Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Readers' Choice Awards

Which restaurant has the best gluten-free pizza in the Delaware Valley? Which supermarket has the widest variety of gluten-free groceries? You can nominate your favorite Philadelphia-area gluten-free-friendly eateries, bakeries, stores and more in the 2011 Gluten Free Philly Readers' Choice Awards. Voting is now open [click here for the link to the voting site] and will run for two weeks - until Monday, July 11. I'll compile the votes and announce the winners later this summer.

In addition, one randomly selected voter will win a copy of Nicole Hunn's recently published cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. The book has 125 inexpensive gluten-free recipes for savory dinners, favorite desserts, comfort foods and more.

For the Readers' Choice Awards, you can submit one nomination per category in as many categories as you like; feel free to use the Gluten Free Philly restaurant and bakery/market lists as guides to the categories. The business or product must be located or available in southeastern Pennsylvania, south-central or southern New Jersey, or northern Delaware.

The only required information needed for a valid submission - in addition to your nominations, of course - is your name, city and state, and email address (one entry per person, please). This information will be used only for survey demographics (there may be separate awards for best pizza in Pennsylvania suburbs, best pizza in Delaware, etc.) and so that I can contact the cookbook winner.

Have fun and good luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

News & Notes: June 24, 2011

I invite everyone to visit Gluten Free Philly on Tuesday, when I will open the nominations for the 2011 Readers' Choice Awards. You'll be able to name your favorite area restaurants, supermarkets and more. At the end of the voting, I'll count all the entries and announce the winners. No fancy trophy or anything, but they will have bragging rights until next year. There will also be a giveaway running along with the voting.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the new gluten-free product certification coming from the NFCA. The new seal will debut on packaging later this year.

Leading off this week in restaurant news is word that Tonelli's Pizza Pub in Horsham (278 N. Easton Rd., 215-675-3220) now has gluten-free pizza and Redbridge beer, with hoagies and cheesesteaks a possibility in the future.

Thanks to reader Murray K. for letting me know that Quahog's Seafood Shack in Stone Harbor (206 97th St., 609-368-6300) has gluten-free items notated on its menu.

All but two of the composed salads served at The Zodiac, located inside King of Prussia's Neiman Marcus store (170 Gulph Rd., 610-354-0500 ext. 6220), are gluten free, as noted on the restaurant's menu.

Wayne's Main Line Pizza (233 E. Lancaster Ave., 610-687-4008) has posted a separate gluten-free menu on its website, while Max and David's in Elkins Park (8120 Old York Rd., 215-885-2400) has annotated its menus with gluten-free symbols.

Seasons 52, at the malls in King of Prussia (160 N. Gulph Rd., 610-992-1152) and Cherry Hill (2000 Route 38, 856-665-1052), has updated its gluten-free menu for the summer.

It's been a while since I've added a dessert place to the restaurant list. All of the puddings - chocolate, vanilla, tapioca and many rice varieties - at Pudding Lane in Havertown (7 Brookline Blvd., 610-449-2772) are gluten free, as are some of the toppings.

Martindale's Natural Market in Springfield (1172 Baltimore Pike, 610-543-6811) is now carrying baked items from Main Line Baking Company in the freezer section.

Old El Paso's new Tortilla Stuffers microwaveable meals, which include rice, vegetables and a protein, are gluten free; just add corn tortillas or tacos. They come in Mesquite Chicken, Garlic  Chili Chicken and Carne Asada Steak varieties.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sealed with a Check

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has joined with a leading organic certifier to create a new science-based gluten-free certification program. The program from the NFCA and Quality Assurance International requires sensitive testing procedures, a stringent audit, and an independent application review process. The program uses feedback from consumers, manufacturers and retailers and includes:

• Product review
• On-site inspection
• Testing to ensure compliance to 10 parts per million of gluten or less
• Ongoing compliance including random product testing

The QAI and NFCA's new “Certified Gluten-Free” consumer label will be appearing on product packaging later this year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

News & Notes: June 17, 2011

I'm jealous of SEPTA riders, though not because of the train delays. Not only can they get gluten-free baked goods at the Wynnewood Station (Main Line Baking Company), but now gluten-free bagels, muffins and sandwiches are available at the Lansdale Station. A Little Something Nice Cafe in Lansdale (101 W. Main St., 215-631-7997) is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch. The cafe's menu lists the gluten-free items.

