Menu design has become more challenging due to an increasing number of restricted diets. And while a relatively small proportion of the population may regulate their food choices for ethical, medical, or religious reasons, it is worth bearing in mind that other people they socialize with will often respect and accommodate these dietary limitations. A growing awareness of celiac disease means there is yet another factor that hospitality establishments should take into consideration.
According to the Canadian Celiac Association, an estimated one of every 133 Canadians is affected by this non-allergic hypersensitivity to gluten. Found in wheat, rye, triticale, and barley, gluten causes the absorptive surface of the small intestine to be damaged. This increasingly impairs absorption of nutrients necessary for good health. While there is no known cure for celiac disease, it is easily treated by following a gluten-free diet.
Some grocery stores have already set up gluten-free sections on their shelves to assist celiac sufferers. Restaurants are also beginning to specify and add gluten-free items on their menus, including beer and spirits. This, however, does not mean it is food or drink lacking in flavour and appeal. Case in point was this gluten-free paired cocktail dinner recently hosted at Darby’s Public House, featuring rice-based M2 Vodka:
Asian Confit Pork Belly: scallion ginger pesto, sticky rice cake.
Pairing: Ginger & Mary-Ann with M2 Vodka Lemongrass & Ginger
Braised Heritage Angus Short Rib: butter-poached fingerling potatoes, broccolini, blackberry demi-glace.
Pairing: Raspberry Crush with M2 Vodka Raspberry
Banana Bread Pudding: caramel sauce, sunflower seed praline.
Pairing: The Devil Wears Chocolate with M2 Vodka Chocolate
The Darby’s dinner proved popular amongst celiacs and non-celiacs alike. For those interested in exploring this option for gluten-free dining, Darby’s will have another cocktail dinner at the end of the month:
Eat, Drink and be Gluten Free Cocktail Dinner
January 29, 7:00pm
Darby’s Public House
2001 Macdonald Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $40; call (604) 731-0617 to reserve
Photography by Brian K. Smith.