Friday, April 29, 2011

News & Notes: April 29, 2011

While we had perfect weather last week in Florida, the meals were less so. Not that the food was bad, mind you. It's that with one exception every meal out took well over an hour. Lots of people there are in no particular hurry - not just retirees - and it seems to manifest everywhere from the roadways to sidewalks. You know you're in Florida when you go out to eat for breakfast and emerge from the restaurant at dinner time.

Thanks for indulging me while I ranted a bit there. Now, back to business. Tuesday was National Pretzel Day, and to commemorate that holiday (does Hallmark make cards for that?), I wrote about the gluten-free soft pretzels from Tonya's Gluten Free Kitchen.

New to the Main Line is Bryn Mawr's Bake 425 (1012 W. Lancaster Ave, 610-525-6425), a new organic take-and-bake pizza shop from the founders of the Peace A Pizza chain that offers gluten-free pizza. The in-store preparation for those pies is handled in a separate area to avoid cross-contamination.

Reader Allie P. let me know that Cajun restaurant Bourbon Blue in Philadelphia's Manayunk section (2 Rector St., 215-508-3360) has a gluten-free menu.

Reader Dan passed along info on two suburban restaurants that accommodate gluten-free diners. First is The BRGR Joint - across the street from Bake 425, actually - in Bryn Mawr (1011 W. Lancaster Ave., 484-380-3465). The bunless burgers and fries are gluten free. In Plymouth Meeting, Plaza Azteca (351 Plymouth Rd., 610-940-3906) can prepare and modify menu items accordingly.

Havertown's The Pig and Whistle Deli (1304 Edgewood Rd., 610-853-8399) can prepare gluten-free meals with advance notice, according to reader Jennifer K. The deli also has gluten-free rolls on occasion.

Vader's in Southampton appears to have closed, as the phone number has been disconnected and the website is gone. The restaurant offered a gluten-free menu.

Post's "new and improved" Marshmallow Pebbles cereal, which now has no gluten-containing ingredients, is now on supermarket shelves. My son, who is not a cereal junkie (unlike his old man), scarfed down three bowls in the first 24 hours of my bringing home a box. No doubt the sugar rush had something to do with that, but I was thrilled nonetheless. The older, wheat-laden version is still around, so be sure to check the packaging before purchasing. This is the first gluten-free cereal containing marshmallows on the market since General Mills discontinued the hard-to-find Kaboom last year.

Come this summer, gluten-free shortbread cookies from Amy's Kitchen will be available. The cookies are made with organic almond flour and will come in Classic, Almond and Chocolate Chip flavors. Thanks to Tiffany at Celiac-Disease.com for the heads-up.

Readers Ron G. and Toni B. mentioned at the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page that they loved the new cookies from Moondance Desserts. The new sweets come in Mexican Wedding, Chocolate Crinkle and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar varieties and can be found at Whole Foods.

Also at Whole Foods are the new classic-style (white) and whole-grain hamburger buns and classic hot dog rolls from Udi's. My son tried the classic buns and really liked them. Thanks to reader Donna D., who mentioned this on Facebook.

Local snack-food favorite Herr's has introduced Sesame-Rice Tortilla Chips. The gluten-free chips are made with crunchy sesame seeds and brown rice.

On Wednesday, May 4, The Celiac Center at Paoli Hospital presents "Exploring the World of Gluten Intolerance: Celiac Disease and Beyond." Join in person or online for the presentation and interactive Q&A with Stefano Guandalini, M.D., Chief of Gastroenterology and founder and Medical Director of the Celiac Disease Center, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. The one-hour event will begin at 2 p.m. at Paoli Hospital (255 W. Lancaster Ave.). For in-person attendance, call 1-866-CALL-MLH; online participants can register here.

Bye Bye, Gluti!, the U.S. distributor of Italy's GlutenOut products, will hosting a free sampling at the Princeton Library (65 Witherspoon St., 609-924-9529) on Tuesday, May 10 beginning at noon. Following that event, you can meet chef Nicolo Angileri of GlutenOut and enjoy a four-course dinner accompanied by regional Italian wines at Mediterra (29 Hulfish St., 609-252-9680), beginning at 6:30 p.m. The cost of the dinner (excluding tax and gratuity) is $65 per person, and reservations are required.

