Monday, July 30, 2007


This weekend I visited the Kwik-E-Mart on 42nd Street, just north of the Port Authority.

Homer Simpson greeted me at the door. Somehow I don't think those were Poughkeepsie Soul Dogs in his hands. And way in the back? That's Apu keeping an eye on the guy.

I found Marge over by the freezer. For some reason I couldn't see any Gaga's Sherbetter inside.

I even caught a glimpse of Maggie, who seemed content chomping on her gluten-free pacifier.

I looked for Bart and Lisa, but they must've been out. I hear Bart gets a kick out of skateboarding the Guggenheim, and I imagine that Lisa might've been blowing saxophone duets on the Staten Island Ferry with Allyson Fabes.

Identified as the Big Apple's equivalent of Lisa Simpson in the current Time Out New York, Allyson is a talented ten-year-old Staten Islander who likes math and plays saxophone. And she also has celiac disease, according to Caitlin Hogan in the Staten Island Advance.

A funny thing about this is that the character of Milhouse Van Houten, who has a major crush on Lisa, is allergic to wheat. I'm glad I didn't catch him eating any donuts at the Kwik-E-Mart!

The next time things sour with Lisa, Milhouse should give Allyson a call and meet her at the Staten Island Outback. I bet she could give him some good advice over a serving of gluten-free Chocolate Thunder from Down Under.

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Perhaps you've heard of Gawker, the snarky gossip and media news site that is one of the most heavily visited blogs in the world. Right now it's ranked at 28 on Technorati's list of Popular Blogs—ahead of Hot Air (34) by Michelle Malkin but behind Seth's Blog (11) by the guy who ran off with my high school prom date. (I kid you not.)

Anyway, about that snarky thing: The writers at Gawker like to entertain their readers by invoking stereotypes of groups such as the Jews. Predictably, some of The Chosen have started whining about this sort of thing, but Gawker has repeatedly explained that it was merely being hilariously funny! After all, what could be more comedic than echoing al Qaeda again and again on the Internets?

And it's not like Gawker only mocks the Jews. Lately there's also been some riotous polling over whether Wesleyan or Sarah Lawrence is the most obnoxious liberal arts college ever. OMGLOL!!! And, just yesterday, Gawker ventured into new snark territory in a post alluding to celiac disease. Oh, what will they think of next?

Here's the Gawker item, which came to my attention thanks to Erin of Gluten-Free Fun and the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group. The boldface is mine!
Why There Are No Fat People At Wesleyan

A few weeks ago, we would've titled this post "Why There Are No Fat People At Oberlin," but a new day has dawned. Anyway! A study came out the other day about fat kids, and guess what? They're less likely to go to college. Not only that, but if they're at a school surrounded by thin kids, they're even less likely to go to college!
Obese girls were only half as likely as non-obese girls to go to college after high school, and were even less likely to enter college if they went to a high school where few other students were overweight, says [University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert] Crosnoe. But obese girls who went to high school with a sizable overweight population—where heavy girls represented about 20% of the student body -- had normal odds of attending college. "The more it makes you stand out from the crowd, the worse it is," says Crosnoe.
Since most Wesleyan feeder schools are either private or one of those rich suburban high schools where the girls all happen to have celiac disease, and the fat girls are treated like Martha Dumptruck, it's not surprising that the campus would look like an Undereaters Anonymous retreat. Skinny jeans, people! There's a reason they don't come in big sizes!
So where does this celiac reference come from? Is it based on reality or just deeply ignorant...I mean, a brilliant invention cooked up by Gawker?

Whatever the answers might be, I was impressed by a few of the responses. Wrote Jane T:
I'm not sure why you associate celiac disease with being underweight? A recent study of 371 people with celiac disease found that only 5% were underweight, 57% were normal, and 39% were overweight (13% of all patients were in the obese range) at diagnosis. To make matters worse, 81% of them gained weight on the gluten free diet! Producers of gluten free foods seem to use sugar to disguise the taste of their foods. A slice of gluten free bread is usually about half the size of a normal slice of bread with similar or more calories.

It may not seem an important issue but many people are not diagnosed because of this misconception. Even doctors are telling patients that it's not worth testing for celiac because they are too fat so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that you think the same! Untreated celiac disease puts them at increased risk of anemia, osteoporosis and various cancers.

You seem to be implying that people with celiac are following a fad diet in order to lose weight and I know there are plenty of these around. But I hardly think the UK National Health Service would supply gluten free food on prescription and spend money on biopsies annual blood tests and appointments with specialists for a fad diet.

