Friday, December 20, 2013

News & Notes: December 20, 2013

Readers with Android smartphones and devices will be happy to know that the Gluten Free Philly business finder app is now available. Like its iPhone cousin, the Android version allows you to search for more than 1,200 curated gluten-free-friendly restaurant, bakery, market and attractions listings in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and all of Delaware. You can see what's closest to your location and make use of other great features like turn-by-turn directions and menu links. More screen shots and the full description of the app can be found at the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The cost is just $2.99.

Although Jose Garces's just-opened Cuban diner Rosa Blanca (707 Chestnut St., 215-925-5555) doesn't yet have a gluten-free menu, the kitchen can accommodate requests. Located in the Washington Square West section of Philadelphia at the former Chifa location, the diner serves breakfast (starting at 7 a.m.), lunch and dinner and has an extensive rum program.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Draft: Green's Gluten-Free Beers

By Chris Betz

Last year, I traveled to Belgium and was able to visit some of the world's greatest breweries. Though I no longer drink traditional beers, I discovered that Green's gluten-free beers captured the essence of what makes Belgian beers special.

Green's beers have been brewed since 2004 at the legendary DeProef Brewery in Lochristi, Belgium, making them one of the longest continuously produced gluten-free beers in the world. In place of barley malt, Green's uses a blend of millet, sorghum, rice and buckwheat. All four varieties have received accolades: the Amber Ale won a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Beer Championships and the Dubbel Ale took the Top Gluten-Free Beer award at this year's Calgary International Brewfest.

Friday, December 13, 2013

News & Notes: December 13, 2013

Photo credit: The Happy Mixer/Facebook
The Philadelphia area's newest 100% gluten-free bakery is opening its doors tomorrow. The Happy Mixer in Chalfont (4275 County Line Rd., 267-663-7209) will offer donuts, cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies and more. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

The so-called "mother of all grains" is so popular right now, a new BYO restaurant in Doylestown has taken on its name. At Quinoa (762 N. Easton Rd., 215-348-2826), about three-quarters of Peruvian side of the menu is gluten free, and many of the Mexican dishes are, or can be modified, to be gluten free. The proprietors also own El Tule in Lambertville (49 N. Main St., 609-773-0007), which shares the hybrid Peruvian/Mexican concept. Both restaurants maintain separate fryers for gluten-free tortilla chips. (Thanks to reader Krifka S. for the tip.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Going to California

CPK's gluten-free BBQ Chicken Pizza
I'm giving credit where credit is due: California Pizza Kitchen has atoned for its botched attempt at gluten-free pizza back in 2011. They licked their wounds, retrenched and now, two years later, not only is the chain preparing those pies so that they're safe for celiacs, the end result is one of the superior gluten-free pizzas I've eaten.

Friday, December 6, 2013

News & Notes: December 6, 2013

Cherry Hill's newest restaurant is The Farm & Fisherman Tavern + Market (1422 Rt. 70 E., 856-356-2282). Located in the former Andreotti's spot, this New American bistro is a spinoff of The Farm & Fisherman BYOB in Center City Philadelphia. The tavern's evolving farm-to-table menu (currently dinner only) lists items that are gluten free. Lunch service will begin next Tuesday, Dec. 10 and breakfast starts in January.

In nearby Haddonfield, the menu at Italian Da Soli (116 Kings Hwy., 856-429-2399) notes gluten-free items like grilled calamari, sauteed sweet sausage and baked salmon with fig and balsamic preserve. Gluten-free penne also is available. (Thanks to Jennifer M. for the tip via Facebook.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Goodies Giveaway: "Gluten-Free Entertaining" Cookbook

With family meals beckoning on Christmas and New Year's Eve and Super Bowl parties in the planning stages, it's prime time for special occasions, though Olivia Dupin doesn't sweat it. The South Jersey resident loves to host her own intimate dinner parties. “I’ve worked as a private chef for nearly 10 years, so adapting recipes to a home kitchen comes naturally to me,” says the Culinary Institute of America-trained Dupin. Last month she released her second cookbook, Gluten-Free Entertaining: More than 100 Naturally Wheat-Free Recipes for Parties and Special Occasions, which showcases dishes enjoyed by her friends and family whether they're wheat eaters or not.

