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
info@mariposabaking.com
Don’t forget, you can also order their products online!
Hours:
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
510-547-9463
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
Ingredients
Topping:
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!

Base:
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

Directions
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.

Notes
A simple and fun party appetizer!
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Gluten Free Travel in Europe: German and Austrian Reformhaus Product Reviews including GF Beer and Croissants

January 11th, 2008 yum Posted in 3 Pauly, Austria, Europe, German, Gluten Free Beer, Gluten Free Product Review, Schaer, Travel 17 Comments »

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Produkte Ohne Gluten (Products without Gluten-German)
It should be no surprise to you, my readers, that when I found myself in Austria and Germany, I was very excited to explore the various types of European Gluten-free products offered that aren’t accessible here in the States. I had visions of arriving in Vienna and immediately dashing to a health food store (called Reformhaus in German), but it didn’t quite work out that way. However, before too long I did find some grocery stores, and I did scour the shelves until I found the health food section. Tip: just look for the rice cakes!
Supermarkets you can expect to find in Austria and Germany include: MERKUR, BILLA, INTERSPAR, EUROSPAR, SPAR, dm-Drogeriemarkt. I found Spar to be especially nice, as they had a more diverse collection of rice cakes. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve sneered at rice cakes many a time. Who wants to eat puffed cardboard when you COULD be eating homemade bread, fresh from the oven, or some lovely rice pilaf? But these were no ordinary rice cakes. They had chocolate and coconut dipped rice cakes, plain chocolate dipped rice cakes, and even Strawberry yogurt dipped rice cakes. YUM! My non GF DH was stealing them, that’s how good they were.


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How to find a reformhaus in Austria or Germany:
The rice cakes from the grocery store were nice, and some grocery stores even had gluten-free corn flakes or muesli, but I really wanted to explore Reformhaus/ health food stores in Austria and Germany to find out what they had to offer. We finally managed this in Augsburg, Germany. I had addresses of reformhaus, but we found it too difficult to find things by address alone without GPS or the internet. Luckily our hotel (Ibis) was in walking distance of the train station, so we used an internet terminal at the train station. I went to www.reformhaus.de/branche/reformhaeuser.htm, entered in the city, and got a list of Reformhaus. (Note: site is in German so the Google translation feature was very helpful) Then I entered addresses into Google Maps and came up with about 3-4 in walking distance of the train station. I was glad we’d mapped that many because the first reformhaus had gone out of business- luckily reformhaus #2 was open and I was thrilled when I found their gluten free shelves, labeled with “produkte ohne gluten.” Sometimes shelves will be labeled “gluten frei” or not labeled at all, but the products are all in one place so once you find the right section, you are set. I have to admit, I went a little crazy, although the pile you see above was actually the result of me stopping every time we saw a reformhaus and getting “just one more thing” to try. The two major companies in Austria and Germany seem to be Schaer and 3Pauly.


The best Schaer Products I tried:
magdalenas.jpgThis was the only product I bought multiples of on our trip- Although I’m not a huge fan of apricot, these jam filled sponge cupcakes are absolutely delicious and satisfying. They are also individually wrapped, making them perfect for travel, even on the airlines. DH liked them too. 9/10 I would buy them back home, too, for the right price.

crisprolls.jpgThese crisp rolls looked promising in the package and were just as I expected them to be. They are crispy, crunchy bits of bread perfect for jam or an impromptu sandwich- and best of all, don’t need toasting to be delicious! They aren’t individually wrapped, so it is best if you can put them in a sealed ziploc bag once they’re opened so crumbs don’t get everywhere. As time went on, they got a bit broken up in the bag, but they were perfect for a bite of bread with breakfast. I have a feeling these aren’t the healthiest of snacks- they have a strong margarine or butter flavor, but I didn’t care- we were on vacation! 8/10 Great for traveling. I probably wouldn’t buy them at home.

quadritos.jpgThese decadent little wafers taste just as you would expect them to from the package. Chocolatey wafery goodness, conveniently packaged. I’m sure they’re terribly bad for you, but they’re perfect for staving off depression after you watch your DH eat his 5th apple strudel of the trip. (That boy really loves his apple strudel!) DH also gave them a big thumbs up. 9/10 for taste 7/10 for high calories and being junk food. I might (guiltily) buy them at home, very rarely, if they were not too expensive.


