Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crabby Patties

Handy launched its newest product, a gluten-free crab cake, at the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show. The all-natural crab cakes are formed by hand, made with a rice flour breading. Each patty contains fresh crab meat, mayonnaise, rice flour, eggs, mustard, seasonings and parsley. The company tests every batch for gluten in the manufacturing process, using a threshold of less than 10 parts per million.

In 1917, Maryland-based Handy established itself as a soft shell crab processor, making it the oldest soft shell crab company in the world.

Packages of the gluten-free crab cakes, two per box, can be purchased locally at ShopRite supermarkets for $7.99 each.

Friday, August 27, 2010

News & Notes: August 27, 2010

The last vestiges of summer are here, with summer vacations nearly complete and schools almost back in session. This fall should be an exciting one, with many gluten-free activities on the calendar. One of them is the annual Appetite for Awareness event, which I wrote about last week. It's going to be held on Sunday, October 24 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and tickets are now available. There will also be more local dinners in the months ahead organized by the Philadelphia Gluten-Free Supper Club, which just held its August "meeting" this week at Venezuelan restaurant Sazon.

Earlier this week, I shared information on some of the many websites that allow diners to save money at local restaurants.

Penne Restaurant & Wine Bar, located at The Inn at Penn in West Philadelphia (3600 Sansom Street, 215-823-6222) serves - wait for it - gluten-free penne. It's not listed on the menu, so request it of your server when ordering. Thanks to reader Mark G.

More by the shore: In Northfield, Mexican quick-serve Chido Burrito (807 Tilton Road, 609-484-1480) can accommodate gluten-free requests. In Long Beach Island, Harvey Cedars' Black Eyed Susan's Cafe (7801 Long Beach Boulevard, 609-494-4990), Buckalew's in Beach Haven (101 North Bay Avenue, 609-492-1065) and Surf City's Surfside Coffee House (1901 Long Beach Boulevard, 609-494-3345) fit the bill as well. Buckalew's lists organic corn pasta on its menu, while Surfside serves bread, bagels, English muffins and sweets at breakfast and lunch. W.L. Goodfellows & Co. in Galloway Township (310 East White Horse Pike, 609-652-1942) offers ravioli.

Terra in Philadelphia recently hosted a special dinner that incorporated dishes made with gluten-free Domata Living Flour. You can read about the meal from chef Eric Paraskevas and Kristin Voorhees of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Terra recently obtained GREAT certification from the NFCA.

The fall edition of the Center City District Restaurant Week will run from September 12-17 and 19-24 (two weeks by my math). Participating restaurants will offer dinner at $35 for three courses (not including tax, gratuity or alcohol). The roster includes accommodating restaurants Alma de Cuba, Amada, Bindi, Bridget Foy's, Buddakan, Butcher and Singer, The Capital Grille, Chifa, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, City Tavern, Davio's, El Vez, La Fontana Della Citta, Lolita, The Melting Pot, Morton's, Noble American Cookery, The Palm, Percy Street Barbeque, Pumpkin Restaurant, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Terra, Time, Tinto, Xochitl, Zahav and Zama.

At the end of their meals, all diners will receive an entry form for the Restaurant Week Grand Prize Contest. The prize? An entire year of culinary adventure - 52 $50 gift certificates from select Center City restaurants. Dozens of parking lots and garages all over Center City will offer parking at $9 or less. All you have to do is present a voucher from a participating restaurant from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Participating parking facilities will be identified with a Center City District Restaurant Week poster at their entrances.

Marlton's Wine Works (319 Route 70 West, 856-596-3330) sells Toleration Ale, an English Pale Ale from the United Kingdom, at $7.99 per bottle. I didn't try it, but reviews at the Beer Advocate don't make it sound promising. (Really, couldn't they come up with a more appealing name?)

Heartland Pasta's new gluten-free noodles, made from a yellow corn/white rice blend, comes in spaghetti, penne and fusilli shapes. The pasta, which also is egg- and dairy-free, sells for between $1.99 and $2.69 per package and is available at Wal-Mart.

