Food Feedback: Gluten-free at last!

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Last week's gluten-free stories -- about how more restaurant menus are reaching out to those who can't digest gluten and about a gluten-and dairy-free bakery opening soon in Squirrel Hill -- brought a flood of happy responses, including one from a woman on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, seeking the baked goodies. Mojca Pipus, who hopes to open Gluuteny on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill on Aug. 18, also has been getting barraged with dozens of e-mails and calls.

"I have a gluten allergy, so this is GOOD news!" wrote Patricia Goettel of Aspinwall's Patricia Boutique. The niche bakery "is one more star in Pittsburgh's forward-thinking growth and development."

North Versailles' Joan Regrut, who has a good friend who recently was diagnosed with celiac disease, wrote, "Thanks for the great articles on gluten-free eating!!!"

Meg Colafella wrote, "PLEASE keep readers posted on when this new bakery opens. I know many parents and others who read your story today and eagerly await the bakery's arrival. Thanks so much for covering this. It's silly, but it's a dream of mine to take my allergy-prone kids into a bakery, something we've never done before because everything is off-limits. I know we'll be regular customers at this new place."

"I wish Gluuteny the best," wrote Irwin's Leah Iwinski, one of many people finding themselves "thrown into" the gluten- and casein-free lifestyle. "We have a son with Asperger's and have also found the gf/cf diet to be helpful. However, he hasn't gained any weight in a year. We'd love to find something good to both eat quickly and bake later."

She feels like creaming them

Lana M. Podolak, a business management professor at the Community College of Beaver County, wrote to writer Virginia Linn, "It is so nice to see these issues addressed," and she raised another one: "Millions of people are lactose intolerant. Try to order at a restaurant! Seven-eights of the menu is out of reach because of cheese, cream sauce, sour cream, whipping/heavy cream, or other milk products. Dessert is a joke. Cheesecakes, ice cream on everything, and most are prepared with some type of dairy. If you forget to say 'no cheese on the salad' you are picking shredded cheese out while everyone else is watching you. A real issue is what meals are prepared with that is not in the description on the menu. ...

"About 99 percent of the places do not offer non-dairy creamer for coffee. I always get upset when I check out the sweeteners. There is the white bag, sugar, the pink bag, the blue bag, and now, the yellow bag, Splenda. So sweetening our coffee is not an issue. There are CHOICES."

Non-dairy creamer, however, seems to be offered only by gas stations, not Kings, Eat'n Park or Starbucks (which offers soy milk), even though she always asks, she wrote. So, she brings her own. "BYOB, is, for us, BYOC (creamer). But at $1.50 (minimum) for a cup of coffee, why should we have to do so?

"HELP! Get the restaurants' attention for all of us out there who would like to order a cup of coffee and have non-dairy creamer on the table along side the half-and-half and next to the choice of white-blue-pink-yellow sweeteners. We deserve more than one choice on the menu as well."

Here's a cheesy e-mail

Speaking of dairy, Squirrel Hill's Sophia Panagis e-mailed writer Marlene Parrish to say how much she enjoys her work, including last week's piece on the Fancy Food Show in New York, "which would be every 'foodie's' dream. I broke out in a big smile when I read your positive experience with halloumi [cheese from Cyprus].

"My parents are from Cyprus and I have been eating halloumi since I was a little girl.

"Although it was not readily available as it is today, I would remember my godfather knew someone outside of New Castle that was making it at the time. Whenever we would visit from Steubenville, we would be able to take some home. Relatives would also load us down like mules with halloumi -- seriously --when anyone would visit Cyprus."

Make your Octoberfest plans

McMurray's Mike Palumbo was planning ahead and wondered, "Are the dates set for the Penn Brewery Oktoberfest yet?" Founder and president Tom Pastorius says it's Sept. 21-23 and 28-30.

Finally, Dormont's Mark Rymuza asks, "Can you provide a list of places that will fill growlers (even if the growler was bought elsewhere)?" He's been turned down by a couple of places, as some only fill their own growlers, which doesn't seem quite right to him. "I'm looking for locations in the South Hills (and generally in case my wife and I are out)."

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