Friday, March 30, 2018

News & Notes: March 30, 2018

Grainful has reformulated its frozen entrées by incorporating a new gluten-free grain blend of whole oats, quinoa and sorghum and layering on more vegetables, proteins, and sauces. Grainful also transitioned to using a bowl in the packaging. They come in eight varieties, including Tuscan Bean & Kale, Unstuffed Pepper, Vegetarian Chili and Porcini Mushroom Chicken. The revamped products have already started hitting shelves at leading retailers across the nation including Wegmans, ShopRite, Safeway, HEB, Giant Eagle and Whole Foods. The entrées will also be available for purchase online on the Grainful online store and at this month.

Nona Lim’s new instant noodle bowls come in three non-GMO, gluten-free varieties: Thai Coconut Lime, Chicken Pho and a vegan Green Curry. Each 14.5-ounce bowl is cold-shipped for freshness and sold in the refrigerated aisle for a suggested retail price of $6.99.

Kidfresh will introduce its first gluten-free product, a new White Mac 'n Cheese, later this spring. Kidfresh offers a line of children's favorites enriched with hidden vegetables and without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The line of frozen meals is nationally distributed and available in over 10,000 stores.

Truly Spiked & Sparkling has debuted its newest gluten-free alcoholic sparkling water: Truly Wild Berry, with a hint of natural juiciness and sweetness from California strawberries, raspberries and Marion blackberries. Truly Wild Berry will be sold in six-packs and featured in a new Berry Variety Pack with two other exclusive flavors, Blueberry & Acai and Raspberry & Lime, along with Pomegranate.

Locally, Bridget's Steakhouse in Ambler (8 W. Butler Pike, 267-465-2000) notes gluten-free options on its dinner menu, as does the refreshed Bar 1929 at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill (300 E. Evesham Rd., 856-439-4300).

Not only is the all-gluten-free Real Food Eatery planning to open a second Center City location this spring at 1700 Market St., one in the Fairmount section (4040 City Ave.) is coming soon.

Chickie's & Pete's opened its newest sports bar this week in Marlton (25 Rt. 73 S., 856-452-5126). The bone-in wings and Crabfries are gluten free, prepared in separate fryers from breaded items.

Pasta Pomodoro, the longtime gluten-free-friendly Italian restaurant in Voorhees, has lost its lease. Elsewhere, the Rittenhouse Square outpost of grilled-cheese and shake purveyor MilkHouse has closed, but it's business as usual at the Suburban Station and 30th Street Station locations.

Have a great holiday weekend!

- Michael

With the updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,600 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Raising the Steaks

Butcher and Singer is located at a one-time financial brokerage
Restaurateur Stephen Starr has Philadelphia's gluten-free dining scene covered. For Asian, Buddakan, Pod and Morimoto check that box. For Mexican, there's El Rey. Latin? Alma de Cuba. But how does he handle the classic American steakhouse? Quite well, I can report.

At a recent media dine, my wife and I had the opportunity to enjoy a lovely dinner at Butcher and Singer near Rittenhouse Square (1500 Walnut St., 215-732-4444). The restaurant, named for a former financial brokerage there, is located in the former home of the famed Striped Bass seafood restaurant. With its high ceilings and dim lights, the dining room has the look and feel of a 1940s-style clubhouse. 

Most of the traditional menu carries over to the gluten-free version, with a few exceptions. For starters, I ordered the maple bourbon bacon ($12), a thick slab of Nueske's pork that pulled apart like ribs. My wife's wedge salad ($13) was sprinkled with bacon bits and crumbled blue cheese.

I'm sure it offends the purists, but we enjoy our steaks well done, and the perfectly charred filet mignon ($42) did not disappoint. (The fact that they steaks were marinated in butter didn't hurt either.) My wife opted to get hers Oscar-style, with jumbo lump crab meat on asparagus on top and Bearnaise sauce alongside.

The beef was rivaled, however, by the stuffed hash browns we shared as a side, which, unlike the French fries, don't go in a shared fryer. The pan-fried shredded potatoes ($15) are loaded with Vidalia onion strings, sour cream and even more (cubed) spuds. The salty, savory dish was a worthy accompaniment to our main course.

Despite our best efforts, we couldn't resist the sweet siren call of dessert; we substituted vanilla ice cream for butter pecan in the butterscotch sundae ($7). The kitchen omitted the blondie square from the glass to keep it gluten free.

The drinks menu has a variety of wines and spirits, and even a Green's gluten-free amber ale ($22).

Like those in Chicago, Atlanta and other major cities, steakhouses in Philadelphia have their own styles; Butcher and Singer is classy without being stuffy. Ambience aside, though, it's the food that guests are going for, and it's the food that will bring us back to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.

