iYellow Wine Club: South Africa Earth Day Taste + Tweet‏

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By Megan Stulberg | Photos by Alice Prendergast

You know that dreadful folk song, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? If you replace “99” with “14” and “bottles of beer” with “glasses of wine” then you have my Tuesday evening. The iYellow Wine Club is a group based in Toronto that invites its members (and guests) to sample wines from all over the world, and meet and mingle with Toronto’s fellow winos. When I received an invite to attend their “South Africa Taste + Tweet”, I jumped at the chance to spend Earth Day 2014 learning about the growing sustainable wine industry. Hosted at the iYellow wine cave (243 Queen St. W) with an alleyway entrance, the event was hard to find but definitely worth the struggle.

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The moment I walked in the door, the coat in my hand was swapped with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Sweet to the taste, this was a great drink to start the night off with. Guests were given markers to label their glasses with in order to avoid confusion. Next up was a Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc. John McFarland recommended that guests pair this wine with a camembert cheese in order to balance the drink’s slight astringency, as this wine is less fruity than most being sampled. I decided to switch over to red at this point, and continued alternating back and forth throughout the night. Apparently this is a no-no — who knew? Ah well, a rookie mistake. Next I sampled Honey Badger Sweet Red 2011, a 95% Shiraz and 5% Pinotage from Western Cape. This wine was by far the sweetest of the night. Perhaps a little too sweet for regular consumption, but perfect if having a small glass with dessert. iYellow Wine Bar used the terms “approachable” and “picnic” to describe the new Inception Pinot Noir. My photographer/self-proclaimed wine connoisseur called this “the soda of wine” due to its easiness to drink and lack of aftertaste. A full-bodied beginner’s wine that should be monitored, due to its 13% alcohol content.

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About halfway through the evening, a short presentation was given by Oliver Kristen, founder of The Grape Grinder. Oliver described the importance of eco-friendly wine, explaining that Grinder’s goal is to make a better product while encroaching less on the environment — keeping their “ecological footprint” to a minimum. Oliver explained that most South African wines, including Grinder’s, are labelled with a sustainability seal that certifies the wine has been produced sustainably, can be traced back to its exact origin, and confirms that it was bottled in South Africa. Individual bottle seal numbers can be checked online at swsa.co.za. After trying the Grinder Pinotage, I tried another Pinotage made by Cafe Culture. Hints of a smokey mocha were tasted in this; definitely one of my favourites. I was told that it would be paired well with a smoked meat or a pasta dish. Of the Pinotage wines, Grinder tasted smoother and Cafe Culture felt a bit heavier. 1625591_10154040716125133_7813166010512065751_n 10268399_10153962197650538_2126312175_n Next I tried a glass of Roodeberg red, the label describing it as a “classic blend of red varieties”. I found this wine to have a slightly lighter body than the other reds without losing that concentrated rich flavour. Seven glasses done, seven to go! If you’re wondering how I was even still vertical at this point, you’re not alone. Wine #8: The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. iYellow Wine Club used the terms “mellow,” “easy,” and “mineral” to describe it. Fruity and flavourful, my photographer and I both agreed that its aftertaste was strong but sweet, similar in taste and consistency to Bellingham Big Oak Red 2012, which we tried next. At this point I switched back to white, opting for a glass of Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013. This was not only my personal favourite, but the most popular wine of the night for everybody! The aggressive taste was an overall crowd-pleaser, and I overheard guests describing the wine as “punchy”.

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Number 11: a glass of Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2012. This wine had a rather bitter taste. I enjoyed it, but its bold aftertaste was a bit too strong for my palette. Number 12: A second variety from The Pavillion: a Chenin Blanc Viognier from 2013. An incredibly dry and crisp wine that I liked very much. At this point in the night, my handwriting had become increasingly problematic. In my scribbles about this wine, I can make out “smells floral and tastes carbonated, so it’s pretty great”. Trust my drunken hand. Number 13: A 2011 Shiraz also from Durbanville Hills. This wine had a definite earthy taste to it, brought out by a variety of spices. Number 14: Place in the Sun Shiraz 2012. The sweet spiciness of this wine made me want to turn it into sangria and serve it alongside heaps of guacamole to all my friends.

