Life, Restaurant Review, Travel

Schilling Cider House in Portland Review: a.k.a. Fifty Shades of Cider for Celiacs

If you’re Celiac, imagine a place you could go to where everything on tap is gluten free. Where you don’t have to worry about cross contamination or cross contact from any deep fried foods. Or where everything on the pub food menu is gluten free so it’s safe to eat. No gluten at all on the menu or in the pub. Oh, and those drinks on tap?They have close to fifty cider varieties to try – all gluten free. Call it Fifty Shades of Cider for Celiacs.

Now, imagine this cider house is only 20 minutes away from you? Well, then it’s time to hop in the car and check them out for lunch. And boy, am I glad we did.

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I love their tagline of “Your Apple A Day Just Got Interesting”. Smart marketing there, folks!

Let me introduce you to Schilling Cider House in SE Portland. This cider house is relatively new to the area but I hope stays around for a long, long time. They also have their original location in Seattle.

All of their ciders are free of artificial colors, artificial flavors and corn syrup. Just as a cider should be!

The ambiance inside is pretty cool and I realized after I didn’t take a photo so I apologize. Imagine long wooden community tables with metal bar stools. The table next to us had a group of five playing cards while drinking cider and talking. I loved that – such a sense of community. They have a great outside seating area too but it was just too hot for me and The Artist to sit out today so we opted for a/c.

When you walk in, the cider menu on the wall is a bit daunting but don’t fear! Again – Fifty Shades of Cider! The staff is great at helping you decide what may wet your whistle!

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Ciders are color coded so you can easily distinguish characteristics (is that the right word? Variety? Tones? I don’t know….)20170708_123418

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20170708_12304720170708_12332620170708_123331The Artist and I each chose our own flight of six ciders for $12. Each was a generous sample size and a great way to try many new flavors. I asked the staff to tell me what their most popular cider was (I won’t reveal – you have to go try it for yourself!) as well as some ciders that I may never be able to taste elsewhere. Number 43 for example! Now, don’t quote me, but it is something like a London cider processed using French techniques.

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My tasting flight menu
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Here are the ciders I chose. From left to right, they follow the items on the card from top to bottom. Blackberry Pear was my favorite.

It was fun to try so many varieties that I’ve never heard of or would be able to taste elsewhere.

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Here are our tasting flights. The Artist chose a few different ones than I did. The one on the far left was really interesting. Called The Grumpy Bear, it had notes of coffee. Have you ever tried a cider like that before?! I imagine most folks haven’t.

And to go along with the ciders, let’s talk about the food!

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What? ALL items are gluten free?! YES! They were out of the risotto balls that day. Just means I have to go back and do more research. 😉

The menu above is the pub food. Short, sweet and simple. And oh so good. You can get any of the sausages made into a corndog. I had the Red Hot and The Artist had the frankfurter. We also split a pound of tots (you have to, right?!) and the fried zucchini. Which let me tell you, is amazing. More on that in a bit. Let’s see some food!

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The corndog batter was perfect. It held to the meat, was the perfect “GBD” (golden brown deliciousness) and to be honest, was amazing. I have not had a fresh, real corndog in 10+ years, and the frozen ones that come in a box that you put in the toaster DO NOT COMPARE! The Red Hot was spicy and juicy and fried to perfection. The Artist said his dog was equally as good. I was in such a food porn heaven I didn’t even think to ask to try his dog. Again, I’ll have to go back to try it.

Now the sides. The tots – good. Nice crispy outside. Flaky inside. They needed salt but they were good. But my favorite was the fried zuke. If they had had a side of marinara sauce, I would have set up permanent residence on site and never left. I’ve made fried zuke since being gluten free. It’s not the same. This batter was just like a tempura batter. Light and flaky with a hint of garlic. I just can’t begin to tell you how truly amazing the fried zuke was.

While we were eating, the chefs were preparing something that I just could not figure out what it was. So I went and asked and it was parsnips they were preparing for the veggie crisps. He brought me a small sample of the fried parsnips and carrots.

20170708_131805Folks, let me tell you this about the fried veggies. GET THEM! They are matchstick thin but fried to perfection. And seasoned with a delicious combo of what tasted like light brown sugar, salt and curry powder. I’m not a huge curry fan (though it is growing on me) but these were light years ahead of your fried foods at the county fair. Not even the same category.