Schaer Products that were Not too Bad:
ciabattine.jpgThese rolls, like most of Schaer’s bread products, require a toaster oven, so I didn’t actually try them until I came home. Once heated for 10-15 minutes in the oven, they have good texture and satisfying “roll” like qualities- a nice crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. The powdery corn flour taste on the outside bothers me a little bit- it can taste slightly bitter and “off” to me if I think about it too much. However, these rolls were pretty nice with some butter, honey or jam. Not good for traveling unless you have access to your own oven or toaster oven!
7/10 I might buy them at home, if I had no time at all to bake.


GRISSINI breadsticks were ok, but nothing special. Tolerable for travel. Good as a side with salads. 7/10 I wouldn’t buy them again, unless traveling and nothing better was available.

Schaer Products that were Not good:
baguette.jpgbaguette2.jpgI was really excited about these baguettes. It made me wonder why we don’t have any nationally available shaped breads available like this in the States, when Schaer has more than you can count. However, when I finally tried it, I was disappointed. I tried it three ways- first, toasted, and then cut in half horizontally. The bread was gummy and did not slice well post toasting. Then I tried cutting the bread in half horizontally and then toasting it. It maintained its structural integrity much better, and wouldn’t be half bad with tomato sauce and cheese melted on it- or some other flavorful topping. The bread itself had very little flavor. I also tried slicing the bread in little circular rounds- they were quite crunchy and would be good for crostini. I didn’t like the flavor of the bread especially, but it was ok.
6/10 for texture and flavor. I would not buy these at home.


scroissant.jpgThese gluten-free chocolate “croissants” were the biggest disappointment of all. It sounds like a good idea, especially described on their web site. “Quickly warmed in the oven, they taste heavenly!” they claim. They come in a two pack, with two “croissants” per side, for a total of four “Croissants” all together. These must be toasted to be palatable. They smell very gluten-free and bland. Toasted they taste just as gluten-free, and just as bland. The chocolate is mild and not especially sweet. Far inferior to other European gluten-free croissants. Edible but not deserving of the name, with no butter flavor whatsoever. One positive- they don’t taste rich enough to cause feelings of dietary guilt. 5/10 I would not buy these again, anywhere.


Schaer Products that were Pretty Awful
rustico1.jpgThis bread looks fairly typical for packaged gluten-free bread that is antiseptically sealed for long storage, a la Ener-g foods. I haven’t eaten Ener-g foods bread in years because there are so many better options out there- Whole Foods Bakehouse gluten free bread comes to mind. If I had any better option, I wouldn’t have eaten this bread either. I toasted it in safe toaster bags in one guesthouse that we stayed at- none of the others had toasters. I made grilled cheese sandwiches by packing it in the toaster bag with cheese between the bread- it wasn’t too bad. I would not enjoy it plain, or even with jam- it just tastes too bland. Gluten-free bread can be so much better than this! 5/10 with cheese, 4/10 without. I would not buy this again unless I was traveling and wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and had no other options. Bleh.


funkies.jpgFunkies taste like they sound. Funky. I thought that corn wafer snacks might be tasty. I was wrong. These are awful. DH refused to even try them after getting a whiff of the seasonings. I wish I hadn’t bought or tried them. 2/10 I would never buy these again, anywhere, anyhow. I wouldn’t even accept them if they were free.


FETTE CROCCANTI, gluten-free cracker toast- about as tasty as corn Styrofoam. They seemed like a good idea, but weren’t. I couldn’t even finish the package on the plane. 3/10, higher if you put really flavorful sandwich fillings on them. I wouldn’t buy them again as I disliked the texture.


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3 Pauly Products I regret that I wasn’t able to try more 3 Pauly products while I was in Europe, as I get the feeling that they are more innovative than Schaer with new flours. Schaer seems pretty comfortable with their corn flour, but 3 Pauly is experimenting with various teff products, and I say more power to them! I would have to try more of their products to really give them a fair assessment, however.

