Monday, April 30, 2007


On Sunday I attended the second Gluten-Free Vendor Fair hosted by the Suffolk County Celiacs. I can't cover every aspect of this impressive event, but here's an overview.

The fair took place in Roosevelt Hall of SUNY Farmingdale. This is a view of the vendor entrance, where you can barely see the Suffolk County Celiacs greenshirts "guarding" the door.

Outside the main entrance, cherry blossoms blew in the breeze.

Inside--past the Marble Slab Creamery of Lindenhurst ice cream stand at the entryway--there was a big, big crowd. How big? Late in the afternoon, organizer Michael Thorn was excited to hear that the number was around 1400, which he said was double the attendance of last year's event!

In the crowd were lots of familiar faces, including Lou Zimet, a member of the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group, and Dr. Peter Green, who came across as calm, cool, casual, and convivial before the first of his two presentations.

Also present (unless I'm mistaken, which is, of course, always a possibility) and other "cast members" from Generation Gluten-Free: Sue Goldstein...Pat MacGregor...Beth Hillson of Gluten-Free Pantry...George and Ceil Chookazian of Foods by George. Hm. Too bad there wasn't an autograph table!

I noticed Ann Whelan of Gluten-Free Living, too. And nutritionist Anne Roland Lee of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

I spotted a bunch of other New York City people, including the amazing Erin of Gluten-Free Fun, who very thoughtfully handed out New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group stickers to keep us from having identity crises. (I forgot to tell Erin some nice things but I'll try to make up for that this week.) And I overcame my usual shyness to say "hi" to Kelly of the CeliacChicks. (Yet I forgot to tell her that, outside the building, I had seen a little celiac chick looking incredibly precious in Chick Couture.)

Among the dozens vendors, one of the main attractions was Joan's GF Great Bakes. That table was buzzing with folks buying bagels as well as chocolate chip cookies and English muffins. (The muffins--which, I hear, sold out pretty fast--are egg-free and dairy-free as well as gluten-free.) Here's Joan herself!

And here's an action photo at the table of another welcome returnee from last year: Everybody Eats. Love those crusty breads!

Not far away was Caffe Baldo's Joanne...

...supervising the distribution of some of her specialties--including her famous pizza! (Check out the cheese, please.)

Okay. We've sampled the bagels. We've sampled the pizza. What else might one expect to find at a Long Island food fair?

Chinese food, of course! One of the more popular (and generous) tables was for New York City's own Gourmet Land. I'm still being told that GFRAP membership is in the works--can't be soon enough, as far as this blogger is concerned.

As for the sweet treats, I'll start with Julianna's Delectible Fruit. I particularly enjoyed her raspberry and blueberry jams--gifts for my mom--and I was blown away by her story: She received her diagnosis about a year after earning a degree in Pastry Arts. Ouch!

I accidentally erased my shot of Julianna and her goodies,'s Julianna's jalopy?

Near Julianna was the table for Massapequa's sugar-free and gluten-free Low Carb Bakery, where (near the end of the day) I managed to grab a wonderfully creamy morsel of an almond-topped cheesecake.

Close to the center of the room was an amazing sight: a box of gluten-free cannoli shells from John of Mama's Italian Restaurant in Oakdale. See the picture? That's just the top layer!

Also represented: chocolate.

At the Legal Sea Foods table, I discovered that the chain now offers a rich flourless chocolate cake.

The chocolatier Heather, of Centerport's Azure Chocolat, shared a table with her ebullient friend Nicole Bubolo, a.k.a. The Benevolent Baker. When I was finally ready for my shot, Nicole was off at the cooking panel, so I had to settle for a blurry picture of Heather and her webmaster Alex, who is Nicole's husband. Got that? He actually hit the road to resupply the Azure Chocolat table after supplies ran out.

That wouldn't have worked for Tuesday of Empire Torte, who came down from Massachusetts...

 dole out platters of her intense chocolate morsels.

Some others traveled great distances. A Kinnikinnick contingent came all the way from Edmonton, Alberta--and managed to catch Christopher Plummer in Inherit the Wind on the way. And coming in from the Philly area was Mr. Ritt's...

...which (I learned) is on the move to Millville, New Jersey--more on that at a later date, I hope.

