The Best Gluten-free Restaurant and Bakery Stops from the Bay Area to Portland: Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe in Davis, California

April 21st, 2009 yum Posted in Bay Area, California, Davis, Gluten Free On the Road, Gluten Free Recipes, Gluten Free bakery 2 Comments »

gfravioliFarmer’s Kitchen Cafe
624 4th Street
Davis, CA, 95616
(530) 756 1862

This week we went on an epic road trip with our new gypsy van and stopped at many great gluten-free and gluten-free friendly places in California and Oregon. Over the next week or so I’ll be reporting on some new finds and some changes to some old favorites. I’ll begin with our first stop at Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe in Davis, California for dinner. I always enjoy visiting this place for its fresh, local produce and interesting gluten-free dishes. The economy has been hitting this little place pretty hard, so if you get a chance, definitely come by and lend your support to this little gem in Davis, California. The good news is that in the last month or so, the cafe has come up with a gluten-free french bread recipe good enough to please even regular glutenoids and so no longer offers any gluten products in the cafe whatsoever. (And- I’ve tried this bread- it is truly divine and even beats my favorite Bette Hagman’s french bread recipe!) The only downside is that for strict vegetarians, this bread (As well as their sandwich bun/rolls) does contain gelatin and so is not vegetarian. Vegetarians (and even vegans) can take heart, however. Although I would be happy to see more vegetarian dishes on the menu as there is definitely a preponderance of non-veg options, vegetarians can enjoy the salads, roasted vegetable dishes, soups (check on stock), a few veggie sandwich or tacos (note bread gelatin for those that are strict veggies), a veggie/casein free ravioli dish or pizza, and a rice curry dish or two. This time I had my heart set on gluten-free ravioli and was intrigued by the promise of shitake mushroom ravioli, but a sudden rush of customers meant they were out. Instead I had the butternut squash ravioli in a melted clarified butter sauce with garlic. (Marinara was also a sauce option.) I do enjoy their ravioli, but there was an awful lot of the butter/oil sauce (as well as a generous amount of garlic, but no other herbs) so next time I think I’ll go with a marinara sauce. gfchickensandwichThe DH who is neither gluten free nor vegetarian in any sense of the word ordered the chicken salad sandwich with homemade pickles. (I had the pickles and let me tell you, those were some FINE and tasty pickles. I wonder if it is possible to order them with the veggie sandwiches…) He was extremely pleased with his sandwich and proclaimed the GF bread EXCELLENT. gfstrawberrytartI was intrigued by the extensive dessert menu (those darned pregnancy cravings for sweets!) and ordered a strawberry lemon tart. Unfortunately there was an order mix-up and we very nearly lost our shot at the pie, but they were able to get together a last? piece of the pie for us that while not beautiful, was very, very tasty. Their gluten-free pie crust is a little thick but the filling was superb and exactly what I was hoping for with fresh strawberry slices and swirls of strawberry on a tangy-sweet lemon base.

gffrenchbreadrollSince we were going to be on the road for a week and I wanted to make sandwiches (and the DH couldn’t stop raving about the bread), I purchased a beautiful loaf of their gluten-free french bread, swallowing my guilt about certain non-veg ingredients that will remain nameless as well as one of their buns and a gluten-free, casein-free chocolate brownie. I have no excuse for the latter except that I have no defense against chocolate these days. The owner also kindly gave me a trial package of their newest gluten-free panko crumbs to try at home. The DH very much enjoyed these panko crumbs on the crab cake sandwich he had last time. They are made from their gluten-free breads so do contain you-know-what, but how could I possibly resist gluten-free panko crumbs?

gfbrownieIf you are close to home or have a great ice chest, you can stock up on frozen gluten-free goods including genuinely vegetarian pizzas (some casein-free), ravioli, blueberry muffins, and more. They have a wide variety of (room temperature) dried homemade pastas that I should probably purchase- but due to the time consuming nature of pasta, they are a bit pricey for my budget at $12/lb. I’m sure they’re worth every penny, but since I can and do occasionally make my own (and I’m usually feeling guilty about how much I’ve spent on other things) I haven’t tried them yet.

gfbreadtoastrack eggsaladbeingmade gfeggsaladsw

Previous Posts about Farmer’s Kitchen:
Review from my first visit in April 2nd, 2007
Review from my visit in June 17th, 2008

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Gluten Free Vegan Bakery in North Seattle Washington: Fremont’s Flying Apron Baked Goods Reviewed

