Friday, September 30, 2011

News & Notes: September 30, 2011

Today's post is an all-products edition of News & Notes, but I first wanted to thank the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and its campaign to make gluten-free pizza available at schools nationwide. As a result of this effort, I contacted our school district's food-service provider to see if it could order the gluten-free pizza for our son's elementary school. It took some time, but I learned earlier this week that the pizza would be available in time for the weekly "pizza day" in the cafeteria. It made my night when I came home from work on Wednesday and my son told me that he felt "normal" to have to wait in line with his friends and get lunch on a tray like other students. For more on Schwan's food-service gluten-free pizza, visit the company's website and share the information with your own child's school.

On Tuesday, I posted a review of a recent meal at the Rainforest Cafe in Atlantic City.

The Ravitz ShopRites in southern New Jersey, particularly those in Marlton and Cherry Hill East, have greatly expanded their gluten-free sections. New to those stores are Mi-Del Gingerbread Men cookies and Glutino's new Genius bread. The Genius bread, in White and Multigrain varieties, features full-size slices.

Wynnewood's Main Line Baking Company has lined up more stores to sell its gluten-free products, including the Marlton ShopRite and Whole Foods in Wynnewood.

During a recent trip to Water to Go in Pennsauken, my wife discovered Russo's mozzarella sticks (delicious!), Kim & Scott's Bavarian soft pretzels (meh), and Joan's calzones (haven't tried yet).

Lots of new products were announced at the Expo East natural-products food show in Baltimore last weekend. Erin at Gluten Free Fun reported that Udi's will debut gluten-free muffin tops and three kinds of frozen pizza in January 2012.

Gluten Free Living tweeted from Expo East that Feel Good Foods will soon offer gluten-free egg rolls to complement its dumplings, while Sandra at the Gluten Free Optimist blog reported that the egg rolls will come in chicken, shrimp and vegetable varieties.

Have a great weekend and go Phils!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let It Rain

Admit it - theme restaurants are kitschy fun, especially for kids. Places like Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and Medieval Times serve up overpriced portions of food alongside slices of nostalgia, memorabilia and other eye candy that can keep children occupied while waiting on their meals.

While in Atlantic City over a late summer weekend with the boys, we wanted to try someplace different for dinner without spending outrageous amounts of money at a casino-restaurant. (I'm talking to you, Bobby Flay Steak.) We settled on the Rainforest Cafe (2201 Boardwalk, 609-345-5757), on the Boardwalk adjoining Trump Plaza. I knew that the restaurant didn't have a gluten-free menu, but my wife called ahead and was assured that the kitchen could accommodate dietary requirements.

As the name suggests, Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant that features a faux rain forest, complete with waterfalls, mist, trees and animals - robotic, of course; I doubt the health department would allow real ones to roam the kitchen. A walk-through aquarium separates the lobby from the dining room, where a simulated thunderstorm occurs every half-hour. We were particularly impressed with the ape (or was it an orangutan?) that swung from the branch right above our table.

After being seated, we advised our server of our older son's diet, and the chef soon came out to provide suggestions for ordering. Safe options included many salads, bunless burgers, and several seafood choices.

Our son settled on the Bamba's Barbeque Wrap, a shredded chicken wrap with spicy barbeque sauce and cheese that came with a side of cole slaw. The chef personally brought out the dish to the table, substituting three smaller corn tortillas for a two larger wheat flour wraps. He also prepared a side of french fries in a pan instead of a deep fryer.

We opted not to have dessert, but ice cream is available.

Chain restaurants - and themed ones in particular - can be hit-or-miss in preparing gluten-free meals. It's always nice when we can go to one where special requests are easily handled, even if it's a place where more than just people hang out.

Rainforest Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 23, 2011

News & Notes: September 23, 2011

As many of you know, the area's premier gluten-free event, Appetite for Awareness, has been a fall affair in years past. However, due to venue and scheduling considerations, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is considering holding Appetite in Spring 2012. In the meantime, the NFCA is hosting a major donor event at a private home on Tuesday, October 18 honoring Dr. Ritu Verma of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a familiar name to the Philadelphia gluten-free community. Chef Marc Vetri (Vetri, Osteria, Amis) will be the special guest, with chef demos by Brad Spence (Amis) and pastry chef Monica Glass (10 Arts Bistro & Lounge) and gluten-free fare by Wolfgang Puck Catering accompanied by a wine tasting. If you would like to learn more about becoming a sponsor or purchasing a ticket, please contact the NFCA's Nancy Ginter.

Earlier this week, I wrote about Dogfish Head's new gluten-free beer that will be available in bottles by the end of the year.

All menu items at Cantina Diablos Mexican Grill in Ardmore (2330 Haverford Ave., 610-642-1370) can be made gluten free.

The area's second Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is now open in Chadds Ford, at the Garnet Valley Plaza Center (91 Wilmington West Chester Pike, 484-785-6880). The restaurant has a gluten-free menu.

