Travel

Wednesday

Le Marché Émilie: Review


While vacationing in Quebec, I found what I consider to be a hidden gem - Le Marché Émilie and it will pleasantly surprise you. The store itself is a beautiful old post office building which has been converted into a colorful and vibrant gluten-free cafe and grocery shop. It is located in Pointe-Claire and within walking distance of the breathtaking St. Lawerence river.


Gluten-Free Grocery Store
Le Marché Émilie

What's So Special?


The entire store is 100% gluten-free! That's right - grocery staples, desserts and hot food, ALL gluten-free. It's not often a Celiac finds a "safe" place to eat, let alone one that is completely dedicated to gluten-free. They serve freshly made pizza and have a pretty magical ice cream bar. On top of that, the store also sells both frozen and shelf stable gluten-free groceries.


Gluten-Free Shop
Eating area


Right away I was in awe of the shops colour palette. It gives off a really fun vibe. Although not large in size, the layout makes for a spacious and enjoyable atmosphere. Everything about Le Marché Émilie is absolutely darling. Including the people who work there. I was greeted the moment I walked in, with a friendly "Bonjour!" If you're not versed in French, don't worry - Pointe-Claire is a pretty bilingual area and the staff at Le Marché Émilie speak fluent English. Most of the signage is also in both English and French.


Pointe Claire Quebec
Groceries


We looked around the shop and discovered lots of product which is not available in Ontario. So much so that I will dedicate a future post to it. Since we visited Le Marché Émilie on our way back to Ontario, I decided to do a little souvenir grocery shopping in the freezer section. My husband was able to purchase a bag of ice at the convenience store across the road so I took a chance and bought about a hundred dollars worth of frozen food. I'm happy to say that all of the frozen food held up during our 6-hour drive home!


Just look at that pizza


Gluten-Free Pizza
Pizza


I ordered the personal size marinara pizza with 3 toppings. It cost me around eight dollars or so. The pizza base is focaccia, which was light, pillowy and filling. Portion size was generous in and in my opinion very worth it. Something else to make note of is that the pizza is dairy free on top of being gluten-free. Normally I can spot dairy free cheese a mile-a-way, but not the case here. The cheese was soft and velvety.


We need to talk about the Sundaes


Gluten-Free Ice Cream Shop
Ice Cream Menu



There are several varieties to choose from and they range from basic to extreme. I ordered the "Kid In A Candy Shop" sundae. It's vanilla ice cream which is coated in milk chocolate, m&m's, sprinkles, strawberry sauce and topped off with cotton candy. All for $5.95 plus tax. There is so much going on in this dessert and it all works perfectly together! I had no idea ice cream and cotton candy could make such an enticing combination. Much like the pizza, serving size is ample and you won't be disappointed.


Gluten-Free Sundae
Kid In A Candy Shop Sundae


Final Thoughts



I absolutely adored Le Marché Émilie and plan to stop by during future Quebec trips. It's the type of place I could see myself visiting on the regular had I lived closer. Cost wise, I was happy. They charge a fair price and don't gouge the way some places do.

If you will be visiting Quebec, please stop by and give them some well-deserved love! The Celiac community needs more dedicated gluten-free shops like Le Marché Émilie.

You can follow them on social media below:






Monday

Sprinkles Cupcakes

We need to talk about Sprinkles Cupcakes


You probably know the name from Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" where Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson is a judge. Full disclosure, I love the show and watch it regularly. Who doesn't love a good cupcake competition?!


If you are not familiar with Sprinkles Cupcakes, they can be found in a handful of States. Currently, only one gluten-free cupcake is available on their menu, but it's a start, right? They also have a nifty little rewards program which is full of perks. Think of them as a thank-you gift for being a loyal customer. My favorite perk? Definitely the free cupcake on your birthday. Being in Orlando the week of my birthday allowed me to take advantage of that perk. 

As always when I try a new to me gluten-free item, I do so with little expectation. This allows for even more excitement when something is wonderful. It also makes the experience less disappointing when letdowns are going on.


Sprinkles Gets Gluten-Free Right


 Sprinkles keeps the gluten-free red velvet cupcakes behind the counter and out of the display case to avoid cross contamination. That's getting gluten-free right and taking it seriously! Be aware that they do make a non-gluten-free red velvet cupcake as well. That being said the gluten-free red velvet is easily noted by the red "G" on top of the frosting. Sprinkles is on a roll with their safety measures.




Taste Test


To say that I am a fan is simply not enough. I've had my fair share of tasty gluten-free cupcakes and the gluten-free red velvet takes the top spot. It's pretty darn dreamy. You should probably drop everything and head to your nearest location. It's. That. Good. Hopefully, we will get a Toronto location in the future. Until then a girl can dream!

