V (Gluten-Free) Pizza in San Marco

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco
Join me as we welcome the newest gluten-free pizza joint, V Pizza (not V’s Pizza or Five Pizza just V Pizza). I have been driving by this place constantly wondering what was going on. Not long after seeing the sign “Opening Soon” I got a message from an old high school friend who is now one of the owners, Rudy Theale, wanting me to talk to him and his staff about living gluten-free. I was very impressed about his commitment to doing gluten-free right. When asked to come and take a tour and do a tasting I thought, why not!

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

With a focus on fresh ingredients V Pizza is taking the gluten-free pizza business seriously. They taste tested multiple gluten free pizza dough products before deciding on their final crust. They were looking for something that had a great taste but would be easy to keep the customer with serious allergies (celiac like me) safe. The pizza dough comes in a metal tin so that the pizza can be cooked in along with the other pizzas without touching the same surface as gluten-containing pizzas. In addition to pizzas, their menu will feature gluten-free desserts and a baked chicken dish. There is a $1-$2 additional charge for gluten-free pizzas.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco

When I went for the tasting a few weeks ago I was quickly introduced to the kitchen prep team. One of the team members was the chef who has the most wonderful Italian accent. He was really proud of his product and was eager to show me the separate gluten-free area where the pizzas were prepared. They use separate utensils (including the pizza cutter) from the gluten-containing pizzas. Almost all of their ingredients and toppings are gluten-free, including their meatballs. On most menus meatballs are off limits because bread crumbs are one of secret ingredients. At V Pizza, their recipe does not call for bread crumbs. He immediately made a meatball pizza with mozzarella, oregano and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Because I am also dairy-free I had some helpers on hand from Liz Morgan PR taste test for me. They were impressed by how great it tasted and couldn’t believe it was gluten-free.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

Next the chef made me a meatball pizza, no cheese and lots of veggies. It was AMAZING! I wanted to eat the whole thing right there but had to play it cool and box it up to take home (don’t tell anyone but I had a slice in the car on the ride home :)).

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

They are taking multiple steps to avoid cross contamination: educating their staff, separating gluten-containing items in the prep area behind a glass enclosure, using separate utensils and making the gluten-containing dough in a separate room limiting its ability to contaminate the gluten-free pizzas.

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

I think they will do well. The location is convenient, the space is in an old paint store and they have a cool bar in the back called The Side Car where they are mixing up fresh cocktails and I heard they make a mean Lemon-cello. I can’t wait to go back.
gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza

gluten free jacksonville v pizza san marco gluten free pizza
Address: 1406 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville (San Marco), FL 32207 904.527.1511

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Freshfields Farm – EVERYTHING IS GLUTEN-FREE

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

Through word of mouth, on multiple occasions, I had to try Freshfields Farm. A 7 days a week farmers market style grocery store, Freshfields Farm is a gluten-free dairy-free oasis. There are no labels to decider, no prepackaged goods to worry about cross contamination, the prices are reasonable and the colors are fantastic. Freshfields Farm has vegetables, fruits, meats and some dairy. They do a lot to highlight their organic and local produce but you will find almost any and every vegetable you could imagine.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

I purchased two packs of strawberries for $4, two large bags of spinach for $4 and two large chicken breasts for $2. While not all of their fruits are organic and not all of their meat sustainable, they do have some grass fed beef options and other sustainable meats which are still quite reasonably priced.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

In addition to strawberries, spinach and chicken breasts, I got grapes, sweet potatoes, organic apples, a pineapple, and swiss chard; I loaded up. I got a great deal and everything I bought was fresh and flavorful.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

The only problem with going to a place like Freshfields Farm is it forces you to cook. There are no precooked convenience foods like chicken nuggets, lean cuisines, frozen burritos, or cereal. Shopping here will require chopping, sauteing, grilling, roasting, cutting, blending, juicing… you get the point.

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

fresh field farms gluten free jacksonville

Freshfields Farm is located in the oddest space across the street from University Christian High School near the intersection Of University Boulevard and I-95. It is on my way home so I can’t complain too much.

5555 University Blvd W
Jacksonville, FL 32216
(904) 652-2810

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NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens Gluten-Free Training

gluten free jacksonville nfca great kitchens gluten free training
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease I thought anything that said “gluten-free” was safe for me.  I quickly learned that just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu it does not always mean that they took steps to avoid cross contamination.

NFCA great kitchens gluten free jacksonville

A few months ago I found out about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness GREAT Kitchens: Gluten-Free Training. GREAT Kitchens is a gluten-free training to food service professionals working in a variety of settings. This $100 training teaches skills and techniques to meet gluten-free needs and serve gluten-free meals safely and confidently.

As Jacksonville becomes more gluten-friendly I would love to see more restaurants taking steps to train their kitchen staff and servers on gluten. I would especially love to encourage local restaurants. I find that it is the chain restaurants who provide most of the training for their staff because of a need in a larger market. It is the local restaurants I find that a majority of the time have not educated their staff on food allergies.

