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Restaurant Review: Skipjack’s Best Fresh Seafood Gluten Free Menu

Located in the heart of the Back Bay, Skipjack’s has devoted itself to serving the freshest seafood from around the world.Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 1.06.53 PM

Skipjack’s was named after a type of tuna that is indigenous to the Pacific Ocean and known for tenacity and strength.  Owner Jeff Senior chose the name to reflect his vision of a restaurant renowned for its aggressive pursuit of the highest quality products, while keeping prices affordable.

Skipjack’s offers a gluten free menu with interesting and varied selections for seafood (and even non-seafood) lovers. The portion sizes are quite generous; you definitely get a great value for your dollar. While the menu is not inexpensive, the prices are fair and certainly much better than some of the overpriced trendy, but mediocre, places on Newbury Street.IMG_4045

The gluten free menu was quite extensive, including a raw bar, appetizers, sushi, salads, seafood, Skipjack’s specialties, steaks and most importantly, fried food! It’s not everyday you find fried food on a gluten free menu.

Naturally, I ordered the gluten free fried calamari as an appetizer. The batter is rice-based, making it very light and crispy. I was in heaven! I devoured the calamari, and of course I shared some with the rest of the table.

*Please note that the fried food is cooked in the same fryer as everything else.
*Please note that the fried food is cooked in the same fryer as everything else.

For my entrée I choose the Chilean Sea Bass off the “Today’s Catch” section of the menu. I ordered it grilled with a side of French fries and the vegetable of the day—carrots. Anything in this section of the menu—salmon, haddock, rainbow trout, swordfish, etc.—is available broiled, blackened, or simply grilled. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked, but overall my meal was pretty bland.IMG_4048

I would recommend ordering something off the “Signature” section of the menu. Almost everyone else at the table ordered something from this menu, and everyone loved their meals. Gluten Free Signature dishes include Cioppino, Shrimp Chardonnay, Grilled Swordfish Fra Diavlo, Scrod Imperial, and Grilled Jumbo Shrimp. These sound much more interesting and flavorful. Skipjack’s also offers a creative sushi menu, complete with gluten free soy sauce.

The service is friendly and prompt. Our waiter was well-informed about the menu and happy to give us recommendations.

There is a public underground parking lot at the side of the entrance, which is very convenient for out-of-towners.

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Skipjack’s has a second location at Patriot Place in Foxborough.

Skipjack's Best Fresh Seafood on Urbanspoon

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Round Up of Boston Indoor Cycling & Spin Studios

Indoor-cycling Studios are taking over Boston.

Indoor-cycling is popular all over the country. Cities like New York and L.A. were swarming with a plethora of studios, while we were lagging behind. Well, the indoor-cycling craze has officially hit Boston. In the past year alone Boston has seen four studios open up, with another —SoulCycle in Chestnut Hill—on its way this spring.

Prior to this past fall I had never taken a spinning class. I didn’t know what I was missing out on!! After being invited to Flywheel for my first spinning class, I was hooked!

During the past few weeks I’ve been checking out Boston’s indoor cycling studios and wanted to share my experiences with you. I hope this helps you figure out which studio is the right fit for you!

*Current special **$99 Rise & Ride - Unlimited Morning Spin (Weekday only)
*Current special
**$99 Rise & Ride – Unlimited Morning Spin (Weekday only)

Location: 800 Boylston St. (Prudential Center)flywheel

Flywheel is a boutique indoor studio with locations across the country. Flywheel offers intense 45-minute indoor cycling classes that are both challenging and fun. About three-quarters of the way through the class, we used weighted bars to do upper-body arm work.

One of the best parts of Flywheel, and what makes it so different from any other studio in Boston, are the bikes. Each bike has an electronic screen that tells you exactly where you are when it comes to resistance and RPM. This way, when you turn the knob there is no guessing. Flywheel also has a Torqboard, a jumbo screen that displays the class’s performance throughout the ride. If you opt in, it’s totally optional, your performance numbers are displayed on the screen and you can see how you are doing compared to everyone else in the class. Only the top 10 riders are displayed, and I found this to be a huge motivator; I wanted my name on the board, and this made me work harder and pedal faster.

