Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Raising the Bar

"The Ladybug" Icebox Bars from Pure Sweets (Photos by Tommy Leonardi)
Gluten free? Check. Organic? Check. Vegan? Check. When Andrea Kyan founded Pure Sweets in 2008, she wanted to make sure her business model was consistent with her interests in food, wellness and animals. She set up shop in a commercial kitchen in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, developing unique recipes that incorporate her passions.

Andrea's signature Icebox Bars are a modern take on rice crispy treats, combining homemade brown rice crisp cereal bars with peanut butter, hazelnut butter or fruit preserves and topping them with dark chocolate.

Her mini macaroons are a fusion of unsweetened coconut, coconut butter and ingredients ranging from lemon and lavender ("The Poodle") to Mexican chocolate and cayenne pepper ("The Bat").

"The Ape" flourless cookies
Even the traditional cookie gets a facelift. "The Ape" combines almond meal with coconut oil, banana, walnuts and dark chocolate, while "The Frog" blends almond meal, pistachios, dark chocolate and Italian espresso.

Her other products - yep, those have names too - include trail mixes and ice cream toppings and spreads (check out "The Tasmanian" natural magic shell ice cream sauce), and other treats are in the works.

Andrea donates 5% of profits to charities dedicated to animal welfare and wildlife conservation.  

Pure Sweets' bars, macaroons and cookies are sold at the two Philadelphia Whole Foods (on Callowhill and on South Street), Natural Harvest Market in Mullica Hill, and will be coming soon to the Whole Foods on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. (Check the Locations page at the Pure Sweets website for availability.) All products, which are made to order, can be ordered online for shipping, local delivery or pick-up at the kitchen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

News & Notes: February 24, 2012

Longtime readers know that I love baseball, so it was with great pleasure that I sopped up coverage of the start of Phillies Spring Training this week. If you're heading down to the team's preseason games in Clearwater, Florida, check out my article from a couple years back on dining options in the area (all the links are current). Tickets for the Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies game on July 20 are now on sale, and if you purchase tickets through this link, net proceeds will go to support celiac awareness efforts. I'll be there, and I hope to see you in the stands.

The local Landmark Americana chain, which has locations in University City (3333 Market St., 215-222-4500), West Chester (158 W. Gay St., 610-701-9900) and Glassboro (1 Mullica Hill Rd., 856-863-6600) and more on the way, has a gluten-free menu highlighted by hamburgers with buns. Thanks to reader Marj M. for the heads-up and the menu.

Another reader, Miriam B., let me know about Pronto, a quick-serve Italian spot in Exton (217 Eagleview Blvd., 610-524-3278) which has penne and salads on its gluten-free menu. Through Saturday, you can purchase an AmazonLocal deal for Pronto for $5 and get $12 worth of food and drink (and $2 toward your next visit).

In Mt. Airy, Latin restaurant Avenida (7402 Germantown Ave., 267-385-6857) has a gluten-free menu. Thanks to readers Jen D. and Janet B. for the tip.

One of our faves, Pasta Pomodoro in Voorhees (700 Haddonfield-Berlin Rd., 856-782-7430), has added breaded chicken and veal and mozzarella sticks to its already huge gluten-free menu. You can check out chef-owner Pasquale Masters preparing one of his gluten-free dishes on the Heart of Philly YouTube channel.

City Kitchen Pizzeria in Southampton, which served gluten-free pasta, has closed.

Tweason'ale is now on draft at the South Philadelphia Taproom (1509 Mifflin St., 215-271-7787)(thanks, Emily D.), Prohibition Taproom, located south of Spring Garden Street (501 N. 13th St., 215-238-1818)(thanks, Eugene V.) and The Bishop's Collar (2349 Fairmount Ave., 215-765-1616 (thanks, Sherrie S.). You can check Dogfish Head's Fish Finder page for nearby bars and beer stores that carry the brew.

Dock Street Brewing Co.'s own gluten-free beer, Sudan Grass Ale, will return to the West Philly pub in May.

The Wegmans market in King of Prussia is slated to open on May 6.

