Green dots indicate Gluten-free. Easy!
I had looked in the window longingly a couple of times. I had tried to eat there on numerous occasions, but always ran into some obstacle. So I was happy when my college friend Scott who's an airline pilot e-mailed to say he'd be in town this last Tuesday. Given Mumbai Bistro's proximity to the historic district where Scott was going to spend his afternoon, we decided that we'd give it a try.
We arrived at 5:40 for a fashionably early dinner. The place is small -- maybe 10 tables -- and clean and uncluttered. It would not be a great destination for a date, since it's a plastic plate and flatware, "go through the buffet and get your food weighed" sort of affair (though you can order from the menu, though the buffet had such a good selection that doing so wouldn't make a lot of sense unless you were absolutely set on Chana Masala and it didn't happen to be on the buffet that day.) Other Indian buffets I have been to are all-you-can-eat, and I have to confess that I usually do more-than-I-should-eat and feel rather full and gross for the rest of the day. Since Mumbai Bistro charges $4.95 a pound for the buffet, and since I'm a thrifty sort of gal, I used moderation when dishing up the many gluten-free vegetarian offerings. My dinner, pictured below, weighed $5.17 worth, and was PLENTY of food, though if I could have gone back for seconds for free, I would have, keeping my track record of overeating at Indian Buffets intact.
Scott, a carnivore, said he also enjoyed his meal. He inhaled it actually. Ah, harmony among the culinarily diverse!
Mumbai Bistro, 930 Locust Street. A definite must. They are closed on Mondays.
Jenn got me a great Living Social $20 deal to Whole Foods, so I grabbed a few minutes during work today to wander over and buy some stuff I wouldn't normally get, or at least, not at Whole Foods -- organic ground flaxseed and coffee. And a carrot juice.
While I was there, I visited the customer service desk (as suggested on the website, even while they are cautioned me that they probably wouldn't return my e-mail.) Before I tell that story though, I have to note that the co-workers I encountered during my visit were exceedingly friendly and helpful. And I think that the woman at customer service was very friendly and wanted to be helpful, but she totally failed to grasp the larger question at hand: "How do you decide which foods to provide gluten-free shelf tags." She stated the following:
We have a person who has to make all the tags personally. (What? They are pre-printed shelf tags, not tablets with etchings...)
Many gluten-free foods are labeled on the packaging. (Yes, yes they are. So why are there so many LABELED gluten-free foods without shelf tags? Oh yes, because someone is hand-creating the tags in the back room.)
I followed up with, "So the Celestial Seasonings tea has the shelf tag, but not Republic of Tea, many varieties of which are labeled gluten-free. Not that I particularly care about Republic of Tea, but why label select items in the TEA AISLE when there are other teas that are also gluten free, AND since tea as a collective product is generally not so gluteny, why not focus on something like power bars or chips or something?"
Her reply: Would you like me to make a note that you'd like to see more shelf tags for gluten-free foods?
Yes, yes I would.
No word from Whole Foods yet
Whole Foods did warn me on their website that they don't have people just standing by to answer random e-mails. I didn't think that meant they'd never answer my e-mail question about how they decide to label something gluten free. I haven't been back to the store since that day, but I think I'll try to find some time this week to see if they made any changes in the tea selection.
I'll keep you apprised. I fully expect that you are on the edge of your seat.
Casein as a co-culprit?
I get the newsletter from the Gluten-Free Cooking School and she recently referred to an article about celmilk proteins: Mucosal reactivity to cow's milk protein in coeliac disease. The short version is that cow milk proteins cause inflamation half of the celiacs in remission on a GF diet. Casein, lectin, gluten... I don't know what to think. What's a good vegan-wannabe-ovo-lacto-vegetarian to do?
I've done a lot of blogging lately about other people's food creations. I should mention that mostly I eat my own cooking. For starters, I know what goes into it and I don't have to worry about gluten contamination. Second, it's way more affordable than eating out or eating pre-packaged foods. Third, I generally know I'm either going to like it or I suspect I will like it, given the ingredients. Fourth, it helps me keep a handle on the number of calories I'm taking in. It's really hard to know, for example, how many calories I consumed at Laxmi's on Monday, and since I'm trying to lose a few pounds, I'm paying attention to calories pretty closely these days.
All that said, I tried a new recipe this week -- a GF veggie lasagna. Instead of pasta noodles, I used strips of homegrown zucchini, and I used real dairy cheese and cottage cheese because I'd hoped the boys would try it and like it. It had quinoa as sort of a meat substitute, which I thought was interesting. The boys did try it and ate some, but for them it wasn't a home run. Specifically, they weren't crazy about the quinoa, the zucchini wasn't soft like pasta, and the slices didn't hold together in nice squares and rectangles so it looked a bit of a mess. Jenn liked it okay, but I note that I was the primary consumer of the leftovers all week, which was fine. It was nice to have a fast, easy dinner to heat up for myself while Jenn prepared a more gluten-centric meal for the rest of the family.
The recipe is here: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/11671. I would do the "zucchini as noodles" thing again, but I might just look for a more traditional lasagna recipe and replace the pasta. I'd also pre-cook the zucchini a bit to soften it up, assuming it would hold together well enough to act like a noodle when the time came to make the layers. Experiment and enjoy!