Friday, March 25, 2011

News & Notes: March 25, 2011

Normally, I mention new gluten-free products further down in my Friday posts. I'm making an exception this week, however, because this is too good to wait on. Longtime Philadelphia favorite Tastykake has introduced gluten-free Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies. From the comments on my Facebook page, it seems that local Acme Markets are the only stores stocking them so far. There are eight cookies per box, $5.99 each. (Hat tip to reader Bethann S.) We've only tried the Chocolate Chip variety so far, and the consensus is that they're pretty good - they're not "soft-baked" but are chewy. Definitely worth a try. (UPDATED: A company rep confirmed that the cookies are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.)

Earlier in the week, I wrote about local meat purveyor Wellshire Farms, which produces gluten-free cold cuts and other delicacies.

In addition to offering a gluten-free menu, the management at Marmont Steakhouse in Old City (222 Market St., 215-923-1100) recently added an electric fryer used only to prepare frites (avoiding cross-contamination with glutenous fried items) along with Redbridge beer. Crème brûlée is available for dessert.

Although not new to the restaurant list, Joe's Crab Shack (locally in Lawrenceville and Wilmington) has listed all of its gluten-free items on a dedicated menu.

The Pie Lady Cafe in Moorestown (9 E. Main St., 856-778-PIES) can make any of its pies gluten-free by special order. The bakery bakes the gluten-free versions - with tapioca and coconut flours - separately. Thanks to reader Diana M. for the heads-up.

Back in January, I featured Snack Like a Local, a local company looking to offer healthier options - including gluten-free snacks - in area vending machines. The company just announced that it will be placing its first machine in Old City at Independents Hall, a coworking space and community.

Wegmans will carry new muffins and cupcakes from Doylestown's allergen-friendly Cookies . . . for Me? They can be found in the frozen-foods section and the bakery.

I'm happy to report that DeLiteful Foods in Lawrenceville, which was scheduled to close at the end of March, will remain open under new ownership.

Photo credit: Nicole's Special Diet Creations
Another barrier broken: Eco-Planet is coming out with gluten-free Pop-Tart-style toaster pastries, in Frosted Blueberry, Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar & Cinnamon flavors. Thanks to Gluten-Free Optimist Sandra, who directed me to a blog post up at Nicole's Special Diet Creations.

I plan to be off the posting beat next week, but will return in the beginning of April. Keep your restaurant and product tips coming to me via email, or post them at Facebook. For those of you planning to attend the CHOP Education Day on Sunday, please say hello.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eating Well

By the time 2012 rolls around, Gloucester County, New Jersey may be the only area in the country that can claim to source a gluten-free sandwich from top to bottom. That's when Schar expects to have up and running in Logan its first U.S. gluten-free plant, producing bread, rolls and other products. What about what goes in the sandwich? That's where Wellshire Farms comes in. The Swedesboro-based meat processor makes packaged gluten-free, preservative-free cold cuts such as turkey, ham and roast beef, not to mention chicken nuggets, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers and even ribs.

The family-owned business dates back to 1993, and in 2001 introduced the first fully-cooked, all-natural gluten-free breaded product now known as Wellshire Kids' Dinosaur Shaped Chicken Bites. (The chicken nuggets are certified gluten-free by the GFCO.) The company's foods are also sold under the Wellshire and Lou's Famous labels, among others, and customers can check the allergen status of all products at its website.

A store-locator feature, also at the website, lists markets throughout the country carrying Wellshire-made products, including all Whole Foods locations. The foods can also be ordered online.

Friday, March 18, 2011

News & Notes: March 18, 2011

This week was a busy one, what with the changeover to daylight savings time, St. Patrick's Day, the start of March Madness - all unmistakable signs that Spring is nearly here.

This week was also busy in the local gluten-free world, from cooking classes to support group meetings. On Tuesday, I featured locally made gluten-free cooking sauces from Lizbeth Lane Gourmet Cuisine.

