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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The Best Gluten-Free Bakery and Restaurant Stops from the Bay Area to Portland: Coffee Plant, Corbett Fish House, and more

April 29th, 2009 yum Posted in Gluten Free bakery, Or, Portland, Portland Oregon 4 Comments »

cpbeansoup3Corbett Coffee Plant
5911 SW Corbett
Portland, Or
Next Door to Corbett Fish House!!!
503-293-3280
Open 7 – 5 M-Sat, 9 – 3 Sun

I know that I’ve reviewed this place before (in Sep 2007). Nevertheless, this very local and very cool casual Portland coffee shop that just-so-happens to have a small all gluten-free bakery still amazes me every time I go. Since I went in 2007, they’ve got more space (I think) and are selling some pre-made gluten-free supplies like Ener-g Foods gourmet GF crackers, GF pretzels, and alternative milks, as well as some GF certified oats. But the real reason to go remains the amazing baked goods. Last time I was wowed by their gluten-free chocolate chip cookies… Let’s see, how did it go? “Congrats to the brillig baker at Coffee Plant for single handedly creating the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. Can I give a 10/10 again? Is that bad? It was a darned tasty cookie.” It is still a delicious cookie. This time the DH got into the cookie chomping action and I found him wanting more than his fair half of MY gluten-free cookie! I had to send him back to the front to buy more. According to him, they are indistinguishable from gluten chocolate-chip cookies, and darned fine cookies at that. We also tried a day-old double chocolate chip cookie from them that was just as good two days later. I love the nice, big chocolate chips they use, and the flour mixture is perfect.

One thing that was DIFFERENT this time is that we went earlier and so they hadn’t sold out of anything yet.
They had two main offerings on their menu; a spicy vegetarian black bean soup, and a quiche, along with all the items in their bakery case and things in a small refrigerator case.

cpquiche3I hadn’t had breakfast, so I was ready to do some serious damage. I ordered the soup AND a quiche and figured I’d share with the DH. They heated both up for me, and I was thrilled with both. The soup was complex and rich, with a serious spicy kick, and it tasted deliciously vegetarian and it was perfectly to my taste. It was served with Ener-g Foods GF Gourmet crackers and I couldn’t have been happier with the combination. The quiche had a delicious gluten-free crust that was the perfect thickness, and nicely rich. It also complimented the cheesy quiche filling quite nicely. Both went well with the Coffee Plant’s lovely chai and half of a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. But then, most things do go well with chocolate chip cookies.

Since we were traveling by gypsy van (RV camper to you) and had a small refrigerator, I decided to purchase their gluten-free vegetarian wrap and gluten-free Cabbage Salad with Gingered Tofu to take with us. We also picked up some cookies and some of their famed gluten-free scones. In this case, I bought the walnut scone and chocolate chip scone.

cpsandwrapHow was the wrap? Well, first, if you’ll recall, I absolutely loved their gluten-free sandwiches, but alas, they don’t seem to offer them any more. It does seem that you can get a loaf of their bread IF you request it ahead of time, but they don’t seem to keep it on hand. I was excited to see the wrap, and very curious about the mediterranean filling. Unfortunately, when I actually tried it, I was a bit disappointed. The wrap was quite egg-tasting and there was a strangely sweet element that somehow clashed with the savory feta-tomato filling. I only ate half, and the rest went to waste. The cabbage salad with gingered tofu was a bit more to my taste but the tofu had a rather heavy and flat flavor that I didn’t completely love. I would try anything they offered, and love that there are so many vegetarian options, but I really wish they still had their gluten-free sandwiches. Next time I’ll have to order their bread and make some of my own…

cpsconesThe cookies were perfection, as I mentioned, and the scones were also delicious. The DH said they tasted just like gluten scones (seems to be a theme with this place)- all I know is that they are the best gluten-free scones I’ve ever had.

On the Coffee Plant’s website, it states that:
“Currently, in addition to our gluten-free cafe at 5915 SW Corbett Avenue, you can enjoy our gf coffeecakes and granola at The Fresh Pot Hawthorne (3729 SE Hawthorne) and a selection of gf pastries at Coffee Plant Downtown (724 SW Washington Street). And now, Divine Cafe (located in NCNM campus in Southwest Portland) as well as Food Front Hillsdale are selling our gluten-free goodies. Hooray!”

So, if you find yourself at another Coffee Plant location or other coffee shops, you can still enjoy some delicious gluten-free goodies!

My Sep 2007 Post Reviewing Corbett Coffee Plant



swpotatofries2News from the Corbett Fish House and its gluten-free cousin the Hawthorne Fish House:

They now have gluten-free hamburger buns, as well as a gluten-free locally made vegetarian burger. So even strict vegetarians (non-pescatarians) can enjoy their fries and a burger as well as an extensive gluten-free dessert menu. yeah!

My earlier (pescatarian) post reviewing items at Corbett Fish House and Hawthorne Fish House
Hawthorne Fish House Web Page
Corbett Fish House Web Page

desserts
Looking for more gluten-free bakeries in Portland?
I got a hot tip from another Coffee Plant Customer that a new gluten-free baking team is rising on the horizon- New Cascadia Traditional According to their site, their “retail location is in NW Portland on NW Glisan just West of NW 21st Ave, next to Trader Joes and in front of Sammy’s Flowers. We can also be found at the PSU and Eastbank Portland Farmers Markets.” They are a dedicated gluten-free bakery that uses the newer and more nutritional flours to make hand crafted artisan breads, pastries and gourmet cookies. (They don’t use soy or bean flours, however.)
You can reach them by Phone at: 503.887.4392
And their hours as posted on their web site are:
Tuesday – Friday 11:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.
Saturday 9:30a.m. to 5:30p.m.
(I do hear they sell out early, so call to verify that they have the products you are interested in.)

Also, here is my recent review of the Gluten-Free Products available for bulk order through Angeline’s dedicated gf Bakery in Portland

So, there you have it- proof that Portland, Oregon really is the gluten-free mecca of the United States. *Sigh*

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