GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — Bars can be tricky places for gluten-free eaters, but one South Slope watering hole is providing a temporary haven for those who've cut wheat out of their diet.
Freddy's Bar on Fifth Avenue and 17th Street will be hosting a monthly gluten-free meet-up and pop-up market, starting Feb. 9. About a dozen vendors of gluten-free foods will set up in Freddy's back room, where they'll serve samples of their products, which will also be for sale.
Attendees will be able to sink their teeth into a gluten-free smorgasbord including pies, beer, focaccia, and grilled cheese sandwiches made with kimchi. Vendors will include Krumville Cake Shop, Monsieur Singh, Brooklyn Porridge Co., and Polvilho Bakery, which makes the Brazilian snack biscoito de polvilho.
"I like to think of it as a party where there's a lot more food than usual that someone who's gluten-free can eat," said organizer Deb Goldstein.
Goldstein, a T-shirt designer, hopes to eventually open a gluten-free cafe and store in Brooklyn. While she's scouting for a space, she plans to host the gluten-free marketplace at Freddy's Bar once a month as a way to meet potential vendors and customers.
Goldstein's grandmother had celiac disease, an auto-immune disease, back when it was called sprue, and her mom was diagnosed with the condition as well. Her 5-year-old niece is also a celiac sufferer, and Goldstein considers herself an "ally" for gluten-free eaters.
While some see gluten-free eating as the latest dieting fad, for people with celiac disease it's serious business, Goldstein said. Avoiding gluten requires a constant awareness that can make it hard to relax in a restaurant or while traveling, Goldstein said.
She's hoping the pop-up market events at Freddy's will give gluten-free eaters a place to unwind without worrying about whether their food is contaminated with the dread protein, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
"People are pretty excited about it," Goldstein said. "There's really nothing like it where you can just go and have all gluten-free things...You can sit and eat and be a quote unquote normal person at a bar."
The gluten-free "eat-up" will be held Sunday, Feb. 9 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Freddy's Bar, 627 Fifth Ave. For more information, visit the event website.