Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pommes Frites!

Bonjour :)
While I'm breaking one of my own rules by reviewing this eatery as it doesn't specifically have gluten notations on the menu or website, I was eager to visit Pommes Frites, a very cute, very small fry shop on the lower west side. (123 2nd Ave, Astor Place stop on the 6.)
(I'm tempted to write "French fry shop", but Pommes Frites makes it very clear that they are selling Belgian fries.)
When I first read of it online, I had the usual Celiac response of oh, wonderful, another restaurant that my salivary glands can only dream of enjoying.
Plain fries are good and all, but if the option of slathering them in a sauces called "Sweet Mango Chutney Mayo", "Parmesan Peppercorn", and "Vietnamese Pineapple Mayo", is available, why settle for plain potatoes?
However, I was sure that these tantalizing options most likely contained some kind of modified food starch-perhaps a greater enemy to a Celiac than wheat. More hidden. Tends to be craftier.

But, lo and behold, after emailing Pommes and inquiring about the gluten content of its fabulous litany of dipping sauces, I was happily informed that all of the sauces are indeed gluten free! Could it be true? "Rosemary Garlic Mayo" could be mine?

Pommes' sign could get lost in the busy cluster of storefronts surrounding it, but the line of patrons and smell of fresh fries emanating from the door leads one right to it.

The sign alone makes me want to parle francais.

Here's a better view of the store, plus a glimpse of their blackboard, deliciously listing the long list of fry sauces they offer.
Upon entering, I was struck with a deep whiff of salt and oil-
my taste buds began to salivate immediately.
It was quite crowded, but when I finally made my way to the counter, breeze after tantalizing breeze of fry-scent kept me in excited anticipation as I perused the list of dips (25!) and watched a batch of the spuds get fried and salted.
A fry-chef hard at work whipping up a batch.

From what I could glean, the fries are sliced in the back, then brought up and placed in the metal tin on the left. The cooks toss the uncooked potatoes into the first frier, then again, for a second oil bath, to make sure they have reached their crisp-potential.

I sampled the rosemary garlic mayo, sweet mango chutney and parmesan peppercorn, and of the three, the parmesan peppercorn was the far superior. I wasn't sure which was which when I first tasted them, because the Parm flavor was not overpowering at all. It was tangy, but sweet and smooth. When combined with the crisp, baby fries, I could have, like my father says,
died and gone to heaven.
The fries were perfectly crunchy, hot, and not too greasy, no small feat.
I also tried them with "frite sauce", but it tasted a bit too fatty and too much like pure mayo for my taste.
Altogether, my fries (regular sized) and sauce were a bargain $5.50.
Also, one more adorable detail about Pommes, their tiny tables in the back have holes cut into them to hold the fry cones!
If these fries had been included in the taste-test, they surely would have
beat out Mickey-D's as "America's Favorite Fry".
Also, "Celiac's Favorite Fry".

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

S'Mac-in' on Mac n Cheese

Hello again!
This time, I update you from the east coast, and let me just say,  
New York, you're a gluten free girl's dreamboat. 
To me, Manhattan's just a hunk of burning, cheesy love, especially after eating at S'Mac. S'Mac (Sarita's Mac and Cheese) is in the East Village, located at 345 East 12th Street.
It's the cute little orange doorway with the extremely long line outside. 
When we (dining companion Brittany and I) arrived, we stood outside for about twenty minutes before making it in the door. However, seeing the delicious-looking plates of mac and cheese that kept emerging from the kitchen made me realize that if I didn't stay in line, my tummy would be very angry with me.
As we waited, I read the long list of macaroni and cheese options. They all sounded delicious and intriguing, with names including "Napoletana", "Parisienne", "Alpine", and the classic "4-Cheese". I also noticed that there are 4 sizes to choose from-Gnosh, Major Munch, Mongo, and Partay.

 I settled on a 'Major Munch' sized portion of Garden Lite, which was filled with cheddar cheese, parmesan, roasted cauliflower, portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, broccoli, and scallions. I made sure to request it gluten free, and asked for the "bread-crumbs" on top. The deceivingly-named crumbs are just gluten free cornflakes cooked on top to give the mac and cheese a satisfying crunchy top layer.

My food came quickly, and was served in the skillet it was made in! It was marked with a red skillet holder, which I think meant that it was gluten free. Brittany and I compared our dishes, and the gluten-free noodles looked identical to the glutenous ones. I couldn't wait to taste it.

One bite, and my mouth was in heaven. The blend of cheeses and the thick noodles was unlike any other gluten free pasta I've tasted. The cornflake top gave it an even more homestyle look and taste. The vegetables added the perfect amount of texture to the macaroni. 

Overall, S'Mac was just a tid bit pricey for my college budget (my meal, with a drink, cost around $15), but definitely worth both the wait and the money. Absolutely delicious! An orange gluten-free paradise.