Friday, September 28, 2012

News & Notes: September 28, 2012

More than 1,500 people came out in perfect weather last Sunday for Appetite for Awareness in Center City. As you can read in the recaps from the NFCA staff blogGluten-Free FunEmbrace G-Free, Gluten Free/Dairy Free NJ and Ellen Ensminger, everyone seemed to have their favorite restaurants and products. This being a Philadelphia crowd, soft pretzels from Tonya's Gluten Free Kitchen were a popular treat, as were samples of Sweet Note Bakery's fresh bagels. Pasta Pomodoro in Voorhees again won the People's Choice Award. (Pasquale, you should get a Hall of Fame award next time and give someone else a fighting chance.) The NFCA has posted event photos at its Facebook page.

Between Appetite on Sunday and Expo East in Baltimore on Saturday, I had a busy weekend. As I wrote on Tuesday, the Charm City's annual natural foods show featured many new gluten-free products, including a line of gluten-free pretzels set to arrive in stores early next year. Conte's Pasta's gluten-free bake-in-bag pizza, which was displayed at the expo, will be available at all Chuck E. Cheese's kids entertainment centers beginning next month.

Beginning October 6, Appetite participant Sazon (941 Spring Garden St., 215-763-2500) will offer a 100% gluten-free brunch buffet every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

New York-based The Lite Choice soft-serve chain is extending its reach into Pennsylvania. Within the next month, Philadelphia locations - both Kosher certified - are due to open at 135 South St. and at 1528 Walnut St., next to Starbucks on the 16th Street side. (Outlets in Collegeville and West Chester are on the way, too.) TLC's low-fat soft serve, smoothies and shakes are gluten free, as are all of the 80 organic flavors. Notably, the new locations will have gluten-free cones and gluten-free toppings will be labeled.

Desserts Capital (215-837-0992) is working on a Philadelphia storefront, but in the meantime baker Xina has gluten-free brownies, cookies and signature Baby Cakes (a cake/donut combo) available for delivery within the city and most of Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties. She maintains a separate set of baking utensils and bakeware for the sole purpose of making gluten-free products, and keeps ingredients in separate containers. The commercially licensed kitchen Xina now uses is thoroughly cleaned prior to gluten-free baking.

Philadelphians can order produce, meat, seafood and deli products, and other groceries, including gluten-free items, from FreshDirect, an online retailer. FreshDirect is initially launching in eight center-city Philadelphia zip codes, with plans to expand throughout the Greater Philadelphia region in 2013. The eight zip codes include the following neighborhoods: Rittenhouse, Logan Square, Washington Square, Old City, Society Hill, Bella Vista, Queen’s Village, Graduate Hospital, Grey’s Ferry, Fairmount, Art Museum, Spring Garden, and Northern Liberties. FreshDirect’s online store front is now open, allowing customers to register online, shop and schedule deliveries beginning October 1. You can test-drive the company's DeliveryPass service for one cent (which includes unlimited deliveries for two months) and also save $50 off an order of $125 or more with code FDINPHILLY.

The Di Bruno Bros. location in Center City (1730 Chestnut St., 215-665-9220) is stocking gluten-free cookies from Goodie Girl Tribeca. Flavors include Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Crunchy Chaos (marshmallow, chocolate and candied roasted cornflakes!), Quinoa Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin, which sell for $3.49 per package. Owner Shira Berk has her gluten-free products ELISA-tested (they're below 5 parts per million) and made on a dedicated line. She also sells gluten-free goodie baskets and cookies through her website. (Enter YUMMY2012 at checkout for a 10% discount.)

Registration is still open for tomorrow's first annual Manayunk Tomato Trot, a four-mile run to benefit LUNGevity. Post-race festivities include awards, live music and free gluten-free pizza from the Couch Tomato Cafe.

Health coach Jennifer Fugo is hosting a healthy gluten-free cooking series focusing on winter and holiday meals. The three-week series runs Tuesday evenings from November 13 through November 27 at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. The cost is $50 plus a $10 material fee. More information is available at her website.

October events include a seminar on gluten-free food production at Paoli Hospital, a cooking demo with the Food For All crew in King of Prussia, a baking class in Philadelphia, a vegan cooking class down in Rehoboth, the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in Camden featuring Team Celiac, and even a wine pairing in Philadelphia.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael
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