Friday, November 22, 2013

News & Notes: November 22, 2013

I'm proud to announce the launch of the Gluten Free Philly mobile app for iPhone and iPad users. (Fear not Android users, a similar version is in the works.) You can search for more than 1,200 curated gluten-free-friendly restaurant, bakery, market and attractions listings in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and all of Delaware. You can see what's closest to your location and make use of other great features like turn-by-turn directions and menu links. More screen shots and the full description of the app can be found at the Apple App Store. The cost is $2.99.

Delicias will serve gluten-free arepas at its new location
(Photo credit: Delicias)
Philadelphia is getting two more gluten-free-friendly restaurants that will be among the dozens already listed in the app. Latin food truck Delicias is setting up a brick-and-mortar spot at 526 S. 4th St. in the next week or two with an all-gluten-free menu featuring grilled arepas. You can read about Delicias and other gluten-free food truck options here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First Draft: Glutenberg Beer

Publisher's Note: Today's post is the first in an new, occasional series covering the growing variety of gluten-free beers, ciders and meads.

By Chris Betz

I first heard of Glutenberg last year after the Canadian brewer swept the World Beer Cup, medaling in all three places in the Gluten-Free Beer category. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Glutenberg is a 100% gluten-free brewery. The brewery has broadened its reach beyond several New England states and recently found distribution throughout New Jersey. Here's my take on their award-winning beers, Blonde (Bronze), American Pale Ale (Silver) and Red (Gold), which are available in 16 oz. cans in the U.S.:

Glutenberg's three award-winning beers are available in New Jersey and
three New England states (Photo courtesy Glutenberg/Facebook)
Blonde (4.5% ABV): Crisp and dry, this brew is thirst quenching while maintaining an interesting profile. There are nice citrus notes in both the aroma and taste. This beer should delight drinkers that are new to the world of beer as well as those with more experienced palates. Glutenberg's Blonde will not overwhelm lighter foods like chicken or salmon dishes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

News & Notes: November 15, 2013

The former Winberie's in Wayne has been refashioned as Black Powder Tavern (1164 Valley Forge Rd., 610-293-9333). The New American restaurant has a gluten-free menu that includes grilled pork wings, salads, vegetarian chili and protein dishes. Angry Orchard hard cider is currently on tap and Strongbow cider is served in bottles.

Reader Chris M. let me know that Crêperie Béchamel, also in Wayne (11 Louella Ct., 610-964-9700), serves gluten-free sweet and savory crepes made with buckwheat batter. The kitchen has a protocol in place for preparation of the gluten-free crepes, though there isn't a separate griddle.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fly Like an Eagle

Local Tavern opened last month at Philadelphia International Airport
(Photo courtesy OTG Management)
This year nearly 15 million travelers will fly out of Philadelphia International Airport, which, like most U.S. gateways, will see heavy traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Business and leisure fliers using PHL lately have seen upgraded dining options, including several added as part of the Terminal F makeover.

(Photo courtesy Legal Sea Foods)
With the improved restaurant choices at the airport, gluten-free options are more accessible than ever. The gluten-free menu at Legal Sea Foods (Terminal B/C Connector, 267-295-9300) has many grilled fish and seafood choices, but the kitchen also maintains a dedicated fryer for the restaurant's fried clams and popcorn shrimp appetizers. Salads can be ordered with gluten-free croutons and warm Gillian's rolls are served upon request.

Not only does Vino Volo (Terminal A West - Gate A17, 215-365-8696; Terminal B - Gate B9, 215-365-8600; Terminal B/C Connector, 215-365-8600; Terminal D/E Connector, 215-365-8686) have several gluten-free menu options, a curated wine list is available. Among the gluten-free items are braised pork tacos, cured meats, a cheese plate and salmon rolls. The D/E location serves gluten-free crackers to accompany several dishes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

News & Notes: November 8, 2013

Posh Pop Bakeshop's cupcake assortment
(Photo courtesy Posh Pop
Another all-gluten-free bakery is set to open its doors in Camden County this month. On the heels of Sweet Freedom Bakery's imminent debut in nearby Collingswood, Posh Pop Bakeshop is taking over a Haddonfield storefront last occupied by a Chinese restaurant at 109 East Kings Highway. Owners Matthew Pytel and Krizha Bautista are relocating their bakery to the Philadelphia area from Red Bank, Monmouth County. Their all-natural, organic sweets include signature cake pops, cupcakes, brownies, cookies and pies. (Thanks to reader Regina L. for the tip.)

A month-old addition to the Montgomery County dining scene is Huntingdon Valley's Simpatico! BYOB (2519 Huntingdon Pike, 215-938-9600), which has gluten-free pasta (made in a separate pot) and other Italian dishes like chicken marsala. One of Simpatico's owners is gluten free. (Hat tip to reader Christine O.)

