Friday, July 23, 2010
Zest Gluten Free Bakery, San Carlos, CA
We're in a gluten-free renaissance. I try a lot of gluten-free baked goods coming new to the market and while some are wonderful some are hardly worth eating. Sometimes I wonder if the market can sustain the bakeries, each seeming to offer what the next one does. But Zest Bakery, a new gluten-free bakery in San ,is doing what Northern California does best, highlighting the flavors of the season with fresh organic goodies.
Zest is run by two passionate home bakers that are now branching out to share their talents with the rest of the area. A small operation, they offer a handful of muffins and cookies that highlight the season's bounty. So far we have seen all sorts of fantastic treats: stone fruit in muffins, fig cookies, strawberry lemonade muffins, blackberry quick bread loaves. Plus they offer bread, ice cream sandwiches filled with Clover Organic Ice Cream, ravioli, and cheescakes made by Anticupcake Company. Their products are organic and when possible local. The farmers that they currently work with are top notch and well respected.
On our visit we had a taste of the ginger peach muffins, which has a wonderful moist, crumbly texture. I wanted a bit more flavor to the muffin, but the kids devoured it. The cardamom sugar cookie was of the crispy persuasion, with a nice cardamom scent and Jason's favorite. The owners, Patrick and Charissa said that they get their organic spices fresh from Spice Hound. My favorite was the plum cookie, a medium soft sugar cookie filled with a dab of fresh plum compote. All of the baked good were devoid of any strange gluten free flavors or textures. The prices are very reasonable, at $1.50 per cookie and $3 per muffin. Not bad for gluten-free, organic and in the Bay Area!
We didn't get to try much of the bread as it was sold out that day, but we did snag a bag of goat cheese and beet ravioli. It is pricey at $20 for a pack of 24, but this is in-line with the pricing from other local made gluten-free ravioli. We whipped it up with a brown butter sauce with smoked almonds. The pasta was substantial and a bit on the thick side, but it held together beautifully even when tossed with the brown butter in the skillet. The filling had a full beet flavor which was very welcome in our home.but the goat cheese was a bit mild for our tastes. Aaron said he liked it much more that the mass produced brands on the market.
A seasonal gluten-free organic bakery is a welcome addition to the Peninsula, and I am excited to see what else they have to offer in coming months. The advantage of relying on seasonal ingredients is that we will never get bored eating them. Of course with new products constantly being introduced not everything will be homerun, but we will sure to be treated with fun and top notch flavors. I suspect there will be many many wonderful goodies and look forward to trying many from this talented couple.