I’m finally turning 25…my car insurance is becoming $500 a year cheaper, I can rent a car without paying a hefty penalty and I think that I’m actually going to avoid a quarter-life crisis…now, all I have to do is find a restaurant to celebrate at that can make a gluten-free meal and satisfy the stomachs of my family and friends…oy vey!
As I began planning my birthday party, my immediate instinct was to go somewhere that I go all the time. Somewhere that I know is safe and can make me a gluten-free meal that will definitely not leave me with explosive diarrhea on my birthday. But then I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that this is the start of a new era of my life and with it should be new and exciting dining experiences!
My dad has a bad stomach and is on a high-fiber diet, my mom also has celiac and colitis, one of my best friends is kosher and another is allergic to citrus! AHH! What to do?
Thankfully, the latest edition (2008-2009) of theTriumph Dining Essential Gluten-Free Dining Guidearrived in my mailbox last week, as did my Gluten-Free Dining Cards. YIPPIE!
The guide provides instant access to celiac-friendly restaurants and gluten-free lists including:
More than 1,600 individually-owned restaurants specifically recommended by other Celiacs for their ability to accommodate the gluten-free diet.
More than 900 individually owned restaurants offering printed gluten-free menus, gluten-free pastas or gluten-free pizza.
More than 2,600 chain restaurant locations that have extensive gluten-free options.
80 lists of gluten-free items provided by regional and national chain restaurants, from fast food joints to high-end steakhouses.
Strategies for ensuring successful and safe gluten-free restaurant dining.
So, I took the book and a cup of coffee out onto my balcony and immediately flipped to the Washington, DC section. There were about 40 restaurants in this section. I also looked at the Maryland and Virginia sections, which upped my options to more than 200 restaurants in the DC-Metropolitan Area, all that are gluten-free friendly!
I read descriptions of so many restaurants and my mouth was watering! I came up with a list of three and sent copies the menus to my friends and family who would be attending dinner. After a very un-democratic vote that was whole-heartedly influenced by ME, we decided that my party would be at a Maggianos in Friendship Heights.
Now, you would think that since we picked a gluten-free friendly restaurant that the difficulty would be over…Not quite yet. Maggianos is a family-style Italian restaurant, so when you have more than 4 people, they ask that you order large portions to share…this is what is known as family-style dining. How on earth would everyone be accommodated? Not to worry! Triumph Dining gave me complete contact information for Maggianos, so I knew exactly whom I needed to speak with about my utterly difficult family.
Within one minute of dialing Maggianos, I was connected directly with the chef and we went over the family-style menu and he highlighted options that would work for a large party. The menu allows you to choose: 2 salads, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 pastas, 2 vegetables and dessert—all of which are bottomless, so you can refill as many times as you want!
Here’s the menu we came up with:
-Grilled Calamari with lemon butter dipping sauce -Sliced beefsteak tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese; drizzled with our Italian Vinaigrette - Chopped Salad with chopped iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, green onion, avocado, crispy Prosciutto, tossed in our signature House Dressing. -Maggiano's Salad with Iceberg and romaine lettuce, crumbled bleu cheese, crispy Prosciutto, red onions, tossed in our signature House Dressing. -Rigatoni pasta, herb roasted boneless chicken, mushrooms and onions, tossed in a light Marsala cream sauce. (substitute gluten-free spiral pasta) -Fettuccini noodles tossed with broccoli and garlic in a creamy alfredo sauce.(substitute gluten-free spiral pasta) -A whole roast chicken marinated in fresh herbs, roasted and cut into pieces. Served in a light chicken sauce. -Beef Medallions, Portabella Mushrooms, Garlic Mashed Potatoes. - Broccoli sautéed with garlic and olive oil. -Asparagus sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
Even though my menu is all set, I’m still going to take my Italian Triumph Gluten-Free Dining Card with me to make sure that the staff working on my birthday know exactly how to prepare the food. Not only does the card say in English what I can and cannot eat and what to check on, but it also provides the information in Italian, just to be sure the chef understands!
The cards are also available for the following cuisines: Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Greek, Mexican and French.
Thank you Triumph Dining for helping make my birthday a fabulous experience! I’ll let you know how the big night goes!