I'm not going to dance around and sing "It's the most wonderful time of the year" but I have to say, Passover time in Philly is pretty sweet. As my friend Michael Savett of Gluten Free Philly says in his recent post What's New for Passover 2014 "There's much to celebrate at Passover if you're gluten-free, Jewish or not." Because wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats are taboo during Passover (unless they’re in matzo or matzo meal), the Jewish holiday, which begins on April 14th this year, can be a nice time of year for celiacs and others who eat gluten-free.
Gluten-free versions of seasonal foods, like GF matzo ball mix, blintzes, cookies and cakes suddenly appear in regular grocery stores like Spring's first daffodils. Many foods are labeled “gluten-free” while some say “non-gebrokts” (which is comparable to gluten-free). Non-gebrokts foods are becoming more popular due to the growing Hassidic and gluten-free populations. Keep in mind, just like gluten-free foods, some Passover items can be pricey. Only buy what you need (or really, really want!)
I'm not Jewish, but I seriously can't stop eating Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares. They are amazing. Light and airy, crispy and crunchy; they are everything I've missed about saltines and way more (well, except the price. Wegman's 7.49) Manishewitz also makes GF matzos (manishewitzstore.com 10.99.) One of my all-time favorite gluten-free food companies, no matter the time of year, is Shabtai Gourmet. Their Gluten-free and Egg-free Bon-bons, Gluten-free Devil Stix (just like Devil Dogs, be still my heart!) and Gluten-free Raspberry Rolls will make you forget you're GF, plus they are available in many local grocery stores (Acme, ShopRite, Giant.) Another long-time favorite is Katz's. Katz Gluten-Free products never disappoint, from the packaged cookies (try the Colored Sprinkle cookies) and donuts, to the cake mix and pre-made dough, to the soft and fluffy challah. You can order online or find Katz at just about every big grocery store and health food store in the area.
Other GF Standouts: Lieber’s Knaidel Mix. This gluten-free matzo ball mix makes tender, fluffy matzo balls just like Bubbe used to make, just without the wheat. Frankel’s frozen gluten-free line is convenient, with tasty treats like cheesecake, knishes and blintzes. Gefilte fish can often be found on Passover tables, but most jarred gefilte fish contains matzo meal. Kedem Israeli Gefilte Fish, however, is made without matzo, so it is gluten-free, as are Rokeach “Gourmet Sweet” and “Heimeshe Sweet” GF gefilte fish. Manishewitz and Streit's Macaroons are always gluten-free. Dr Praeger’s can always be counted on for some good GF options in the freezer case; especially around Passover, especially for kids. Check out Gluten-Free Potato Crusted Fishies and Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Littles.
Of course, you can always go out. Philly has some great spots where you can get Kosher and gluten-free food. Together. Who knew?
The Shops at Liberty Place - Food Court
1625 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
237 St James Place
Philadelphia, PA 19106
7598A Haverford Road
Philadelphia, PA 19151
1706 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
1024 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Check out my list from a 2012: Top Spots for Kosher Food in Philadelphia
Most of the big grocery chains have a better than average stock of Kosher products this time of year. Wegman's always does, but now Acme, Shop Rite, Giant and Weis' shelves are filling up with gefilte fish and matzo, so this is your chance to snag some good gluten-free eats, as well. And if you wait until after Passover has started, you just might score some bargains.
Now that we can eat Matzo crackers, do you know what else we can eat? Gluten-Free Matzo Cracker Toffee! I'd been eyeing recipes for this sexy sweet for years, sighing, "If only..." Well, now we can! Try David Lebovitz's recipe, which is some serious crunchy toffee chocolate Heaven. (see photo.)