Bay Area Oakland, California Gluten Free Bakery Review: Mariposa’s Latest Developments

June 11th, 2009 yum Posted in Bay Area, Ca, California, Coffee shop, Gluten Free Dining, Gluten Free Product Review, Gluten Free bakery, Mariposa Bakery, Oakland 7 Comments »

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mariposarye1 Mariposa gluten-free Rye Round $4.95 (as of June ‘09)- This new product immediately piqued my interest with its lovely artisan shape and promising caraway flavoring. When I asked the bakers at mariposa which of the new loaves they recommended, they mentioned that the un-rye bread had been selling very well. It was also quite reasonably priced, for a bakery-made artisan loaf. But how did it taste? The first day I found it had nice texture and was great sliced with butter, and then after that I enjoyed it toasted in small sandwiches with baba ghanoush, tahini sauce and arugula. Of all the breads I’ve tried at Mariposa, this is definitely my favorite, and one I would purchase again.

mariposalemonmuffinI swooned when I saw this gorgeous lemon poppyseed muffin in the case. It was fluffy and light and seemed to defy gravity with its lovely top. The white icing added just the right delicate and lovely touch, and I was sold. I took it home and hoarded it for a day or so before finally trying it. I found the texture to be excellent, and I enjoyed the delicate flavors. The poppyseeds really popped- and the lemon was interesting without being cloying. I did find it to be sweet- and I tend not to eat sweet muffins very often, so I don’t know how often I would buy it, but I did enjoy it.

mariposacake When I saw the beautiful White Cake Layer slices for $4.50 in the refrigerator case at Mariposa, I knew I had to have one. The sign advertised cream cheese frosting with raspberry filling, and the cake was also garnished generously with sliced, toasted almonds. Gorgeous! The DH and I shared a piece right there in the bakery. Our estimation? The cake texture was good, and the flavor was nice as well. The cream cheese frosting was thick, and a bit too sweet for my taste buds, and I wasn’t wild about the almonds in combination, but it was everything a white layer cake should be. I don’t think I would try that flavor again (although I confess a strong curiosity about the chocolate) but it was a satisfying and pleasant cake experience. Love that they are offering them in slices now!

marinutmealcookieI’ve raved about these nutmeal raisin cookies before, and my opinion hasn’t changed. This time I was able to snag about four to take home with me… which I kept in the bag and treasured for days. Of all the cookies at Mariposa (Chocolate chip and sugar cookie) I like the texture and flavor of the nutmeal raisin the best, and they are the only ones I buy regularly. Delicious!

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mariposagrocerymariposagrocery2 I’d heard that changes were afoot at Mariposa, including some un-rye bread, new freezer cases, and of course gluten-free ravioli. When we got there I noticed immediately that they had expanded the non-Mariposa offerings into a small gluten-free grocery selection. They are now carrying DeBoles pasta, Tinkyada Pasta, Glutino snack bars (yuck), Mesa Sunrise, Bakery on Main, and Amazon Corn Flakes, and Pamela’s mixes, among many other things.

mariposafreezer2 mariposafreezer3The freezer case was especially impressive, with offerings including bagels, cheese ravioli, butternut squash ravioli (GF DF NF), multi-grain bread, scones, baguettes, quiche in a pastry crust, rosemary rolls, and of course, pizza. I made sure to snag some of the gluten free cheese ravioli right away, although the price (10 pieces for $9) did give me serious pause. I know it is time intensive (trust me, or I’d make it more) but that is a pretty steep price for something I can make myself. But- luckily this blog gave me an excuse to try it at least once. I also bought the cheese quiche because I can’t resist a tasty looking crust that I didn’t have to make myself. And- last but not least, their poppyseed challah also went home with me. The DH and I of course had to have a slice of their gluten-free pizza, which in the past I’ve referred to as the best pizza on the West Coast.