In the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, Rembrandt's (741 N. 23rd St., 215-763-2228) has introduced a gluten-free menu featuring wings and calamari appetizers, steak with house-made tater tots and sauteed mussels entrees, and flourless chocolate cake and cheesecake for dessert. The kitchen maintains a separate fryer for gluten-free items and the bar stocks a variety of hard ciders.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seeing Red

Move over Nathan's - there's a new name-brand bake-at-home fry to try. Fans of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers are familiar with the chain's Bottomless Steak Fries, which are gluten free at the many locations that maintain dedicated fryers. Red Robin's fries are now available in frozen food aisles nationwide, prepared with the burger chain's signature seasoning salt blend.

Over the weekend, I baked half a bag in a pre-heated oven (at 425 degrees) for about 25 minutes, turning them over about half-way through. So how do they compare to the deep-fried restaurant version? A tasty facsimile. They'd be ordinary steak fries without the seasoning salt, and it's the spices (a combination of salt, garlic, onion and paprika) that make the difference here. The fries were cooked throughout and had that typical "fry bite," save for the smaller, crispy pieces that were well done. 

Unlike at the restaurants, the retail version of Red Robin's fries aren't bottomless. The bake-at-home fries, which are produced by ConAgra Foods, are sold in 22-ounce packages for a suggested retail price of $3.19. (I paid $3.99 at a local Acme.) 

Friday, November 1, 2013

News & Notes: November 1, 2013

The Philadelphia region's strong gluten-free community took a blow last week with the closure of Latin BYOB Casona in Collingswood after almost eight years in operation. With many options on the menu and a kitchen staff educated on proper food preparation, Casona was a favorite of many.

Despite that loss, Collingswood continues to be a bastion of gluten-free-friendly businesses. Sweet Freedom Bakery is planning a mid-November opening at 577 Haddon Ave., and El Sitio Grill & Cafe (729 Haddon Ave., 856-240-1217) can accommodate guests looking for South American cuisine. The kitchen maintains a dedicated fryer for appetizers like empanadas and plaintains, and the menu also includes salads and grilled meats.

Most area Cheeburger Cheeburger locations are carrying gluten-free burger buns. Diners can find them at New Jersey outlets in Hamilton (549 Rt. 130 N., 609-585-8899), Lawrenceville (3349 Brunswick Pike, 609-799-2222) and Princeton (182 Nassau St., 609-921-0011) and at two southeastern Pennsylvania spots in Frazer (235 Lancaster Ave., 610-296-8858) and Oaks (180 C Mill Rd., 484-392-7005). Note that fries and shakes may be prepared using shared equipment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Born to Be WildFlour

WildFlour Bakery & Cafe opened in May 2013
It's a testament to his growing appetite that our 12-year-old can pack away the tons of food given away at the recent gluten-free vendor fair in northern New Jersey and ask to stop for lunch on the way home.

Pumpernickel is sold by the loaf and used for sandwiches
As it happened, traffic was slowing as we approached Exit 8A of the Turnpike. We got off the highway and snaked our way down to Lawrenceville, Mercer County, where WildFlour Bakery & Cafe (2691 Main St., 609-620-1100) was in the middle of a brisk weekend brunch service. Marilyn Besner opened the all-gluten-free eatery - the only one of its kind in southern New Jersey - in May at the former Lawrenceville Inn, and she has maintained the quaint, homespun feel of the former occupant.

Sweet and savory crepes are WildFlour specialties
The fresh-baked breads that Besner and her energetic staff sell by the loaf are used for several cafe items, including grilled cheese. My son raved about his egg salad sandwich on pumpernickel ($6.25), while I loved the Nutella-stuffed crepe ($6.95), sprinkled with berries and topped with vanilla ice cream made by The Bent Spoon in neighboring Princeton. There are also savory versions made with either buckwheat or vegan-friendly rice and lentil. Pancakes ($4.50), salads ($6.95), a soup of the day ($3.25) and smoothies ($6.25) round out the menu. 

A display of delectable sweets at the front counter can't be avoided. WildFlour's assortment includes iced fruit danish ($1.95), a nutty Frangipane tartlette ($4.25), and off-menu items like Linzer cookies and custard flips.