Three more area restaurants are serving gluten-free pizza pies. Trenton's famed DeLorenzo's Pizza (1007 Hamilton Ave., 609-393-2952) is using Still Riding's crusts for pizzas and tomato pies. Meanwhile, reader Jamie Y. let me know that the Ardmore outpost of Peace A Pizza (4 Station Rd., 610-896-4488) has gluten-free pizza as well. Peace A Pizza bakes those versions in a dedicated oven. For beachgoers, Casa del Dolce in Ocean City (947-949 Asbury Ave., 609-398-9300) has gluten-free pizza and pasta, both of which are prepared separately from other items. Thanks to reader Anna A., who provided the tip about Casa del Dolce.

The British Chip Shop in Haddonfield (146 E. Kings Highway, 856-354-0204) notes gluten-free items on its menu, including sandwiches and salads. Owner/chef Edward Strojan tells me that he'd like to add gluten-free fish and chips.

In Downingtown, the Victory Brewpub & Restaurant (420 Acorn Lane, 610-873-0881) now has a small gluten-free menu. Thanks to reader Bethann S. for the tip.

Also with a gluten-free menu is Robin's Nest in Mount Holly (2 Washington St., 609-261-6149), serving French-American cuisine.

One other restaurant note: On Tuesday, I reviewed Modo Mio, a delightful Italian BYO in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.

Reader Donna D. reports that Leo's Famous Yum Yum in Medford (7 Tomlinson Mill Rd., 856-797-8771) offers soft-serve ice cream with Goldbaum's gluten-free cones.

Local cold-cuts producer Dietz & Watson this week debuted its first-ever gluten-free deli at the Acme supermarket in Paoli (39 Leopard Rd., 610-240-0101). More than 20 of Dietz & Watson's gluten-free meats and cheeses are available in a special eight-foot segregated section of the deli. The gluten-free products will have dedicated slicers separate from the other deli slicers, and deli associates will wear special blue gloves when handling gluten-free products.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Have It Your Way

Seared sea scallop with a chickpea crepe, cherries,
ricotta salata and asparagus
Peter McAndrews is a culinary Roman emperor. With Italian BYOB Modo Mio Trattoria and Paesano's sandwich shop in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties, new Silician-influenced Monsù and a second Paesano's in the Italian Market, and a forthcoming brick-oven pizza place in Delaware County, McAndrews has garnered praise from foodies, even earning an appearance on Bobby Flay's Showdown! show on the Food Network.

Part of the essence of Italian cooking is famiglia, and McAndrews hasn't forgotten his. His children have celiac disease, and so the chef makes sure to have gluten-free options available at all of his restaurants.

Fusilli Amatriciana
On a recent Saturday, we were able to score a last-minute, early-evening opening at Modo Mio (161 W. Girard Ave., 215-203-8707), Italian for "my way." It's a small house, with about 40 seats plus some sidewalk tables. Diners can choose from the menu a la carte or can opt for the turista, a four-course meal that appealed to our older son.

Our son's eyes grew wide when our server brought us complimentary gluten-free crostini, drizzled with porcini-infused olive oil atop homemade ricotta cheese. Also on the house was a cheese plate topped with sun-dried tomatoes and chestnut-flavored honey. Our son wasn't left out of the bread brigade either; he fancied several slices of warm, crusty gluten-free dough in the run-up to his meal.

Flourless chocolate torte topped with whipped cream
and strawberries
For his antipasti course, our older one savored a seared jumbo scallop atop a chickpea crepe with asparagus. A plate of gluten-free fusilli came next, crowned with a superb spicy Amatriciana sauce. The flaky branzino (which we had the kitchen debone) followed, sprinkled with capers, basil and chopped tomatoes. Our son finished his tour of Italy with a flourless chocolate torte.

I readily acknowledge that most 10-year-olds are not eating this adventurously, and this restaurant probably isn't a place for younger children. The menu, which McAndrews changes every six to eight weeks, isn't your pedestrian Italian fare. However, adults - and their kids with bold palates - will no doubt enjoy McAndrews' reign over creative Italian cuisine in Philadelphia.

