Thursday, September 26, 2013

Woodman's of Essex

I received the phone call about my celiac diagnosis on a Thursday morning. That weekend we were supposed to take a day trip up to Maine. We kind of, sort of eat our way through Maine. Don't get me wrong, we love the ocean, the rocky coast, the lighthouses...all that coastal Maine has to offer. We also love the fried seafood, Stonewall Kitchen, Brown's Ice Cream and Congdon's Donuts too.  

I contacted one of the places we go to for fried seafood because I saw on a message board somewhere that they will do your fried seafood gluten free. I was ecstatic. I wanted to confirm this though. I was new to all of this and really wasn't sure about much of anything. They got back to me right away and told me that while they can adapt their fried seafood coating to be gluten free that they do still fry it in the same oil as the seafood that's coated with flour and they cannot guarantee anything to be gluten free as flour is "flying in the air" in their kitchen. Hmmph. They fry chicken and other non seafood items in their French fry fryer for those who have shellfish allergies so they weren't able to fry any gluten free seafood in that fryer either. 

I was going to go for it since it was only a couple days after my fated phone call. However, It turned out that we did not go up there that weekend. My husband had spent the day before traveling home from a business trip and was much more wiped out than he thought he'd be. I thought I lost my one and only chance to ever have fried seafood ever again. After that point, I was not going to mess with my gluten free diet.

That was until the next time we decided to go up to Maine. I was searching around online to see, if by chance, there was any hope of finding gluten free fried seafood up that way. There are clam shacks on every corner, it seems, someone had to have gluten free fried seafood. Amazingly enough, I found nothing in Maine but I did find something in Massachusetts. Woodman's of Essex.

Most people who are into fried seafood, particularly fried clams, and who are also familiar with the Boston area, are aware of Woodman's. We had never been ourselves because there had not been much reason for us to head out that way but, I have had a catered Woodman's clam bake before at a house party. They are reportedly the creators of the fried clam. Parts of the movie Grownups was filmed there. It's a not a very fancy place at all located along a road filled with antique stores. And...it has gluten free fried seafood. 

In fact, everything on their menu just happens to be gluten free expect for their onion rings, clamcakes and sandwiches. Holy Cow! When I read this I was so flipping happy. I truly thought that I'd never find gluten free fried seafood.  

We have been twice now.  The first time we went there was shortly after I'd been diagnosed. I was still extremely hesitant about eating out. The menu on Woodman's website made me feel confident about ordering there. I was so very pleased with the ease of ordering and not feeling like I had to worry about getting sick after eating there. 

Both times we've been I indicated to the cashier that I was gluten free before placing my order. Because you get both fries and onion rings with your order, you are then asked if you would like double fries or coleslaw instead of the onion rings. I have picked double fries both times. I noticed after the cashier rang in my order that she rang in something on the cash register to indicate that the order was "gluten free". 

When it came time to pick up the order, my plate was separate from the other two plates in our order. They don't use trays, instead they use Budweiser beer boxes for your orders and mine was sitting in it's own box. The person at the pick up counter slid my box forward and told us that it was "gluten free".  



The first visit here this was so very comforting to me. I felt even a little emotional about it all. Someone cared enough to provide such an easy gluten free fried seafood experience for me! Well, for me and everyone else who requires gluten free fried seafood. I guess it wasn't just for me, but it did make me feel very special to be eating something I thought I had to give up forever.

Eating at a place like Woodman's makes you feel "normal". Completely normal. 100% normal. There's really nothing all that different about your plate than that of the person sitting next to you. In fact, because I hate onions SO very much, I'd ask for double fries anyway.  



I'm grateful to have Woodman's in my region. It's a little bit of a ride and we have to make a day trip out of it but that is fine by me.  If it were much closer I'm afraid I'd be in jeopardy of never losing this extra weight I'm carrying around. If we make it there a couple times a year it will be just perfect. I know they have a Budweiser box with my name on it waiting for me!   

2 comments:

  1. Great Post! Here's to feeling "normal" again! Thought you might enjoy this: http://celiaccorner.com/celiac-gluten-free-blog/a-day-in-scenic-cape-ann-ma-with-gluten-free-dining-at-woodmans-of-essex/#.UktkrIbrxko :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Definitely good to feel normal! Thank you for the link, I see I'm not the only one who appreciates Woodman's gluten free menu!!

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