September 24th, 2008 yum Posted in Baked Goods, Gluten Free bakery, Restaurant Review, Seattle, Vegan, Washington State 4 Comments »


Flying Apron Bakery
3510 Fremont Ave North
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 442-1115
http://www.flyingapron.net

On a recent trip to the Northwest, I happened to have some time to kill in Seattle, Washington. I did a little online research and somehow stumbled upon a gluten-free VEGAN bakery hiding in Seattle’s Fremont district called The Flying Apron. I was charmed by the name, and excited by the thought of a vegan and gluten-free bakery. Many gluten-free bakeries attempt to replicate standard American (non-veg) dishes, and I’ve been disappointed by the lack of veggie pizza (or other savory veg options) at otherwise wonderful and entirely gluten-free bake shops. I had a feeling this place wouldn’t disappoint me, especially once I looked at their enticing menu with plenty of savory vegan dishes along with sweets. According to this article, the Flying Apron was started by father Bill and his daughter Jennifer Dowd. Initially they had two locations in the U-District and Elliot Bay but have since consolidated into a single North Seattle location in Fremont.

As they explain their mission:
Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle provides vegan, gluten-free and wheat-free morning pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, breads, savory snacks and more which are made using the finest organic ingredients; whole grain wheat free flours and organic non hydrogenated oils. The Flying Apron is a wheat free, gluten free and vegan bakery. Many of our products are alternatively sweetened as well. (source:http://www.flyingapron.net)


click to enlarge

When I walked into their charming Fremont location, I was immediately impressed by the warm, cozy atmosphere. They were also bustling with customers; always a good sign. The people behind the counter were friendly and cheerful, and the extensive array of baked goods behind the counter was truly impressive. It felt like the perfect Seattle coffeeshop/bakehouse- and it was a bakehouse that just happened to be gluten-free and vegan. Dizzied by the selection, I had to find a table and find my bearings at first. What to get, what to get? As might be expected from a place with mostly organic, specialty ingredients, prices were a trifle steep. And since the DH and I had literally been gluten-free dining our way through the Northwest, I didn’t want to go too crazy. I asked the staff for suggestions- unfortunately, they tended to like the gluten-free oat based goodies, and I didn’t want to try them while on the road. I was on my own.

I knew I wanted something savory, but I was torn between the Individual Pizzas ($4.25), pot pie ($6.95) or Calzones ($ 6.95). I narrowed it down to calzones, but even then I had to choose between Italian, Moroccan, or Curry veggie fillings. It was torture, but finally I decided on the curry filling. Coconut milk was just too tempting to pass up. While I was drooling over the savory goods, I decided to pick up a loaf of their hearty, artisan style House Bread ($7.95). It’s always handy to have GF bread when traveling, right? Right? Ok, I was looking for any excuse, I’ll admit it. Then I wanted something sweet, but not too sweet. What to pick… I ended up with an adorable Berry Scone ($3.25). I did consider getting a soup or salad, but when they very nicely offered a small sample of the tomato-bean soup, I found it a bit bland. Both the bread and the scone were for later, but I wanted to at least try the calzone in the cozy shop. They warmed it up for me and DH and I sat at one of the large, wooden tables and had some with water poured from their adorable blue pitcher. Vegan friends and a couple on a date sat all around us and the shop hummed with activity and voices- the ideal environment. But how was the food?

*entirely subjective review follows. I highly recommend you try these dishes for yourself and see if you agree- and if not, tell me about it in the comments, so other readers can get a more varied perspective*
I cut open the calzone and was impressed by the vibrant, lovely vegetables inside as well as the curry aroma. When I took a bite, I could taste the freshness of the vegetables as well as the smooth, rich coconut milk. It was good, although I thought the yams could have been a little smaller and flavored with a little more onion, garlic… and maybe ginger. I was impressed by the sturdiness of the calzone casing- I know from personal experience how difficult that kind of pastry can be to work with, and I’d never tried making one so thick before. Due to that thickness, I did find that some parts of the pastry were a little chewy rather than crunchy, and I ended up leaving those bits rather than eating them. The sealed edges were nice and crunchy, and I appreciated the whole-grain flavor, although I think it’s a dish you need vegan sensibilities to truly appreciate. DH refused to even try it… he’s not a big fan of curry and is very, very picky about vegan foods. *sigh* To be fair, he also wasn’t feeling well, so he was an unusually difficult sell at the time. Rating? 10/10 for offering it… 6/10 for the filling, 5/10 for the crust… I liked it, but couldn’t possibly eat the whole thing and… well, probably wouldn’t order it again. I just prefer my own samosa/calzone recipe with its thinner, crunchier crust (although there is more fat in my recipe). Also, although I liked many elements of the filling, I like the filling I’ve made with more traditional Indian recipes better… However, I would definitely give their other savory dishes a try, and I have to say that they have the most interesting vegetarian options I’ve ever seen at a gluten-free bakery. Yay for creative gluten-free vegetarian bakers!

