Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free For All

Two alums of Chestnut Hill's late Good Food Market are setting up shop elsewhere in Philadelphia. Amy Kunkle and Leslie McLaughlin are aiming for an early September opening for their Food For All Market, at 7127 Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy. The concept is a community market specializing in prepared foods, baked goods and groceries, with a focus on catering to health-conscious customers and those with celiac disease and food allergies.

Part of the store will include an area dedicated to preparing and selling homemade meals, with another section featuring local products and produce as well as many allergy-friendly products. The prepared foods - all gluten free - will be made from scratch based on Kunkle's recipes, incorporating local and organic ingredients as often as possible.

Kunkle (formerly chef at Good Food Market), McLaughlin (Good Food's pastry chef) and Rachel Kern, all partners in the venture, plan to carry locally made gluten-free baked goods from Amaranth, Sweet Christine's, Sweet Freedom and Greenwood Kitchen in addition to their own-make products like gluten free/vegan bread. They'll also have gluten-free bagels, muffins, and oatmeal bars for breakfast. Griggstown Quail Farm, Landisdale Farm and Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative also are among the regional food purveyors on board.

Friday, June 25, 2010

News & Notes: June 25, 2010

I'll start off the festivities on this Friday with a reminder of two upcoming local events. This Sunday, I'll be speaking at the Delaware Celiac Support Group meeting in Newark and will have product samples. The event is at Christiana Hospital (Room 1000) beginning at 3 p.m. You can RSVP at this link. Tickets are still available for Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies game on Wednesday, July 7. I will be volunteering at the information table on the 200 Level for part of the evening, so if you're attending please stop by and say hello.

A new gluten-free beer was the subject of a post this week. Estrella Damm Daura from Spain is now being imported into the United States, with Pennsylvania among the first states to have access to it. The novelty of the beer is that it's made with barley malt that is removed during the production process, bringing the level of detectable gluten to less than 6 parts per million.

Lots of news - and notes, of course - to get to this week. La Locanda in Edgmont (4989 West Chester Pike, 610-353-7033) has gluten-free pasta, while its neighboring take-out place (5003 West Chester Pike, 610-325-5200) has pizza from Still Riding.

In Media, American restaurant Generations (9 State Road, 610-565-8212) now notes gluten-free items on its dinner menu.

Reader Jamie let me know about two places she and her family have eaten at with success: New American Tango in Bryn Mawr (39 Morris Avenue, 610-526-9500), which is working on producing a dedicated menu, and Haverford's Du Jour (379 Lancaster Avenue, 610-896-5944).

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that Modo Mio, in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, has gluten-free pasta. Co-owner Peter McAndrews also runs sandwich shop Paesano's across the street (152 West Girard Avenue, 267-886-9556) and at the Italian Market (901 Christian Street, 215-922-9220), both of which will have gluten-free bread available for sandwiches beginning next week, according to the Inquirer's Michael Klein.

In Center City, 10 Arts at the Ritz-Carlton (10 Avenue of the Arts, 215-523-8273) can accommodate gluten-free diners. Pastry chef Monica Glass, who has celiac disease, tells me that several of her desserts are or can be modified to be gluten free.

In Wilmington's Little Italy, Ristorante Attilio (1900 Lancaster Avenue, 302-428-0909) now offers gluten-free pasta.

Also in Wilmington, Thai restaurant Soybean Asian Grill (4702 Limestone Road, 302-636-0800) uses gluten-free soy sauce and all noodle dishes are made with rice noodles. Thanks to reader Tammy for this news.

Steakhouse Seasons 52, in King of Prussia and Cherry Hill, posted its Summer 2010 gluten-free menu.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, locally in Radnor and Marlton, has new items on its Summer menu. Safe for those on gluten-free diets are the Lump Crab Louis Cups appetizer, Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon (no cream sauce), Peppercorn Steak and the Salmon Nicoise Salad.

In more brew news, the Side Bar in West Chester and Chickie's & Pete's South Philly location (thanks Mark) carry Redbridge, while the Sidecar Bar & Grille - also in South Philadelphia - has Lakefront New Grist beer and Doc's Apple Cider.

