Saturday, August 31, 2013

Make a date for the Expo

Ok, who wants free tickets to the Gluten & Allergy Free Expo, coming to Secaucus next weekend?

We'll be drawing a name at random from interested readers/fans of this blog, courtesy of expo organizers. This fabulous event runs Saturday, Sept. 7-Sunday, Sept. 8 at the Meadowlands Expo Center. The tickets are good for one day, which will be determined by the winner.

How will we know you want to go?

1. You tell us, in a comment to this post.
2. You "like the GFAF Expo page on Facebook and/or follow the Expo on Twitter.

While you're at it, please vote in our poll on the top left of this blog. (Although not a contest requirement, we would really appreciate it.) You can also find Gluten Free Garden State on Facebook ( and Twitter (@gfgardenstate).

The contest is open until 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Good luck!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The village of firsts

The approach of autumn has me hankering for a visit to Risotteria.

This is, by far, my favorite gluten-free restaurant ... anywhere! Ok, so I may be a bit biased, since it was the site of many "firsts" on my celiac adventure, but it's a great place to visit nonetheless.

Located in New York City's Greenwich Village, this cozy establishment was introduced to me in 2006 by family members, who spotted a menu posted in a window on Bleeker Street and got all excited on my behalf. At this point, I had never heard of a restaurant catering to a gluten-free diet and had gone about eight years on a woefully-restricted diet, pretty much losing all enjoyment for eating out.

Once I overcame my disbelief, we went to Risotteria for lunch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gluten-free American history

I've seen some interesting things on my gluten-free adventures, but getting presented with a celiac-friendly menu by a guy dressed in Revolutionary War-era garb is at the top of my list.

The discovery of gluten-free selections at City Tavern in Philadelphia was as surprising to me as the Brits must've felt after George Washington crossed the Delaware River, although not quite as legendary. But, who knew the colonists were so progressive?!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Favorite foods

I'm pleased to share some new features on the Gluten-Free Garden State blog.

Starting today, we are polling our readers through an interactive feature that appears on the main page, to the left of the most recent post. Please share your opinions and email with any comments or suggestions. GFGS is also on Facebook at and Twitter @gfgardenstate. Like us. Follow us. Send us your thoughts ... Please.

In the coming weeks, we'll be taste-testing various gluten-free products. Tasting and poll results will be shared in a series of "food wars" posts. In recognition of the start of school, the series will debut with quick breakfast items, such as waffles and bagels. Later this year, we'll focus on holiday desserts.

All of the foods being highlighted in this series are those that are not naturally gluten-free. While we fully support quick meals and snacks of fruits, veggies and naturally gluten-free foods, the mission of this blog is to give people insight into what products are available that we otherwise would have to give up to Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Live at the Expo!

I'm excited to announce that Gluten Free Garden State will be an Official Expo Blogger for the upcoming Gluten & Allergy Free Expo on Sept. 7-8 in Secaucus.

It's a fantastic opportunity for us, and we're excited to use it for bringing more information to you.

I'm really looking forward to this event. I love the idea of entering a large convention hall and not being limited in what I can eat. It's an experience that celiacs and people with severe food allergies don't get to have often. This type of event tends to make me giddy, and come away hopeful and inspired.

I'll be Tweeting live from the Expo, using #GFAFEXPO. On Twitter, you can follow us @GFGardenState and the Expo @gfafexpo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crabfries surprise

Photo by Chickie's & Pete's
I had the good fortune of stumbling into a fine dinner a Chickie’s & Pete’s restaurant. It’s menu dedicated to gluten-free foods is not extensive, but it contains all of the regional chain’s signature foods. 

(Shout out to our server, Emily, who clued me in, after I ordered a GF beer.)

C&P’s is popular for its seafood selections, but mostly for its Crabfries. These are crinkle-cut French fries dusted with a blend of seasonings, including Old Bay, and served with small vats of melted American cheese on the side.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A more decadent Cheesecake Factory

Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake

There’s been a lot of chatter this week in social media channels and the GF blogosphere about The
Cheesecake Factory’s “new” gluten-free menu, and I’ve got the skinny.

Before you get too excited, heed this advice: Proceed with caution, because it's not here ... yet.

According to the Cheesecake Factory, it is, in fact, working on a GF menu and expects it to become available “sometime in 2013." In the meantime, the company is recommending that customers check with a manager prior to ordering.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Blue Heaven

By nature, Mexican food menus tend to offer an adequate variety of gluten-free foods. Quality dining establishments, for example, will always have corn tortillas as a safe, soft alternative to traditional flour tortillas. Meanwhile, beans, rice and various taco toppings are often gluten-free.

Some, however, make that extra effort.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

EXPOsing New Jersey to a gluten free world

That little shriek of excitement you heard was me hearing about a big celiac-friendly event coming to the Garden State next month.

The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo is scheduled to run Sept. 7-8 at the Meadowlands Expo Center. According to its organizers, it will feature more than 150 vendors offering free samples and/or products for sale, as well as classes and swag.

Did I mention there are samples?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taste of Tuscany (sort of)

The Olive Garden's gluten-free menu has been suggested by a number of people. I wasn't in a rush to try it, since feedback from other celiacs who have dined there wasn't positive, but a gift card and curiosity prompted a visit.

I checked the menu online before going in and saw that it included salads (sans croutons), penne pasta with two choices of tomato-based sauces, and four types of meat and salmon entrees. The non-pasta entrees are low-carb, served with vegetables on the side. I arrived at a local Olive Garden already disappointed that the chain's famous garlicky breadsticks were not available in a GF version, but otherwise resigned to the limited menu.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hot tomato!

Photo/Gluten Free Garden State
Pizza shop owner Giulio Padalino didn't start serving gluten-free foods to appeal to his customers or to jump on a trendy bandwagon. He was instead looking to help his son, who was diagnosed with celiac disease as a child.

That was more than 25 years ago!

Palermo's Ristorante, which has locations in Bordentown, Roebling (aka Florence) and Ewing, has catered to celiac customers longer than most.Although Padalino began stocking celiac-friendly pastas and pizza shells for the family's personal use, he recognized its appeal to some customers early on and has been expanding the menu every since.

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