A postscript to my mention last time out about Butterfly Bakery's new gluten-free baked goods at Wegmans. The full product line is as follows:
  • Muffins: Wild Blueberry, Lemon Citrus Poppy, Lehua Honey, Spiced Apple Raisin, Banana/Walnut and Pumpkin
  • Loaf Cakes: Marble, Lemon Citrus and Plain Vanilla
  • Sliced Creme Cakes: Espresso, Citrus Orange, Lemon Citrus and Plain Vanilla
  • Cookies: Chocolate Chip and Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Cupcakes: Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercreme and Vanilla with Chocolate Buttercreme
  • Decorated Snack Cakes: Golden Cake with Vanilla Buttercreme, Golden Cake with Chocolate Buttercreme and Golden Cake with Mocha Buttercreme
  • 6" Double Layer Decorated Cakes: Yellow Cake with Vanilla Buttercreme, Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercreme and Raspberry Swirl Cake with Mocha Buttercreme (all come with decorating bags)
The Butterfly products are made in a dedicated facility and also are tested for the presence of gluten.

Strange but true: Breyers' new chocolate chip cookie dough yogurt flavor - from the lowfat Inspirations line - is gluten free.

Immaculate Baking Company, whose ready-to-bake products can be found in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores, makes gluten-free/dairy-free Chocolate Chunk cookie dough.

Now through September 10, customers can pick up Glenny's gluten-free fruit and nut bars, soy crisps, oatmeal cookies and more at Buy 1 Get 1 50% Off. Just add two of the same product to your cart, enter code HALFOFF, and 50% off will be deducted from the second item.

The Next Food Network Star, the Food Network's hit culinary reality series, is currently casting for the 2011 season and is holding an open casting call in Philadelphia on Tuesday, August 31. The tryout will be at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel at 1200 Market Street in Center City from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. I think it's about time for a gluten-free cooking show, don't you?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Let's Make a Deal

There's been a boom in the number of websites that allow diners to save money at gluten free-friendly restaurants in the Philadelphia area. Among the first sites to offer that opportunity were Open Table and Restaurant.com. Open Table is a free reservations system that allows diners to earn 100 - and as many as 1,000 - points for every completed reservation. Two thousand points nets you a $20 gift certificate to any restaurant that offers the service. Accommodating eateries in the Delaware Valley include 10 Arts, Amada, blueplate, Casona, Davio's, Iron Hill Brewery, Legal Sea Foods, The Melting Pot, Pod, Seasons 52, Zahav, along with dozens of others.

Restaurant.com has monthly discounted coupons to places like Chima, Filomena Cucina Rustica, Max & David's, Penne and The Reef. Many come with date and time limitations, though, so be sure to read the fine print.

In a similar vein are sites like Half Off Depot, Philly Half Off, and PhilaDEALphia, offering a limited number of money-off coupons for local restaurants, attractions and services. Philly Half Off, for example, recently posted a deal for Fogo de Chao and currently has offers for Blackbird and the Handcrafted Cookie Company. Philly Dealyo's past deals included discounts at Mom's Bake At Home Pizza and Kidare's.

The latest trend is one-deal-per-day sites like Groupon, Living Social and Philly Dealyo. Restaurants work their way into the mix here.

If you don't have time to check in with all of the deal sites, most offer email notices or you can stop at deal-website aggregator Deal Radar, which links to many of them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Appetite for Awareness' Set for October 24

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness's signature event, Appetite for Awareness: A Gluten-Free Cooking Spree, will be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010. This year, the gala is moving from the former Wachovia Center to the 40,000-square-foot Cruise Terminal at Pier 1, at the Naval Business Center in South Philadelphia, and will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

New for the seventh annual event [click here for a recap of last year's shindig] will be a Children’s Pavilion, where kids can get hands-on with their favorite gluten-free foods. In addition to the popular Cooking Spree (where area doctors pair up with some of the city's best chefs for a kitchen competition), the area's largest gluten-free vendor marketplace will return. Participating companies will have free samples, coupons and opportunities to purchase hard-to-get items. Plans for a Beer Garden are in the works as well.

Early Bird tickets are available now through October 23. The discounted prices are $50 per adult, $25 per student (12+ with ID), $20 per child (up to 12 years old) and $125 for a family of four. Last-minute attendees can buy tickets at the door for $75 per adult, $35 per student, $25 per child and $150 per family.

Event sponsorships are available, as are opportunities for area restaurants and local and national vendors to participate in the event. The NFCA is also accepting Program Book ad submissions. The keepsake Program Book will be given to all attendees and includes information on participating restaurants and vendors, chef biographies and other resources. For more information, call the Appetite for Awareness Hotline at 215-325-1306 extension 400.