Wildflour Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 18, 2013

News & Notes: October 18, 2013

The Avenue's Polenta Cake with Veggie Sausage
(Photo courtesy The Avenue Deli/Facebook)
The menu at Italian-Jewish deli mashup The Avenue in Lansdowne (27 N. Lansdowne Ave., 610-622-3354) lists gluten-free breakfast items like corned beef hash and spiced quinoa porridge and dinner entrees such as mushroom polenta cake. Other items can be adapted.

One of Philadelphia's oldest Indian restaurants, Minar Palace (1304 Walnut St., 215-546-9443), has gluten-free options noted on the menu.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Although the Great American Beer Festival, the premier U.S. beer festival and competition, was founded in 1982, the Gluten-Free Beer category has only been a part of the event since 2007. At this year's competition, held last week in Denver, Harvester Brewing of Portland, Oregon took the Gold medal for its Harvester Brewing IPA No. 1. A gluten-free Pale Ale made by Deschutes Brewery's Bend (Oregon) Public House won the Silver medal, while Colorado's New Planet Beer Company earned a Bronze medal for its Brown Ale.

Friday, October 11, 2013

News & Notes: October 11, 2013

What used to be District 611 in Riverton, New Jersey is now District Riverton Bistro (710 Broad St., 856-499-2916). Gluten-free options on the BYOB's dinner menu include pan-roasted branzino and a pear arugula salad.

Just off Haddonfield's main drag on Kings Highway is Marie's Sandwich Bar (6 Kings Ct., 856-375-2449), which is now serving gluten-free hoagies.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Expo East Recap (Part Two)

In last Tuesday's blog post, I focused on new gluten-free pizzas and sweets that were sampled at last month's Expo East products event. This week, the spotlight turns to baked goods, ice creams and salty snacks.

Baked Goods

Olivia's Croutons owners Francie and Dave Caccavo established a dedicated facility in Middlebury, Vermont to produce its new scratch gluten-free Garlic croutons and Rosemary & Sage stuffing. The bread base for both products is made with millet, sorghum and brown rice and white rice flours. Olivia's products are available for purchase online and in stores throughout the country.

Friday, October 4, 2013

News & Notes: October 4, 2013

Gluten-free pizza, take two. After a short-lived rollout back in 2011, California Pizza Kitchen has reintroduced gluten-free pizza to its restaurants nationwide. This time out, there are five personal-size varieties - Original BBQ Chicken, Pepperoni, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage, Margherita and Untraditional Cheese - prepared under strict procedures approved by the Gluten Intolerance Group using a certified gluten-free crust and other ingredients verified by suppliers as gluten-free, according to the menu. (Though not on the printed menu, CPK's online ordering system and several employees I spoke with noted that the Untraditional Cheese, with a combination of traditional and fresh mozzarella, is an approved pizza.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Expo East Recap (Part One)

Natural Products Expo East, held in Baltimore each September, is an opportunity for both emerging and developed companies to showcase their products for retailers and distributors. Here's a look at some gluten-free products that are either on their way to market to stores or gaining wider distribution.


A Texas pizza chain sampled retail versions of its gluten-free pizza. Russo's New York Pizza has six crispy pizza varieties, including the excellent Mulberry (Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and hamburger), that will be making their way to markets.

Smart Flour Floods was one of many companies at the expo hailing from Austin, Texas. Smart Flour's frozen pizzas were distinctive for their ancient grains flour base. The crusts in the new Classic Cheese, Garden Margherita and Uncured Pepperoni varieties are made with a blend of tapioca, sorghum, teff and amaranth flours. These are free of soy, egg and rice. The Pepperoni pizza won the expo's "Best New Food" award.

Friday, September 27, 2013

News & Notes: September 27, 2013

'Tis the season ... for all things pumpkin. During my latest run to Trader Joe's, I discovered pumpkin macarons selling for $4.99 for 12 pieces. Since the macarons are a seasonal flavor, they're likely to disappear quickly. They are delicious - like biting into a slice of pumpkin pie.

Williams-Sonoma is also getting into the seasonal spirit with two new gluten-free products. The Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix is made with Cup4Cup flour, which we've found superior, if not more expensive, than other all-purpose gluten-free flours. The mix sells for $14.95, the same price as the store's new Thanksgiving stuffing. The stuffing mix combines toasted cubes of gluten-free bread with aromatic herbes de Provence.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Smooth Sailing

If you have a glass-half-full outlook, the mention of cruising ought to trigger memories of "The Love Boat" rather than, say, "Titanic." While some things stay the same - the purser, the cruise director and the bartender are still mainstays - modern cruise vacations have evolved to the point where many guests don't even leave the ship given the many activities on board.

Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas
(All photos courtesy Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. except where noted)
After spending a few days in Orlando to kick off our summer family vacation in August, we drove to Port Canaveral, where we dropped off our rental car and shuttled to Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas for a three-night trip to the Bahamas. The Enchantment, which sails year-round between Florida and the Bahamas, is part of an older class of ships in Royal's fleet but was overhauled in 2005.

Friday, September 20, 2013

News & Notes: September 20, 2013

A gluten-free-friendly American BYOB is coming to Lahaska, Bucks County. Caleb's American Kitchen (5738 Rt. 202, 215-794-8588), set to open later this month, will have gluten-free bread and burger buns, French toast, Johnny cakes, fish tacos and other items, along with a dedicated toaster. (The grill will be cleaned between other uses.) All dressings will be made in house with no thickening agents such as wheat flour.

Reader Kate S. let me know that at Kennett Square's Market at Liberty Place, Yo’R So Sweet (148 W. State St., 610-925-0005) has gluten-free sweet and savory crepes. The kitchen keeps separate utensils for the gluten-free versions and cleans the grill for those orders.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Building a Better Mouse Trip

When is a family trip to Orlando not a traditional Disney vacation? When it doesn’t involve a visit to the “Big Four” Disney World theme parks. Our family’s original itinerary included Epcot, a Disney water park and Universal Studios. But with just days to go before departure and no agreement among the boys as to which parks to go to and which rides to check out - we went to two Disney parks and Universal in California last summer - I called an audible.

Since we couldn’t change our destination, I revisited our original plan to take a cruise. The hurdle would be our younger son’s refusal to sail, since he apparently has sat through one too many Shark Weeks on TV. My wife and I ultimately convinced him that all would be well, so I booked a three-night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas departing out of Port Canaveral, Florida.

Friday, September 13, 2013

News & Notes: September 13, 2013

On this Celiac Awareness Day, there's no better time to celebrate the news that there are three all-gluten-free bakeries coming to the Delaware Valley.

Bucks County will get its own 100% gluten-free storefront bakery this fall. The Happy Mixer is looking at a late October or early November opening at the New Britain Village Square in Chalfont (4275 County Line Rd.). The menu includes donuts, cakes, cookies, muffins and biscotti.

"The Frog," Pure Sweets' pistachio espresso cookie
(Photo credit: Tommy Leonardi)
Pure Sweets, which I first wrote about back in February 2012, just signed a lease for 1706 Locust Street near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia with a Spring 2014 opening planned. Not only will owner Andrea Kyan have a spot to vend her 100% gluten free, vegan, organic and kosher cookies and macaroons along with her new line of tonics, she'll be offering prepared food reflecting her Southeast Asian heritage.  She's also considering delivery to South Jersey.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Recap

Not only were there new products galore at last weekend's Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Secaucus, New Jersey, there was a sizable Philadelphia-area contingent on hand.

The company behind our favorite gluten-free pasta, Le Veneziane, has expanded into the heat-and-serve market with three microwaveable Express dishes: penne with pomodoro sauce & basil, macaroni & cheese and macaroni & mushrooms. Also new from the company is shelf-stable potato gnocchi. All of the products are made in Italy and are GMO free.

California's Second Helping was sampling mini versions of its Corn Puppies, uncured turkey franks dipped in an organic corn meal batter.

Friday, September 6, 2013

News & Notes: September 6, 2013

Luxe surf-and-turf restaurant Ocean Prime is set to open on Monday near Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square in the space formerly occupied by Roy's (124 S. 15th St., 215-563-0163). The gluten-free menu is comparable to Ocean Prime's other U.S. locations, with seafood appetizers, salads, and a variety of steaks and sides among the available options.

Nearby on South Street West, there's yet another gluten-free-friendly eatery. Miles Table (1620 South St., 267-318-7337) uses Taffet's gluten-free burger buns and bread.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

'Wiching Well

Comedian Jim Gaffigan's great routine about Hot Pockets does not apply to Glutenfreeda Foods' new Pocket Sandwiches. The company's newest innovative products, available in the Eastern U.S. beginning this month, are four all-natural microwaveable meals made with readily identifiable ingredients and don't contain preservatives, trans fats or GMOs.

