Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 in Review

During this inaugural year of Gluten Free Philly, the many gluten-free products, restaurants and events I featured acknowledged the ever-increasing awareness of gluten intolerance. In this year-end recap, I’ll look back at the interesting developments in the gluten-free world for 2009.

In March, I reported that General Mills was introducing varieties of gluten-free Chex cereals and Betty Crocker dessert mixes. I also wrote about gluten-free soft pretzels, Conte’s Pasta’s gluten-free pizza and pasta products, Still Riding pizza, and the many gluten-free products – including chow mein noodles – that were available for Passover. The Tortilla Press, a Mexican BYOB in Collingswood, New Jersey that offers gluten-free menu items, was the subject of my first restaurant review. At the end of the month, I shared the news that the Phillies would be serving gluten-free hot dogs at all home games at Citizens Bank Park.

I started my April posts writing about gluten-free food items found in supermarket freezers - breakfast options like ready-made pancakes and egg sandwiches as well as lunch and dinner entrée choices. The month also brought short-lived excitement with the news that Starbucks would be introducing a gluten-free orange muffin. Unfortunately, the coffee chain would discontinue the product a few months later.

Cheese seemed to be the theme of my May posts, as I wrote about gluten-free cheesecakes from Moondance, the fondue dinner my family and I had at The Melting Pot in Center City Philadelphia, and the gluten-free pizza we ate during a Memorial Day weekend trip to New York City.

I reviewed P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s gluten-free options in June, a month when I also wrote about gluten-free ice cream sandwiches, “naked” chicken nuggets, gluten-free beer on tap from Dock Street Brewery, Caesar’s Pasta frozen Italian entrees, and more celiac-friendly General Mills cereals.

I started July off blogging about my family's road trip to the Washington, D.C. area, which has a number of gluten-free-friendly restaurants. I also wrote about the many options available at HersheyPark and nearby eateries in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as well as those near Eagles training camp in Bethlehem. Closer to home is Pasta Pomodoro in Voorhees, New Jersey, which I mentioned in another post. The Italian restaurant offers one of most comprehensive gluten-free menus in the Delaware Valley. On the product front, I reviewed Bella Monica’s gourmet gluten-free flatbread pizza and Glutenfreeda’s bake-at-home cookies, oatmeal and burritos.

I reviewed locally produced gluten-free pizzelle from Dee Tees’, fruit drinks from Froose, beef pot pies from Twin Hens, and choices at regional restaurant chain Iron Hill Brewery in August. I also broke the news that month that the Eagles would be offering gluten-free concessions at the team’s home games during the 2009 season. My family hit the road again - this time to Boston - where my older son ate a hamburger on a gluten-free bun at Burton’s Grill. He also contributed to Gluten Free Philly, writing about his week-long experience at Camp Celiac in Rhode Island.

Back to school in September and for me that meant making the kids’ lunches. I wrote about two companies offering gluten-free breads, French Meadow and Udi’s. Both the French Meadow tortillas and Udi’s white sandwich bread have become staples in our house. Other products I profiled were New Harvest Naturals’ gluten-free meatballs, pound cakes and oat muffins, Turtle Mountain’s non-dairy desserts, and GoPicnic’s shelf-stable meals. I also blogged about Sweet Christine’s Gluten-Free Bakery in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

In October, I recapped the prior month’s Appetite for Awareness and Gluten-Free Cooking Spree at the Wachovia Center, the home of the Flyers and Sixers. Attendees of the team’s home games and other events at the arena can find gluten-free hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and beer. I reviewed Pei Wei Asian Diner’s gluten-free choices, which can be ordered online for pickup. On the gluten-free product front, I wrote about a variety of hard ciders and Le Veneziane imported Italian corn pasta.

Locally produced KōV non-dairy desserts, Sorella Bakery biscotti and Dietz & Watson cold cuts were products I wrote about in November, when I also posted a roundup of regional bed and breakfast inns serving gluten-free meals. I also reviewed Sazon, a Venezuelan restaurant in Philadelphia that offers many gluten-free choices, including sandwiches made on masa flour bread.

With Christmas approaching, I mentioned Giambri’s, a Clementon, New Jersey candy shop that sells gluten-free holiday chocolates in December. I also wrote about a new Main Line-based meal preparation service, Cathy’s Kitchen, which makes gluten-free meals that can be delivered in Philadelphia and its western suburbs. For vacationers to Clearwater, Florida – the Spring Training home of the Phillies – the city and the surrounding area have many gluten-free-friendly restaurants, bakeries and stores, as I posted this month. Gluten-free New York bagels from Joan’s GF Great Bakes and a review of Lolita, a modern Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia rounded out my posts at month’s end.

Sprinkled throughout the year were my News & Notes posts, in which I shared information on new products and gluten-free-friendly restaurants, bakeries, caterers and markets, and Goodies Giveaways that provided Gluten Free Philly readers a chance to win lots of gluten-free-related prizes.

Drop me a line to let me know if there’s a restaurant, product or other topic you’d think would worthy of a posting on Gluten Free Philly in the coming year. Have a happy and healthy 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

News & Notes

UPDATE (12/18/09): The Purely Elizabeth demo at Essene has been rescheduled for January 2, 2010 due to the anticipated snowstorm expected in the Delaware Valley this weekend.

After posting Monday's review of gluten-free bagels from Joan's GF Great Bakes, I heard from Joan herself. She posted a comment correcting my original statement that the bagels are partially baked. Rather, she wrote, they are boiled just like bagels made with wheat. Based on my experience burning a couple bagels early on, Joan recommended that I turn down the oven heat and omit the cooking spray I used to grease the pan. With a bit more time to make breakfast over the upcoming school break for the kids, I'm going to try these suggestions.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, I reviewed Philadelphia's modern Mexican restaurant Lolita, where my family enjoyed an excellent gluten-free meal served by a knowledgeable waitstaff.

