Friday, April 25, 2008

Worry-Free Dinners™ at Craftbar

As seen in New York Magazine's Grub Street:

You are invited to join us for a premiere Worry-Free Dinners event at Craftbar.

The event will be sponsored by the online health news network,

Diners will receive an assortment of Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ environmental control and allergen reduction products from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America worth $500. (Seriously!)

The menu will be: Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree-nut Free & Shellfish-Free. Dairy-Free upon request.

If you haven’t already done so, please send in your application or send an email to , as you MUST be a member to join us.



WHERE: Craftbar
900 Broadway (between 20th and 21st streets)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 461-4300

WHO: Anyone on a diet that is FREE OF: gluten/wheat, peanut, tree-nut, shellfish and/or dairy. Additional food allergies or other concerns will be accommodated with prior notice.

WHEN: SUNDAY, JUNE 8th, 2008 6:00PM-8:00PM

• Coaching around issues of food allergies/food intolerances by Allergic Girl, Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW
• Group discussion tailored to your concerns
• Networking with people who understand your issues
• Chat time with Chef de Cuisine Lauren Hirschberg and General Manager, Hayden Felice
• A delicious Worry-Free Dinner at a great NYC restaurant
• Allergen-free goody bag worth the price of dinner

FEE: $75, includes tax and tip but not beverages. Fee payable through Google Checkout.

DINNER MENU: Gluten-Free & Peanut-Free & Tree-nut Free & Shellfish-Free. Dairy-Free upon request.

(Beverages will be on a pay per drink basis.)

Choose 1 from soup, salad or appetizer*
Lentil, Merguez Sausage
Chicken Vegetable
Escarole, Cannellini Bean, Parmesan

Mixed Greens, Fennel, Radish, Red Onion
Baby Beets, Blue Cheese
Arugula, Pear, Grana Padano
Fennel, Orange, Nicoise Olives

Octopus, Chickpeas, Cucumber, Yogurt, Dill, Speck
Rabbit Terrine, Currants, Whole Grain Mustard

Choose 1 main course
Daurade Royale, Brussels Sprouts, Apple, Smoked Bacon
Wild Striped Bass, Celery Root Puree, Spinach

Dry-Aged Sirloin, Potato Puree, Cipollini Onions, Baby Carrots
Beef Short Rib, Tokyo Turnips
Lamb Shank (Shoulder), Swiss Chard, Piquillo Peppers
Berkshire Pork Leg, Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta, Kumquats
Baby Chicken, Braised Leeks, Fingerling Potatoes, Prune

*Alternative: choose 2 from the first categories and one of these will be larger for your main course

Email with any questions/concerns.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kosher Worry-Free Dinner™ at Mike's Bistro


Worry-Free Dinners is proud to offer an elegant, Kosher event at Mike's Bistro. If you are not already a member please email us at for an application and come join us!

Mike's Bistro
228 W 72nd St
New York, NY 10023
tel.(212) 799-3911

WHEN: Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 6pm-8pm

WHO: Anyone who is Kosher, Gluten-free, Dairy-free. Vegetarian option available. (Other allergies can be accommodated with prior notice.)

• Coaching around issues of food allergies/food intolerances by Allergic Girl, Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW

• Group discussion tailored to your concerns

• Networking with people who understand your issues

• Chat time with owner, Mike Gershkovich

• A delicious Worry-Free Dinner at a fantastic Kosher NYC restaurant

• Kosher, allergen-free goody bag worth the price of dinner

FEE: $85, includes tax and tip but not beverages. Fee payable through Google Checkout.


