Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Food allergies and sensitivities are extremely common these days and sufferers are often faced with the difficulty of finding products that are of good quality, flavour and fairly-priced.  Although many bakeries and restaurants in the city have been introducing allergy-free items to their menu, there is often a lack of dedication and knowledge surrounding allergen-free cooking which results in a recipe that is tasteless and unsatisfying. Luckily a new gourmet food store has opened up that focuses on implementing flavour, texture and aroma into their allergy-friendly menu to create some incredibly delicious foods to Feast on.

FEAST which stands for ‘Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types’ opened up last month and carry items that are free from gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, treenuts, fish and shellfish).  I was shocked to learn that absolutely NOTHING in the store contains any of the above ingredients and even more shocked at how delicious the products I tried were.  The couple behind FEAST is Neil (chef) and Wendy (nurse), both passionate foodies that were challenged with their respective food allergies/sensitivities.  Having a difficult time discovering flavour-enriched foods that they could digest, the couple decided to create their own recipes so that taste was never compromised. Their recipe testing has been perfected with the utmost precision and the evidence is experienced with every bite of the various items at FEAST.

Neil and Wendy should be commended for the extreme efforts they've went through to create an allergy-friendly menu and environment. They make sure to verify ingredients and products for cross-contamination risks, favour companies that are founded by people who experience food allergies, train and certify their staff on food allergens through Anaphylaxis Canada, and list every single ingredient on product cards for all of the in-house made items.  They even have take-away bags that are allergy-free.

FEAST creates their prepared foods in-house and offer items such as pocket pies, donuts, spreads and coconut milk caramels.  FEAST also carries a line of pantry items such as pasta, sauces, baking products etc. many of which have been sourced from local artisans in Ontario. Neil and Wendy have tested out many of the products that they sell to ensure that only the best tasting items with top-notch texture, aroma and flavour are on their shelves.

What I ate:

Pocket Pies - Jerk Chicken, The Beefeater, Vegan Curried Black Bean - $8 each

I went for the jerk chicken pie first and was in awe after the first bite.  I definitely forgot that this pie was gluten-free and was amazed at how perfect the pie pastry tasted.  The filling was equally as tasty, and dipped into the homemade hot sauce gave it a nice zing! The vegan curried black bean pie was flavourful and packed with hearty bean goodness. I was already full off of one pie but these stuffed pockets are quite addictive so of course I kept eating.  What’s great about these pies is that you can buy them and freeze them for later. 

Donuts - Triple Chocolate Love, On Top of Coconut Mountain - $3.50 each

These donuts were both fluffy and moist and had impeccable flavour.  Sometimes with gluten-free and dairy-free donuts a ton of sugar is added but FEAST uses coconut sugar so that their donuts are low-glycemic and not too sugary. The coconut donut was definitely my fav thanks to the crunchy coconut chip topping.

Coconut Milk Caramels - Tropical Caramel, Chocolate Krisipies - $2 each

These chewy little balls of bliss were new to me and I don’t think I have ever tried something quite like them.  The first one was a tropical caramel made with pineapple, coconut milk and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It really did posses tropical flavours as you could really taste the dehydrated pineapple.  It was such a nice treat and surprisingly quite filling for the size of it.  The chocolate krispies were made with coconut milk, raw organic cacao nibs and crispy rice cereal and had a nice crunch to it with a smooth chocolate taste.

Spreads - Organic Vegan Butter, Sunflower Butter, Chocolate Sunflower Butter - $8 each

All of the spreads are allergy-free and are made in-house with fresh and local ingredients.  The vegan butter was very rich and creamy and is made with lightly salted coconut milk.  This will soon be replacing butter/margarine in my household.  The flavour is so much better than actual butter, and you can eat it right off of the spoon! The Sunflower butter was heavenly and probably my fav item in the store! The fresh roasted sunflower seed flavour was prominent and the texture of the butter was thick and creamy.  This spread would taste great in my homemade granola bars in place of nut butter. The Chocolate Sunflower butter is fudgy and decadent and a great alternative to nutella.

Ginger Chocafella Cake - $16 each

These layered cakes are unbelievable! They are incredibly rich and one small slice is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.  The bottom is gingery, the middle is moist and chocolaty and the thick chocolate layer on top is very decadent. This cake is the perfect treat to share between friends and pairs well with a hot cup of brewed Crio Bru Cavalla which is made from 100% pure roasted cocoa beans. You can try a cup of this great coffee alternative for $3.50.

FEAST is a great addition to our city and a true haven for the allergy and sensitivity type or for anyone who loves GOOD tasting food. Be sure to stay up to date with FEAST by following them on twitter, facebook and instagram.

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