Gluten-Free in Las Vegas: Mon Ami Gabi

Mon Ami GabiChaz tends to start looking up restaurants that are safe for me before I even have plane tickets booked. If we are going to a major city like Las Vegas, I tend to wait until later because I know there will be lots of options and I don’t want to stress about food too soon. It’s things like road trips or trips to small towns that has me planning well ahead to make sure I have access to safe foods whether at restaurant, bringing my own, or buying from a store to prepare my own. He found quite a few places in his initial search, but the one that piqued my interest the most was Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel & Casino.

I believe I squealed, “GLUTEN-FREE FRENCH FOOD????”

You can add this to one of the many reasons why I love that man.

Mon Ami Gabi 2We went for dinner my first day out after being holed up sick. Neither of us remember the restaurant the last time we were in Las Vegas. It’s at the front of the hotel and you can watch the water fountain show at the Bellagio if you happen to be seated in windowed area.

Mon Ami Gabi 4We had a fantastic server. He recognized that I had the gluten-free menu without me saying a word and made sure to bring me gluten-free bread. It’s a big deal that he recognized the difference in the menus because as many restaurants that we’ve been to with separate menus in which the gluten-free menu is obviously different, this server was only the second to pick up on it without anything from me. And I’m not counting when we went to Lola Bistro last year. They knew when I made the reservation what my food allergies and intolerances were. Also, I think the last time a restaurant had gluten-free bread for me was at Disneyland. That’s another big deal right there.

Mon Ami Gabi 3While I wanted to try every appetizer on the menu, I wasn’t sure how my gastrointestinal system would take it so we went with oysters. I really wanted to have some French wine with dinner, but again, I was being kind to my body by not shocking it after two days of a bland diet.

Mon Ami Gabi 5For my main course, I went with the Caramelized Sea Scallops because it had mushrooms and mushrooms are good for the immune system. I needed a little boost. Plus, I liked that the mushrooms and squash were seasonal.

I didn’t get a picture of it, but I had the flourless chocolate cake for dessert. I’m sure you can understand the excitement.


Gluten-Free in Las Vegas: Mozen Bistro & a Celebrity Sighting

Mozen BistroSometime during the family reunion with dozens of relatives in Vegas, I caught a nasty gastrointestinal virus. I’ll spare you the details and just tell you that I spent the next two days stuck in our hotel bed.

My first venture out the Tuesday after the reunion was to have lunch at Mozen Bistro in the Mandarin Oriental. They had a nice array of choices on their gluten-free menu. But there is something about having a burger after having problems keeping things town for forty-eight hours. Call me weird. I did it back in college after a weekend nearly comatose from alcohol poisoning. Once I felt I could keep something down, I walked next door to 7-Eleven and bought a burger.

Our server did a great job with communicating my food needs to the kitchen. I’d say it was the best burger I ever had, but it would be a lie. It was just the first non-bland thing I had since dinner Saturday night and my taste buds were happy. Plus, the best burger I ever had will always be the former Shakespeare’s in Greenwich Village.

I was happily enjoying my lunch in the fairly quiet restaurant when I heard a familiar voice. I thought I was hearing things until I peeked in the direction of the voice. I wasn’t hearing things.

Kim Coates, Tig in Sons of Anarchy, was standing about a hundred yards away talking to two women at a table not far from us.

I am a total SOA fan and I love to hate Tig because Kim is that good at making a disastrously impulsive character, who loyally follows the orders of his President even if it means murdering a member’s loved one, lovable.

I sat there and stared at Chaz, repeating, “Oh, my God,” under my breath. I tried explaining to Chaz who it was standing at the hostess stand, but he’s not good with names and was having more fun laughing at my celebrity-induced daze. I finally got it together to think, I should snap a picture while he’s standing there. But, I was too slow.

I was still in a state of shock that I actually laid eyes on him when he returned to sit and have lunch with the two women he was talking to previously. This time I got a picture. And no, I didn’t go over to talk to him. The man was eating lunch and no matter how much of a fan I might be, I don’t like being rude and interrupting people while they are eating. Okay, so he wasn’t eating yet, but he was with people. And, I get so star struck that I feel paralyzed and no matter what I say, if I did approach a celebrity, would make me look like a babbling idiot.

But I got this…

Mozen Bistro 2

Grain-free Bacon & Veg Quiche

QuicheI haven’t shared with you how my health is lately for the simple reason that it changes EVERY DAY. Or at least it feels that way.