What is also unique about Flywheel is that the bike’s technology allows you to track and measure your progress. The information is saved and compiled online, where you can view your stats on your own Performance Page – AWESOME!Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.28.09 PM

Flywheel offers stadium style seating so you can see the instructor from any bike in the room. Flywheel has a more competitive vibe, due to the Torqboard, but I personally didn’t find it too competitive or uncomfortable; I actually really enjoyed the energy in the room. flywheel5 My instructors have always been great and keep the class interesting. There are several staff members in the studio before class to help you clip in and adjust your bike.

Classes are offered seven days a week at various times.  Your first class is complimentary and shoe rentals and towels are included in the class price. Flywheel has locked lockers and one shower.

Pursuit Boston
Location: 569 Boylston Street on the 2nd floor

Pursuit Boston is a dedicated, officially licensed Spinning® studio located in the heart of the Back Bay. Like Flywheel, Pursuit Boston has Stadium-style seating with 26 state of the art bikes complete with performance tracking technology. Each bike is equipped with a small screen that tracks your speed, pace, distance, and calories burned as you ride!Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.36.09 PM

My instructor Amber was motivating and clearly very passionate about spinning. She kept the class energized and the 45 minutes flew by. I really enjoyed both the class and the atmosphere here. The owner Jennie, who was manning the front desk, was friendly and welcoming and I felt welcomed and comfortable from the moment I walked through the door.  I loved the brightness and open 2Because Pursuit is an official Spinning® studio, we didn’t do any arm work or strength training, although this might change soon (Spin Flex classes, which are 60-minutes long and include 20-minutes of weight training are being demoed soon). Rather, Pursuit has an area for stretching, complete with free weights that you can use after your class.

There is a small locker room with three changing rooms. There are also cubbies where you can store your stuff. The room is very secure and a staff member is always at the reception desk, but you must bring your own lock if you want your stuff locked securely. All of the bikes are SPD compatible, and Pursuit has a limited number of shoes available to borrow free of charge, on a first come first serve basis. You may also wear regular shoes.

Pursuit Boston donates a portion of EVERY ride back to a local charity. Classes are offered seven days a week. Your first class is complimentary. Arrive at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the class.  If the class is full, they will open available bikes up to those on the wait list 3 minutes before class starts.

Velo-City Studio
Location: in Public Alley 442 off of Fairfield Street between Boylston Street and Newbury StreetScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.40.31 PM

Velo-City Studio is located in a basement; it’s cool, low-key, and has a great nightclub vibe. The room is large with plenty of space for the 40-plus bikes. The instructor sits up on a little stage in the front of the room.Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.41.14 PM

The 45-minute class was high energy, music driven, and a total body workout. Like Flywheel, we spent about 4 -5 minutes using free weights to do upper-body work and strength training. My class also focused on ab work, which I loved! It was such a great workout. My instructor, Jenn, was awesome. She was motivating and kept me energized throughout the class. The staff are super friendly and very helpful, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions or to ask for help.

Velo-City does not have lockers. There are cubbies so store your belongings, but no way to lock your stuff. A staff member is present in the reception area at all times.

Classes are offered seven days a week at various times. Shoe rentals and towels are included with each class. Classes do have an expiration date, so be mindful of this when purchasing mutli-class packages.

The Handle Bar
Location: 141 Dorchester Ave

Located right by Broadway Station, this sleek studio is equipped with 30 bikes, and offers both 45 and 60-minute classes (weekends only). There are no lockers here, but they do have cubbies for every rider, and there is always a staff member present at the front desk so bags are not left unattended.

