Friday, August 30, 2013

Disturbing at Von's Pharmacy

I had a disturbing encounter at my local Von's Pharmacy in San Diego.  I thought it was important that those of us with gluten issues and anyone with allergies be aware of yet another source of contamination.

I do not get sick very often and therefore do not take medicine very often.  Our dog needed some medication that needed to be ordered.  The vet said instead of driving back to her office she could call it in to our pharmacy which was closer.

I went to pick up the medication.  At the counter I was told it was not ready but would only take a minute.

Right behind the glass at the front counter right on top of the pill counter and bottles of medicine the Pharmacist was eating lunch.  An open bottle of soda, bag of chips, bottle of ketchup and a sandwich.  He put the sandwich down and backhanded the food to give him some room.  Picked up a large bottle and dumped it into the pill counter and then started counting pills.

No gloves.

No hand-washing.

I questioned him.  Told him I have celiac.  I asked if this is common practice.  Do they not have a break room.  Do they have hand washing protocols.

His response was non-apologetic.  He said he saw it was for a dog and dogs eat anything.  He said he knew because he had a dog.  He said he was helping me by filling it quickly otherwise I would have to wait 15 minutes.

Ironically, my kid was recently sick.  My wife went to pick up the prescription and it took a long time.  She said the pharmacist was there but couldn't mix the prescription because he was allergic to the particular drug and didn't want to touch it so she had to wait for the other pharmacist to get back from break.  Turns our ti was the same guy.  How ironic.

What I recommend is be very cautious when picking up medications.  Even after we check to see a particular drug is GF from the manufacturer the pharmacy can still contaminate it.  I think in the future I'll see how many pills come in a bottle sealed from the manufacturer and request a full bottle, even if I have to pay more.

As far as the Von's Pharmacy is concerned I'll have to see what their policy is.  I would hope a pharmacy has some policy about breaks, where their employees can eat and hand washing protocols.  I would be blown away if it is standard practice to eat at the work stations where prescriptions are filled.

A very concerned,

Ungluten Guy

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gluten Free Poke

I went fishing off the coast of San Diego this summer.  We caught some nice Dorado and Yellowtail.  Sashimi does not get any fresher than this.  So what do you do with all of this fish - eat it.

We had sashimi, we cooked it many ways and I made some Hawaiian style poke.  I had played around with it but this seemed to be a perfect dish.

Here is a Dorado, otherwise know as mahi-mahi (yes, caught on a fly for you fisherman).

For the Poke Marinade combine in a bowl and place in fridge:

1/4 of thinly sliced yellow onion
2 finely chopped scallions
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 Cup GF Tamari
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
[optional] 1 tsp chili sauce (I used Linghams)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Make sure you have fresh fish.  If not freshly caught check with you local fish monger.
Rinse and dry your fish.  Cut your fresh fish into cubes and place in fridge.  I used a combo of fresh mahi-mahi and yellowtail.

When you are ready to eat combine the fish and marinade.  I topped mine with some slices of toasted seaweed paper.  Avocado is a nice addition too but I was out of it today.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Celiac Awareness with the San Diego Padres Saturday August 24

Chandie Probst of Gluten Free Calendar was nice enough to offer up 24 free tickets to the pre-game party at Petco Park Saturday August 24th.

The event will run from 2:00 to 5:00 in the tailgating lot at Petco Park.  For the kids there will be face painting and cookie decorating.  Authors Danna Korn and Nina Cucina will be there.  The first 200 people will receive a gift bag with pasta and a magazine.

This really sounds like a great event.

The first 24 people that email me at or reply in the comment section below will win.  I will forward your names to Gluten Free Calendar and the tickets will be available at will call.  They need the names by Friday at noon so don't procrastinate.

Here is the link to the info page from Gluten Free Calendar - Padres Celiac Awareness Night.

Ready, Set, Go.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cohn Restaurants and their Gluten Free Menus

In San Diego the Cohn Family has a ton of restaurants.  They cover a wide area on the map and an even larger diversity of flavors.

We made it to Comic-Con.  We had never had the experience of attending and wanted to go.  After a day of visiting booths, seeing panel discussions and playing video games we were all hungry.

We stopped at Island Prime on Harbor Island on our way home.  We have eaten there before and they have a pretty decent Gluten Free Menu.  As always I questioned some things and the waitress told me some managers were debating that they can just overheat things to kill the gluten.  As far as I know most sources say to clean throughly with soap and water to clean a cooking surface.  Other sites talk about heating things like grills for 30 minutes at 500 - 600 degrees.  I have no scientific evidence to support it but I asked that it be cooked in a clean pan to prevent the risk of cross contamination.