Elements, an modern American restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey (163 Bayard Lane, 609-924-0078) can accommodate gluten-free diners, while Leonardo's II Mediterranean Grill in Lawrenceville, New Jersey (2021 Route 1, 609-396-4466) has gluten-free penne on its Italian menu. Thanks to members of the Mercer County Celiac Support Group for the information on these two restaurants.

Seafooder Blackfish, in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (119 Fayette Street, 610-397-0888) and in Stone Harbor, New Jersey (9628 Third Avenue, 609-967-9100), are gluten-free-friendly. Chef/owner Chip Roman's efforts to accommodate gluten-free diners are reported in an article on posted earlier this year.

Reader Julie emailed me about her successful gluten free dining experiences at Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant BasilLeaf (2808 South Eagle Road, 215-968-7505).

Gluten-free-friendly Philadelphia eateries participating in Center City District Restaurant Week on January 17-22 and 24-29, 2010 include Amada, Bindi, The Capital Grille, Chifa, City Tavern, Davio's, La Fontana Della Citta, Lolita, The Melting Pot, Noble, Morton's, The Palm, Rouge, Roy's, Time, Tinto, Xochitl and Zahav. Links to all of these restaurants are posted at the Gluten Free Philly restaurant compilation.

Back in September, I wrote about the awesome white sandwich bread and muffins from Udi's Gluten Free Foods. I'm pleased to report that Gluten Free Dynasty/Water to Go in Pennsauken, New Jersey received its first shipment of Udi's White Sandwich and Whole Grain breads ($5.79) and the Lemon Streusel and Blueberry muffins ($6.79) yesterday. Get them while you can - I doubt you'll be disappointed!

Through December 22, 10-ounce boxes of gluten-free battered halibut, cod and haddock from Starfish brand are on sale at area Whole Foods Markets at $4.99 to $7.99 each. The products, regularly $7.99 to $8.99 each, are located in the Frozen Seafood sections of the stores.

Sunstart Bakery makes several varieties of gluten-free cookies imported from Northern Ireland. I've found its products hit-or-miss, but the company's new Rocky Road Gluten-Free Bars look tempting. A chocolate biscuit is topped with milk chocolate, mini marshmallows and cherries. Strangely, though, there are no nuts in the recipe. Sunstart's products are available online at the Gluten-Free Mall, and at local stores.

ShopRite markets in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware carry new gluten-free Risotto Chips from New York Style, made with arborio and whole-grain brown rice. The varieties include Sea Salt, Spicy Marinara and Parmesan & Roasted Garlic. ShopRite also stocks Buffalo Nickel Wingers, chicken-wing shaped potato snacks that come in five levels of spiciness. The Wingers also are sold online at

Last week, I mentioned that Purely Elizabeth's gluten-free muffin and pancake mixes are now available at Philadelphia's Essene Market. Owner Elizabeth Stein emailed to tell me that she will be offering samples of her muffins and hot-off-the-griddle pancakes at Essene tomorrow, December 19, from noon to 4 p.m.

Also tomorrow, the Sinking Spring/Reading, Pennsylvania chapter of R.O.C.K. will hold its gluten-free cookie exchange from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Lawn United Methodist Church, located at 15 Woodside Avenue in West Lawn. Parents and children are welcome. There will be a speaker, games and, of course, gluten-free food. Those who participate in the cookie exchange (baked or store-bought) are eligible to win prizes.

I may be posting sporadically over the next two weeks as Christmas and New Year's Day approach, but will be back regularly after the first of the year. I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season and thank you for reading, contributing and helping to make Gluten Free Philly the definitive resource for all things gluten-free in the Delaware Valley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mex With Success

Valerie Safran and her partner, chef Marcie Turney, have Philadelphia's Midtown Village neighborhood covered. With Mexican and Indian restaurants, a home goods shop and a grocery on South 13th Street, the pair soon will be extending their domain with Barbuzzo, a Mediterranean eatery on the same block. Their restaurants, Lolita and Bindi, have participated in the area's gluten-free Appetite for Awareness event for the past few years and I had read several rave reviews of both places. Armed with that insight, my wife, kids and I ventured into Center City on a recent Saturday night eager to try the Mexican fare at Lolita (106 South 13th Street, 215-546-7100).

We took a table towards the back of the 60-seat dining room, where diners can peek into the open kitchen. It's always a pleasure to dine out without having to teach the waitstaff a crash course on the gluten-free diet. Our server told us that just about the entire menu was gluten free. The four of us started our meal off with an order of guacamole con totopos mixtos - mashed avocados topped with shredded jicama alongside a basket of corn, plaintain, sweet potato and taro chips.

For the main course, my wife enjoyed the orange-ginger glazed pork carnitas, served with salsa fresca, guacamole and wrapped in homemade soft corn tortillas. I liked the tender three-chile braised boneless shortribs, plated with a smoky bacon-chayote-potato gratin and grilled asparagus.

Both of our boys loved the queso chihuahua enchiladas served with three skewered gulf shrimp, rice, salsa verde and refried beans. My older son's dinner was delayed a few minutes coming out of the kitchen, so the manager came over to offer us a complimentary dessert. We opted for one of the gluten-free choices, and the flourless dark chocolate cake with rum caramel and coconut macaroon we shared was richly sweet.

Since Lolita is BYOB, diners are welcome to bring their own drinks, including tequila for blending margaritas. Guests at the table next to ours shared a pitcher of naranja de sangria, a margarita mix made with blood orange puree. The restaurant is cash-only.

Lolita on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Hole in One

Friends of ours came down from Long Island, New York over Thanksgiving weekend, bringing with them several packages of bagels from Joan’s GF Great Bakes. I had read some rave reviews of Joan’s bagels on several celiac message boards but demurred on buying them locally due to their price - about $9 for a package of five bagels. Our friends picked up four packages of Joan’s frozen plain bagels on sale for $20 at her store in Bellmore, New York. (Other varieties include Everything, Egg Onion Poppy, Sesame, Poppy and Cinnamon Raisin; her bagels can be ordered dairy free as well.)