A springtime tradition, Rita's annual "First Day of Spring" Italian ice giveaway, will be held on Tuesday, March 20 from noon to 9 p.m. at all open locations. Rita's has introduced several new flavors, and the following ones are gluten free: Black Cherry Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and Root Beer Float cream ices and Margarita, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Sour Patch Kids and Strawberry Colada Italian ices.

Schar's gluten-free manufacturing facility in Gloucester County, New Jersey is on pace for a June opening date, according to an article at NJ.com. The plant will produce breads, rolls, baguettes and bagels.

The newest addition to the YoCrunch line of 100-calorie packs is gluten-free Fruity Pebbles vanilla fat-free yogurt.

Congrats to reader Ariel L., who won the recent giveaway from Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery. I'll have another giveaway next month to celebrate Gluten Free Philly's third birthday, featuring gift certificates from Zavino Wine Bar and Pizzeria, Sweet Freedom Bakery and others.

Shoo Mama's Farm Fresh Cafe in West Chester (66 E. Street Rd., 484-315-8431) is hosting an all-day fundraiser tomorrow for the Chester County chapter of the Gluten Intolerance Group. Bring in this voucher and Shoo Mama's will donate 15% of your bill to the group.

Next Saturday, March 3, the Marlton ShopRite (307 W. Route 70, 856-983-7370) will host a gluten-free food demo sponsored by the National Gluten Free Alliance. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Chef Luca D'Angio of New York's Pizza Bistro (the top-rated gluten-free restaurant on Long Island) will be preparing his homemade Italian Gluten Free Foods specialties. You'll also be able to sample breads, muffins and cakes from O'Doughs.

The Gluten Free Philly Facebook page is now more than 1,000 followers strong. Be a part of the active online gluten-free community by liking the page and by following me on Twitter.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Get Your Phil

Spring Training is underway, which means another season of Phillies baseball will soon be upon us. Join the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, July 20, when the Phillies host the San Francisco Giants at 7:05 p.m. Celiac Awareness Night will feature an expanded selection of gluten-free foods. At last year's event, cheesesteaks and Seasons Pizza were among the favorites.

Seating will be located in the following areas:
  • Pavilion Deck (section 309) at $28 per ticket
  • Pavilion (sections 201-205) at $30 per ticket
  • Pavilion (sections 206-207) at $38 per ticket
Net proceeds from tickets sold through this offer will go to support raising celiac awareness. To order your tickets, click on this link and enter the promotion code CELIAC.

Friday, February 17, 2012

News & Notes: February 17, 2012

The Gluten Free Philly staff made it to The Tomato Bistro in Manayunk last Sunday to check out the restaurant's homemade gluten-free pizza, and the rave reviews are indeed justified. The Fig pizza in particular was amazing. Keep reading for details on the next Gluten-Free Supper Club event at the Bistro.

Pizza is indeed plentiful this week. Zavino Wine Bar & Pizzeria (112 S. 13th St., 215-732-2400) is the newest Center City restaurant to serve gluten-free pizza. The restaurant uses a certified gluten-free crust and pulls from separate toppings and sauce.

 in Pennsburg (824 Main St., 215-679-0650) - up in northern Montgomery County - also serves gluten-free pizza.

Leo Tucci's Pizza in Cherry Hill (1400 Berlin Rd., 856-795-1223) is using Conte's gluten-free pizza shells and will use separate sauce and cheese on request.

Lara W. let me know that South Philly's Le Virtu (1927 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-271-5626) serves gluten-free pasta.

The original Pad Thai varieties at Manayunk's Chabaa Thai Bistro (4371 Main St., 215-483-1979) are naturally gluten free.

Pure Tacos' Center City location at 1935 Chestnut St. is shooting for a early April opening.

Chef Daniel Stern has opted to close University City restaurant MidAtlantic on February 24, but gluten-free service is available at R2L (50 S. 16th St., 215-564-5337), his eatery atop Two Liberty Place in Center City.

