Each passing year brings an exponential increase in gluten-free awareness. More and more chefs annotate their bills of fare with safe items, if not create dedicated menus. New - sometimes novel - gluten-free products consistently populate supermarket shelves. Let's revisit some of the highlights from 2011, as showcased on these pages.
January brought news of gluten-free Asian dumplings from Feel Good Foods. (The company's line of egg rolls is coming early in 2012.) I also wrote about various gluten-free products that were to debut for Passover, including a new matzo that is now available year-round. Post made its Marshmallow Pebbles cereal gluten-free, while Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles were sold as marshmallow treats. In addition, Kikkoman announced a new gluten-free soy sauce.
Word came in February about several new gluten-free stores in the area: the Little Bakery in Blue Bell and the Philadelphia Gluten-Free Pasta Company in Media. New products featured that month included a gluten-free version of Kellogg's Rice Krispies, Glutenfreeda's pizza wraps, Udi's cookies, and house-brand butterfly shrimp sold at Genuardi's.
Philadelphia's own Tastykake put its gluten-free cookies on the market in March, while New Planet announced Pop Tart-like toaster pastries that are about to hit shelves next month. Udi's and Rudi's showed us their (hamburger) buns and hot dog rolls, while Annie's added to its gluten-free cookie line. Featured were local companies Wellshire Farms and Lizbeth Lane, which produces cooking sauces, as well as a review of Elevation Burger.
April showers brought reports on Tonya's Bakery's soft pretzels and Philly's own Bassett's Ice Cream. Plenty of new products were announced then, such as Organic Bistro single-serve microwaveable bowls, Amy's shortbread cookies, Moondance sweets and Herr's sesame-rice tortilla chips.
I kicked off May with a review of Center City Brazilian restaurant Fogo de Chao and a post about locally brewed Revolution Cider. I also wrote about my addiction to Bachman's sweet potato tortilla chips, which I also discovered along with Joy ice cream cones and Julian's pancakes.
My "Dishing With" Q-and-A series continued in June with Flyers owner Ed Snider. We celebrated my wife's birthday with an excellent dinner at Modo Mio in Northern Liberties, which I reviewed. On the (spicy) product front was news about Guy Fieri's gluten-free barbeque sauces and salsas and Old El Paso's Tortilla Stuffers meals.
Our Memorial Day weekend trip to the nation's capital and Baltimore was the focus of a July post. I also featured locally-made Peanut Chews and even duck ravioli. Among the new products mentioned were Saffron Road's frozen chicken meals, baking mixes from Simply Organic, and Glutino's bagel chips.
I announced the winners of the first annual Readers' Choice Awards in August, and also featured El's gluten-free snack mixes. Williams-Sonoma's baking mixes and Gorton's Seafood grilled fish entrees were among the product mentioned that month.
Another Philadelphia ice cream company - Jack and Jill - garnered a September feature, as did Dogfish Head's hugely anticipated gluten-free ale and a review of the Rainforest Cafe in Atlantic City. I discovered delicious mozzarella sticks from Russo's, Mi-Del's gingerbread cookies, and Applegate Farm's corn dogs as well.
Kozy Shack's new chocolate rice pudding and refrigerated Indian meals from Cafe Spice merited mention in October.
I hope many readers had the chance to get to Wegmans in November, when the markets began selling gluten-free holidays sweets like panettone cakes and spekulaitus cookies. I reviewed the newly opened Bobby's Burger Palace at the Cherry Hill Mall and raved about Tate's chocolate chip cookies.
With December came word of a new Pure Tacos location in Center City and an excellent dinner at University City Mexican spot Distrito. Annie's announced that its gluten-free mac and cheese would be sold in microwaveable packages and Butterfly Bakery made a return to the marketplace.
Throughout the year, I also mentioned dozens of restaurants and bakeries that are able to accommodate gluten-free diets.
Of course, much of the information shared here wouldn't be possible without the growing number of Gluten Free Philly readers who let me know about the goings-on in their own neighborhoods. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog, and for following @GFPhilly on Twitter and liking the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page. I'm sure that 2012 has lots of excitement in store, and I can't wait to share it with all of you. My family and I wish you a safe and prosperous new year.