Bliss Bakery | Santa Rosa

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Tomato tart with mushrooms at Bliss Bakery in Santa Rosa

Food for people with food constraints is rarely something to celebrate. Usually it feels more like a terrible punishment for being hungry.

But as more and more eaters are diagnosed with this or that food allergy, frustrated foodies are refusing to beat their taste buds into submission for the sake of a happy digestive tract. Instead, they’re taking the spoon by the handle and creating delish dishes that marry taste and tolerance.

In Santa Rosa, Bliss Bakery is taking on gluten one muffin at a time. Also known by its aliases of rye, wheat or barely protein, gluten is a trendy dietary culprit blamed for a host of maladies from excess gas to the serious problems brought on by Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Here, pastries, cupcakes and all manner of carbohydrate are baked devoid of irritants for the gluten-plagued, gluten-fearful and merely gluten-indifferent. Bliss Bakery is Gluten-free Food for the Masses.

The tiny bakery in the former Seed/Saint Rose space on Sebastopol Ave. serves up wheat-free cookies, cakes, sandwiches and muffins Tuesday through Saturday. Made with alternative grains like rice, millet, potato or quinoa, they actually taste like what they’re supposed to taste like: Reward, not punishment.

The apron behind the bakery is dietary counselor, caterer and Bauman College prof Maria Balme. Daily vegan soups and tarts make for hearty lunchtime fare, while on-tap Kombucha, coffee and tea get the morning started right — regardless of your dietary status.

(Plus they’re selling Salt Side Down Chocolates!)

Bliss Bakery, 463 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa, 542-6000.
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Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. For many, myself included, dining out is basically not an option. It used to be, and I know that it is very hard for anyone who isn’t in my circumstances to understand how much we miss being able to just go out and pick up something yummy to eat. I have friends with severe allergies, yet until I myself had a problem, I didn’t truly understand the limitations. For a bakery to advertise that they are gluten free makes such a temptation – yeah! to be able to go in and pick up something to eat. Something yummy that someone made! For the ingredients not to be listed is unfortunate, it would seem to me that those in the allergy sensitive food business would understand how important this would be to customers. I totally agree with the point “celiac girls” make about not including a peanut cookie. Peanut allergies are life threatening, it is not just a matter of taste.
    I recently saw Bliss Bakery at the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. They did not have ingredients listed on their baked goods, which makes me wary. Of course I can ask a question, but what if the employee that day doesn’t know or even forgets one of the ingredients? We are all human and it would be preferable for me to have a printed list of ingredients that hopefully was put together by the chef.
    While I am super appreciative that Bliss Bakery is trying, I need to read ingredients, so please do include them.
    thank you.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly, they have a wonderful business, and they always know exactly what’s in their food. I have never had a problem with the vegan items (my stomach would know otherwise!) and they’re great folk to begin with.

  3. Good Job,Matt! You said exactly what I wanted to say but BETTER!

  4. Celiac Girls

    Let me see if I have this right. These enterprising bakers are going out on a huge limb by opening a bakery in a high overhead location catering to a relatively small subset of customers and offering a product that has limited mass appeal. They are trying hard to offer an alternative product to those (like yourself) with food allergies. They MUST create a fine balance of offerings to sell enough product to stay in business while satisfying the demands (whims?) of customers like you. And even with a trained dietician on staff, it seems to not be enough for you. Is it really THAT hard to ask a question? You are not the only customer, and no matter how many signs or lists they put up, SOMEONE will be left out or want more information.

    Only YOU know your food intolerances. It’s YOUR responsibility to be aware of what you consume. It seems to me that you have three choices: a) cook your own food. b) hire a chef to cook your personal menus, or c) open your own business. Or you could simply ask questions. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    I applaud these bakers. Opening a bakery is always a risky proposition, but catering to such a niche market is even more difficult.