Back in April, I shared the news that General Mills will be producing a gluten-free version of Bisquick starting this summer. Well, summer is now here and the mix will soon follow. In anticipation, the company has posted many recipes calling for the mix, including strawberry shortcake and biscuits. (Thanks to Kim of Gluten Free is Life for the link.) Nutritionally, a 1/3 cup serving of the new mix, which is made in Canada, has less fat (0.5 grams) and sodium than even the low-fat version of wheat-laden Bisquick. The ingredients are rice flour, sugar, leavening (mainly baking soda), modified potato starch, salt and xanthan gum.

General Mills, which has been progressive in introducing gluten-free products, has a website listing all of its safe products, including Nature Valley Almond Crunch and Peanut Crunch bars. A tip of the hat to reader Leslie, who shared that website with me.

Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse's two newest products are 12 oz. round cakes in vanilla and chocolate flavors.

New animal cracker-style cookies are out from Ian's Natural Foods. I'm not a fan of the Ian's products generally, although there are a couple of exceptions. Perhaps this one will pleasantly surprise me.

So there you have it. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Daura the Explorer

Update: Note that under current federal law (October 2013), this beer cannot be labeled gluten free due to the fact that it is made with barley malt.

No doubt the variety of gluten-free breads, sweets and snacks these days is plentiful. One product that still lacks diversity, though, is beer. Most of the readily available brews, like Redbridge and Bard's, are derived from sorghum (a type of grass), millet or other grains that don't contain gluten. Now making its way onto these shores is a gluten-free beer from Spanish brewer Damm that is made with - wait for it - barley malt.

Estrella Damm Daura lager, which has won the World Beer Award for the best gluten-free beer two years running, tests at less than 6 parts per million of gluten. That amount is less than the 20 ppm "gluten free" threshold being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the 10 ppm standard used by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. On Damm's English-language website, the company describes the method used to remove the gluten as a "long collaborative research process ... using the most advanced technology." That description leaves open the possibility that sorcery is involved, unless you consider sorcery outdated. I don't. (Actually, the brewer uses a proprietary process that breaks down the gluten during production.)

Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting held a tasting of Daura during the recent Philly Beer Week. Local suds expert Lew Bryson summed up his review of the brew by proclaiming, "Celiacs: your beer has arrived." Daura contains 5.4% alcohol by volume - a bit more than Bard's and slightly less than New Grist.

Daura is registered with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for sale in the Commonwealth, so Philadelphia-area beer distributors should be able to order it upon request; the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods stocks the beer at its Cold Point Pub. It's also available at State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland - just past the Delaware border off I-95. As the rollout progresses, Daura will be available in more states. The suggested retail price is $7.99 for a four-pack.

Friday, June 18, 2010

News & Notes: June 18, 2010

If you visited Gluten Free Philly in the past week, you noticed a redesigned blog. I created separate sections for the restaurant and bakery lists and corresponding maps, tabbed at the top of every page. (Update your browser's bookmarks for those pages if you have them saved.) I was also able to give more room to the posts themselves, which makes for a cleaner appearance. As part of a new layout, I also moved the search bar to the upper right of each page, making it easier to search though older posts. Drop me a line if there's any other features you'd like to see.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about my family's recent weekend in New York City and highlighted our largely successful gluten-free meals.

From New York to New Hope: Gluten-free pizza is now available in that Bucks County town at Peace Out Pizza (7 East Bridge Street, 215-862-2266).

There are two additions to the Asian section of the restaurant list. First is Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor (555 East Lancaster Avenue, 610-688-8808), which last week hosted a celiac awareness dinner. The kitchen has been trained on cross-contamination issues by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and is now GREAT-approved.

Also new is Buddakan, with locations in Old City Philadelphia (325 Chestnut Street, 215-574-9440) and in Atlantic City at the Pier Shops at Caesars (1 Atlantic Ocean, 609-674-0100). The Philly location has gluten-free menus available for diners. Thanks to L.A. blogger Stephen of Gluten Freeways, who recently ate at the original Old City outpost, for the tip.

Down the shore in Avalon, the new Seaglass restaurant replaces the Dining Room at the Golden Inn. Seaglass has gluten-free breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Breakfast is the most intriguing, with waffles, bagels and cereal among the selections.

Italian chain Carrabba's has posted an updated gluten-free menu at its website.

July 18 is the grand opening date for Wegmans in Malvern (50 Foundry Way, 484-913-9600).

