January 5, 2011

The Sensitive Baker


So, my parents were in Los Angeles last week on their way to an awesome vacation in Tahiti (lucky lucky), and my mom, like me, has Celiac Disease. She was just diagnosed about a year ago, at age 65, after getting progressively sicker and sicker for many years. This was no surprise to me, because in the five years or so that I've been Gluten Free, one of the things I've learned is that it's EXTREMELY common, if not expected, for immediate family members of Glu-tards such as myself to also be affected by the evils of wheat.

My mom (hi, mom!), as it turns out, is also WAAAAAAY more sensitive to gluten than I am. Like, she pretty much gets sick from just *looking* at bread. No joke. She and my dad live in northern Illinois, just far enough out of Chicago to not live in an official "suburb" of the city, and there are VERY limited resources for gluten free foods in their area. So when I heard my folks were coming to LA, I asked my mom what she wanted to eat. She told me she was dying for a burger (with a bun that's gluten free, that she doesn't have to microwave, and resembles something other than a soggy, crumbled mess) and real, normal french fries (fried in a dedicated fryer, where other breaded things are NOT). ...Well, I failed at this challenge pretty epically. In my search, however, I came across the website for The Sensitive Baker, a dedicated gluten-free bakery in LA's Culver City neighborhood, and we decided to take a little family field trip. We were super pumped and I was so excited and giddy I could have peed.

First of all, the traffic from West Hollywood to Culver City was completely unbearable on this particular day and it took us over an hour to drive the 6 miles to the bakery. Then, The Sensitive Baker, as it turns out, is a tiny storefront on Washington Blvd. which we drove past twice, then parked a block away and searched for on foot. When we finally got in the door, we found a cute little store with a bakery in the back room. The store has two cases of goodies--one of refrigerated items; one of frozen items--and a few shelves of non-perishables.

After about 30 minutes of excitedly looking at every single item in each case, we decided on the following items:

Package of 6 frozen carrot muffins: $8
Package of 4 frozen dough bake-it-yourself cinnamon rolls: $8 (icing not included)
Package of 4 frozen everything bagels: $8
Bag of 12 rosemary & olive oil frozen breadsticks: $8
And a bag of mini ginger snap cookies for my mom's flight: $4.49

Here's the thing, though. What my mom REALLY wanted was a full carrot cake or carrot cake cupcakes, but the bakery was unfortunately out of both items. The woman behind the counter was pleased to tell us, however, that the carrot muffins were the same batter as the carrot cupcakes and she'd be happy to frost the muffins for us! We were thrilled! ...That is, UNTIL I asked if we could just put the icing in a container and take it home with us so we could warm up the frozen muffins prior to frosting them (gluten free baked goods are gross and hard unless you microwave or toast them just prior to eating). She said no, and told us that it was because the cupcakes were more expensive than the plain muffins, then proceeded to ask us how many we wanted frosted AT A DOLLAR MORE PER MUFFIN! WTF? I was pissed. After voicing my confusion and objection to the situation (to which I only got attitude in return) and mumbling some choice words under my breath, we decided to have only 2 of the 6 muffins frosted. I decided to get over it because it was making my mother happy, took some deep breaths, and then proceeded to drive another hour back home.

Well, let me just say this: in the days since our little visit to The Sensitive Baker, I have come to understand some things. First of all, EVERYTHING WE GOT THERE HAS BEEN AMAZING. We had the breadsticks with dinner that night and I almost cried they were so delicious. We had the *frosted* muffins for dessert, and I almost cried. I ate one of the bagels this morning and almost lost my mind (this was the first everything bagel I'd had in like 5 years and it was SO. DELICIOUS.) I actually just polished off another of the un-frosted carrot muffins as I was writing this, and I have to tell you, I'm not even mad that I just looked at the receipt and the woman actually overcharged us by 4 EXTRA dollars, on top of the initial $2 for the frosting (okay, I'm furious, but it was SO worth it). I haven't made the cinnamon rolls yet (mostly because my lazy ass doesn't feel like making icing from scratch), but when I do, I'm willing to bet they'll be AMAZING, too.

So anyway, if you have Celiac Disease, or a wheat/gluten intolerance, or are just trying out a gluten free diet for fun (oh, the fun never stops), I highly recommend a trip to The Sensitive Baker...you know, for when you win the Lottery or can't go on another day without an everything bagel.

(You can also order online from The Sensitive Baker here.)

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