Friday, August 26, 2011

News & Notes: August 26, 2011

With much fanfare, California Pizza Kitchen trumpeted the debut of a gluten-free pizza crust option back in June. This week - with barely a whisper - the restaurant chain has pulled it from the menu.

As I can attest first hand, CPK undertook a public-relations campaign within the gluten-free community two months ago, contacting bloggers to share news of the product and representing that the product was safe for those on a gluten-free diet. Since then, however, diners began posting their experiences online about varying preparation methods for the pizza, and CPK waited several days before acknowledging - after many inquiries on its Facebook page and Twitter feed - that the prep left open the possibility of cross-contamination. At that time, the company said it was looking to improve its procedures. More than a month went by with no word on developments, and next thing we hear is that the company stopped serving the crust. (Thanks to reader Diane M., who let me know via my Facebook page that the pizza was no longer available at CPK's Cherry Hill location.) On its Twitter feed, CPK now says that it is reviewing its preparation procedures and left open the possibility that gluten-free pizza will return to the menu.

While I applaud CPK for ultimately listening to its gluten-free customers, its "leap before you look" approach to the offering is worthy of criticism. The company's marketing of the pizza to the gluten-free community without understanding what it takes to make the product acceptable for those needing to eat gluten free was an epic fail. In the spirit of the upcoming school year, CPK gets an "A" for conception but an "F" for execution. Hopefully, after making like Bart Simpson and writing "I will not serve cross-contaminated gluten-free pizza" on the chalkboard over and over as punishment, the company will reintroduce a safe product.

If you missed Tuesday's feature, I wrote about El’s Kitchen, makers of new gluten-free bagel chips and snack mixes.

Wildwood’s new seafooder Pacific Grill (4801 Pacific Avenue, 609-523-2333), a sister restaurant of the acclaimed Union Park Dining Room in Cape May, has a dedicated gluten-free menu. According to a story in yesterday's Atlantic City Press, the list includes appetizers and entrees such as watermelon gazpacho with feta cheese, blackened scallops with roasted corn salsa, fingerling potatoes and lime cream, and marinated hanger Steak with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and haricots verts. The article notes that chef John Schatz reviews the menu items daily with the service staff so they are aware of ingredients and allergens.

Also down the shore, the Motorboat Club, located at the Whitebrier in Avalon (260 20th St., 609-967-5225), offers a gluten-free pasta primavera dinner entree served with grilled chicken.

Riviera Pizza in Roslyn (1174A Easton Rd., 215-576-6888) serves personal size gluten-free pizza using separate toppings, paddles and cutters.

Gluten-free pasta, bread and dessert is available at Nonna’s, an Italian restaurant in West Chester (116 E. Gay St., 610-430-0203). The restaurant recently hosted a gluten-free dinner for the Chester County Gluten Intolerance Group.

Homegrown Revolution Cider, which I profiled back in May, is now available at Devil’s Den in South Philadelphia (1148 S. 11th St., 215-339-0855).

While retaining the same owners, Center City Indian BYO Bindi will reconceptualize as a Spanish restaurant and wine bar known as Jamonera this fall, reports's Michael Klein.

The Grainless Baker, a gluten-free bakery in the Poconos that sells locally, will now operate under the name Three Bakers, with new packaging for its products.

Gorton’s Seafood's line of grilled fish is now gluten free, with a variety of flavors and species including Grilled Salmon, Grilled Tilapia, All Natural Grilled Fillets made from Alaska Pollock, and Grilled Haddock. Procedures have been implemented at the production location to avoid the risk of cross-contamination, and there is ongoing monitoring and testing to ensure that the products are gluten free. Look for the "gluten free" stamp on the nutrition label. Dollar-off coupons are available for printing at the company's website.

Due to the weather, the location of Sunday's Mercer County celiac support group has been changed to Uno Chicago Grill in West Windsor beginning at 1 p.m.

And finally, CBS Philadelphia’s Most Valuable Blogger voting continues through September 9. Please support Gluten Free Philly in this endeavor; just bookmark the page accessible through this link and vote daily.

Stay safe this weekend!
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  1. ... just voted for you from Bainbridge Island, WA - ex-Phillyite?

  2. Thanks for the info on California Pizza Kitchen. I'll spread the word!