Gluten Free Wine Dinner @ Bella Monica Italian Restaurant
This excellent event was held on Sunday, May 16th. Bella Monica hosted an awesome six course Gluten Free wine dinner exclusively for their Raleigh-area Gluten Free consumers (about 50 people). The menu featured items from the Bella Monica GF menu along with specially prepared dishes from a new cookbook by Vanessa Maltin. The cookbook, called The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook: Spicing Up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes, was given to each participant of the dinner which was a nice touch. We've already used it a few times at home and the recipes are easy to prepare and taste great.
If you follow me on Twitter, I was posting tweats during the meal with pictures and commentary on each course. See below for some of the pictures I took during the event.
Overall, the event was really well organized and the food and wine were awesome. Kudos the the folks at Bella Monica, they really know how to run a top notch restaurant and how to safely serve GF patrons. Let's hope they put on another one of these events!
Gluten Free Food Drive
There was also a Gluten Free Food Drive which benefited the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. This food bank serves 34 counties in NC and handles 500,000 people daily. That means they likely see around 5,000 Gluten Free consumers each day as well! The idea was to stock the Food Bank with some GF food and I think we did pretty good. There was an all day physical food drive on Saturday, May 8th at the following locations (Bella Monica, Rosie's Plate, Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Harmony Farms, Cafe Harmony, Mellow Mushroom and ZPizza (Raleigh and Cary locations)). A huge thanks to the participating locations for helping me collect the food and for offering special discounts to you for donating. You donated 193 pounds of GF food to the food bank - that translates to 162 meals or $690.
In addition, there was a month long virtual food drive as well so that folks could donate money in case they were not able to participate in the May 8th drive. I had set a goal of $500 and received just shy of 50% of that goal - $235. In total, we collected nearly $1,000 worth of GF food for the Food Bank! Pretty good - probably could have done better but it's a start. If you'd like to donate to the Food Bank, they accept donations all the time at their Raleigh warehouse located on 3808 Tarheel Drive. You don't need me organizing anything.
One of the biggest accomplishments was the declaration by Governor Bev Purdue marking May 2010 as North Carolina Celiac Disease Awareness Month. I believe there were 3 states in total that took this action (New York and Georgia as well). We are doing our part here in NC of course so that's a good thing. Thanks to Pat Berger for putting the weight of the CSA North Raleigh Celiac Support Group behind the proposal I made to the Governor. Hopefully we can do this each year until the US Congress declares May as National Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the local and state media did not give this much press. Locally, NBC 17 did a story that touched on it (thanks to Shirley Min). Click here for the story. I'm a little disappointed that more media coverage did not take place which would have raised more awareness.
Food Allergy Poster
A food allergy poster was created to educate kitchen workers at restaurants about the top common food allergens (including Gluten). The original idea was to involve Wake County officials from the Environmental Health & Safety Department, but this effort has stalled. I'd love to have this poster in every one of the 2,500 Wake County restaurants at some point - wouldn't it be great if restaurant workers were required to know about food allergies? Most of you have signed my petition for this. A start would be for Wake County to have the poster available for download on their site http://www.wakegov.com/food - specifically here. For now, the poster will be hosted here at Gluten Free Raleigh. If you'd like to let Wake County officials know of your desire to have this poster in restaurants (or available for download on Wake County's site), you can contact them by calling 919-856-7400. Let them know there are over 450 signatures on the petition. You can also print off the poster and take it to your favorite restaurants and ask them to post it in their kitchen as well.