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.