The fast-paced cycling session was set to the beat of the music that really gets you going— I loved the playlist. Weighted bars are used for a portion of the workout to incorporate upper body toning into the class. There is only one bar, no options here like at Flywheel, Velo City and RealRyder, and for me it was too heavy._DSC1126

The workout was infused with intensity, my classes was dubbed EN FUEGO, but still suitable for all skill levels. My instructor Lena was awesome; super peppy and energetic!  We did a lot of abdominal and oblique work while riding the bikes, it was tough but I really enjoyed it. This class was a great workout; legs, abs, arms, wow! Classes can vary in routine depending on your instructor.

You must wear spin shoes, regular sneakers are not allowed. The shoes, unlike the other studios, are not included in the class price and cost $2 to rent. You can also wear your own SPD compatible shoes.

Classes are offered in the mornings and evenings, and some days during lunchtime. If you are thinking about going during your lunch break, keep in mind there are no showers. The reception area is small, there isn’t much room to get ready and move around.Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.50.10 PM

Also be aware that bikes will be released 5 minutes prior to class for walk-in riders. If you are running late, please call the studio and your bike will be held.

RealRyder at Sweat and Soul Yoga
Location: 1032 Commonwealth Avenue

Located in Packard’s Corner, this small, 14-bike studio offers 45-miunte classes seven days a week. The studio has painted black walls and chandeliers along the walls, giving it a gothic feel and cool vibe.

What makes RealRyder bikes different is that they move side to side and require you to engage your core and upper body. I definitely had to engage more muscle than you would on a traditional indoor bike. The class also incorporates arm exercises, crunches, and pushups into the workout, truly giving you a full body workout.

Because the bike moves side to side, this class was more challenging than the others. It didn’t take long to get the hang of the bike, but I had a hard time when we made ‘’turns’’; it takes a lot of upper body (not my forte) and core strength.

My instructor Jenn, was super friendly and very welcoming. She helped me get adjusted and explained to all us first timers how the bikes moved. She was enthusiastic and kept me motivated.

My class was made up entirely of students, given the location and time I took the class, I wasn’t surprised. Despite this fact, I enjoyed the Real Ryder experience, but SASY is not the most convenient for me to get to, but for those of you who live in the Brighton/Allston area, it’s worth a try.

Although there are no lockers, and the lobby space is very small, there is an office attached to the studio where you can store your stuff. There’s only one door, via the studio, and therefore no one can access it during the class, ensuring your stuff stays secure. SASY does not provide towels so bring your own! Although they do not offer shoe rentals, you can wear sneakers or cycling shoes that are SPD compatible.

*You may wear sneakers or running shoes. Check the website for more info.
*You may wear sneakers or running shoes. Check the website for more info.

Recycle Studio
Location: 9 Newbury Street, Fifth Floor and 643A Tremont Street

*Please note, I have not been to a cycling class at Recycle Studio

Boston’s first indoor-cycling studio has two locations (South End and Back Bay) and offers an upscale, boutique spin studio. There are seven different kinds of classes offered from beginner to advance; from traditional style classes to core focused yoga for athletes and upper-body toning, there is something for everyone.

They have a few pairs of cycling shoes at the front desk  you can borrow. They are available on a first come first serve basis so their availability is not guaranteed. Bikes are compatible with SPD cleats, so you can wear your own if you have them.

View Boston Indoor cycling studios in a larger map

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Kitchensurfing: Bringing Personal Chefs into Your Kitchen & Fine Dining In to your Home {and $100 promo code}

My girlfriends and I are always looking for any reason or excuse to get together to eat, drink, and have a good time. Rather than go out I decided to invite a few friends over for Girls Night, and hired a chef through Kitchsensurfing, to make us appetizers and dessert. Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 2.09.05 PM

I love Kitchensurfing, I’ve been using the service for a few months now for private dinners (Valentine’s Day is coming up!) and a cooking lesson (click on the links to read about my other KS experiences). My friends, on the other hand, were newbies, and they were just as excited to try something different, as I was to introduce them to Kitchensurfing.