Unlike our usual gluten-free bagels from Glutino, Joan's versions call for a few minutes more prep because they are par-baked boiled (although they don't need to be toasted). I microwave a single bagel for about one minute, which causes it to expand, then bake it for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 425 degrees until browned. The bagel then has to cool for a few minutes.

With all this effort, I thought, this bagel ought to be good – and it was. So good that when I made two bagels the other morning for my older son intending to use one for his lunch, he ended up eating both for breakfast. He prefers these to the Glutino variety but for convenience, I'm not ready to ditch those just yet. The outside of the bagel is crusty, with the appearance of a typical glutenous effort from a neighborhood bagel shop (click on the photos for more detail). A plain bagel is 270 calories.

One baking recommendation: keep a close eye on the bottom of the bagel while baking. I ended up burning a couple because I kept it in the oven too long. I found that using a vented baking pan - one with holes in it that my wife and I typically use for heating gluten-free pizza - cuts down on this possibility. I also spray some Pam on a piece of aluminum foil placed atop the pan.

Joan's baked goods, which also include English muffins, cookies, bread, rolls and pizza crusts, can be ordered through her company's website. Locally, her products are sold in New Jersey at Water to Go in Pennsauken and Mr. Ritt's in Millville.

Friday, December 11, 2009

News & Notes

It's been an exciting week here at Gluten Free Philly, as I have some cool restaurant information to report. First, though, allow me to recap this week's posts. On Monday, I wrote about Cathy's Kitchen, a Main Line-centric meal delivery service that specializes in preparing gluten-free meals. On Wednesday, I posted an article about the many gluten-free-friendly restaurants in the Clearwater, Florida area, the Spring Training home of the Phillies.

The biggest restaurant news of the week is the word that Seasons Pizza, a Delaware-based regional pizza chain, will be carrying gluten-free pizza at its New Jersey locations in Stratford (1014 N. White Horse Pike, 856-783-9333) and Cherry Hill (450 Route 70 East, 856-428-4441). The Stratford location will begin selling the gluten-free pies today, with the Cherry Hill location to follow when it opens later this month. The medium-size pizzas will be shipped ready-made from the stores' distributor to avoid cross-contamination and will be baked using dedicated equipment at the restaurants. Should this limited rollout be successful, other Seasons Pizza locations - including ones in Malvern, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware - may add gluten-free pizza to their own offerings. If you live or work near those spots, it can't hurt to request it. Is the outpost at Citizens Bank Park a possibility? Who knows - one can dream!

Don't forget about the Still Riding Pizza offer I mentioned last week, whereby you can get $100 for referring to Still Riding a local Italian restaurant or pizzeria that decides to carry the company's gluten-free pizza.

Chef Mark Smith has reopened his Tortilla Press Cantina in Pennsauken, New Jersey (7716 Maple Avenue, 856-356-2050), a sister restaurant to his BYOB in Collingswood. The new restaurant has a dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Diners at the Bellevue Gourmet Food Court in Philadelphia have a gluten-free option. The newly opened Burger Maestro (Broad & Walnut Streets, 215-545-1770) serves burgers and chicken breasts in lettuce wraps and the fries are gluten-free as well. Hat tip to reader Andrew.

Ryan Christopher's, an American BYOB in Narberth, Pennsylvania (245 Woodbine Avenue, 610-664-9282), accommodates gluten-free requests.

The Olive Garden location in Collegeville, Pennsylvania (1 Town Center Drive, 610-831-8814) is now open.

The new Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania (500 West Germantown Pike) will open on January 12, 2010.

Custom and novelty gluten-free cakes are available from Imagicakes Bakery in Philadelphia (215-978-5834).

Regina Mason and her excellent gluten-free-friendly Virago Baking Company in Lansdale, Pennsylvania were the subjects of a profile in this week. (Virago cupcakes photo courtesy of Belle Vie Photography.)

New to market are gluten-free animal-shaped cookies from Ian's Natural Foods. The snacks are available for online ordering at, which now sells frozen items from Ian's and Glutino.

Purely Elizabeth gluten-free muffin and pancake mixes, which use whole grains and "superfood" seeds (hemp, flax and chia) are now available at Essene Market in Philadelphia.

Cedarlane's new all-natural egg white omelette varieties (spinach & mushroom, green chile, cheese & ranchero sauce and turkey bacon, vegetable & cheese) are gluten free. The company's products are available at local grocery stores.

That's all for now - have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Boys of Summer . . . in Winter

Updated February 7, 2014:

2014 Spring Training games begin on February 26. The Phillies' home ballpark, Bright House Field, will serve all-beef hot dogs on gluten-free buns (by request), grilled chicken and chips at food stands behind home plate and in left field, while Redbridge beer and hard cider will be available at Beers of the World.

In addition to the ones mentioned below, other gluten-free-friendly restaurants in Clearwater include Clear Sky Beachside Cafe, Joe's Crab Shack, BJ's Brewhouse, Nature's Food Patch and Hooters.

With the Flyers and Sixers in a serious funk and the Eagles hobbled by injuries, the Phillies give Delaware Valley sports fans the best hope for the next championship parade down Broad Street. Pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training in Clearwater, Florida in mid-February 2010.

Many of the Phillies faithful travel every March to Clearwater, where the Phillies have readied for every regular season since 1948. There are multiple daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia to Tampa, the city with the closest major airport to Clearwater about 40 miles to the east. Home games are played at Bright House Field, which opened in 2004. The Phillies’ Grapefruit League games begin on March 4, 2010 with a contest against the New York Yankees, whose Spring Training home is in Tampa.

Lots of gluten-free dining options exist in Clearwater and surrounding cities. In Clearwater and Tampa, there are familiar standbys such as Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse and Olive Garden. In those towns, gluten-free menus also can be found at Columbia Restaurant, a Latin spot, Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill, a barbeque joint, and breakfast and lunch eatery First Watch. Also in Clearwater is Peter Gillham’s Nutrition Center, which has a café that serves gluten-free pizza.

