Mariposa Gluten-Free Bakery Party in Oakland, Gluten-Free Beer tasting, and GF tomato bruschetta Recipe

September 16th, 2008 yum Posted in Bay Area, Ca, California, Gluten Free Beer, Gluten Free bakery, Mariposa Bakery, Oakland, Party Food, Restaurant Review, tomatoes 7 Comments »

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the anniversary party of Mariposa Gluten-Free Bakeshop in Oakland, California. I found out about the event from the Mariposa monthly newsletter, which promised scrumptious gluten-free food samples, sparkling champagne and festive live music. I don’t need much of an excuse to go visit my favorite gluten-free pizza bakery, so I marked it on my calendar and even persuaded some gluten-free “taste-testers” to accompany me. :) Patti, the owner of Mariposa, was true to her word, serving a delicious spread of gluten-free baked goods like Peach and Spinach pizza, Tomato Basil Pizza, gluten-free baguettes for bruschetta accompanied with tomatoes or peach chutney, gluten-free dairy-free chocolate chip cookies, and other baked sweets. They also had refreshing fresh fruit and chilled champagne, as well as delightful italian blood orange soda and sparkling water. The best thing? The bakery was absolutely hopping with fans of Mariposa’s tasty gluten-free offerings. There’s nothing I like seeing more than a gluten-free bakery with lots of customers. Soon after we got there, a local band started playing outside, adding to the festive atmosphere.

The sophisticated peach and spinach topped pizza toppings won my heart, and I also thoroughly loved the simpler marguerita style tomato and basil pizza. I probably gobbled more than my fair share (cough cough) but it’s just so hard to hold back when faced with the best gluten-free pizza in California! I also thought the chocolate chip cookie bites were absolutely divine- I’m not sure, but they seemed a slightly different formula than I remembered from before. At any rate, the chocolate chips were big, chocolaty and melty and they were worth any amount of guilt. The other baked offerings were tasty, but I already have my favorites (not on sample, alas). I just can’t resist their nut-meal cookies (drool, almond slices and plump raisins- they taste too good to be bad for you!). And don’t even get me started on the completely addicting dairy-free lemon-coconut bars. I bought four nut-meal cookies and four lemon-coconut bars. Turns out the lemon bars are from a family recipe that Patti converted to be gluten-free. Yummy! I also bought one of each of the frozen, topped pizzas. At $12 they are not inexpensive, but worth every penny and a world away from commercially available gluten-free frozen pizzas like Amy’s Rice Crust pizza.

Haven’t made it to Cafe Mariposa’s Gluten-free Bakery yet? Here’s their vital stats:
5427 Telegraph Ave, Unit D3,
Oakland, CA 94609
tel: 510.595.0955
fax: 510.595.0966
Don’t forget, you can also order their products online!
Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm
Saturday – Sunday 10am – 4pm

My First Review of Cafe Mariposa
My Second Review of Cafe Mariposa

But there were even more gluten-free delights available besides the regular baked goods. During the party, Mariposa’s neighboring business The Wine Mine had a $1 gluten-free beer tasting in his awesome wine shop between 12-2pm. Apparently this booming local business has found it advantageous to stock some of the more exotic gluten-free beers, as well as a wide selection of tasty wines. For a mere $1, we were offered samples not only of the mainstream Redbridge and increasingly well-known New Grist, but also Green’s Belgian beer in three styles.

Here’s my entirely subjective Review of Gluten-Free Beers:

Anheuser-Busch’s Redbridge beer is becoming a classic in the gluten-free community. Some drinkers compare it to a mass-market beer like Coors. It’s fairly easy to drink, but does have a slight bitter aftertaste thanks to the sorghum base.

New Grist is my latest gluten-free beer discovery, and I find it an extremely drinkable light-tasting beer without much of an aftertaste. According to their web site, “New Grist is the first beer brewed without malted barley or any gluten-containing products to be recognized as beer by the U.S. Government.”

