In the past couple of years, new restaurants have been popping up all over our neighborhood. What was once considered a no man’s land between Potrero Hill and the Mission is now an up and coming neighborhood dappled with numerous cool bars and acclaimed restaurants. Last night I stumbled upon the brand new Local’s Corner, a cafe just a couple blocks from my apartment. Not quite overflowing with customers yet, this three week old restaurant doesn’t know what’s coming. The menu at Local’s Corner is all about seafood, and appropriately the restaurant’s interior feels like a romantic little cafe in new england. Their cheese and vegetables are farm fresh and the seafood is sourced locally by fishermen committed to sustainability.

Comprised mostly of sharable small plates, the menu lists dishes that feature dungeness crab, rock cod, cured halibut, king salmon, and bay or pacific northwest oysters. We tried four plates, and each one was exceptionally good. Our meal began with a beautiful cheese plate, then an arugula salad (ordered without croutons) tossed with garlic confit and topped with shaved capricious goat cheese, a dish worth more than every penny of the $8. Next we had the dungeness crab which was paired beautifully with delicate spring peas, cara cara oranges and roasted spring onion. To follow were smoked trout rillettes topped with pickled shallot, and finally we had the king salmon served over fava beans and peas. Every dish we tried at Local’s Corner carefully brought out the best of each ingredient, highlighting delicate flavors in a way that made every bite taste impossibly perfect.

Most of the dishes at Local’s Corner are naturally gluten free, but check with your server before ordering.

2500 Bryant Street  San Francisco, CA 94110

 

Mariposa’s brand new bakery in the Ferry Building opened just over a month ago. The 100% gluten free cafe expanded from a small kiosk offering a limited selection of their Oakland bakery’s treats into a full fledged gourmet gluten free bakery. With a wide variety of baked goods ranging from bagels and baguettes to apple tarts and donuts, Mariposa has every single craving covered. After oogling at their gorgeous spread and then selecting some fresh treats, pick up one of their classic frozen pizza crusts, ravioli, or gnocchi from the freezer.

Mariposa’s Ferry Building Cafe serves both breakfast and lunch items like fresh sandwiches (egg salad, tuna, or veggie) and personal sized quiches. It’s rare to be able to grab a gluten free sandwich on the go, much less eat it looking over the beautiful bay and then finish it off with a fresh baked cookie. Mariposa’s new cafe is a real asset to the gluten free community of San Francisco.

 

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of family outings to a hole in the wall restaurant in New York City’s little Italy called La Mela. The walls in the place were plastered with polaroids of their well fed customers, and family style tables were covered in brightly colored plastic cloths. At La Mela, a menu was never offered. Instead of choosing an item or two off the menu, the waiter served course after heaping course of homemade italian food until no one could swallow another bite.

I can’t help but look back on the mountainous trays of fresh ravioli, manicotti, zitti, and lasagna and sigh, because sometimes rice flour just doesn’t cut it. I get my hands on gluten free ravioli maybe once a year. The time I tried to craft my own, the kitchen looked like it had been turned upside down and inside out, plus they didn’t taste that good.

It wasn’t until I attended Jeffrey Larsen’s gluten free pasta class this past weekend that I learned of a world of possibilities in gluten free pasta making. The talented chef has been cooking his whole life and his passion for food seemed to only strengthen after discovering his own gluten intolerance. Instead of settling on store bought brown rice and quinoa noodles like the rest of us, Jeffrey has tirelessly experimented with a gluten free pasta dough, and his seems perfect.

Set in a brightly lit studio in Potrero hill, Jeffrey’s classes run about 2 hours. A thorough demonstration of the entire process will ensure that you won’t leave the place wondering how to accomplish his recipe on your own. Jeffery encourages students to snap photos of the process, and let us all try the finished product: fresh ravioli and fettucini that boiled up in just 3 minutes.

Jeffrey has exciting plans for upcoming gluten free courses. He’s got a great recipe for pizza dough, pies, tarts, and potstickers. After trying a slice of his mock rye loaf, I’ll definitely be at his next bread class. Check his schedule for upcoming classes here.