In Tampa, you’ll find recognizable gluten-free-friendly places like The Capital Grille, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, LongHorn Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Pei Wei Asian Diner. There’s gluten-free pizza at Boston’s, seafood at Mitchell’s Fish Market, Southern cuisine at Lee Roy Selmon’s, Asian-American at Kona Grill, barbeque at Shane’s Rib Shack, surf and turf at Stonewood Grill & Tavern and baked goods, sandwiches and salads at Viitals.

About five miles north of Clearwater is the town of Dunedin, the Spring Training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. A new organic gluten-free restaurant called Serendipity Café, serving pizza, pasta, sandwiches, wraps and sweets, is set to open there this month. Meanwhile, you can order gluten-free pasta at Joseph's Little Italy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

C is for Cooking

Cathy's Kitchen, a meal preparation and delivery service based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, was born out of Cathy Fishman's love of cooking. She has long enjoyed preparing meals for her family, including her husband who has celiac disease. In October 2009, Cathy set out to share the results of her cooking with others through her new business venture, which focuses on "Nutritious Meals Delivered."

Cathy prepares meals according to customer's specifications and tastes. She starts with a consultation that allows her to create a personalized menu. Many of the items on Cathy's menu are gluten-free by nature, such as fish and chicken dishes with vegetables and rice or potatoes. Cathy's Kitchen uses ingredients like wheat-free tamari when soy sauce is required. For items that use pasta or flour as a thickener, Cathy utilizes gluten-free noodles or flour. Some of her customer favorites include chicken marsala, lemon chicken, grilled halibut, honey-ginger salmon, turkey London broil, and a variety of vegetarian selections like quinoa-stuffed peppers and eggplant rollups.

Cathy is mindful of cross-contamination, reviewing labels and ingredient listings and making sure that cooking equipment that touched gluten is run through the dishwasher before being used for a gluten-free dish.

Customers can eat Cathy's meals fresh on the day they are delivered or freeze them for reheating. Cathy's Kitchen delivers at no charge from Center City Philadelphia to Radnor, with an emphasis on the Main Line east of the Blue Route. Pricing for the meals varies depending on the size and number of meals and side dishes desired. For more information about Cathy's Kitchen, call 610-747-0588 or email Cathy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

News & Notes

I was excited to announce this week the latest Goodies Giveaway - with a twist. Readers have the opportunity to earn $100 for referring a restaurant that opts to carry Still Riding Pizza. The company, which makes gluten-free pizza pies used by pizzerias and Italian eateries throughout the United States, is offering readers a monetary incentive for suggesting restaurants that decide to add Still Riding's pizza to their menus. All the details are in my Monday post. As a result of a reader referral, Genteel's Trattoria, just outside Princeton, New Jersey in the neighboring town of Skillman, has already agreed to carry the pizza. There's definitely a need for gluten-free pizza in Center City Philadelphia, so hopefully someone can get a place there on board!

On Wednesday, I wrote about Giambri’s gluten-free holiday chocolates that can be purchased at the company’s store in Clementon, New Jersey or ordered online.

The big restaurant news this week was Bertucci’s introduction of a gluten-free menu that includes appetizers, entrees and desserts, although no pizza at the moment. Bertucci’s has many locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Ooka, with Pennsylvania locations in Doylestown (110 Veteran's Lane, 215-348-8185), Montgomeryville (764 Bethlehem Pike, 215-361-1119) and Willow Grove (1109 Easton Road, 215-659-7688), can modify most menu items, including sushi, to be gluten free. The restaurants carry wheat-free soy sauce.

Reader Bethann shared information on Stephen Starr’s Parc French bistro on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia (227 S. 18th Street, 215-545-2262). She told me by email that the restaurant, which uses a separate fryer for its French fries, can accommodate gluten-free diets.

Another reader recommended Cravings Café in Lansdale, Pennsylvania (155 Pennbrook Parkway, 215-855-4500), noting that the chef was knowledgeable on the gluten-free diet and prepared a separate gluten-free sauce upon request.

A commenter wrote that Noble, a modern American restaurant in Philadelphia (2025 Sansom Street, 215-568-7000) was easily able to accommodate both gluten and dairy restrictions.

I added Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Amaranth Gluten Free Bakery (717-330-4359) to the bakery list, as its products are sold locally at Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market and Weaver's Way Co-op, Whole Foods in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and Harvest Market in Hockessin, Delaware.

On the grocery shelf at a local ShopRite, I spotted R.W. Garcia tortilla chips that were boldly labeled “gluten free” on the front of the packages. All of the company's products except for the spicy multi-grain chips (oats) are gluten free.

Amy’s Kitchen has introduced organic mini gluten-free chocolate cakes. Thanks to Maureen at Hold the Gluten for the information.

Woodchuck's limited-edition Oak Aged Cider has been released for the holiday season. The beverage has hints of oak and vanilla, and is a bit lighter than the company's other ciders at 150 calories per 12-ounce bottle. The cider should be available through January 2010.

As part of our family's Thanksgiving meal, I made gluten-free biscuit mix from Duinkerken Foods, based in Prince Edward Island, Canada. (I received a sample bag at the Philadelphia Appetite for Awareness event.) The recipe required the addition of half a stick of shortening and some milk and yielded about 15 biscuits. While not flaky like glutenous ones, the biscuits were crusty on the outside and airy inside. I can’t compare these to other brands since we never made gluten-free biscuits before, but I thought these turned out well, with many gluten-consuming guests enjoying them at our holiday dinner. The mixes can be ordered through the company's online store, but shipping to the United States is pricey.

On a recent weekend morning, I made gluten-free pancakes for the family using a different mix for the first time – Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix. I used a recipe using the mix posted by a blogger for Betty Crocker and it turned out great! They turned out much better (and a bit sweeter) than any other mix I’ve used in the past, reminiscent of crepes although not as thin. The mix is available at (currently $23.84 for a six-pack ($20.26 with Subscribe & Save)) and in many supermarkets.