Green’s Belgian Discovery Gluten-Free Amber beer was an extremely pleasant surprise. It’s tasty and beer-like without a nasty aftertaste and has a complex, golden body. My fellow gluten-free taste tester with a taste for beer liked it the best of Green’s beers, and I had to agree. Well worth the effort to hunt this beer down! i liked it so much I bought one to take home.

On the other hand, Green’s Belgian Endeavour Gluten-Free Dubbel might appeal to those who like a dark beer, and it certainly had a strong, distinctive taste. However, to my taste buds it tasted unpleasantly medicinal, and my fellow taster thought that it was weirdly “sweet.” After the first dainty sip, I literally could not drink any more, but it’s important to remember that tastes vary and you might enjoy it, so it’s definitely worth a try.

Green’s Belgian Quest Gluten-Free Tripel Blonde Ale is quite fizzy and somewhat sweet. It’s easy to drink, and pleasant with an almost perfume-like flavor. It had a slightly bitter aftertaste. I bought one to take home, but more for the sake of comparison than anything- I couldn’t see myself drinking it regularly.

Have you tried these gluten-free beers? I’m just working on developing a palate for beer, so you might have a much different impression of them. Please tell me what you think of them in the comments!

Interested in visiting the Wine Mine and buying your own gluten-free beer? Here’s their info:
Wine Mine
5427 Telegraph Ave
Oakland CA
Monday: closed (except 11/24, 12/22 call for hours)
Tue – Fri: 11:00 – 6:30pm
Saturday: 11:00 – 6:00pm
Sunday: 11:00 – 4:00pm

For now, I’ll leave you with the recipe for Patti’s delicious and easy tomato bruschetta. Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite for Mariposa’s tasty gluten-free baked goods. Remember, I don’t have any affiliation with these folks- just an appreciation for some quality gluten-free goods. In fact… I might just have to bake one of those gluten-free pizzas for dinner tonight. :)

Did you go to the Mariposa Cafe One Year Anniversary party? Tell me about it in the comments!

Mariposa Tomato Bruschetta Recipe
1 container Trader Joe’s refrigerated Bruschetta Sauce
lots of finely diced Roma tomatoes
olive oil to taste
a dash of sea salt and white pepper
a smile while it was being prepared. (Food always tastes better when made with a smile! :-))

*Sea’s note: a little fresh basil would be tasty, too!

1 Gluten-free baguette (Mariposa’s or your favorite homemade baguette recipe- I often make Bette Hagman’s rapid-rise french bread, but Mariposa’s baguettes are more nutritious), sliced and toasted (if bread is not fresh out of the oven) A

Combine topping ingredients in a medium or large bowl, tasting as you go to adjust seasonings. When it tastes perfect let it sit for a few minutes (or half an hour) to let flavors marry and then serve on toasted baguette slices OR let guests spoon their topping onto fresh slices to taste.

A simple and fun party appetizer!
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Gluten Free Cafe: Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe in Davis, Ca

June 17th, 2008 yum Posted in Davis, Gluten Free Dining, Gluten Free On the Road, Gluten Free bakery 9 Comments »

Natural Food Works
Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe
624 4th Street
Davis, CA, 95616
(530) 756 1862
Monday-Sat 11am-8pm

One of my favorite gluten-free California destinations is the Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe in Davis, California. I’d heard that change was afoot over at the Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe from one of my message boards. Apparently they’d been expanding their offerings to include frozen, sealed packages of many of their specialty items. Half of the Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe has always been an herb and supplement store, but it was exciting to hear that they had frozen foods as well as more gluten-free mixes. I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to see the changes. So, one recent Saturday DH and I hopped in our car, put in a book on CD and made the long drive to Davis, California from Mountain View. I was happy to see the cafe buzzing when we got there. It’s always fun to read the menu, both the print version and the daily specials written on the board. That day, green beans in Rellano batter and heirloom apricot gallette sounded intriguing, but it was too hard to pass up the main dish items. Rose Anne told us that they had developed a new gluten-free panko bread coating for new dishes like Tonkatsu (a popular Japanese dish where pork is covered in panko crumbs and deep fried) and their crab cakes. I wish there had been a vegetarian version of the tonkatsu, because I always wondered what it was like. Tofu tonkatsu, anyone? DH was intrigued by the crab cake sandwich, and ordered it. Photo of GF Crab Cake sandwich, non-veg Meanwhile, I wanted to try the Local Organic Soup au Pistou, a hearty all-organic veggie soup with basil pistou sauce. For my main dish I chose the CF Local Organic Green Garlic Ravioli w/ Organic Marinara Sauce. We would have liked to get the blackberry or apricot gallette for dessert but we were just too full after all our food, unfortunately. If only I’d thought of getting a slice to go!