The big restaurant news was that Grotto Pizza has added Still Riding's gluten-free pizza to its menus at nearly all Delaware locations. The chain has locations closer to Philly (in Wilmington, Newark and Bear) as well as shore points in Rehoboth Beach (on the Boardwalk!), Bethany Beach and Lewes. Only the Tanger Outlets spot in Rehoboth Beach doesn't have it at the moment. You can sign up for the company's newsletter (at its home page) and $3 off any pizza.

Out in Delaware County, Springfield's Bagel Bin (467 Baltimore Pike, 610-544-7600) has gluten-free bread for sandwiches, in addition to muffins, cookies, cupcakes and brownies all made in a dedicated environment. Hat tip to reader Dana M., who mentioned this at the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page.

The Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon (120 W. Merchant St., 856-547-3270) offers gluten-free muffins, cakes and other baked goods. Thanks to reader Katey B. for the tip.

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, with mall locations in King of Prussia and Cherry Hill, rolled out its Spring 2011 gluten-free menu this week.

Now through Sunday, deal-a-day site Living Social is offering 50% savings on lunch or dinner at Collingswood's Latin-themed Casona, which has an expansive gluten-free menu.

Reader Kirstin J. let me know that Center City's Stir Lounge (1705 Chancellor St., 215-732-2700) offers New Grist beer.

Why am I mentioning on a Philly-centric website that the New York Mets are having a Celiac Awareness Night on Friday, May 27? Because: (1) they're playing the Phillies that night; and (2) the Mets' owners need all the money they can get. Not a bad out-of-town ballgame to go to, since it falls on the start of Memorial Day weekend. The Mets' stadium, Citi Field, has a dedicated gluten-free concession stand. Single-game tickets for the game are now on sale.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flying Sauces

Michael Dernoga (left) and Rid Francisco
At the bottom of the recent economic downturn, Berwyn residents Michael Dernoga and Rid Francisco were forced to reinvent themselves. After spending almost 30 years in the health care field, Dernoga was laid off, while Francisco's career in advertising came to a halt.

The next-door neighbors discovered that they shared a love of food, and together sought to take advantage of their business and cooking skills. With Lizbeth Lane Gourmet Cuisine (named after the street they live on), the pair have created simmer sauces that can be used in all sorts of recipes.

These sauces, which retail for $7.99 per 16-ounce jar, are all natural and gluten-free. The varieties include Marsala & Tarragon, Mediterranean Tomato, Lemon Piccata and Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Cream.

Dernoga and Francisco will be expanding the company's product line with items such as pizza sauces and recipe-sized spices. For now, the sauces are available at gourmet markets in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states and also can be ordered online.

Friday, March 11, 2011

News & Notes: March 11, 2011

This coming Tuesday is a milestone date for me. On March 15, 2009, I became a "blogger," posting my first words at Gluten Free Philly. I laugh when I read that post now, all of two sentences, because I certainly have had a lot to say over the past two years. With the help of dedicated readers like you, the site has grown enormously in size and in stature. Many thanks to everyone who has come along for the ride, including my family, who has supported this effort from the start. I hope you benefit from the site as much as I enjoying working on it.

Earlier this week, I posted my review of the new Elevation Burger at the Moorestown Mall. The growing fast-casual chain also has locations in Collegeville and Wynnewood.

Mamma Mia Trattoria in Langhorne (584 Middletown Rd., 215-750-3663), part of the Carlucci's restaurant portfolio, has pizza, along with rigatoni pasta dishes and entrees, on its gluten-free menu.

Also in Bucks County, New Hope's Havana (105 S. Main St., 215-862-9897) offers a gluten-free penne and chicken entree with a side of classic rock. Thanks to reader Rachel G. for the tip.

After I mentioned two weeks ago that Hop Angel Brauhaus in Fox Chase serves Redbridge, reader Moira let me know that the restaurant also has a German-influenced gluten-free menu.