A national beer producer will be conducting focus groups in the Philadelphia area on the subject of gluten-free beer. The company is seeking male participants, ages 25-45, for a 75-minute session on May 16. The stipend is $100. For more information email Nancy Ginter at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness with your name, age and phone number.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twist and Shout

I don't think there's a shopping mall in America lacking an Auntie Anne's pretzel stand. We've all seen this fictitious relative's contributions to modern society - hot baked dough drenched in butter or perhaps dipped in cinnamon sugar. Although their pretzels' authenticity is highly suspect - these are nothing like the ones made famous in Philadelphia, of course - Auntie Anne's gets props for loosening up the once-starchy pretzel market.

The first gluten-free soft pretzels to approximate Auntie Anne's style are ones from Tonya's Gluten Free Kitchen, based in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Founder Tonya Bernard and her daughter Callie were diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002. After becoming frustrated by the limited bread options, Tonya set out to develop her own gluten-free recipe. From there, she began to work on other creations.

Tonya's pretzels displayed at
Appetite for Awareness
"One thing Cailie and I missed was a buttery soft pretzel," says Tonya. "My parents and I were experimenting with different recipe combinations and stumbled upon a product that reminded us of that famous aunt’s soft pretzel. With a few modifications and months of experimenting, we came up with a soft pretzel that we are very enthusiastic about."

Today, Tonya makes soft pretzels and pretzel nuggets in regular and cinnamon-sugar varieties, along with whoopie pies, bread and other baked goods. Having tried the pretzel nuggets at last year's Appetite for Awareness and the recent CHOP celiac conference, I can tell you that they were among the most popular samples in the house.

Among southeastern Pennsylvania retailers carrying the pretzels and other Tonya's products are Shop n Bag in Dresher, West Chester's Great Pumpkin, Kimberton Whole Foods stores, Martindale's Natural Market in Springfield and Nature's Garden in Reading.

Friday, April 15, 2011

News & Notes: April 15, 2011

I'll begin this week with hearty congratulations to the NFCA's Alice Bast, who is this year's recipient of the prestigious Philadelphia Award for her efforts in raising celiac awareness. The annual award is presented to a citizen of the Philadelphia region who, during the preceding year, acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community. The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled Alice in a page-one story in last Sunday's edition.

Earlier this week, I reviewed Glutenfreeda Foods' new pizza wraps. Resembling a microwaveable Hot Pocket, these meals are worth seeking out.

Morton's The Steakhouse, with area locations at the King of Prussia Mall (640 W. Dekalb Pike, 610-491-1900), Center City Philadelphia (1411 Walnut Street. 215-557-0724) and Caesars in Atlantic City (2100 Pacific Avenue, 609-449-1044), now has a formal gluten-free menu.

In Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood, Italian BYOB Bacio (311 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave., 215-248-2740) serves gluten-free pasta (boiled in separate water), while other items can be prepared without gluten. Just advise the server of your dietary requirements.

Red Tomato in Souderton (162 N. Main St., 610-723-1999), the casual sister eatery of nearby Caruso Brick Oven, also will be offering Still Riding's gluten-free pizza.

Ambler's Broad Axe Tavern (901 W. Butler Pike, 215-643-6300) has a gluten-free menu and beer.

Vegan restaurant Horizons in Philadelphia (611 S. 7th St., 215-923-6117) is closing this summer, with the owners planning a new concept in Center City.

The News Journal reports that The Greene Turtle will be opening two locations in New Castle County, Delaware (Middletown and Newark) in 2012. The sports-bar chain offers a gluten-free menu.

Doylestown has a new gluten-free-only market. Maryann Montana's Glu10Free (340 N. Broad St., 267-880-6154) is in a "soft opening" phase until next month, when the grand opening will take place.

After hosting a Celiac Awareness Day last August, the Reading Phillies - the Class-AA Minor League affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies - have added gluten-free concessions at the renovated FirstEnergy Stadium for the 2011 season. Good Eatz Green Cafe in West Reading will provide the food.