DISCLOSURE: Starr Restaurants provided us with a complimentary meal. However, the opinions expressed in this review are mine and were not influenced in any way by the compensation.

Friday, March 16, 2018

News & Notes: March 16, 2018

Before digging in to the news of the day, I want to thank all of my readers - new and old - for supporting my passion in publishing this blog. Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of my first post, which was a simple "Welcome." Since then, the gluten-free world has grown tremendously. It's so much easier now for my son to eat gluten free, whether in the kitchen or out of the house, than it was when I first started this endeavor. Though we've made much progress, our voices must continue to be heard.

Last week's Expo West gourmet and healthy foods trade show brought word of a number of new gluten-free products that are just out or will be soon. For starters, you can pretend you're back in college with Lotus Foods' rice ramen noodle soup. Organic brown rice noodles are blended with vegetables and spices to create three certified-gluten-free varieties: Masala Curry, Tom Yum and Spicy Miso.

Bobo's is adding to its line of gluten-free snacks with TOAST’R pastries, baked oat crusts filled with jams and nut butter. TOAST’R will launch nationally starting at Whole Foods Market in May.  Each box will retail at $2.49 and will come in four flavors: Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed, Strawberry Jam, Chocolate Almond Butter and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Bobo's products are certified gluten free by the GFCO.

Quinn Snacks announced two new additions to its gluten-free pretzel line, Maple Oat Twists and Deli Rye Style Pretzel Rods. All Quinn pretzels use Kansas-grown sorghum flour.

Birch Benders is launching of a new line of frozen toaster waffles in four flavors, including a gluten-free Paleo variety made in Belgium.

Friday, March 2, 2018

News & Notes: March 2, 2018

Hoping to turn around its reputation for "holey" bread, Udi's Gluten Free has sought to improve two of its best-selling loaves. The Multigrain and Soft White Sandwich breads have larger slices and a softer texture. The Multigrain variety is sold in 12-oz. loaves, while the white comes in 12- and 24-oz. versions.

In addition to puff pastry dough, Schar is also importing several other gluten-free frozen items to the U.S. this year, including kaiser rolls and pain au chocolat pastries. Like Schar's croissants, the pastries are made with certified gluten-free wheat starch, which is more commonly found in gluten-free products in Europe. You can read about certified gluten-free wheat starch at Schar's website as well as Gluten-Free Living and Gluten Free Watchdog; consuming products with certified gluten-free wheat starch is a personal decision for those with Celiac Disease; such products are not appropriate for those with wheat allergies.

Available in Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut varieties, Simple Mills’ new gluten-free soft-baked cookies are made with whole-food ingredients like almond flour, honey and coconut sugar. They have no refined sugars or preservatives. Each package contains eight cookies and retails for $4.99.

RP’s Gluten-Free Pasta is rebranding to become Taste Republic. The new Taste Republic pasta line will continue to be certified gluten-free, Kosher, and include fresh pasta favorites such as fettuccine, fusilli and lasagna as well as new items like plantain linguine. Look for the new line to be on retail shelves by May.

Locally, Snap Custom Pizza has opened its newest location in Jenkintown (1621 The Fairway, 215-935-6348), where guests can order custom-made gluten-free pizzas.

Turning Point just opened another southern New Jersey location in Moorestown (1690 Nixon Dr., 856-840-6167. The local breakfast/lunch cafe chain offers a gluten-free menu.

IndeBlue has closed its original location in Collingswood; its Philadelphia outpost in Midtown Village (205 S. 13th St., 215-545-4633) remains open.

Stephen Starr's Philadelphia restaurants have long been accommodating for gluten-free diets. I was able to gather (and have linked to) the current gluten-free menus at Pod, Jones, El Rey, Continental in Old City, Butcher & Singer, Buddakan, Barclay Prime and Alma de Cuba; others, like Morimoto, The Dandelion and Talula's Garden, have lists on site. Note that some restaurants, like Buddakan, do not have dedicated gluten-free fryers; if you're considering ordering fried items, be sure to check with management in advance or when you arrive.

Registration for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's annual Celiac Disease Education Day on Sunday, March 25 is now open. The 13th annual event will take place from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Colket Translational Research Building on CHOP’s campus. Children in attendance are provided the opportunity to attend interactive age specific lectures and to learn through play with CHOP child life specialists. Complimentary gluten-free meals are provided, and attendees can sample gluten-free products from several vendors. I'll be at the Beyond Celiac table, so feel free to stop by and say hello.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

With the updated Gluten Free Philly app for iOS and Android devices, find more than 1,600 area gluten-free-friendly businesses on the go, search by cuisine or neighborhood, make reservations and more!