Also at Amazon, selected Bob's Red Mill products are on sale at 10 percent off when using code BOBSGLFR at checkout. If you place a Subscribe & Save order, you can save another 15 percent. You can support Gluten Free Philly when purchasing your gluten-free groceries, holiday gifts and other items at Amazon. just click through this link; it won't cost you anything extra.

Keep emailing your restaurant news, product finds and events. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sugar Cane

Few things commemorate the start of the Christmas season more than the annual appearance of candy canes in stores. Giambri's Quality Sweets in Clementon, New Jersey (26 Brand Avenue, 856-783-1099) has a number of Christmas candies that are listed on its website as being gluten free. Among them are the company's all-natural peppermint and lemon candy canes and sticks and dark chocolate Santa pops and crosses.

Most of Giambri's handmade hard candies and chocolate products have their ingredients posted online, and the majority are gluten free. According to the company's allergen statement, designated processing lines are not used for gluten-free products, but all machines are wiped and/or washed before making different products. Owner David Giambri told me that his company's candy canes and other hard candies are made in a different part of the building than where products such as chocolate-covered pretzels are manufactured.

Giambri's has a printable in-store coupon posted on its website good for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more. The coupon is good for use through December 31, 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodies Giveaway 7: "Dough" From Still Riding Pizza

I’ve written about Still Riding Pizza before – it’s unique in offering local pizza parlors a way to serve gluten-free pizzas alongside glutenous ones. Still Riding provides restaurants with gluten-free pizza crusts, dedicated cooking pans and cutters, along with instructions on using separate cheese, sauce and toppings so that the pizzas don’t get contaminated. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Wayne's Main Line Pizza and Roman Delight in Southampton serve Still Riding’s delicious pizza. The entire list of restaurants in the United States offering the company’s pies can be found on Still Riding’s website.

Gluten Free Philly readers have the opportunity to get a local pizza place or Italian restaurant to offer Still Riding pizza and get a $100 bonus for themselves as part of the latest giveaway. For every referral of a restaurant to Still Riding Pizza by a customer that results in a “sale,” the referring customer will receive $100 (or the equivalent value in Still Riding pizza crusts, if he or she prefers).

Here are the details: tell the owner of your local restaurant that you’re interested in having him or her serve gluten-free pizza from Still Riding; print an information sheet to give to the owner. If the owner is interested, the customer should forward the owner’s name, the name of the restaurant, the location and phone number to Still Riding Pizza, and Still Riding will contact the owner directly. Mention “Gluten Free Philly” when calling Still Riding at 203-683-7238 with the information; if you prefer, you can send an e-mail containing the information to the company with “Gluten Free Philly” in the subject line. Either way, be sure to provide Still Riding with your own contact information - name, address, phone number and e-mail address.

As part of the offer, Still Riding will provide the restaurant with its first order of pizza crusts, equipment, instructions and setup, all for free. The company also will take out an advertisement in a local newspaper for the restaurant to share the news about the gluten-free pizza option, also at no charge to the owner. If the owner decides to place a second order with Still Riding, the customer who referred the restaurant to the company will get the $100 bonus.

The offer is open to any customer who refers a restaurant that orders Still Riding Pizza beyond the free offer, but there is only one referral bonus allowed per customer. In the event that more than one customer refers the same restaurant (as determined by Still Riding Pizza), the referral amount will be divided among those customers. Eligible referrals must be made to Still Riding Pizza no later than March 31, 2010; however, Still Riding reserves the right to end the offer on another date of its choosing in its sole discretion. Multiple restaurants with the same owner(s) constitute a single referral. The offer is limited to restaurants operating in the continental United States.

I will announce new additions to the roster of Philadelphia-area restaurants offering Still Riding as they occur, and all new restaurants will be added to the locations on the Still Riding website.

Friday, November 20, 2009

News & Notes

I could scarcely believe my eyes this week when I read the headline of an online press release announcing that Domino's Pizza was introducing gluten-free pizza. My excitement was short-lived, though, because while the headline was technically accurate, the release itself revealed that it is the Domino's outlets in Australia that will be serving celiac-friendly pizzas! It will be interesting to see if the company intends to roll out gluten-free pizzas in North America if successful Down Under.

In news closer to home, I wrote on Monday about bed-and-breakfast inns in the tri-state area that serve gluten-free breakfasts to guests. One commenter to the post wrote that the Speedwell Forge B&B in Lititz, Pennsylvania also offers such meals. On Wednesday, I spotlighted the gluten-free meats and cheeses made by Philadelphia's own Dietz & Watson.

I learned this week that the Cock 'n Bull restaurant at Peddlers Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania (Route 263 and Street Road, 215-794-4000) has a gluten-free pasta option. While shopping at the Village, you can also buy gluten-free cookies, brownies and specialty cakes from Town Crier Bakery (29 Peddlers Lane, 215-794-9910) and gluten-free peanut brittle, nuts, handmade nut butters and most varieties of Korn Krunches from The Nut Kettle (63 Peddlers Lane, 215-794-8494). Town Crier's gluten-free baked goods are made off-premises by celiacs.

The area's newest P.F. Chang's China Bistro is set to open on November 30 at the Providence Town Center in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Customers can now place take-out orders for all area P.F. Chang's locations at the company's online ordering page. Incidentally, the chain is running a holiday gift card offer: purchase $100 in gift cards at any P.F. Chang's restaurant (not online) and receive a $10 Be Our Guest card. The offer ends December 31, 2009.

Another gift-card offer is at Ninety-Nine Restaurants. For every $25 gift card purchased, you will receive a coupon good for $5 off your next meal of $25 or more.

Reader Tara wrote to tell me about the fantastic chicken pot pie she made last weekend using a gluten-free pie crust from Sweet Christine's Gluten-Free Bakery in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The pie crusts are available for $6 each.