This type of attitude also makes life difficult for people with celiac disease when they eat out. It's difficult to trust assurances that there is no gluten in a meal when it's obvious the waitress thinks you just on a fad diet and it won't make any difference if there's just a bit of gluten in there. Unfortunately this will often be enough to confine many celiacs to the bathroom for a day or so (though not all have an obvious reaction) and the damage caused to the intestines will take between 3 weeks to 3 months to heal.
Wrote CeliacChick Kelly Courson:
Thanks for mentioning celiac disease, Gawker!! We need all the media attention we can get to raise awareness for the nearly 3 million (1 out of 100)Americans that are undiagnosed!
I find it interesting you link celiac disease to suburban rich girls. Could it be that they can afford good health care to finally get a proper diagnosis? Hmmm...
And here's the word from Teenage Witch:
god damn. i'm living the fucking american dream! i'm gluten intolerant (celiac), over-weight, upper middle class, went to private high-school AND liberal arts college and still gettin laid.
Ooooo...fighting snark with snark!

But seriously: that study cited by Jane T? Entitled "Overweight in Celiac Disease: Prevalence, Clinical Characteristics, and Effect of a Gluten-Free Diet" and published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2006, it can be found over at Medscape, which might require registration. The conclusion states:
Few celiac patients are underweight at diagnosis and a large minority is overweight; these are less likely to present with classical features of diarrhea and reduced hemoglobin. Failed or delayed diagnosis of celiac disease may reflect lack of awareness of this large subgroup. The increase in weight of already overweight patients after dietary gluten exclusion is a potential cause of morbidity, and the gluten-free diet as conventionally prescribed needs to be modified accordingly.
The study highlights include the following:
  • A minority of celiac patients present with classic symptoms due to malabsorption.
  • Of 371 celiac patients, only 4% were underweight while 39% were overweight.
  • Overweight patients are less likely to be female, report diarrhea, or have high grade villous atrophy, and have higher hemoglobin concentrations and bone mineral densities.
  • A majority of overweight patients gain further weight with gluten exclusion.
  • To avoid delay or failure of diagnosis, physicians need to be aware that celiac patients often have high BMI, with milder clinical presentations.
  • Dietary advice needs tailoring to facilitate weight loss and prevent further gain in overweight patients.

  • DID YOU KNOW? Gawker has touched on gluten-free matters before. Back in the day (a.k.a. February 2006), Gawker referred readers to this item by Gluten-Free Girl.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007


    I recently had the pleasure of visiting the casually elegant Long Island restaurant Emerson's on two occasions, sampling a number of gluten-free dishes in the process.

    In fact, one of the great things about this addition to the Gluten-Free Restaurant Program (GFRAP) is that one can actually choose among a variety of gluten-free appetizers, entrees, and desserts. So I've still got a lot of Emerson's menu items on my "to eat" list, but I've also managed to come up with enough favorites for an excellent three-course meal.

    For starters, I was impressed by the Tuna Tartare, a succulent cylinder of sushi-grade tuna and guacamole topped by ginger.

    My pick for the main course: Long Island Duck 2 Ways (pictured). Crispy on the bone or sliced and swimming in a sweet and pungent sauce, both ways were moist and very tasty snuggled alongside mashed potatoes.

    For dessert I was bowled over by the Crème Brûlée. A thin layer of chocolate syrup rested underneath the incredibly smooth custard—billed as pistachio but tasting almondy to my companion and me. The flavors complemented each other marvelously.

    Located at 69 Deer Park Avenue in Babylon (near the southwest shore of Suffolk County), Emerson's is fairly close to the Babylon Long Island Railroad Station. There is metered parking on Deer Park Avenue and a large set of parking lots east of the entryway.

    Photos: David Marc Fischer

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007


    Today's New York Times includes substantial coverage of gluten-free dining in New York City—but if you're reading this, there's a good chance you already know that, because the main article mentions this very blog (among other blogs for the gluten-free in NYC).

    The blog nods from the Times can be found in "For the Gluten-Averse, a Menu That Works" by Jennifer Romolini. Her article focuses largely on the Greenwich Village restaurant Risotteria but also offers an unusually nuanced overview of what it's like to dine gluten-free in the city: potential relationship issues, the communal feeling among patrons at Risotteria, the recent addition of Everybody Eats bread at Bistango, Catherine's "crouton surprise" found at the bottom of a salad, and the growing number of sympathetic restaurants in the Big Apple (although, as Dr. Peter Green notes, "In a city as big as New York, for there to be so few safe restaurants, that’s just really bad").