Overall, this was a great night! I loved having the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable wine movement. To keep up to date with iYellow Wine Club’s future events, go “like” them on Facebook. Interested in seeing more from the night? Check out anything my fellow guests might have posted while live tweeting with the hashtag #ILoveSAWine.

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50th Annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

By Megan Stulberg

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I was recently invited to spend a weekend at the farm where my best friend grew up in Elmira, Ontario. Visiting a town with a whopping population of 9,931, you’d expect a relaxing and quiet weekend in the country, no? Well, it certainly started off that way: I spent Friday evening playing with the family’s seven household pets and watching Come Dine With Me reruns. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am and then walked around outside in the cold for the next 10 hours. And I had the best time.

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been an annual event for the past 50 years. The main attraction is, of course, the maple syrup and related food vendors. The event attracts 60,000 people every year, and most can be seen walking around, munching a lamb’s leg, a stack of pancakes or something deep-fried.

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Oh, the maple syrup! It was heavenly. There was maple syrup on everything: maple lattes, maple taffy, maple kettle corn, maple syrup baked beans, maple syrup candies, and Beaver Tails with maple butter. I didn’t want to slip into a sugar coma, so I decided to limit my syrup intake. Well, I tried.

First, I decided to sink my teeth into some maple taffy. Maple taffy is made by boiling maple sap over a fire until it turns into maple syrup and then continuing to boil it until it becomes thicker. It is then poured onto snow and picked up with a stick, once partially cooled, and then served. I had to wait a solid 45 minutes for one small piece, but it was worth it to get such a decadent start to the morning.

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Next, I tried maple sugar. By “tried” I mean I sampled a small piece for free and then proceeded to buy 12 more. Maple sugar is prepared much like maple taffy, but is boiled for much longer until it solidifies. These soft and sweet candies were sold by countless vendors all over the festival, but I bought mine from a small table run by local Mennonites on the outskirts of town in front of a McDonald’s for 25 cents a piece. I also bought a few small tubs of pure maple syrup to take home for loved ones.

By midday, my friends were getting hungry so we decided to venture away from the festival for a bit in an attempt to get a healthier lunch. Luckily for us, there were tractor-pulled wagon rides available: the town’s adorable version of a free shuttle bus. This was the first — and probably last — time I rode to a fast-food restaurant sitting on a bail of hay, sandwiched in between two teenage girls in bonnets.

The festival really is an event for both the locals and the tourists.

Overall, it was an incredibly fun, family-friendly day. Sometimes I forget how Canadian I am — and then I go to something like this and have a blast. To keep updated on next year’s festival, “Like” their official page on Facebook here.

I’ll just go ahead and tempt your tastebuds with a few more photos that show off some of the many treats that were enjoyed at the Maple Syrup Festival:

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Salted soft pretzel with Dijon mustard

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Deep-fried Mars bar on a stick

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“Tornado Potato” paired with ghost pepper ketchup. Other ketchup flavours included maple and banana

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Deep-fried apple fritters

Select photos by Aine Davis

Compliments Gluten-Free Line Review & Recipes

By Megan Stulberg

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You know what’s guaranteed to make my day? Coming home from an exhausting day of exam writing to find a neatly wrapped box (complete with pretty green ribbon) of goodies waiting for me on my front porch, ready to sample.

The thoughtful people at Sobeys sent me a variety of products from their new Compliments gluten-free product line to review. Compliments now offers a variety of ready-to-eat treats, such as brownies and quinoa muffins. Ah, delicious! Totally up my Celiac alley!

I’m a vegan, though, so I couldn’t try all the products Sobeys sent me, so I sent a few home with my friend Erin over at The Cinnamon House. She, along with fellow writer Alex at Vegan Girlfriend helped me test out the Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend and Gluten-Free Cookie Mix!