But how was the food? I love the basil pistou sauce- it melts in the mouth and has just the right balance of flavors. I also love that everything in it is organic. Granted, some of the veggies involved are not my favorite, but still, it was a very tasty soup. I also enjoyed the green garlic ravioli with marinara sauce. The ravioli pasta was tasty (although slightly watery) and I thought the chunky marinara sauce was excellent and well flavored. If I were to buy the ravioli myself, I’d probably serve it in a flavorful garlic olive oil sauce or even better, a strong green pesto with nuts and carefully steamed broccoli because somehow its “green” flavor cries out for a green accompaniment. DH thought the garlic was a little strong, but it was fine for me. I think I would order something different next time, but you know, I think I might have to take some of that tasty marinara home for some plain, non-ravioli pasta. And the DH? Well, let’s just say he was not inclined to share that crabcake sandwich! Apparently it was made with their new panko breadcrumbs and it was a HUGE hit. I tried just one bite, and just about swooned over the delicious, creamy, basil infused sauce- it was the perfect accompaniment, and their gluten-free sourdough bread worked well. I can see that the DH has a new favorite on the menu- he said he’d give it a 9/10, and I have to agree. Rose Anne’s chef has created a flavorful masterpiece with that sandwich, and I hope they’re able to keep it on the menu full time. YUM!

While we were waiting for our food, I wandered around the shop side of the site with my little red camera in tow. Rose Anne had put in brightly lit refrigerator and freezer cases in the back of the store, and it looked fantastic. Apparently there are more changes to come, so stay tuned! I know many gluten-free folks say they would love to do all their gluten-free shopping at the same place where they can get a restaurant meal or fresh baked goods, and Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe seems to be headed in that direction. You can buy all kinds of their frozen meals, including pizza, ravioli, tamale (including vegan), and even baked goods. Personally, I was eying the yummy pizzas, both CF and vegetarian, as well as those vegan tamales. They just all looked so good!

There were changes in other parts of the store as well. Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe is now carrying Namaste and Authentic Foods mixes, as well as boxes of their own gluten-free cookies (chocolate chip and sugar cookie), along with packages of their in-house gluten-free pasta. The check-out area had an extensive selection of snack bars. However, the most popular area seemed to be their fresh baked gluten-free food bin, which only had (delicious) gluten-free brownies and their very reasonably priced and popular rosemary hamburger buns (not vegetarian due to gelatin) that other customers were snapping up like [gluten-free] hotcakes.

DH and I tried a few of the gluten-free samples on a table between the restaurant and the shop, paid our bill, and waddled off into the sunset secure in the knowledge that we’d celebrated the joys of organic, local dining. Not only that, but we got to prowl around the adorable college town of Davis, visit a few open houses, and did a little clothes shopping for the perpetually shopping-reluctant DH. Sometimes it’s just good to get away from our own sphere and enjoy a new place, along with some new and delicious food. So, the next time your gluten-free life in the Bay area (or Sacramento… or anywhere for that matter) is getting you down, why not try a holiday to Davis and sit down for a meal at Rose Anne’s organic bistro? Times are tight right now for everyone, including our favorite gluten-free entrepreneurs, and if we don’t show our support now, we may all lose out in the end..

Interested in my other posts about the Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe?

Read about my visit in June 27th, 2007 (pescatarian photo)
April 2, 2007 (all veg photos)

Can’t make it to Davis? Order Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe baked goods online, or try some of their recipes.

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