My Big, Fat, Gluten-Free Birthday
Before you get too excited, I won’t be posting a recipe for the fantastic Gluten-free Banana Cake with Nutella filling and Chocolate Buttercream Icing that we got to celebrate my birthday this year… but I will provide the next best thing: the skinny (OK, poor choice of words) on where I got it.
This divine creation was made by Stephanie Avitable of Avitably Delicious in Hoboken, NJ. She’s a trained pastry chef who offers a variety of conventional and gluten-free cakes with a delightfully tempting list of fillings and an impressive number of gluten-free cake options. This delicious specimen of cakefulness was particularly notable for its real banana-ey flavor, its light-as-air filling and frosting, and the perfect balance of sweetness. It was not, as many cakes are, cloyingly sweet, and I really appreciated the thin layer of fluffy frosting which didn’t drown out the cake. It was every bit as good as my dreamy banana wedding cake, which was NOT gluten-free!
Stephanie delivers in NYC and NJ (see her website for delivery pricing), or you can pick it up in Hoboken as I did. I found her cakes to be very competitively priced compared to some of the also-terrific NYC options (same price as an 8″ round from Tu-Lu’s, my other favorite GF cake joint–with seemingly comparable delivery fees).
We also went out for a fabulous dinner at Pulqueria— a too-cool-for-school Mexican place on a forlorn street in Chinatown that felt more like a vintage Hollywood movie set than an actual, functioning alleyway in the year 2011. The restaurant, down an unmarked stairwell in a now-defunct Vietnamese Restaurant’s space, featured a fantastic and unusual street-food inspired menu that was almost entirely gluten-free–including a real rarity: an empanada-like quesadilla made from corn instead of wheat flour. And yes, it was deep fried. Even nutritionists are entitled to let their hair down once a year, no? The tower of special salsas was a show-stopper, and even though I was most certainly the least hip person in the room (sort of a given, since I had “Wheels on the Bus” stuck in my head all night), the friendly hipster wait staff made me feel quite welcome!
All in all, it was a delicious, albeit fattening, gluten-free, New York birthday!
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