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill's two area locations - at the malls in King of Prussia and Cherry Hill - have set their Fall 2011 gluten-free menu.

Reader Kelly R. let me know that Fuel's Center City Philadelphia location (1225 Walnut St., 215-922-FUEL) is serving gluten-free chocolate fudge cake in addition to panini.

Some recent restaurant closings: Philadelphia's Adsum and Ry's Bagels in Berlin, New Jersey.

Deliteful Foods' new location is in the Quakerbridge Village Commons in Lawrenceville (4110 Quakerbridge Rd., 609-799-7756)

Sweet Christine's gluten-free baked goods will be available at Eagles home games this season. They can be found at the concession stand behind Section 117 at Lincoln Financial Field with other gluten-free fare.

Now at Whole Foods stores are Annie's new Organic Orchard Fruit Bites. Available in grape, strawberry, apple and cherry, the Fruit Bites contain one serving of fruit in each pouch. The fruit snacks are naturally gluten and gelatin free, are vegan, and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

JD's Best Pizza is now available at Martindale's Natural Market in Springfield. Thanks to reader Dana M. for the tip.

Food for All Market in Mt. Airy will have Feel Good Foods' gluten-free dumplings available for sampling on Sunday, September 25 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Head of the Curve

As the saying goes, there can never be too many gluten-free beers. So it's welcome news to hear that the highly regarded Delaware craft brewery Dogfish Head will release its Tweason'ale in bottles in December, according to an interview with founder Sam Calagione.

Tweason'ale is a sorghum-based beer brewed with fresh strawberries from Fifer Orchards, near Dover, Delaware, and buckwheat honey. For the sorghum, the brewery sourced a dark, sweet syrup with notes of molasses. The beer gets its name from the fact that the initial batch was brewed and served during the transition between spring and summer

The beer, to be sold in four-packs, will be produced at the Milton, Delaware brewery for national distribution. Dogfish Head intends to pursue gluten-free certification, ensuring that gluten levels will measure less than 10 parts per million.

Friday, September 16, 2011

News & Notes: September 16, 2011

My sincere thanks go out to everyone who voted for the blog in the CBS Philadelphia Most Valuable Blogger competition. I learned on Wednesday that Gluten Free Philly won the People's Choice Award in the Health, Fitness and Medical category.

As I wrote on Tuesday, Davio's, the Northern Italian steakhouse near Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia, will be hosting a gluten-free beer dinner on Tuesday, October 11. The featured drinks on the menu are Redbridge beer and two kinds of Magners cider. The cost is $50, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are being taken at the restaurant over the phone at 215-563-4810.

We'll start in Delaware with this week's restaurant information. New reader Don L. let me know that longtime Wilmington staple Kid Shelleen's (1801 W. 14th St., 302-658-4600) offers a gluten-free menu.

Moving north to Mercer County, New Jersey, Princeton Soup & Sandwich (30 Palmer Square E., 609-497-0008) rotates a selection of more than 30 gluten-free soups, with two or three offered daily. The shop also has Boar's Head hot dogs and salads.

Falls Taproom in Philly's East Falls section (3749 Midvale Ave., 215-849-1222) is serving Revolution Cider.

Available exclusively at Whole Foods are all-natural gluten-free beef corn dogs from Applegate Farms. The batter is made of a blend of corn meal, corn flour and rice flour.

GoPicnic ready-to-eat meals are now sold at local Wegmans markets, The Fresh Market stores in Pennsylvania, and even at Philadelphia International Airport (at the CNBC and Hudson News shops). A searchable list of locations by zip code is available at the company's website.

COOK (253 S. 20th St., 215-735-COOK) is a fully-equipped, 16-seat kitchen-classroom where guests can enjoy meals made by Philadelphia-area culinary professionals. On Saturday, October 22 at noon, "Gluten-Free Warrior" Genevieve Sherrow will lead a class on creating a gluten-free brunch menu. Her class menu will include Nutty Millet Porridge with seasonal fruit, Hearty Buckwheat Waffles, Scallion, Cashew and Nori Egg Scramble. The class costs $75 and online registration is available.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gluten-Free Beer Dinner at Davio's on October 11

Davio's, the Northern Italian steakhouse in Center City Philadelphia (111 S. 17th St.), is hosting a gluten-free beer dinner on Tuesday, October 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each of the four courses will be paired with selections presented by Magners Cider and Redbridge beer, including items such as Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops with Pistachio Risotto and a Cider Vinegar Reduction and Braised New Zealand Lamb Shank with New Potato, Roasted Pumpkin and Natural Thyme Jus.