I was able to check out the new Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting recently - it's a huge store with a beer and wine section. I spotted a few gluten-free items that I haven't seen at the Marlton location where we shop, including Maryland-style Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes from The Crab Ladies and Better Batter baking mixes. The beer selections include Redbridge and New Grist.

Conte's Pasta's dedicated gluten-free manufacturing facility in Vineland should be in operation later this summer. The company is working on a line of flatbreads - traditional, tomato basil, garlic, onion and spinach.

Shabtai Gourmet offers a flat-rate $5.95 nationwide shipping deal for its wonderful gluten-free cakes and cookies. Look for the bakery's new chocolate chip biscotti online and in area markets such as Acme, ShopRite and Wegmans. Exclusive to stores is a new 7" layer cake - thick sponge layers separated by chocolate creme and covered with dark chocolate. If your local market carries Shabtai's products, order the cake one month in advance by filling out an order form and giving it to the store manager.

It should be a great weekend weather-wise. Get out and enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gluten Free Road Trip: A Second Bite of the Apple

With very few free weekends this spring and summer, the Gluten Free Philly crew decided to make their annual New York City jaunt on Mother's Day weekend. Unlike last year's trip (when we ran into the Phillies' Ryan Howard and his teammates in the hotel lobby), this one was more subdued.

We decided to avoid the bustle and stay downtown at the Andaz hotel on Wall Street. The Andaz brand is owned by Hyatt Hotels, and is the company's answer to the trendy W Hotels found in many a metropolis. It was a bit too quiet: I learned only a couple days before the trip that the subway line stopping closest to the hotel doesn't run on weekends, so we ended up taking a few more cab rides than anticipated.

The hotel, which opened in February, doesn't have a front desk. Instead, roving concierges welcome guests in the lobby and check them in via portable electronic devices. The same employees assist with baggage and provide information on local attractions. (Do they clean the rooms and cook meals, too?) The rooms are large by Manhattan standards and come stocked with free - yes, free - mini-bar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Our fridge had lots of soda and water, and Terra chips and chocolate bars were among the munchies.

We took a cab to Chelsea Market, an enclosed shopping mall and food court housed in a former Nabisco factory, and grabbed lunch inside at Friedman's Lunch before exploring the shops. The medium-well brisket burger my older son ordered was served alongside fries on a sesame-topped gluten-free bun from The Grainless Baker. (Another dining option in the area is Mario Batali's Del Posto, which serves gluten-free pasta.)

From there, we went back downtown to the South Street Seaport, where we took an hour-long cruise aboard the Zephyr to see the Statute of Liberty. Having never seen the statue this close in person, I was awestruck at the majesty of this American icon.

Risotteria has always been a favorite of ours, but we wanted to try a different restaurant for dinner. We decided on Pala, on the Lower East Side. For starters, the four of us shared arancini (risotto balls filled with spinach and mozzarella) in a light red sauce and potato along with an order of beet chips called patatini. My older son and I shared the gluten-free bufala cruda pizza, made with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato sauce and fresh basil. I'd recommend Pala for adults alone, but with kids Risotteria is the better choice, with more gluten-free options from start to finish.

We saved room for dessert, and burned off a few calories walking a few blocks north to the new Tu-lu's Gluten-Free Bakery. Since we arrived late in the day, the selection wasn't as varied but we loved the red velvet cupcake and the mini chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting.

On Mother's Day, we got an early start and ate at the hotel restaurant, Wall & Water, for breakfast. The kitchen prepared a three-egg Swiss cheese omelet, bacon and potatoes for my older son.

We then went uptown to the American Museum of Natural History, where the original Night at the Museum movie is set. Take note: The guards aren't anywhere near as funny as Ben Stiller. And they didn't seem to take well to being asked where the "characters" from the movie can be found. (There are a few, actually, including the Easter Island "talking" head and Dexter the capuchin monkey.)

Before heading home, we ordered lunch at Nice Matin, a French bistro one block east of the museum. The diverse gluten-free menu there included a grilled chicken sandwich that my son ordered.

Friday, June 11, 2010

News & Notes: June 11, 2010

Congratulations to the Flyers for a wonderful playoff run, which ended Wednesday night at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. Admittedly, the better team won the Stanley Cup, but the Orange-and-Black battled all the way.

This week, I wrote about two new gluten-free chowders being produced under the label of Philadelphia's Old Original Bookbinder's, in its prime the city's most famous restaurant. These and other new soups from the brand's distributor will be available this summer.