So what is Kitchensurfing?

Kitchensurfing is a marketplace for chefs of all kinds. It’s a service that allows you to bring chefs into your home to cook you a personal and customized meal. From hobby chefs to Michelin star chefs, you can browse the chefs on the site, view their sample menus, read their reviews, and book any of them. From private cooking lessons in your home, to meal deliveries, to a private dinner party for two or fifty-two, KS allows you to ‘shop’ around based on your own needs, wants, budget, and diet.

How it works:

  • Browse the list of chefs, read their reviews and sample menus, and pick one you’d like to have cook for you. Send them an e-mail and voilà, you’ve got yourself a private chef.


  • Submit a “Match Request”. Fill out a form stating what you’re looking for (party size, budget, date, time, etc.), any dietary restrictions or allergies, preferred cuisines, and anything else you want or don’t want. Your request will be sent to all the chefs matching your criteria. Chefs will then contact you to customize a menu. Once you’ve found a chef and a menu that you are satisfied with you can book your chef!

The booking process is incredibly east and it is ok to say no if you don’t like an idea or menu item. So be specific about your likes and dislikes along with any dietary restrictions.  All the chefs I’ve worked with were great with communicating with me prior to the booking, and customizing the menu to my likes and needs. And remember, the chefs want you to enjoy every last bite, so be upfront and honest!

Keep reading for your $100 code….

Our Girls Night was such a blast! The menu looked amazing, and the food turned out even better than we could have imagined. My friends loved every moment of it and could not stop talking about trying KS on their own.

Chef Stephen Coe created a menu of tapas and dessert. Each course was delicious and beautifully crafted. The freshness and flavors of each dish were impressive; we cannot say one bad thing about any of this food.

Red and yellow beet salad with shaved sheep cheese, candied pistachios, and a blood orange aged balsamic over local greens.IMG_6251

Sashimi Tuna served over seaweed salad with pickled ginger, sesame seeds, and siracha sour cream and rice crackers.IMG_6255 IMG_6252

Grilled Oysters with pancetta, fennel, bee pollen, chives, and grated sheep cheese. IMG_6262

Scallops with artichoke hearts, romaine, olives, basil, tomatoes, and capers.IMG_6263

Warm chocolate soufflé with strawberry tarragon and white balsamic purée.IMG_6261 IMG_6260

The awesome folks over at Kitchensurfing have provided me with a $100 discount code for YOU, my readers! Click here to claim your $100 voucher and discover what Kitchensurfing is all about. The code is valid Monday, February 3, 2014 through Sunday, February 16, 2014. Your meal needs to be booked prior to the 16th, but the date of the actual meal could be after this date.

And you don’t have to live in Boston; some chefs are willing to travel all over the state, even to Maine!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pictures from my previous Kitchensurfing Experiences

Romantic Meal for Two by Chris Hallahan

– Late Season corn soup served hot with a ragout of lobster, bacon, and corn
– Kale salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette
– Blue Fish pan seared with crispy skin, over maple glazed carrots and fall vegetables
– Pumpkin & carrot cake (dairy, gluten free)IMG_4988

Cooking Lesson with Michelle Lahey:

-Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers with Vegan Tzatziki
-Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Roasted Butternut Squash
-Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
-Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

IMG_5676  IMG_5681

Drop of Plated Meal prepared by Mark Hardin

– Arugula, Carrot & fennel salad with a creamsicle vinaigrette, sunflower seeds & orange slices
– Braised Lamb Shank slowly cooked in tomatoes and garlic. Served with a gravy made from its own juices. Accompanied by Roasted root vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes
– Mini Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cake Garnished with powdered sugar and a fresh raspberriesIMG_5950 IMG_5947

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New Holiday Menu & Gluten Free Options at Au Bon Pain

I was recently invited to attend blogger/media tasting at Au Bon Pain, hosted by Chief Brand Officer, Maria Feicht and Executive Chef/Director of Culinary, Roger Bowles. Unfortunately, I had to work and could not go. But, lucky for me, I was invited to check out the new holiday menu and gluten free options at a later time.