I am so grateful that Portland “gets” gluten free and does a good job with it at many restaurants. I want to thank the staff there for putting up with my questions, for me taking photos and for the sample of the veggie crisps. And a warm welcome to the new cute chef who was on Day 1 today when we visited. He was friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and gave me a hug, too. (Spoiler alert, he was a total mancrush for me and I asked for the hug!) Every staff member there was wonderful to talk with and seemed to really care about making your experience a great one there.

It’s a fun place to eat and we will definitely be back. If you’re in Portland, (or Seattle) please check them out and support them! Oh, and they only take cards – no cash! Just letting you know in advance.

Thanks for reading.

Gratefully yours…

 

Life, Restaurant Review, Travel

Pollo Norte Portland Restaurant Review

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When I first moved to Portland, I visited Pollo Norte‘s original location on NE Killingsworth with a friend for dinner. She and I sat at the counter, devouring tortillas, chicken, cabbage and potatoes and beans. And it was heaven. For starters, it was a place where Celiacs are definitely welcome and would love. EVERYTHING on the menu is gluten free except for the beer.  You can read more about their story here.

The menu is simple:

  • Rotisserie Chicken (seasoned with achiote, sea salt, lime and chili)
  • Two different kinds of beans
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Slaw

That’s it. And everything is gluten free along with vegetarian/vegan options for those that need it. CELIAC HEAVEN!

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One of the best things about the meal is the cabbage that it comes with. When my friend and I devoured our meal, we asked what made the cabbage so good?!  It’s because all of the drippings from the chicken fall onto the cabbage. So smart.

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The tortillas are perfectly cooked, perfectly warmed and perfectly charred. Apologies that the photo of our food is not the best. I was too hungry to stop and take the perfect photo with this plate of food in front of me today!

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The Artist and I ordered a whole chicken with two large sides and two margaritas and the total was $44. And we had leftovers to take home.

While the menu is simple, it is truly flavorful food. The flavors of the chicken, the potatoes, the beans, the salsas, the tortillas…and that cabbage!!….all come together so wonderfully.  And the staff is incredibly nice. We had lunch at their 2nd location today – the guys working there were great!

If you’re in Portland or traveling to Portland, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Pollo Norte. Love this place!

Life, Travel

Gluten Free along the Oregon Coast, a.k.a. Hunting for the Best GF Clam Chowder!

If you’re required to eat gluten free due to medical needs, not by choice, you know that traveling at times can be stressful. Where can I find safe food? Will there be a grocery store nearby so at least I can get things there? How safe is the food at the restaurants that say they can offer gluten free?

Sure there’s Yelp and Find Me Gluten Free and other sites. And yes, I use them as a starting point.

Having Celiac or being required to eat gluten free connects so many of us together in a bond that just can’t be explained to others. If you need to eat gluten free, you get it. You get the thrill of just talking with someone at the next table to you who you overhear asking the same questions you’d ask! You get the connection of virtually meeting others who understand what you’re going through. You get the need to share information.

It’s been a while since I posted. I know that. Life has been busy. I have two product reviews I need to do soon, too, so stay tuned for those, please.

But taking a break from life, The Artist and I took a trip to the coast two weekends ago to explore some new towns we’ve not been to yet. We booked a condo in Depoe Bay and planned to explore from Newport up to Lincoln City.

The Coast
The rugged Oregon Coast. It’s one of the few places in the world I go and I truly am at peace. It relaxes me, it inspires me and it is just beautiful.

It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend filled with great gf food AND a great trip (or two!) to a great gluten free store. Where everything is gluten free. EVERYTHING.

Here’s my recap of where I found some great gluten free food this weekend

Tidal Raves
This little gem on the coast in Depoe Bay is a must for a nice dinner. It overlooks the bay and while it was dark outside, you could see the great views from the parking lot. I can imagine in the summer months the dinner view is spectacular. I called in advance to confirm they could accommodate gluten free and was told there were a few menu items that are gf and a few that can be changed to accommodate. I made a reservation and was glad I did. It was pretty busy on Friday night. Our server, Brandy was perfect. I started to explain about my needs and said understood. I ordered the Manhattan Shrimp soup (tomato based), the house salad (really yummy light dressing) and the baked alaskan halibut with crab risotto and vodka sauce. Everything was superb!  The service was great. The margarita was great. I highly recommend this place.