Though each has a different taste profile, all four sandwiches - Bacon & Eggs and Cheddar, Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions & Provolone, Hickory Smoked Ham & Cheddar and Southwest Chicken Chipotle - come wrapped in whole-grain bread dotted with flax seeds. Unlike Hot Pockets, the gluten-free sandwiches don't come with a microwave sleeve, so Glutenfreeda's versions come out more doughy than crisp. The microwave cooking directions suggest that the sandwiches heat for a minute to 1:15, but I found that they need to go closer to two minutes to get completely warmed. The sandwiches can also be prepped in a toaster oven for about half an hour; I didn't try that method but they probably come out with more of a crispy exterior that way.

Friday, August 23, 2013

News & Notes: August 23, 2013

The latest culinary import to the Delaware Valley is Whole Hog Cafe in Cherry Hill (2321 Rt. 70 E., 856-910-8060). Originating in Little Rock, Arkansas, the award-winning BBQ chain has gluten-free meats (pork, chicken, brisket, sausage and ribs) and two table sauces made without gluten - #1 (classic) and #5 (sweet). The salads, nachos, baked potato, potato salad and cole slaw are also gluten free. Whole Hog's pork took first place in the 2013 New Jersey State BBQ Championship.

In Paoli, Redhound Grille (128 Paoli Pike, 484-318-8047) serves burgers and sandwiches on buns, gluten-free wings and fries from a dedicated fryer, and other items noted on its lunch and dinner menus. Redbridge and Woodchuck are available from the bar. Dishes are made from scratch and the kitchen takes precautions in preparing, handling and serving gluten-free orders.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Instant Gratification

Philadelphians know a thing or two about pretzels. With that pedigree, I'm qualified to pronounce Gratify's gluten-free sea salt pretzel thins a satisfying snack and a deserving dip companion.

I sampled Gratify's GFCO-certified pretzel sticks and yogurt-covered twists at a natural foods show last year before they hit the market, but didn't have the opportunity to try its other snacks until recently. I found the thins at Walmart earlier this summer (at $3.99 a bag) but waited until my son came home from camp before trying these. Turns out the entire family has taken to these - they're crisp and light. A bit buttery, I'd liken them taste-wise more to Glutino's pretzels than Snyder's. They're also closer to Glutino as to total fat and calories (more than Snyder's).

Friday, August 9, 2013

News & Notes: August 9, 2013

Since The Cheesecake Factory is an immensely popular restaurant chain, there will be no shortage of people who are excited to learn that its gluten-free menu, which had been in test mode in California, is rolling out nationally beginning this week. Yet it comes with a number of caveats.

The chain discloses up front on the menu that its kitchens are not gluten free, cross contact may occur, and some items may contain as much as 20 parts per million of gluten (incidentally, the new FDA standard as to gluten-free products). What's not stated - at least not without asking a manager or server about it - is that the fries, which are on the menu, may be prepped in shared fryers. The gluten-free fusilli is generally heated in the same water as wheat pasta, though I'm told that it can be prepared using fresh water in a clean pot upon request. The inclusion of Godiva chocolate cheesecake is curious since Godiva chocolate itself is not considered gluten free. (UPDATE 8/9/13: According to a customer relations rep I spoke with by phone today, the cheesecake is not made with Godiva's retail chocolate and tests under 20 ppm.) So what are likely to be safer choices? Salads, shepherd's pie, burgers served on gluten-free buns, roasted chicken and grilled steaks and salmon, to name a few.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Is there a cuisine that restaurateur Stephen Starr hasn't taken on? From Cuban to comfort food, from steak to seafood, the one-time Philly concert promoter has developed a trendy-restaurant portfolio that spans four states and the District of Columbia. One of his newest eateries, Fishtown's Fette Sau (1208 Frankford Ave., 215-391-4888), is a BBQ concept imported from New York City.

Friday, August 2, 2013

News & Notes: August 2, 2013

If it seems as though every week there's another gluten-free-friendly burger bar opening in these parts, you're not dreaming. This time out is Benny's Burger Joint in Collingswood (712-714 Haddon Ave., 856-854-2874). Chef-owner Alex Capasso recently closed his new American bistro Blackbird at that address to make way for the kid-friendly Benny's. (He's looking to relaunch Blackbird in Philadelphia.) Not only are gluten-free buns on hand, but the veggie burgers are also gluten free. Make note that the fries are cooked in a fryer shared with breaded sides. Benny's has started as a dinner-only restaurant, but will add lunch and brunch service later this month.

