Tuesday, January 29, 2019

CHOP Celiac Education Day Set for March 31

The Center for Celiac Disease at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia strives each year to provide children and caregivers with Celiac Disease a one-day, state-of-the-art multidisciplinary education program. Their annual education day centers around the mission of the Celiac team at CHOP to promote community awareness by providing families with evidence-based lectures provided by respected experts within the field. This year, the event will be held on Sunday, March 31 at the Colket Translational Research Building (3501 Civic Center Blvd.) in Philadelphia.

Both the clinical implications of Celiac Disease and the importance of adhering to a gluten-free diet, as well as future therapeutic treatments, will be discussed. Children in attendance are provided the opportunity to attend interactive age-specific lectures and to learn through play with CHOP's child-life specialists.

Registration for this event is free, but is limited to the child with Celiac Disease and one caregiver per family. RSVP online by March 27, 2019. On the day of the event, registration/breakfast begins at 8:15 a.m., and the program begins at 9 a.m. CHOP will offer complimentary gluten-free meals for lunch, and attendees can sample gluten-free products from several vendors.

Complimentary parking is available in the Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care parking garage (3500 Civic Center Blvd.). Bring your parking ticket to the registration desk for validation.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Celiac Center at 215-590-3076 or email Melinda Nichols.

Friday, January 25, 2019

News & Notes: January 25, 2019

Chicken skewers from Nunu in Fishtown are gluten free
Nunu, a Japanese izakaya in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia (1414 Frankford Ave., 215-278-2804), notes gluten-free options on its menu and has a dedicated fryer. Be sure to tell your server that you are ordering gluten free. The bar has sake, wines, cocktails and hard cider.

Cava, a fast-casual, Chipotle-like Mediterranean chain that's corporate siblings with Zoës Kitchen, opened its first area location yesterday in Rittenhouse Square (1713 Chestnut St.). Most menu items are gluten free.

Playa Bowls has another South Jersey outpost with the debut of a store in Cherry Hill (2010 W. Rt. 70, 856-320-2133). Most bowls and smoothies are gluten free and there is gluten-free granola available by request.

Another recent opening in the area is Whole Foods' newest store, this one a long-awaited location in Newtown Square (3737 West Chester Pike, 610-848-7200)

Thanks to reader Beth S., who let me know that Drip Cafe's two Delaware locations have gluten-free options. Both cafes - in Newark (60 N. College Ave., 302-565-4685) and Hockessin (144 Lantana Dr., 302-234-4430) - have dedicated fryers for options like chips, potatoes and polenta. While the menus vary seasonally, many items can be prepared gluten free.

Bright Spot Cafe in Exton (541 Wellington Sq., 484-909-3284) notes gluten-free options on its breakfast and lunch menus and serves gluten-free bread made by Rose's Gluten Free Bakery.

Southampton's allergen-friendly Sweet Megan Bakery has made it big. Its edible, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough will be sold in single-serve packages at all Wawa Markets beginning the week of Feb. 11.

Posh Pop Bakeshop, the gluten-free bakery in Haddonfield (109 Kings Hwy. E.), abruptly closed last week, with word on its social media accounts that it is relocating as of mid-February. As of this writing, however, there's no information on the new site.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Celiac Center will be hosting a Pre-Super Bowl party this Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Voorhees Specialty Care Center (1012 Laurel Oak Rd.). Today is the deadline to RSVP; email celiaccenter@email.chop.edu with the number of attendees and children's ages and bring a snack to share.

Have a great weekend!

- Michael

Friday, January 11, 2019

News & Notes: January 11, 2019

With a new year comes new products. Caulipower has launched a frozen, gluten-free cauliflower tortilla line with Original and Grain Free varieties. The Grain Free Cauliflower Tortilla features chickpea flour with 7 grams of protein and only 8 net carbs per tortilla. Both varieties will be available on Amazon and at select retailers this February.

Annie's new gluten-free cookie dough protein bars, with 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, come in two flavors: peanut butter and chocolate peanut butter.

No information is available on Udi's Gluten Free's website, but the company has released brownie and chocolate-flavored mug cake mixes.

Quinn Snacks' new gluten-free peanut butter-filled and dark chocolate peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets are available exclusively at Whole Foods. They’ll be in all stores by January 29th.

As I mentioned last summer, the Girl Scouts are introducing a new gluten-free cookie for the 2019 season. The chewy caramel chocolate chip cookie is made with semi-sweet chocolate chips, sea salt, caramel and gluten-free oat flour. Not all troops will have them and they are in limited quantities, so ask around early.

Katz Gluten Free has debuted mini muffins - blueberry, chocolate chip and fudge brownie. By ordering any of Katz's gluten-free baked goods through this link, you'll be supporting Gluten Free Philly through a small affiliate commission - thank you!

Del Frisco's Grille (225 S. Broad St., 215-309-1154) opened on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia last month. Lunch, dinner and brunch menus note gluten-free items.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Above and Beyond at Bocconcini

By Sara Blank

Bocconcini, a homestyle eatery just off of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts (1334 Pine St., 215-545-2482), has embraced what many restaurants ignore, joining its neighbor Giorgio on Pine at the forefront of gluten-free Italian dining in Philadelphia. While other restaurants may add an obligatory gluten-free pasta dish or pizza to their menu without taking precautions to avoid cross contact, Bocconcini is at the other extreme. This makes sense, as the chef-owner of Bocconcini, Crystal Fox, was the one-time chef at Giorgio on Pine, the original gluten-free-before-anyone-else restaurant. In fact, Bocconcini took over the former location of Giorgio Pizza on Pine in 2017.

After settling in during a recent visit, our server's first question was whether we were gluten free. I was dining with two friends - one of whom, like me, maintains a gluten-free diet and another who has no food restrictions. As the server brought out a generous, complimentary plate of gluten-free bread, she helpfully explained that the entire standard menu could be made gluten free.

Our server explained that the seriousness of avoiding cross-contamination was so important that absolutely nothing with gluten was allowed in or near the fryer. Items that went in the fryer, such as meatballs, universally use gluten-free ingredients like breadcrumbs to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination. In unison, my gluten-free friend and I asked, “Why?” wondering if there was Celiac in someone's family or even if the chef herself had an allergy. Refuting these theories, she explained that Fox is passionate about creating a positive and safe experience for everyone who loves gluten-free food.

Bocconcini is ideal for a night on the town regardless of whether one has dietary restrictions. A huge draw for dates or a friends' night out is that Bocconcini is BYOB, which takes the sting out of ordering expensive cocktails and justifies a splurge on pricier menu options or an extra appetizers. Having split two starters and enjoying our own entrées, we walked away paying less than $50 a person - and with leftovers. For appetizers, we enjoyed the fist-sized meatballs smothered in cheese and fried cauliflower served over a fra diavolo sauce. Both dishes were amazing; having meatballs was particularly exciting since most restaurant versions are not gluten free, while the fried cauliflower was surprisingly flavorful - reminiscent of General Tso’s chicken. While the menu offers many delicious-sounding options, my fellow gluten-free diner could not resist ordering penne a la vodka with crab and wilted spinach. Meanwhile, our non-gluten-free companion shared the appetizers but opted for a traditional ravioli dish.

Hopefully, Bocconcini marks a trend in homestyle Italian restaurants creatively exploring options for those with dietary restrictions. In the meantime, grab a couple bottles of wine and stretchable pants for a night out at Bocconcini. You’ll leave healthy, but never hungry

Sara Blank is a 26-year-old agency copywriter living in Center City Philadelphia. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at age 18, right when "gluten free" entered the zeitgeist. Follow her on Instagram at @SarBlank.