Saturday, December 20, 2008

Drinks at Cheesetique

Looking for a cozy spot to get a glass of wine after work? You don’t even have to cross the river to find the perfect place! Last night I went out for drinks at Cheesetique in Del Ray. Cheesetique is a wine and cheese shop as well as a wine bar. It used to just be a cheese shop but they recently moved down the street to a larger location. When you enter the building, walk to the back and seat yourself at the bar or tables. The atmosphere is laid back, warm and not too loud. You also don't feel rushed by the wait staff to finish, which I always appreciate.

While their wines are a bit pricey, I think it’s worth the cost because you know you’re getting a good glass of wine. On this evening I tried two of their reds that were smooth and perfect for a cold December night: the Cotes du Rhone and Rioja (this one was my personal favorite and very reasonably priced at $8).

We also ordered three cheeses from their cheese menu that were flavorful and each one was distinctly unique. The menu includes nice descriptions of the cheeses and wines to help you decide what you want and what flavors to expect. The cheese plate, with three cheeses, was $15 and plenty for four people. On a celiac friendly note, Cheesetique serves the bread and crackers on a separate platter so you don’t have to worry about crumbs contaminating the cheese. Cheesetique even sells gluten free crackers in their store so I’m sure you could purchase some to have with your cheese platter.

Cheesetique has a lunch and dinner menu, but I have not experimented or enquired about its gluten free potential yet. There are plenty of salads on the menu so that’s a good sign. Just another reason to go back! Cheesetique's wine bar includes a large bar and a handful of tables, but they do not take reservations. We had no problem getting a table, but it was definitely crowded when we left. This is a great spot if you're looking to get your family out of the house over the holidays but you're not necessarily looking to spend a lot of money on a huge meal.

Cheesetique Specialty Cheese Shop
2411 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gluten Free Gift Ideas

Do you have a friend with celiacs that you're shopping for this holiday season? As I'm writing this posting, students of mine are bringing me a handful of Christmas gifts, some of which I won't be able to eat, including biscotti and cookies. (It's the thought that counts, right?) On that note, a 'Gluten Free in DC' reader asked me about gluten free Christmas gift ideas and places to purchase gluten free foods. Of course anything that's non-edible is fine, but during the holidays we all like to give and receive edible goodies!

I don't know of a place that does specifically gluten free baskets (that's a great business idea!), but I would recommend going to Whole Foods. There are so many options at Whole Foods that you could put into a basket or gift bag. A nice idea would be cheese and gluten free crackers (Mary's Gone Crackers is a personal favorite.) Any cheeses, except veiny cheeses (like blue cheese) are gluten free. Wine is gluten free so that can be a good and easy gift. Nuts and dried fruit could also be a nice addition to the basket. As I've mentioned before, Buzz Bakery sells gluten free cupcakes and brownies that are delicious and baked goods are always appreciated by celiacs!

If you're looking for stocking stuffer ideas, some of my favorite gluten free candies are M&Ms, Hershey's Kisses, 3 Musketeers and Reece's Cups.