Modo Mio on Urbanspoon

Nominated for the Epikur Writer of the Year Award

Friday, June 10, 2011

News & Notes: June 10, 2011

News outlets earlier in the week reported that media company Comcast-Spectacor is looking to sell the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. Those reports broke the same day I posted my Q-and-A interview with Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider, who went 50 years before being correctly diagnosed with celiac disease.

Reader Elisa S. was selected as the winner of last week's Betty Crocker and Bisquick gluten-free mix giveaway. Thanks to those who entered.

In restaurant news, I can report that Ariano in Media (114 S. Olive St., 610-892-6944) serves gluten-free pizza, taking precautions to avoid cross-contamination. Thanks to reader Heather A., who mentioned this on the Facebook page.

Mediterra, in the heart of lovely Princeton (29 Hulfish St., 609-252-9680), can accommodate gluten-free diners, as can longtime Cherry Hill staple Mexican Food Factory (601 Route 70 West, 856-983-9222). Thanks to reader Carol H., who let me know about the Factory.

Center City Philadelphia's new Serafina restaurant (130 S. 18th St., 215-977-7718), which will serve gluten-free pasta, is set to open on June 22.

Reader Tom P. let me know that Belzano in Princeton, which offered gluten-free pizza, panini and other items, recently closed.

LOST Gourmet offers scratch, gluten-free meals made from local ingredients at the Phoenixville Farmers Market (200 Mill St., 267-738-1973) every Saturday. LOST - short for Local, Organic, Sustainable, Traditional - posts a weekly menu at its website, and orders can be placed online anytime through Thursday night each week for Saturday pickup at the market. The meals are created to accompany other goods at the market like fresh vegetables, local cheese and grass-fed meat.

Newly launched Revolution Cider will be featured at during happy hour at MidAtlantic Restaurant and Tap Room (3711 Market St., 215-386-3711) on Monday, June 20 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., along with cider-inspired snacks from the kitchen.

Williams-Sonoma confirmed this week via Twitter that gluten-free products are “coming soon.” The specialty-foods and kitchenwares retailer is expected to introduce a variety of gluten-free baking mixes from Thomas Keller, chef at Napa Valley’s famed French Laundry restaurant.

Chef Guy Fieri, star of Food Network shows “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and “Guy’s Big Bite,” has introduced a line of barbeque sauces - three of which are gluten free - along with four gluten-free salsas. The gluten-free sauces are Bourbon Brown Sugar Barbeque Sauce: Sweet & Sticky, Carolina #6 Barbeque Sauce & Marinade: Mop & Slop and Kansas City Barbeque Sauce: Smoky & Sweet. Fieri's salsas are hot 7 Pepper Salsa: Burn Baby Burn, medium Chipotle Salsa: Da $pice Is Right and Original Salsa: Old Skool, and a mild Salsa Verde: Green & Mean. The sauces are available in 19-ounce bottles for a suggested retail price of $4.29, while the salsas, in 16-ounce jars, are listed at a suggested retail price of $4.79.

Philadelphia Gluten-Free Ravioli Pasta Company's pastas are now available at Di Bruno Brothers' Rittenhouse Square location (1730 Chestnut St., 215-665-9220).

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dishing With ... Ed Snider

You could call Ed Snider chairman of the boards - hockey and basketball boards, that is. Among other duties, the longtime head of Comcast-Spectacor oversees the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers and their home arena. He's also paving the way for Philly Live!, a retail, dining and entertainment district in the South Philadelphia stadium complex. In this "Dishing With ..." segment, he talks about his celiac disease diagnosis, gluten-free concessions at the Wells Fargo Center, and what he kept from the recently razed Spectrum.

You famously brought the city’s most successful sports franchise, the Flyers, to Philadelphia in 1967. Were you a hockey fan before that?
Yes I was. I happened to see a few games and the pro game fascinated me. I saw one at Madison Square Garden - between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens - that really turned me into a fan. Years later, I found out that the National Hockey League was expanding and I wanted to bring a franchise to Philadelphia.

How long before your 2003 celiac diagnosis had you suffered from digestive problems? Were you misdiagnosed with something else?
50 years. I was told from the time I was in my early 20s that I had a spastic colon. When it got really bad, they’d throw some pills at me. They never worked. I didn’t have it as bad as some people have it so I could live with it.

I was diagnosed in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. I had a colonscopy. Dr. [David] Katzka [now at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota] decided to do an endoscopic exam and found that I had it.