The Inquirer reports that the Peace A Pizza location in Wayne (522 W. Lancaster Ave.) soon will be converted to a Melt Down Grilled Cheese sandwich shop. Melt Down's original location in North Wales has gluten-free bread.

Chef Daniel Dougherty and the catering staff at the Bala Golf Club (2200 Belmont Ave., 215-878-3555) is GREAT-certified and can prepare gluten-free menus. Reader Jamie Y. recently co-hosted an all-gluten-free event there that featured pigs in blankets, sliders, crab cakes, sushi, risotto parmesan balls and an Asian station.

The new Whole Foods Market in Glen Mills (475 Wilmington-West Chester Pike) is slated to open on March 14.

The gluten-free/dairy-free granola from Metropolitan Bakery that I wrote about last month is now available in 12-ounce bags.

Woodchuck Hard Cider has expanded its Private Reserve Line with the addition of the world’s first Belgian White-style hard cider. According to the company, this limited-run Belgian White "presents a delicate aroma and taste, mirroring the Belgian tradition of a coriander and orange peel profile, laced with the complexity of apple notes and classic Belgian beer yeast." It is 5.5% alcohol by volume.

Hawthornes, a South Philly beer boutique (738 S. 11th St., 215-627-3012), carries Dogfish Head's Tweason'ale and all three New Planet beers. Thanks to Amanda M. for the tip.

Pinocchio's Restaurant in Media (131 E. Baltimore Ave., 610-566-7767) now has Tweason'ale on tap. (Thanks S.M.)

The Tomato Bistro will host the next Gluten-Free Supper Club event on Tuesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. There will be two options (total is for two people including tax and tip; if you're flying solo, you can just pair up with another guest when ordering): $52 includes any gluten-free variety of pizza, two salads, soups or small plates, one dessert, and non-alcoholic drinks; $70 includes the same courses with four alcoholic drinks. Small plates include a Mediterranean plate, bruschetta, Aztec shrimp and mussels; salads include salmon, Waldorf, Caprese and Cobb; soups are tomato bisque and vegetarian chili; and there's a flourless chocolate torte for dessert. Tweason'ale and Doc's Framboise hard cider will be among the adult beverage options. The restaurant also has a private parking lot for up to 20 cars. To reserve a spot, email reader Daria.

You can still enter my latest Goodies Giveaway of a Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery prize pack. Just follow this link for all the details.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Goodies Giveaway: Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery Prize Pack

Throughout February, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is hosting a Gluten-Freebies Giveaway on Facebook. Fans can log onto the Rudi’s Facebook page, then “like” the brand and receive a $2-off coupon. By visiting the Giveaway tab on the Facebook page, fans can enter weekly to win prizes given away each day, like Rudi’s Gluten-Free breads and baked goods, a Cuisinart toaster, Crofter’s Organic jams, a Kodak digital camera, and gluten-free cookbooks. Rudi’s gluten-free products, including Original, Multigrain and Cinnamon Raisin Breads, Pizza Crust, Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Rolls, are available nationally at natural foods stores and mainstream supermarkets. (A store locator link can be found on the homepage.)

Rudi's is offering one lucky Gluten Free Philly reader a prize pack consisting of a Rudi's-branded toaster, two free-product coupons, and a reusable tote bag. To enter, follow the instructions below.

Good luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

News & Notes: February 10, 2012

While gluten-free-friendly chef Marc Vetri and others plan on opening higher-end restaurants at the Moorestown Mall, apparently there's still room for more humble fare. PB&U's second location opened at the mall yesterday (400 Rt. 38, 856-234-5300) and, like the original in Wayne, the new spot has gluten-free bread and uses a separate toaster, utensils and ingredients to make your sammich.

The mushroom capital of the world - Kennett Square - is home to the aptly named Portabello's (115 W. State St., 610-925-4984). The restaurant's gluten-free menu includes pasta, bread and dessert.

Vedge, a new addition to the scene in the Washington Square West section of Philadelphia (1221 Locust St., 215-320-7500), can accommodate gluten-free diners.

