Once upon a time, I went to Pittsburgh. My lady has extended family there, and it’s only 4-ish hours away from DC, but she hadn’t been able to visit since she moved here a year ago. So we planned a weekend road trip over Memorial Day.
I wouldn’t necessarily think of Pittsburgh as a destination for gluten-free or vegan food, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised in a lot of random cities, so I was excited to explore a new city. ALSO, my lady had planned our route to include a stop at Panorama at the Peak in Berkeley Springs, where we had dinner on New Year’s Eve. Our second visit was just as good as the first – the staff at Panorama at the Peak is so friendly and accommodating, even though we didn’t have a reservation and I had forgotten to call ahead to ask them for a gluten-free and vegan meal, their chef was able to put together a delicious stirfry with brown rice and vegetables. (For the record, they have both gluten-free and vegan menu items, but nothing on the menu was both.)
After Panorama, we drove to Cumberland to spend the night and then headed toward Pittsburgh the next morning.
So, Pittsburgh is awesome. I totally loved the rust belty feel, and having so many rivers and bridges and tunnels through the middle of the city is awesome. We had excellent tour guides who made sure we saw a lot of awesome parts of the city and found vegan options every day.
I also met my gluten-free bakery soulmate at Gluuteny in Squirrel Hill. Oh my word. Gluuteny is a small storefront, but it’s packed with amazing things to eat and everything they make is also dairy-free (but not everything is vegan). They have donuts. And brownies. They have amazing hamburger rolls. And they sell mixes you can bring home to recreate the goodness at home. The woman who was working the counter was so friendly, answered my many questions and gave us recommendations. She also shared that she is working on her gluten and dairy-free scone recipe, because at a previous job where she worked with gluten, she was known as the Scone Queen, and is ready to take back that title. So now I want to move to Pittsburgh and apprentice myself to the Scone Queen.
Oh! and the best part – Gluuteny is an affordable gf bakery. I get a little overwhelmed in bakeries, because we don’t have one quite yet in DC and I want to buy all of the things. I picked out several treats (a donut with raspberry icing, a ginormous brownie, a cupcake for my lady, a loaf of cinnamon pound cake [omfg – so delicious], a pack of rolls for our dinner later and a hamburger bun mix to take home. Nothing had a price on it, and we admitted to each other after we left that we were both holding our breath while the total was calculated. Sarah assumed I was about to spend at least $50. I was expecting even more than that.
The actual total? $27. No, really. I’m moving to Pittsburgh.
And this weekend I finally got around to making the bread rolls from the mix I purchased. Inside the package, they had thoughtfully tucked a packet of yeast, so I only needed to provide 2 egg whites and some lukewarm water. I forgot to take a photo of the ingredient list, and it doesn’t look like it’s available online, but this is a super soft, finely ground mix of flours.
Bonus points for being really easy to assemble. All you do is beat the egg whites, combine the mix, yeast and water in a separate bowl and then add the egg whites to the mix. I did have to break out the electric mixer for this one, because I tried to whisk the egg whites into soft peaks and I kind of wanted to die.
I did screw up the forming of the buns, so my end result was not nearly as attractive as the photo on the package. My situation looked more like drop biscuits than burger buns, to be honest. What you’re supposed to do is oil your hands and smooth them out before they rise and then oil them again before they go in the oven. I just really hate having stuff on my hands, because I am a giant baby.
In any case, they still rose and they baked up to be light and delicious and chewy and almost as god as the ones I bought in May. I was inspired to make marinated tofu and sauteed zucchini and hummus that evening, so I could put together a sandwich worthy of these buns. No really. They’re that good.
Rumor has it that DC’s first proper gf bakery will be opening in Adams Morgan this summer. You can follow the adventures of Rise on facebook. In the meantime, I will happily order delicious things from Gluuteny. I’m really excited to play with their brownie mix, and they also have a general baking mix available, which seems genius. I really appreciated the accessibility and community vibe of Gluuteny. While I love Mariposa in the Bay Area a lot, they are definitely working the artisanal angle and their presentation is maybe a little more pretentious? It’s a Bay Area thing, don’t worry about it.