When you think of Au Bon Pain what comes to mind? Bagels? Sandwiches? GLUTEN?

Yes, they do have a gluten-filled menu, but they also have many gluten free options, including; salads, soups, a chicken harvest rice bowl, oatmeal, hot and cold lunch bar items, and other gluten free snack options.

Au Bon Pain strives to create healthier yet flavorful convenient options for everyone. ABP’s website offers nutritional and allergen information for every single menu item.Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 10.50.34 AMAt Au Bon Pain, items are clearly marked if/when they contain allergens. I like the variety of gluten free options available at each location and I am happy that Au Bon Pain is recognizing this opportunity to give their customers more information about their products.

I’ve eaten at Au Bon Pain numerous times but I had no idea that the company was founded over 35 years ago in Boston! Au Bon Pain has over 250 locations world wide, including Thailand, Japan, and Kuwait.

Six times a year, the company introduces new seasonal items to the menu, and sometime they become permanent fixtures. The New Holiday Menu only includes one new gluten free option. It’s disappointing there’s only one GF option, but once you try the GF Thai Coconut Shrimp, you won’t care about the gingerbread cookies or peppermint shortbread!

The Thai Coconut Shrimp is a blend of petite shrimp, red peppers, carrots, bamboo shoots and lemongrass in a coconut and curry broth with a touch of spice and fresh lime. This is not the type of soup I would expect to find at this café, but I am pleasantly pleased that it is on the menu and I hope that it becomes a mainstay! IMG_5937

And, Au Bon Pain now has K-Cups! Awesome right?? I drink coffee, from a Keurig machine, Every. Single. Morning. So this was great news for me!

Au Bon Pain has over a dozen locations in Boston and Cambridge. To find a location near you, click here.

Au Bon Pain on Urbanspoon



Fly Wheel Sports Soars into Boston

On October 8th Flywheel Sports opened its first Boston location at the Prudential Center. With stadium-style seating, Flywheel’s take on a standard cycling class offers up something more unique, and everyone can see the instructor. No obstructed views if you happen to site behind someone taller than you!flywheel3

And last week I was invited to experience it myself.

Like most spinning classes, you reserve your spot online and select your bike in advance. When you arrive for your class, you check yourself in on a tablet. This is also where you can find your shoes, which will be waiting for you in a cubby with the corresponding number to your bike. So cleaver! And no need to bring a lock, each locker has an electronic keypad, and you set your password at the beginning of each class. This process is very easy and very efficient!flywheel1

During the 45 minutes class, we did sprints, jumps, and also got an upper body workout with weighted bars.

Another feature that makes Flywheel unique is the Torqboard, a jumbo screen that helps you track your speed and resistance as you spin. If you opt in, your performance numbers are displayed on a screen during the workout with a name you select for yourself. I found this to be a huge motivator; I wanted my name on the board, and I wanted to surpass the person in the spot above me. This made me work harder and pedal faster. It was a great workout and I left the class very sweaty.flywheel5

The arm portion of class was unexpected. Luckily, as soon as my arms started to burn we stopped. Each bike has a weighted bar next to it; a 4 lb and a 2 lb. This portion of class lasted for about 5 minutes towards the end of the class.

The bikes’ technology allows you to track your progress and is saved and compiled online, where you can view your stats on your own “Performance Page.”Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.06.52 PM

There were several staff members in the studio before class to help people clip in and adjust their bikes. This was a relief because this was my first spin class. Ever. It’s a place I’d encourage anyone to try, from newbie to pro.  Your first class is complimentary and your shoes are included. Individual class prices start at $28.Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.07.18 PM

Flywheel Boston has a special offer available to the first 100 people to sign up – unlimited classes for only $170/month or Get 3 months of unlimited classes for $220.  You can sign up to try a Flywheel Spin class here.

