Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in Review

With this last post of the year, I'll hit the rewind button on 2010 and recap the news and features that made their way to Gluten Free Philly over the past 12 months.

I led off the year in January writing about the many gluten-free products from Schar, which recently announced that it would be building its first U.S. manufacturing facility in southern New Jersey. The Delaware Valley is fortunate to have many gluten-free bakeries close by, and I profiled two of them in January: Cookies...For Me? and Sweet Freedom Bakery. I also wrote about the return of gluten-free snacks to Starbucks, the removal of gluten from Nathan's hotdogs, and new Snikiddy snacks.

For a short month, February was a busy one. I featured The Greenwood Kitchen, purveyor of "raw" snacks, and local pizza chain Seasons Pizza, which added gluten-free pies to many of its locations. Also that month, I broke the news that Whole Foods was discontinuing its branded line of gluten-free baking mixes; as if on cue, King Arthur Flour soon unveiled plans for its own line of gluten-free mixes. P.F. Chang's announced that it would be adding beef dishes to its already extensive gluten-free menu. I reviewed Stephen Starr's Asian restaurant Pod and announced plans for a local gluten-free dining event at Casona in Collingswood. New products mentioned were Glenny's fruit-and-nut bars, new flavors of Liz Lovely cookies, Glutino rice cereals, Annie's Homegrown cookies and deluxe mac-and-cheese, and Pamela's individual-size brownie and pancake mixes.

March brought news of new brownie and pancake mixes from Simply Organic, Peeps-flavored Italian ice from Rita's, Blue Horizon crab cakes and fish sticks, Food for Life English muffins, Glutino multigrain bagels and yogurt- and chocolate-covered pretzels, and Passover products like fudge-stripe cookies. I also featured the locally-made quinoa burgers from Asherah's Gourmet.

In addition to showers, in April came word that Snyder's would be introducing gluten-free pretzel sticks, Hain Celestial's Gluten Free Café line would include soups, gluten-free Bisquick and Hamburger Helper mixes from General Mills were on the way, and Pure Tacos would open an all-gluten-free taco stand on the Boardwalk in Ocean City. All of this was tempered by the news the area's original gluten-free bakery Mr. Ritts would be closing its doors. Featured this month were baked goods from The Grain Exchange in Doylestown, now available at many area markets. I also wrote about the snack-factory tours offered by Utz and Snyder's in York County and Herr's in Chester County and Udi's gluten-free bagels.

May was a light month, but I did review the Snyder's pretzels and featured gluten-free bakery Tesori's in Medford, which has unfortunately since closed.

I redesigned the Gluten Free Philly website in June and led off the month with a review of breads from Canyon Bakehouse and a mention of new soups based on recipes from longtime Philadelphia restaurant Old Original Bookbinder's. I also resumed my ongoing Road Trip series, writing about a Mother's Day weekend trip to New York City. Mid-month, I wrote about a newly imported gluten-free Spanish beer, Estrella Damm Daura lager, which has since rolled out more broadly in the United States. Later in the month came word that Food For All, an allergen-friendly market, would be opening in Philadelphia's Mt. Airy neighborhood. New products mentioned included Ian's animal crackers and Whole Foods cupcakes.

In the midst of a run to the division title, the Phillies held their annual celiac awareness night in early July. Another Road Trip entry detailed a shore excursion to Ocean City. Main Line Baking Company rode into town at the Wynnewood train station, offering gluten-free treats. I started a occasional series called Dishing With, and my first interview was with celiac Monica Glass, the pastry chef at 10 Arts.  I also passed along information on MI-DEL's new mini S'mores cookies, Goldbaum's waffle cones and Harry & David's cookies.

News that Dock Street Brewing Company brought back its Sudan Grass Ale, made with sorghum, surely slaked the thirst of many patrons in the heat of August.  Making their debut that month were Schar's cheese crackers, baguettes and hoagie rolls, burritos from Amy's Kitchen, Handy's crab cakes, Heartland pasta, and Immaculate Baking's chocolate-chip cookie dough.  I reviewed Rx in West Philly, which hosted a dinner from the Philadelphia Gluten-Free Supper Club.

The spotlight shone in September on more new gluten-free breads, these ones made by Rudi's. I also profiled The Naked Cookie in Montgomery County and wrote about Ian's new chicken tenders and pepperoni french-bread pizza, Woodchuck's pumpkin-flavored hard cider and Hol-Grain's onion ring batter and tempura batter mixes.The another installment of the Road Trip series chronicled our summer vacation to Toronto, Niagara Falls and Cooperstown.

The year's last Road Trip was posted in October, when I wrote about our day at Citi Field in New York to see the Phillies take on the Mets. Reviewed were products from gluten-free bakery O'Dough's and Philadelphia restaurant Adsum. Lots of new foods garnered a mention then, including Kinnikinnick pumpkin donuts, Purely Elizabeth cookie mixes, Coleman chicken nuggets, Glutino donuts and Ian's chocolate-covered wafer bites.

In November, I posted my roundup of the NFCA's Appetite for Awareness, the largest gluten-free event in the area. New products figured in both features and News & Notes posts, including locally made Better Butter, Bachman pretzels and Ian's - yes, Ian's again - with onion rings on the way early next year.

The many kinds of My Dad's Cookies, which I reviewed in December, prompted raves from readers. I also shared word that Philly's own Sweet Freedom Bakery would be appearing on Food Network's Cupcake Wars show. (The episode debuts tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern.) Perhaps the biggest product development this month was that gluten-free soft pretzels will soon be coming to Whole Foods freezers, courtesy of Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels.

Time doesn't permit me to list all of the new area restaurants that added gluten-free menus this year, but there were lots of them. My list of the accommodating restaurants was constantly updated, as was the catalog of local markets, caterers and bakeries.

I can't be everywhere, and so I appreciate reader emails letting me know about new finds in the greater Philadelphia area. Don't be shy about dropping me a line or posting a comment. I'm also open to suggestions on how to improve the site and for topics to write about in the coming year. Thanks to everyone for tuning in, and have a happy and healthy 2011!
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