    The coverage [noted this morning on NY1's "In the Papers" media roundup] extends to the gluten-free cooking experimentation of Risotteria's Joseph Pace, then takes a big, important step in sharing a version of Risotteria's breadstick recipe—that's what I call generous!

    The Times package also includes "Especially for the Sensitive Diner", a list of city restaurants with gluten-free dishes; most of the eateries participate in the invaluable Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) and appear on the Gluten-Free NYC Dining Map.

    After my first reading of the coverage, I do have one quibble: The main article states that gluten "lurks in soy sauce, brewer’s yeast, bourbon, vegetable starch, vinegars, salad dressings, processed cheeses and some spices." Bourbon and vinegars should not have been included on the list. [Clarification: Malt vinegar is widely recognized as being forbidden on a gluten-free diet. However, research so far (including reports from myth debunker Ann Whelan of Gluten-Free Living, which has advisory boards including Dr. Joseph Murray of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Peter Green as well as dietitians Cynthia Kupper of the Gluten Intolerance Group and Anne Lee) supports the position that vinegars are basically suitable for people on gluten-free diets. I am not aware of any research findings that support the idea that bourbon is unsuitable for a gluten-free diet. There are certainly instances of individuals claiming to have "a reaction" to bourbon and non-malt vinegars as well as other foods...and I do think that individual reports should be taken seriously...but I also think that research findings must be recognized, especially when sharing information through mass media, including newspapers and the Internet. Considering individual reports and years of my own experiences with my understanding of the research, I don't think there is evidence of any gluten in bourbon or, say, white or rice or balsamic vinegar or even spices (as opposed to spice mixes), but I would certainly welcome more research on the subject.]

    [And now, after reading the message board of the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group, I realize that the article doesn't clearly communicate that there is indeed an active Meetup group in the city. No biggee—I just thought I'd offer the link in case anyone might have an interest.]

    DID YOU KNOW? I ate an entire Risotteria cupcake while writing this post!

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007


    The midtown GFRAP restaurant Bloom's has reopened after having to close following last week's massive steam pipe eruption. As mentioned previously, Bloom's was previously closed for a much longer spell due to fire.

    Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Monday, July 23, 2007


    The Gluten-Free NYC Boutique is about much more than shirts. Just imagine yourself driving around town sporting this button...

    ...while your car sports this bumper sticker (may appear smaller than it actually is).

    But hey: Don't take that bumper sticker thing too literally....

    Source (2:37)

    Saturday, July 21, 2007


    Here's a Spanish language anthem for people with celiac disease. The performance appears to be part of an event sponsored by Ley Celíaca Argentina, a group of Argentine advocates seeking legislation to improve gluten-free conditions in their home country. The origin of Ley Celíaca Argentina< seems to go back to an Internet mailing list started on September 17, 2004.

    Source (3:36)

    Thursday, July 19, 2007


    Nobody answered the phone when I called the midtown GFRAP restaurant Bloom's this morning (July 19, 2007), so I'm guessing that it's temporarily closed in the aftermath of yesterday's huge steam pipe eruption, which was very close by. Here's to a swift and safe reopening! [Update: Bloom's is back in operation as of July 24, 2007.]

    You might recall that, not long ago, Bloom's closed due to fire. Never a dull moment in the GFRAP restaurant biz....

    Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    Take heart, gluten-free foodies, including those of the diabetic persuasion! There was a marked increase in gluten-free items at this year's Fancy Food Show in Manhattan, according to Dianne Weisberger of the well-liked Staten Island health food store Fit Foods (23 Nelson Ave, Staten Island, NY, 718-966-4444). And some of the fancy foods-in-the-making promise to be suitable for people with diabetes as well as celiac disease.

    Staff writer Maura Grunlund quotes Weisberger in today's Staten Island Advance article "Increase in healthful foods featured at Fancy Food Show," which refers to gluten-free foods from several vendors including Bone Suckin', New England Herbal Foods, and Terra Nostra Organic Chocolate.

    What really grabbed my attention was the mention of a gluten-free cupcake and other baked goodies from Aunt Gussie's Cookies & Crackers, which currently does not market gluten-free food. However, I just spoke with Marilyn Caine, Aunt Gussie's founder, who told me that a new line of gluten-free products was in preparation at a separate facility, and that some of them would be sweetened with the natural sugar alcohol xylitol. She fielded my trick question about whether any of her "gluten-free" foods will contain spelt (they won't) and sounded very excited about meeting the needs of people on special diets.