Two Philadelphia BYOB restaurants within a stone's throw of each other in Northern Liberties have gluten-free menu choices. Italian Modo Mio (161 West Girard Avenue, 215-203-8707) has gluten-free pasta, while contemporary American Sonata (1030 North American Street, 215-238-1240) has a gluten-free menu that includes lobster mac-and-cheese.

Cafe Clave, a coffeehouse in the city's University City section (4305 Locust Street, 215-386-3436) carries gluten-free bread and sweets from Amaranth.

I'm not sure what's different about it, but I noticed that Outback Steakhouse has an updated gluten-free menu (dated April 2010) posted at its website.

From now through June 20, you can receive a $10 gift card from Carrabba's with either a $50 gift card purchase or a carry out order over $100.

Rillings Bakery in Warminster (868 East Street Road, 215-357-3860) carries products from local gluten-free baker The Grain Exchange, which I featured in April.

Lansdale's Virago Bakery just launched a revamped website and posted its gluten-free product list there. The bakery will close its Broad Street location on June 17 and reopen July 1 on Main Street.

Yours truly will be speaking at the next meeting of the New Castle County, Delaware celiac support group on Sunday, June 27. The meeting will be held at Christiana Hospital in Newark (Room 1000) beginning at 3 p.m. I'll be talking about online celiac support resources and sharing information on gluten-free friendly restaurants and markets in the area. There will also be product samples from Mixes From The Heartland and Aleia's available. RSVP at this link.

Kimberton Whole Foods in Douglassville is presenting two classes on recognizing celiac disease on Saturday, June 26. Mary McSurdy of the store's marketing staff will be teaching classes for customers at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and will be available from 11:00 a.m. until 4 p.m. for personal consultations and questions.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soup's On!

Although longtime Philadelphia dining fixture Old Original Bookbinder's closed last year, the restaurant's popular chowders, soups and bisques are still made and can be found in markets along the East Coast. Now the company behind these products has introduced gluten-free New England Clam Chowder and Southwestern Clam & Corn Chowder under the Bookbinder's label. The semi-condensed soups will be available at retailers this summer in 10.5-ounce cans.

"We are extremely excited about these two new soups," explained Sean O'Neil, Bookbinder Specialties' Chief Soup Officer, in a statement. "There is a strong demand for great tasting, healthy, restaurant-quality food that can be easily prepared, and a growing need for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease," he said. "We adapted the recipe of two favorites to be gluten-free, with lower sodium, and no artificial additives, flavors or colorants." According to O'Neil, both soups will be available for online ordering by the end of June. Next month, the company plans to introduce more gluten-free soup varieties.

The Media, Pennsylvania-based Bookbinder Specialties Company sells soups and seasonings based on favorite recipes from the Old Original Bookbinder's restaurant, established in 1865 in Philadelphia's historic Old City.

Thanks to reader Bill Lucas, Chair of CSA's Southern New Jersey chapter, for additional information contained in this post.

Friday, June 4, 2010

News & Notes: June 4, 2010

It's good to be back after a brief respite - I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday weekend. Big ups to Relish in Allentown, where we stopped recently on the way to the Poconos. Nearly any menu item can be made gluten free. My older son enjoyed his first cheese steak there, and he chased that with a warm waffle sundae. (OK, healthy it was not.) Relish's baked goods are made by sister business Icing, an allergen-free bakery.

On Tuesday, I reviewed several breads from Canyon Bakehouse, another gluten-free bakery out of Colorado. The standout was the company's focaccia.

Oasis Living Cuisine is a vegetarian restaurant in Frazer (134 Lancaster Avenue, 610-647-9797) specializing in raw foods. The cafe offers buckwheat bread and pizza crusts and wraps made with rice tortillas.

Whether you're a nosher or a fresser, there's good news for those looking for an accommodating kosher restaurant. Max & David's in Elkins Park (150 Yorktown Plaza, 215-885-2400) has selections that are or can be made gluten free. Items on the current lunch menu include most soups, salmon nicoise salad, Cobb salad and chicken salad. On the dinner menu, baked buffalo wings, Israeli grilled chicken, hanger and ribeye steaks, burgers, sweet potato hash and risotto are among the gluten-free choices.

