Olivia’s Organics makes appearance at Boston Local Food Festival today!

On October 6, 2013, Olivia’s Organics will be attending the Boston Local Food Festival for it’s 4th straight year in a row. Ken, the Senior Business Manager, says he is most excited about this event because he gets to see “a lot of regular customers and find new customers.” They sell salad mixes, cooking greens, and celery hearts.

Olivia’s Organics was created in February 2006 with children’s charities as the main focus behind the name. A percentage of the proceeds are used to fund children’s charities, including Kids Clothes Club, Cradles to Crayons, Make a Wish Foundation, and so many more! The company strongly believes in giving back. Investing in the lives of children who live in the communities where their salads are sold is how they have chosen to give back.

Olivia’s Organics is only grown on organic farms and is a USDA certified organic company. All of the salads are grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. The greens come from all over the US (from Maine to Arizona to California). Regardless of where the produce comes from, Olivia’s washes, packs and ships everything from their state-of-the-art facility in Chelsea, MA. Packaging locally allows for maximum freshness.

The company has strict food safety policies in place to help safeguard all of their products and their wholesomeness. A sample from each batch is sent to third-party food industry auditors to test for E.Coli, Listeria and other harmful bacteria and chemicals. Once the batch has been deemed safe, the products are shipped out, all within 24 hours of being washed and packaged. This dynamic process includes continuous recording and documentation so that each and every product can be traced back to the start if need be. No one else in the industry has a system set up like this.

Not only is food safety and health top priority for Olivia’s Organics, but, Olivia’s has also pledged to use only renewable resources and 100% recyclable, BRA free packaging. All containers are made in the US using wind and hydroelectric power.

Olivia’s Organics can be found in grocery stores all along the East Coast, from Maine to Tampa, FL. At the BLFF, Olivia’s will be there to chat with people about their products and charities.  They will also be handing out samples of their spring mix, complete with a recyclable fork and organic dressing, all packaged in one of their 100% recyclable containers, of course!

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ASSEMBLED: The Handmade Arts Market at Assembly Row

Haven’t made your way to ASSEMBLED in Somerville yet? What are you waiting for?IMG_4041

ASSEMBLED: The Handmade Arts Market at Assembly Row is heading into its third month! ASSEMBLED takes place every Saturday from 11am – 4pm through September 21st, and features artwork from New England’s most talented artists. These Creative and talented artisans will be showcasing handmade arts and crafts, both on display and for sale.IMG_4027

ASSEMBLED features local artisans of various media, including photography, jewelry, recycled and repurposed crafts, clay, fiber, glass, paper, and more. Everything from handmade children’s clothing, to wooden serving bowls, to wind chimes and more can be found here.

I had the chance to speak with Jessika Jahnsen, owner of Nativa Designs. IMG_4030Jessika hand-makes all of her products from recycled and reclaimed materials. Her selection of jewelry and accessories are unique, ethnic, and contemporary.  The collections have been designed to resemble different cultures of South America. Jessika’s fused glass necklaces and earrings are made using a technique originating in Argentina called Vitrofusion. Each piece reflects her passion for art and beauty, while creating unique and timeless jewelry.IMG_4033

In addition to the work of local photographers, jewelers, potters, and fiber artists, ASSEMBLED hosts some of Boston’s most popular food trucks. I stopped by Frozen Hoagies for some ice cream. Usually they carry gluten free coconut macaroon cookies to make ice cream sandwiches, but today they were all out. I still tried the ice cream— espresso swirl and java crunch—, which was delicious and refreshing in the afternoon heat. Next time I hope they have the cookies! I do love the fact that they are conscience of and accommodating to people on a gluten free diet. I’ve noticed more food trucks this year carry gluten free items (yay!)

My mom waiting for her ice cream
My mom waiting for her ice cream

IMG_4035Head over to ASSEMBLED for a day of fun, food, music, and to support the amazing local artists!