I am so thankful to have friends who love food as much as I do. Together we created two mouthwatering recipes to share with you:

~*DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COCOA WALNUT BROWNIES*~

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed (or chia seed) meal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance soy-free vegan spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 100g bar Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate with 70% Cocoa
  • 1/2 cup crushed raw walnuts
  • 1 tsp raw salt (e.g. pink crystal Himalayan salt)

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Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a shallow 9-inch baking dish.

2) Using a food processor, chop almonds into a fine meal about 2 minutes. Be careful not to over process or else the mixture will be too creamy! Set aside.

3) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until thick, then whisk together and pour into bowl.

4) Beat the flaxseed mixture with sugar and agave nectar, then add vegan spread and vanilla extract. Beat for 30 seconds at low speed.

5) Mix in the Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and baking soda. Blend on low for 30 seconds, stirring regularly.

6) Break up the dark chocolate into chunks and add it to the mixture along with walnuts and a pinch of salt.

7) Pour into greased square baking dish and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes. Let cool, and then slice. Makes about 16 brownies.

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~*COCONUT ALMOND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES*~

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 400g package Compliments Gluten-Free Cookie Mix
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions: 

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Using a food processor, chop almonds into a fine meal about two minutes and set aside.

3) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until thick, then whisk together and pour into bowl.

4) Add coconut oil and Compliments Gluten-Free Cookie Mix and beat at low speed about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl.

5) Add shredded coconut, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, almonds and almond milk. Blend ingredients in by hand, using a spoon.

6) Using your hands, roll the dough into small balls and place on greased baking sheet about 4 cm apart.

7) Bake for about 15 minutes until browned. Let cool before serving. Makes 16 cookies.

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Needless to say, everything was delicious! The cookies were delicious, the brownies were moist, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. Compliments has created a great line of gluten-free flours and mixes that work! Everything held together just as well as standard wheat-based products would. For more information about the Compliments Gluten-Free product line, click here.

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PHOTOS: ALEXANDRA COURTS

Friday Foodie Five

Normally here on Friday Foodie Five I try to bring you some of the best stuff I’ve seen and heard online during the week. But I have to tell you, we here on the Toronto Squad have been working hard for a long time on something and we need to share.

For what feels like months, but has really only been a few weeks, Ama, Megan and I have been busy planning and co-curating an open call group art show called Fat In Public and the show’s opening was last night!

I would love nothing more than to share a few images with those of you who could not make it out to the opening and will not be in Toronto for the show’s week-long run at 2186 Dundas Gallery.

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From Hamilton Squad Leader Carly’s Instagram, the hand-drawn window detail done by me.

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Amarina Norris of Ursa Major+ made this one-of-a-kind piece that we featured in the front window, entitled ‘Sorry, Not Sorry.’ Look how PACKED 2186dundas was! Photo cred: Andrew Williamson.

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Here’s me being forced to melt my robot heart by Ama. Photo cred: Andrew Williamson

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This was the beautiful wooden chalkboard signage that Megan drew to drawn people in. Thanks to Food 416 for the rad photo that we found on Instagram!

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Ren Bostelaar told me Drake was really into Melody Krauze’s Soft Core pillows featuring some ladies having a good time.

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Set up was an absolute blast and all of us loved Sookie Bardwell’s plush piece, “Lady Bear”. Photo cred: Andrew Williamson

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The crowd was bumping all night long with people showing up at 6:45PM! We couldn’t have done this without the love and support of all of YOU, our readers! So thank you for all your support. ❤

– – –

For those wondering about our gallery hours (who live in Toronto), please refer to our Facebook event page! Come and visit Fat in Public while it is happening Thursday Jan 30 – Wednesday Feb 5, 2014.

[ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT] – Fat In Public an Art Show Presented by Fat Girl Food Squad

After spending the last several weeks accepting applications from artists (far and wide) for Fat Girl Food Squad’s first gallery show, Fat in Public, we are pleased to make the official announcement of the artists whom will be displaying art.

*Sam Abel
*Sookie Bardwell
*Ronald Caddigan
*Derrick Chow
*Elana Delaney
*Amanda Drodge
*Kristina Groeger
*Melody Krauze
*Jessica Levy
*Amarina Norris of Ursa Major +
*Megan Stulberg
*Yuli Scheidt

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With Fat Girl Food Squad‘s first gallery showing and through our artists selected pieces, we intend to de-stigmatize the (fat) body and give an outlet for art featuring imperfect and sybaritically characters in equal measure.

FAT IN PUBLIC’s opening reception will take place on January 30th at 2186 Dundas (located at, well, 2186 Dundas in Roncesvalles, Toronto) from 7-11pm. Please come celebrate with us and help celebrate our artists.

We have been beyond excited about this show for quite some time now. You can click on “attending” here on Facebook, should you feel obliged.

One final thing to note! All of our artists pieces will be for sale that evening with 100% of the sales going back to the artists. So please, support your fellow artists!

Chatelaine Chef Series: Meet Emeril Lagasse

Writing and photos by Megan Stulberg.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet with award-winning American chef Emeril Lagasse, hosted by Chatelaine Magazine and The Shopping Channel. It doesn’t seem like too long ago that my grand idea of helping my mother cook in my parents’ kitchen was yelling an Emeril-inspired “Bam!” every time an ingredient was added to the pot.

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Appetizers and beverages provided by bottlegreen, DAVIDsTEA and Jelly Modern Doughnuts.

Before entering the Chatelaine test kitchen, I and other media types were treated to quite the spread of drinks and appetizers. What called to my sweet tooth was the spread of holiday-themed doughnuts brought in from Jelly Modern Doughnuts. Heavenly. Beverages were provided by bottlegreen and DAVIDsTEA.

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Chatelaine food director Claire Tansey and chef Emeril Lagasse.

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Chatelaine food director Claire Tansey and chef Emeril Lagasse.

After devouring the treats we all headed into the kitchen, where Emeril was waiting to answer some of our questions in a discussion led by Chatelaine’s food director Claire Tansey and to demonstrate the new Emeril XL Grill. Throughout, Emeril raved about the thing that both he and we all love most: food! Early on in the Q&A he mentioned several of his “culinary heroes”, including Larry Forgione and Alice Waters.

So friendly and surprisingly soft-spoken, Emeril’s answers revealed that he is completely down to earth. When asked about his favourite thing to eat for breakfast, Emeril referred to himself as a “simple guy” who likes eggs over medium, good quality bacon and black coffee. He joked, “A ham and cheese omelette goes well with it — that’s usually when I’m hungover. Lots of Bloody Marys.” He also let us in on a little secret: he’s working on a special project at home with his kids at their beach house: they are making their own sea salt! According to Emeril, the evaporation process is relatively straightforward: it just takes “…patience, sun and those little rakes”. He really is a family guy. At home, he’ll usually whip up a quick spaghetti dinner for everybody with crushed red pepper, egg, bacon, onion, olive oil…the works! Quick and easy. Love it.

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CityNews’ Stella Acquisto and chef Emeril Lagasse.

Ingredients before the grilling! Wild salmon with a medley of orange segments, apples and pine nuts, and duck breast with wild rice, roasted carrots and parsnip.

Ingredients before the grilling! Wild salmon with a medley of orange segments, apples and pine nuts, and duck breast with wild rice, roasted carrots and parsnip.

Next, the new Emeril XL 1700-Watt Electric Grill by T-Fal was introduced, which is now available through The Shopping Channel. Emeril told us that he did a lot of research before settling on T-Fal to manufacture with, due to their “incredible reputation”. Together, they started Emerilware.