Next week brings several local events. On Tuesday, April 19, Jaybee's Cafe in Skippack will host a gluten-free baking class beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Whole Foods Market in Princeton is offering a free gluten-free store tour in Thursday, April 21 at noon; registration is required. The following night, the Gluten-Free Philadelphia Meetup group will meet for dinner at Giorgio on Pine in Center City at 7 p.m. More information is available at the group's Meetup page.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pocket Full of Pizza

Glutenfreeda Foods has been an innovator in bringing new gluten-free products to market, from ice cream sandwiches to burritos. Their latest creation: pizza wraps. We recently sampled the three flavors from the company - Italian Sausage, Three Cheese and Pesto Chicken - and I can confidently say that these will be a staple in our freezer. They're filling and are make a quick and easy meal.

Are these truly the gluten-free equivalent of Hot Pockets? In a word, yes. To prepare, we plated the pizza wrap in a wrapped paper towel and microwaved each side for 1 minute, 30 seconds. The wrap holds the contents together nicely, so a knife and fork are not necessary.

Three Cheese Pizza Wrap
Pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and rice are common ingredients in all three flavors. The Three Cheese also contains cheddar and ricotta. We liked all of them, though surprisingly the Pesto Chicken was the consensus favorite, followed by Three Cheese and Italian Sausage. My only quibble is that I'd prefer a rice or tapioca flour wrap over one made with corn. It's hard for me to think of anything other than Mexican food when eating a corn tortilla, especially one that has a trace of lime.

Pesto Chicken Pizza Wrap
The wraps are made with all-natural ingredients, have no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and are made in a 100% gluten-free facility. Each wrap contains 4 grams of fiber per serving, with calories varying among the three from 220 to 240 and total fat ranging from 6 grams to 10 grams.

Each package retails for between $3.39 and $3.59. The wraps are available at natural foods markets and online at Gluten-Free Mall.

DISCLOSURE: While Glutenfreeda Foods provided product samples for me to review 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 Glutenfreeda Foods or its respective parent, subsidiary and affiliated entities, advertising and promotional agencies. Click here for my complete Disclosure.

Friday, April 8, 2011

News & Notes: April 8, 2011

A big welcome this week to the new readers who learned of Gluten Free Philly at the recent CHOP celiac conference. I want to especially thank Alice Bast, the president and founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, for inviting me to speak alongside her about gluten-free dining and allowing me to share suggestions of kid-friendly restaurants with the audience.

What food could be more kid-friendly than ice cream? This week, I wrote about Philadelphia's own Bassetts, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The company makes more than 25 gluten-free flavors available in pints and at parlors throughout the Delaware Valley.

More gluten-free pizza options in the Philadelphia suburbs, all of which I'm told take precautions to avoid cross-contamination. In Pennsylvania, Boston Style Pizza's Bala Cynwyd location (298 Levering Mill Rd., 610-668-2310) now carries pizza from Still Riding, as does Caruso Brick Oven in Souderton (424 N. Main St., 215-799-1312). Caruso's also has pasta in addition to a full-fledged gluten-free menu. Reader Dana M. tipped that Johnny's Pizza in Prospect Park (547 Chester Pike, 610-461-8600) serves pizza and ravioli.

In New Jersey, Sal's in Mantua (222 Bridgeton Pike, 856-468-2226) has pizza. (Thanks to Sue R.)

Two area contemporary American restaurants note gluten-free items on their menus: Salt Creek Grille in Princeton's Forrestal Village (1 Rockingham Row, 609-419-4200) and the just-opened Gunners Run, in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia (1001 N. 2nd St., 215-923-4600).

One of our favorite restaurants, The Pop Shop in Collingswood (729 Haddon Ave., 856-869-0111), now serves chicken tenders "breaded" with gluten-free corn flake crumbs. Be sure to ask that the dish be baked, not fried.

