Posts Categorized: Stores we ❤

it’s Fiesta time!

Running out to my local grocery store to pick up a few things. Look who's here!

We ran out to our favourite local grocery store this week to pick up a few things. Look who’s here!

 

Inside the store, it literally is a gluten-free fiesta!

Fiesta Farms is literally a gluten-free fiesta! Besides the incredible whole foods and fresh organic produce, the selection of gluten-free fare is something to party about. Here are just a few of our fave GF products available at Toronto’s largest independently owned grocery store.

 

Antipastos Kitchen's new line of frozen pastas.

Delicious authentic Italian frozen pastas from Antipastos Kitchen.

 

Sunflower Kitchen's hummus, pestos and soups.

Sunflower Kitchen‘s hummus (we basically live on it), pestos and soups.

 

 

Nud Fud's raw, organic, gluten-free snacks. (Goji Energy dipped in peanut butter rocks our world!)

Raw, organic, gluten-free snacks from Nud Fud. (Goji Energy dipped in peanut butter rocks our world!)

 

A variety of delectable, nutritionally dense salad dressings from RawFoodz.

A variety of delectable, nutritionally dense salad dressings from RawFoodz.

 

Saigon Soul Foods' best spring rolls on the planet, best accompanied by their roasted garlic plum sauce.

Saigon Soul Foods‘ crunchy spring rolls, best accompanied by their tangy roasted garlic plum sauce.

 

JK Gourmet's grain-free granola.

JK Gourmet‘s yummy grain-free granola.

 

Gaga for Gluten-Free's melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

Gaga for Gluten-Free‘s melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

 

What's a fiesta without Neal Brothers' salsa?

And what’s a fiesta without Neal Brothers‘ savoury salsas and tortillas?

 

We are double happy to have Fiesta Farms and Neal Brothers as sponsors of the Gluten Free Garage! 

 

 

guest blog: The Healthy Butcher

The Healthy Butcher‘s Queen West storefront. Their other location is on Eglinton Avenue at Avenue Road.

 

It’s that time of year again. The beautiful colours of autumn have vanished, leaving us with brisk temperatures and the craving for good ol’ comfort food. The delicate flavours we enjoy during the summer lack the oomph that our palates (and padding) require during winter. Enter the magical cooking technique called braising, the technique behind France’s famous coq au vin and boeuf borguignonne and Italy’s osso buco—chef talk for the slow cooking of cheap cuts of meat.

“Braising” sounds like a complicated culinary term, but really all it means is slow cooking in a flavourful liquid. The key is to start with a tough and inexpensive cut of meat—like a beef blade roast, cross cut roast, shanks or brisket or even pork shoulder roast. These cuts aren’t only less punishing on the pocketbook, they are best enjoyed through the braising method. The ultimate cooking pot for braising is an enameled cast iron pot like a Le Creuset; if you don’t have one, any heavy pot will do. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and sear until browned all over. Remove it and set aside. Toss in chopped onions, celery and carrots (referred to as a mirepoix), then turn the heat down to medium to let the vegetables cook slowly and release their yumminess.

After about five minutes, deglaze with some wine or stock. “Deglazing” is the process of loosening those browned bits (the fond) stuck to the bottom of the pot after searing. Return the meat to the pot and add liquid to come at least three-quarters up the meat—a combination of flavourful stock and wine is perfect. Many recipes call for the addition of water; feel free to throw in spices, fresh herbs, garlic…you are limited only by your imagination.

Bring the liquid to a slow simmer (not a boil!). You can cook it on the stovetop or, if your pot is oven safe, throw it in the oven at 300°F. The meat is ready when it is “fork tender”—if you stick a fork into the meat and try to lift it, the meat won’t hold the fork and will just fall off. Total time: around 2.5 hours. (Hint: The meat will get much tougher during the cooking process before it gets tender; never fear, once the internal temperature is high enough it will fall apart.)