The Emeril XL grill is pretty much perfect. Why? It’s huge, with 230 square inches of cooking surface, and is extremely powerful at 1700 watts. Additionally, the grill’s two heating plates and drip trays are dishwasher-safe. Emeril uses the grill himself at home! It’s perfect for camping, dorm rooms, small apartments or for anybody who wants quick and tasty grilled food.

To finish up the evening, CityNews‘ Stella Acquisto interviewed Chef Emeril live during the XL Grill demonstration. Emeril used the grill to sear some wild salmon with salt and pepper, and then served it on top of a medley of orange segments, apples and pine nuts. Next, he seared a duck breast: first until it was almost rare, then seasoned it with his famous nine-spice essence and seared it again. He served the duck over wild rice with roasted carrots and parsnip.

To view the CityNews segment online, click here.

The Emeril XL Grill can be purchased from The Shopping Channel at $249.99.

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CityNews’ Stella Acquisto and chef Emeril Lagasse.

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Emeril Lagasse posing for a photo after signing a door in the Chatelaine test kitchen.

Winter Menu Tasting at Fuel+

Review by Megan Stulberg & photos by Aine Davis.

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Last week I attended a winter menu tasting at Fuel+, a nutrition-focused café and boutique grocery store located in Toronto at Church and Wellesley. Fuel+ offers a plant-based menu that caters to a variety of vegan, gluten-free and food-loving customers, who enjoy specialty coffees, protein shakes and healthy foods.

The friendly (and adorable) staff at Fuel+ laid out a variety of gluten-free plant-based sweets for us to try. The sample platter included one Fuel+ exclusive product and two products brought in from Shockingly Healthy.

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Fuel balls act as healthy alternatives to Timbits: approximately 100 calories each, made from 80% organic ingredients are loaded with protein. These delicious morsels are made in-store and come in unique flavours such as peanut butter chocolate chip and cranberry honey. Personal recommendation? The cinnamon one. $1 each or 3 for $2.50.

Fuel+ offers two products from Shockingly Healthy: double chocolate brownies and coconut chocolate chip blondies. The brownies are made from whole foods like chickpeas, flax and dates. Biting into one, you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s actually good for you. $2.99 each.

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As it was extremely cold outside we decided to take advantage of the ‘hot foods’ section of the menu. Aine ordered a plant-based cranberry raisin bagel with peanut butter and jam. I ordered a hearty and delicious bowl of organic vegan chilli. If you’re feeling gutsy, I’d recommend opting for the ‘really spicy’ option. $4.99 a bowl.

Fuel+ offers organic fair-trade coffee that is roasted locally at 23 Degrees. We sampled a variety of hot drinks including an Amsterdam Blonde (Amsterdam Black with organic soy milk) and a Maca infused hot chocolate.

Located dangerously close to my school’s campus, I’ve already popped in twice since attending the menu tasting for a quick Spicy Ginger Chai pick-me-up. Get ready Fuel+, I’m becoming a regular.

www.fuelplus.ca

Fuel + on Facebook

Fuel + on Twitter

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Gluten Free Garage III: November 17, 2013

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By Megan Stulberg

Free samples are a foreign concept to me. I work in a patisserie and at least once a day I’ll have a customer say something like, “Wow! How do you not get fat while working here?” or “I bet you love eating all the samples!” and a few times I would answer their questions by explaining Celiac disease but gave up when eyes started to glaze over.

The third Gluten Free Garage took place last Sunday. Over 60 vendors showcased the best gluten-free foods in the GTA and there were samples available at nearly every table. So I was obviously very happy about this. I brought a friend with me who somehow suffers from even more food allergies than I do, and we both left the event full and free from belly aches.

Click here to read more information about the event in an interview I conducted with GFG founder RonniLyn Pustil.

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The market was held at Artscape Wychwood Barns. It took about an hour for me to check out every table because the event space was packed with people. Curse Gluten Free Garage for being so beloved!