The Gluten Free Place
This gem is open seven days a week in Newport. They have a small bakery in the back that has fresh items daily. But get there early. I got there around 5 PM the first day. While the selection was limited that day, I did get a great apple spice donut and chocolate crinkle cookie. I emailed the owner of the store, Linn, that night to tell her what a great store she has.  She wrote back promptly about the store, giving me some restaurant recommendations and also told me what was coming the next day at the bakery. Pretzel sticks and coconut donuts. Of course I had to go back to get those and was not disappointed in either.

The entire store is a small grocery store with tons of gluten free products. Many I’ve seen and many I’ve not seen. Her prices are reasonable and you’ll be sure to find a few items to take home to try. Please do stop and support this business if you are in the Newport area.

Tiki’s at 51st
This little place in Lincoln City has many gluten free options including, hands down, the best gluten free chowder I ate all weekend.

Tikis
Truth in Advertising at Tiki’s at 51st!

I sampled three different chowders at three restaurants over the weekend and this one is it. They’ve won awards for their chowder and I can see why. AND that it’s gf?!  SCORE! It was creamy, and rich and had bacon in it. Enough said?! It was just so perfect on a cold day. And, they even served it with gluten free crackers on the side. So few restaurants do that for soup. That factor alone won me over!

Besides the chowder, I had fish tacos. Large chunks of poached cod (not fried – it was so refreshing to not have something fried!), great sauce and slaw with corn tortillas. The blackberry mojito was pretty darn tasty, too! 🙂

They have a small area to eat on the inside which we were thankful for since it was a chilly day.

Tikis Chowder
Tiki’s at 51st’s chowder. Hands down, the best this weekend. I’d go back (and will!)

I’m looking forward to going back here someday. This place got an A+ in my book.

Nye Beach Cafe
This cafe was recommended to me from Linn, from The Gluten Free Place. She said she’s

Morning chowder
2nd runner up for me. If for any reason the reigning Best Gluten Free Chowder is unable to fulfill their duties, the title will go to the first runner-up.

heard they have great breakfasts. And they do! And they have great chowder, too. They won 1st runner up in my “best chowder of the weekend” adventure. It was a tough choice between them and Tiki’s but Tiki’s adds bacon…. But this chowder had tons of clams and tons of flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I’d eat this chowder any day, too!

Breakfast – The Artist ordered biscuits and gravy (not gf) and he said they were really good. I ordered a caprese omelet.  It came with gf toast (they make their own gf bread and have their own gf toaster/grill). The omelet was so flavorful with the basil, tomato and mozzarella.

And the service was great. There was one server and one cook. The server (sorry, I didn’t catch her name) did a great job keeping up with everyone. When I mentioned to her that I saw they have chowder, but it’s just for lunch, she said, “Oh we could probably heat some up.”.  And soon, to my surprise, she brought us out a small cup of soup so we could try it! That was a nice touch.

I’d give this place an A.

Bay Walk Cafe
This little cafe in the heart of Depoe Bay offers a gluten free menu with gf chowder and gf fish and chips in a dedicated fryer. I had a bowl of the chowder and an order of fries for lunch.

The fries were great. They seemed hand cut versus what was served at the table next to us that ordered the “regular” fries. Those looked like frozen commercial fries.

The chowder? Meh. Watery. Decent flavor but nothing great. Nothing I’d rush back for.

The decor in here is so awkward, too. I am not sure what theme they are going for but the dried flower baskets and plants hanging above the tables and stretching across the ceiling didn’t do much.

When I asked about the chowder, the owner said, “We’re giving away samples today, would you like to try one?” I opted to try it (this was pre-Tiki’s, so I had to do my research). I found the way she offered the “giving samples today” line was awkward. Any good restaurant should give a sample if they can to sell their product. Don’t tell me you’re doing it today. You do it everyday.

I would not go back to this place. Nothing special at all here. Counter ordering with mediocre food.

I hope this helps those traveling to this part of Oregon. Let me know if you have any favorite places you know of along the Oregon coast – I’m always eager to find new places!