The dinner is $50 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Reservations are necessary for this event by calling 215-563-4810. Davio’s offers an extensive gluten-free menu available everyday for lunch and dinner that includes pasta.
Passed Hors D’oeuvres 
Spiced Salmon Tar-Tar
Brandt Beef Fondue
Autumn Vegetable Napoleon
Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch
First Course
Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops
Pistachio Risotto, Cider Vinegar Reduction
Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch 
Second Course
Braised New Zealand Lamb Shank
New Potato, Roasted Pumpkin, Natural Thyme Jus
Magners Original (apple)
Peach Tartin
Magners Pear (pear) 
Coffee, Tea and Decaffeinated Coffee - included in menu price

Friday, September 9, 2011

News & Notes: September 9, 2011

With summer in the rear-view mirror, it's back to school, work and everyday routines. We took quite a few road trips over the past couple months, everywhere from Atlantic City to Hershey to D.C. Time to start planning another vacation, I'd say.

Today is the last day for voting in CBS Philadelphia’s Most Valuable Blogger contest. Please support Gluten Free Philly by casting your vote through this link.

On Tuesday, I featured local ice cream maker Jack & Jill, which got its start in Philadelphia more than 80 years ago.

Pepperoncini Sotto in Phoenixville (184 Bridge St., 484-924-8429) notes gluten-free items on its dinner menu. Thanks to Sharon A. for the tip. on Philadelphia's famed South Street (326 South St., 267-639-3425) serves kosher beef burgers and fries that are gluten free.

New to the Main Line is Top This, a fro-yo store in Penn Valley (707 Montgomery Ave., 610-668-1333) with many gluten-free flavors, clearly labeled as such. Among safe toppings are Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereals. Hat tip to reader Debbie M.

Dana P. posted on the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page that Bonterra Market in Egg Harbor Township (3112 Fire Rd., 609-484-1550) carries gluten-free frozen mozzarella sticks, among other products.

Readers Amy P. and Marcella P. report that Altomonte's Italian Market in Warminster (85 N. York Rd., 215-672-5439) is stocking gluten-free items such as Conte's pasta products and Domata Living Flour.

No Whey no more: Tom P. let me know that No Whey Health Foods, a natural foods store in Pitman, New Jersey, is closing tomorrow.

Pure Tacos, the all-gluten-free Mexican spot on the Ocean City Boardwalk, is scouting storefronts in Center City Philadelphia with the intention of opening in town by late fall. Contrary to a report elsewhere, the location has not yet been finalized.

Also before year's end, look for Good Witch Bakery to open near South Street (622 S. 6th St.). According to an article in the Temple News, the 24-hour cafe and bakery will have gluten-free and vegan options.

Returning this fall is Woodchuck Hard Cider's Private Reserve Pumpkin, a high-end cider with a 6.9% alcohol content. The limited-edition cider will be available at retailers in New Jersey and Delaware (but not Pennsylvania) in September and October. As with all Woodchuck Ciders, the Pumpkin Cider is naturally gluten free.

Pillsbury Egg Scrambles are frozen breakfast dishes that come in three varieties, all gluten free: Bacon & Veggies, Sausage and Sausage & Veggies. They can be prepared in a microwave oven in about five minutes.

On Tuesday, September 13 (which, incidentally, is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day), Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting (500 W. Germantown Pike, 610-832-0010) will host "Introduction to Gluten-Free Baking." In this class, Genevieve Sherrow, author of Gluten-free Warrior, will teach attendees how to experiment with gluten-free ingredients and prepare recipes such as Blueberry Lemon Cornbread, The Warrior's Jewish Apple Cake and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies. The class will run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; the cost is $10.

Today is the last day to reserve a spot at the gluten-free Local Roots Dinner at Kimberton Whole Foods in Kimberton (2140 Kimberton Rd., 610-935-1444), to be held on Friday, September 16 at 6:30 p.m. The dinner brings together local farmers, store staff and neighbors and will include local farm products to be showcased in dishes. The cost is $45.

Gluten-Free Saver is a new Groupon-style deals site launching this fall that focuses exclusively on gluten-free products. It's a free service, and subscribers will receive emails as deals are announced. If you sign up before September 30, you'll be entered to win an Udi's Gluten-Free gift basket valued at $100.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ice Cream Man

In 1929, Mickey Schwartz began selling ice cream in Philadelphia from a wooden box carried over his shoulder. From there, his Jack & Jill Ice Cream Company grew into a successful street vending and vending machine business. The first street vending truck was purchased in 1938, and, a year later, the company created a vending machine division.

In the early 1980s, Jack & Jill brand novelties were introduced. By mid-decade, the company's ice cream product line grew beyond novelties to premium ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and water ice. Now based in Moorestown, New Jersey, Jack & Jill Ice Cream's distribution area has expanded beyond the Delaware Valley to Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

All flavors of Jack & Jill's ice cream - except for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Blueberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Shortcake and others with brownie, cookie or cake products - are gluten free. In addition many of the company's novelties are safe, including the Toasted Almond Bar, Cherry Slush Bars, Screwball, Stix varieties and ice cream cups. A complete ingredients and allergens list can be found at the company's website.