Two new items recently were added to Cheeseburger in Paradise's gluten-free menu: Mambo Shrimp Salad and Redbridge beer. Area locations are in Pennsylvania in Exton and Langhorne and in Newark, Delaware.

Pure Tacos, which I wrote about in April, is now open for the season on the Ocean City Boardwalk. The entire menu is gluten free.

Speaking of kosher, Sweet Freedom Bakery's baked goods are now certified as such.

According to reader Patrick, West Philly's Dock Street Brewing Company may not bring back its gluten-free Sudan Grass beer due to insufficient demand. If you're interested in seeing this brew again, e-mail the brewer.

The Wegmans store in Mount Laurel now sells liquor, and among the selections are gluten-free Belgian-style ales from Green's, imported from England. The market also carries Redbridge.

Woodchuck's limited-edition Summer Cider, with a hint of blueberries, is now in stores.

Area Whole Foods markets are now stocking the new gluten-free pretzel sticks from Snyder's of Hanover, a bargain at $2.99 a bag.

An update to last summer's post on HersheyPark: New for 2010 are gluten-free chicken tenders, available at Minetown Restaurant. Trevi 5 Italian restaurant, which has replaced the Fountain Cafe at the Hotel Hershey, lists gluten-free choices on its lunch and dinner menus. At the Hershey Lodge, the dinner menu at The Forebay and the lunch/dinner menu at The Bears' Den also note gluten-free options.

Allentown's Dorney Park has gluten-free foods available. Choices include hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken without rolls, salads, french fries at certain locations and cotton candy.

In Central Pennsylvania, Knoebels amusement park has a few gluten-free items available at two of its restaurants.

At Amazon.com this month, you can save up to 25% off on Annie's gluten-free macaroni & cheese and fruit snacks: Save 10% using code ANNIE736 and an additional 15% with a Subscribe & Save order.

A reminder that the celiac awareness dinner at Susanna Foo in Radnor will take place this coming Monday, June 7. Reservations are still being taken for the event.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grand Canyon

Maybe it's the water from the Colorado River. Perhaps it's the Rocky Mountain air. Whatever the reason, there's a plethora of gluten-free bakers that have sprouted in the Centennial State. Udi's in Denver set the bar high with its breads, bagels and sweets, and coming this summer are a line of breads from Rudi's Organic Bakery out of Boulder. Joining those companies is Loveland's Canyon Bakehouse.

Canyon's products debuted in 2009, when co-owner Josh Skow teamed up with baker Ed Miknevicius to create products that people like Josh's wife Christi, who has celiac disease, could enjoy. The bakery makes three breads - Mountain White, Cinnamon Raisin and San Juan Seven-Grain - Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia, Cranberry Crunch Muffins and new Hamburger Buns. All of the products, which are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, also are free of nuts, soy and dairy.

The breads, with 15 slices in a bag, are low in fat - between 1 gram and 1.5 grams per slice. The white and multi-grain breads make for good sandwiches, with the cinnamon raisin well-suited for french toast. Like the Udi's breads, no toasting is necessary; Canyon Bakehouse's versions can be enjoyed at room temperature in the first few days after opening the packages. On several occasions later on, I made my older son sandwiches using frozen bread that defrosted by lunchtime, with good results. The eggy and slightly sweet Mountain White, made with agave syrup and apple cider vinegar, was my favorite of the bread varieties.

Most impressive was the focaccia. Dashed with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and thyme, the product was seasoned perfectly. It was denser and chewier than the bread loaves - and that's a plus. I recommend warming the focaccia in the oven before eating; cut into breadsticks, it nicely complements a pasta meal. (I did not sample the muffins, which are sold in packs of four, or the hamburger buns.)

Although Canyon Bakehouse's products are not available in area retailers at the moment, the company is working on expanding distribution. However, the baked goods can be ordered online for $4.99 each plus shipping. Shipments to the Delaware Valley can be made using three-day UPS Ground shipping, which is the least expensive option.

DISCLOSURE: While Canyon Bakehouse provided product samples for me to review upon my request at no cost, such compensation did not influence my review. Neither I am nor any immediate family member is an employee, officer, director or agent of Canyon Bakehouse or its respective parent, subsidiary and affiliated entities, advertising and promotional agencies. My full Disclosure Policy can be found toward the bottom right of each page on Gluten Free Philly.