I walked into this year’s Fancy Food Show with trepidation. I made sure I had a good breakfast, because I expected there would not be much to sample on the show floor that would fit within my current parameters of gluten- and dairy-free (among other things). Color me happy, because everywhere I looked, there were great big, blue signs saying “Certified Gluten-Free.” It seemed that every row had one, and some were completely allergen-free. I felt like a kid at Christmas.
I tasted a lot, and made Madeline taste what I could not, and though as usual there was a lot of mediocre, there were some serious standouts. All of their sites have store locators, so please indulge yourself in textures and tastes that will absolutely delight you. I promise.
Oh, chocolate. Even though I’m not a huge chocolate eater, sometimes I just want a little something sweet (I’m looking at you, ladies). Lately, however, I’ve had to remove dairy from my diet in order to heal.
I’m also a sucker for beautiful packaging. So when I stumbled upon the Divvies booth, I was a little overexcited. As is typically the case with outstanding allergy-free products, there was a personally compelling story behind it all. Founder Robin Sandler’s son often spent birthdays and Easter celebrations without chocolate due to his extensive food allergies, and was unable to partake in the comfort of sharing food, as so many of us do. So she decided to do something about it, and created Divvies, a completely allergy-free bakery in South Salem, NY from which everything is designed to be shared. There are giant popcorn boxes with scoops and individual bags, trays of cupcakes, cookies and…wait for it…chocolate mint crunch bars.
Lori has just released her first cookbook, so look for more on her on an upcoming Food Philosophy podcast. There might just be a cookbook in it for you. You can order her products online via the web link above.
Gilbert’s Gourmet Goodies: www.gilbertsgourmetgoodies.com
It is often with hesitation that I bite into a gluten-free cookie. Usually they’re crumbly, taste like beans, or just aren’t worth the bother. Not these. Gilbert’s Goodies dairy-free chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and chocolate cookies are soft and luxurious like a normal, soft-baked cookie. I nearly lost my head for a minute.
Much like me, Liz Gilbert was an avid cook who developed food allergies later in life. And, like me, she found the offerings out there less than appealing, so she got to work in the kitchen. Her cookies have no wheat, gluten, peanuts, nuts, soy, milk, corn, corn syrup, transfats or preservatives, and gawd are they good. I could kiss her for her efforts, because those bites of cookie made all the bad go away.
Aunt Gussie’s: www.auntgussies.com
I haven’t had an English muffin in months. I’m a total hog for English muffins. And while I was an avid whole-grain bread eater before, I’ve found that much of the gluten-free breads out there are essentially Wonder Bread without the wheat. White, tasteless — blech. So I was delighted to meet David Caine of Aunt Gussie’s Cookes & Crackers, because his whole grain rosemary focaccia bread and English muffins were gorgeous without anything else on them. Gorgeous.
The best part? His company didn’t start out making gluten-free products — his mother made him do it. I need to shake that woman’s hand.
Against the Grain Gourmet: www.againstthegraingourmet.com
Pizza? Certo. Baguettes? Mais oui. Bagels? I was verklempt.
Though it contained dairy, I did have to sneak a few bites of dough from Against the Grain Gourmet, as the yellow color drew in my eye like a handsome cabana boy. The mozzarella added such flavor that I wanted to snarf the whole tray of samples. The texture was light, airy and a bit firmer than conventional baguettes, but the flavor made up for what I miss in a baguette.
I made Madeline try the pizza, as too much cheese would have sent my body to bad places, but given how she was raving about the pesto pizza (sans pine nuts) for the rest of the afternoon — and her unabashed love for cheese — I’m going to take her word for it.