Selected Sam’s Club membership warehouse stores have begun selling gluten-free frozen pizzas on a provisional basis, with a pending national roll-out if the pilot program is successful. The pepperoni variety of Isabelle's Best Gluten-Free Pizza is now available at Sam's Club locations in parts of the Eastern and Midwest United States. Stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Dover, Delaware will be participating in the program (call ahead to find out if the location nearest you has them in stock). I found the pizzas at the Sam's Club in Cinnaminson, New Jersey; a package of two 12-inch pies sells for about $14. The pizza, which is distributed by JHS Foods, is made with Domata gluten-free rice flour.

Pre-made gluten-free Dutch Country Soft Pretzels are now being sold in packages of three at natural food stores. I spotted these at Water to Go/Gluten Free Dynasty in Pennsauken, New Jersey, where I bought a package of gluten-free Oreo-style sandwich cookies made by Glutino. I thought they tasted great - they reminded me of Double-Stuf cookies, with lots of creme filling.

At least some Quaker rice cakes are now being labeled gluten-free. I saw the Apple Cinnamon and Lightly Salted flavors marked as such during a visit last week to my local ShopRite.

Shoppers at, which sells products from Ian's Natural Foods, Glutino and Gluten-Free Pantry among other companies, can get a 10 percent discount off of orders totaling $75 or more; use promotional code November at checkout. Coincidentally, Gluten-Free Pantry packaging is undergoing a redesign, to be implemented before the year is over.

The Bucks/Montgomery chapter of Raising Our Celiac Kids (R.O.C.K.) is holding a holiday party on December 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Kids in attendance will decorate cookies, with cookies, frosting and sprinkles to be provided. If you are interested in participating in a cookie swap, bring two dozen cookies to share. Jodie and Bruce Finkel will be hosting the event at their home, located at 2052 Serendipity Way in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania (you may need to enter the town of Skippack if obtaining directions on a GPS device). RSVP to Holly and Steve Staugaitis by phone at 215-997-2706 or by email.

I will be off next week but will return after the Thanksgiving weekend. Be safe and have a wonderful gluten-free holiday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Cut Above

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Philadelphia's own Dietz & Watson is famous for its deli meats and cheeses. The company's products do not contain fillers, extenders, artificial flavors or MSG. All of Dietz & Watson's cheeses and meats - with the exception of Scrapple and Bockwurst - are gluten free. (As of this writing, the company has not updated the "Allergy Information" page on its website to reflect this information.)

Dietz & Watson also makes private-label cold cuts for ShopRite Supermarkets under the name Black Bear. According to the Black Bear website, the Scrapple and Bockwurst similarly are not gluten free. Although several other meats are listed on the FAQ page as containing gluten, because Dietz & Watson makes the Black Bear products it's likely that the Black Bear website has outdated information as to those meats as well.

Both product lines are available at the deli counter and in pre-sliced resealable packages. To avoid cross-contamination issues with the deli slicer, I buy the already packaged meats; the packages cost more but give me peace of mind. The Golden Brown Turkey is my older son's favorite, while I'm partial to the zesty Buffalo Chicken. The D&W website has a "Where to Buy" section that lists by zip code the markets carrying the company's products.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bread and Breakfast

Whether in metropolitan areas or smaller locales without full-service hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns offer visitors more intimate overnight accommodations with a hearty morning meal. B&Bs - usually with 10 or fewer rooms - can serve as a base for an entire vacation or a shorter weekend getaway. The inns typically are family-owned historic private homes that serve complimentary breakfasts. The innkeepers, who serve as hosts to visitors, often live on the property. Most B&Bs offer rooms with private entry and bathrooms.

There are dozens of bed-and-breakfasts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and several offer gluten-free breakfasts - just provide advance notice when making a reservation. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is the home of a number of inns that serve such meals. The list includes The Artist's Inn & Gallery (Terre Hill), The Alden House (Lititz), The Harvest Moon (New Holland), Apple Bin Inn (Willow Street) and King's Cottage (Lancaster).

In Mifflin County - in the middle of the state - is the Weiler Mansion (Belleville). Philadelphia itself has at least one gluten-free-friendly B&B: Spruce Hill Manor in University City, situated in an 1879 Victorian mansion. Bucks County is the home of the The Inn at Stoney Hill (New Hope).

Ocean City, New Jersey, known as "America's Greatest Family Resort," has many B&Bs. One serving gluten-free breakfast is Serendipity (pictured, above). Further north, The Pillars of Plainfield is situated in the Queen City's VanWyck Brooks Historic District.

At the Delaware beaches, the Lazy L at Willow Creek (Lewes) and Delaware Inn (Rehoboth) are two inns that can serve breakfast without gluten.

Friday, November 13, 2009

News & Notes

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving and the December holidays are nearly upon us. I'm sure 2010 will bring even more awareness of celiac disease and gluten-free diets. As I wrote this week, early in the new year the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team will do its part, hosting a celiac awareness night at its January 19, 2010 contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets. On March 26, the 76ers basketball team will hold a similar event at its game versus the Atlanta Hawks. Discounted tickets are available for both events, with a portion of the price donated to support awareness efforts.

On Wednesday, I reviewed several of the many gluten-free options at Sazon, a Venezuelan restaurant in Philadelphia. The restaurant is hosting a fifth-anniversary celebration this Sunday, November 15, with a buffet dinner available for patrons.

Sweeties Pie Diner in Philadelphia (1822 Spring Garden Street, 215-988-0230) has gluten-free options on its weekly menu. Several of their "savory" pies available for Thanksgiving, including the polenta and sweet potato enchilada varieties, are gluten free. I was told by an employee there that the gluten-free pies are cooked separately and safe handling practices are used. Thanks to reader Annsley for the tip.

Casona, a Latin restaurant (and favorite of mine) in Collingswood, New Jersey, has posted on its website a separate gluten-free menu.

