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!
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