Not only was my first spinning experience a great workout, but also fun. Our instructor was excellent, and kept the class interesting. The energy in the room was more than I expected; not something I’ve ever experienced in a fitness class before.

I highly recommend checking this place out. It’s a great way to mix up your workout routine, and a great way to burn off all those extra calories you eat during the holidays. The only downside for me is the price, since I already have a gym membership somewhere else. But hey, the holidays are right around the corner and Flywheel does sell gift cards!flywheel

Disclaimer: I attended this class free of charge. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.


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Gluten Free Menu Available at Zocalo Back Bay Mexican Bistro

Margaritas on the patio. Guacamole made fresh as it’s ordered. Authentic Mexican dishes crafted with fresh ingredients from traditional recipes. All that, and more, is what you will find at Zocalo.Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 3.56.15 PM

When I was asked to join owner Ricardo Ramos to try out Zocalo’s menu and learn more about the gluten free processes in place at his restaurant, I couldn’t resist. I love Mexican food and it is one of the best options for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Most Mexican carbs are made from corn (think corn tortillas). Even the chips that they start you off with are usually gluten free friendly.

So, what does Zocalo mean exactly? A ‘zocalo’ is a public square, a gathering place for neighbors. And here, you’ll find friends worth toasting and flavors worth experiencing again and again. This zocalo is filled with colorful and eye-catching artwork, bright lightening, and enjoyable Latin music.

Riccardo had a friend that was diagnosed with celiac in 2006, and who inspired him to implement a gluten free menu at Zocalo. This was long before the gluten free diet became as prevalent and well known as it is today; many people hadn’t heard of celiac disease or even knew what gluten meant.

At Zocalo, the gluten free corn tortilla chips are the first batch made everyday in the fryer, which is thoroughly cleaned every single night. The chips are labeled, dated, and stored separately for the lunch and dinner services.IMG_5522

The chefs are well trained when it comes to gluten allergies, as well as other common allergies they see each week – dairy, shellfish, and nuts.  When the chefs are informed of a gluten allergy, they change their gloves and wash their pots and pans without hesitation; it’s almost second nature to them by now. And if you’re vegan, they will scrub the grill clean before they begin preparing your meal.

After hearing all that I couldn’t wait to try some of the gluten free options!

I started with the Sun-Dia, made with Cazadores Blanco Tequila, St.Germaine, fresh watermelon, and lime juice. It was tasty, and fairly spicy! This was accompanied by homemade salsa and tortilla chips. The salsa was incredibly fresh and flavorful.IMG_5521

For my appetizer I took Riccardo’s advice and had the Gambas al Ajillo. This garlic shrimp dish is the Mexican version of the popular Spanish tapa with the same name. This dish is made by sautéing shrimp in olive oil, white wine, tomatoes, garlic, and mild chipotle sauce. It was delicious and incredibly flavorful; just to die for! I highly recommend ordering Gambas as your appetizer.IMG_5524

For dinner I tried the Beef Piramide; grilled hanger steak served with roasted tomatoes, onions, black bean puree, fresh guacamole, corn tortilla strips and red bliss mashed potatoes.IMG_5530

Let me start off with the guacamole. The guacamole used in this dish is not the same as the tableside guacamole you can order off the appetizer menu. Rather, this guacamole is made with pineapple and cucumber, adding a nice crunch to the otherwise smooth guacamole.  The steak was juicy, tender, and extremely flavorful. The portion size was big and I took leftovers home for lunch the next day.IMG_5528

Some of the other popular gluten free entrees include Chicken Enchiladas, Chilaquiles (Mexican Lasagna), Chile Rellenos, and Salmon a la Plancha (Grilled Salmon).

If you are looking to try someplace different or have a hankering for Mexican cuisine, I highly recommend you give this place a try. Here you can indulge without feeling like you’re missing out; you can even order a gluten free quesadilla here, not something I usually see on gluten free menus [ever]!

