Monday 4 April 2016

Charlotte GFAF Event

The Charlotte GFAF Event was this past Saturday. Events like this one are a great opportunity to try new GF foods from both local bakeries/restaurants and big-name companies alike, to hear helpful info from bloggers, authors, and medical professionals, and also to meet other people who are living with food sensitivities. If you were there, you already know it was a lot of fun; if not, I'm here to share a few of the highlights! 

My favorite new find was these potato & veggie fries (center picture above). The inside is light like fluffy mashed potatoes, the outside has the crispness of a lightly floured/battered fry, and all four flavors are pleasantly savory. I think I like the chickpea & red pepper ones best of all, but all four are tasty. 

Caly's Kitchen (top right picture), a local NC-based bakery, offers baking mixes, granola, and - if you're in the Waxhaw, NC area - some very tasty cookies and other treats. They use pea starch rather than potato or corn, and they are also the only source I know of for home bakers to buy pea starch in small quantities - it's a useful ingredient.

Nourish is an entirely GF & vegan delivery food service in Charlotte. They were sampling butternut macaroni (right center picture) and a tasty pimiento spread with hearty seed crackers (bottom left picture), among other things. They deliver weekly in the Charlotte area, and they also ship throughout NC.

Aleia's almond horns (top left picture) are a traditionally-GF style of cookie, as these are made with almond paste instead of flour, similar to some types of amaretti, almond rings, etc. They also have several more kinds of cookies and other things.

Pure Pizza in Charlotte offers a sprouted-grain GF crust (left center picture). It's not leavened/fermented, but the sprouted ingredients give it a very pleasant soft flatbread texture. 

Fields of Gold Farm was sampling goat milk gelato (bottom right picture). I tried the pistachio macaron flavor - it was delicious and rich. They also sell goat-milk soaps. 

Lenny Boy Brewing was there with some kombucha, a fizzy fermented non-alcoholic tea beverage brewed with a complex community of bacteria and yeasts. It's kind of polarizing as to whether or not people care for the flavor of the drink, but I'm firmly on the "love it" side. I especially like their "Elite Beet" flavor, which is gingery, earthy, and a little bit sweet. 

A couple of cider companies were there with drier (as in less-sweet) cider varieties, which I like a lot. Bold Rock is a Virginia-based cidery that just recently expanded into NC. They were sampling a green apple variety and a lovely new dry-hopped cider (cleverly called IPA, for "India Pressed Apple"). Hopped ciders are sometimes way too sweet, way too bitter, or both, but this one was just right - light, aromatic, and refreshing. I will definitely be looking for this at the store. Red Clay Ciderworks brought a classic dry cider and a tart cherry cider. They also make a herbal hopped cider which I'd like to try. Red Clay is just in the western part of the state for now. I hope they will make it up to the Triangle before too long, but if you're in Charlotte, stop by their taproom! 
New Udi's bread & Glutino toaster pastries.

There was more than just food and drink too - I found some really nice lotion (sadly I forgot to take a picture, and can't remember the brand!) and other skincare products. (FYI, skin products frequently contain wheat derived ingredients and/or conventional oats - not good to be slathering on your hands if gluten makes you sick!) 

In between all the snacking, I also managed to catch some of the presentations from the other speakers - there was some great info on living with food sensitivities, including tips for meal planning, current issues with the FDA's GF labeling guidelines, and good nutrition with dietary restrictions. 

These are just a few of the highlights. You can see lots more about the day from other bloggers and attendees by searching tags on Twitter - look for Charlotte #GFAFEvent and #GFAF tags. To see if there are any upcoming GFAF events near you, check out the schedule here - I will be at the events in Raleigh in August and Greensboro in September, hope to see some of you there! There is also a separate GFAF Expo which will be in several bigger cities this year.  

As you may know if you've ever been to one of these events, there were plenty of freebies to take home, too. So many snacks and coupons! The Milton's products were new to me - the crackers taste a bit like pita chips, and the baked chips are a nice salty crunchy regular chip style.

And, last but certainly not least, the surprises in my Blogger Bag! There was a lovely gift box from Caly's Kitchen, including a chocolate cookie mix and a bag of their tasty granola. I like to mix it with some plain oats, seeds, etc. for muesli. Also a bottle of spiced elderberry syrup from Norm's Farms, a local company specializing in elderberry jam and other products. (I know it's totally not the intended purpose, but I'm seriously considering using it in cocktails! Or macarons. Or both.)

Caly's Kitchen granola, two ways: mixed into muesli, or straight up w/ fruit. 
As always, all these opinions and statements are completely my own; as an event blogger I received the items provided by vendors and sponsors, but I was not otherwise compensated and I was not obligated to write about or feature any specific product(s) or vendor(s). 

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