The MBTA is building a new t station at Assembly Row and is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2014. For  now it is accessible by car (free parking) and the route 90 bus.

Address: 300 Grand Union Blvd, Somerville, MA
View Larger Map

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Gluten Free Options at The Taco Truck

The Taco Truck is one of my favorite food trucks in Boston. Serving Authentic Mexican Street Food using locally grown and organic food [whenever possible]. On Sundays, from May 5th through October, the Taco Truck joins a whole slew of Food Trucks at Sowa Open Market. For the full schedule, click here

The tortillas used are 100% corn. All of tacos, except the pescado and aquacate, are gluten free.
If you tell them you have a gluten allergy they can change their gloves. But do be ware that there are gluten items in the truck, and there is only one fryer, so cross contamination is possible. I didn’t have any problems, but I do not have celiac, so use caution, as always, when dining out.

The tacos come in pairs, costing $4.50 – $5.00 ($2.25 – $2.50 each), which is actually quite reasonable, especially considering the focus on local and organic ingredients. As of now you can’t mix and match, but it would be great if they could offer this option to their costumers. My advice, go with a friend and order two different tacos. This is exactly what my sister and I did.

All ingredients are fresh, there’s no question there. I could taste the freshness of the cilantro, vegetables, and handmade sauces. And everything is incredibly flavorful. All tacos are served on double corn tortillas with a lime. Cotija cheese or avocado can be added to any taco for an extra for 75 cents each.

We tried two tacos, first was the Pollo Asado ($4.50); a mixture of guajillo (chile) marinated grilled chicken with lime-pickled onions and roasted red salsa, topped with avocado. Amply filled with juicy, moist nicely seasoned chicken.

We also ordered the Carnitas Michoacan ($4.50); slow braised sweet pork with onion, cilantro and fresh green salsa. The Carnitas were also moist,and  taste as though they had been braising all day. The green salsa and onions were so fresh and unlike anything I’ve had at a Mexican restaurant before, also very spicy, much spicier than the pollo taco.

The Platanos Fritos, aka fried plantains, ($2.50) were sweet and creamy. I loved the soft texture of the plantains, but would have preferred the crema on the side. Plantains are like bananas, but much sweeter. If you haven’t tried platanos fritos before you must try them!! These were among my favorites, Orinoco also makes delicious plantains.

There is always a line around lunch time, so get there early or be patient. The line moves slow and the food takes longer than expected to be prepared, but I assure you it is worth the wait.

 

The Taco Truck Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

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Kickass Cupcakes

Talk about a disappointment! I was extremely excited to finally try a gluten free Kickass Cupcake from the Food Truck outside of Copley station. I had been wanting to try one ever since they opened in Davis Square, but I rarely go up there. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the truck parked outside the station when I came up from the t.

I wanted vanilla but it was late in the day, and the only gluten free flavors left were chocolate and Mojito. I love chocolate; chocolate bars, chocolate candy, chocolate ice cream! But chocolate cake is not up there on my list, occasionally yes, but I usually opt for vanilla when I have the choice. For this reason, I tried the Mojito. Bad idea. Why you ask….

1. It was small. I was a little dissapointed in the size of a $3 cupcake. But then I thought, if it’s good it’s worth it.

2. It wasn’t worth it. It was incredibly DRY. I don’t think I’ve had a cupcake this dry before, ever. It was also very dense.

3. Where was the mojito? The cupcake lacked flavor, it was so plain.

4. The butter cream frosting well, tasted like butter. There were a few pieces of mint and sugar sprinkled on top that were to represent the ‘mojito’. I would assume there was some find of mojito flavoring in the cupcake too, but I had no idea. I couldn’t taste it if there was.

I’m not sure how much better the chocolate would have been.

I’m very surprised by my experience, and wasn’t expecting that at all. As soon as I got home I looked on yelp. I couldn’t get over how many negative reviews there were! So I looked on other sites too, and found the same. I thought Kickass Cupcakes “were all the rage”, or at least that is what I had been reading. I don’t know what those people were thinking, and I for one will not be going back again.