Some of the issues I have with restaurant servers:
1. They don’t know what gluten is.
2. They think I can’t have ANY carbs.
3. They think items that have been fried in the same oil as breaded items are gluten-free.
4. They aren’t aware that sauces like soy sauce carry hidden gluten.
5. They don’t write down that I have celiac disease on the ticket so the kitchen staff has no idea that they should take extra steps to avoid cross contamination.
6. They don’t write anything down and try to memorize my order as well as the order for the 8 other people at the table.

As of March 1st, 2014 there are no restaurants in Jacksonville that are certified as a GREAT Kitchen. I would love to see this change and I would love to update our gluten-free restaurant listing with a list of GREAT Kitchen certified restaurants.

What are some of the issues you have when dining out? Do you avoid dining out altogether because it is so hard?

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Naturally Smart Gluten-Free Dessert Tasting

naturally smart gluten free jacksonvilleRecently, in honor of my boyfriend’s birthday, I shared Naturally Smart’s gluten-free frozen dessert with some of my friends.  Unfortunately, because I am gluten-free and dairy-free, I cannot indulge in this gluten-free dessert so I thought I would share some of the comments from others, many of whom are not gluten-free.   Our sponsor provided us with Chocolate and Vanilla (these are their current flavors, other flavors are coming soon).   Each pint holds 4 servings and each serving has 10 grams of protein and only 150 calories. Almost everyone was shocked that there were 10 grams of protein in each serving (that is 40 grams per pint!). After the birthday boy blew out the candles on his glutenous Oreo cake, it was time to pass out the Naturally Smart and see what the crowd thought:

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Tastes like a Fudgesicle you had as a kid but a healthy version”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Why should I stop; it’s so good for you”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Good texture”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Interesting aftertaste”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Guilt free indulgence”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Tastes like a brownie”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Awesome, delicious”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville“Is this expensive? Do they sell this at Publix?”

naturally smart gluten free jacksonville

“The first ingredient is water; it hydrates you!”

Special thanks to our sponsor Naturally Smart for providing us with their frozen dessert.

Where can you buy Naturally Smart you ask? Here is a current list as of February 10, 2014:

Grassroots Market
Whole Foods in Mandarin
BioMax in Atlantic Beach
Dr. Capasso’s Thin Centers in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach.

Look for them at the Natural Life Music Festival and OneSpark! And follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@Nat_SmartFD)

Have you tried this dessert yet?  If so, what do you think?

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Good-Bye 2013, Hello Gluten-Free 2014

Thank you for a great 2013, I am so excited about 2014.  More new restaurants, more new gluten-free foods and the new gluten-free labeling standards starting in August 2014.

As we enter 2014 I thought I would share some of the greatest hits of 2014. Some are oldies some are goodies.

Sweet Theory Baking Company

Sweet Theory Baking Company

Restaurants that get it, restaurants that don't

Restaurants that get it, restaurants that don’t

 

publix gluten free section jacksonville, FL

Publix: Where Gluten-Free Shopping is a Pleasure

gluten free j william culinary

Product Review: J. William Culinary Prepared Meals

 

gluten free french fries epik burger

Epik Burger: Worth the Splurge

While it is nice to look back every once in a while, it is time to charge forward to 2014.  Here is to a year filled with healthy and nutritious foods.  What are you looking forward to in 2014?

 

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Gluten-Free Moxie Kitchen+ Cocktails

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails st. johns town centerI am so excited.  I love when new restaurants come to Jacksonville, especially when they use fresh ingredients, have a great menu and are opened by great chefs (who happen to be really down to earth nice people). Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails, a Chef Tom Grey creation, is now open for business.

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is in the Town Center between Nordstrom Rack and Seasons 52.  They feature fun and funky american food with international (and a little bit of southern) influence.  Their menu is quite diverse and items range from craft cocktails, cheeses, burgers, seafood and decadent desserts. A majority of the food is made from scratch and/or sourced locally.  The vibe of the restaurant is a fusion of industrial, rustic and prohibition. gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails salt and pepper shakers

My boyfriend and I went during the soft opening and had an amazing experience.  Even with the restaurant being so new, staff were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive.  The menu makes it really hard to decide what you want to eat.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails menu

We started off with cocktails: a Lorem Ipsum (fancy margarita) for me and a B.E. for my boyfriend. Each of our drinks had their own ice cube shape: the Lorem Ipsum- a tall slender chunk of ice, the B.E. a large square ice cube.gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails Lorem Ipsumgluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails craft cocktails b.e.