 

Bread SRSLY is a brand new CSA bakery for “foodies with allergies.” Sadie Scheffer went into business after learning of her own gluten intolerance and now delivers bread via bike on Tuesdays in San Francisco and Fridays in the East Bay. Bread SRSLY caters to people that avoid gluten, soy, egg, dairy and nuts. Her breads are made with home dried local herbs and 100% gluten free ingredients, sourced fresh from mills that use clean, uncontaminated equipment. With loaves like whole grain fig & fennel and apricot & cinnamon it’s hard to resist not placing a weekly order. Don’t forget to tack on a wholegrain vegan apple muffin to your delivery (see menu for weekly option).

In addition to bread delivery, Sadie offers awesome gluten free sandwiches on Mondays. Creative combinations like the “steam punk,” a sandwich with ginger shiitake relish, stinging nettle pesto and Point Reyes cheddar (sub avocado for dairy free) on homemade sourdough. Every ingredient can be sourced back to the farm, and the selection changes weekly. Sandwiches are available Mondays at noon at the Yerba Buena Center Steps and at 1pm at the Beach Hut Cafe in Crissy Field, but check her website for weekly menu options and location.

When your bread is delivered, my advice is to eat it with in a couple days or slice and freeze it. Most of you are very familiar with gluten free bread, and her gorgeous handmade loaves are no exception to the rule.

For Tuesday delivery in SF, order by noon on Monday. For Friday delivery in the East Bay, order by noon on Wednesday.

 

Spotting the words “gluten free” while scanning the menu outside of an unfamiliar restaurant is a triumphant moment for any celiac. I had one of these moments last weekend after waiting way too long for a table at Radish. Starved, a couple of friends and I wandered down Valencia Street and discovered that Grub offers gluten free noodles with their mac and cheese. Tucked away in the mission on Valencia in between 18th and 19th this happening little spot is plenty knowledgable about the meaning of gluten, and their friendly wait staff will prove it. Menu highlights include their seared artichoke glazed with balsamic, and served with lemon aioli. The waiter confirmed this dish could easily be made gluten free (omit the bread crumbs).

The gluten free creamy mac n’ cheese was also a winner. As if a big bowl of creamy, cheesy noodles isn’t appetizing enough, Grub offers over a dozen “throw-ins” like shaved fennel, caramelized onions, brocoli, and truffle oil for $1 extra each. You could also go for a real cholesterol booster with lobster on top for an extra $3.  If you’re wondering how seriously they take gluten free diners, I was told by the waiter that yes, indeed everything is kept separate. Just make sure to specify that you want gluten free noodles and no breadcrumbs when you order.

 

758 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110-1735(415) 431-4782

 

My new favorite spot to grab a fancy little dessert item is Hayes Valley’s Chantal Guillon Macaron and Tea shop. A beautiful selection of colorful macarons made of almond flour and egg whites are handmade in San Francisco with organic ingredients and seasonal fruit flavors. Over a dozen options are offered daily, and every one of them is gluten free!

437A Hayes Street San Francisco, California (415) 864-2400

 

I’ve been lamenting my tomato crop since August. Heirloom seeds my neighbor shared with me last Spring sprouted within days and shot up quickly once transplanted into vegetable beds. After a month or so, I had pretty yellow flowers and tiny green tomatoes forming on almost a dozen plants. It seemed promising.

By July, farmers markets overflowed with juicy ripe tomatoes of every variety and still I waited for mine to show any sign of readiness. I waited through August and September, but by October I had lost hope. Even in my sunny Potrero Hill garden, the heirloom tomatoes grew no larger then a tiny cherry and remained green through the season. The unripened crop dangled pathetically on the vine till November.

Plans for growing winter vegetables finally gave me the desire to pull up my failed tomato plants and I placed the last 30 or 40 tiny green tomatoes in a jar. What to do with these little things? There weren’t enough of them to pickle, and they were a little too bitter to make into green salsa.

After some hesitation (these weren’t going to be pretty) I chose to fry them. After all of my griping over green tomatoes, I have to admit, watching the batter turn golden brown and then adding the little delights into homemade spring rolls was almost as satisfying as plucking ripe red heirlooms of the vine.