On Sunday evening (sorry still catching up from the weekend), Dana and I went to a gluten-free mini expo at a restaurant called Ernie’s. Dana had read it in an email and mentioned it to me, and I thought it would be something fun to do on a Sunday evening. We made “reservations” for 5:30 and headed on over to Ernie’s.
We were greeted by one of the managers of the restaurant who was exuberant about his restaurant—I mean this in a very good way. He was thrilled first of all that we were there, and then continued to explain to us all of the gluten-free menu items available at Ernie’s. He sent us home with a menu and then encouraged us to gander over to the free sample area.
I was hoping that the actual vendors would be present and representing their brands, but it was the Ernie’s staff behind the counters instead. They were all very sweet and were versed in some of the product information, but they couldn’t answer all of my questions or really go in-depth about the products. Still, I was very happy with the Ernie’s team. They did a great job.
We began with GF cornbread and pancakes. Both were made from Bob’s Red Mill mixes. They had used the mix to make up three different flavors of cornbread: plain, chili, and jalapeño cheddar. I snagged a chili one.
The cornbread probably would have been really good if it was warm, but I ate it cold. It tasted okay, but nothing to write home about. The pancakes however were fresh off the griddle. The enthusiastic pancake flipper encouraged me to take as many as I wanted. She said she uses this mix at home and LOVES it. I like it when they can relate and tell me how they use the product. I really liked those pancakes and would maybe even buy the mix to have on hand at home.
On this plate: Bob’s Red Mill pancakes, cornbread, Lundberg Rice Chips, EnerG crackers with salmon dip, and Oikos Greek yogurt.
Mary’s Gone Crackers was also there and I was able to take home three different flavors of their crackers: black pepper, sea salt, and onion. So far I have only tried the black pepper and they are good…and spiiicccaaay (that one for you, ONW). I can handle a little heat. Mary’s also makes cookies, and I was sent home with a handful of those too.
The Celiac Foundation of Minnesota was there too and I actually knew the wonderful lady volunteering to represent the company! It was nice to catch up with her and she sent me home with a box mix for focaccia bread! Num!
Next stop was the GF beer lady. I was extremely anxious to try this stuff. I am not a huge beer drinker and the reason for that is I get bloated and feel terrible every time I drink it. Since I usually go for the red wine anyway, this isn’t a big loss for me, but there are time when drinking a beer is way easier than drinking a glass of wine.
They had a couple of different beers they were sampling; one was said to be very hoppy, and the other one was very light. I don’t do hoppy beer, so I tried the light one. The brand is called New Planet and they are based out of Boulder, CO. Of course they are! So many awesome companies are based out of Colorado!
I couldn’t find the ingredient label for this particular flavor online (they are temporarily out of stock) but I found the one for blonde ale, which I’m sure is fairly comparable:
Ingredients: Sorghum, corn extract, orange peel, hops, and yeast
I’m still trying to decipher if I have a slight intolerance to the starch from corn, as well as yeast, so I would need to be careful if I decided to buy this beer for myself. I really enjoyed the taste of it; It is extremely light and slightly sweet.
If you are an avid beer drinker, you may not like this beer, at least the Tread Lightly flavor. They do offer hoppier, heavier beers too so they can accomodate all.
I haven’t looked into pricing, but I have a feeling it’s a little steep. The chances of me actually buying this beer are fairly slim, BUT if I were to buy a GF beer, this would be the one I would choose because I got to sample it and I know I like it.
The next table over was the restaurant’s clam chowder. Being I’m not a huge fan of clam chowder to begin with, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but still, I tried it. You never know when the taste buds are going to change on you! I never give up on trying foods. I used to not like cake, now look at me.
Next up was the dessert table full of GF chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cornbread muffins.
I could have parked myself in front of that table for the remainder of the evening and been a happy girl. After all, we were the last group to go through and there were still mounds of desserts! But, I played it cool and stuck to one plate.
The had made cookies from two different chocolate chip cookie mixes; one was the French Meadow Bakery Mix, and I believe the other one was Bob’s Red Mill mix. One of them had a funky after-taste and because they weren’t labeled, I’m not sure which one it was. Oh well. I really enjoyed the brownies!
The next vendor over was from Daisy Blue which is an all-natural skin care line based out of Albert Lea, MN. They sell, soaps, lip balm, makeup, scented oils, lotions, and more. She sent me home with a lotion and hand soap sample and they both smell great!
The very last stop we made was the GF pasta bar. They had two brown rice pastas they were sampling with their homemade GF alfredo sauce. I used to LOVE alfredo sauce but I have grown out of it for some reason. Again, maybe because my brain connects the memory of my upset tummy from pasta alfredo from the past? Not sure. It tasted okay to me, but nothing I would order off of a restaurant menu.
The very last stop we had planned on making was to taste their GF chicken wings, but by the time we got over there they were all out. Not a huge loss to me because I’m not a huge wings fan (unless my mom makes them), but Dana was a little bummed.
At the end of the night, we were sent home with a bunch of free loot!
It was well worth the $6.00 we spent to get in. I had fun with it!
Although I’m not celiac and and not completely gluten intolerant, I know for certain I am gluten sensitive and finding brands that offer delicious GF products is something I am very excited about. No need to live a painful life when you know how to eliminate the culprits of the discomfort right?
Alright, we are officially caught up from the weekend! Now I can get on with the week.
Do you have any favorite gluten-free products?!