Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top Chef Loves "Braised" Pistachios...What's a Food Allergic "Foodie" Family to Do?

I was so excited to watch Top Chef last night and see Chicagoan Stephanie Izard win top honors. I'm a big Top Chef fan (and have posted about them before). But what the heck is up with the "braised pistachios" in Stephanie's lamb dish? I'll have to take Tom Colicchio's word for it that this use of pistachios was "surprising" (and frankly according to the enraptured way that the Top Chef judges responded, it looks like consuming braised pistachios is a life altering experience). The judges said something along the lines of "I thought I'd eaten everything and then you come along and braise pistachios, which I've never seen done before, and now life is worth living again."

OK, I exaggerated the last bit (but just a tad).Much as I was rooting for Stephanie, the last thing the world needs is chefs thinking up more ways to use pistachios.

Obviously, my daughter isn't at an age where she is frequenting gourmet restaurants and partaking of the type of food cooked on "Top Chef." But I do think about her future and where she will be able to eat safely when she's older. I even worry about dating, "peanut" kisses and all the rest of it.

I'm sure a lot of parents in a "nut-free" lifestyle are stumped when we enjoy all types of food, enjoy eating at different restaurants and heck, even wouldn't mind going out with the family to a "gourmet" restaurant now and again. In a city like Chicago, especially, there are plenty of great choices to be had.

After last night's episode I envisioned chefs across America thinking up ways they can add braised nuts to the menu. Yikes!

Now for the good news. For the food-allergic foodies out there, there is a wonderful site that talks about enjoying restaurants and life in general as an adult with nut allergy. I have the link on this blog: "Please Don't Pass the Nuts."

The blog's author is a food-allergic adult who has wonderful and witty ways of dealing with food allergies in restaurants and has even created a "club" of food-allergic adult diners. As the mom of a daughter with a nut allergy, this makes inspiring, entertaining reading.

For example, I learned that Tom Colicchio's N.Y. restaurant, craftbar, does not have peanuts on the menu at all. After watching the peanut/tree nut-happy cheftestants on "Top Chef," whodda thunk it?

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