Gluten Free Dining Adventures- Spica Coffee

spica.jpg Spica Coffee Shop
650 Castro Street, Mountain View, Ca
formerly Global Blends

When I first moved to Mountain View, I was thrilled to find that we had a coffeeshop on Nearby Castro Street, Global Blends, run by a Celiac woman who offered her guests gluten free sandwiches and snacks. DH and I enjoyed several weekend mornings there. I was especially impressed with the panini bread sandwiches that were beautifully grilled in panini press. I had the aussie melt, a panini sandwich dripping with rich cheese, and also a pesto sandwich with mozzarella that was to die for. (If not literally from cholesterol- but, it was worth it.) I liked it so much I actually bought myself a (cheap) panini/ grill pan to make my own grilled sandwiches at home! But, I was most likely to stop there to pick up some delicious homemade frozen bread by the local company, I Can Eat that Bakery. Their bread is unique because it is designed to be baked fresh at home after a 4 hour defrosting and rising period. Being locally produced, it is also quite reasonably priced. They also offered pizza crust, which I found a bit expensive and not better than my homemade crust, and frozen cookies by another company to be baked later, which were definitely not better than homemade and cost quite a bit. When I heard that Global Blends was closing, I was heartbroken- but luckily, I then found that they were getting a new owner who planned to keep the gluten free goods around as Celiacs were making up a fair amount of the shop’s clientèle.

So, with some trepidation, I visited the little gluten free coffee shop under new ownership, and found they did indeed provide gluten free sandwiches or baked good to enjoy with coffee. There was much rejoicing. I had a baked good or two- coffee cake, or cookies… something like that, and went home knowing that my little neighborhood was still gluten-free friendly. It was a nice thing to know.. But, as DH is not excessively fond of the rather claustrophobic, cramped coffee shop we didn’t end up going there very often. This Friday afternoon as I faced a long day of studying, I decided to take the long walk to Spica and order myself a gluten free sandwich. After some thought, I ordered the cheapest sandwich- an Aussie melt. The price for a gluten free sandwich was $6, two dollars above the listed price for a gluten sandwich. Really, not bad at all. I had considered the mozzarella sandwich, but the owner told me they didn’t have it (ever? today? unclear.) The other sandwiches listed contained meat or egg. While I eat eggs, they aren’t really my thing. So, I was looking forward to the dripping, cheesy goodness of an Aussie Melt. No worries, right mate? Well… it arrived…. the bread hot and smelling very nice, but distinctly ungrilled. In fact, toasted in a toaster oven… which, I must say does not have the same thrill (or flavor) of a bread that has been molded into shape by iron. But, this was a disappointment I could recover from. The cheese, however… the cheese made me sad. The filling of the sandwich was… sliced tomatoes and… that travesty… sliced American processed cheese. Boo. The owner confided that she was personally lactose intolerant, so maybe cheese is not something on her radar, but it was a million miles away from the original sandwich I’d enjoyed ages ago at Global Blends.

The bread on the other hand, was delightful. The bakers at “I Can Eat That” are really doing something right with their panini. It’s got fantastic texture, good italian flavor, and is a lovely experience, even ungrilled. I would love to see them succeed on a national level with their products, as I think both their white bread and gluten free “wheat style” frozen breads are quite good. You can find some of their products at local supermarkets like Draegers, and I was recently very happy to find their unbaked breads in the freezer case of the Los Altos Mountain View Whole Foods. Yay! So, I can very happily endorse “I Can Eat That” products- especially their breads. But, if you find yourself strolling the Mountain View Castro street and pass Spica (located near Starbucks AND a cigar shop), I would skip the Aussie cheese melt, and try one of the baked goods or another sandwich- maybe something without cheese.

If you would like more opinions on Spica Coffee, check out the entry at Yelp

*Edited Note* Unfortunately it seems that I Can Eat That Bakery is closing due to family issues. -July 2007 It’s a shame to see them go…


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5 Responses to “Gluten Free Dining Adventures- Spica Coffee”

  1. Coffee, free wi-fi, and GF food – I’d probably go sit there all afternoon if I could.

  2. I envy you…the only place I can find gluten free baked goods is Whole Foods. They have GLUTEN FREE BAKEHOUSE products but they’re just ok. To have a local bakery with dedicated ovens for us would be a dream come true! Meanwhile, my cooking expertise wins over….I am going to make the grilled tofu. The combination of maple syrup and rice wine vinegar intrigues me. I’ll get back to you with the results. Meanwhile, congrats to DH for joining in your efforts to stay Gluten Free! Have a great day….

  3. Hi all! Unfortunately Spica doesn’t have dedicated ovens, or any ovens at all- they have vendors bring in baked goods. But, you’re right, I’m really very lucky and should take more advantage of the GF bounty nearby! :D

    I hope you enjoy the tofu, Faye! :)


  4. What a nice thought, to be able to actually have a GF sandwich at a restaurant or coffee shop!

    I like I Can Eat That’s breads okay – They’re nothing special, compared to breads I can make from scratch – But they sure beat any pre-made bread from the store. I think their pizza crusts are awful, however.

  5. [...] I think I mentioned the veggie sandwich already, right? I loved the fact that they even had a veggie sandwich, much less one with cheese, mustard, grated carrot, red pepper, tomato and greens on perfectly sliced bread and wrapped in tidy saran wrap for the Celiac on the go. I’ve had a few veggie sandwiches in my time- Spica has a processed cheese melt, and The Farmer’s Cafe has a portobello sandwich with pesto that is pretty tasty. But this sandwich blew them all away. First off, the bread looked so good I was honestly afraid there had been a mistake and it contained gluten. Eating bread that I didn’t make is always a bit intimidating, especially without a label of ingredients to read and read again. But, with the assurances of the cafe barista ringing in my ears, I braved it and took a bite. That was one DELICIOUS sandwich. I offered DH a bite, saying anxiously, “Gluten free, right?” He took a bite and paused. “Um, I don’t know,” he said. Yes, you heard it right. The glutenoid COULD NOT TELL it was a gluten free sandwich. And, if you’re worried- it WAS! I felt no ill effects after gobbling the whole thing down as my dinner later. The smokey cheese, mustard, plentiful veggies- awesome bread… It may be the best sandwich I ever had, even including my homemade creations. That puppy was made by someone who 1) understands gluten free baking 2) understands vegetarian flavors and 3) made my tummy happy! Sorry, couldn’t resist the last bit. Yum. I want another, please. I immediately wanted to know what flours they used. Bean flour? Sorghum?? I called the cafe later and asked about flours, and was told they use a combo of rice flour, tapioca, and potato starch. Awesome. I think the secret to their bread may be that they bake their products every day. Good gluten free bread is generally palatable un-toasted the first day it is baked- and this bread was Very, Very palatable. Mmm. 10/10 for the best gluten-free veggie sandwich EVER, thank you very much. [...]

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