10 June 2010

Gluten-Free Restaurant Review: Glutenus Minimus Bakery

As an aspiring pastry chef diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I've definitely had some ups and downs coming to terms with not only my diet changes but my life dream changes. Many people have asked me why I have not enrolled in culinary school since I am now unemployed and was accepted to a prestigious program last summer. Believe me - if I could be perfecting my pastries in a professional culinary program right now, I would be there with bells on. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible for me to pursue a traditional culinary education. A major requirement of being a chef is tasting the food you are preparing, not only after a dish is plated and about to be served to guests, but throughout the cooking process ("Does this need more salt?", "Oh no I forget to add the shallots!" and so on). It would be completely ridiculous for an instructor to grade me on the taste of a cake that I had not even been able to taste myself. And so my unshakable goal to attend culinary school has died, at least for now.

Many people have also asked me why I don't open a gluten-free bakery. I love everyone's support and enthusiasm, saying gluten-free is my ticket to real success as a chef. Obviously this thought crossed my mind nanoseconds after I solved my dietary crisis. If I had the capital and resources to do this, I would be the happiest girl in Boston (or Seattle or Nashville or wherever my bakery would be located). So my dream to own a bakery/ice cream shop is still very much alive, just modified. Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic example of a gluten-free bakery very closeby.

Glutenus Minimus Bakery in Belmont began in Spring 2008 and sells wonderful gourmet gluten-free foods. Located on Belmont Street, a mostly residential street on the Watertown/Belmont line, I finally made my first visit today after a trip to the Watertown Public Library. When I walked into the shop, I was immediately greeted by a very friendly, energetic staff member who informed me she could answer any questions I had. I told her I was recently diagnosed and had been craving a muffin for weeks (true - ask just about anyone who has checked in with me about how I'm doing with the diet change and my main answer is "I just want a MUFFIN!" which is odd because I really only liked muffins when I was sick in my gluten-consuming days). I immediately selected a blueberry muffin, and also chose a chocolate toffee cookie. Together the cost was $3.75 but I would have paid much more than that for delicious, freshly baked gluten-free pastries!

It took all my willpower to not scarf down the treats on site or on the drizzly drive home, but I survived (I had to take pictures for my blog, after all). It was definitely worth the wait. The blueberry muffin top had that inexplicably delectable sticky, gooey muffin top texture that I had been missing. The interior of the muffin was moist and full of sweet blueberries, but was a bit dense for my muffin texture preference. However, I am not one to be particularly picky when I have been craving a food for weeks! I was quite happy with the muffin, as well as the cookie which I had for a pre-Celtics/Lakers snack. The cookie was chewy, chocolately and absolutely would have passed a taste test vs. a cookie made with traditional wheat flour. Glutenus Minimus owner/baker Natalie McEachern truly has perfected the very fine, scientific art of gluten-free baking.

In addition to the muffins and cookies I purchased, Glutenus Minimus also sells cakes, brownies, cupcakes, pizza dough mix and other baking mixes. They even sell a gingerbread house mix/kit, which I think is just wonderful for the holidays. I will also be picking up one of their adorable tee shirts soon (FYI I collect bakery tee shirts during my travels near and far). They have a large, bright and lovely space with an open kitchen. The staff working there while I was in the shop were all very happy and having a lively conversation while preparing more treats, which added to my enjoyment of the experience - I truly think food tastes better when it is prepared with love, as cheesy as that may sound. I have a feeling a trip to Glutenus Minimus is going to become a part of my regular routine, not only to feed my sweet tooth but pick up ideas for my gluten-free bakery.


  1. I would totally come with you to this bakery! :) I want to try gluten free snacks...plus the Watertown Library is still my library, so the combination sounds perfect.

  2. It takes some experimenting with GF flours but you can definitely make your own muffins too. They have a ton of different GF flours at the Natural Food Exchange in Reading and there are a number of GF baking books. It takes some experimenting to find out what you like. The birthday cake at Glutenus minimus is really good too.

  3. My experience at GM was equally delightful. I've been cooking and baking gluten free for my son for almost three years and for myself for ten months. While I've had some success with some items, the stuff at GM is an order of magnitude better -- the textures are excellent, taste is fantastic, and the staff are friendly, helpful, and truly "get it." This place is a gem!