I had the ahi stack.  My dish was served with cucumbers instead of the normal fried taro chips.  It was delicious as always.

For dinner I had the brick chicken.  A nice smokey, spicey rub (gluten free of course).  Served with homemade mashed potatotes and greens.

Both were good but I thought it quite strange that she brought out our appitizers and entrees at the same time.  They were gluten free and I was hungry so I simply devoured it.

You can see other diners reviews on

We had family in town and went out to dinner with them later in the week.  We visited Indigo Grill, another Cohn Family Restaurant.  They also have a full Gluten Free Menu.  We spoke with one of the managers (I forget his name) and he was very helpful.  I started with their signature soup the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Delicious as always.  It has just the right kick.  Stir in your corn, peppers and cilantro that are on the side and for some people this is a meal.

For my entree I had the Hickory & Apple Smoked Pork Ribs.  This was delicious.  The sauce on the ribs was sticky, sweet and spicy.  I had the chipotle mashed potatoes - spicy and good.  The small salad on the side was a good palate clenser with the sliced pears.

You can see others review on

In town I think you will be happily surprised and satiated at any of the Cohn Restaurants when it comes to gluten free fare.


The Un-Gluten Guy

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sea & Smoke

It finally opened.  I have been looking forward to the opening of Sea & Smoke.  This is yet another restuarant of Chef Matt Gordon.  I have been a fan of Urban Solace in North Park and Solace in Encinitas.  Both have very good food that is fresh, mostly local, freshly made with tons of gluten free options.

Sea & Smoke is located in Del Mar at the Flower Hill Mall right off Interstate 5 near the Del Mar Race Track.  It is a bit closer to me than his other restaurants, so I was really looking forward to their newest establishment.

We went in the other night for dinner, sans kids.  The makeover from the previous restaurant (Paradise Grill) was a pleasant surprise.  The upstairs is very open, modern and comfortable.  The downstairs bar is clean and refined but cozy.  Outside is awesome, the new deck floor, overhead lighting and simple tables make it a cool place to hang out and eat.

They do not have a GF menu yet but are working on it.  Our waitress was very helpful and was able to speak with Chef to find out what would be safe for me to eat.  Luckily, most things on the menu were gluten free so you will not be without choices.  Chef had time to stop at our table during the meal to see how everything was going.  I was sure to let him know that food was delicious and I was comfortable with the GF dishes.

We started with the "Blackened" Yellowtail Crudo.  This was yellowtail sashimi rolled in a jalapeno ash then sliced.  The fish was served over watermelon with jicama.  It was simple, clean and a great way to start.  The jalapeno ash and salt complemented the yellowtail and the watermelon.

Next up, salad.  We choose to have the summer salad.  This was listed as arugula (although I thought it was baby spinach), roasted corn, spicy corn nuts (yes, GF), jicama, pickled chilies (these were super good) and cotija cheese, tossed with a vinaigrette.  Great salad, lots of flavor and textures.  You should order this one.

For dinner my wife had the Cast Iron Prawns.  These were well seasoned, perfectly cooked and served with avocado and plated over a black bean puree.  I was allowed to try one and it was very good.  She had the corn bread as a side dish (not GF).

For my dinner I choose to have the Braised Lamb Shoulder.  I can't wait to go back and order this again.  The meat was perfectly seasoned and cooked - super tender.  Then dip it, soak it, run it through the sauce - a spicy broth- and wow.  Out of this world - it had just the right amount of kick.

As a side I ordered the Beet Gratin.  Yes, beet (not potato).  It did play with your brain because the yellow beets were thinly sliced, and looked like a potato, but had the delicious taste of a summer beet.  I like beets and really enjoyed the dish but I think if you were considering trying beets this is a delicious presentation.

Dessert.  Yes I still had room for dessert.  We had the Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.  This was a long chocolate ganache over flourless chocolate cake with cocco powder and chocolate sauce.  It was a lot of chocolate, very good but we couldn't finish it.  Our kids were happy to devour the leftovers when we brought it home.

What are my final thoughts.
I'll definitely be back.
Can't wait for the GF menu (or simply add GF to all of the dishes on the menu that are GF)
I'll reorder the lamb.
Chef Gordon will do really well here - great location and excellent food.

Until next time,

The Un-Gluten Guy

UPDATE 9/8/13
We stopped in and the GF menu is available.  The first two images are the breakfast/lunch menu.

These next two are the GF Dinner Menu.

The Niman Ranch Braised Lamb Shoulder is my favorite.