Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Marilyn Santulli!

I've met a lot of great people in the gluten-free world since I became gluten-free (and a blogger) three years ago.

One of my favorites, Marilyn Santulli, the genius behind America Gra-Frutti, is having a birthday today, so I wanted to use this space today to celebrate her, and celebrate her commitment to the gluten-free world.

I've written about American Gra-Frutti products a lot here on my blog, and I do it because the product is so thoughtfully prepared. First, Marilyn's Cobb County kitchen is a dedicated gluten-free facility.  She has a completely safe environment for gluten-free people like me.

A few months back, Marilyn gave me a tour of the kitchen.  There she bakes cakes, cupcakes, and now cheesecakes and ginger snaps! She's recently created a wonderful Caramel Crunch, which is addictive.  There are also angels and coconut drops and oh yeah, a rocking Peachtree Pimento pimento cheese. 

And as of today (Wednesday, April 7) her "They'll Never Know" and "You Know you Love Chocolate Chip"5 oz. cupcakes are available at Turner Field. Woo-hoo! 

I've pretty much tasted everything Marilyn makes, and I'm always impressed. Oh, I have my favorites -- I love the Peachtree Pimento (spicy, please) and the Peppermint Cremes and Angels. And the cakes. And the cheesecakes. And...

Here's Marilyn and America Gra-Frutti's mission statement:  American GraFrutti, LLC is passionately devoted and focused on gluten and dairy intolerances by creating decadent, nutritious and healthy desserts, as well as deli products for the consumer’s well being.

I'm happy to recommend Marilyn's products to consumers and to food establishments. Her cheesecakes are on the featured menu at Figo Pasta along with their gluten-free pasta menu. Her almond and coconut drops are sold in Tampa at Abby's -- she's from Tampa, so that is a coup. And Mom's Organic Market in the Rockville and Bowie, Maryland area can't keep her products in stock.

And in Atlanta? Return to Eden and Whole Foods!

Yep, Marilyn Santulli is a pretty special woman to the gluten-free world, and I'm proud to call her my friend. She makes every occasion complete!

You can follow American Gra-Frutti (and Marilyn) on Facebook and  Twitter

Much love, and happy birthday, Marilyn!

P.S. Marilyn has a beautiful and talented artist daughter named Meredith Dahle. I wanted to give her a shoutout here because she's about to graduate from college, and then head to Alaska! Meredith, as well as Marilyn's sweet husband Paul, are all part of the American Gra-frutti team. You might see Meredith out at a sampling some day soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

South City Kitchen: A Gluten-Free Success

A few weeks ago, my friend Heather and I answered an invitation to dine at one of the Fifth Group restaurants, to sample their gluten-free menu.

I chose South City Kitchen in Midtown for two reasons: the gluten-free menu looked delicious, and the location was convenient for both Heather and me (I was heading to my Dad's).

I give it Two Yums UP!

We made a great choice, and I would heartily recommend the gluten-free menu at either South City Kitchen location.  For one, it has "regular" food that can be presented and prepared gluten free.  And second, it's a delightful place to have dinner! This is the kind of place I'd like to take a bunch of gluten-free friends for a celebration, or a Gurlz night on the town! 

After one of the best martinis I've ever tasted (seriously) we started with appetizers -- I had luscious mussels, and Heather had barbequed shrimp. The mussels had a smokey bacon flavor, with lots of lemons. They were perfectly cooked. And Heather's shrimp were the BBQ Shrimp I remember from Louisiana -- piquant, spicy. So you see the mussels below, before they disappeared....

I wish I had a picture of our beautiful salads -- I ate mine so fast I didn't get to take a photo.  I had Cane Syrup Roasted Beet Salad with shaved beets, fennel-pear slaw, Valbreso feta cheese, cider-cane syrup, and truffle oil and Heather had a Caesar Salad.  

Ah, but the entrees...Heather chose the Filet Mignon with smashed sweet potatoes, wilted swiss chard with Benton’s bacon, and green peppercorn steak sauce.  I ADORE Benton's Bacon, and that chard was amazing...Look how happy Heather looks! I took a picture of the plate too, but her happiness was so nice to see!

I had Sautéed Shrimp & Scallops creamy stone-ground grits, with roasted pepper coulis. It was lick the plate delicious! I had a side of Brussels spouts (never do I pass up beets or Brussels sprouts)...

I do, of course, have suggestions for Fifth Group.  These all are filed under "give me a gluten-free menu, and I'll ask for more" suggestions, but they're important, I think.  First, I think several of the delicious dishes I had BEGGED for a toasty bread.  And thanks to some frozen, artisan breads out there, you could easily add them to your freezer and make them quickly, on demand. Small space. (Email me for suggestions.)

Second, though the house sorbet was delicious, I don't know why you couldn't make your house Pecan Pie in a small ramekin, crust free, but still gluten free.  There are some easy and decadent desserts available in Atlanta (American Gra-Frutti cupcakes come to mind,) and there are others I personally love --  Moondance Bakery Cheesecake and brownies, for instance.

And finally, it's easy to add gluten-free pasta to an Italian menu. If pasta is a staple on the restaurant menu (it's not at SCK, but it is at others) check out the availability of good gluten free pasta today. There is so much good dried and frozen GF pasta out there -- we'll marvel at the ability to have the sauces on a pasta we trust. Either that, or offer your wonderful sauces on polenta. But I know a lot of GF folks who don't consider an Italian menu GF unless it has pasta.

I'd like to thank Paul Hymel, the general manager of SCK Midtown, for a delightful evening. I am proud to recommend your restaurant to my friends and readers, and I am certain I'll return again very soon.  

Much love, and thanks for the dinner!