Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nothing Can Be Finer Than To Be Gluten & Allergen Free In North Carolina

The GFAF Event train is trucking through 9 events this year! We have been traveling non stop on Allergy Free Back Roads from the beauty of my North Carolina mountain home through Virginia to Connecticut and back down the coast to Florida. We have already been through Nashville, Little Rock, and St Louis.
That's a heck of a lot of road to ride.

It is amazing to meet so many people, experience all of these cultures and regions to their fullest, and work with incredibly interesting bloggers, companies, volunteers, support group leaders and attendees. Sometimes it seems like a blur because it is moving at such a fast pace, and we wish we could capture it in a time capsule to experience on slow motion rewind; therefore this blog will have to become the chronicle of our experiences.

"Doodle" with Nichole Thomas of Virtuous Living
gluten free organic spices that I adore
almost as much as I adore Nichole and that kid

My 13 yr old daughter, whom I call Doodle, has been devoting her summer to helping me work. She has been my travel buddy, my hardest worker, and my biggest fan. I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to connect with her and not lose her to the abyss of teenager-hood. To have her involved and interacting with our community of vendors, speakers, and all around great people is just icing on the cake. Knowing Doodle is devoting her time to helping out is the cherry on top!
So what does any doting mother do when we reached Durham?
Why, I take her to Daisy Cakes, of course.

Fig and Raspberry Almond Tarts, Chocolate Lavender Eclairs, Bacon Gingersnap Cookies, and the piece de resistance - Buttery Gluten Free Biscuits with local ham and cheese...
Doodle ordered 4 of these babies before we left town :) Can you blame her?
Daisy Cakes has a new gluten free flour and pancake/waffle mix available called Equal Measure

Among the events we plan, is the amazing North Carolina Gluten Free Community and their awesome celebration at the Raleigh Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event! Raleigh NC has been named on Huffington Post as a Top 10 place for Gluten Free take-out dining. Durham NC, only 20 miles north is a growing hotbed too. Their universities are right on board and NC State University has been noted as being one of the friendliest campuses to their students with special dietary requirements.
But even more endearing than any other tidbit, is that I call North Carolina home.

Josh Schieffer & Family of Gluten Free Buyer's Guide
 (Blurry shots of  Allergic Traveler, Gluten Free Jet Set, Jordan Gary of Delight GF Magazine)

We don't just have a gluten free trade show in any location. Our events are unique in many ways.
One such difference is we have a Blogger Team Dinner Party the night before each event. Our focus is to have an incredibly delicious safe meal and if they can do so in Farm to Fork style, even better. So when we heard about Primal Food & Spirits opening, we had to take a stab at holding it in the new 100% Gluten Free restaurant that calls Durham, NC home.

33 of us descended upon them and they handled it pretty well for a restaurant only open 2 weeks.
Get your napkins out and prepare to drool...

Local bacon wrapped dates with arugula and local feta cheese

Crab Cakes with Asian Slaw

30 Hour Braised  Local Beef Short Ribs 

They even brought my Dad a rich chocolate torte cake with vanilla caramel sauce to celebrate his 76th Birthday - Awww! Much thanks to to Primal for putting a smile on his face.

I know right?!?
There are worse jobs to have than having an amazing gluten free meal with incredibly interesting people.

The Vendor Hall set up the next morning was full of gluten free products, people,and then attendees in no time. Some notable local vendors can be found below:

We love, love, love Raleigh Raw and their interestingly mixed cold pressed juices!

Whole Foods Bakehouse - Yup, they are based right here in NC - shared by Eat, Play Win

Trevor of Bella Monica as captured by @DFMFoodExaminer
The pizza is amazing too, but the hat is worth the visit to their booth

Royal Cheesecake Varieties and their cheesecake was primo

Josh Schieffer and Family - Gluten Free Buyer's Guide and Gluten Free Awards

We managed to find a food truck in Durham, Bang Bang Banh Mi, that is Gluten Free Vietnamese with a Southern inspired local seasonal menu. Lucky for us, the owner has celiac and started this truck for those like himself. That was one of the best treats to have right outside our event and we are going to actively seek one in each venue from now on. It's nice to be able to buy a hot plate of food after trying all our other finds.

Bang Bang Banh Mi - Gluten Free Vietnamese Truck as shared by @DFMFoodExaminer
It was AMAZINGLY delish!

Can you imagine fitting more into your day? 
Try ongoing speakers, presentations, and demos going on from 10:15 am - 4:00 pm
We absolutely love it when attendees don't leave all day long and are just immersed in positive vibrations on how to live successfully healthier lives.

After all was said and done, the bags were packed and the venue cleaned, I hobbled to my room and collapsed. However, I had to see a few of my friends who I had not spent time with yet; Jennifer Fugo (from Gluten Free School), Chandice Probst (from Gluten Free Frenzy, Gluten Free Calendar & Celebrate Celiac), and two other friends who worked their hind ends off that day. We decided to make it a quiet dinner at Bella Monica.

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms and local goat cheese with peppers

Local Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese Salad with Evoo

Local Wagayu Beef Carpaccio

I told you to keep those napkins handy and I wasn't lying was I?
How much good food and friends can you have in one weekend?
Well we weren't done there.... 
The next day about noon, worn down and dragging, my friend Theresa and I decided a healthy brunch would do us good. So we took a chance on a little funky place I had read about and boy, were we glad.

The Fiction Kitchen in Raleigh is small, retro, local and vegetarian except for cheese and eggs, which you may opt out of. They only open for Brunch on Sundays, but it is sublime with hand squeezed mixers for cocktails and a very nice menu with everything from gluten free pancakes to gluten free muffins. The service was stellar and the food was amazingly fresh, well prepared, and locavore heaven.

Grits bowl with very creamy cheesy grits, kale, mushrooms, local eggs, and tempeh bacon

Fresh gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free blackberry muffins
(Some of the best I have ever had and that's saying a lot)

There are many more vendors, volunteers, and attendees to thank who made this event have a successful third year. We appreciate the support of our Carolina neighbors and hope we can continue to outdo each year with more tremendous events.

Join us next time as we have a webcast for the Virginia Beach Virginia event speakers to gear up for their GFAF Wellness Event on September 13 at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 2700 Atlantic Ave., 10 am - 3 pm