In the meantime, here's the Rittsmobile, back from a recent trip to Detroit!

I wish I could show you the Cherrybrook Kitchen chariot, but I guess I screwed that up, too. I also failed to take a shot of what I believe is a vintage Silly Yak bumper sticker. But, as I prowled through the crowded parking lots, I did see this on one car's passenger window.

Hey...did you make it all the way to the end of this post? If so: Way to go!

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, April 28, 2007


On Sunday, April 29, 2007, restaurants participating in Dining for Darfur will donate 5% of their gross sales to the International Rescue Committee’s humanitarian relief efforts to help hundreds of thousands of people uprooted by the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

As far as I can tell, Lumi is the only GFRAP restaurant participating in this fundraising drive. So, if you're not already committed to the Vendor Fair in Farmingdale (and maybe even if you are), Sunday could be a great day to sample the fare at Lumi.


Source (2:28)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Looking for gifts for gluten-free mommies? Check out the shirts and other goodies at the Gluten-Free NYC Boutique!

Thanks to everyone who's complimented the amazing GFNYCB alphabet design (below)--and a cascade of continuing kudos to Debbie Glasserman Design for coming up with such a clever thing, available on shirts as well as mousepads and supercool magnets that stick to metal without glue or tape!

And, speaking of magnets, here's a funny scene from the Danny Kaye vehicle The Court Jester.

Source (9:59)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Regarding The Case of the Starbucks Brownies, I've posted updated info here.

Regarding the closing of Tropica, I've posted an update here.

Monday, April 23, 2007


First, the good news: Bistango now welcomes gluten-free customers with delicious bread from Everybody Eats. Great choice!

And now, the not-so-good news: Tropica is "closed for renovations." I'm trying to get more details.

UPDATE A GFRAP representative informs me that Tropica is temporarily closed pending relocation in the same building.

UPDATE April 24, 2007 Here's an interesting note from the Patina Restaurant Group, which runs Tropica and other centrally located restaurants in Manhattan (and elsewhere): "Thank you for inquiring about Tropica. We hope to reopen by the start of 2008 in a new location on the Vanderbilt Avenue side of the MetLife Building. We are currently in the process of developing specific gluten-free menus to be available at our restaurants Café Centro, Brasserie, Brasserie 8 ½, and Naples 45. The current menus for these restaurants can be found at"

Sunday, April 22, 2007


There's still a little time to let the FDA know your thoughts about creating standards for "gluten-free" labels.

You can get a briefing on the proposal via the website for the Celiac Disease Foundation, which also links to the FDA website, where electric submissions can be made. At present, there's also a summary at the Gluten Intolerance Group's advocacy web page. To find the docket where you can submit your own comments electronically, you might want to take note of the docket number: 2005N-0279. Comments should be submitted by Monday, April 23, 2007.

I'm not sure if what I sent is the kind of thing the FDA could use, but I kept it short and basically made three points: First, I thanked the FDA for paying attention to the issue. Then I suggested that labels disclose ppm levels instead of merely labeling something "gluten-free" or not. (In other words, rather than just say "gluten-free" or not, the label could say something like 5 ppm, 10 ppm, 20 ppm, 100 ppm, or 200 ppm depending on the product concerned and the limits of testing. I wrote that "This might make it easier to accommodate variations in standards among different countires and also enable consumers to make very informed judgments.") I also encouraged the FDA to do what it could to focus on the question of oats (and possible reactions to other grains) because it seems to me that more research needs to be done in that area.

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 20, 2007


This post includes updates based on two customer service callbacks.

As you might have noticed, Starbucks is test marketing Aztec Ancho Chile [sic] Brownies that are labeled as GLUTEN FREE. This is how they look in a display case.

I'm glad that Starbucks is test marketing a gluten-free brownie in NYC. It's heartening to think that a chain as large and popular as Starbucks is showing interest in customers on gluten-free diets. It's exciting to think that I could basically step out of my apartment building and find a gf brownie within a minute, or that at some point I could easily get a gluten-free brownie (or, dare I imagine, gluten-free sandwiches and the like) at an airport, a highway rest stop, or wherever else Starbucks can be found.

That said, I have some comments that I sincerely hope will be taken as helpful by Starbucks and any others interested in marketing gluten-free food.

