Alea Cardarelli visits Ottawa’s gluten-free food fair

Alea Cardarelli is the mastermind behind the allergy-friendly blog My Real Food Life. She also makes a delicious cupcake. 

Hi all!  I wanted to share with you some of the fun we had at the Canadian Celiac Association’s annual conference this past weekend here in Ottawa.  The best part, for me, was meeting all of our wonderful local GF food vendors! One of the biggest challenges when you can’t have gluten, is finding locally produced fresh baked goods.  At the food fair, several of our local best came out with their products and I’m thrilled to share the inside scoop…

First up, for all of your baked goods needs, is Natural Food Pantry.  With three locations, and a long list of fresh baked products, you will be thrilled to know it is a totally dedicated, safe bakery.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

They make beautiful bread, bagels, and yes, even hot cross buns at Easter! As Ottawa’s only large-scale dedicated gluten free bakery that I know of, they are your safest, best, and most delicious option for fresh baked goods for your everyday needs.

Now, if you’re looking for something a little more boutique, fancy schmancy, indulgent, and downright naughty, meet Joanna from Dolci Bakeshop.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

Dolci is a dedicated, inspected, and gluten free safe operation. Joanna wholesales to local shops.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

Her cupcakes will slay you with their fluffy delicate sweetness and flawless crumb.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

So will the chewy melty chocolate chip cookies.

The old Italian family recipe for the beautiful Amaretti cookies caused a bit of pandemonium. They sold out in the first hour. So good, it doesn’t matter that its gluten free- its for everyone. Treat your eyes- check out her other goodies.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

While wandering around checking out the vendors, I also happened to bump into Sam, from bez gluten free.

Bez didn’t have a booth this year, but keep your eye out. They are just starting out with small orders; you will find them at local bake sales.  Make no mistake – her home made buns will knock your socks off.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

Are you more of a do-it yourselfer?  Meet Peter, from Judy’s Magic Mixes.  You’ll find his *amazing* bread mixes and cake and muffin mixes all over the city- did you know he’s based out of Orleans? (woot! East Side!) Take a bite out of his super fluffy muffins and trust me. You’ll convert to Judy-ism too.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

Next up: Purest Natural Products.  These guys are from Perth- they have their own dedicated mill (yes, you can buy flour from them! Contact to find out if you’re eligible to individually order the five kilogram sized bags.  Way easier than those small ones).

Purest has an array of flours, gluten free cocoa powder (terrific), and a wonderful selection of mixes from batter and gravy to hot chocolate and muffins.

What if you want a safe place to eat out?  Perhaps a quick lunch?

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

Meet Eddie from Nini’s Panini Bar located off Rideau Street.  Nini’s offers super gluten free grilled panini.   Their Panini buns are ordered from the Natural Food Pantry bakery, and they are meticulous about preserving them from cross contamination.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

I was so happy to eat my first panini in years, I think I swooned. Look at this panini!

Last but not least, if you’re going to do a dinner out, you must check out Ottawa’s only dedicated gluten-free Italian restaurant, Caprese – located on Bronson.

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

All the bread is made in house (and its xanthan-free! Excellent).

Photo credit: My Real Food Life

And this is Jessica (on the right, I’m the one in the insane apron). She and Luigi run the restaurant.  Frankly, I can’t wait to go (gluten-free tiramisu!? Yes please).  Note the grin on my face – there’s just something about Italians who understand gluten intolerance that makes my day.

It was a busy, blistering pace of a day- I helped Joanna at her booth for Dolci and I must say- I never got tired of the look on peoples faces when they bit into her cookies.  Finally. Something to celebrate instead of  just tolerate!

There were plenty of other folks at the GF food fair, and lots going on- If you’d like to see a few more photos, feel free to check out any of these Flickr sets for more info:

And that’s all, folks.  So great to ‘meet’ you and chat a bit. 

Wishing you all happy, safe, gluten-free eats!