Animo's specials include gluten-free fusilli
tossed with hummus and vegetables
Philadelphia has another gluten-free quick-serve spot, which is always welcome by a eager business lunch crowd. Haddonfield's Animo Juice has brought its wraps, salads, healthy drinks and baked goods to a second location, this one in Center City West (1701 Arch St., 215-501-7754). (Thanks to readers Heather H. and Amanda C.)

In Fort Washington, Zakes Cafe (444 Bethlehem Pike, 215-654-7600) offers gluten-free and dairy-free soups and can modify most dishes that aren't already gluten free.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Snack in the Box

The popularity of fruit-of-the-month-clubs and wine-of-the-month subscriptions has inevitably spread to the gluten-free world. There are no less than six companies now competing in that space, all offering customers a curated mix of gluten-free products that they may not otherwise have a chance to try. Here's a rundown of the options:

Friday, July 26, 2013

News & Notes: July 26, 2013

Ribs from BigBites BBQ
A new restaurant is putting the 'cue in Quakertown. BigBites BBQ (641 S. West End Blvd., 267-227-3102) is nearly 100 percent gluten free, with the only items to be avoided are wheat bread and rolls and kids' macaroni and cheese, all of which are kept in separate areas. So what's safe to eat? How about the baby back ribs, pulled pork, chicken breast, chicken quarters, meatloaf and slow-smoked brisket. How about all of the sides, from potato and cucumber salads to corn bread (made with rice flour). Three members of the owners' family have celiac disease, so keeping the food preparation safe for those eating gluten free is a priority. There's no airborne flour, and when someone requests a sandwich on an Udi's gluten-free roll, the item is prepared by one employee from start to finish using fresh gloves and utensils. For now, BigBites is open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

Reader Kristin R. let me know via the Gluten Free Philly Facebook page that longtime Avalon Mexican spot Tortilla Flats (2540 Dune Drive, 609-967-5658) has a gluten-free menu that includes tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, chili, nachos and salads.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dearly Beloved

By Dori Molozanov

For Anna Hitchens, creating Cambodian desserts for her South Philadelphia-based bakery, Koliyan, is more than just a fledgling business. It's a way of preserving a personal history that was lost in the years after her parents fled Cambodia during the 1970s civil war and genocide. Hitchens and her husband, Tim, visited the southeast Asian kingdom last year on their honeymoon, and the trip opened her eyes to a culture that she had known so little about.

Friday, July 19, 2013

News & Notes: July 19, 2013

With all of the pizza and pasta mentions in this post, I'm renaming this Friday roundup compendio di venerdi.

Opening Monday in South Philadelphia is Kermit's Bake Shoppe (2204 Washington Ave., 267-639-4267), a take-out/delivery-only pizza shop and bakery. Taffets gluten-free baguettes will be sold there, as well as pizzas made separately with Taffets 12" shells.

Also in Philly, South Street's Bianca Pizza and Trattoria (514 South St., 215-629-9232) has gluten-free pizza prepped with dedicated ingredients and utensils. (Thanks Gabriella I.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Philadelphia has had many a beer festival over the years, but they haven't embraced gluten-free brews. This September, though, there'll be an event much more welcoming. Pour the Core: A Hard Cider Festival will be held on Sat., September 28 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

These days, hard ciders are enjoying popularity that's driven by both breweries and wineries taking advantage of the fast-growing interest and appeal, particularly among the gluten-free community. Philly’s very first hard cider festival will showcase the finest U.S.-produced and internationally-sourced ciders - more than 30 in all. Among the featured brands at the festival will be hard ciders from Virtue Cider, Strongbow, Stella Artois, Vermont Hard Cider Co., McKenzie’s Hard Cider, Blackthorn Cider, Original Sin, Ace Cider, Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, Spire Mountain Draft Cider and Anthem Cider. Woodchuck is the tasting glass sponsor and Strongbow will be hosting a special mixology tent for demos and instruction.

The event will take place outdoors, under tents, on the Parade Grounds in the Philadelphia Navy Yard (4747 S. Broad St.) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Food, including gluten-free options, will be available for sale from select members of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association. There will also be music and special seminars about cider, the making of cider, and the enjoyment of cider.

Tickets are $40 each when purchased in advance or $65 at the door on event day (if the event is not sold out). Tickets include admission to the festival, participation in special programming, a 5 oz. souvenir tasting glass, and the freedom to enjoy samples from participating exhibitors. Designated driver tickets are also available online for $10. No one under 21, including designated drivers, will be admitted and photo ID is required for entry. As always, enjoy responsibly.