Friday, August 13, 2010

News & Notes: August 13, 2010

Who said August is a slow month? I have a jam-packed edition of News & Notes this week. We just returned from a week-long family vacation to Cooperstown, Niagara Falls and Toronto, and I'm working on another "Road Trip" posting chronicling our holiday.

August is nearly halfway through, and the return to school for the kids is nigh. For parents who have children with celiac disease, feel free to download and modify the handout my wife created a few years ago that's given to our son's teachers.

Since my last News & Notes post, I wrote about the return of Dock Street Brewery's Sudan Grass Ale - coming in September - and reviewed West Philly's Rx restaurant.

To the restaurant news we go. Reader Matthew F. tells me that Mumbai Bistro, the new Indian restaurant in Philadelphia's Washington Square West neighborhood (930 Locust Street, 215-418-0444), labels its menu items gluten free, lactose free and vegan as appropriate.

Thanks to reader Anne R. for sharing word that Paradiso, a South Philly Italian (1627 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-2066) was able to accommodate her husband's gluten-free meal.

Philadelphia's Pumpkin Cafe (1609 South Street, 215-545-1173) and Pumpkin Restaurant (1713 South Street, 215-545-4448) are gluten-free friendly.

The Atlantic City location of Carmine's (2801 Pacific Avenue, 609-572-9300), the famous family-style Italian restaurant in Manhattan, serves gluten-free corn spaghetti.

Also down the shore, Green Cuisine in Stone Harbor (302 96th Street, 609-368-1616) offers Food For Life brown rice tortillas for wraps. Props to reader Amanda T. for the find.

Collingswood Indian IndeBlue has updated its menus to specifically call out gluten-free and vegetarian choices. Chef Rakesh Ramola has added safe options by using chickpea flour in more recipes.

Cape May's Lucky Bones Backwater Grille has added a solid gluten-free menu that lists, among other items, pizza, crab cakes, sandwich rolls, pasta, kids' macaroni and cheese, as well as Redbridge Beer and Woodchuck cider.

The next Philadelphia Gluten-Free Supper Club dinner will be at Sazon in Northern Liberties on Tuesday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. For more information about the club and to be added to this month's reservation, e-mail reader Adriana Z.

Monica Glass, the pastry chef at Center City's 10 Arts restaurant who was featured in this space a few weeks ago, wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer this week elaborating on how she has embraced her celiac disease diagnosis and her career. Great pictures and recipes too!

In addition to its sister eateries mentioned earlier in this post, Pumpkin Market in Philadelphia (1610 South Street, 215-545-3924) carries gluten-free products from Amaranth Bakery and Greenwood Kitchen, among others.

Healthy Bites To-Go in South Philly (2521 Christian Street, 215-259-8646) has many gluten-free foods to choose from. Thanks to Adriana Z. for the tip.

A new beer arrival at South Philly's Hawthornes (738 South 11th Street, 215-627-3012) is Sprecher Brewery's Mbege, with hints of banana.

Lincoln Financial Field will against have gluten-free food available at Eagles home games this season. Choices include hot dogs, Froose fruit snacks and juice and trail mix (all available at the Section 117 "Philly Favorites" stand) and Redbridge beer (at the "Liberty Bell Tap Room" at Section 118). Thanks to reader Ashley B. for the deets.

New at Wegmans are gluten-free muffins, cakes and cookies from northern New Jersey's Butterfly Bakery. My better half spotted the Wild Blueberry and Lemon Citrus Poppy Muffins and a Vanilla Loaf Cake (made with teff flour) and Chocolate Chip Cookies (teff and amaranth flours). Hard to believe, but an entire generous-sized lemon muffin is just 110 calories and 2 grams of fat. Each package is priced at $5.99. 

Have you shied away from the new Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets Cream Ice at Rita's? Dive in, because it's gluten free.

Just hitting supermarket shelves now from Amy's Kitchen: Gluten-free Bean & Cheese Burritos and gluten-free/dairy-free Bean & Rice Burritos, made with organic gluten-free tortillas wrapped around organic pinto beans, rice and vegetables in a mild Mexican sauce. Each burrito, with a suggested retail price of $3.19, has less than 300 calories, less than 8 grams of fat and up to 9 grams of protein.

Schar recently introduced several new products, including Cheez-It-style crackers. The company's Cheese Bites and par-baked Baguettes and Sub Sandwich Rolls are available - and on sale right now at 20% off - at The Gluten-Free Mall.