First: You must be sure that the food is gluten-free at all points in the production process. It should not, for instance, be cross-contaminated in the bakery (as was apparently the case with products from Florida's DeLand Bakery, which were incorrectly marketed as gluten-free for a considerable, confusing, and sickening time). [UPDATE 2 In a second customer service callback from Starbucks, I've been told that, while the brownies are prepared in a facility that processes gluten, measures are taken to prevent cross-contamination and that testing has measured the gluten content of the brownies at less than 20 ppm gluten, which would make it acceptable under many standards, including those currently being considered by the FDA.]

Second: You must make sure that the food does not become contaminated at the point of service, including the display case. In the case of the brownies, this probably means making sure each brownie is individually wrapped, perhaps like these Madelines, which are also sold at Starbucks.

Here is how long-trusted Foods by George packages its individually-wrapped brownies. (I'm sorry about the poor focus, but take my word for it: It's well-wrapped and pretty well-labeled.)

Third: You must make sure the ingredients are clear and available to anyone who is interested in them. I asked a friendly barista about the ingredients, but that person was unable to find that information. Today I called customer service at Starbucks and spoke with a nice customer service representative who couldn't find out the ingredients but told me a specialist would look into the matter. [UPDATE I heard back from Starbucks the evening after I made this post. The ingredients are: sugar, whole eggs, unsalted butter, rice flour, chocolate liqueur, soybean oil, cocoa processed with alkali, corn starch, and less than 2% of each of the following: salt, vanilla extract, and spices (ancho chili powder, chili de arbo powder, and cinnamon).]

Fourth: Consider working with a reputable organization (such as the Washington-based Gluten-Free Certification Organization) to make sure your product will, in fact, be acceptable for people on gluten-free diets.

I am salivating over the prospect of buying gluten-free brownies at Starbucks, but so far I haven't taken the plunge. Yesterday I saw that they seem to arrive in sealed containers--

--but I'm not yet confident that they haven't been cross-contaminated in production or at the point of purchase, where (as pictured near the top of this post) they've typically been shoved amidst a bunch of gluten-containing items. I have little idea of what the ingredients might be--so, basically, the only indication that they're gluten-free is that little sign on the brownie that's being test marketed. [See above update for ingredient list.]

Today wasn't the first day I tried to get more information. Two days ago I phoned Starbucks to learn more and had a good talk with a different nice customer service representative who took my number so that a specialist could call me back with more information. So far I haven't gotten that follow-up call either.

I did learn that, because malt has been discontinued as a Starbucks extra, java chips are officially the only "problem" ingredient in the coffees that could be prepared at the counter. So that's good to know.

Thanks to The New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group for the lead in the case.

UPDATE 2 I'm told the test marketing of the brownies will continue through mid-May.

It seems to me that the safest way to try the brownie is to either buy them in bulk, in the sealed plastic shell, or to order one out of the sealed plastic shell and watch to make sure no cross-contamination takes place.

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I shudder to think about how rotten gluten-free life in NYC would be without the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group (WCSSG).

Founded by Sue Goldstein in 1991, the WCSSG didn't just launch the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program. The group played host to expert speakers, built positive and productive relationships with vendors such as Foods By George, organized mass blood tests that led to many positive diagnoses and advances in celiac research, forged a strong relationship with Dr. Peter Green and Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, and raised funds and supplied volunteers for numerous events, including the recent international symposium at the New York Hilton. And the WCSSG is also behind those cuddly Gluten-Free Traveling Bears Teff, Quinoa, and Buckwheat.

Susan Cohen's DVD Generation Gluten-Free offers an inspiring and heartwarming oral history of how members of the WCSSG had a favorable influence that reached far beyond the borders of the group's home county. Among the many people interviewed for the well-edited 42-minute documentary are Sue Goldstein, Dr. Green, GFRAP founder Pat MacGregor, George and Ceil Chookazian of Foods by George, Beth Hillson of the Gluten-Free Pantry, Joe Pace of Risotteria, and Lou Zimet, in my experience one of the friendliest and most welcoming members of the Westchester group.

