Gluten Free Snacks at Food Fete

Making the decision to go gluten-free doesn’t seem to be a hard one. There’s obviously a psychological hurdle, in which you can no longer treat yourself to that delicious pizza or pasta on the weekend, but identifying what you need to cut out seems to be a straightforward process. Basically anything flour-derived can be safely ruled out.

However, gluten lurks in food in more insidious ways. It’s in less obvious things like thickening and flavoring agents used in otherwise safe foods that makes going gluten free harder than you might have thought. Soy sauce, for instance, is not just made of soybeans–there’s wheat in there. Malt vinegar is another tricky ingredient that is made from barley. Veggie burgers, which sound healthy, have gluten in them to hold their circular patty shape. And wheat also goes by a lot of other obscure sounding names like bulgur, farina, semolina and spelt, which might not raise any red flags initially when you come across them in the ingredients list.

Sometimes it’s just easier to buy a product that is explicitly labeled gluten free just to be on the safe side. At last week’s Food Fete, a press event that showcased the latest in gourmet food and beverage products, gluten-free snacks were well-represented, and I was pretty pleased by the quality and flavors of the brands on display. Here’s a list of some of my favorites ones that both the gluten tolerants and intolerants can enjoy!

Breads from Anna® – Founder Anna Sobaski was on hand to offer samples of her gluten and allergen free bread mixes. Sobaski, a food lover who suffers from diabetes and celiac disease, made it her mission to develop gluten-free bread that was both tasty and delicious. It’s mission accomplished for Sobaski, whose pumpkin and banana breads in particular were fantastic. Gluten-free bread can be a strange experience. With a lot of brands, the bread loses its chewy springiness and retains more of an offputting spongecake-like quality. The sweet bread mixes from Breads from Anna® tasted very much like the real thing, which is a very commendable and impressive feat. The sweet and moist banana bread was hands down my favorite food item at the event.

Food Fete - Breads from Anna 1
gluten-free bread mixes from anna

Santé Specialty Foods – Santé offered samples of their all-natural, kosher, roasted and flavored nuts at Food Fete. Nuts are obviously very friendly to a gluten-free diet (along with Paleo, low-carb, vegan, vegetarian, the list goes on!) What struck me about the nuts from Santé was how plump, crisp and well-seasoned they were–the quality control here is pretty amazing. My personal favorites were the Garlic Almonds and the Candied Pistachios, two flavors that blended the savory and the sweet to perfection.

Food Fete - Sante1
flavored nuts from santé

BARE – I love eating dried fruit, but the calorie and sugar content in a small serving can be really shocking. The 200 calories in Bare’s delicious baked apple chips allow you to indulge in your dried fruit craving with much less guilt. Previously I’ve only tried the Granny Smith, Fuji Red and Apple Cinnamon chips, but at Food Fete I was able to try newer offerings like Sea Salt Caramel and Chile Lime. I absolutely loved the Sea Salt Caramel–it really captured the essence of eating a caramel apple on a fall day. I found the heat in the Chile Lime chips very interesting, but ultimately I like my dried fruit on the more mild side!

Food Fete - Barefruit1
baked apple chips from barefruit

Noosa – I’ve been obsessed with Noosa yogurt ever since I first stumbled upon the brand at a post-wedding hangover brunch in Colorado. You can imagine my frustration when I tried to search for the brand in the city, only to find its distribution quite lacking. Gourmet Garage in Soho at the time was the only place that seemed to sell it, and I would diligently walk from east to west to buy a few precious tubs at a time. What makes Noosa yogurt so amazing? It tastes like it’s been freshly made from delicious whole milk and sweet cream. The end product is almost like a rich custard, making eating yogurt a slightly more sinful experience. The fruit purees look and taste like they’re made of real pieces of fresh fruit and blend into the surrounding yogurt quite effectively. My personal favorites are the strawberry rhubarb and blueberry, but I quite enjoyed the more tart flavors like cherry and lemon that were offered at Food Fete. Looking to add some yellow and red lids to my grocery cart sometime soon!

Food Fete - Noosa1
noosa’s aussie style yoghurt

Gluten- and Guilt-Free Pizza at Wild

wild restaurant interiorWild is a new pizza restaurant in the West Village that celebrates food in its pure, natural form. The artisanal pizzas served here are made with fresh, seasonal ingredients that “have been harvested with respect to their primitive state.” Not only is the pizza freshly made with wholesome ingredients, but the delicious signature crust is gluten-free and vegan friendly. Who knew letting loose at Wild could be so tasty and guilt-free?

