the day was long, but excitement over our shared project fueled us through hours of chopping, stirring, glazing, staging, styling, lighting, and shooting. at the end of it all, my friend lauren casually mentioned, “oh! there’s a new bakery with gluten-free offerings in st. pete! you should go by!” gluten free st. petersburg, my old stomping grounds? i had my brunch plans for the following day.
the little storefront, cleverly nestled next to my old favorite health-foods store, was bustling with customers, filled with the sound of the milk frother on the espresso machine and the aromas of both sweet and savory offerings. gazing somewhat childishly at the marble-and-glass display, i asked the owner, “what, exactly, is gluten free here?”
(understand: the platters and racks were brimming with flaky pastries and baked goods like these ones, which reminded me of this recipe i created a while back, and which i tasted after the proud baker insisted i take it as his gift.)
“i think i’ll have a latte,” i said. “do you have almond milk?” the barista gleefully described the house-made, pressed-that-morning, organic almond milk. she asked for my feedback, as they’d been tweaking the recipe. um, well, wow. so my sweet friend and i indulged in sweets and better, deep thoughts and wise words (mostly hers, the last), me thankful that i could do so and know i was eating “safe” for my body.
teddy, the owner, a new york native, was gregarious and still humble as he told me he’d been longing to open a gluten-free restaurant for decades. “my dad thought i was crazy,” he said. “what language is this – what is gluten-free?” but he doggedly pursued his passion (i’m encouraged for my own dreams), and the result is near-magical.
i am the tiniest bit embarrassed (well, not really), to admit that i returned the next day with another pair of heart-friends, and we shared a feast for lunch. crisp-bread pizza with gooey-warm cheese and melty tomatoes, pulled barbecued duck with a bright herb-y salad, and a ridiculous finish of an affogato… buddy brew espresso poured over house-made gelato; no need for dinner after that.
a few days home in nj has me both longing for the food and the fun experience, and at the same time thankful that it’s not just down the street. my waistline might not could handle it.
do you have a favorite local spot that’s full of passion and flavor?