The Best 3 Pauly Products
croissantpkg3paul.jpg3 Pauly Croissants are a world away from Schaer’s travesty of a gluten-free croissant. They do require heating in the oven, and I found I liked them better baked more like 15 minutes than 10 minutes, but they actually taste buttery and flaky. They may not be the perfect gluten-free croissant (see the French products below sold through Amazon for a superior gluten-free croissant) but they’re pretty good! They have that guilt-inducing richness we all look for in a croissant, and taste nice with jam, or pretty much whatever you care to put on them. They are not quite as fluffy as they could be, but they were pretty good! 8/10, mostly for novelty. I would buy them again IF traveling with access to a toaster oven.


Glutenfreie Brezeln- Gluten-free pretzels- These corn-based pretzels are not much different than gluten-free pretzles from Glutino or Ener-g Foods. Great travel food; I ate them up faster than almost anything else. High in fat, though. 8/10 I would buy them sometime for travel on the road.

Corn Flakes These hardly need explaining- any gluten-free corn flake you can find should be good, and I was very happy to have them at breakfast time. 8/10 Great for travel but nothing special, persay.

The Worst 3 Pauly Products
lighttomato.jpgThese light tomato crackers were about as bad as the Schaer version of this type of cracker. They may be healthier for you, but again, who really wants to eat corn Styrofoam? Certainly not me, even if it is “tomato-flavored.” These might be ok with some great toppings, but I didn’t enjoy them. 4/10 I wouldn’t buy them again unless dieting and desperate.


Other products to be on the lookout for:
Gluten-Free Beer in Austria and Germany
Luckily we now have Redbridge Beer and Bard’s Tale to stave off our hunger for gluten-free beer, but it can be fun to try new gluten-free beers, and I loved the two Gluten Free beers that I tried in Austria.

brau.jpgThe German Schnitzer Brau is the best sorghum beer I’ve ever had! It contains Water, Sorghum malt *, Sugar *, Hops *, and Yeast *, and comes in at least two varieties- a golden lemony beer and a regular beer. I tried the lemony beer and it was sweet and wonderful for this hard-cider loving gluten-free girl! We found it at the Reformhaus in Augsburg, so keep your eyes open for it on the shelves!10/10 I wonder if I can Buy it Here I would buy it if I could!

upbeer.jpgAustria’s gluten-free beer, “Up Bier,” is made from a blend of Sorghum Buckwheat, Corn malt, Hops, and water, which may explain its authentic beer taste and complex flavor notes. It was really very, very good and I was happy to get the chance to try it at the Gluten-free pension in Austria. 8/10, perfect for real beer lovers. Buy it Here I would buy it if I could, although that lemon beer was really my favorite.

I also enjoyed little pizza flavored cracker wafers (Great with cheese), by an unknown company, and there were many things on the shelves I would have liked to try. In retrospect I would have tried less breads and more cookies and cakes- they don’t need toasting and are better for snacking. If I’d had my own kitchen with toaster oven I think I could have enjoyed more of the products- next time I really think we’d consider renting a place with a kitchen, or maybe buying a cheap toaster oven for on the road.

Want to read more about gluten-free croissants in Europe? Read Catherine’s story here about the French Croissants sold through Amazon now. (Also see slideshow below- looks pretty yummy, huh?)

Other Gluten-free European croissant options include the frozen ones offered by Dietary Specials. What I want to know is why no gluten-free companies in the US have jumped on this and created a gluten-free croissant? C’mon guys, what are you waiting for??? Are you really going to make us order our gluten-free croissants from France through Amazon? Really? Well… ok…

Or, you can follow the amazing Kate’s example and make your own, using her Gluten-free homemade Croissant Recipe

For more information on traveling gluten-free in Austria, contact the very nice people at Austrian Celiac Society (But don’t put it off until the last minute, like I did! Way too stressful!)

For information on traveling gluten-free in Germany, go to the German Celiac Society

Read about Carol Fenster’s experience in Austria and Europe


Traveling in Switzerland? Read this article on Gluten Free Travel in Switzerland

Traveling in Italy?

Let Catherine of a Gluten-Free Guide Help you! Read her gluten free experiences in Italy- sounds like an amazingly yummy trip!

Read about Shauna’s gluten-free experiences in Italy
More here

Celiac Travel on Gluten Free Italy

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