We then moved on to two appetizers (both gluten free): we had the octopus appetizer and a plate of 2 cured meats.  Both were amazing.  The octopus appetizer came with chorizo, olive crisp, corn nuts and black garlic.  I am not a huge fan of octopus, but the way the server described that it was prepared to reduce the chewiness we had to try. Plus it was just so unique we were intrigued. The flavors of the octopus dish left me wishing I didn’t have to share.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails octopus

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails cured meats

Unfortunately, our main course was so tantalizing I immediately dug in and forgot to take a picture.  But trust me when I say the food is amazing.  My boyfriend had the Filet Mignon with the chimichuri sauce and I had the rainbow trout.  We ordered the collards and ham and the brussel sprouts as our sides. I loved these sides (I love vegetables). The brussel sprouts were actually kinda sweet.  The rainbow trout was gluten-free and dairy-free and came on top of mashed sunchoke (a vegetable similar to an artichoke).  They had to make some variations to the meal so it is very important to let your server know of your allergy.

Gluten-Free notes:
– They do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer so anything fried is not safe for those with Celiac disease
– Corn nuts, popcorn bar snacks are gluten-free
– Salads, Short Ribs and BBQ Pork Steak can be done gluten-free

For dessert, my boyfriend was a devil and had the coconut meringue cake that was enormous.  DEFINITELY NOT GLUTEN-FREE :)

We were so lucky, Chef Tom was in the restaurant and came around to all of the tables to say hello and see how things were.  I expected him to say hi and rush off to the kitchen in a rush but he seemed so calm and stayed to chat a bit. It was very apparent that this is his dream.  It is so refreshing to know that someone as successful as he is can stay so grounded and friendly.

gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails chef tomAll in all the restaurant has a wonderful layout and even has the flexibility to host meetings, special events, etc. in the new year.  They have outdoor seating downstairs and upstairs and two bars.  The upstairs bar has a great lounge feel while the downstairs lounge accommodates guests waiting for a table.

One of my favorite features is their water filtration system which provides still and sparkling drinking water.  I crave their sparkling water it is delicious. My other favorite feature is the upstairs artwork by my favorite artist- Dennis Campay.  gluten free jacksonville moxie kitchen + cocktails dennis campayThis is a great place for a date, special occasion, a holiday dinner or when friends are in from out of town.  There are a variety of prices so you could dine on a budget or splurge. 

Have you been?  What was your experience like?
Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails on Urbanspoon

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Gluten-free Flying Iguana Taqueria and Tequila Bar

gluten free jacksonville flying iguana taqueria

Recently my boyfriend and I ventured to Atlantic beach to try the new Flying Iguana Taqueria and Tequila Bar.  Iguana is a Latin American inspired restaurant with hints of Mexico and Peru which usually means there will be gluten-free offerings.

gluten free jacksonville flying iguana taqueria

The location is in the space of the old Sun Dog Diner. They did extensive renovations to the space; you would never even think it was a diner in a former life. While it was two days after they opened and extremely crowded, we only had to wait about 30 minutes. This was enough time to run into friends and try some of their creative margaritas. Instead of giving us buzzers they took our phone number and would text us when our table was ready. I love this! It allows free rein to stay at the bar, go to other bars in the area, walk to the beach, etc. We chose to stay at the bar to try some of their yummy looking drinks. We had The Garden and Blood Orange margaritas. The Garden was the second best drink I have ever had (the best drink I have ever had was at Loa Bar in New Orleans). The bar at Iguana is quite large and takes up the entire side of the restaurant. We were one of many lingering waiting for a table.

gluten free jacksonville flying iguana taqueria the garden

I love the decor behind the bar. Once we were seated we had to get the table guacamole. According to my boyfriend the chips and salsa was pretty good. They serve two different types of salsa a red and a verde (green salsa). Beware, while the salsa is gluten-free, the chips are not celiac safe; they fry them with other breaded items. This may change, but while we were there the chips were being fried over at Al’s Pizza (they have the same owners). They were really nice and gave me corn tortillas for the guac and salsa.
gluten free jacksonville flying iguana taqueria
We ordered spicy verde, meat and potato, carnitas and blackened shrimp tacos. They have three different options for tortillas; flour, corn and a half corn half flour.  The server let me know that the meat and potato and the carnitas tacos were the best options for me, but you should ask the server when you go.  I think their options will change. I was very disappointed that my tacos accidentally came out on the half corn and half flour tortillas.  Unfortunately, I did not know this until I took a bite.  They were very nice and felt really bad and made me another meal. Unfortunately for those of us with Celiac that little bite is quite damaging.  My advice- the corn tortillas are smaller, the half corn/half flour are big like flour tortillas.  I enjoyed the meat and potatoes and carnitas once they were safe to eat. My wish is that they add a fish taco that isn’t fried.

gluten free jacksonville flying iguana taqueria
I think they still have to work through a few kinks. We were there the first week so I am sure things have changed since then.  I will definitely be back even if it is just for drinks. We did not have dessert but they have Coconut milk flan that I am definitely going to try next time.

The atmosphere is very festive and vibrant (loud at times). There are a lot of outside tables and it has an open flow. I loved that it was casual, open air, fun and in a great location. I look forward to going back but will definitely spend a little more time chatting with my server, and possibly the manager before placing my next order.

Have you been? What do you think?

Flying Iguana Taqueria and Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

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