    Monday, July 16, 2007


    I recently visited Sweet Karma on Long Island. At this small East Meadow bakery, just south of Hempstead Turnpike, I found two gluten-free dome-shaped confections: Cappuccino Commotion and a Dark Chocolate Mousse. Under the bakership of Brian Fishman, Sweet Karma prepares other items with gluten, but Brian assured me that these items were whipped up first after a thorough cleaning. Some were in the middle of a display case with non-GF food, but I was able to purchase four frozen (discounted from the $3.75/dome price) and enjoy them later, after they had thawed and become creamy and fluffy and delicate as well guessed it...sweet!

    Sweet Karma also sells Joan's bagels and English muffins and hopes to expand and perhaps move at a future date. It's currently at 550 East Meadow Avenue (516-794-4478).

    Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Saturday, July 14, 2007


    New York City hospitals and a popular GFRAP restaurant in NYC recently received top rankings in national publications.

    U.S. News and World Report ranked the Best Hospitals in America 2007. The only NYC hospital to make the Honor Roll of the strongest all-around medical centers is New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, which ranked sixth—behind Johns Hopkins (Maryland), The Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), UCLA Medical Center (California), Cleveland Clinic (Ohio), and Massachusetts General Hospital.

    U.S. News and World Report
    also offered a breakdown of the rankings according to specialty. Here are some top-rated NYC hospitals according to some relevant specialties:
    9. Mount Sinai Medical Center
    13. New York-Presbyterian

    5. New York-Presbyterian
    28. NYU Medical Center

    3. New York-Presbyterian
    11. NYU Medical Center

    3. Hospital for Special Surgery
    11. NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases
    16. New York-Presbyterian
    And now, on to the food!

    City magazine compiled a list of 101 Favorite Restaurants nationwide. New York City dominates with 11 restaurants including Jean Georges, Lupa, Vong, and...Risotteria, ranked 27! Risotteria even has its own category: Italian/Gluten-Free!

    So...congrats to Risotteria's staff and its owner, Joe Pace, and thanks to City for recognizing gluten-free cuisine. And thanks for the lead to Scott of Scoboco—one of my very favorite NYC blogs.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007


    I recently read that July is American Beer Month, so I guess it's fitting that, just days ago, I followed a screening of the excellent French crime thriller Le Doulos with a Redbridge at the Peculier Pub. The bartender didn't quite recognize the name, but she managed to find me a bottle anyway.

    Meanwhile, it seems that I blinked and missed Sprecher's Shakparo Ale (right) before it sold out at Park Slope's Bierkraft (where, distribution willing, it could well return), and that Mbege Ale, the Wisconsin brewer's other African-style offering, has yet to arrive in the Big Apple. I'm very curious about Mbege, which is made with bananas! (Scroll down here for more info.)

    And even though Green's beer originates in Belgium, I'll also take this opportunity share the good news that it seems to be on the way to New York City, though its arrival date is uncertain. As you might recall, I've already praised Green's Discovery, which friends brought back from England. Now, in line with this Beer Advocate report, it looks like Discovery has arrived in North America, along with Green's Endeavour Dubbel Ale ("a hint of dark-sugar and toffee flavor, with a traditional Belgian yeast bouquet") and Quest Tripel ("fairly light body for beer of this strength; a spice and herb nose, with flavors of candied fruit. Aromatic, long finish"). Bring on the flavor!

    BREAKING! I just learned that several cases of Mbege are making their way to Bierkraft.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007


    The Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group and Foods by George are among the eight new members of the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA), the advocacy organization announced in a press release today.

    Other ACDA members associated with the greater New York metropolitan area are Gluten-Free Living and the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. The group's President is Beth Hillson, founder of The Gluten-Free Pantry and a Vice President of Glutino USA/Gluten-Free Pantry.

    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Friday, July 06, 2007


    Here's a YouTube ad from Canada's Power Pop snacks. Apologies to the Pussycat Dolls are not enough....

    Source (2:33)

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007


    Cone by Glutano.

    Ice cream by Edy's.

    Photo: David Marc Fischer

    Monday, July 02, 2007


    Gordon McLeod Jenkins, a.k.a. The Breadless Horseman, is living one of my dreams: He's walking the length of the Appalachian Trail—the 2175 mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine! Plus, he's doing it to raise money for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

    And I think he's making the trek with impressive speed! Keeping track of his progress on his blog, The Gluten-Free AT, I thought there was plenty of time before his arrival in the greater metropolitan area. But now I see that he's already arrived in New York City!

    So congrats to Gordon (pictured) on making it this far! (Actually, I think NYC is a detour.) I wonder if he's still in the city, or at least relatively close....

    And thanks to the CeliacChicks for bringing Gordon's long walk to my attention!