Iron Hill Brewery, which offers an extensive gluten-free menu, will be opening a location later this year in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill nabe (8400 Germantown Ave.), its first in the city.

DeLiteful Foods in Lawrenceville lost its lease and is closing on March 31. All products are now on sale, at least 10 percent off.

Pamela's Products' new, all-natural Whenever Bars come in four flavors: Blueberry Lemon, Cranberry Almond, Chocolate Chip Coconut with Hazelnuts, and Raisin Walnut Spice. In addition to being gluten-free, the snack bars are also non-dairy, low sodium and sweetened with agave and coconut sugar.

Good news for Udi's fans. The company will be adding hot dog rolls and hamburger buns to its gluten-free product line. Not to be left behind, rival Rudi's also is coming out with gluten-free multigrain buns and rolls along with pizza crusts.

The Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness (3100 Quakerbridge Rd., 609-586-7900) will host a two-session cooking class on Tuesday, March 15 and March 22. In week 1, Dietitian Wendi Silver will discuss "dos and don'ts" of the gluten-free diet; in week 2, participants will get hands-on to create gluten-free dishes. Fee is $30 for the two sessions; the classes run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The next meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Celiac Support Group will be held on Friday, March 18 at Abington Memorial Hospital (1200 Old York Rd.) in the Lenfest Auditorium. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. for a vendor fair, with the meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. Those interested in joining the group can contact Karen Dalrymple at 215-757-1233.

Chef Pasquale Masters of Pasta Pomodoro in Voorhees will be participating in a free gluten-free and kosher cooking demonstration in Cherry Hill on Thursday, April 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event at the Katz Jewish Community Center (1301 Springdale Rd.) will also include a presentation from gastroenterologist Howard S. Kroop, M.D. of Jefferson University Physicians. To register, call 1-800-JEFF-NOW.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Love in an Elevation

Much like cupcakes, hamburgers are a trendy food these days. From behemoths like Five Guys to smaller shops like Bobby's Burger Palace and 500 Degrees, more restaurants are dedicating themselves to the humble patty.

Virginia-based Elevation Burger takes this mission seriously. The chain, which has area locations in Collegeville (201 Plaza Drive, 610-831-1360), Wynnewood (50 E. Wynnewood Road, 610-645-7704) and Moorestown (400 Route 38, 888-291-4620), serves up 100% organic, grass-fed and free-range beef along with fresh-cut fries cooked in trans-fat-free olive oil.

The just-opened Moorestown spot - overlooking the parking lot outside the mall's food court - has a spartan look, with white walls adorned with cute posters touting the menu's virtues. After customers place their orders at the counter, they can grab a seat while waiting for a runner to serve the meals in less than 10 minutes. Gluten-free diners can get their burgers naked (in our case, we brought a bun from home) or wrapped in lettuce. My son ordered his burger ($3.59) with lettuce, tomato, pickles, caramelized onions and "Elevation Sauce," which tasted like Russian dressing. The burgers are cooked on a grill away from the buns, although I did ask the employee who was topping them to change his gloves to avoid cross-contamination.

The burgers were moist and flavorful without being overly greasy. (I'm talking to you, Five Guys.) With some of the skin still remaining, the shoestring-style fries ($2.59), while not as crispy as those from thicker-sliced spuds, were nonetheless addicting.

Customers can upgrade to a cheeseburger, made with non-processed cheddar, for 40 cents more or super-size to a double cheeseburger for $5.99. For the more adventurous, the Vertigo Burger starts at $5.99 for three patties; each additional patty (up to - gulp - 10!) costs $1.99. Other gluten-free items include the Elevation Salad with romaine, pecans and mandarin oranges ($5.99), side salad ($2.49) and a mandarin orange cup ($1.59). The Blue Bunny ice cream used for the shakes is gluten-free, although the restaurant also makes malts and uses Oreo cookies for mix-ins, so we avoided them.

