Monday, March 30, 2009

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack, Too

UPDATE (6/30/09): The Phillies recently updated the concessions guide on the team's website to list the locations where the items can be found: the gluten-free hot dogs and snacks continue to be available at the South Philadelphia Market behind Section 128, while Redbridge beer is sold at the concession stand by Section 139 (near the Schmitter), behind Section 204 on the Pavilion Level, behind Section 323 on the Terrace Level, and the Brewerytown stand on Ashburn Alley. In addition, Bull's BBQ in Ashburn Alley, run by former Phils outfielder Greg "The Bull" Luzinski, has gluten-free food. The meat products, barbeque sauce, cole slaw and beans are gluten free. Since sandwiches are sold at that stand, I suggest checking it out first to see if there's a risk of cross-contamination.

UPDATE (4/29/09):
As of this writing, hot dogs on gluten-free buns are available at the concession stand behind Section 128. However, I'm told that treats from Good Eatz will be added there soon. A Gluten Free Philly reader has advised that Redbridge beer is available at the stand behind Section 202.

UPDATE (4/19/09): Gluten-free items are available at the South Philadelphia Market concession stand behind Section 128 on the main concourse of Citizens Bank Park.

UPDATE (3/30/09): The cookies (and perhaps other items) will be provided by Good Eatz.

The Philadelphia Phillies are set to defend their 2008 World Series crown starting with a nationally televised contest Sunday night at home against the Atlanta Braves. Aramark, the food concessionaire for the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park, has announced additions to its menu for 2009 that apparently include gluten-free hot dog buns, cookies and pastries. Last year, Aramark sold Redbridge beer at the stadium throughout the season and offered several gluten-free items at a celiac awareness event during a game last summer. However, this year would mark the first time these foods would be offered at every home game. I will update this post with additional information on the menu items and their availability at the ballpark as it becomes available.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Riding High on Still Riding Pizza

While the celiac community has embraced Uno Chicago Grill's introduction of gluten-free pizza to its menu, similar options at mom-and-pop pizza parlors in the Delaware Valley are limited. A Connecticut company, Still Riding Pizza, offers an option for local pizzeria owners. It has developed a partially-baked gluten-free crust for use by restaurants, whose employees are trained to prepare and bake the pizzas using trays and cutters separate from other menu items.

To date, the only restaurant in the Philadelphia area offering Still Riding Pizza is Main Line Pizza in Wayne, Pennsylvania. If you are interested in having your local pizza shop carry Still Riding Pizza, you can provide the restaurant's contact information to the company and it will follow up with the owner. I've eaten Still Riding Pizza at Main Line Pizza and at Carlo's Gourmet Pizza in Marlboro, New Jersey and think it tastes great, more comparable to wheat pizza than any other gluten-free pizza I've tried. In addition to servicing restaurants, Still Riding also sells its crusts directly to the public through its website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

April's NFCA Monday Meet-Up at Little Fish

Little Fish, a seafood BYOB in South Philadelphia, will be the next restaurant featured in the Monday Meet-Up, sponsored by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. The event will take place on Monday, April 20, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Guests can order from the Little Fish chalkboard menu, which will list available gluten-free dishes. In December 2008, Little Fish was named by Bon App├ętit magazine as one of the country's Top 10 Seafood Restaurants.

As part of the program, the participating restaurants donate a portion of the dinner checks to the NFCA in continued support of celiac awareness. Reservations for the event should be made through the NFCA.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

'Appetite for Awareness' Set For September 30

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has announced that its 6th anniversary celebration will be held at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on September 30, 2009. The event, known as "Appetite for Awareness," aims to raise awareness and funding for celiac disease by featuring Philadelphia-area chefs, assisted by doctors from the region, cooking gluten-free meals.

The NFCA has retained the involvement of more than 35 restaurants by working with each to develop an alternative gluten-free menu and have their kitchens certified by NFCA’s gluten-free kitchen protocol training program. The event also will feature music, wine, gluten-free beer, an auction and raffle. The VIP reception, to take place on the arena floor, is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the main event on concourse level set for 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Ticket information will be posted soon at the event website.

We attended the event in 2008 along with about 1,400 others and had a fabulous time. (Last year's event raised $340,000 for celiac awareness efforts.) In addition to samples offered by local restaurants (The Capital Grille's gluten-free lobster mac-and-cheese, anyone?), there were dozens of food manufacturers, distributors and stores providing samples, product information and discount coupons. For example, Whole Foods introduced its gluten-free vanilla cupcakes at the event before rolling them out to stores, while Schar handed out loaves of its bread and packs of hazelnut wafers to guests.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Opens at Cherry Hill Mall

Today marks the grand opening of Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, located at the newly renovated Cherry Hill Mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The casual grill and wine bar, which serves lunch and dinner daily, has developed a gluten-free menu that changes every season. The Spring 2009 listings can be found at my Restaurants post under "American." The Cherry Hill location is the first outpost for this Darden Restaurants concept beyond Georgia and Florida.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coming Soon: Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Mixes

UPDATE (5/4/09): General Mills has launched a website for its soon-to-be-released gluten-free mixes, complete with product information and recipes.

