Friday, July 29, 2011

News & Notes: July 29, 2011

Last Sunday's gluten-free event at The Bards in Philadelphia was an unqualified success, so much so that gluten-free pizza is now available every day. This makes it just the second restaurant in Center City (Giorgio on Pine being the other) that serves gluten-free pizza. The owners will also offer an expanded gluten-free menu every Sunday.

I gave readers something to chew on in my Tuesday post - Philadelphia's own Peanut Chews. That and other candies made by Just Born are gluten free.

All area Peace A Pizza locations - in Pennsylvania, that's Ardmore, Exton, King of Prussia, Montgomeryville, Rosemont, Springfield, Wayne, West Chester; Stone Harbor, New Jersey; and Newark, Delaware - have 12-inch gluten-free pizza crusts. The shops use different pans and utensils and take steps to avoid cross-contamination. Thanks to Dana M. and Nancy D. for letting me know about the Springfield and Montgomeryville spots.

Franco's Pizza in Collegeville (3815 Ridge Pike, 610-409-0780) offers gluten-free pizza and pasta.

Ralic's Steakhouse, a newcomer to Haddonfield (26 S. Haddon Ave., 856-616-1520), serves gluten-free-friendly appetizers, entrees and even dessert - a flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut crunch.

Reader Robin V. recommends The Mediterranean in West Chester (150 W. Gay St., 610-431-7074) for a gluten-free meal. The kitchen can prepare gluten-free desserts with several days' notice.

McCourt's, a farm-to-table concept in Hatboro that offered gluten-free dishes, recently closed.

Grocery Market in Center City (101 S. 13th St., 215-922-5252) offers gluten-free soups daily, along with other foods.

Souderton's Melodia Grill (664 E. Broad St., 215-721-4000) is offering a three-course meal for two for $45. The offer, through deal site Living Social, is available for purchase through Sunday and can be redeemed through December 1, 2011. The restaurant has a gluten-free menu.

Congratulations go out to Main Line Baking Co., named as the "Best of Philly" in the August issue of Philadelphia magazine for its gluten-free baked goods.

Coming soon to stores are bagel chips from Glutino, in Original and Parmesan & Garlic flavors.

Although not quite the level as the weighty chicken-or-egg question, I do wonder whether nuggets or tenders came first. In any event, Applegate Farms has just introduced certified-gluten-free chicken tenders, sold alongside the company's nuggets.

Presumably not wanting to be left out of that discussion, Wegmans now offers its own private-label chicken nuggets; you can print a dollar-off coupon here. (Hat tip to reader Jim.)

The Chester County chapter of the Gluten Intolerance Group is holding its next meeting on Wednesday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. Speaking will be Dr. Donna Skerry, a nutritional consultant. The meeting will be held at the Fern Hill Wellness Resource Center in West Chester.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chew on This

If you grew up in 20th-century Philadelphia, you know that Goldenberg's Peanut Chews were a candy-aisle staple. Peanut Chews were developed during World War I and used by the U.S. military as a ration bar. The high-energy, high-protein recipe, consisting of roasted peanuts and molasses covered in dark chocolate, made it popular with the troops.

In 2003, the Goldenberg family sold the line to Just Born, a third-generation family-owned candy manufacturer in the Lehigh Valley. Despite that change, Peanut Chews continue to be made at a plant in Northeast Philadelphia. Just Born's other candies - Mike and Ike (as a namesake of sorts, I've always been partial to these), Hot Tamales, Peeps marshmallow candies and Teenee Beanee jelly beans - are manufactured in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The modified food starch that Just Born uses in its jelly bean-type candies is corn starch, and the company is in the process of updating its package labels to reflect that its products are gluten free.

Friday, July 22, 2011

News & Notes: July 22, 2011

Hello, Grilladelphia! The temperature in the Delaware Valley should dip a few degrees by Sunday, when the  Bards Irish Pub (2013 Walnut St., 215-569-9585), near Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia, holds its inaugural gluten-free event. Items from the gluten-free menu, which include fish and chips, beer-battered onion rings and pizza, will be served starting at 3 p.m. Bards beer and Magners cider will be the featured drinks, and there will even be dessert thanks to Main Line Bakery.