Reader Katey B. recently found Goldbaum's ice cream cones and gluten-free cookies and crackers at the Christmas Tree Shop location on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. She tells me that the chain's inventory changes often, so finding these products may be hit-or-miss.

Glenny's is offering Gluten Free Philly readers 15% off all Soy Crisps using code GFPHILLY at checkout through this link. All varieties except Multigrain are gluten free.

If you've been thinking about purchasing Triumph Dining's restaurant cards (they come in 10 languages), now's as good a time as any. The publisher is offering free shipping on all products - the cards and its grocery and restaurant guides - through August 25 using code MK958. Triumph has just released the latest (5th) edition of its national gluten-free restaurant guide with a money-back guarantee. You can order through this link.

Get dollar-off coupons from Udi's Gluten Free Foods by submitting your name, e-mail address and ZIP code at this page on the company's website. The coupon can be printed twice.

Amazon.com's Back-To-School grocery deals run through September 11. Add an additional 15% off of each product with a Subscribe & Save order (includes free shipping). Gluten-free products on sale include:
Nicole M. Seitz is a gluten-intolerant psychotherapist specializing in helping people adjust to the emotional aspect of living with celiac disease. In September, she will be launching a special therapeutic group, meeting every other week in the Chestnut Hill /Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, for people with celiac disease, gluten-intolerance and food sensitivities. She intends for the group to be a benefit for people who may be wrestling with adjusting to the diagnosis. For more information about starting dates, fees, and to reserve, contact Nicole at 267-971-5729.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Cure for the Common Meal

Tucked away on the corner of a West Philadelphia intersection, Rx (4443 Spruce Street, 215-222-9590) rests on the fringes of University City. I dined at the New American BYO with five members of the recently formed Gluten-Free Supper Club during last month's three-course, $25 neighborhood "restaurant week."

Elements of the building's former life as an apothecary loom in the relatively small dining area. Without having to check with the kitchen, our server knew off the bat which appetizers and entrees were safe for the diners. Four of the five starters were gluten free, and I savored the creamy vegetable gazpacho. Other options included a beets-and-strawberries plate and two different salads.

Rx's Atlantic Salmon Filet
The aromatic tomato polenta side gave the juicy bone-in organic braised chicken I ordered a Mediterranean flair. Others at the table enjoyed the Atlantic salmon, served perched atop chopped tomato and fennel. Although no one ordered it, the French-style shellfish stew  - with mussels, shrimp and squid in a saffron broth - could have been served sans couscous.

Vanilla Crème Brûlée
Dessert was a treat, with options that included a vanilla crème brûlée, caramel-drizzled rice pudding, buttermilk panna cotta served with locally sourced berries, and a trio of house-made ice creams.

The dinner provided our group with an opportunity to swap stories and experiences in a comfortable setting, one where gluten-free customers can feel assured that both kitchen and staff understand their needs.The meal, like the evening's conversation, was delightful.

Rx on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Pursuit of Hoppiness

For a third year running, West Philadelphia's Dock Street Brewing Company is brewing a small batch of the sought-after Sudan Grass Ale. This sorghum ale is inspired by the traditional fermented sorghum beverages found in Africa. Known as pombe in East Africa, bil-bil in Cameroon, or burukuto in Nigeria, these sorghum beers play an important role in African culture throughout the entire continent. They provide nutritional sustenance, help protect against disease and infection and are used in ceremonial practice.

Sorghum is a grass that is now produced commercially all over the world, but is believed to have been originally cultivated in Sub-Saharan Africa, and perhaps in Yemen and Sudan, around 100 C.E.  This is the only area where it still grows wildly today and serves as the inspiration for the name of the beer.

Not only does sorghum have special importance to certain African cultures, but it can also satisfy the beer desires of anyone suffering from celiac disease. This grain is one of only a few that can be used to produce gluten-free beer.

Dock Street's take on the traditional African beer is fermented with gluten-free yeast, and was brewed with a combination of sorghum and wildflower honey (locally sourced from Pennsylvania). Sudan Grass Ale is spiced in the kettle with hibiscus, rose hips, rooibos and lemon grass. Like its traditional counterpart, Sudan Grass is served unfiltered, which explains its natural cloudy appearance. Slightly tart and fruity in flavor, it is reminiscent of a cider or mead.

Sudan Grass Ale will be available on tap at Dock Street (701 South 50th Street, 215-726-2337) and through its wholesaler, Origlio Beverage, for a limited time beginning in early September.