Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Doing Gluten & Allergen Free Southern Style in Little Rock

With the tornado past in April, and a couple of days to burn before I could return home, I reached out and sought the best of gluten and allergen free in Little Rock AR before their event. The city of Little Rock reminds me of many Southern cities. I had no idea how Southern it was until I heard the local accents and experienced their food culture, but never mistake the fact that Little Rock has a small but underlying current of foodies.

The bedrock of their allergen free community is Dempsey Bakery. This adorable bakery is housed in a downtown older building, and when you walk in, you feel as if you have been transported into the fifties. The red and white checked tile flooring, the modern Art Deco tables and chairs, and the logo all give the impression of your parent's favorite family stop - And if you're lucky, Paula Dempsey will be behind the counter.

Paula Dempsey as shot by Soiree Magazine

She reminds you of everyone's favorite Grandmother and yet she is brilliantly before her time. Any restaurant that has Gluten Free on the menu in Little Rock, is most likely carrying her bread or desserts. Not only that, she has started the first children's group in the area with meetings held in the bakery. Lucky kids!

We held our Blogger Team Dinner there because Paula is amazing!

An Arkansas treat Gluten Free! Hot Milk Cake - Dempsey Bakery

The spread at the checkout counter with free samples - Dempsey Bakery

Paula also sees the lack of options and need for local bakeries to reach out to their hospitals, hotels, and restaurants to aid them in providing safe, allergen free meals to their patients. She has complete frozen meals available for them when someone needs them and strives to make her products easily accesible. How perfectly awesome is that?

Dempsey is definitely a company to watch as they grow...

Left: Frozen Dinner        Center Bottom: Local menu at restaurant with Dempsey items  Right: Interior shot of Dempsey Bakery
Menu from Izzy's who have some great options

Bear Kingdom Vineyards Muscadine Jellies

We happened across Bear Kingdom Vineyards, they make Muscadine Wine based jellies and jams with no gluten or corn in their sourcing. I have many fond memories of eating Muscadine grapes with my grandfather behind his house. He would pick a few and we would eat them, dirt and all, still warm from the Southern sunshine. So, I am tickled to try this local vendor's Arkansas treasure.

Sabiaco Abbey & Country Monk Products

My father called me with excitement in his foodie voice to tell me he had found Sabiaco Abbey and their famous Abbey Peanut Brittle and hot Monk Sauce. The Peanut Brittle recipe has been passed down by the monks and is still cooked at the Abbey by Fr. Richard and Br. Reginald. The very hot habanero based “Monk Sauce” begins production during the winter as Fr. Richard prepares and grows the plants. They are then placed into the ground to be tended by Fr. Richard, Br. Reginald, and Fr. Bruno. After picking, they are then cooked with Fr. Richard’s special recipe, bottled, and then packaged to ship.
Who would have thought Monks like hot sauce? Either way, it is phenomenal, but let me stress....HOT
Habanero has this slow lingering burn that is distinctive and lasting. 

First Gluten Free Expo with a Monk in his Habit

Whole Foods Little Rock has been a wonderful ally and represented several brands at the event June 21! Their Whole Foods Bake House has been a life saver many times in our household and I am sure in others also. I continue to be grateful to work with them on so many important events in this journey down Allergy Free Back Roads.

Homayd Natural Care Products were a find at the event for gluten free, natural soaps including human and their four-legged friend dog shampoo bars! I bought 2 Dingy Dog Bars because my daughter always wants to help shampoo the pups

Leaves of Grass Soap, Homayd

We visited some amazing places in the city of Little Rock. Some businesses we contacted include: Izzy's, Ya Ya's Bistro, The Green Corner Store, Loblolly Creamery, The Root Cafe and a few others. 
American Pie Pizza, The Pizza Cafe, Mellow Mushroom, Bruno's Little Italy, US Pizza, & NYPD Pizza are your go to places in Little Rock for GF pizza

  Meat Lover's Pizza at The Pizza Cafe
  BLT Club on Dempsey Bakery Bread and Sweet Potato Fries at Izzy's  

And then there was the Blogger Team Dinner sponsored by Dempsey Bakery that was Southern charm rolled into that retro ambiance of stepping back in time and yet allergen free. Paula made us a cake that will go down in history as one of our faves! 

Blogger Team Dinner Party Little Rock

Little Rock needs more products and access to them. If you want to help a growing community, please try their market. You will never meet people more grateful for your presence. That is a Southern etiquette that can't be imitated.