Zocalo also offers a $35 bottomless mimosa brunch. This includes one entrée (5 of the 8 options are gluten free) and two hours of unlimited mimosas. The drink choices include a traditional mimosa, peach bellini, the Bostonian, purple raspberry mimosa, an apricot Marielle and the strawberry Ellie.

Disclaimer: I received this meal free of charge. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

View Larger Map

Zocalo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

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Our Gluten Free Cooking Lesson with Kitchensurfing & 25% off code

Kitchensurfing brings a chef into your kitchen for parties, lessons, and so much more.Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 9.34.17 AM

Kitchensurfing (KS) is a marketplace for chefs of all kinds. From hobby chefs to Michelin chefs, you can browse the chefs on the site, view their sample menus, read their reviews, and book any of them. From private cooking lessons in your home, to meal deliveries, to a private dinner party for two or thirty-two, KS allows you to ‘shop’ around based on your own needs, wants, budget, and diet.

Last month Jeremy and I had a wonderful, restaurant-quality, 4-course meal with Chef Chris Hallahan. We were blown away not only by his culinary talents, but also by his passion for food and locally sourced ingredients. He was friendly and engaging, and answered all our questions. You can read all about our first KS experience here.

The whole experience was so wonderful that I decided to use KS again, but this time I wanted a cooking lesson.

After browsing a few profiles and menus to see who would be a good fit for a gluten free, dairy free cooking lesson we chose Michelle Lahey. Michelle is a Boston based personal chef and I love her blog, The Economical Eater, so I was thrilled when she replied to my request for a cooking lesson for my sister and I!

The Menu for our cooking demonstration:

Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers with Vegan Tzatziki
Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Roasted Butternut Squash
Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BarsIMG_5677

Services Included

  • Ingredients
  • Cleaning
  • Transport

Michelle’s food was fantastic. She was engaging, super friendly, and really easy to talk to. She was really knowledgeable about vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free food, such a relief!

Michelle’s menu incorporated fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.IMG_5652

I really like Brussels sprouts but have never cooked them myself, so I was eager to learn to do this once and for all. And it’s much easier than I thought!

Our previous attempts at making veggie burgers have all failed. Michelle’s recipe for Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers was easy to follow and can easily be swapped with different types of beans and spices. We loved the Middle Eastern spices and flavor combinations in this burger.IMG_5649The vegan tzatziki was also easy to make and paired perfectly with the burgers. This is something I plan on making again. Since going dairy free I hadn’t eaten tzatziki. I was surprised with the simplicity of the recipe. Michelle used So Delicious almond based yogurt and also recommended coconut yogurt was well. I haven’t been able to find plain coconut yogurt so I just bought the almond yogurt when I made it.IMG_5679The pumpkin chocolate chip dessert bars were to die for.  My sister and I felt like we had died and gone to heave. The secret ingredient— garam masala—gave the bars an unbelievable flavor. They were absolutely incredible. And lucky for us she left us her recipe so we can make them again and again! The recipe is also available on her blog.IMG_5680

Not only did Michelle show us how to prepare the food, each step of the way she explained what we were doing with all the ingredients and how each one contributed to and played a role in the dish.IMG_5659

We enjoyed learning new recipes that we can now add to our repertoire. I like that Michelle focused on healthy, fresh, and seasonal ingredients. We liked everything about this meal and we felt good eating it.IMG_5677

Click here for a 25% off coupon for your next Kitchensurfing booking! This code is valid through Dec. 31 (you don’t have to have your meal prior to the 31, it just has to be booked by that date). This code can be used on any KS service.

Disclaimer: I received this service free of charge to review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Gluten Free Cyber Monday Deals

Get a jump start on your holiday shopping with these great Gluten Free Deals! Make sure you get something nice for yourself too.