If you want to check out the gluten-free concession stand at Nationals Park when the Phillies are in the nation's capital, get tickets for the team's road trip to Washington on August 19-21. We caught the Phils-Nats game on Memorial Day, which I wrote about on Tuesday.

Congratulations to Staci S., whose name was randomly selected as the winner of the Gluten-Free on a Shoestring cookbook, given away in conjunction with the recent Readers' Choice Awards voting.

Philadelphia proper is center of attention in this week's restaurant roundup. Le Pain Quotidien's second outpost in the city (801 Walnut St., 215-253-3114) is now open. Reader Heather H.'s husband manages this location and has worked with the staff to educate them on cross-contamination concerns. Gluten-free items include omelets and salads.

Joe J. let me know that Girasole in Center City (440 S. Broad St., 215-732-2728) serves gluten-free pasta.

With five locations in Center City, a Marathon Grill is never too far away. Gluten-free items are now noted on the menus there.

On Maple Shade's scenic Main Street, Cafe Fontana in Maple Shade (30 E. Main St., 856-321-1301) serves gluten-free pizza.

The Avalon location of Uncle Bill's Pancake House (3189 Dune Ave., 609-967-8448) doesn't list gluten-free pancakes on the menu, but they're available upon request. Thanks to reader Larry D. for the info.

The Pop Shop in Collingswood (729 Haddon Ave., 856-869-0111) is now using gluten-free products from Lancaster's Amaranth Bakery.

Baked goods from Gluten-Free Warrior Genevieve Sherrow are available at Grindcore House (1515 S. 4th St., 215-839-333, a South Philly coffeehouse.

Dia Doce's locally made gluten-free cupcakes are available at suburban farmers' markets in Wayne, Chester Springs and Malvern, among other places. Owner Thais da Silva's gluten-free varieties are prepared separately  using dedicated pans, mixers and utensils. Weekly menus are posted on Facebook and Twitter, but any flavor can be made gluten free for larger orders.

Catering By Design, a caterer based in Philadelphia (215-866-9500), is now a member of the NFCA's GREAT Kitchens program and can provide gluten-free meals for any event.

The Bachman Company is giving away a treat to one of my Facebook followers. Like the Gluten Free Philly page and enter via this post [Facebook login required] for a chance to win four bags of the company's new Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, which are gluten free, and coupons for other gluten-free products such as Puzzle Pretzels, tortilla chips and popcorn. The winner will be randomly selected later today.

Saffron Road's new gluten-free-certified products are now available at Whole Foods Markets. These include Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Bites, Chicken Tenders and Tandoori Seasoned Chicken Nuggets.

Costco stores now sell gluten-free ravioli from Pasta Prima, which I wrote about in this space in May. Thanks to Jaime L. for the tip.

Simply Organic is adding four new gluten-free baking mixes to its product line: Devil’s Food Cake, Golden Vanilla Cake, Spice Cookie and an herb-infused Pizza Crust.

Participating ShopRite stores are now carrying gluten-free macaroni-and-cheese, eggplant parmesan and other frozen entrees from GG's Originals.

Thanks to Jeffrey A., who let me know that Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the country, in partnership with New York City's BabyCakes bakery, will be hosting a free "technique" class on gluten-free baking on Sunday, August 28. Class times vary by store, so contact the location nearest you for more information and to reserve a spot.

Have a great weekend and stay cool!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gluten Free Road Trip: The Nationals Pastime

Poker and blackjack players know the value of holding aces. So do the Phillies. As the 2011 baseball season rolls along, All-Star hurlers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have proven to be the catalysts for the team's success this year. As was evident during our Memorial Day weekend trip to the Washington, D.C. area, the success had led fans to travel to see the team away from home, making away games feel like those in South Philadelphia.

We spent most of the weekend south of the Mason-Dixon line, spending some quality time with my brother and his family in Maryland. Our first "pit stop" on the trip was in Newark, Delaware, where we ordered lunch at Grotto Pizza on Main Street. Grotto, a fixture throughout the First State, recently added gluten-free pizza from Still Riding to its menu (and beer at bar locations). Our son loved the taste of the pie, made with Grotto's trademark alternating rings of sauce and cheese.