Can anyone suggest a GOOD gluten free cupcake in Boston? My search continues…

Gluten Free [Friendly] Food Trucks?

Food trucks are all the rage right now in Boston. Everywhere I look there seems to be a new food truck popping up. I see them parked on street corners everywhere – Kendall Square, Copley, Cleveland Circle, Sowa Market, etc.

Everyday during my lunch break I pass by at least a half a dozen food trucks offering all different types of cuisine – Mexican, BBQ, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, American, Korean. Everything looks, and smells delicious, but I have been very hesitant about trying anything. You all know how worrisome, scary, stressful, terrifying, anxious it can be to be put in a situation and not know what is safe to eat. Did I capture all the emotions? I for one have definitely felt all of that a few too many times.

No truck is 100% safe; the cooking space is small and cross contamination is inevitable. But there are many gluten free friendly options for those of us lucky enough not to have such a severe allergy or intolerance. With that said, it can still be quite scary ordering from a truck. Do they know what gluten is? Do they know every ingredient in their food? Are they aware of how every single item is prepared and handled? I mean, this list of questions and concerns is endless, no matter where we eat. But don’t fear, I have eaten at a few different trucks and have been just fine. I have an intolerance and can eat foods prepared and fried in the same surfaces as gluten. So, PLEASE always use caution and let the servers know you have a gluten allergy. Many of the trucks use the same fryers for everything so keep this in mind too. I was pleasantly surprised how much more knowledgeable the food truck staff is than servers at restaurants.

My favorite truck is Bon Me (check out my review here), which offers gluten free rice noodle bowls and rice bowls, and the truck is always stocked with gluten free soy sauce! 

I have also tried a salad from Clover and I’ve eaten from The Taco Truck. I really enjoyed the tacos, they were so flavorful, and it was easy to tell all the ingredients were fresh. But, it was a little too spicy for me to be #1 on my list. But I do love their commitment to sustainability; all the meets are hormone and antibiotic-free, and all the to-go packaging is biodegradable and compostable.


BBQ Smith There is gluten in the sauces and rolls. Everything else is safe. They can do any of the food without sauce so meats are safe.

Bon Me Foods
Rice noodle salad with Vietnamese vinaigrette dressing, and rice bowls are gluten free.  If you order the rice bowl, make sure you specify gluten free because they typically put a soy drizzle on it.  They have a bottle of soy drizzle made with tamari to use instead.  Of the standard fillings, only the chicken is gluten free (the tofu and pork have soy sauce in the marinades).  Some of the rotating specials including edamame,  three-alarm chicken and cilantro-peppercorn chicken are gluten free. 


Boston Speed Dog hot dogs are gluten free and you are welcome to bring your own bun.

Clover menu changes daily; sometimes there are gluten free options

Go Fish
The Caesar Salmon as a salad rather than a wrap without the onion crisps is gluten free. The Catfish Taco is on a corn tortilla and 100% gluten free. They have two fryers but use them interchangeably. 


Kickass Cupcakes Gluten free cupcakes are available on the truck. Always a good idea to tweet first to see what flavor(s) they have (and if any are left!)
 

Lefty’s Silver Cart Base menu is not gluten free. Everything is on Iggy’s bread but can offer most of the sandwich fillings on a bed of mixed greens. They also try to make weekly specials gluten free. In the past they’ve had: Watermelon Gazpacho, Corn Cakes with Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa, Chipotle Maple Syrup, and Vegetarian Chili

Mei Mei Street Kitchen  Menu changes but kale salad, torched corn and peach tomato soup are current gluten free options. Always feel free to tweet ahead to ask!

Momo Goose
Fresh rolls and viet pho soup are the only two gluten free options currently. They hope to offer gluten free rice and salad bowls soon. 

