Saturday, April 26, 2014

Side Trip: Taffets Bakery and Bread Review (Philadelphia)

Located in Philadelphia's Italian market, Taffets Bakery is quite simply heaven on Earth for those seeking gluten-free bread. Even for those who can eat wheat without trouble, I highly recommend this wonderful treat of a bakery whose breads are hands down the best I've ever had since going gluten-free. 

What's so great about Taffets is that they are 100% dedicated to the gluten-free community and their handcrafted baked goods are rarities in a gluten free market filled with single-flavor sandwich breads, buns, and rolls. Taffets pulls out all the stops and brings back artisan breads such as focaccia, challah, and sourdough boule. Although I can't eat "traditional bread" Taffets allows me to be a full-fledged bread aficionado once more.

After a few confusing moments when trying to explain to the cab driver where Taffets was, I arrived tired, but excited to explore the #1 destination on my must-do list that I created in the weeks before visiting. I hit one more obstacle to accessing the bakery when I realized that the entrance was not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, my previous experience at Giogio on Pine prepared me for this scenario and I was able to get into the store and leave my wheelchair outside. 


Once inside, I couldn't believe my eyes I saw bakery racks stuffed with delicious looking creations that were all gluten-free. Baguettes? Loaves? Check and check. I longed to take samples of everything, but at the back of my mind, I knew I had to get everything through airport security the following day. While considering all of my options, and picking out my variety of breads to buy, I was able to chat with Omer Taffet, the baker and owner behind this wonderful bakery. He shared with me that he originally thought about having mixed glutenous/gluten-free offerings, but after his initial success with a solely gluten-free product line, he's never looked back. The facility is dedicated gluten-free and all breads are (mostly) dairy free as well (kaiser rolls can be made with cheese upon request and the cookies/brownies have butter in them). Many of the breads were made with honey, eggs, and yeast, which might pose a problem for other special diets. What made the bakery all the more remarkable was their fair prices for generous portions. The secret there is that being in the Italian Market allows the bakery a low overhead, so they don't have to inflate prices. This geographic shift may be a little out of the way, but all thoughts of inconvenience vanish upon experiencing the bakery. It should also be noted that the bread freezes really well and Taffets does ship their bread across the country. I really do commend the entire team for producing a top-quality product unrivaled by anything I've had before. 


Kaiser Rolls

Plain on blue plate, poppyseed on multi-colored.
Kaiser rolls are a traditional Austrian bread delicacy typically served sandwich style or with soups and stews. Taffet's version are a beautifully shaped and come in many varieties- pumpernickel, poppyseed, plain, etc. What amazed me was how dense they were. Unlike many gluten-free breads, there were no air bubbles taking up the majority of the volume, and once defrosted, the bread was spongy on the inside, had a nice crust, and was incredibly close in texture to its gluten-containing counterparts. What I loved about these rolls, which stood out on their own, was their complex multi-dimensional flavor. What gave them such a great flavor was Taffets' use of apple cider vinegar and honey. The resulting flavor produced a bread that had sweet notes which were accented by the unique flavor of the vinegar. I brought a plain roll and a poppyseed role, and both were equally delicious. The one downside of the poppyseed was that it did make a mess. I have to say that I would not want a sandwich on this roll because it was so thick, but I did have it with chili, which went well with the bread. It may sound weird, but I was perfectly content to eat it plain and not toasted because it was so "bready."


Bagels 

Poppyseed bagel on red, plain on blue.
After first tasting the bakery's kaiser rolls, my expectations for their bagels skyrocketed. These I was sure to bring back home on the plane because I knew I wanted them toasted. It should be noted that their bagels are on the larger side of the spectrum and are quite filling. They definitely needed to be toasted to reach their full potential because the crust crisped up nicely leaving a dense and chewy center. One difficulty I had was that they were too large for my toaster and were difficult to get toasted evenly (although my toaster is notorious for uneven toasting). They reminded me of sourdough bread, which made them unlike any bagels I've had before.  This diversion from the "traditional" bagel is a rare treat which I relished. Like the kaiser rolls, I got the poppyseed and plain versions (in both the bagels and kaiser rolls, a sesame version was also available in the store), and both were satisfying on their own.

Baguette

My first taste of Taffets' bread actually came the day before during my lovely dinner at Giorgio on Pine. Served warm baguette rounds with fresh olive oil, I fell in love with the wonderfully soft and fragrant bread which was infused with olive oil. Incredulous that the bread was gluten and dairy free, I was sure to double check with my waitress, and sure enough, it was. I knew then and there that I had to bring a whole baguette home with me to recreate the simple luxury of it. It was far superior than the frozen versions I've had. The bread is 15" long and easily divides into separate pieces to freeze individual portions of it. Though I haven't tried it yet, I plan on making fresh bruchetta to top a toasted portion of the loaf.

Soft Pretzel

Last but not least of my Taffets discoveries was a soft pretzel. Unheard of in a city famous for its glutenous pretzels, finding a gluten-free version came as a complete surprise to me. In talking with Omer Taffet, I wished aloud that I wanted take home a sourdough boule, a beautiful 2 pound loaf of bread, but couldn't due to the constraints of travelling. He went over to a bakery tray and pulled out a gluten-free soft pretzel, which happened to share the same starter and some of the ingredients with the boule. My jaw literally dropped. Soft pretzels were high on the list of things I thought I'd never have again, but sure enough, thanks to Taffets, I could have one of my favorite snacks again. It turned out it was the last one of the day, which made the find all the more special. A truly sourdough pretzel, it fulfilled its promise completely. Although as a pretzel "purist" the experience would only be improved if I had some yellow mustard to top it!


The Basics:

Address: 1024 South 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Website: www.taffets.com
Cuisine/Products: Bread, Cookies, Groceries
Accessibility: Not wheelchair accessible. Raised doorway and a couple steep stairs to get into the bakery. 
Special Features: Can order bread for delivery here.


Disclaimer: The bakery and individual bread reviews are based upon the information I have at the time of the review and do not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the bakery directly for up-to-date information and feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I cannot wait to hear what you have to say. Please note that comments may take up to 24 hours to appear on the page because I do vet them to ensure spam comments are not posted.