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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lessons From a Fishbowl About Dining Out


We must be goldfish. I mean, we have all we need right here in our little bowl, we are safe from the dangers of being accidentally "glutened" or accidentally un-veganized. I admit it, I am afraid to eat anywhere, gluten lurks in every dark corner! It is safe in our little bowl, and to leave, well, could be hard to breathe after all!  I have been "glutened" everytime I have eaten away from home so it is no wonder I am afraid to leave my fishbowl. It is only fair to say that the restaurants are certainly clean and although I always order gluten free food, the restaurants I have eaten in are not certified gluten free, so gluten exists in the air, on the plastic or wooden cutting boards, on the counters, on the wooden spoons, plastic spatulas, and in the plastic bowls, non-stick coated pans, and most assuredly on the hands of the cooks. So, I cook 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 4.3 weeks a month, 12 months a year. Well, save the rare (2 or 3 times a year) occasions where we visit one of the two veg restaurants in San Antonio, or the local Thai place that takes extra special care to prepare our gluten free, vegan food. Perhaps it is not good to live in fear like that. Perhaps the world can be trusted not to make us sick, we theorized, if we are careful in our choice of establishment, armed with knowledge and an advance website visit or phone call, of course!  
So, yesterday we felt confident to venture out of our fishbowl into the big scary world, in the hopes of dining on gluten free vegan pizza from a little bakery/café in San Antonio known as  The Little Aussie Bakery & Cafe  whose motto is, "All Taste, No Gluten!". Their website says they were voted one of the top ten bread bakers in America, that Friday and Saturday night are "Pizza Nights" and that they are open for dinner from 5-9 PM. They have vegan, gluten free pizza crust, and a Veggie pizza on the menu, to which we planned to have them hold the cheese. We felt really excited about their 100% certified gluten free facility, and knew there would be no chance of cross contamination. To add even more to the excitement, we wanted to shop their bakery items too! Oh, the mere thought of a smörgåsbord of gluten free, dairy free, and some egg free goodies is positively thrilling! So off we went on our dual purpose trip to San Antonio.
Did I mention we never go out to eat? So how were we little goldfish to know there would be heavy traffic at 7:30 PM on a Friday evening?  Slowly but surely we made our way to downtown San Antonio with our printed Google map instructions, and then promptly got lost. We goldfish tend to be a little backwards in technology, by the way, so there is no navigator-type device in our vehicle, and of course our cell  phone does not connect to the internet much less Google maps ... so w did a lot of circling, double-back driving, and sight seeing. At last, we find the landmark Witte Museum and knew the cafe/bakery was just around the corner, or so we hoped ...
And there it was! We walked in at 8:35 PM to a sign inviting us to seat ourselves. In a few minutes, a voice from the back of the building said "sorry, we stopped serving at 8:30 because we close at 9 PM."  The server approached our table as she finished her statement, "It takes 30 minutes to bake a pizza so we don't serve after 8:30." She seemed a little preoccupied, then returned to whatever task she had been busy with when we entered. Now what? I certainly didn't have a contingency plan.
The server had no idea we had just driven over an hour from out of town to get here for "Pizza Night",  or that this was a really big deal for us to be trusting her and her employer with  our lives. Sure, it crossed my mind that a pizza without meat or cheese does NOT take 30 minutes to cook ... 15 minutes tops? Maybe they have to shut down the ovens and begin the huge task of cleaning the kitchen, I don't know, because I am neither a restaurant owner/worker nor a frequent diner!  However, we took it in stride, chalking it up to a learning experience, besides, we still had another purpose for the visit that could still be fulfilled! So we approach the baked goods case where so many yummy breads, cookies, cakes, pies, etc were displayed, and inquire which items are vegan. We got to taste a sample of all the breads, they were all soft and delicious!   The server seemed a little annoyed, or perhaps just intent on her closing duties, but politely helped us, and I admired her work ethic.
So we left Little Aussie Bakery and Cafe a little hungry, but with some fabulous looking gluten free, vegan pizza crusts, hotdog buns, hamburger buns, white bread, cranberry bread, white bread mix, all purpose flour mix, and a decadent slice of vegan, gluten free chocolate layer cake that is hands down the best chocolate cake I have ever had!

Lessons learned: 

  1. Get out of YOUR goldfish bowl! You probably CAN trust carefully selected establishments to meet your vegan and gluten free needs and not make you sick.
  2. Big city traffic on Friday evenings is going to be congested everywhere!
  3. Websites of restaurants do not always have all the information you need; an advance phone call is ALWAYS a good idea, even if it is to ask when they stop serving!
  4. The Little Aussie bakery makes delicious gluten free, vegan bread, pizza crusts, cupcakes, and cakes and is worth the trip. They also have other baked goods, but they contain egg (WHY?? Flaxseed is cheap! *sad face*)
  5. I need a Garmin ... or at least a smart phone with GPS, LOL

Our haul from the Little Aussie Bakery & Cafe

Update:

The Little Aussie Bakery & Cafe was running a picture contest on their Facebook page at the time of my visit, and whoever posted a picture from "Pizza Night" on their page was eligible. The photo with the most 'likes' won the prize. I posted the above picture, thinking, well what the heck. I am sure it wasn't the picture they were hoping for, but then it wasn't what I was hoping for either, haha. Guess what? I won! I was delighted to visit this little jewel again, and got to share my winnings with my favorite people: a giant veggie pizza and 6 pack of Bard's gluten free beer! I was really excited to claim the prize. It was wonderful, and the staff and owners couldn't be nicer! What a great place, San Antonio and the gluten sensitive and celiacs in our area are so blessed to have a certified gluten free bakery and restaurant, but even better that it is run by wonderful, conscientious, caring folks!



All of the baked goods were divine! This is the best gluten free pizza crust ever! I will definitely be back for these! The whole family is subject to gluten free eating all the time to keep my kitchen gluten free, and we all agree the Little Aussie bread was "almost like normal". As all of you know, gluten free breads have a completely different texture than what wheat, rye, or barley can produce, and I am sure we all miss that, but do not miss what it did to our bodies! I highly recommend a visit to Little Aussie Bakery if in San Antonio, or visit their website, they do ship orders to you!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Michelle! I'm Beth, the server you ran into on that Friday night! I apologize if I seemed annoyed. I wasn't annoyed a bit! Just a extremely tired from working a very busy double from 6:30 that morning to 10 P.M. due to covering for some other staff emergencies. My plans for the night were indeed to go home and sleep so I could wake up at 5:30 and do it all over again on Saturday, which is precisely what I did that night :0) I really take pride in providing good service at the bakery and did not intend to come off that way when yall came in. Feeling a bit run down and out of steam can sometimes read wrong. I have also asked them to post the 30 minute rule on the website and door of the bakery. I look forward to yall coming in for another pizza night and hope we can provide a fun night for your family.

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