Our mothers may not have known the science behind their pot roast but it was still magic. At what point in history did the tradition of a Sunday pot roast with the family disappear? I think it should be mandatory.

 

Mario Fiorucci is the proprietor of The Healthy Butcher. He is also the founder of RealFoodToronto.com, Toronto’s newest and freshest source for Real Food, where you can learn about cooking and enjoy the food delivered to your door. Mario writes the Meet Your Meat column for KingWest.This article originally appeared in that magazine.

 

The Healthy Butcher will be bringing its meat and more (including Alba Lisa gourmet food products!) to the Gluten Free Garage!

Q&A with: Fiesta Farms’ Eddie Orso

Running out to my local grocery store to pick up a few things. Look who’s here!

 

Rebecca Feigelsohn interviews Fiesta Farms’ Organics Manager Eddie Orso.

 

GFG: For those not in the know about Fiesta Farms, can you tell us a bit about it?
Fiesta is a unique grocery store. First of all, it’s independent; it’s a family-owned grocery store whose main focus is local, organic, natural products. We have, in my opinion, one of the highest-quality produce selections in Toronto. Our buyer goes to the Ontario Food Terminal every morning to get the freshest produce. The thing about Fiesta Farms is that it’s not just a grocery store, it also integrates a health food store aspect. It’s kind of an all-in-one store—instead of going to a grocery store and a health food store, you can do both here. We carry a lot of superfoods!

When did Fiesta begin carrying gluten-free products?
Officially, as soon as the trend starting picking up. I’d say in the last five years it started trickling in. It’s been a combination of customer feedback and the buyers knowing what’s hot in the market. Our buyers are really on top of the trends and what’s happening in the industry. But with gluten-free products, there’s definitely been a lot of customer feedback because there has been a wave of people needing or wanting it, especially in the last five years.

It’s interesting that instead of having a dedicated gluten-free section, your gluten-free products can be found throughout the store.
When we first brought in organic products years ago, we decided to integrate the products throughout the store rather than have a section for it, to give customers a choice they may not have been aware of. This was successful, so we decided to do the same with gluten-free products.

 

When Lily tasted Wow’s chocolate chip cookies, she said: “These should be called Whoa!”


What are some of your most popular gluten-free products?
We have a wide range of gluten-free products, such as lasagna, muffins, prepared foods and over 100 grocery items. Some of our finer products come from local small businesses, such as Live and JK Gourmet. Mary’s Gone Crackers are a huge hit.

 

Antipastos Kitchen’s new line of frozen Italian GF pastas!

 

A basket full of Live Kale Chips made with organic Ontario kale. Which flavour to choose?

 

Fiesta Farms will be showcasing some of its gluten-free products at the Gluten Free Garage, offering samples of apple cider and giving away coupons for 10% off any GF product at the store! 

Check out Fiesta Farms’ cheeky blog post about the Gluten Free Garage here!


gluten free mecca

 

Best gluten-free cereal section ever! (I didn’t get a picture of all the exciting brands, but go see for yourself!)

 

 

100% gluten-free store. Go crazy!

 

There’s Pamela’s, our go-to GF pancake mix.

 

We’ll grab some granola from JK Gourmet. We’re loving their granola bars too! (Roasted Nuts and Raisins is our fave.)

 

GBG does prepared foods and fresh baked goods too. Their Real Cheddar Biscuits: Take them home and heat them up. Trust me.

 

The little candy section reminds me of The Wiz, a candy store I loved as a kid.

 

GBG also offers catering, along with a large selection of frozen foods. Note the homemade soups. Winter’s coming!

 

GBG’s creamy mac ‘n cheese. I was eating it off the kids’ plates at a recent party.

 

GBG’s chicken fingers were scooped up by big and little fingers alike.

Barbie takes the cake

Franny had her gluten-free cake and she ate it too. Thanks Goodbye Gluten!