Elevation Burger on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 4, 2011

News & Notes: March 4, 2011

If you are looking for the latest ramblings from Charlie Sheen, you've come to the wrong place. I passed on interviewing him since he already gave an exclusive to "20/20."

Let's get to the important stuff. The popular farm-to-table dining concept has arrived in Hatboro with the opening of McCourt's (119 S. York Rd., 215-956-5170). The kitchen serves an all-organic menu that includes gluten-free vegetable noodle soup, crab cakes and pasta, along with other safe choices.

Once you get past the lengthy CYA part, the gluten-free menu at Rittenhouse Square's Devon Seafood Grill (225 S. 18th St., 215-546-5940) offers a decent selection, along with Estrella Damm Daura beer.

As Winter turns to Spring, trips down the shore aren't far behind. There two spots in Cape May to mention this week. First is Aleathea's at the Inn of Cape May (7 Ocean St., 609-884-5555), which has a gluten-free menu. In addition, The Mason Cottage Bed and Breakfast (623-625 Columbia Ave., 609-884-3358) can provide gluten-free breakfast to guests. (My post about other accommodating bed-and-breakfast inns in the area can be found through this link.)

Opening day at Zachary's BBQ in Norristown (1709 Markley St., 610-687-3130), the gluten-free-friendly barbeque joint I mentioned in January, is set for Tuesday, March 8.

Sunday nights are Family Fajita Night at the Tortilla Press Cantina in Pennsauken. The four-course gluten-free meal includes chips and cheese dip, salad, chicken fajitas with corn tortillas and beef tacos, and ice cream. Cost is $10.99 per adult and $5.99 per child.

Annie's Homegrown now has two more gluten-free cookies on the market: Ginger Snap and SnickerDoodle Bunny Cookies. They can be ordered at Annie's online store and will soon be appearing soon in stores.

Locally made Better Butter peanut butter spread, which I wrote about last November, now comes in a Cinnamon Raisin flavor.

Yet another company has come out with gluten-free microwaveable "bowl" dishes. Helen's Kitchen has a new Fiesta Black Bean Bowl and a Veggie Fajita Bowl.

Wegmans' Passover product and recipe guide is out, picturing gluten-free products such as Hoo-Lachmu flatbread, Macabee and Angel's Touch pizzas, Frankel's cheesecake, Klein's Viennese cake and, of course, Shabtai Gourmet's cakes and cookies. (The bakery's petit fours - a Wegmans exclusive that debuted last year - were unbelievably delicious.) The guide, available at stores, has a recipe for cheese quiche featuring Shabtai's new frozen pie crust. The fresh baked goods from Shabai and others likely will show up in markets by late March/early April.

In the same vein, gluten-free products are starting to appear on supermarket shelves for Passover, with more on the way. Last weekend, I found the new Yehuda gluten-free matzo at ShopRite in Cherry Hill. It tastes much like egg matzo, only saltier, and it's quite good. I paid $5.49 a box, no doubt a bargain compared to ones we've bought in years past.

Last week I mentioned that Camp Sesame, a summer day camp for 3-to-7-year-olds in Blue Bell, can provide gluten-free meals. Reader Bethann S., who told me about that camp, says that a sister camp for 8-to-14-year olds, Camp Rockwood, also can do the same.

Through March 9, Triumph Dining is offering free standard shipping on all of its products, which include the Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, Restaurant Guide, multi-language Dining Cards and new Sticker Kit. Use code STICK22 at checkout for the free-shipping offer.

On sale at this month are several gluten-free groceries (add an additional 15% off for Subscribe & Save orders):

Nicole M. Seitz is a gluten-intolerant psychotherapist specializing in helping people adjust to the emotional aspect of living with celiac disease. Beginning Monday, March 14, she will be leading a six-week support group, meeting at Food For All Market in Mt. Airy, 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. The cost is $60. For more information call the market at 267-297-7122.

The Mercer County Celiac Support Group will be meeting at Belzano Ristorante in Princeton on Thursday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m.

That's a wrap! Enjoy the weekend!