(Beverages on a pay per basis)

Choice of one appetizer
• Pureed vegetable soup (seasonal)
• White asparagus, Fennel and Orange salad
• Portobello Mushroom and Arugula Salad port wine reduction, red onions, enoki mushroom, Caesars-style mushroom dressing

Choice of one entrée
• Veggie Chili
• Mushroom Scented Rice Noodles edamame, sprouts, roasted Butternut squash, exotic mushrooms, toasted pumpkin seeds
• Pan Roasted Herb Marinated Chicken Breast chamomile and honey glazed root vegetables, parsnip puree, herb chicken jus (seasonal sides TBA)
• Black Angus Rib Eye Fillet crushed red potatoes, red-wine onion relish, green beans, chives

Email for an application or with any questions/concerns.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Happy eating!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Eggs in Mixed Drinks

For a discussion of eggs in mixed drinks [ewww!] have a look at Allergic Girl's Please Don't Pass the Nuts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Worry-Free Community

The first Worry-Free Dinners event was amazing!

As Allergic Girl’s assistant and the WFD administrator, I was bit worried about my presence at the first event because (gasp) I am not allergic.

I’m sympathetic certainly. Many people I love, including my sister and some dear friends, have food allergies and food intolerances. I’m privy to their worries on a regular basis. I’m only too happy to let them choose restaurants where they’ll have the best chance of having their needs accommodated.

But I can go anywhere and eat anything.

If I ask what’s in a dish or how it’s made, my questions come from curiosity and taste preferences, not because of the possibility that eating something could set off a string of uncomfortable, painful or even life-threatening outcomes.

So in this new safe dining space, the first Worry-Free Dinners event, one whose creation I was so happy to be a part of, how would I actually fit in?

How would the other diners feel to have me there?

And how would I feel being the odd woman out?

Introductions and conversations started easily; from the first hellos at Lilli and Loo, everyone had something to say. But we were talking about our commutes, crowded subways after long days at work. These experiences I knew first-hand. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen when the real issues were addressed, the reasons that these diners came together.

With Sloane’s guidance, very soon everyone at the table was sharing their food and health issues: stories of drawn-out diagnoses, chronic pain, helpful and unhelpful medical professionals, helpful and unhelpful friends and family members. I’m an empathetic person to begin with. Still, with each detail the group revealed I gained a greater understanding, like: oh, I’d heard about this. But that? That really sucks!

In this safe space the group felt so comfortable so quickly, so happy to be with others who could relate. Everyone wanted to share. And everyone found a common connection - even me. Because as soon as the diners sat down together, we formed a group of people who cared enough to listen to what those around us had to say and who wanted to understand what each other’s experiences have been. With or without food allergies, I was a part of this group.

What did I takeaway from this first WFD event? I’m more acutely aware of the issues someone with food allergies faces at every meal away from home. I feel more confident to help my sister talk to a chef, to ask the questions that are important to her. I can do more talking too, to help ease the communication issues that might arise. And I know I can continue to support my friends, those who I’ve eaten with on a regular basis for years, and the new ones I made as part of the Worry-Free Dinners community at our first Worry-Free Dinners event.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Allergic to Wine

So last week a WFD participant, who has a dairy allergy, asked about casein in wine. I knew that egg was often used in the wine making process, but didn’t know where exactly and now I find out that dairy is in wine too?

The next morning, I got on the case and emailed a colleague, noted wine expert Tyler Coleman, otherwise known as Dr.Vino.

Tyler had this to say about eggs, casein and wine: “Yes, egg whites are a common fining agent and yes, casein is sometimes used. But there are no labeling standards to indicate which ones (but the Feds are talking about new labeling for wine). Until then, check for wines that are bottled ‘unfined and unfiltered’--they often taste better anyway.”

Unfined? What’s that?

I turned to another colleague and expert, wine consultant Remy Ash to help me sort out these terms. Remy pulled some facts about the fining and filtration process from the Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition by Jancis Robsinson.

“The biggest reason for fining and filtering wines is to remove molecules of colloidal size, such things as polymerized tannins, pigmented tannins, other phenolics and heat unstable proteins. Filtration acts only on particles compared to fining which works on particles and soluble substances. The whole idea of fining and filtering is achieving a state of clarity for the wine in a quick more economical fashion. Most wines are left for the proper amount of time (usually months) in the proper conditions would achieve the same effect of fining."

