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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

gluten-free ice cream cones

gluten-free ice cream cones

On the last day of our honeymoon in Italy, the Chef and I stopped for one more gelato in Rome. After savoring every bite of that pistachio in a cone, I looked at the countertop and stopped breathing for a moment. "Il Cono per Tutti" — a cone for all. A gluten-free ice cream cone, in a gelato place, in Rome.

I ordered another gelato, just to have the experience.

And when we left, I thought, "Of course, I'm only going to find something like that in Italy."

So, imagine my surprise last weekend, when I stood in a dinky grocery store in Burien (a city just south of Seattle), looked at the shelves, and stopped breathing for a moment. "Gluten-free ice cream cones?!" I shouted out to the Chef. I grabbed one immediately.

We were waiting, in that store near the airport, for the Chef's brother, who was stocking up on groceries for his trip to Whistler. We had never been in that store. We might never have seen these.

A few nights later, I had the chance to try one. The Chef and I curled up on the couch to watch a movie, and I had the sudden urging for an ice cream cone. Not expecting much, I crunched down on the shell after licking around the vanilla.

"Oh good god," I blurted out.

"What?" the Chef worried.

"This ice cream cone. It actually tastes good."

After watching me exclaim about the sweetness from the demerara sugar (no high fructose corn syrup), the way the cone didn't shatter at the slightest touch, and the joys of eating an ice cream cone again, for the first time in years, the Chef sat up and walked to the kitchen.

"Where are you going?" I asked him.

"I can't stand it any longer. I have to have an ice cream cone too."

He has pronounced them delicious, much better than the tasteless cones we all ate as kids. (Think scary clown on the box.) These taste like real food.

I never did have an ice cream craving while I was pregnant. But thanks to these cones, I have one now.

These are new to the market, produced by Edward and Sons Trading Company. I hear they're soon to be available widely, but I can't promise where you'll find them. Ask around. They're worth the search. It seems the Gluten-Free Trading Company has some available online right now.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pacific Lady

pacific lady

I don't know the first thing about sailing. In fact, I've only been on a sailboat twice in my life. Once some friends of mine heard that I had never been sailing, they blindfolded me and guided me down a dock. When I opened my eyes, we were on a sailboat at sunset, on Lake Union in Seattle. We sauntered on the water while eating cheese and drinking wine until the sun fell and the air grew chilled. And then we went in.

The second time was much the same. I've never been on waters with any chop.

It's quite clear that Sharon Sites Adams's experience was nothing like this.

Pacific Lady is the story of this indomitable woman who, for reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, decided in the early 1960s to start sailing across the world. Alone. After her divorce, she had about as much experience on sailboats as I have. But something within her insisted that she change her life. In 1969, she sailed from Japan to California, by herself, in 74 days.

Good god.

It's an incredible story. Still, you could not have told me, when I first picked up the book, that I would be riveted by it. As fascinating as the story goes, Karen Coates is the woman who breathed the wind into those sails.

If you don't know her work already, Karen Coates is the Asia correspondent for Gourmet magazine. Her writing, incisive and sometimes haunting, always makes me hungry. The deeper feeling, however, is of something opening. When I read her brilliant blog, Rambling Spoon, I feel transported to a world I might never know personally. And her words, along with the searing photographs of her husband, don't point to a glossy-magazine lifestyle. Recently, she wrote about witnessing an exorcism in a tiny village on the India-Nepal border. Reading that, you know there's an entirely different Asia than the shiny image portrayed in the Olympics.

Mostly, Karen stops me with her writing. I'm always left feeling like the world is wider, and I am much smaller, after reading her insights.

So it makes sense to me now that Karen could bring Sharon Sites Adams's story so to life in my mind. I'm left, many months after first reading this book, with the expansive sense of the ocean. All that immensity. One lone woman on the edge of the earth.

If you buy this book — and I hope you do — you might notice a familiar name on the back cover. Karen asked me to write a quote in support of the book. I might as well share that with you here, to entice you to buy it:

"Pacific Lady tugged at me from the opening story. Even though I know nothing about sailint and solo ocean crossings, I was mesmerized by Sharon Sites Adams's determination, curiosity of the world, and intrepid spirit. When she embarked on her trip across the Pacific Ocean alone, I simply could not put down the book until I knew that she had made it safely home. Karen Coates has done a graceful job of translating this singular story into spare, elegant prose. I will never forget it."

You may not be interested in sailing either. But this book? You'll be fascinated by Pacific Lady.


Monday, September 15, 2008

gluten-free, dairy-free cookie dough "ice cream"

gluten-free cookie dough ice cream

When I lived in Manhattan, I didn't spend many evenings at home. Evenings in little clubs on the Lower East Side, good sushi, and movies with friends at the Lincoln Plaza cineplex meant I came home in time to eat something and fall into bed most nights. New York is not where you live if you're a homebody.

But when Sharon moved into my apartment, we found ourselves, at least once a week, exhausted from all our adventures. That's when we'd take the elevator down to the lobby, walk across the street, and saunter into our corner bodega.

"I'm getting Cherry Garcia. What are you getting?"

I never knew. Sometimes I'd buy that too. Or Chunky Monkey. Often, it was cookie dough, though.

We'd hold the cold pints in our hands and walk into the warm night air. Up the elevator, and into her room, where we'd sit on her queen-sized bed and watch whatever bad tv presented itself on cable that night. We needed the down time.

There's something funny about my friend Sharon. She's fit and thin, in better shape than most people I know. But she has never, to my knowledge, eaten a pint of ice cream in more than one sitting. When we sat on that bed, watching movies, she always dove and scraped, swirling the spoon and lifting it to her mouth with passionate alacrity. Me? I took small bites, and tried to control myself.

She always enjoyed hers more.

But somehow, the guilt of eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting always stopped me from making all that goodness disappear immediately.

Until I found Purely Decadent Cookie Dough, that is.

The good folks at Turtle Mountain sent me some of their dairy-free treats to try. I have to admit -- dairy-free ice cream didn't appeal to me much. I don't have to avoid dairy. Why try the imitation stuff?

But there was gluten-free cookie dough involved. And that I don't see very often.

So I tried a spoonful. And then another. The icy part felt rich in the mouth. And the cookies? Oh, I hadn't eaten cookies in ice cream since one of those pints at the bodega.

I'm going to admit this — I ate the entire pint in one sitting.

And every time I've bought this non-dairy treat, I have done it again. That's why I don't buy it that often. Because it's clear I'm going to be imitating Sharon and sitting on the bed with my spoon, diving and scraping, and making it all disappear.

How often does gluten-free and dairy free taste like this?