 

Franny turned 5 a few days ago. Unlike her big sister, she does not have celiac disease. Though she doesn’t eat gluten at home because our house is a gluten-free zone, she sometimes eats food with gluten when she goes to friends’ houses, when we visit family members and when we eat out. She and I used to have “gluten Tuesdays”—after her music class we would go a bakery and she would get to indulge in a fresh, soft bagel or yummy muffin or flaky croissant. Franny understands that Lily cannot eat gluten but that she can. Oftentimes when she eats something really delicious she’ll look at me and ask: “Mommy, is this gluten?” And it usually is.

When the kids were quite little I was really getting into baking. Both of my grandmothers were incredible bakers and some of my most cherished memories of them involved baking—whether I was licking the bowl after helping my Nana Lil make her famous mandelbread (I dream of that batter!) or sprinkling chocolate chips into my Bubby Fran’s beloved banana cake. I yearned to create memories like that with my children.

But then Lily got diagnosed with celiac disease and my kitchen was turned upside down. There was a big learning curve. Shopping now took me hours: scrutinizing every label and constantly referring to my bible—the pocket-sized Guide to Acceptability of Foods and Food Ingredients for the Gluten-Free Diet (written by registered dietitian Alexandra Anca, who will be on-hand at the Gluten Free Garage!). I had to adapt to cooking gluten free, so baking fell by the wayside.

And then I started to miss it. So I began to learn about gluten-free flours and what and how much to substitute. There were words like xantham gum and guar gum. I got a scale because one of my favourite gluten-free bloggers, the Gluten Free Girl, says it’s best to bake by weight. Baking soda: GF or not? I found it all so daunting that I started to dabble in mixes. And some were OK but I wanted to bake like my grandmothers, from scratch.

I bought a whack of gluten-free cookbooks and found some great gluten-free recipes online and now I have a few home-baked staples that we all love. But at some point, I kind of gave up on my desire to be the mom who bakes birthday cakes from scratch. This was around the same time the kids started going to friends’ birthday parties with cakes adorned with princesses and other Disney characters. They wanted Ariel on their cake! My Little Pony! Luckily my mother-in-law gives the Cake Boss a run for his money, but I couldn’t push my luck. She bakes the cakes for family birthday celebrations; I wasn’t about to ask her to whip them up for kid parties too.

So for three years I did what any mother afraid of gluten-free baking would do: I convinced Franny that she wanted an ice-cream cake in October and I told Lily that cupcakes were way better than cake.

Until Franny turned 5 and asked for a Barbie cake. After wrapping my head around the thought that she’s only 5 and already into Barbie, I thought, why not? I played with Barbie dolls and I turned out OK (my husband might say this is up for debate). I decided to go to Loblaws and get a Barbie cake for Franny and buy Lily a gluten-free cupcake. But then I felt bad for Lily. She’s always the kid at every birthday party who can’t eat the cake the other kids are scarfing down. Why would I exclude her at her own sister’s celebration?

And herein lies the modern-day celiac mama’s dilemma: Where to get a gluten-free cake with Barbie on it?

On a hunch, I called up Goodbye Gluten, our go-to store for one-stop 100% gluten-free shopping. They make delicious baked goods (all free of gluten, nuts and dairy) and their store is super kid-friendly. Whenever we go there, Lily has a field day because she knows that she can have it all. Most importantly, I can trust that there is no risk of cross-contamination when I buy their baked goods and prepared foods. Surely, Goodbye Gluten can make a gluten-free Barbie cake!

And they did. Because that’s what they do: cater to the gluten-free community and to those with food allergies. Franny got to choose the flavour of her cake (vanilla), the colour of the icing and even the hair colour of her Barbie. When we brought it to the table, she was blown away by the sight of her pinkalicious Barbie cake. As she gobbled up the first bites, she turned to me and asked: “Mommy, is this gluten?” She ate her Barbie birthday cake…and Lily got to eat it, too!

 

Her wish already came true!

 

Franny celebrates with Lily and her big cousin Ella.

 

Stay tuned for more GF birthday goodies…we’re milking this birthday!