All of the sandwiches at Center City's Pure Fare (119 S. 21st St., 267-318-7441) are now made with gluten-free bread from Toté Bakery. I raved about the breads and other baked goods from Toté in Tuesday's post.

Gluten-free churros at Sazon
The wonderful family-owned Venezuelan cafe Sazon in Northern Liberties (941 Spring Garden St., 215-763-2500) is now frying up gluten-free churros. Thanks to reader Heather H. for the tip and the photo.

Heather also let me know that Le Pain Quotidien's two Center City locations (801 Walnut St., 215-253-3114; 1425 Walnut St., 215-751-0570) are serving tartines on certified-gluten-free crackers.

Mt. Airy's Food For All (7127 Germantown Ave., 267-297-7122) reopens today and will host a party (with DJ) tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Foodery in Center City (324 S. 10th St., 215-928-1111) and Northern Liberties (837 N. 2nd St., 215-238-6077) stocks Dogfish Head's new Tweason'ale. McMenamin's Tavern in Mt. Airy has all three New Planet gluten-free beers (thanks Katie F.), while Varga Bar (941 Spruce St., 215-627-5200) has carries the brewery's 3R Raspberry Ale (thanks Sherrie S.).

The lovely ladies at Philly's Sweet Freedom Bakery (1424 South St., 215-545-1899) are preparing treats for Valentine's Day, including heart-shaped cookies and donuts and red velvet cupcakes. Call by Sunday, February 12 to place holiday orders.

Cookies, muffins and cupcakes from allergen-friendly bakery Sweetness are now available at Buonissimo Market in Blue Bell (700 Dekalb Pike, 610-270-9100).

All of the meats and cheeses sold at Wegmans deli counters have no gluten ingredients, although the stores caution that there is a risk of cross-contact.

Many people who are diagnosed with celiac disease also have iron-deficiency anemia. What is less commonly known is that many of those individuals exhibit a craving for large amounts of ice or ice water. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are looking for participants for a study on this subject. More information is available here.

The newly formed Berks County Meet-Up Group (that's the Reading area) will get together at Good Eatz at 1 p.m. tomorrow, while the Chester County Gluten Intolerance Group chapter will host a free "Gluten Free 101" class at Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Registration is a must for both events.

Hope that's enough to satisfy your appetite for one week. Have a great weekend!

- Michael

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Toté Package

Toté Bakery's teff loaves just out of the oven
As I broke off yet another piece of Toté's warm, chewy baguette, I thought about the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine couldn't believe that the delicious frozen yogurt they were eating was non-fat. Could this bread really be gluten free?

The same question could be asked about the freshly baked bagels, crusty teff loaves and soft chocolate chip cookies that I picked up on a recent Sunday morning at the South Philadelphia bakery (1024 S. 9th St., 215-551-5511). Toté is operated by Omer Taffet and Eugene Torsunov, who work the ovens six days a week in the heart of the Italian Market. Indeed, all of the baked goods are gluten free - some featuring more exotic ingredients like amaranth, millet and coconut flours.

Co-owners Eugene Torsunov (left) and Omer Taffet prepare
fresh gluten-free baked goods six days a week
House staples include the baguettes (now used at Paesano's Philly Style across the street for gluten-free steak sandwiches), focaccia, and multigrain quinoa and teff breads. Also in rotation are sourdough and challah loaves, kaiser rolls and pizza crusts. If there's something in particular you're looking for, just call a day or two in advance of your visit.

Toté's bagel varieties include plain, poppy
and cinnamon raisin 
The bakers have been expanding their sweet selections too. Given the location, biscotti and tiramisu are popular (could cannoli be on the horizon?), but the red velvet whoopie pie is an indulgent treat too. Poppy hamantaschen (traditional Jewish cookies for Purim), brownies, and specialties like raspberry cheesecake also are available.

A small section of the bakery is devoted to shelf-stable gluten-free groceries like BiAglut pasta, Bob's Red Mill flours and Twizzlers-like Candy Tree twists.

Toté is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is easily accessible from the Washington Avenue exit of I-95.