I recommend Generation Gluten-Free to anyone who wants a better understanding of how the greater metropolitan area came to be as gluten-free as it is and of how gluten-free people anywhere can organize to have a lasting, positive impact. (It might also be useful to show to family members of the diagnosed.) It's available for a mere $2 (shipping and handling) from
Musical Tapestries Inc.
P.O. Box 4193
Great Neck, NY 11023

EXTRA! Not so very long ago, Susan Cohen was also teen editor of the children's gluten-free cookbook Nothing Beats Gluten-Free Cooking.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


There's still time to pre-register for the second Long Island Gluten Free Vendor Fair, hosted by Suffolk County Celiacs and scheduled for 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday, April 29, 2007 at Farmingdale State College. Basic admission is a very reasonable $5.

Among the main attractions:
Talk by Dr. Peter Green (additional $5)
Against the Grain Gourmet Foods
Celiac Chicks
Everybody Eats
Foods by George
Joan's GF Great Bakes
Mr. Ritts
Want more information about exotic-sounding Farmingdale, Long Island? I've put together a map of the area, with select gluten-free locations in green and some more generic attractions in yellow.

Also of possible interest: My dining map of Gluten-Free NYC.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Presenting: Glutino Spinach and Feta Pizza with googly eyes a la Amy a hot red pepper smile a la GFNYC!

This pizza inspired by A Gluten Free Guide's Pizza Party.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Stephanie Barlow writes up the reopened Risotteria in the current New York Press. She's pretty positive, but I think her review gets a little confusing when she writes, "When it comes to dessert, Risotteria is fine for those who can’t eat gluten, but everyone else should stick to traditional cookies ($2.25 each)." Reading that, you might think that the cookies are made with gluten, but the last time I checked they were gluten-free too. She also gives short shrift to the cheesecake and especially the carrot cake as far as my own dessert preferences are concerned.

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


* NOTE Jackson & Wheeler has closed. *

The wonderful Westchester branch of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) has brought the Pleasantville restaurant Jackson & Wheeler into the network.

Jackson & Wheeler--which caters onsite and offsite--is conveniently located across from the Pleasantville Metro North Station and the Jacob Burns Film Center (which has a good Italian festival coming up).

Here's a sweet, springy excerpt from the 1998 movie Pleasantville.

Source (1:30)

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Here's young Simon Reynolds waxing about "Being a Coeliac" as part of a poetry slam.

Source (2:24)

And here's another one of his performances: "Half Life/Night Life."

Source (2:55)

Friday, April 06, 2007


With the help of her husband Peter, Ellen Allard of I Am Gluten Free has come up with an online video and a set of instructions for making a "quick" gluten-free matzo using a mix from Breads from Anna. (It's a dairy, Sephardic matzo, in case that's a concern.)

In her post, Ellen also offers recipes for macaroons and other traditional Passover foods. Charoset is a sweet fruit-and-nut mix that can function like a jam or a cranberry jelly. Just beware of the horseradish--it's hot and actually used at a Passover meal to draw tears of pain. I kid you not--the hottest horseradish I ever had practically made steam come out of my ears!

Come to think of it, maybe someone put horseradish in this cow's feed.

Source (00:09)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Last year the Zagat restaurant survey for New York City finally acknowledged the existence of gluten-free food.

Zagat will accept restaurant evaluations for this year's edition through May 13, 2007. Yeah, that's right: May 13, 2007! (Just wanted to make sure that's clear.)

Monday, April 02, 2007


Is there anyone out there who doesn't love the bagels from Joan's GF Great Bakes? Perhaps you recall that I raved about 'em back in June, after getting a taste at the first Long Island Gluten-Free Vendor Fair (pictured above). And just days ago, CeliacChick Kelly revealed Joan's "secret to good taste."

Joan's GF Great Bakes is scheduled to be at the 2007 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair on Sunday, April 29, in Farmingdale. The bagels and other goodies are still not sold in the Big Apple, but they can be shipped...and also bought from the following retailers outside the city. Joan (second from the right) suggests you call ahead to make sure the goodies will be there for you or your designated buyer.
The Happy Carrot
636 Kinderkamack Road
River Edge, NJ

Sweet Karma Desserts
550 East Meadow Avenue
East Meadow (Long Island)

The Diet Shop
600-16 Portion Road
Ronkonkoma (Long Island)

39 N. Main Street
Sayville (Long Island)

Photo: David Marc Fischer