Paris Creperie Usually have gluten free buckwheat flour for crepes  

Pennypackers all sandwiches are available as salads or lettuce wraps

Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese Fries are gluten free, but cooked on same grill as wheat/gluten.

Silk Road BBQ  Grilled meats and salads are gluten-free. All sandwiches we can make as a salad. Homemade sauces are gluten-free. The white bean chili has gluten-free cornmeal in it, and the short rib has corn starch in the gravy.

Staff Meal Taco tortillas are 100% corn. All of the fillings except the Chinese sausage are gluten free. A couple of the crispy garnishes (fried garlic, French’s onions and Fritos) contain flour. If you order food from at the truck, make sure to let the staff know that you have an intolerance and they’ll let you know all of this and prepare your food accordingly.


The Cupcakory has Gluten free cupcakes available on the truck, but they don’t always have them. They use twitter and facebook to post the daily flavors and will let people know if gluten-free is also available. They offer both vegan and gluten-free options upon request for pick-up on the truck, request at least 48 hours in advance.

 The Dining Car The crispy cauliflower is gluten free. The Mediterranean, Honey Truffle Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, and Caprese sandwiches can be offered as salads.

The Taco Truck
All of tacos except the pescado and aquacate are gluten free. All tacos are 100% corn.

I know my list is not 100% complete, there are over 20 trucks in Boston and I was not able to get responses from the ones not listed – or they do not have anything gluten free to offer and are therefore excluded from this list. If you have any tips or information to add please e-mail me at jessica.dennis2@gmail.com.

Review: Gluten Free Options at Bon Me Food Truck

The Bon Me Truck offers gluten free options! I ate at Bon Me for the first time at BostInno’s Boston Fest last Thursday night. It was great! Everything is priced at $6 First you choose a sandwich, buckwheat or rice noodle salad or a rice bowl. Only the rice noodles and rice (white or brown) bowls are gluten free. After this you choose a filling, the only gluten free option is the spiced-rubbed all natural chicken.  The noodle salad comes with a choice of sauce, but for us we can only have the Vietnamese vinaigrette. The rice bowls come with a soy drizzle, and guess what! They have gluten free soy sauce! You can add extras, such as edamame  or cilantro peppercorn chicken, both of which are gluten free, among others. These change daily, so make sure to ask if they are safe to eat or not.
The staff was very knowledgeable about gluten allergies and what I could and could not eat, it was great. Not only this, but they were so friendly, all of them, and always smiling. If you ask, they will change their gloves while handling your food.
The rice bowl was delicious. For $6 I got a lot of food! The rice bowl comes with carrots, daikon, seasonal greens, bean sprouts, cilantro and sprouts. The herbs were so fresh and had such great flavor.
Bon Me is a simple concept but with a lot of flavor and great taste. The chicken was moist and flavorful, the amount of rice was enough for two people to share. Of course though, I ate it all.
I recommend trying Bon Me at least once. I am definitely going back to try the rice noodle salad with the Vietnamese vinaigrette
Bon Me’s Schedule:
Monday
Yellow: Belvidere 11:30-3
Blue: Dewey on the Greenway 11-3, Cleveland Circle 4:30-8
Tuesday
Yellow: Belvidere 11:30-3
Blue: Rings Fountain 11:30-2:30, Cleveland Circle 4:30-8
Wednesday
Yellow: Belvidere 11:30-3, Boston University East 3:30-7
Blue: Dewey on the Greenway 11-3
Thursday
Blue: City Hall Plaza 11-3, JP 4:30-8
Friday:
Yellow:
 Milk St. 11-3
Blue:
 Dewey 11-6
Saturday:
Yellow: Peter’s Park in the South End 11:30-3, Clarendon Street 3-7
Blue: Greenway Open Market 11-5
Sunday:
Yellow: Clarendon Street 12-7
Blue:
 SOWA Open Market 10-4
I would love to hear about other food trucks that offer gluten free items! Please let me know :) 
 

Bon Me on Urbanspoon