For dinner we ventured over to the Rio entertainment complex in Gaithersburg, Maryland. California Pizza Kitchen had not yet begun serving gluten-free pizza, so we opted to eat at Copper Canyon Grill. On its gluten-free menu, the restaurant offers several salads and a handful of meat and chicken entrees. The meaty half-rack of ranch-house BBQ ribs and grilled chicken my son tackled were served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

The next evening, we met up with friends at burger-and-fries chain Red Robin in Gaithersburg. The restaurant uses a dedicated fryer for its bottomless french fries, and we brought along a gluten-free bun to sandwich our son's burger.

The highlight of the weekend (besides hanging with my kid brother, of course) was our trip to Nationals Park in southeast Washington, D.C. for a Memorial Day matinee between the Phils and Nationals. The thousands of Phillies fans that trekked to the game from the Philadelphia area overwhelmed the ballpark, creating a "red sea" in the stands and even heckling ex-Phil Jayson Werth in his own house.

Perhaps it's a hometown bias, but I found the stadium, in its fourth year of existence, has none of the charm of Citizens Bank Park, Baltimore's Camden Yards, or even Citi Field in New York. It also has none of the parking; my brother paid $25 in advance to secure us a spot in a remote lot 15 minutes away on foot.  What is does have, though, is a dedicated gluten-free concession stand (Section 136) that serves hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, chips, candy and beer. Dutch Country's gluten-free soft pretzels are available elsewhere, at Sections 105 and 319.

Halladay was the starting pitcher that afternoon, and he didn't have one of his better outings despite earning the win. He gave up 10 hits in the 5-4 victory, including three solo home runs, as the lead see-sawed before the Phillies went ahead for good in the seventh inning on RBIs by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. The throng of Phillies faithful in attendance got their money's worth.

While we had to return home to resume our work-and-school routine the next day, there was time for one more excursion. On the drive back, we exited in Baltimore and strolled around Inner Harbor. Nearby, we dined at Kona Grill, a pan-Asian restaurant with a gluten-free menu. We began the meal sharing lettuce wraps and the salty edamame. As is his wont, our son ordered a top-shelf entree - a savory pan-seared ahi tuna dish served with bok choy.

After now seeing the Phillies play in New York (the Yankees in 2009; the Mets in 2010) and Washington, I think it's about time to think about a baseball road trip for next year. Warm weather? check. Newer stadium? check. We could do worse than Miami, San Diego or Arizona.

Friday, July 15, 2011

News & Notes: July 15, 2011

¡Hola, señoras y señores! I dusted off my high-school Spanish while spending some time last week in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The beach at our resort was beautiful and the water - so blue! I can't remember the last time I did so much . . . nothing. In this day and age, with e-mail, cell phones and the like, it's extremely hard to unplug and relax, but I largely succeeded.

Thanks to everyone who voted for the Readers' Choice Awards over the past two weeks. I'll announce the top choices in a post later this summer.

Ravioli - gluten-free duck ravioli, to be exact - was the subject of Tuesday's post. The new product comes from Berks County-raised ducks and is made at Conte's Pasta's gluten-free facility in Vineland, New Jersey.

Speaking of pasta, the Romano's Macaroni Grill chain of Italian restaurants now serves gluten-free penne pasta. Local spots are in Montgomeryville/North Wales (29 Airport Square, 215-368-4210), Oxford Valley/Fairless Hills (640 Commerce Blvd., 215-949-9990), Princeton/West Windsor (3569 Rte. 1, 609-520-9700) and Wilmington (4157 Concord Pike, 302-479-1800).

Gluten-free pasta is also served at Via Napoli in Northeast Philadelphia (2500 Welsh Rd., 215-934-7700) and Spampinato's in Conshohocken (16 E. 1st Ave., 610-825-3151). Thanks to reader Toni B. for the tip on Via Napoli.

Hat tip to reader Jaime L. for news that Maple Glen Pizza (641 Welsh Rd., 215-542-7720) serves gluten-free pizza.

