(Guest columnist William Duval, Portland business attorney, and frequent BurgerDogBoy burger companion, turns in this report):
During my Match.com days – the ones after my divorce – I made a point to be filthy informed and up to date on the epicurean landscape of my fairly miserable city. I knew where the creamiest crepe could be found, the meatiest rattlesnake, the spiciest enchiladas – – I could even identify the venerable vegan joints (because as an eternal opportunist, I never lost my thing about hippie-chicks). This period, mind you, was a mere ten years past, when low-carb was gospel, organic was in its infancy, and the only gluten-free choice for food was relegated to the bottom shelves of the end of isle four at the first and only (at that time) New Seasons Market. I doubt I had seen a gluten-free bakery or even gluten-free menu items back then, or, for that matter, met a rational person who actually eschewed gluten by choice.
Flash-forward to these happy days of monogamy: the restaurant scene has moved on without me. I have no idea who serves what, where; and why would I? My Newlywed Forever makes the best of everything, and if she doesn’t feel like cooking I can always come here and be told where to find the very best beef in a bun. But I do know this about local restaurants in 2010: one nowadays just as easily finds Portland-area menus with gluten-free choices as one finds clueless bicyclists fucking up traffic 24/7. (Make your own correlation.) The Neilson Company confirms a trend is in the works: sales of gluten-free items in the U.S. rose 74% from 2004 to 2009 with sales expecting to top $2.6M in two years. Bob saw it coming by adding five new Red Mills to pump out gluten-free products some nine years back. And similar to blogs devoted to pleasures of the burger, there are website/blogs devoted to gluten-free shit in Portland you can see here http://www.glutenfreeportland.org and here http://www.glutenfreechoice.com.
The challenge, as you know may know, is finding a gluten-free anything that is as palatable and tasty as its gluten-laden ancestor. Sure, there’s gluten-free pizza at the PSU Pizzacato on Thursday nights, but have you tried it? Or how about those $5 frozen bricks labeled “Bread” at Whole Foods? After laboring five minutes to hacksaw off a slice just try to brown it in a toaster. Double-down: now eat it. Making edible gluten-free anything is hard. Making it taste familiar is even harder. My beautiful Match is on a gluten-free bender approaching six months now; I know that of which I speak.
But followers of the adventures of BurgerDogBoy will be simply fascinated, I am sure, to know a very juicy little tidbit concerning our anonymous Maximum Burger Director.
This past Friday evening, he and the ever-gracious Mrs. BurgerDogBoy invited us into their home, a place where by rumor we believed we would receive a most satisfactory well-cooked homemade meal. Did we ever! While I most assuredly don’t know the half of it, Mr. and Mrs. BurgerDogBoy really know how to cook. I can state this with absolute certainty. Yet this is not the juicy piece of which I taunt
Mr. and Mrs. BDB laid out a divine assortment of olives, roasted garlic, lasagna, pizza, salad and cookies. And what do you know – irony of ironies – BurgerDogBoy makes THE best – you saw this coming – gluten-free pizza, gluten-free lasagna and gluten-free cookies one will ever hope to find anywhere, I am sure.
Each was presented in two varieties: Gluten free for my own lovely gluten-free adventurer and other guests on a similar journey; and for the rest of us – wholesome, thick, rich gluten maximus served up without reserve. The results were spectacular; there was little difference to be perceived in each instance. The sauces for the Italian choices were splendid – a sweeter, tomatoey mix for the pizzas, and a hearty, meaty blend to put my Aunt Sally on notice that her lasagna Florentine trade secret is in jeopardy. BurgerDogBoy used at least three different meats for both forms of lasagna, the leftovers of which I enjoyed two days later. As I am fully cognizant that this venue at which we all loiter is burgersdogspizza.com and not burgersdogslasagna.com I shall tarry only briefly off topic: Each version had plenty of ricotta, nice firm noodles, just the right sized layer of spinach and a scrumptious cheese baked golden brown and yellow on top…. it really was perfection. (Editor’s note: Mrs. BDB’s recipes for lasagna are so secret, she won’t even tell ME what’s in them!)
As for the pizza – both versions offered the type of NY style crust I crave: thin and tasty, hand shaped and cooked over hot briquettes. What was remarkable was the virtual similarity between each version of pizza. Each contained a healthy variety of meats (salami, sausage and pepperoni i.e. heaven) laid atop the aforementioned slightly sweet, perfectly spiced tomato sauce. Only a slightly different taste made evident that the ingredients in the dough must necessarily have varied. Save for a minor few forgivable black burns on a portion of the crust’s bottom, the gluten-free version was far better than anything I’ve ever paid for. This was seriously good pizza made and presented by our very knowledgeable hosts.
So it can be done; proven this very night by BurgerDogBoy himself -connoisseur of all food pleasing, tasty, and properly prepared. But this really begs the question and laysdown the challenge: for if BurgerDogBoy can give the gluten-free treatment to lasagna, cookies and pizza without sacrificing any of the attributes we’ve come to expect from some of our favorite foods then what potential there must be for a perfect gluten-free burger. But the challenge is heretofore issued: You make the buns, and on my own grill our beef shall sizzle.
(The closely-attuned reader will no doubt call attention to the fact I neglected to speak of the cookies. I am Mr.Cookie. I love all cookies and eat cookies all day, so in saying that I thought the cookies were wonderful, little is really said.)
(Ed Note: Readers, if you are looking for gluten free hamburger buns, you’ll find them in the BurgersDogsPizza.com online store!)