One of the first "gluten free and vegan" experiences I had in Seattle was at a small stand selling goods from the Flying Apron Bakery, on the corner of 50th and Brooklyn in the U. District. That stand is long since closed, which is ok by me since it nearly permanently ruined my relationship with unconventional food. At that time, several recipes seemed to include a fair amount of buckwheat, and I still recall that whatever it was I had for breakfast that morning may as well have been a doorstop as a scone. If a scone is what it was supposed to be.
Since that rather unfortunate introduction, I've avoided all Flying Apron products like the plague. But, after several years of gaining gluten free experience, it seemed only fair to give them a second chance. So on Monday morning, I grabbed my rain gear and trudged off to Fremont in the steady drizzle, in hopes of finding a cinnamon roll worth eating.Flying Apron Sustainable Bakery is located at 3510 Fremont Avenue North, greeting all who drift in the door with the scent of exotic spices, and a long row of pastries on display. I searched out the cinnamon rolls right away, and then passed them up because they (oddly) include tahini in their ingredients, and I am - naturally - allergic to sesame. Following a long decision making process, aided by the patient and conversational fellow behind the counter, I ended up with banana chocolate bread instead, settling down at one of several tables to make use of the internet, enjoy an almond milk latte, and warily re-test the food.
Two things were noticeable right away about the bread. First, in spite of the fact that I'd opted to purchase a day old pastry (for 50% off), it was soft. Second, it was a reasonable weight. In fact, unlike the pastry previously mentioned, I am almost certain that lobbing the banana bread at another human being would not have resulted in any broken bones, a concussion, or potential death.
Those who have eaten gluten free, or vegan... and particularly, those who have eaten gluten free AND vegan, will attest to the difficulty of finding decent pastries. Added to the trouble of being gluten free and remotely vegan in any way, if you'd also like to eat organic, natural and somewhat healthy, low glycemic-index foods, you basically may as well be snacking on plywood. Enter: the Flying Apron.
While what I remembered of Flying Apron baked goods was dense, heavy, buckwheat laced and difficult to digest, what I found on Monday was a truly agreeable, reasonably healthy banana bread. One of the best features about the bakery is that each item is clearly labeled with a tag that lists all of its ingredients, making it easier for someone like myself (with allergies to random things like sesame) to take control of his or her own dietary needs, without overtaxing the help or becoming frustrated in the effort to explain complex restrictions.
At present, most of the recipes seem to rely heavily on garbanzo flour, which makes the texture less smooth and more inclined to crumble, but gives the food a hearty flavor and doesn't give you that nasty sugar spike/crash.
Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised. Enough so that I will probably abandon my Flying Apron wariness altogether and make several trips back to try out other items that caught my eye, as well as the lunch options and soups. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was pleasant, and the helpfulness of the staff was downright delightful.
The Fremont bakery is open from 7 am - 7 pm all week long (8 pm on weekends). Make sure you check out the "day old" bin by the register for still-excellent 50%-off pastries... gluten free eating can be ridiculously expensive, so buying 2 for the price of 1 offers a nice break! Also, for those who care about such things: Flying Apron is one of the few places in the city serving coffee from Seven Coffee Roasters, as well as one of the few offering almond milk for their lattes.