mariposapizza2I always love Mariposa’s all-vegetarian pizza, and it’s one of the things that brings me back time after time. They have an excellent crust and toppings are generally very creative and tasty. I have to admit, this time I was slightly disappointed. The crust was underdone, so it wasn’t as gorgeous and crispy as usual, and the toppings were… not quite as inspired as usual, being just cheese, tomato, peppers, and herbs. I hope that they can keep their creative juices flowing and impressing us with their fun toppings that set them apart from the rest- and also, make sure that the crust is baked long enough to really do it justice. I’ll order their pizza again, of course, but it was a little bit of a bummer this time around.

mariposaquicheI took one of these quiche home and had it with a lovely arugula salad for dinner one night. Actually, it made several meals (but two of them were more like snacks). The crust was gorgeously browned and golden, but I found it slightly flat in flavor. I don’t know exactly what the ingredients are, but I don’t think it contains butter, and I miss that a little bit. The egg-cheese filling was pleasant, but I did want to add some kind of flavor element- I wish it had a vegetable, herb, or even more seasonings of salt and/or pepper. I loved being able to take the quiche home and bake it, and it is a very smart offering, in my opinion, that made this savory girl very happy. However, I probably wouldn’t get it again unless there was an option with the pow of additional (vegetarian) ingredients. You should definitely try it for yourself, though, and see what you think.

mariposachallah2The challah at Mariposa ($6.50) is a thing of absolute beauty. I have never seen a gluten-free challah with gorgeous, glistening braids like this one. The poppy seed topping is also fantastic (and they have them without if you prefer). The challah came frozen, so I left it in the freezer for a few days and then took it out for breakfast. I cut off a piece of the loaf and microwaved it…. and then it was time for a taste test. I think because the bread is based in brown rice flour, it has a distinctive “brown” bread flavor, with a sweet, almost fruity element. I tried the first piece with butter. The texture was pleasant, and the flavor wasn’t bad, but for me the real strength of the bread is its beauty. It makes me proud to see where gluten-free bread has come since my diagnosis. However, I do have to say that I wasn’t wild about the flavor and found it rather sweet and bland. I tried it with cream cheese, and it was also pleasant, but I don’t think the flavor of this particular bread is my thing.
2/18/09 Update
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*photos taken from experience in February- I just didn’t get around to posting about our trip, but this seemed like a good time to tell you about it!

valdonutsI was delighted when I heard about Mariposa’s special gluten-free doughnut day celebrating Valentines Day. They don’t normally offer doughnuts, so it sounded really fun and different. Their pretty cake-style (not fried) doughnuts looked enticing and I went a little crazy, buying a whole box full. Unfortunately, when we actually tried them, both the DH and I were not that crazy about them. They were pretty heavy, not all that sweet, and tasted pretty firmly gluten-free. They didn’t pass the glutenoid taste test, and the DH stopped eating after the first bite or so. I nibbled at a few, but to tell you the truth, most ended up sitting in our refrigerator uneaten and finally ended up in the trash. I hate to say this, but I much prefer the mass marketed donuts produced by kinnikinnick. These aren’t a regular offering at Mariposa. If they are offered again, perhaps the recipe will be tweaked a bit. I don’t think we’ll be making it to doughnut day anytime soon, though.

valcupcakes2valcupcakesStarting on Valentine’s Day (or perhaps prior to), Mariposa began offering chocolate, vanilla, black bottom, carrot cake & seasonal cupcakes made by Miglet’s Gluten-Free Cakery. ($2 each) For Valentine’s Day they had red velvet cupcakes that were bewitchingly sweet and as appealing to look at as they were to eat. I bought one carrot cake cupcake and one red velvet cupcake- in the interest of science, you understand. Both were tasty, but the cream cheese and other frosting was a bit sweet for my taste. They would be perfect for anyone with a strong sweet tooth, though- and I’ve never seen a cuter gluten-free cupcake. How great would it be to be able to bring home a box for a newly diagnosed child or family member? Now that they have a lovely refrigerated case, these cupcakes appear to be offered year round, and are a wonderful addition to the offerings at Mariposa.

valchocolateheartI have to say, though, that my absolute favorite Valentine’s Day treat was the Valentine’s Day flourless chocolate cake. The DH bought it for me, but if I remember correctly it was either just under or over $10.00. It sounds like a lot- but it was a beautiful, toothsome looking creation. When I cut into it, I found it was my idea of a perfect, fudge-like cake without any heavy bread or cake bits to get in the way of my enjoyment of the cake. The ganache-type coating was delightful, and I’d definitely order it again.