Campbell's Soup Company, headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, has a gluten-free FAQ page on its website that includes a link to a list of its gluten-free products. In addition to its namesake soups, the company makes Swanson broths, Pace salsa, Prego sauces and V8 juices.

Vineland, New Jersey's Conte's Pasta "tweeted" this week that the company is working on gluten-free garlic bread and pepperoni pizza that will be available at retail outlets.

Reader Meg emailed me about a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough that is being sold as part of school fundraising efforts. Joe Corbi's sponsors fundraising programs for schools, clubs and organizations, and among its offerings are tubs of gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough. The product can also be ordered directly from the company.

A company called Yes to Cookies has introduced gluten-free cookies that are also sugar- and starch-free and available for online purchase. The cookies come in chocolate and strawberry-banana flavors and can also be made at home with a mix.

According to a message thread recently posted on the Delphi celiac disease forum (registration required), the Great Wolf Lodge, a waterpark resort in the Pocono Mountains, has gluten-free dining options. One message included an email from the resort's food and beverage manager, who wrote that gluten-free pasta, stuffed shells. manicotti, chocolate chip cookies and hamburger buns are available. The kitchen can also prepare grilled chicken and steak with vegetables, according to the manager. Another poster wrote that she spoke with the chef, who advised that gluten-free pancakes and pizza also are offered. If you're planning a trip to the resort, call ahead to confirm available safe dining options.

On Wednesday, November 18, the Whole Foods Market in Marlton, New Jersey will host a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tasting and Cooking Class from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cooking class, which is free, will begin at 6 p.m. in the Cafe but space is limited. To register, contact Jen in Marketing by email or at 856-797-1115.

The Children's Celiac Support Group's next meeting will be on Sunday, December 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at CHOP's Specialty Care Center in Voorhees, New Jersey. Parents and children are welcome, and attendees should bring their favorite gluten-free cookies to share. Although free, registration is suggested by December 3 by emailing the Center or calling 267-426-6822.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sazon's Greetings

While Center City's business district has the largest concentration of gluten-free-friendly dining spots in Philadelphia, perhaps the most unique one is located just beyond the shadow cast by One Liberty Place. Sazon Restaurant and Café (941 Spring Garden Street, 215-763-2500) is the area's only traditional Venezuelan eatery. Opened in 2004, Sazon is a casual BYOB owned by Robert Campbell and Judith Suzarra-Campbell, a Venezuelan native who serves as chef.

I went with my boys to Sazon on Saturday night before heading over to the Flyers game, with all of us ordering gluten free. The three of us began the meal by sharing an appetizer of platanos frito con queso rallado, a plate of six pan-fried green plantains specked with shredded white cheese.

My 6-year-old opted to order a different appetizer as his entree. The camarones en salsa de ajo was a dish of spicy garlic-sauteed shrimp with a side of crispy curled plantain slices called tostones. The hit of the entire meal was my older son's arepa, a bread-like corn patty similar to an English muffin. He savored the peluda (pictured, above), an arepa filled with seasoned shredded beef and cheddar cheese. Suzarra-Campbell makes the arepas from scratch with South American corn that she grounds herself. The arepa looked so tasty that my younger one and I ended up sharing one of our own, topped with a bit of salted butter.

I enjoyed a more traditional entree of grilled chicken seasoned with a spicy avocado sauce called guasacaca and plated with yucca. I opted for a perfectly shaped scoop of white rice in place of the side salad made with cabbage, carrots onions and mayonnaise.

Nearly the entire menu at Sazon is gluten free. Of the appetizers, only the tequenos - both alone and as part of a combination platter - are not safe. Also avoid the empanadas, the pollo frito entree and sandwiches on ciabatta bread (although all sandwiches can be served on an arepa). All other appetizers and entrees, along with Sazon's soups, salads, arepas, salsa and side orders, are fine. The restaurant's menu includes a number of vegetarian items as well.

Sazon takes great care to avoid cross-contamination. All gluten-free foods take a bit longer to prepare, as they are made in a separate area of the kitchen using different cookware, utensils and oils. Campbell says that he and his wife began offering gluten-free items in response to diners' requests several years ago, realizing that most of the menu choices already were naturally free of wheat and other perilous grains. The couple's next step was to learn more about celiac disease so that they could segregate their kitchen and educate their staff.

Had I known in advance about Campbell's selection of gourmet hot chocolates - all of which are gluten free - I would have allowed more time to get to the hockey game. He rotates the choices weekly, but has about 25 different varieties all told. Campbell uses premium imported cacao beans for his drinks, which can be infused with ingredients as diverse as sour cherries, chipotle peppers and orange zest. Sazon also offers a variety of gluten-free flan.

The reasonably-priced Sazon serves dinner Tuesdays through Sundays and is open for Saturday and Sunday brunch. The owners are celebrating the restaurant's fifth anniversary this Sunday, November 15, with a Venezuelan Buffet that includes many gluten-free items like roasted pork, beef roast and paella. Reservations are recommended for both seatings (4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to closing).

Sazon Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 9, 2009

2010 Celiac Awareness Nights at the 76ers and Flyers

UPDATE (11/11/09): The discount code for the Sixers tickets - CELIAC - is now working and is good for $5 off seats in the following sections: outside 4s, lower-level corners, mezzanine centers and mezzanine outside centers ($96, $62, $40 and $25, respectively).

With support from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, both the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers will sponsor a celiac awareness night at the Wachovia Center during their 2009-10 seasons. Gluten-free food will be available at specified concession stands for both games. Gluten-free hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and beer currently are available at Wachovia Center events.

The inaugural hockey event will be held on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 as the Flyers take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through the Flyers online box office. To get discounted tickets, enter 154CELIAC as the promotion code. This will ensure that proceeds from your ticket purchase go to support raising celiac awareness. With this offer, front and selected center mezzanine seats are $50 ($13 off), middle mezzanine seats are $40 ($13 discount) and rear mezzanine seats are $40 ($6 savings).

