Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Opinions about Food: Against the Grain Gourmet's Original Baguette

Like I said, I've been trying a lot of new stuff lately. I recently tried Chocolate Chex, Celia Saison (a new gluten-free beer), and Against the Grain Gourmet's Original Baguette. I wouldn't have thought to look for a gluten-free baguette, except that one of my friends recently got married and put me in charge of finding bread and cupcakes for myself and a couple of other glutard guests. Lucky for me, my trip to Whole Foods was quite rewarding. I can honestly admit that I don't often get emotional over bread... but here we go!

A little context: A lot of gluten-free bread products are unsatisfying. Like, I wouldn't wish them on my enemies terrible. Traditionally, gluten-free flours tend to be dry and crumbly, and/or have weird flavors and textures. Recently things have improved quite a bit, but I still felt like the breads I'd occasionally try left something to be desired. Until I found Against the Grain Gourmet. This company seems F'ing rad. They source local ingredients, treat their employees well, and only put real foods into their products. Essentially, they're a company by glutards, for glutards, with a completely gluten-free facility. 

Pros: Amazing texture - a soft center with a thicker crust, as you would expect from a glutenous baguette. Guessing based on their ingredient list, it seems as though they solved the dry and crumbly problem with cheese instead of using a filler or binder. This is M-Fing genius. It adds a hint of satisfying saltiness without compromising the bread flavor, and results in a moist, durable slice of bread. And you can taste the difference! Not because of the cheese, but it tastes like something a human made and not like something that came out of a lab. There isn't weird shit in this bread. And looking at the bread, I could *see* that they used *real* eggs because it had a homemade sheen that most mass-produced bread products just don't have. I hadn't realized how un-wholesome some of the stuff I had been eating was until I tried this. This labor of love birthed one of the most magnificent gluten-free products I've ever had. This baguette was delicious and durable with and without toasting. I sliced and toasted my baguette with some olive oil and garlic and it easily supported my heap of Trader Joe's Bruschetta. My friend Jane tells me that their pizza crust and frozen pizzas are also solid gluten-free offerings. 

Cons: Because it contains cheese it probably isn't a good option for anyone with a lactose sensitivity. Also, I'm not sure if their products are distributed nationally.

Overall: It is a little known fact that I had just been introduced to bruschetta and toppings prior to my gluten allergy. In fact, I may have only lived on Pop-Tarts, french bread, and cheese for a brief period of time. When my mom was first diagnosed as gluten-intolerant seven-ish years ago, I was so turned off by the gluten-free bread products that I just assumed that my bruschetta days were solidly behind me. However, Against the Grain Gourmet came along and completely changed my opinion of gluten-free bread products. Seriously. They should keep doing whatever magical thing they're doing, because their products taste so fresh and real. If you see their baguettes at Whole Foods, definitely give them a try! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for these guys. WIN!

PS: Vermont appears to be a hotbed of gluten-free-friendly activity. Against the Grain Gourmet is up there, Celia Saison, a new gluten-free beer, is also from there (here's a non-glutard raving about it and other new beer offerings), and I had a gluten-free crepe when I was there on vacation. Maybe we glutards should put Vermont atop the list of our travel destinations!

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