After having enjoyed half of the enormous calzone, we drove on to visit my grandparents and spend the night at their home. The next day I had what I am almost certain* was the Flying Apron’s delicious [blue]berry scone ($3.25) made from organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, organic evaporated cane juice, and organic canola oil. While some might not care for the healthy, whole grain flavors of the scone- I loved their contrast with the crunchy sugar crystals on top and soft, melt-in-your-mouth blueberries. DH didn’t covet it- but I loved it and would definitely, absolutely order it again. It suited my palate exactly. 10/10 for offering such an adorable vegan blueberry scone… and 8.5/10 for flavor and execution, with the caveat that those not accustomed to vegan products or looking to exactly replicate a buttery gluten scone may not find it as much to their taste. (But definitely give it a shot!)
*my confusion comes from the fact that I didn’t photograph the scones with their sign and their menu doesn’t include photos.

The final product I tried from the Flying Apron was their House Bread ($7.95) made from organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, organic pumpkin, and organic flax meal (among other goodies). I was intrigued by the artisanal qualities of the bread; its round and crusty exterior, as well as the hearty flour base. However, this was no light and fluffy loaf in its paper brown sack- this was a sturdy loaf of bread for survival. I had a bit of trouble carrying it, to tell you the truth. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Terry Pratchett’s indestructible “dwarf bread.” (If link doesn’t take you to pg. 65, press go on the search for dwarf bread and select the first option for pg. 65) When I cut it open later, I felt it had more the texture of a heavy muffin, and I was sorry to say that the flavor just didn’t work for me. I used it for some extremely crumbly sandwiches for on the road and ended up pitching the rest. I know it is a huge challenge to make vegan, gluten-free, healthy bread… but if you’re going to use garbanzo bean flour, I have personally had the best results with Bette Hagman’s recipes, substituting egg replacer and non-dairy milk if needed. However, I have to give them huge kudos for the effort- and the bread isn’t without its fans, so you might find it worth a try. 10/10 for offering such a cool-looking gluten-free round loaf, 8/10 for the crust, and 3/10 for flavor and internal texture. I would not buy it again.

The fun thing about a place like this is that if you don’t like one or two of their offerings- there are lots more to choose from! I don’t know how strong the appeal will be to gluten-free folks that aren’t vegan and can and choose to consume dairy and eggs, but I thought this was a really fun and cozy local business that I’d love to support if I lived in the area. Luckily lots of other people seem to like it too, so I have high hopes that this is one gluten-free bakery that will be around for a nice long time.

A good review of Flying Apron Bakery by a Glutenoid
Please let me know in the comments if you’ve got your own review of Flying Apron Products and I’ll add a link here!

Updated Jan 2010: News about Jennifer Katzinger of the Flying Apron- yes, there is a cookbook!

Other fun things: The Fremont neighborhood is an adorable, up-and-coming area with cute restaurants, fun shopping, Peet’s coffee, and even a grocery/yuppie health food store, PCC, down the street. If you have time, wander the area. We enjoyed some lovely tea at Peets and I prowled the PCC grocery store. Besides the usual gluten-free mixes and a few gluten-free pastas, the most interesting find was WOW cookies, made in Kent, Washington. While they’re not vegan, they are gluten-free, and I find their brownies absolutely delicious. I tried each of the cookies, and while I enjoyed the peanut butter cookie, the chocolate chip and ginger molasses both had a rather strong buttery flavor that I didn’t care for. I love the convenience, though- and the fact that at last we have a decadent, individually-wrapped gluten-free cookie option. Now if they will just start selling them outside of the Northwest…

(Speaking of Kent, Washington- While I was looking for WOW’s web site, I found a new gluten-free bakery in Kent called Haley’s Corner. Let me know if you get a chance to try it! Why is the Northwest such a hotbed of awesome gluten-free bakeries and restaurants??!! Seattle has tons of gluten-free bakeries and we all know how wonderful Portland’s gluten-free bakeries and restaurants are!)

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