The Institute gastropub in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia (549 N. 12th St., 267-318-7772) has gluten-free pasta, fish tacos, hard cider and other items, including an apple crumble for dessert. Co-owner Heather Derussy tells me that the kitchen takes dietary requests seriously.

Some info that is "shore" to please on Long Beach Island: Reader Susan A. let me know that Boulevard Clams in Surf City (2006 Long Beach Blvd., 609-494-9494) offers gluten-free crab cakes and other items, while Buckalew's (101 N. Bay Ave., 609-492-1065) in Beach Haven - which has offered gluten-free pasta - now has pizza as well. Calabria Ristorante in Beach Haven (1901 N. Bay Ave., 609-492-8001) also has gluten-free pizza and pasta.

In Ocean City, Bongo Cafe and Grille (1050 Bay Ave., 609-938-0680) serves sandwiches on gluten-free bread.

Purely Sweet Confections is a home-based bakery out of West Chester (610-883-3997) offering baked goods free of many common allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, egg, yeast and peanuts).  Products include cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pies.

Reader Ramona A. wrote on Facebook that My Little KupKake in Collingswood (685 Haddon Ave., 856-240-1097) now has gluten-free vanilla cupcakes.

Doylestown's A Taste of Philly (8 W. State St., 215-340-1575) scoops locally-made Sweet Pea ice cream served in gluten-free sugar cones. Thanks to reader Rich S. for the tip.

Warminster's BRE Bakery, which sold gluten-free cookies and other items, recently closed.

"Chef Moni" of Center City's 10Arts tweeted that Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery recently tapped its new gluten-free Tweason'ale, a sorghum-based beer made with fresh strawberries and honey. For now, it's available only at Dogfish's Rehoboth Beach brewpub but by year's end may be packaged for wider distribution.

Delaware's Grotto Pizza now serves gluten-free beer at its locations with a bar, including those on Main Street in Newark and on Concord Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilmington. As I mentioned in March, nearly all its First State locations serve gluten-free pizza.

Sesame Place in Langhorne (100 Sesame Rd., 215-752-7070) now offers three gluten-free, allergy-friendly snack packs from Rebecca & Devyn’s Gluten Free To Go. The variety packs can be found at Elmo’s Eatery in the coffee café area, the Snack Cart in front of the Dine with Me building and at the Popcorn Cart located behind Elmo’s Eatery, across from Cookie Mountain.

Kozy Shack has added several gluten-free desserts to its product line. The new Coffeehouse Blends pudding comes in three flavors: caffe latte, cappuccino and caramel macchiato. The company's SmartGels - in orange and sugar-free orange, strawberry and sugar-free strawberry, tropical and sugar-free tropical and cherry flavors - use a vegetarian-based ingredient as an alternative to gelatin-based desserts.

On Tuesday, July 19, GREAT-trained chef James Harris will lead a gluten-free cooking demonstration at the Cape May County Library in Cape May Court House (30 Mechanic St., 609-463-6350). The 1 p.m. event is open to library members.

The Bards Irish pub (2013 Walnut St., 215-569-9585) in Center City is hosting a Gluten-Free Day on Sunday, July 24 starting at 3 p.m. There will be pizza, burgers, chicken tenders and traditional Irish stew (made with Bards beer), Shepherd's pie and fish & chips. The owners are considering a permanent gluten-free menu - they're installing a dedicated fryer in time for the event - so come out and show your support.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Mighty Ducks

I've seen and heard of some novel gluten-free products over the past eight years, but nothing quite like gluten-free duck ravioli. Pekin Paradise in Berks County, Pennsylvania uses meat from ducklings raised at a neighboring farm in Shartlesville, then ships it to Conte's Pasta's gluten-free manufacturing plant in Vineland, New Jersey, where the ravioli are made.

The company uses an heirloom strain of duck that dates back to the Ming Dynasty, according to company vice president Walt Brygier. Brygier developed the new gluten-free ravioli after hearing from his daughter's boyfriend, who has celiac disease, of the need for more gourmet meals. The large mezza luna-shaped ravioli is sold in consumer and commercial sizes at the company's website.