After navigating myself through the crowd I decided to stop at Chocosol’s table for a taco. Chocosol‘s fresh corn tortillas are organic and non-GMO. I opted for the vegan option: local and organic black turtle beans, mushrooms, greens and Mad Mexican salsa.

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Second stop: Tori’s Bakeshop. Tori’s Bakeshop offers a large selection of gluten-free products and all of their products are dairy-free, egg-free, casein-free and refined sugar-free. A cake-sized doughnut was on display for a contest and I’m seriously regretting not entering it. We opted to buy a slightly smaller version for ourselves. Pink glaze and white sprinkles: too cute and too good.

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Every vendor I spoke to was extremely friendly but the two sushi chefs running Akasaka‘s table blew me away. I chatted to one of the chefs about the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, as I ate there when I visited Japan earlier this year. Part of what makes an event with a specific focus like the Gluten Free Garage so enjoyable is the comfortability between vendor and customer.

Akasaka Japanese Restaurant and Teppanyaki Steak House operates in Richmond Hill and offer many gluten-free options. I sampled a freshly made avocado roll smothered in gluten-free soy sauce. Mmm…too oishii!

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I’ve mentioned Bunner’s Vegan & Gluten-Free Bakeshop twice in previous Fat Girl Food Squad posts. That’s how much I love this bakery. Bunner’s had a variety of cupcakes, cookies, savoury pockets and other treats available for sale at the event. I opted for what I usually get: a delectable date square, gooey and warm like it should be.

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Saigon Soul Food‘s table at the event was run by owner Tâm Nguyen and her mother. Their whole set-up was very sweet and welcoming. Saigon Soul Food offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes, available both fresh and frozen. My friend Alex bought two fresh rolls wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with tofu and veggies. After having a bite of hers I ended up buying an entire jar of Saigon’s plum sauce to take home because yeah, it was that good.

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Other favourite vendors include Queen B Pastry, Sol Cuisine, Antipastos Kitchen and Magic Oven. A complete list of vendors can be found on Gluten Free Garage’s website. Without a doubt, I will be back next year. I can’t wait! Be sure to follow Gluten Free Garage on Facebook to keep up to date with the organization’s updates and future events.

All photos by Alexandra Courts.

[Contest] Gluten Free Garage III: November 17th, interview with founder RonniLyn Pustil

By Megan Stulberg

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

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Photo credit: Danny Pustil

The Gluten Free Garage is something that I’ve vaguely been aware of for a long time, but never quite looked into for some reason. Perhaps it got lost in my Facebook archives, as I went on a “liking spree” of way too many gluten-related pages after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year.

Well, now I’m kicking myself for not attending their last two events.

The Gluten Free Garage is a farmer’s market with a twist: all food at the event is 100% gluten-free. GFG launched in fall 2012 and the first event attracted more than 1,500 visitors. Attendees of the marketplace have the opportunity to buy (and sample!) delicious gluten-free food and products, find out more about the different levels of gluten-intolerance, grab a free tote bag, listen to guest speakers and more.

Gluten Free Garage III will be taking place on from 10am-4pm on November 17th at Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie Street. Admission will cost $10.  Not able to make it? I will be covering the event for Fat Girl Food Squad, so be sure to check back within the next few weeks for updates.

FAT GIRL FOOD SQUAD WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO TICKETS TO THIS EVENT! Here’s how to enter our contest:
Contest runs from Wednesday November 6 until Wednesday November 13 @ 5PM.

1) Like Fat Girl Food Squad on Facebook.

2) Like Gluten Free Garage on Facebook.

2) Comment on the post on our Facebook page. Boom!

I had the opportunity to ask Gluten Free Garage’s founder RonniLyn Pustil a few questions about GFG’s history and its upcoming event. Read the interview below!

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

Q: First off, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! I really admire the work that the Gluten Free Garage does. What prompted your decision to start the GFG? 