There are no designated sections for the celiac awareness night group for the Flyers game. If you are arranging for a group to go to the game together, be sure to order your seats as a group. Either enter the group order online or call Mike Andrews of the Flyers at 215-952-5994 to make arrangements.

The 76ers will host their third Celiac Awareness Night on Friday, March 26, 2010 when the Atlanta Hawks come to town. Tip-off is 7 p.m. To order tickets, go to the Sixers online box office. To get a ticket discount and have a portion of the purchase price go to awareness efforts, enter the code CELIAC. (At the time of this posting, the code was not working; I will update the post when this is corrected.)

For group seating for the basketball game, call Tyler McAllister at 215-389-9441. For other questions, call NFCA’s Nancy Ginter at 215-325-1306, extension 101.

Friday, November 6, 2009

News & Notes

This week's posts featured gluten-free products from two local companies. On Monday, I wrote about a coconut-milk frozen dessert from Ardmore, Pennsylvania's KōV Foods, and on Wednesday I profiled mini Italian biscotti from Sorella Bakery in West Deptford, New Jersey.

Reader Daniella is the winner of the new Gluten-Free Italian cookbook, offered in the most recent Goodies Giveaway. Unfortunately, several commenters had inaccessible Blogger profiles so I could not enter their names in the drawing. The cookbook is available for purchase at and other retailers.

I was impressed by the amount of space the Philadelphia Inquirer devoted to an article in yesterday's Food section on the availability of gluten-free items in area stores and restaurants.

Turning to gluten free-friendly restaurants, Simply Fondue in Mays Landing, New Jersey (4215 Black Horse Pike, 609-677-1600) can accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian and other dietary needs.

Keith Taylor's Holy Smoke will soon be opening outlets in Quakertown, Pennsylvania and Mount Laurel, New Jersey serving gluten-free wings, ribs and other barbequed foods. Chef Taylor also offers gluten free-friendly catering through Zachary's BBQ and Catering and Sami Rose Culinary Productions in Wayne, Pennsylvania. I've been told that the Holy Smoke location in Philadelphia's Roxborough section does not offer gluten-free menu items.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro soon will be adding two new items to its gluten-free menu, including a beef dish, according to a recent Twitter post from the company.

Now through December 31, 2009, for every $100 in gift cards purchased at Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Roy's and Bonefish Grill, you'll receive a complimentary $20 Bonus Card. The gift and Bonus Cards can be used at any of those restaurants, but the Bonus Cards must be redeemed January 1 through February 10, 2010. The gift cards have no expiration date.

Poppy's Seed Bakery at the Chestnut Hill Farmers' Market in Philadelphia (8229 Germantown Avenue, 215-242-4252) sells gluten-free goods from a variety of companies. Owners Ron and Bev Loux offer products from Mr. Ritt's, KōV Foods, Sweet Christine's Bakery, Virago Baking Company and Shabtai Gourmet, among others. The bakery's hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. In a video interview conducted by localite Brian Rudnick, Ron Loux speaks about his move to offer gluten-free foods:

Also look for Shabtai Gourmet's Rainbow Cookies, Mini Black & White Cookies, Lady Fingers, Florentine Lace Cookies, Bread Crumbs and Pecan Meltaway Crumb Cookies at ShopRite supermarkets in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware.

In product news, I spotted Cherrybrook Farms' new gluten-free chocolate chip pancake mix at the Whole Foods Market in Marlton, New Jersey.

D-Lites breakfast bowls from Jimmy Dean are made with gluten-free ingredients. Both varieties include scrambled egg whites, potatoes and reduced fat cheddar cheese, and come with either turkey bacon or turkey sausage.

Two products from Arrowhead Mills are due to hit store shelves. Gluten Free Bake with Me Cupcake Mixes, available in both Vanilla and Chocolate, are made with organic ingredients and are specially fortified for children with iron, zinc and six B vitamins. has its November grocery specials posted and there are a few gluten-free items on sale:
  • 35% off when you purchase thinkThin bars: no code needed
  • Up to 35% off when you purchase Annie Chun's Rice Express Bowls and Sushi Wraps (the soy sauce in the Sushi Wraps packages is not gluten free): save 20% when you enter code ANNIECH6 at checkout and save an additional 15% when you combine the instant rebate with your Subscribe & Save order
  • Up to 40% off when you purchase Oskri bars: save 25% when you enter code OSKRI553 at checkout and save an additional 15% when you combine the instant rebate with your Subscribe & Save order
  • Up to 30% off when you purchase Sahale Snacks (the Sing Buri flavor is not gluten free): save 15% when you enter code SAHNUT64 at checkout and save an additional 15% when you combine the instant rebate with your Subscribe & Save order
The RWJ Hamilton Center for Health & Wellness in Mercerville, New Jersey is hosting a class on "Understanding Celiac Disease," to be held on Tuesday, November 24 at 6:30 p.m. The fee is $10. Call 609-584-7600 for reservations.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The King Biscuit Flour Hour

Sorella Bakery in West Deptford, New Jersey creates "biscottines" - mini biscotti cookies - in five varieties at its dedicated gluten-free and peanut-free bakery. Owner Phyllis Moffo, who started the company in 2004, hand-crafts her sweet treats in small batches using natural ingredients. She uses highly regarded Nielsen-Massey extracts exclusively and avoids artificial preservatives. Her cookies are made from a blend of rice and tapioca flours and potato starch, and come in Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond, Cinnamon Swirl, Hazelnut Anise and Vanilla flavors.

The biscottines can be ordered online through Sorella's website ($6 for a six-ounce bag, with free shipping when ordering a case of 12 bags) or through The cookies are sold locally at the Whole Foods Markets in Philadelphia and Marlton, New Jersey, and elsewhere in South Jersey at Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill, Gluten Free Dynasty in Pennsauken and the Grind House Cafe in Haddonfield.