  5. Dear Celiac Girls,

    Have you ever ran a business? do you not know the trial and errors that will occur within the first 6 months or even a year of operation? If not, I think you should consider emailing the baker for clarification on ingredients and make suggestion for labels. I’m sure she will gladly assist you, since *”The apron behind the bakery is dietary counselor, caterer and Bauman College prof Maria Balme”. Most business thrive on constructive input from customers.

    On another note, I think I found a place for my friends to enjoy when they come up to visit.

  6. I first heard about this place from the BiteClub blog so I popped on in this afternoon with my little boy, Joshua. My little guy is autistic so having a local bakery who specializes in gluten-free fare is really nice. Most of the items are also dairy-free and/or vegan. Maria was very gracious and gave my little boy a cupcake while we were talking about specialized diets. He ate it with great gusto and I had to sneak the last bite while he was looking away. We had a wonderful time and I look forward to taking Joshua back there again to try some of the other goodies.

  7. i love this bakery and even though it is gluten free yay the oreos are sooo good and the cupcakes are to die for omg it just rocks GO BLISS

  8. I came in on the recommendation of a friend who told me they had ‘Flying Goat’ coffee(yum).I got the tart (so good!) & some moreos (w/ mint). The peeps were friendly and the food ,although it is gluten free,is fantastic!! I am not a celiac;but I love tasty food and they got it!

  9. Just wanted to alert any Celiacs who might consider this venue – for the health of your intestines – please, change your mind.

    Granted, the bakery has only been open for about a month, but it felt like it was the first few days out of the gate. For a lunch arrival time of 12 noon there was less than 3 servings of soup remaining (with only 2 customers present dining…), no slaw prepared and no salad available.

    Looking into the dessert case there were absolutely NO SIGNS POSTED – listing the ingredients, whether dairy-free, vegan, containing nuts, shortening (yuck) or the deal breaker – oats. Which means that the cashier or chef had to come out and explain each item, and the customer was at the mercy of the employee not to omit, interchange or make an error when relaying this VERY IMPORTANT information. This 1-on-1 attention while “charming” was also time consuming and overwhelming to be bombarded with information on items you may not even be interested in. Without printed labels there was no way to know if the items contained other allergens (corn? soy? nuts?), refined sugars, hydrogenated oils / trans fats, GMO’s etc… In addition, no sign was posted announcing that they do not accept debit / credit cards only accepting cash and check.

    it is an unresolved issue within the Celiac community whether or not it is safe to consume oats. Now that “certified gluten-free oats” have entered the market, those who were previously affected by the cross contamination with other cereal grains are in the clear. HOWEVER, the similarity in proteins means that oats, even “GF oats” are not safe for others to consume. But how would you know that there were oats in a chocolate chip cookie – not an oatmeal raisin cookie, mind you – without being TOLD (remember, no signs)! I think you may be following where I am going with this – was not informed about the presence of oats – took the cookie to go – starting eating – something chewy. I will spare the details of my ensuing symptoms and not rehash the uncomfortable, unprofessional follow-up with the bakery.

    What does the motto “gluten-free for the masses” mean anyway? Why is the proprietor not catering to their target population (those with gluten-intolerance, Celiac Disease, and other auto-immune conditions) and ensuring their SAFETY and HEALTH. If this is all done in the “spirit of trendy food movements” – then I am sorry to see it.

    Since my Celiac Disease diagnosis, I am FORCED to read food labels EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE… and the establishment that advertises to be a place that would understand my limitations let me down.

    Bottom line – labels are not a luxury – they are a NECESSITY – and if one was properly educated in the extent and severity of food allergies + intolerances… I wouldn’t even have to write this post.

    ps, Even though the gift of a free cookie in our to-go box was kind, I was not asked before a potential allergen (peanut butter cookie) was included.

  10. Bliss Bakery really is a fantastic new addition to the local food scene! And we at Salt Side Down Chocolates are very excited that Maria has included our Vegan and Gluten-Free chocolate truffles as a part of her offerings, which are always fresh and delicious. Thank you Maria fro bringing gluten free food to the masses :-)

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