My daughter Lily was diagnosed with celiac disease four years ago at age 3. After a brief period of panic followed by mourning the loss of bagels, I decided that we were going to turn this into something positive. We were not going to let it get in our way. We were still going to eat good food. And that’s how it’s been so far. We made our house gluten free and now we’re way more aware of the food we eat. We have family adventures to food festivals and farmers’ markets. We go on road trips to check out gluten-free bakeries and restaurants (favourite destination so far: KindFood in Burlington). We get excited about finding new healthy, delicious gluten-free food and places to eat. As we started discovering more local gluten-free places and products, I thought it would be cool to bring them all together under one roof for a day of one-stop shopping—a kid-friendly farmers’ market with a gluten-free twist where people could sample and taste the food before buying it.

Q: What kind of planning did it take to prepare for the first Gluten Free Garage? 

It took nine months to give birth to GFG! It was the first event I ever did so there was a huge learning curve about everything—branding, blogging, sales, marketing, logistics, you name it. The hardest part was getting vendors and sponsors to come on board to this event that hadn’t happened before.

Q: What do you credit most for its growing success?

The growing need for gluten-free food. It’s a labour of love and I hope that shows. Also there’s a really eclectic mix of vendors who are passionate about what they do. It’s a lively marketplace in a bright, beautiful space where people get to eat delicious food and discover new gluten-free products. And there’s a real feeling of community.

Q: What sort of things can I expect to find at the Gluten Free Garage? 

A few new favourite things, that’s for sure! Guest speakers, yummy samples, food trucks, a pop-up art event for kids, lots of happy gluten-free people. Oh, and the best in gluten free—everything from gluten-free sweets to savoury stuff to skin care!

Q: Have you ever run into any problems regarding cross-contamination at this event? 

No. Since Gluten Free Garage is basically a big party for Lily—where she can happily eat whatever she wants, meet lots of other gluten-free people and not feel different—there is no question that it has to not be just gluten free but also celiac friendly. I wouldn’t have a vendor at the GFG whose food I wouldn’t let Lily eat.

Q: What vendor or treat are you personally looking to the most?

There’s no way I can choose just one. Many of my favourite vendors from our past events will be back along with about 25 new and exciting ones! The problem is I’m so preoccupied at the event that it’s hard to take time to shop! Luckily my daughters each handed me a gift when our last event ended. Lily bought me Sappho Cosmetics blush from eco-existence and Franny got me a jar of ba”con” (hickory smoked coconut, you’ll thank me for this) from Tori’s Bakeshop.

Q: It’ll be my first time at the GFG marketplace! Which vendor would you recommend for a beginner for myself to hit first? 

Start at one end and work your way around the Covered Barn. You’ll want to hit them all! Then head out to the courtyard for some more treats. Be sure to come hungry.

Q: Do you have plans to expand your project? If so, what does this include?

I’m not sure. So far I’ve been taking it show by show. Maybe the Gluten Free Garage will pop up somewhere else. You never know.

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

Gluten-Free Eats in NYC

By: Megan Stulberg

This year I spent Canadian Thanksgiving in New York City. We didn’t opt for the traditional turkey and stuffing, but we ate enough other food to make up for it.

Everything pictured and described below is gluten-free, as America is surprisingly well-informed about the severity of cross-contamination. I didn’t get sick once and I have quite the sensitive belly. But since we were on vacation, I did not bother to eat strictly vegan (I’ll eat vegan 9 times out of 10, but I do eat fish and eggs, so therefore I don’t achieve the ‘vegan’ title). Sorry to any honey-haters who were on my side.

[Edit: Fully vegan as of November 2013. Yay!]

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S’MAC – Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese 

Gluten-free? Yes! The staff seemed very knowledgable about cross-contamination.

Vegan? Yes. S’MAC makes their own vegan ‘cheese’ which is a mix of coconut milk, rice flour, potato flour, palm oil, organic palm shortening, marmite, salt and pepper.

Where? There are two locations in New York City.  We went to the one in the East Village at 345 East 12th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue.