"The different types of fining agents are classified in two general classes. Inorganic chemicals…like bentonite, silica, activated carbon (coal) and sometimes potassium ferrocyanide. Or organic Compounds…[like] casein from milk, albumin from egg whites, isinglass [fish bladder] and gelatin.”

(FYI: Here’s an interesting article breaking down the fining process from a vegetarian standpoint.)

Kosher wine, according to Marty Siegmeister, NY/NJ/Metro brand manager for Allied Importers [second largest wine importer in the US], typically does not use casein in the process of fining or filtering their wine. Marty says: “The material used is one of the important things determining if the wines are kosher or not. No animal products are used or dairy products like casein. However, sometimes egg is used since it is parve Usually they use some type of clay, similar to what is used in some swimming pool filters..”

The question in all of this for an allergic diner is: do any of the organic fining agents have an impact of the end products allergenicity? Here’s an interesting article about wine allergies debunking the whole sulfite issue and here is an article pointing to sulfites as the culprit and a third article from Beekman Wines in New jersey that breaks down the possible causes of wine allergies. A bit more digging discovered this interesting site and article from the Allergen Bureau about the potential allergenicity from egg, casein and fish parts.

-The Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies of the European Food Safety Agency has recently released opinions on the likelihood of individuals suffering allergic reactions in relation to a number of processed foods.

--The Panel considered it “unlikely” that cereals, nuts or whey used in distilled spirits would lead to severe allergic responses. A similar conclusion was reached for vegetable oils-derived phytosterols and phytosterol esters from soybean and for natural tochopherols from soybean.

-It was considered “not very likely” that wheat based maltodextrins or wheat of barley starch based glucose syrups would cause severe allergic responses. None of these products were determined to be of concern to celiacs, provided the concentration of gluten considered by Codex Alimentarius for foods rendered gluten-free is not exceeded. It was also considered “not very likely” that isinglass would trigger an allergic response when used as a clarifying agent in beer.

Now to our WFD diner’s question about dairy in the wine making process. “The Allergen Bureau panel considered that milk and milk products used in winemaking may trigger allergic responses.”


As with all things, consult with your GP or allergist about your allergies and food sensitivities but I hope this article will help you to start understand your possible allergic or non-allergic relationship to wine.

As for some Kosher brands to try, according to Marty:
Tabor Wines uses eggs to fine but not dairy.
Yarden has an organic line.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Tuesday night, Worry-Free Dinners™ officially kicked off with our first event: a gluten-free and allergen-friendly meal at Lilli and Loo.

What a kick-off!

As I sat with my fellow Worry-Free Diners before tucking into our delicious gluten-free dinners, I was quietly struck by how easily the conversation flowed, how effortlessly bonding happened between strangers, and how smoothly the ordering was with each person's personalized gluten-free menu and pre-fixe dishes.

It’s an experience I’ve had but rarely and it’s one that now I know can be replicated again and again. And I’m thrilled!

It was a true fellowship of the tummy; and of the previously itchy skin; and of the nebulous aching joints. It wasn’t a bitch fest or a poor me pity party. It was an “Aha, so you’ve had that too?” And an “Aha, I totally understand you”. (I’m getting ferklempt just thinking about it.)

We giggled and guffawed. We hmmed and oohed and ate. We traded war stories and horror stories. We talked trips and tricks and strategies. And we totally dined Worry-Free.

Here are some app and entrée shots taken by my lovely assistant Ami.

Fresh Saigon roll:

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wrap:

Crispy Borneo Orange Chicken (corn-free, dusted in arrowroot):

Shrimp with Fresh Mango:

Pomegranate Teriyaki Grilled Chicken (sauce on the side for this Allergic Girl):


No reported problems: all smiles, good times and happy, reaction-free particpants! Thank you everyone for being the first to join together and to eat well and worry-free!


Next time join us! Email us at for an application and join our happy crew!