The term wild might suggest a lower level of refinement, but this certainly isn’t the case at Wild, which is run by a highly seasoned staff to ensure smooth preparation and execution. Fearless entrepreneur and restaurateur Miki Agrawal describes the Wild concept as an elevation, in which all aspects of the restaurant operate at a high level. She’s enlisted the help of classically trained chef Nicholas Porcelli, who competed on the TV show Chopped, to bring a refined quality to the food, and she has also recruited staff members with blue-chip hospitality backgrounds for front-of-house operations. Even the whole Wild concept was the carefully cultivated brainchild of Zachary Lynd, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts with an impressive resume in branding. The ingredients may be wild, but the execution certainly is not.

Wild gives off a comfortable and casual vibe befitting of a neighborhood restaurant. The exposed brick and hanging lanterns of vintage bulbs and jars certainly emphasize the rustic, community aesthetic. The inclusive community spirit at Wild extends to its food options as well. Omnivores, vegans, vegetarians, celiacs–there’s something for everyone here. Can’t eat cheese? Order the amazing vegan version of the ricotta truffle pizza. Like meat but can’t tolerate gluten? Try a serving of the deliciously spicy, sweet capicola pie. No one gets left out in enjoying delicious food. I personally fell in love with the irresistible blend of sweet and savory flavors in the pear gorgonzola.

hanging, rustic lanterns at wild
hanging, rustic lanterns at Wild
half sweet capicola (left) and half pear gorgonzola (right)
sweet capicola (left half) and pear gorgonzola (right half)

If you don’t feel like pizza, there are plenty of salads and vegetable dishes that are just as delicious. The brussel sprouts four ways was a personal favorite–dipping the lovely browned bits of charred leaves into a light layer of bacon crème freche was quite addicting. The butternut squash and whipped goat cheese was also delicious, and I enjoyed the nice, crunchy texture provided by the pistachios.

brussel sprouts four ways
brussel sprouts four ways
butternut squash
butternut squash

And of course, the company of good friends and great pizza should be enjoyed over some drinks. Philip Brock of Wild has carefully curated a drinks menu consisting of seasonal and local wine and beer selections, and also plans to introduce some inventive beer cocktails. I had a chance to try the ginger lemonade he mixed that day, a delightfully refreshing blend of muddled ginger, thyme and Witte, a wheat ale from upstate brewery Ommegang. The beer cocktail offerings should be very promising If this experimental ginger lemonade is any indicator. Wild also plans on launching Sangria Sundays as well as brunch service in the next three weeks. Brunch is such a treasured New York tradition, how perfect would it be to spend it sharing a pitcher of seasonal sangria with a delicious savory egg pizza?

ginger lemonade beer cocktail
ginger lemonade beer cocktail

When Max in Maurice Sendak’s childhood classic Where the Wild Things Are followed the monsters to their natural habitat, he embarked on a magical adventure that celebrated a community inclusive of all beasts. Wild guides diners on a similar journey in which people of all diets and palates can collectively appreciate the inventive creations put forth by Agrawal’s team.

535 Hudson St.
Sangria Sundays and brunch to be launched in a few weeks!
Check out other gluten-free related content with a post on Jennifer’s Way Bakery


Gluten-Free Goodies at Jennifer’s Way Bakery

jennifer's way bakery storefrontI have to admit, I get a bit skeptical when it comes to vegan, gluten-free bakeries. How can you re-create the magic of a chocolate chip cookie by skipping dairy and butter altogether? Aren’t those the essential ingredients that make a cookie delicious? But I was pleasantly surprised by Jennifer’s Way Bakery, a new bakery in the East Village run by actress and celiac crusader Jennifer Esposito. The very charming and girlish storefront housed a small counter of attractively displayed cookies, muffins, cupcakes and artisan breads. The bakery’s products are all gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, refined sugar free, organic and mostly vegan. There are so many restrictions you might think that taste would get lost in the mix, but the baked goods, especially the vegan chocolate chip cookies!, are just as delicious as their regular gluten- and dairy-based counterparts. Read More