Tate’s Bakeshop, seller of Gluten Free cookies and gift baskets. 20% Off everything with code Cyber2013 at Checkout.Tate's Bake Shop - Cyber Monday


Gluten Free Saver always has fabulous deals on gluten-free products, magazines and more!

Jules Gluten Free Holiday Bake Set $30 for $99 worth of products for new customers

  • Includes five pounds of flour, cookie mix, cornbread mix, and grahams mix
  • Five e-books featuring 203 gluten-free recipes
  • Use promo code CYBERMONDAY to save an extra $25% off

Groupon Go-Picnic Deal. $19 for $40 worth of products

Gourmet Nuts 6-pack of Chia and Flax Seeds. 53% off. Only $19.99 for $42.99.

Save 50% off a Gluten Free Gift Basket from Gourmet Gift Baskets with this groupon deal.

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Cuisine Cube Gluten Free Subscription Service. Only $19.99 for $29.99 credit towards a subscription or food items.

Katz Gluten Free 50% off large pizzas with promo code CYBER50.

Save $5 off your first Nature Box with promo code SPECIAL25

GoHastings Buy 2 Get 1 Free on ALL paperback Gluten Free cookbooks $16.99 or less.

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Review: Gluten Sensitive Menu at City Table Restaurant

City Table is a casual, yet elegant restaurant located in the Back Bay, where you can enjoy breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snacks. The cozy space, tucked into the Lenox Hotel, is the perfect place to take refuge after a long day of shopping on Newbury Street, a great option for a date night, or an inviting hangout to have drinks with friends.Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 4.10.40 PM

Owned and operated by The Briar Group, City Table is one of three restaurants within the Group that offer a Gluten Sensitive Menu—the other two are Anthem Kitchen + Bar and MJ O’Connor’s. Click here for my review of MJ O’Connor’s and click here for my review of Anthem.

The Gluten Sensitive menu offers a nice selection of appetizers and entrées. It’s always nice when a restaurant offers a separate menu for gluten sensitivities; this certainly beats having to ask the server about every single menu item. On that note, the menu clearly states that the kitchen does not have a dedicated gluten free portion of the kitchen and cross contamination is possible. So please be advised.IMG_5283

The creative menu focuses on fresh, local ingredients and chef-inspired, regional touches. Whenever and wherever possible the chefs use organic, sustainable, or local products.

The inventive cocktail menu features unique drink creations as well as some popular classics. I opted for a good ole Margarita. It was delicious and not made with orange juice (thank you very much). It didn’t taste strong, but it certainly was.IMG_5274

Jeremy had the classic Moscow Mule, made with ketel one, ginger beer, bitters, and lime juice. We were both pleased with our drinks.

We shared the House Made Potato Chips ($6) as an appetizer. These were served warm with a truffle and chive dipping sauce. The chips were very good, crispy but not too greasy, and a perfect appetizer to share.

IMG_5276I had the Grilled Snapper ($27) with coconut rice, Thai red curry, and grilled corn salsa. The fish was cooked perfectly and had great flavor. We also really enjoyed the coconut rice. The Thai red curry sauce was super spicy. The corn salsa had way too much vinegar and was far too acidic.IMG_5277

Jeremy ordered the local pan roasted cod ($26), served with Wellfleet clams, pancetta, and braised white beans, in a shellfish broth. The flavors were well-balanced, but the cod was dry. The beans and cod pairing was weird also. The texture of the two together was strange and left a waxy sensation in your mouth. We thought the dish needed a more solid base, like pasta, risotto, or rice.IMG_5278

Overall we really enjoyed our dinning experience. We were both pleasantly surprised with the ambiance, which was much more upscale than I expected. We enjoyed the brightly lite, warm, and laid back ambiance of the dinning room. The meals, for the most part, were delicious, as were the drinks.IMG_5273

Disclaimer: I received this meal of charge, with the exception of gratuity. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Please take a moment to complete my Gluten Free Dining Out Survey. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!