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