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The Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Experience

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

(Still playing catch-up for being away, but always time for a blog entry! For links and photos though, visit my wordpress blog here: wp.me/p1N36Q-c2 )

It's official - I don't need to get on the scale to verify vacation weight gain. My pants are feeling a bit tight these days.

I am thrilled to be home, but I have to say the dining experiences in Minnesota were pretty good.

Being in town for Grandma's Marathon meant we didn't get to go to the Duluth Grill - a local favorite featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I was disappointed because the Duluth Grill is apparently known for a variety of Gluten Free options, but there were just too many people in town and we didn't want to waste time waiting for tables to open up.

But we did swing by two other places that were also featured on the Food Network show - Sara's Table and Gordy's.

Sara's Table is a cute coffee shop/bar/bakery/restaurant all rolled into one. They have a great patio area that features stellar views of Lake Superior - but rain/fog/53 degree/otherwise miserable Duluthian weather kept us indoors. The menu featured a few Gluten Free options, and lots of sandwiches that could be made with Gluten Free bread. I suppose I could have ordered one of the two options that the host of the show, Guy Fieri, tried (Cranberry Wild Rice Bread French Toast or the Red Sea Fish Sandwich), but I wanted to go for something naturally gluten free instead of something made with gluten free bread. Plus, I was suffering from just NOT being hungry. (A theme you've probably seen repeated over the last week because of vacation overeating).

So I had the peasant bowl small plate. It was definitely misnamed - nothing small about the bowl of brown rice and black beans served with a special sauce and corn chips for $6. Delicious, but I probably would have done much better by not eating all of the chips.

On our last evening in Duluth, we decided to check out Gordy's in Cloquet - a 53 year-old joint 20 mins outside of Duluth that make Five Guys' hamburgers look like McDonald's. There were many reasons for me NOT to eat:

- I was stuffed from 9 days worth of overeating.
- The menu featured all things anti-Wheat Belly. Burgers. Hot dogs. Cheese curds and anything else you wanted fried...
- There was still celebratory "last day of vacation" champagne and honeyed goat cheese waiting for us back at our friend's place.

But then I saw a small white board featuring their soups of the day: Chili, Chicken and Wild Rice, and Wisconsin Cheese. They all sounded pretty appealing to me - but my "good decision" of the day was to settle for Wisconsin Cheese instead of trying all three... and pairing it with a Hot Fudge milk shake. Thanks, Pre-Frontal Cortex... I think.

Overall, I found that - with the exception of Gordy's - dining out in Minnesota really caters to the Gluten Free lifestyle. Menus are clearly labeled with options that are GF or GF upon request. Bakers all have GF options (although not all are free from cross contamination). You can meet up with friends at a bar for a draft cider. It was just a little shocking to me that they seem to be light years ahead when it comes to serving people with food allergies compared to where I live in New Jersey. I would have assumed - being much closer to two major metropolitan areas - we'd be more on top of things, but I feel like I need to do all of my research ahead of time on the web before going out to eat anywhere around here. To be fair, maybe it's because I frequent chain restaurants instead of smaller local places. Or I guess it could be just one of the reasons why Minnesota ranks 5th in the nation for health and NJ is a few places behind at 8th:

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