Gluten-Free In Berkley: Mission Heirloom

Mission Heirloom

We left Portland and headed south for Arcata, California. My best friend went to Humboldt State and I loved visiting her there. We intended to hike the Redwoods and Fern Canyon. My body had other plans and by the time Arcata was in sight, the back of my throat was scratchy. Other than going out for our first meal there (dinner), I was in bed the whole time.

We moved on to Napa where I was moderately better and more medicated with cough syrup for the cough that would not leave.

One of my friends from church during my college years lives in Berkeley now. We interact a lot on Facebook these days, but back in college, I hung out with his brother and another friend more than him. If you can believe it, they were the troublemakers and I was the one reining them in. Oh, the antics from young adulthood!

We drove into Berkeley and met up with him for lunch at Mission Heirloom – a market/restaurant with an edible garden. It is the type of place you would see on Top Chef. In fact, it’s within walking distance from Chez Panisse. The only difference is, Mission Heirloom is gluten, grain, legume, and soy-free.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Thankfully, my friend is adventurous and up for a new food experience.

Mission Heirloom 5

I had to order the Belgian waffle. It was drizzled in honey and dusted with cinnamon. It was delicious with the crispy crunch Belgian waffles are supposed to have. And just look how gorgeous that presentation is. Gluten-free food can be fancy too.

I don’t know what the usual is like at Mission Heirloom, but going for lunch they couldn’t fix a sous vide egg for me to have on the side because it would take too long (it’s on the menu). And Chaz ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles, but they were out of the fried chicken (no, we didn’t go late). They were able to use another type of chicken for him, but he didn’t care for it. I would love to go back to see if it was just a one-off and we went on a rough day.

Heck, I’d love to go back to Berkeley just to go to Chez Panisse. The food scene in Berkeley is where it’s at.

Mission Heirloom 6

Of course I’d go back to see this guy too. I might be mean, but I’m not heartless!

Gluten-Free In Anaheim: True Shabu

True Shabu 4Sometimes your brain works in mysterious ways. I was sitting with Dr. Cuz and Auntie Jude, talking about stuff while taking a break from cleaning out Auntie Boogie’s condo. Somehow I remembered my friend, Hordus, who I found and reconnected with after my trip to L.A. in August, was living in Southern California again. I couldn’t remember exactly where so I pulled out my phone and started going through our texts.


We were in the same city. So of course I texted him to tell him I was in town.

Mind you, it was twenty-five years since I last saw him. I can’t remember when the last time I talked to him was though. He was still living in St. Louis and Chaz and I were still in Louisville.

Does that really matter?


What matters is that Hordus was like another best friend to me.

We met in church in high school. For a long time it was him, Jerm, and me that made up our Youth Group. Which was fine with us most of the time. We did enough together that it didn’t really matter. Sure some people would show up every summer to join us for Summer Camp, then we wouldn’t see them again. But that’s okay too. The three of us stuck together.

Hordus loves his puns and to most people he might have appeared to be a young hot-headed teenage football player. Sometimes he was. But he was also someone I didn’t need words to communicate with. He understood me in a way no one else did and I never really appreciated it until I moved back to Hawai`i. I have no other friend like him on this Earth and I couldn’t imagine anyone else being like him.

There was a time when the adults around us thought we were dating. No. Nope. Never happened. Not even once. Just good friends who could make each other laugh, smile, and feel better when things were shitty. That’s all it ever was.

So, having the opportunity to see him again for the first time in decades was not to be wasted. Yes, we had lots of work to do, but we all needed to eat. Right?

Our reunion was…the longest hug in history. How do I know? I just know. And in the midst of grief and stress, he was a perfect ray of sunshine. Exactly what I needed to relieve the darkness.

Hordus, being the great friend that he is, researched places where I could safely eat. Turns out his girlfriend has food allergies too and she’s still learning what they are and what she needs to avoid.

We went to True Shabu, a restaurant that only does shabu shabu. If you’ve never heard of it, think of it as Japanese fondue. You build a broth in a pot and cook your vegetables and meats in it. At the end, you cook the broth down and add the noodles and you have a wonderful soup.True Shabu

Chef Saifon makes her own sauces, a pressed pomegranate and a sesame. They are made in-house, of course, and she knows all the ingredients in them. They both have gluten-free soy, so if you are avoiding soy, you can ask if she can make you some without (which she says she will do even if they are busy). The noodles that come with the vegetables are rice noodles and are naturally gluten-free. There are also other types of gluten-free noodles you can add for an extra charge. The udon noodles on the menu are definitely NOT gluten-free. Don’t go near them.