The cupcake is moist, pillowy and decadent. Imagine a heavenly cupcake that is sweet, but no overly so. Topping things off is the most gorgeous frosting. As a frosting nerd and self-appointed connoisseur of the stuff, I am smitten with it. Brilliantly creamy with a zip of tang, it's a major delight. 




Keep Up With Sprinkles


Visit the Sprinkles website for more information

You can also keep up via Twitter and Instagram

Friday

Easy Eats For A Gluten Free Trip

With Summer finally here, that means a lot of us will be going on little getaways. Driving, flying or just spending the day away from home, it's always best to have a safe food plan. Below is a list of my favourite items for on the go and the best part (aside from taste) is that they do NOT require heating or cooling. How's that for simplistic awesome?!




Enjoy Life Mountain Mambo is a tasty seed and fruit mix that comes in a resealable pouch. I love this product and buy it regularly! It's the perfect trail mix with it's lovely balance of sweet and salty. There is also just enough chocolate to fill that sugar craving while maintaining it's healthiness.










I stumbled across these by accident when we drove to Walt Disney World last October. What a genius idea - they really are a picnic meal in a box. The Turkey Pepperoni & Cheese was my absolute favorite!

Bummer note - currently not available in Canada. Will have to stock up next time I'm in the States!





LARABAR Fruit and Nut Bars are a very convenient travel item. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar is one of my favourites - it really is like eating cookie dough! There are 19 different kinds of bars, 9 of which are available in Canada. 




These cookies offer the right amount of sweetness and the perfect snap of crunch. I buy them in individual packages of two at my local Bulk Barn. The large boxes are great for home, but the smaller double packs are perfect for on the go. Each of the 4 flavours gets a star in my book!

Monday

Review: Petro's Chili & Chips

West Town Mall, Knoxville Tennessee

This was our first major stop on our drive to Walt Disney World. We left at 7:00pm on a Friday night and arrived in Knoxville around 9:30am Saturday morning. Not bad I say! Our original plan was to get a hotel in this beautiful city and then take on some shopping. 

After checking out the Knoxville Welcome Center we discovered that there was a major football game this particular weekend which resulted in price surges and Zero availability at local hotels.

Clearly being Canadian  and a Leafs fan (Go Leafs Go!) prevented me from planning ahead for this one. I knew football was popular in America, but I didn't realize how big College football was. The team spirit was pretty fantastic! All over Tennessee, everyone was covered in Orange Jerseys, Hats, Jackets  and face paint. Even cars had the giant signature orange "T" decal.  We saw the odd Florida fan in the mix as well

This brings us back to West Town Mall. After giving up on a hotel, we decided to take a break for some lunch and stretch our legs. I had prepared myself for more disappointment, this time in the food department. I was ready to go back to the car to dig something out of the cooler.

 Boy was I pleasantly surprised!!! 


I saw a baked potato on this menu and figured I better check it out! The guy working was awesome. After my usually needed speech about Gluten Free, he told me his grandmother is Celiac too and that all the Gluten Free items on the menu are indicated by with the letters "GF" in a red circle. 



My mom and I split the nachos and baked potato. It was soo good and it felt great to get some food with real substance into our tummies. There's only so much you can pack in a cooler without fear of it going bad. Especially in the Gluten Free department. So this was great! Really great. 



I would recommend visiting this mall to anyone making their way through Knoxville. It's very spacious and really pretty! The shopping opportunities are endless. Stores like Brookstone, Belk, and JC Penny were pleasant deviations from the norm for us. Is my Canadian showing yet?

Another plus is the kids play area that we discovered. It's in the center of the mall with a soft padded floor and lots of seating for moms and dads. Lincoln had such a great time running around here! He definitely deserved this play time after being such a great sport during our 14-hour drive.

After some time at the mall, we ended up driving a few more hours more and spent the night in a Comfort Suite just passed the Georgia border for under $100.00 US. Hubby was the sole driver so he gets the trooper award! Not only was he alert and happy, he dealt with the crazy hectic I-75 drivers and traffic backup, splendidly. I should note that he slept a good 9 hours the night before the trip, got up for a little bit and then went back to bed for another 5 hours. Probably the most sleep he has ever gotten.  


The West Town Mall is located at 7600 KINGSTON PIKE, KNOXVILLE, TN 37919-5600





Warning:Delta Airlines Dangerous For Celiac's

The post below is via Elaine Taylor-Klaus of  Touchstonecoaching.com. http://www.touchstonecoaching.com/blog/2012/4/19/is-deltas-food-policy-reckless-endangerment.html
I feel that it is an important read for all of us. An eye opener really. If you think you are safe ordering and then consuming a Gluten Free meal on Delta Airlines, you are WRONG. Your meal is labelled as Gluten Free you say? Delta Airlines actually labels Gluten containing foods as Gluten Free and then knowingly serves it to those who must maintain a strict GF diet.
Please read and share !