UPDATE (3/27/09): These mixes, along with a yellow cake mix, will be rolled out nationally on June 1, 2009.

Great news from the ladies over at kill.the.gluten: General Mills' Betty Crocker brand will soon be introducing a line of gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, brownie and chocolate cake mixes nationwide in June 2009. Many of the company's frostings are already safe for celiacs. It's great to see General Mills promoting gluten-free products beyond Chex cereals and into other lines.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pretzels With a Twist

UPDATE (3/20/09): Noah's just announced that it will be the official pretzel vendor for both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles baseball teams, and will have gluten-free pretzels available for all home games for those teams.

Given that soft pretzels are an iconic part of Philadelphia's food culture, it is ironic that there are no bakeries in the area that make gluten-free pretzels. So we were happy to learn two years ago that a small company in Maryland had opened a store featuring gluten-free soft pretzels at a mall in Gaithersburg, where my brother lives. On the way back from a long Memorial Day weekend in 2008, we stopped at Noah's Pretzels in the Lakeforest Mall and enjoyed hot soft pretzels for the first time. We brought a few back with us and kept them in the freezer for reheating later. Since then, Noah's has begun to offer its gluten-free (and casein-free) pretzels through online ordering.

I'm aware of two other companies, a bit closer to the Delaware Valley, that also ship gluten-free soft pretzels. One is Dutch Country Soft Pretzels in New Holland, Pennsylvania, which sells mixes as well as pre-baked twists. The other is the Gluten Free Bagel Company in Meshoppen, Pennsylvania. As we haven't tried either of those companies' pretzels, I'm interested to know from readers if these are worth ordering.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celiac Awareness Night at the 76ers

Although national in scope, the Ambler, Pennsylvania-based National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has been actively involved in promoting celiac awareness here in the Philadelphia area over the past few years. In 2008, the NFCA sponsored events at Phillies and 76ers games. The group's second annual Celiac Awareness Night at the 76ers is scheduled on Friday, April 10, 2009. The game features the (as of this writing) red-hot Sixers against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia is at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available through the Wachovia Center online box office. There are a variety of prices and seating options available. Be sure to enter the promotional code "CELIAC" to guarantee that you get the special NFCA ticket discount so that proceeds from your ticket sales go to support celiac awareness.

In addition to a great night of basketball and gluten-free food, there will be a pre-game silent auction featuring autographed official Philadelphia 76ers jerseys with 100 percent of the proceeds going to benefit celiac awareness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NFCA March Meet-Up at Legal Sea Foods

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness recently introduced a Monday Meet-Up, where the featured restaurant donates a portion of diners' dinner checks to the NFCA in continued support of celiac awareness. The Meet-Ups take place once a month on a Monday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at participating restaurants.

This month's Meet-Up will take place on Monday, March 23, 2009 at Legal Sea Foods, located at 690 West Dekalb Pike (The Court at King of Prussia) in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Legal Sea Foods will be presenting a $50 prix fixe menu that includes:
  • Salad or chowder
  • Choice of two entrees
  • Dessert
  • Coffee

Regular menu items also will be available. Legal Sea Food's gluten-free menu can be found at my Restaurants post under "Seafood." Space is limited, so reservations should be made through the NFCA.

Monday, March 16, 2009

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (Give or Take a Few)

UPDATE (4/25/09): The Foodery, a beer distributor with two locations in downtown Philadelphia, carries New Grist, Mbege and Shakparo.

UPDATE (4/16/09): Devil's Den in Philadelphia serves Sprecher's Shakparo Ale.

With the introduction of Anheuser-Busch's Redbridge beer in 2007, many adult celiacs were able to drink beer again for the first time since their diagnoses. Redbridge is a sorghum-based beer, making it safe for gluten-free diets. While Redbridge is the most widely available gluten-free beer in the Philadelphia area, others are worth seeking out.

My favorite is Bard's, made by the Bard's Tale Beer Company in Norwalk, Connecticut. According to the company's web site, Bard's is served locally at Eulogy Belgian Tavern and the Beneluxx Tasting Room, both in Philadelphia, as well as at Outback Steakhouse in Deptford and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Six-packs and cases also are available at distributors throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. (The company's web site does not list any distributors in Delaware.)

A beer that is both gluten free and certified Kosher for Passover is Ramapo Valley Brewery's Honey Beer, which is made from fermented honey rather than sorghum. I tried this brew a couple years ago at a benefit for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and thought it was . . . unusual. I didn't particularly care for it but it can fill a void for those looking for an escape from the old Manischewitz table wine at the seder. I'm not aware if it's locally available. Several other varieties are produced by two Milwaukee breweries: New Grist (sorghum and rice) from Lakefront Brewery, and Shakparo Ale (sorghum and millet) and Mbege Ale (bananas), African styles from Sprecher Brewery. Bella Vista in Philadelphia is the local distributor for both companies.

