Gluten Free Cooking Spree - Part 1

Eating gluten free was never so “normal.” Imagine an evening dining on pasta primavera, cheese rolls, chicken nuggets, “jalapeno poppers,” calamari, fish chowder, tempura, meatballs, pizza, pretzels, cookies, beer and more. That is exactly what you could have done at the Gluten Free Cooking Spree on Friday night in Manhattan. Luckily for those of you in other cities, this event is on the move. Check out the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness site for more details. The New York event is just the first in a series of events to be held across the nation to educate chefs and the local community about Celiac Disease and the importance of the gluten free diet.

While I enjoyed the food tremendously and probably ate one too many of everything, the best part of the evening by far was the company. While I arrived by myself ($50 was too steep of a price for my gluten eating friends) I quickly met the impossibly cute married couple, Twyla and Andy. We spent the evening savoring all of the gluten free dishes, from high-end culinary artistry (tempura with sesame foam) to gluten free comfort foods like pizza and chicken nuggets.
I also had the pleasure of meeting David, Erin, Jennifer, and Kelly, fellow gluten free bloggers. The world is such a small place, Kelly and I have a mutual friend and David and I are both UVA alums. I was so happy with all of the new acquaintances it would have been enough for the evening. But the luxury of being able to eat everything that was served at an event (without preparing it all myself) is almost indescribable.

When they brought out the pizza (thanks Food by George), the crowds swarmed the tray, dispersing when only crumbs remained.

I managed to get a photo of a few remaining chicken nuggets from Bell and Evans before they were polished off.

I met the owner of Bistango outside the event. He is a kind and wonderful host. He recognized me from my frequent patronage; you should definitely check out his restaurant on 29th street. Lucky for us that night he was dropping off Pasta Primavera, Calamari, Pasta alla Bistango and Eggplant Rollatini.

I never got a photo of the Pasta alla Bistango, but it was my favorite of the two. It comes with a delicious red sauce with just a hint of nutmeg.

Rice on Lex, another wonderful restaurant in Manhattan donated Meatballs with calamari in a black squid sauce. The presentation was a little shocking.

Twyla and I were rewarded for our adventurous spirits; the flavors were fantastic.

Puff and Pao provided four different types of their Brazilian cheese rolls. They are perfectly bite-sized.

I do have to wonder what happened with the cheese and sushi platters. No gluten free crackers or soy sauce were in sight. How did that get overlooked at a gluten free event? (Thanks to Whole Foods Columbus Circle though for donating the sushi and Fresh Direct for the cheese plate.) (UPDATE - apparently they had crackers and soy sauce but they were forgotten in all of the craziness of getting the hungry masses fed)

All was forgiven with the numerous gluten free dessert choices: a raspberry scone/cake, peanut butter, chocolate and raisin cookies all from Azna Gluten Free, and mini chocolate cupcakes from Babycakes bakery.

My next post will go in more detail about the actual dishes prepared by the chefs for the “competition.” Are you hungry yet?


David Marc Fischer said...

Nice write-up--I can't wait for the follow-up!

Isn't that top photo the work of Ellen Brennan-Hearn?


Lynn Barry said...

What an amazing blog with all the foods and meeting pics it takes my breath away. Nice job. Hugs.

Ellen said...

I thought I tok that picture of that good-looking group! And thanks for letting me know where those freakily black meatballs came from. I felt very brave for having tried them. They were yummy! Guess I was too busy eating to ask any questions.

Jean Layton-GF Momma said...

Yummy! I can't wait till it gets to my coast. Love the look of that dessert array

Kelly said...

Hey Cat,

Would you want two free tickets to NYU's student production of Macbeth? Vanessa Maltin of the NFCA's sis is performing and she gave me tickets and now I can't make it. :( Let me know asap.

Kelly said...

Oh's for this thursday night.

Catherine said...

David - I enjoyed your write up too!

Ellen, thanks for taking the picture - I didn't get to actually meet you!

Kelly, Sorry I couldn't make it to the play but thanks for the offer

GF Momma, hopefully the Spree will make it out to you too

Lynn - thanks!