What? I bought a vegan mac & cheese which is made with brown-rice elbow macaroni and is then topped with cornflakes. I had it mixed with shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach with garlic.

Cost? Approximately $15. I should have gotten the smaller size, which was nearly half the price. I ordered a ‘Major Munch’ skillet, which was overwhelmingly filling. I wasn’t able to finish it, so I would recommend opting for one size down.

Website? Here.

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Babycakes NYC

Gluten-free? Vegan? Both! The bakery is entirely gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, kosher and refined-sugar free. This place is essentially an allergy sanctuary.

Where? 248 Broome Street, between Orchard & Ludlow.

What? We split a black forest cupcake, a carrot cupcake and a cinnamon sugar doughnut. The doughnut was delicious, but the cupcakes were extremely dry. No specialty bakery ever seems to compare to Bunner’s.

Cost? $4.75 per cupcake, $3.75 per donut. Eek.

Website? Here.

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Pala Pizza 

Gluten Free? Yes: an entire gluten-free menu and a designated preparation area in the kitchen. Pala makes their own gluten-free dough fresh in house.

Vegan? Yes! They also offer a vegan menu.

Where? 198 Allen Street, 10012.

What? I asked for an ‘Etna’, which is a pizza topped with eggplant, basil, daiya and tomato sauce. Our waitress misheard my order and brought me a cheeseless pizza with butternut squash, peppers, onion and raisins instead. I ended up thanking her for messing up my order because the pizza was delicious. Pala definitely offers the best gluten-free pizza crust that I’ve ever tried. The crust was thick and had bubbles and everything.

Website? Here.

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Sustainable N.Y.C Cafe

Gluten free? Lots of GF options! The employee who served me was very considerate and offered to clean all of the necessary utensils after I mentioned my allergy.

Vegan? Yes! This is a vegan cafe run within an eco general store. They even sell vegan shoes.

Where? 139 Avenue A, 10009.

What? We walked a considerable distance to check out Tompkins Square Bagels, where I was promptly shut down by an employee who warned me that the kitchen was not a safe environment for those with Celiac disease. Luckily I found this place half a block away. I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich on gluten-free bread, and then treated myself with two scoops of vegan ice cream (one chocolate, one lavender) in a gluten-free cone. First cone in over a year, y’all. It was heavenly.

How much? I can’t remember specifics (black-out bagel rage?) but it was definitely $5 or less.

Website? Here.

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Friedman’s Lunch

Gluten-free? Yes! They have an entire gluten-free menu and prepare food in a designated area of the kitchen.

Vegan? No, but they do have a few vegan options including a garden vegetable sandwich and an eggplant quinoa/rice bowl.

Where? 75 9th Ave, right inside Chelsea Market.

What? I ordered the fish tacos: blackened pollock, corn tortillas, citrus fennel slaw, tomatillo salsa, sriracha aioli and cilantro. Too good.

Cost? $14.

Website? Here.

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???

Where? Some taco truck in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Gluten-free? Not sure. Taco shells are generally made from corn instead of wheat, so there’s a good chance that this meal was gluten-free. I didn’t eat them though, Nick did. I just threw these photos in because the tacos look delicious and I’m mean. Sorry.

Vegan? Nope!

What? Nick got fish tacos topped with cheese and veggies.

Cost? $3.50 per taco.

Website? Rather unlikely.

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Pomme Frites 

Gluten free? Yes. Pomme Frites serves fries that are cooked in gluten-free vegetable oil.

Vegan: Yes and no. We chose two dips, one of which was vegan and the other was not. Ask the cashier and he/she will give you a chart that outlines all dietary and ingredient information.

Where? 123 2nd Ave, between 7th St. and St. Mark Place. 

What? A huge paper cone full of thick Belgian fries, with mexican ketchup and roasted garlic mayo. Pomme Frites has a great selection of uniquely flavoured dips to choose from.

Website? Here.

Photo credit goes to Nick White.