Thomas Keller normally sets trends rather than following them. So when even he bows to the Bay Area’s obsession with all things gluten-free, you know a nutritional fad has become a fact. Lena Kwak, an R&D chef at the French Laundry, recently developed a custom-blended gluten-free flour, called Cup4Cup, for use at Keller’s famed restaurant. (It’s now sold at Williams-Sonoma stores.) Get a range of gluten-free alternatives from the places below that are every bit as tasty as we've come to expect food to be around here.
1. The pioneering Mariposa Baking Company used to be the only gluten-free bakery in town. But it now has competition from places like Crave Bakery, Special Request, and Taste of Happiness. Apricot frangipane tarts, toasted-pecan brownies, and rocky road cupcakes have all been reimagined sans gluten while remaining decadent and delicious.
2. The Gluten Free Grocery, in Potrero Hill, is a tiny bodega that stocks everything from versatile coconut flour to gourmet gluten-free ravioli that fooled me into thinking they were the real thing. Pass the quinoa pasta with wheat-free meatballs, please.
3. In addition to a large stock of basics, Sans, an all-gluten-free store in San Rafael, sells fresh bread, baguettes, cookies, and pastries every Friday. The hamburger buns from Canyon Bakehouse are particularly good.
4. Sheryl Davies, author of the Breaking Bread blog, started the Bay Area Gluten-Free Buying Club, a CSA of sorts for gluten-free foods. Monthly, she scours the market for the best products available and then packages them for pickup by club members. She currently has just one pickup site, in Palo Alto, but as interest continues to grow, she’s planning to expand.
5. Even AT&T Park got in on the action, introducing a gluten-free hot dog and bun, plus Red Bridge gluten-free beer to wash them down with.