There also are gluten-free beers imported from Europe, most notably three varieties brewed by Green's in England.

Don't forget that many "hard" ciders are naturally gluten free. I'll cover a few of these brands in a future post.

Conte's Pasta . . . and Pizza Too

Conte's Pasta has had their gluten free pasta products available for about a year. More recently, the company introduced two pizzas to its product line - Margherita and Mushroom Florentine. We've tried the garlic-accented Margherita version and it is tasty. Conte's products are available at the company store, located on East Wheat Road (!) in Vineland, New Jersey. The pastas and pizzas are available locally at select health food stores and supermarkets and online at retailers such as Glutenfreemall.com and Amazon.com. Through March 31, 2009, Amazon is offering an extra 20 percent off instantly when you spend $59 or more on eligible Conte's products offered by Amazon.com. Enter code CONTEI24 at checkout.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

'Gluten Free Philly' Bakeries, Caterers and Markets

ATTENTION: As of June 12, 2010, this list is no longer being maintained at this page. For the actively updated list, please click on the 'Bakeries, Caterers and Markets' tab under the header above or click here. Please update your bookmarks and links.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Passover is around the corner - the first night is Wednesday, April 8. It has always been my favorite Jewish holiday - I always recall memories of reading from the Haggadah with my family as a child. Little did I know at the time how many gluten free foods were available for the holiday. Now that I have a child of my own with celiac disease, I have a special appreciation for this season.

I always am on the hunt for new gluten-free foods, this year being no exception. The holy grail is still GF ice cream sandwiches that I know were made a few years ago. I only heard about them - never actually saw them. I'm not sure they're even made anymore. I'm now keeping my eyes open for gluten-free chow mein noodles, made by Paskesz. They're available for ordering online through kosher.com, but I'd like to find them locally. UPDATE (3/21/09): I found them at the ShopRite on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia - they are delicious! They come in thin and wide varieties.

The ShopRite in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (where Kosher Experience is located) had one new item of note: gluten-free pizza bagels. I've seen similar ones made before by Manischewitz, which apparently are now being made by Klein's. Klein's also manufactures Passover Flats, which can be used for french toast, sandwiches and homemade pizza. That ShopRite is also carrying gluten-free oat matzoh imported from England at $29.95 a box. Also available by mail order are handmade oat matzohs from Lakewood Matzoh Bakery in Lakewood, New Jersey. UPDATE (3/22/09): GF oat matzoh is also available via online ordering from a Brooklyn, New York bakery, Heaven Mills. We also are looking forward to the fresh cakes and cookies that usually show up in stores about two weeks before the start of the holiday. Our favorites are those made by Shabtai Gourmet. You can order Shabtai products online with free shipping - I'm not sure if their Kosher for Passover products are available for online ordering, as I know from past years Andrew Itzkowitz and his family have lots of holiday cakes and cookies that are not listed on the website.

'Gluten Free Philly' Restaurants

ATTENTION: As of June 12, 2010, this list is no longer being maintained at this page. For the actively updated list, please click on the 'Restaurants' tab under the header above or click here. Please update your bookmarks and links.

Tortilla Press

Last night, we went to The Tortilla Press in Collingswood, New Jersey for the first time. My wife and I had dined there previously sans kids, and the owner/chef, Mark Smith, told us that he could accomodate GF diets. The servers and kitchen staff have been educated on the GF diet and, although the restaurant does not have a GF menu, many of the dishes are naturally GF or can be modified.

The complimentary tortilla chips and dips are GF. Our GF child ordered chicken burritos off the kids' menu. Other kid-friendly options are fajitas and quesadillas, subbing GF corn tortillas for flour ones. The coconut flan is the only GF dessert at the present time.

As the Mexican/Tex-Mex chain restaurants in the Philadelphia area are not particularly GF-friendly, we are happy to be able to support a locally-owned business and have a option for this cuisine.

Tortilla Press on Urbanspoon

Chex the Labels

UPDATE (2/5/10): Strawberry Chex has been discontinued by General Mills due to disappointing sales.

Wegman's supermarket in Cherry Hill, NJ is now carrying the GF formulation of General Mills Honey Nut Chex. The front of the box has a large "Gluten Free" label, and the back of the box describes the new version.

According to Gluten Free Post, General Mills Corn Chex also is now GF, and the General Mills web site lists Cinnamon Chex as gluten free as well. These developments follow on the heels of Rice Chex and Strawberry Chex recently being reformulated to contain only GF ingredients. Other General Mills cereals that are GF-friendly include Honey Kix and Chocolate Lucky Charms.

Congrats to General Mills for continuing the trend the company started with Rice Chex.

Welcome!

I hope to serve as a resource for residents and visitors to the Philadelphia area looking for gluten-free restaurant and grocery options. Please feel free to provide feedback and comments on posts of interest.