in Ft. Lauderdale boasts a display of hundreds of yachts from all over the world.  This is where the creme de la creme of yacht lovers congregate every November.  

Now you want to know- What was I doing there?  I met Chef Joel Christy, the executive chef of National Marine Suppliers at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC.  National Marine Suppliers are the leading distributers of everything yacht related including food & drinks, safety gear, tools, uniforms, water slides, jet skis, and more.  Chef Joel attended the Fancy Food Show to select two or three new food items, out of the hundreds that exhibited,  to introduce to yacht chefs in his network.  Chef Joel left the Fancy Food Show with only two products on his list- Blends by Orly gluten free flour and Fernando Pensato Italian oils and vinegars.  

Why did he choose Blends by Orly? Here is how Chef Joel describes his experience.  "I was walking around the show when I heard a girl yell out "Try a gluten free cookie!"  I thought to myself, o no- not another gluten free product!  But I figured, I'll just taste her cookie to appease her and move on.  When I tasted the cookie, I couldn't believe it.  It was the first time that I tasted a gluten free cookie that tasted more delicious than most non-gluten-free cookies.  Then I tried a gluten free bread roll and I was blown away.  This is a special product!"

Chef Joel invited us to the show to exhibit our products to yacht chefs that he supplies from all over the world.  This event was a peek into how the other side lives.  These people have so much money that price tag is no obstacle.  They only want the best of the best.  Even if there are only 25 bottles in existence of a vintage wine, they want it at any cost.  

He introduced Blends by Orly to celebrity chef Adrienne Gang from Bravo's Below Deck.  She loves it so much that she baked a lemon pound cake with lavender frosting with Blends by Orly Sydney Blend for her dessert segment of the show.  

Blends by Orly was a hit at the show.  In fact, the morning after the show, a very respected yacht chef from France emailed Chef Joel specifically to tell him that gluten free cupcakes were the highlight of the evening.  It was extremely refreshing for me to share my passion project with other chefs who truly understand the properties of high quality food.  

Gluten Free Cruise Traveling

Gluten Free Cruise Traveling

During our travels around the world, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to discover the gluten free landscape wherever we go. In January 2013, Josh and I went on a two week princess cruise voyage and were very surprised at what a tremendously gluten free friendly experience I had.

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My Graduation Speech at LCB

My Graduation Speech at LCB

Le Cordon Bleu Sydney honored me with the role of guest speaker at the 2015 graduation. I spoke to the graduates about how I began the makings of Blends by Orly during an independent study that I pioneered while I studied there in 2012.

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My Teaching Gig

My Teaching Gig

I like to help people out by sharing what I've learned.  I was asked to present to a college class in Small Business and walk the students through some challenges they may face as entrepreneurs. As I am a natural performer and love public speaking, it was a blast! Here are some excerpts of some of the topics we discussed in the classroom.

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