Born and bred in Atlanta, GA, I have always been a classic loyalist for Coca Cola and Delta Airlines. I have always chosen water if Pepsi products are the only option, and I’ve always flown Delta if the price is even close.
But as a mother of a gluten sensitive family, I am deeply, dangerously, disappointed in a series of recent encounters with Delta’s Food Service and Customer Service departments.  As a constituent, I am angry. As a native Atlantan, I am embarrassed. As a Gluten-Free mother, I am activated!  Here’s our story.
On a Delta intercontinental flight we ordered Gluten Free meals for the family, which is a great service that Delta offers. Unfortunately, the meal – clearly labeled “Gluten Free” – contained a packaged breakfast cereal that is NOT gluten free, and is clearly marked as such on Kellogg’s website.
My husband was halfway through his breakfast when I awoke and screamed for him to stop!  He had presumed – rightly so, I believe – that the meal was safe for him to eat since it was so clearly labeled. We all know that increasingly more standard products are changing their formulas to comply with GF standards, so it seemed a safe bet, right? NOT.
The flight attendant immediately brought us a very large bottle of water (fortunately, for him, flooding it out helps to limit the reaction). Following the water, they sent the airline Purser, who has a GF family member and knew, herself, that the cereal is not GF. She apologized, offered to compensate us with frequent flier miles, and told us that the new CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson, is a “buck stops here” kind of CEO. She assured us – repeatedly and adamantly – that he would want to know about this!
When we asked her to report the incident, she said she would, but she did not think it would get as much attention as if we reported it ourselves.  Now, here’s the catch. We have reported it ourselves -- on the two prior occasions that something like this has happened to us. Yes, this was the THIRD time we’ve encountered this on a Delta intercontinental flight, which is pretty pathetic considering we’ve only been GF for 7 years, and we actually don’t travel all that much!
But if Delta Food Service’s lack of due diligence isn’t embarrassing enough, wait until you hear about Customer Service’s (lack of) response. Forget the bureaucratic ridiculousness: “I’m sorry, sir, you will not get a response for a minimum of 30 days.” Delta has taken an “it’s not our fault” stance, leaving us to conclude that their policy around food allergies recklessly endangers the health and lives of their passengers.
Much like a parent feels when a teen breaks curfew to help a friend, I wanted to believe that Delta’s irresponsible policy was based in good intentions – that, once the company knew what was happening, they would readily, eagerly, make the necessary changes to provide safe food for their passengers. The first response to our complaint was unacceptable, so we posted another complaint and started climbing the veritable food chain. To our shock, in the weeks, now months, since this incident, Delta’s response has not changed.  Here’s what one Delta Customer Care Coordinator wrote:
“I am genuinely sorry you were dissatisfied with my response.” (Note, no apology for serving us poisonous food). “I understand you feel I did not adequately address your concerns. Further, I recognize that you are dissatisfied (dissatisfied?!) with the products that were included in the gluten free (gluten free?) meals you and your family received.
Again we recognize that passengers may have different requirements depending on individual gluten sensitivity. Passengers are encouraged to refrain from ingesting any product if they feel it does not fit within their dietary requirements, and select other food products included in the gluten free entrée served…”
Now, I would have no problem with Delta telling us that they cannot accommodate a gluten-free meal. It would be disappointing, bordering on pathetic in this day and age, and most certainly backwards ... but it would be tolerable. What is NOT tolerable is to serve a product publicly identified (by the manufacturer!) as containing gluten in a meal that is clearly labeled Gloten Free.
There are no nuances in this situation. This is not about whether it was gluten free enough. This product contained gluten and they gave it to us and told us it did not. Am I missing something?
I can’t help thinking what would have happened if we were dealing with an anaphylactic allergy. My husband was sick for 3 days of a week-long vacation, but he survived the ordeal. Imagine how much worse it could have been! Imagine if they had handed us peanuts and told us they were almonds. Would they be responsible then?
We teach our kids that when they make a mistake they should own it, take responsibility for their impact, and make corrections when possible. Mistakes are normal, they are how we learn. Making the same mistake twice with no effort to change?  Well, that’s just plain foolishness.
Delta’s policy around food allergies and sensitivities falls in the category of foolishness.  We were 2 hours delayed on another flight on that same vacation, and Delta sent a proactive letter of apology to all passengers on the plane with frequent flier points. But for this? They will not own their mistake, much less apologize, or make corrections.
As for the Customer Service chain of command? I suspect the “Buck Stops Here” stopped a long way before it got to Richard Anderson. In fact, our emails directly to him and his office remain unanswered. As I said, I am a loyalist, so I still want to hope that if Richard Anderson DID know what was happening, he would do something to change it. I still want to be proud of Delta.
So, do us all a favor. Send this blog to Richard Anderson at Delta Airlines.  Send it to your friends and ask THEM to send it, too.  After all, don’t we deserve to feel safe when a “Gluten Free” meal is handed to us? 
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