The chef was mostly well-versed in gluten-free but most of her education is online and she brought up something about mushrooms being controversial about their gluten-free status. This was the first I heard of it and told her I never had problems with mushrooms before and didn’t know why they wouldn’t be gluten-free. Chef Saifon wants to be able to provide every diner in her restaurant with a good experience, believing every chef should be able to do so in their establishments no matter what their food restrictions are.

I may have forgotten to mention this, but right before I flew out to California I was cleared for soy again. So, I did not partake in the soy-free experience. Hordus’ girlfriend, however, did. And somehow tofu got on her plate and into her soy-free broth. This is where, the chef and the staff could have done a better job. The broth should’ve been dumped when she saw it, but it wasn’t. There was also the old saying, too many cooks in the kitchen. We had Chef Saifon helping us along with one other staff and I’m not sure the soy-free needs were communicated between them.True Shabu 6

With that hiccup in mind, I didn’t have any issues. While Hordus ordered udon noodles, they went into his pot and was nowhere near mine. I enjoyed my meal since I’m used to ordering only sushi when we go out for Japanese food and making other Japanese dishes myself at home. This was a great experience with great company.

My caution would be to watch everything carefully. They are very hands on in teaching people who have not been before. This is how the tofu got in the soy-free broth. One of the other guys working came over and was helping out while the chef was in the back and didn’t know about Hordus’ girlfriend being soy-free.

That tofu was good though. It was my first piece of tofu since going soy-free almost two years ago. I stuck mine in the broth at the beginning and let it sit in there until right before I was ready to put the noodles in. Then I let it sit in the pressed pomegranate sauce. So, so good.

Would I go again? Yes. Would I take other people with me? Yes. Would I keep an eye on everything? Most definitely.True Shabu 7

Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa

Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa


Looking at my note, written in a buzzed state outside a bar in the Highlands of Louisville, I questioned my sanity:  bacon, bourbon, hazelnut hot chocolate.


Yeah, I’m not exactly sure what Johnna and I were talking about when that idea came to me. After some bourbon and moving on to hard cider, you stop questioning things and just write down the ideas that you think are genius because you know you’ll never remember them if you don’t.

I thought I was far from genius as I tried to puzzle out how I would pull it off.

Bacon. Bourbon. Hazelnut. Hot Chocolate.

Seriously. What the hell?

I know I like to put bacon in my food like:

Dairy-Free Corn Chowder

Grain-Free Bacon & Veg Quiche

Kitchen Sink Pasta

Pumpkin Maple Bacon Pancakes

I thought this idea went too far because I couldn’t figure out how it should be done. It only took me eleven months to figure it out. Candied bacon.

This may be more steps than you want for hot cocoa, but it is worth it. You will need Hazelnut milk, which you can make with Hazelnut Butter. This is not necessarily easily available and where most of your prep time will be if you make it yourself. The end result is heavenly though. Mine came out fluffier than you would expect a nut butter to be.

This is not dairy-free because of the whipped cream I used. I can’t make coconut whipped cream because of my allergies, but I think it would work well with this. If you can’t have dairy or coconut, there are lots of nut whipped cream recipes online. And if you can’t have nuts try marshmallows! I prefer marshmallows in my hot cocoa, but because of my corn allergy I need to make my own and I wasn’t up to the task when I developed this last week. I had a lot of other things on my plate.

I’m pretty sure you can make the candied bacon with coconut bacon if you are vegetarian or vegan. I’m guessing some of my followers will be trying it with candied bacon and letting me know.

Candied Bacon

2 teaspoons honey (or pure maple syrup)

½ teaspoon bourbon

2 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper. Mix together the honey and bourbon. Lay out bacon slices on the tray and brush half the mixture over the bacon. Turn slices over and brush remaining mixture on the other side. Bake for up to 30 minutes or until bacon is browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool before chopping into pieces.

Hazelnut Butter

3 cups hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Spread hazelnuts evenly on a baking tray. Roast them for 10-15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place hazelnuts between two towel and rub together to remove the skins or place in paper bag and rub them together in the bag. Remove as much of the remaining skins as possible and place the nuts in a food processor. Add a pinch or two of salt if desired. Process the nuts until you have a creamy nut butter consistency, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Creamy Hazelnut Milk

4 cups  filtered water

4 tablespoons Hazelnut Butter

Add ingredients to a blender and blend on high for a at least one minute. Transfer to an airtight liquid container and store in the refrigerator. Shake before using.Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa 2

Mind Blowing Hot Cocoa

1 ½ cups Creamy Hazelnut Milk

1 – 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or Dutch processed cocoa)

1 tablespoon raw local honey or pure maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)

1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)

1 ounce bourbon

Whipped cream (of choice)

Candied Bacon, chopped

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cacao powder, mace root powder, and sweetener of choice. Whisk together until well-incorporated and allow to continue to heat. Add in bourbon and remove from heat, whisking together before pouring into a mug. Top with whipped cream then candied bacon.