Friday, July 12, 2013

News & Notes: July 12, 2013

The out-of-town "better burger" invasion has spread beyond Philadelphia borders into the suburbs. The latest to land is Burger Monger at the Willow Grove Mall (2500 W. Moreland Rd., 215-659-8099), which, like Burger 21 (new to Voorhees), originated in Tampa, Florida. Burger Monger's gluten-free patties and hot dogs are made with healthier Akaushi (Kobe-style) beef. The proteins, including Coleman free-range chicken, are prepared on a separate grill away from the bun grill and separate utensils are used. Customers can get Kinnikinick gluten-free buns for the sandwiches or order them wrapped with lettuce. The fries at Burger Monger are also gluten free, with no chance of cross-contamination since nothing else goes in the fryers. The kitchen uses separate containers for gluten-free milkshakes (made with Häagen-Dazs ice cream) since malteds are also on the menu.

A mini chain out of northern New Jersey, Zinburger, has opened on the old race track grounds in Cherry Hill (923 Haddonfield Rd., 856-488-7590). The restaurant is styled as a "wine & burger bar," with a selection of vino in addition to the standard menu of burgers, shakes and fries. The burgers themselves are gluten free, the fries are prepared in dedicated fryers, and shakes sans malt can be made separately. No buns, though customers can bring their own.

Meanwhile, Taffets gluten-free buns are now an option at Rittenhouse Square burger spot 500 Degrees (1504 Sansom St., 215-568-5000). (Thanks Lynda V. )

Reader Kara M. tells me that in Philadelphia's Washington Square West neighborhood, Mediterranean spot Barbuzzo (110 S. 13th St., 215-546-9300) accommodates gluten-free diners. At a recent meal, she and her husband enjoyed items on the cured meat board, roasted beet salad, grilled octopus salad, roasted bone marrow and the peanut butter gelato.

Also in Wash West, Paesano's Philly Style's newest location at Woody's Bar (202 S. 13th St., 215-545-1893) has gluten-free rolls for cheesesteaks.

Chifa, the Latin-Asian hybrid in the same neighborbood (707 Chestnut St., 215-925-5555), is closing after dinner service tomorrow night. Chef-owner Jose Garces plans to reconceptualize the restaurant as a Cuban diner.

Fette Sau, the Stephen Starr BBQ joint in Frankford (1208 Frankford Ave., 215-391-4888) has changed the formulations of two of its three table sauces so that only the "Spicy" sauce is gluten free. Thanks to reader Elizabeth R. for the heads-up.

More at the shore: The restaurant at the Blue Rose Inn in Cape May (653 Washington St., 609-435-5468) notes gluten-free options on its dinner menu and currently has a flourless chocolate cake and crème brûlée for dessert.

In Avalon, Kudos American Grille (2619 Dune Drive, 609-368-7422) has gluten-free pancakes and waffles at breakfast, bread and rolls at lunch, and pasta and chicken fingers at dinner, among other choices.

Just opened in Margate is Ginny's (8017 Winchester Ave., 609-816-9370), which has pancakes, oatmeal, and a separate toaster for bread, while nearby Bocca Coal Fired Bistro (7805 Ventnor Ave., 609-823-3663) offers separately prepared gluten-free pizza and pasta. Thanks to reader Lauren C. for those tips.

Readers Mark M. and Joseph let me know that Beiler's Bakery at Philly's famous Reading Terminal Market (51 N. 12th St., 215-351-0735) carries baked goods like lemon bars and cookies from Ruth Ann's Gluten-Free Bakery in Lancaster County.

Thanks to reader Jaime L., who sent me a photo of the new Pillsbury-branded gluten-free muffins. She picked them up in the freezer case in the gluten-free section at the King of Prussia Wegmans store for $3.79 for a package of four. As I wrote back in March, the GFCO-certified muffins are being produced by Uncle Wally's.

When it rains, it pours. Glutino's newest product is instant pancake mix, offering the convenience of a pourable bottle. It requires only one cup of water and, once opened, keeps in the fridge for up to four days. The mix's suggested retail price is $5.29.

And finally, in case you've been away for the holiday and missed the last couple of post, last week's feature post had a trailer for the upcoming YouTube gluten-free documentary series "Tasty Freedom," which will have a Philadelphia-themed episode, and on Tuesday I posted my review of Frito-Lay's new Ruffles Crispy Fries, a potato-stick snack.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael