Italpasta Giveaway!

When going gluten-free, it is essential to test out as many gluten-free pastas as you can to find the best of the best.  For some that's corn pasta.  For others, it's rice pasta.

Well, how about you combine the two, a pasta that uses both corn and rice?

That's what you get with Italpasta and MisuraItalpasta is 70% rice and 29% corn, while Misura is 80% corn and 20% rice.

Read my review of Italpasta!

Below, you have a chance to snag one of two prize packs, which include a combination of Italpasta and Misura gluten-free pasta!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Interview with CEO of Bard's Beer!

A few weeks ago I announced that Bard's Beer will soon be available at LCBO in Ontario. 

I hope to have a review post up soon featuring the beer but in the meantime, I was honoured to score an interview with Brian Kovalchuk, the CEO of Bard's Tale Beer Co!

Interview with Brian Kovulchuk, 
CEO of Bard's Tale Beer Co.

Jax: Tell me a little bit about the history of the company.  What was the inspiration to craft a gluten-free beer?

Brian: The founders of our company, Craig Belser and Kevin Seplowitz, were self-described beer geeks that were both diagnosed with celiac disease.  That meant a lot of food and beverage items were off the table including their passion - beer.  They met via the internet researching gluten-free brewing and made it their mission to develop a gluten-free beer.   But, not just any gluten-free beer.  It had to be a craft beer that could be enjoyed by all – gluten-intolerant or not.

Bard’s was the first gluten-free beer on the market in 2006.  Bard’s use of sorghum to replace barley has been followed by our competitors.  Only Bard’s malts the sorghum just like barley is malted in traditional beer.  Malting assists in the brewing process but also provides flavor, aroma and color to beer.  Did I say only Bard’s malts the sorghum in its recipe?

Jax: What kinds of ingredients did you experiment with in creating Bard's Beer and what made sorghum the winning ingredient?

Brian: Craig Belser did the experimentation with alternate grains.  He made beer with every gluten-free grain available including millet, amaranth, rice,  corn and sorghum.  Craig also malted all the barley-substitutes understanding the importance of a malted grain in brewing.

Sorghum turned out to be the best substitute.  Craig experimented with many different cultivars of sorghum.  His final choice is now proprietary and we contract with farmers to grow it for our exclusive use.

Jax: How did you craft a gluten-free beer without the use of syrups?  I notice most other gluten-free beer use syrups.

Brian: Bard’s malts our proprietary cultivar of sorghum and then brews it into an extract.  This sorghum malt extract is then pumped into the brew kettle avoiding any potential cross-contamination issues with the brewery’s grain handling system.  It is extremely important to ensure that Bard’s is gluten-free and we have procedures and testing in place from the farm to the bottle.

Jax: How does Bard's Beer compare to regular beer brewed with barley or wheat?  Do people without gluten sensitivities notice a difference?

Brian: We get quite a few testimonials from people saying their non-celiac spouse / friends enjoy Bard’s and cannot notice any difference in taste compared to traditional beer.

One of the gluten-free bloggers in the U. S. did a blind taste test asking non-gluten intolerant beer drinkers to pick Bard’s out of a panel of lager-style beers.  They could not.  Click on the following link to learn more. http://noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com/2012/04/lager-lowdown.html

I like to do taste tests with our distributors.  We compare Bard’s to the gluten-free competition and then to craft lagers.    Eyes are opened as people taste the difference between our malted sorghum beer and our competition and then the similarity to traditional lagers.

Beers need to be compared within a style.  For example, someone that enjoys IPA’s won’t like light American lagers and vice versa.

Jax: Are you gluten-free yourself?  What prompted you to get involved in the Bard's Beer company?

Brian: I am not a celiac or gluten-intolerant but I do try to avoid certain products containing gluten like bread.  I support the on-premise locations that carry Bard’s  and drink Bard’s but I do have to sample new products from time-to-time.

In my previous life, I led the turnaround of Pabst Brewing Company as CEO.  We accomplished a lot and the PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) story is unique in the U. S. beer industry with its strategy, tactics and results.  Our team invented guerilla  / word-of-mouth marketing.  That said, I had been commuting Monday through Friday for thirteen years with Pabst and before that Benetton.  It was time to return to my home and family in Minneapolis full-time.  Contacts there put me in touch with the Bard’s founders that were exploring malting options.  I liked the beer and the market potential.  They liked my experience and availability and here we are.

Jax: Since Bard's Beer is so popular, are there plans to create different styles of gluten-free beer in the future?

Brian: It is time for more styles from Bard’s.  In the beginning we had to convince distributors and retailers in the United States to carry us.  Now they want more styles.

Jax: Is there a possibility of having it sold in the Beer Store in Ontario?  Or will it only be available through LCBO?

Brian: Jax, it is something we will evaluate as Bard’s is accepted in the Ontario marketplace.

Jax: Will Bard's Beer be available in bars and restaurants in the future?

Brian: We intend to develop a presence in the on-premise channel.  More and more people are demanding a gluten-free beer alternative on-premise and bars and restaurants are responding to the demand.  We have a great product, brand recognition and an ability to market the retailers that carry Bard’s.  We also have an agency ( North American Craft ) in Ontario that can make this happen.

Jax: Is there anything else you would like the readers of Gluten-Free Ontario to know about Bard's Beer that hasn't been discussed already?

Brian: Everyone can learn more about Bard’s at www.bardsbeer.com.  In particular, we have a beer locator function and will have the LCBO stores where Bard’s can be found up as soon as possible.

We are also very excited to soon be available in Ontario.  We have been available in BC, SK, AB and NS for some time.  The gluten-free community communicates very well and we have some pent up demand for Bard’s in Ontario that we are now happy to be able to satisfy.

We are also finalizing our plans to sample at the Expo in Toronto on September 30th.  It should be a great event and give everyone an opportunity to sample Bard’s. www.GlutenFreeExpo.ca

You can also view more information on the Bard's Beer sell sheet PDF file.


Kimberley's Own Granola Giveaway!

What a treat to be able to enjoy granola made with real oats again!

As a Celiac, oats are usually off limits due to the contamination with wheat in the fields and during processing.  Luckily, Kimberley's Own uses certified pure, uncontaminated oats which can be tolerated by people with Celiac Disease*.

(*Some Celiacs may not be able to tolerate oats.)

The products are 100% vegan (no dairy or eggs), low in sodium, no corn or soy, plus high in fiber and protein.

The granola is available at the Yonge/Queen location of The Bay or you can order directly on her website.

Or.... you can win some right here on my blog!

The giveaway includes a large bag of each of the following blends: Original, Just Seeds & Nibs & Nuts.  Recipes will also be included so you can use the granola in ways other than for breakfast. a Rafflecopter giveaway


CNE Gluten-Free Options!

This post is part of a series of posts about gluten-free food options found at various tourist attractions across Ontario.

The Canadian National Exhibition takes places in the Exhibition Place (how ironic) every year toward the end of summer.  For 2012, the park has introduced a brand new guide for those with certain food restrictions, including vegetarian, peanut-free, gluten-free, halal and more.

Look for these handy symbols around the food building:

Click here to view the PDF file.


Il Fornello Restaurant Giveaway!!

Hey, want to win a Gift Card to Il Fornello?!

Enter below!

This gift card will be available at the location of your choice.  Il Fornello is found in Oakville, Ajax and many locations around Toronto.  View exact locations on their website.

Check out pictures from my recent visit to Il Fornello Danforth location!

Sign in to Rafflecopter below - leave me a comment and/or tweet about me for entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Toronto - Il Fornello Gluten-Free Review


I was honoured to be given the opportunity to visit Il Fornello (Danforth location) a couple weeks ago with my boyfriend to sample some of their gluten-free menu options.  Il Fornello was the first restaurant in Toronto to recognize the dietary needs of those with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance by offering gluten-free pizza and pasta.
Antipasto platter for two
First up, this beautifully displayed antipasto platter was filled with a delicious assortment of grilled vegetables, olives and cheese.  The perfect start to any meal, if you ask me!
Gluten-free Pizza Melanzane
I am somewhat of a pizza fanatic.  Sure, everyone loves pizza... but I think I have an obsession.  The above pizza did not disappoint.  It was topped with mozzarella, spinach, tomato and eggplant which combined to make a yummy addition to the meal.  The pizza base, created by Molly B Gluten Free, is perfectly chewy and crunchy at the same time.
Gluten-free "Penne Capri"

On the advice of Shawn, the manager at the Danforth Il Fornello location, we ordered the Penne Capri (with gluten-free fusilli noodles subbed in) to split.  It is normally supposed to come with chicken but we added goat cheese instead.  Amazing!  My boyfriend exclaimed that it was the best pasta he has eaten and he's probably right.  It was delicious and I can't wait to go back for more!
Desserts: Panna Cotta and Creme Brulee
After antipasto, pizza and pasta I couldn't imagine having enough room for dessert but I absolutely had to try their Creme Brulee.  And why not the Panna Cotta while we were at it?  I originally stated that I would only have one bite of each just to say I had tried them.  I ended up eating my fair share!  They were too hard to resist.
Creme Brulee

Hint to anyone looking to visit Il Fornello:

Go to their website and on the Mailing List page, sign up to receive their Gluten Free Club Card.  With the card, you do not have to pay the extra fee for the gluten-free pizza crust or gluten-free pasta!  Save $2-$5 on your meal ;)

Another hint... if you love Il Fornello (or if this post and these pictures have made you realize you have to visit) stay tuned to my blog for something special soon!


Long Weekend at the Cottage

I'm usually that lucky soul who gets to work over the long weekend.  That's the beauty of working retail ;)

However, after covering the owner's two-week vacation at the store, I was fortunate enough to score an entire weekend off work - woohoo!!

What better way to spend a long weekend, than sitting in the sun on a dock in cottage country?!

Amazing how different two areas of Ontario can be.  In one area, I was looking at horses and cows out the passenger window, and 2 hours later I was back in Toronto with all of the smog, cars and tall buildings.
Catching some rays on the dock
Looking out over Lake Kashagawigamog
View from the canoe
On Lake Kashagawigamog in the boat
 Despite the sunscreen, I got a burn on my chest, outlining the V shape :P
I took shotgun on the boat
Pretty water and trees
So peaceful
This was my paradise for 4 days
This is where I spent most of my time
Dragonfly on the dock

Lookout in Haliburton
Loons over the water
Our cottage
(just kidding)
Pretty pic over the water
Kashagawigamog Lake - what a mouthful
Don't see this every day...

Froggy was trying to shield himself from the downpour on Sunday afternoon
Haliburton's Independent grocery store - gluten-free section
Surprisingly, their selection of gluten-free food was quite large.  However, I did find it scary that the Bob's Red Mill wheat bran was placed in the section labeled as "gluten-free" - directly below the Glutino crackers.  I'm sure a Celiac person or gluten intolerant person would know to stay away but if someone was buying for a guest and didn't know any better, they may assume it is gluten-free and poison them.
Roasting marshmallows
I made the perfect marshmallow stick... four at once!

Food Time

I don't know anyone who eats gourmet food like this at the cottage... seriously, check out all this yummy food!!
Rice and peas, scalloped potato, asparagus, Caesar dressing with homemade dressing, Conte's perogies and Kinnikinnick bun with butter
Not my plate - same as above but with bacon and sausage too
Not really gourmet but certainly yummy - two different kinds of cheese melted on an Udi's bagel
Eggs, tomato, berries, watermelon and toast with jam
Peas, corn, carrots and scalloped potato
Salad with corn, eggs, peas, tomato and avocado
Eggs, mixed fruit, cheese and toast with jam
Rice, tomato, beets, broccoli and Kinnikinnick bun with butter
 Thank you Dave and Mary for welcoming me into your cottage!