Mediterranean food is often served family style. At a restaurant this can often be risky. I want to remind everyone to always speak to the waiter, speak to the kitchen staff, and make sure you are comfortable with their understanding of the gluten free diet and where the hidden glutens are.
Remember gluten comes in many forms, and many names. When eating Mediterranean, the obvious thing to avoid is all the pita breads. What might not be so obvious is some of the other grains like couscous often served is a bed of grains like rice or bulgar which is found in tabouli salad.
Mediterranean foods are often eaten with pita's to scoop up or wrap the food up in to eat. Because you are most likely eating family style there is lots of chance of cross contamination between the people you are eating with. Know your body, know your tolerance and know the consequences before you eat at any restaurant, especially a family style restaurant.
We recently had an experiences at Phoenicia in Edmonton's west end. I typically don't write about some of the riskier places to eat, but I thought we could all learn a thing or two. The Phoenicia was a pretty risky place to eat. There was a low understanding of the gluten free diet so there was lots of educating that was happening on the fly. But all in all it was a really good experience and Amanda was not ill after the meal.
So what precautions did Amanda make? She spoke with both the waitress and the owner. Between the two of them, it was figured out what was safe and what was not safe. This also allowed accommodations to be made for Amanda. The meat kebabs are typically served covered by pita for presentation. Phoenicia was able to display the pita on a separate dish. The salad is also served with crispy pita. The Phoencia was able to prepare a separate salad for Amanda. The rest was all about discipline from family members. Not mixing up serving utensils, not scooping dips with pita etc.
The food was absolutely amazing. Phoenicia offers a set menus that can feed an army. We didn't think the food would stop. This certainly makes up for the higher priced menu than Amanda and I are used to. But really $30-$45 a person for a minimum of 4 people (we went with family) is great value for what you get. The meals came with a platter of kebabs, salads to go around, plenty of dips like hummus and baba ganoush. The seasoning on everything was perfect. I couldn't get enough of the hummus and Amanda loved the baba ganoush. She didn't even care that there was no pita for her to dip with.
If you decide to try Phoenicia or an another Mediterranean restaurant, let us know how you handled your experience.
Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta