5427 Telegraph Ave, Unit D3, Oakland, 94609
(this is at 55th & telegraph ave, right next to leo’s audio)]
Monday – Friday 8am – 4pm and Saturday 10am – 4pm
As I mentioned, this weekend we went on an epic gluten free quest to not one but three gluten free destinations. The first was Cafe Gratitude, the all gluten free, all vegan, and mostly raw restaurant in Berkeley, California. The second stop was a recently opened gluten free cafe and bakery called Cafe Mariposa in Oakland, California. I first heard of the Mariposa brand when I saw their packaged biscotti in my local Whole Foods. I was interested, but the biscotti was a little pricey, being Whole Foods, and I generally make my own following Bette Hagman’s recipes. So, I hadn’t actually tried their products when I heard on the local CeliacBayarea group on yahoo that Patti, the owner, was opening a retail gluten free cafe and bakery. DH and I immediately made it a point to make a Saturday trip down to the bakery. The cafe is housed in a charming, historic red brick building next to a wine shop.Look for a sign pointing to the parking lot- you can’t see the storefront from the road. There were no clear windows into the cafe, just an opaque frosted glass window, but there was a sign saying open on the door so we went right in. Inside, it is a simple warehouse with two tables, an attractive wooden counter, and a bookshelf in the dining area, with extensive baking facilities in the back. I was happy to see an espresso machine and coffee, with a nice gluten free beverage menu on the wall. There were also several muffin sets and a plate of day old goods, if regular gluten free prices make you hesitate. There was a good sampler of their various biscotti flavors on the counter, and the opportunity to buy their attractively packaged biscotti sets. However, I was most interested in the baked goods not available in stores. At the time I visited, there were * chocolate chip cookies (GF, DF) * coconut lemon squares (GF, DF) * morning muffins (GF, DF) * blueberry muffins (GF)* brownies (GF) * biscotti (GF, DF) * blueberry tea loaf (GF) and a * yogurt, berry and biscotti parfait (GF). I tried a sample of the coconut lemon squares and was impressed- they were like pecan pie, minus the pecans, in a bar form. Really delicious and unique. I would give them a 9/10. Although they did make me thirsty, they were a really yummy treat. In store, we also tried the day old bundt cake (a bargain at $2 rather than the fresh cake at $4) and a day old chocolate chip cookie. The bundt cake was a big hit with both of us. I love the idea of an individually sized cake, and the flavor was good, with powdered sugar adding additional interest and sweetness. I would give it an 8 or 9, and DH (who is not GF) would give it a 8- only because, as he explained, it was good, but would be even better with a frosting/glaze. Boys! What can you do.. It was nice to try a chocolate chip cookie I hadn’t made myself, but I think we cheated ourselves by trying the day old cookie, as it was a little dry. Also, it’s really hard for any pre-made cookie to compete with our favorite homemade chocolate chip recipe and all its bad for you ingredients. Nevertheless, who can beat a gluten free chocolate chip cookie with a latte? No one, that’s who. I also ordered chai, which was unfortunately made from powder. It’s probably my Seattle/Northwest roots, but I was introduced to Chai in Portland, Oregon with the Oregon Chai company and can’t help but feel that the best coffeehouse chai is made from liquid chai. [According to the company as of 6-13-07 all of their products (with the possible exception of one) are gluten free! The only iffy one is the Vanilla dry Mix, which may contain some gluten in the flavoring, so they are still researching this drink.] Of course, authentic chai in India is made with spices and tea from the cook’s home recipe that can’t be beat- but if that is not an option, liquid chai is my personal favorite. I later tried the breakfast muffins, a dark grained muffin with carrots, apples, and raisins- it was tasty but through no fault of my own is not my favorite kind of muffin. I also tried and enjoyed the blueberry muffins, which somehow captured my heart by looking so cute in their little cupcake wrapping. Probably the hand down star of the show had to be those coconut lemon bars that I described in such detail above. They were perfect because they were really decadent tasting desserts, I’d never had anything like them, and I wouldn’t know really how to make them myself. *I just tried the triple chocolate truffle brownie and I may have to revise my above statement. That brownie was the best I’d ever had! In general I’m not a huge brownie fan because I don’t like cake-like, heavy brownies but the Mariposa brownie is wonderfully chocolately and fudgey. I’d give it the coveted 10/10 and will be looking for those brownies in my local whole foods- hope they carry them!!! *One difficulty with visiting many gluten free bakeries is that I bake so often at home that for me to buy it on a regular basis, the product has to be something unique that I feel that I can’t or don’t want to make at home for whatever reason. The coconut lemon bars had the highest “wow” factor, and really seemed like something special. Our experience at the Mariposa bakery was quite good, and we had a pleasant outing. Perhaps because it has newly opened, there were some snags- it took a lot of time for beverages to be made and baked goods to be handed out to their respective recipients. Some customers ended up leaving without getting anything, possibly with the intention of coming back when it was less busy.We wondered if maybe ringing customers up, handing them their baked goods to keep them busy, and then having a second person (if available) make the beverage as time allows might help keep customers in the store. Having samples out for visitors is a great idea- those little bites of lemon coconut bar definitely inspired me to buy some, and they’re addicting. All in all, I would say that our gluten free options in the Berkeley, Oakland area just keep getting better! Because Oakland is a bit far for me, I probably won’t go to Cafe Mariposa very frequently, but (hint hint) I bet I could be enticed back if they do develop a savory/sandwich menu as currently planned. For those more local, I envy you and hope that you take advantage of this new wonderful gluten free option in your neighborhood! Congratulations on a beautiful new site to Patti and her family!