The Phillies are off to a solid start in the first week of the 2011 campaign. In addition to hot dogs, Sweet Christine's sweets, beer and hard cider available at Citizens Bank Park (at the concession stand behind Section 128), frozen yogurt makes its debut there this season. The Yogen Früz kiosks behind Sections 127 and 315 serve gluten-free low-fat vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt and fat-free sorbet that's blended with a choice of frozen fruit. Each serving costs $6.50.

Nature's Path gluten-free cereals are on sale this month at Amazon.com. Save 10% using code NATPATH5 at checkout, and save an additional 15% with a Subscribe & Save order.

Bethann S. emailed me this photo of Italian-made Bi Alimenta corn-and-rice pasta, sold locally at Carlino's in Ardmore (2616 E. County Line Rd., 610-649-4046).

My Dad's Cookies are now being sold at Martindale's Natural Market in Springfield (1172 Baltimore Pike, 610-543-6811). Thanks to Marilyn for the good word.

Gluten-free Passover pizza and pizza bagels, cakes and other products are now available in supermarkets such as ShopRite and Wegmans. Look for sweets from Shabtai Gourmet, Reisman's, Oberlander and Schick's.

Organic Bistro is launching a new line of gluten-free single-serve bowl entrees. The new line is available in four varieties: Sesame Ginger Wild Salmon (made with sustainably caught seafood), Asian Style Coconut Lemongrass (made with organic quinoa, brown rice and vegetables), Thai Style Red Curry with Beef and Thai Style Yellow Curry with Chicken (both made with organic brown basmati rice and vegetables). Each 10 oz. package has a suggested retail price of $4.99.

Members of the gluten-free community will gather in Washington, D.C. on May 4 to bake the world’s largest gluten-free cake. The "1in133" event - named for the fact that one in every 133 people in the U.S. suffers from celiac disease or gluten intolerance - is part of an effort to draw attention to the Food and Drug Administration’s delay in finalizing standards for gluten-free food labeling. You can make a donation and sign a petition advocating for the FDA to take action on determining a gluten-free food-labeling standard. The event is the idea of gluten-free author and baking expert Jules Shepard and South Jersey's own John Forberger, a gluten-free triathlete.

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bassetts Found

One of my favorite activities growing up in Northeast Philly was going to the Leo Mall on Bustleton Avenue. While it wasn't as large as, say, Roosevelt Mall, back then it had staples like a bookstore, Sound Odyssey (anyone else wait hours in line to get "Pac-Man" for the Atari 2600?) and a Bassetts Ice Cream stand.

As a kid, I didn't appreciate the history of Bassetts, but its ice cream is as much a Philadelphia food tradition as any other. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Bassetts, which is the country's oldest ice cream company. Its origin dates to 1861, when Lewis Dubois Bassett, a Quaker school teacher and farmer, began making ice cream in his Salem, New Jersey backyard using a mule-turned churn. In 1893, Bassetts opened a still-operating stand at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. Currently, Bassetts is run by fifth-generation descendants of the company's founder.

Vanilla is Bassetts' most popular ice cream flavor, followed by French Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip and Strawberry rounding out the top five. According to the ingredient information currently posted at the company's website (more current than the site's gluten-free list from 2009), all of those are gluten free, as are the following:
  • Banana
  • Butter Almond
  • Butter Pecan
  • Butterscotch Vanilla (my favorite!)
  • Cherry Vanilla
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Chocolate Marshmallow
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Double Chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate Chip
  • French Vanilla
  • Guatemalan Ripple
  • Matcha (Green Tea)
  • Mocha Chip
  • Moose Tracks
  • Peach
  • Peanut Butter Swirl
  • Pistachio
  • Pralines & Cream
  • Raspberry Truffle
  • Rum Raisin
  • Vanilla Fudge
  • Vanilla Yogurt
The sorbets (Champagne, Lemon, Mango-Apricot, Orange and Raspberry) are also made without gluten. (Note that all products are made on equipment that is used to process other allergens, although the equipment is cleaned between production runs.)

In addition to the stand at Reading Terminal Market, the products are available at area parlors like The Pop Shop in Collingswood and sold by the pint online and at stores such as Whole Foods, McCaffrey's, Weaver's Way and ShopRite markets.