How did you become involved in the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness?
A niece of mine is married to a guy who worked next to [NFCA founder] Alice Bast and knew about her and made the introduction. She came to see me and she wanted to start it and I wanted to help her start it.

What kind of feedback have you received about the gluten-free concessions at the Wells Fargo Center? Are there any plans to expand the offerings?
I've gotten some notes that people were very happy that it’s there. If Aramark feels that there’s more demand and they need to expand the line or open up another stand, then they’ll do it. I think it all depends on demand.

Were you surprised that the Sixers improved so dramatically in just one season?
I’m certainly very pleased. I think Doug Collins did a phenomenal job. I personally think he should have been coach of the year. He certainly got us to where we thought we should be.

Will you miss anything about the Spectrum?
At the point it was torn down, the building was just bricks and mortar - we weren't doing events there any longer. We had a big sendoff, we had parties, we had great concerts to end the building’s life, so to speak. But all of those events are now here in the new building that’s been open now for, believe it or not, 16 years - that’s hard to believe. We’ve had plenty of time to deal with the Spectrum coming down. I’m excited about what’s going up in its place. But more important, it’s not bricks and mortar that you really concern yourself with. I have the memories of all the things that happened at the Spectrum and I'll always have those.

Have you saved any mementos from the building?
A lot of pictures of things that happened at the Spectrum. Many, many pictures, and that’s good enough for me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

News & Notes: June 3, 2011

We spent Memorial Day weekend visiting my brother and his family in Maryland, and our trip concluded with a visit to D.C. to watch the Phillies beat the Nationals last Monday. (I hasten to point out that it was the last time they've won as of this writing.) I'll be sharing our weekend dining experiences in a future post.

The Betty Crocker gluten-free recipe contest I wrote about on Tuesday is open through the end of June. In conjunction with the contest, I'm giving away Betty Crocker and Bisquick gluten-free mixes to a reader. Just add a comment to the original post or at the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page by Sunday evening about where you find the best selection of gluten-free groceries.

Reader Nadina F., who volunteers at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, wrote that she enjoyed a safe gluten-free meal at The Pub of Penn Valley in Narberth (863 Montgomery Ave., 610-664-1901). The restaurant also serves Redbridge.

Glenside's Trevi (21 E. Glenside Ave., 215-884-9100) offers gluten-free pasta, while Marcello's in Marlton (300 E. Greentree Rd., 856-596-0984) has gluten-free pizza and pasta. At Marcello's ask that separate cheese and sauce be used for the gluten-free pies.

Fresco Pizza and Grill in Newtown Square (228 S. Newtown Street Rd., 610-356-4171) has 12-inch gluten-free pizzas, each in an individual pan.

A postscript to last week's mention of Fare, the new restaurant in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. All of the menu items made with bread crumbs - such as mushroom cakes and chicken meatballs - are made with gluten-free crumbs.

I posted links to updated gluten-free menus for Philadelphia's Alma de Cuba, Filomena Cucina Rustica in West Berlin and Avalon's Seaglass at the restaurant page. Seaglass, located at the Golden Inn, has added gluten-free pizza and cheese steaks.

Thanks to reader Amy P., who let me know that Gluten-Free Goodies Galore, a new bakery, has just opened on the outskirts of Long Beach Island in Manahawkin (657 E. Bay Ave., 609-661-9286).

Locally-made Mompops are low-calorie, dairy-free frozen treats that come in more than 20 flavors. They're available at several locations throughout the western Philadelphia suburbs, including Mom's Bake at Home Pizza in Thorndale. A tip of the hat to reader Sarah L.

The Grain Exchange's baked goods are now at Whole Foods in Jenkintown and Princeton, McCaffrey's in Yardley, Princeton and West Windsor, Small World Coffee in Princeton, Bunn Natural Foods in Southampton, and Earth Foods in Buckingham, Pennsylvania.

Amazon.com has several gluten-free items on sale this month, including Kellogg's new gluten-free Rice Krispies. Add an additional 15% savings with a Subscribe & Save order, which includes free shipping. The sale prices are good through June 30.
Speaking of Amazon, Gluten Free Philly posts are now available on Kindle devices. You can get a 14-day free trial subscription.

300-level group tickets are still available for Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies on July 8. Place your order by June 8.

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!