We keep peeling back layer after layer on the onion in allergy treatments. We’ve peeled back so many layers I keep thinking that onion should be nothing by now. Evidently, it’s an ogre-sized onion. I can now have dairy and eggs, but my body hates corn and coconut oil. I had peanut butter last week for the first time in a year. It took three treatments for my body to finally accept the electrolytes in water as good for me. I had to buy distilled water to drink and cook with during the reactions. There are many things that live in our bodies that mine thinks are foreign invaders. The reactions range from sinus problems to upper GI gas and pain. That last one is a doozy. I think if I just have one good belch it will stop, and sometimes it does. Next on my list is Vitamin B. I thought I never fully recovered from the adrenal crash in December. Turns out my body is attacking the Vitamin B I’m getting from my food instead of using it like it’s supposed to.

This is what happens when we go through decades of being misdiagnosed. Our bodies get so used to attacking what it thinks is bad, when we take it away, it targets something new. Sometimes many things new.

Physically, my body decides to throw out pain signals every few days. Lately it’s been in my shoulders. It started at the shoulder blades, but now it’s the joints. I get a massage and I’m fine for a day. I see the chiropractor and I’m fine for a couple of days. Right now, I’m at frequent visits to the chiropractor to lick this thing. It really sucks when it impedes my ability to write or chop vegetables. There are days I spend all day just trying to relieve the pain naturally.

I’m having a parting of the ways with grains. It’s causing the inflammation in my hands which prevents any fine motor skills, especially in the morning the day after. This leads me back to why you’re really here – grain-free quiche.

It was the second week of having eggs back in my diet when I realized I could have quiche again. I have not had it since going gluten-free four years ago. I remember having a conversation with Shirley of gfe – gluten-free easily about gluten-free crusts. I was still fairly new and my adoration of quiche really rested on the crust. The buttery, flaky crust that just melted on the tongue. I would lovingly roll out that dough and meticulously place it in the tart pan. I knew it was best if I just didn’t even try. It turned out to be a good thing. While I still have those memories of the gluten-full crusts I used to make, they no longer rule my desire. I am content with things being different on my gluten-free diet instead of exactly the same.

Enter, grain-free crust. It’s not perfect. It will crumble a little from pan to plate, but it feels every bit as good on the palate as a gluten-full crust. At least to me. I could’ve spent more time on perfecting the crust, but the taste of it was more important to me. Plus, I wanted to give you something easy. Press it in once it is doughy and voila! Pie crust. You will need pie weights or dried beans to weigh it down for the par baking or it will rise and get fluffy. If you have a crust you prefer to use, by all means, use it. Don’t feel beholden to use mine.

If you want to make this dairy-free, use your favorite dairy-free milk. I’m used to using hard cheeses with quiche. I used cheddar once and it was okay so you could use a dairy-free cheddar, I just can’t guarantee how it will turn out since I rarely used dairy-free cheese while I was reacting to dairy. You could leave the cheese out and have something more like an egg pie or frittata in a crust or whatever you choose to call it. You will also want to sub the butter in the crust for Earth Balance or palm shortening.

If you don’t like bacon or you are a vegetarian leave out the bacon!

Grain-Free Bacon & Veg Quiche – serves 4-8
2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1/2 cup butter, softened (or palm shortening or Earth Balance)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons chilled water (I used the full 2)
6 ounces bacon, chopped (roughly 6 strips)
1 leek (approximately 3 inches of white and green part) quartered and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch kale, chopped
salt & ground white pepper for seasoning
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese, shredded (Parmesan, Parmagianno-Reggiano, etc.)
Preheat the oven to 350ยบ and set a 9″ pie pan to the side with pie weights or dried beans and parchment or wax paper. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour and salt. Add butter or shortening and cut into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized balls of flour and butter. Add the chilled water a little at a time with a fork. The pea-sized balls should start sticking together like a dough. Don’t panic if it doesn’t, just set aside the fork and use your hands. Once it comes together, place it in the pie pan and press into the bottom and sides as evenly as you can. Place the parchment paper over the crust then pour the pie weights on top. Par bake the crust for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Remove pie weights and parchment paper then set aside until ready to fill.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon. Cook it until it is browned to your liking and fat has been rendered. Do not worry about anything sticking to the bottom of the pan (if you use stainless steel like me). Add in the leeks, season with ground white pepper and cook for two minutes. Add in the the red peppers, season with salt and ground white pepper, and cook until softened. Add kale, season with salt and ground white pepper, and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl add eggs, milk, salt, and ground white pepper. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
Add half the bacon and vegetables to the pie crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture then add half the egg mixture. Repeat with the remainder of the mixtures and cheese. Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes. At the end of the baking time, remove and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.