To conclude- Since my last Mariposa report, there have been lots of additions to Mariposa’s gluten-free baked good lineup lately. On our last Sunday afternoon visit, I was very pleased to see a great deal of foot traffic into the bakery. I noticed visitors often picked up some gluten-free cereal or other groceries along with their gluten-free cookies or cake- and in this tough market, anything that contributes to the bakery’s success is a good thing. I think Mariposa has been very smart with their gradual expansion of bakery offerings, and I’m thrilled to see them offering more savory items to the Bay Area like ravioli and quiche. I look forward to seeing what they make next, and hope you will all consider visiting their location and supporting their efforts for the gluten-free community.

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Vegetarian-friendly restaurant coffee shop with Natural Gluten-free Options in Tehachapi, California

March 26th, 2009 yum Posted in California, Coffee shop, Restaurant Review, Travel 1 Comment »

mamahillybeansMama HillyBean’s Cafe
426 E. Tehachapi Blvd,
Tehachapi, California 93561

This weekend we went on an impromptu trip to Death Valley, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. On our way out, we happened to drive by an unexpectedly appealing coffee shop in Tehachapi, California. They were closed at the time, but the sign featuring Rosie the Riveter and just plain appealing exterior made us think it was somewhere we’d like to visit. One great thing about coffee is that it is generally gluten-free as long as you keep an eye on flavorings and syrups. Granted, I’m pregnant so no longer downing the double-shot lattes as I once was, but there’s always decaf or herbal tea. On our way home from our long trip the DH happened to remember this coffee shop and so we made sure to stop. When we walked in the door, I was really glad we had. Funky, home-grown and eclectic artistic decor was everywhere- and a bright, cheerful menu sign immediately grabbed our attention, not just with an extensive coffee and tea menu but also with a light lunch menu. mamahillymenu I had been eating gluten-free snacks and the odd microwaved potato or In-N-Out fries for days, and when I started reading their (largely organic and healthy sounding) menu, I went a little crazy. Note: this coffee shop does not have a gluten-free menu or any special gluten-free goodies, but they do have simple and natural ingredients and were more than willing to check on items for me. I was intrigued by their customizable salads and baked potato with broccoli-cheese toppings, although I didn’t check on the GF status of the latter.
Here’s what they say about their food:
“All of our food is made from scratch and is about 95% organic. If we can find it organic (preferably local), it is organic. All of our coffee and tea is organic and fair trade.”
Couldn’t sound better to me! (Unless of course there was something about gluten-free items in there too.)

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After much agonizing, I ordered their vegetarian Cameron Salad, which featured fresh organic greens, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, feta and pumpkin seeds with a light and refreshing lemon olive oil dressing (house made). mamachaiI also had an organic Chai latte, which is not only available decaf, in black tea or green tea versions, but can also be made with regular or nonfat milk, almond milk, soy milk, or even Hemp Milk! mamamaryskissThe DH ordered a VERY customizable (pescatarian) salad and this lovely creation called “Mary’s Kiss”- made with shots of espresso, chocolate, and (optional) real whipped cream. We sat down at one of their funky tables, listening to the hippie coffee shop music and the sound of the waterfall fountain (complete with koi). memamahillymamadhandsalmonsalad They have a great internet corner and free wi-fi for them as what wants it- as well as a fun collection of magazines. I sat down with some ecologically-friendly Mother Earth magazine and waited. Service isn’t especially fast, but it’s friendly and cozy- with a real small town hippie vibe. I couldn’t have been happier after all of the desolate post-mining towns we’d driven through- and it was even a great antidote for our very mass-produced Las Vegas, Nevada experience.

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