look ma, no gluten

Over the last two years or so, the humble pizza pie has morphed from an object of cult-like devotion inside a small group of New York City obsessives into a sacred cow at the center of a full-fledged crust war among a clique of self-appointed pizza promise-keepers: Totonno’s, Roll-n-Roaster, Keste, Co, Roberta’s, Rizzo’s, Otto, Nick’s, L&B Spumoni, Denino’s, Artichoke Basille’s, Di Fara, Pulino’s and don’t forget 99¢ Fresh Pizza. Each new arrival – and they lately seem to arrive with alarming alacrity – slaps against the old guard claiming esoteric layers of heretofore unheard of authenticity.  It all sounds vaguely Sharks versus Jets until you remember that the man behind Carroll Gardens’ nationally ranked Lucali pie, Mark Iacono, was stabbed in the face during an argument over sauce last year. (Or maybe it was a mob shakedown – the facts remains sketchy) Still, the cupcakeification of what many folks fondly recall as the ultimate in after-hours stoner food is enough to make a reasonable individual shake their head. I have a sneaking suspicion I could get shot for this, but what is the big deal about pizza anyway? I don’t understand the extremism. (And why can’t we all just get along?) Maybe it’s me. Maybe now that I am relatively gluten-free the dough-sauce-cheese combo doesn’t, for all practical purposes, enter my brain as a viable option. When Don Antonio by Starita‘s wood-fired oven opened a block away from my office I couldn’t have cared less, though among the pizzerati it was monumental event: Keste’s Roberto Caporuscio teaming up with his Naples mentor, Antonio Starita. A menu dropped at my desk weeks later boasted of filled pizza, white pizza, stuffed pizza, fried pizza, Pope’s pizza and lo and behold, senza glutine pizza. If third generation pizza royalty could pull off a gluten-free pie, perhaps I was ready to finally give pizza its due. And so one afternoon I hesitantly did, visiting Don Antonio for lunch and settling in with a co-worker over a glass of Montepulciano, shaved fennel salad, and Prosciutto e Arugula, a gluten-free pie topped with homemade mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula and extra virgin olive oil. As expected the pizza arrived perfectly composed, like a Renaissance art work. The crust was heavier than its genetic forebear, the Neapolitan thin crust, and denser, too. It didn’t hold up to the slice test but worked beautifully with a knife and fork. Good sauce, mild cheese, a nice balance of salty pork playing off peppery greens. And mamma mia, was it filling! To my chagrin I could barely finish half. Which made things very convenient for the second part of any proper pizza test: leftovers. Let me state for the record, I do not recommend taking gluten-free pizza home. Something texturally odd happens once the magma cools. It develops the unpleasant rubber-meets-air consistency of a whoopie cushion or a pancake made of polenta, simultaneously pillowy and heavy. It went down like a lead balloon, reminding me how often certain foods are at their best when eaten on a craven whim – a piping hot whim. And that’s my problem:  I’m too much of a conscious eater as of late. Pizza warriors, duke it out amongst yourselves. But count me ready to take up arms once it comes to defending the one true quinoa.

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love at first bite

Fat-free, cholesterol-free, vegan-friendly, nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher-certified, I’m officially obsessed with these 50-calorie bags of freeze-dried FruitziO from Crispy Green. A sophisticated freeze-drying process wicks the water out of fresh fruit, leaving behind a fruity essence sealed in a light and crispy chip that’s as addictive as narcotics. If you’ve never tried crispy mangoes, be warned – you have no idea what you’re missing. My only gripe is that they’re not organic. Still, next time I’m stuck flying coach I’m stuffing my bag full of crispy kiwi. And cantaloupe. And Asian pear.

just tweat it (then eat it)

Tweat.it, NYC’s only real-time food truck map, just launched a free iPhone app pin-dropping the current locations of top slingers like Luke’s Lobster, Wafels & Dinges, and The Frying Dutchmen, all the while posting up-to-the-minute specials and “secret discounts” from each vendor’s Twitter feed. (Hopefully trucks have a better understanding of the term “discount” than they do “secret”.) Download the app via iTunes or visit the live website and never miss Taim’s elusive gluten-free falafel or the addictive BBQ of Korean Taco again.


give it to me raw

For the past few months I’ve been gravitating away from meat. (And sugar. And dairy, too, for that matter.) Perhaps it’s a result of my various experiments in food: juice cleanses, gluten-free, chia seeds – even a brief dabbling in colonic therapy. But that’s beside the point.  What matters is that I’m feeling more energetic – and stronger – than I have in a long time; so naturally, save a few extracurricular burgers, I’ve embraced it. A resource that’s recently become a bit of a touchstone for me is Mimi Kirk’s Live Raw, a review copy of which landed unexpectedly – and most fortuitously – on my desk last month. At 70, Kirk was voted PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50, which makes her living proof that eating well is good for you both inside and out. Her book is sprinkled with must-have advice on detoxifying (so gravity won’t get you down), as well as what you need to eat to properly feed your body every day – and why. Emphasizing the roles that attitude and mindset play in the way we all look and feel, Kirk stresses that even though the end result might be the same, the difference between “dieting” and “getting healthier” is tremendous. Live Raw includes tips for your looks, your attitude, and your health, but just as important, it includes delicious raw food recipes – a phrase I never thought I’d utter with a straight face – that anyone can integrate into a busy life; and even the most refined of palates can appreciate: stuffed portobello mushrooms with basil pesto, pomodoro lasagna, lemony cheesecake, and – my favorite – banana pudding. An engaging, one-of-a-kind guide, I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who’s flirting with raw food or simply interested in exploring veganism. Beyond its practical applications, Live Raw also makes for fascinating reading.

me & goji

We’ve all heard of custom suits and shirts.  And artisanal foods have been all the rage for years now. But custom artisanal cereal?  Readers, it’s time to dump those boring bran flakes: Me & Goji, the internet’s first custom cereal and granola company, is mixing some of the healthiest, flavor-bursting superfoods from around the globe into breakfast blends wholly designed by – you guessed it – you. Whether just rising and shining or questing for vitality, if you expect the best out of your body, you need to put the best in.  You’ve heard it said a thousand times because it’s true:  breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At Me & Goji you can design a functional cereal that satisfies your tastes and nutritional needs.  Think of it as cereal that works.  Gluten-free, wheat-free, raw food?  No  problem. Energy-packed, nutrient-dense, health-enhancing whole foods – you’ve come to the right place.  Start your design with a base cereal, like goji oats, samurai wheat or healthy hoops.  Enhance it with add-ins: flax seed for extra fiber or chocolate chips for extra fun, then toss in a few dried fruits and nuts.  To help you make informed choices you’re given the health benefits and nutritional details of the 60-plus available ingredients at every step.  (Who knew mulberries were such a powerful antioxidant or that pine nuts were nature’s only source of the appetite-suppressing pinoleic acid?) Once you’re done experimenting in the lab, customize your creation’s capsule with a name and add a photo above the nutritional label.  And since I know your dying to know, Michael’s Gladiator Mix is a fiber-packing blend of artisanal cereal base, mulberry, goldenberry, goji berry, pine nut, amaranth, and chia seed. The revolution, people, has been cerealized.

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