The Californian neighbourhood food shop is none other than Wholefoods and the nerd in me was quietly pleased to have some time alone to wander the aisles. Despite having our first outpost of the organic superstore in London, the ranges vary hugely and I found many of the products often raved about by US bloggers, such as Bobs Red Mill Flours.
The most exciting and inspiring thing for me was the variety of gluten free ingredients and products, even in a small town store such as Sebastapool. Each product, including the loose ingredients to buy in bulk were highlighted with a Gluten Free label on the shelf, all mixed in with the "normal"products.
To me this was great, as when I go food shopping I think about what I am going to eat and therefore when I want to buy biscuits, I go to the biscuit section. The Wholefoods approach to product placement - and this may be only my interpretation - is integrated without shouting "special needs" and risks people without the need to eat gluten free picking them up.
And it is a risk - In the UK a large proportion of the large scale manufactured gluten free ingredients would not be eaten by those who do not have to - with exceptions of course. However in the US, I was consistently suprised at the quality, variety, taste and ingredients of the majority of GF foods. (It has to be noted here that I acknowledge Wholefoods is a more expensive food shop, but for me is the benchmark for what our supermarkets should aspire to).
Fortunatley I had enough room in my luggage for a handful of ingredients to try at home including:
Quinoa pasta - a much more robust pasta than rice, that had a less noodle-y texture, but no distinctive taste like the fresh chickpea pasta from Sainsburys.
Crackers - made from rice flour they reminded me of the ritz crackers without the cheesey flavour and only a hint of rice flour aftertaste.
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips - Wholefoods own label with a hint of lime without flavourings so you could taste the corn.
Marys Gone Crackers - Mini crackers made from seeds which are crunchy and tasty whilst all natural.
Teff flour / Amaranth flour / Differnt ground cornmeals
Almond meal - sold as a great alternative base to pastry, made from locally grown almonds great for puddings.
Gluten free wraps - made from ground corn
Gluten free macaroons - just one of the many baked goods made in the inhouse bakery
Japanese crackers - light crackers made with rice flour
Gluten free cereal bars - a great on the go snack that doesn't taste of cardboard.
and these are just the ones I found in a half hour wander...oh for WholeFoods to expand in the UK... at least there was lots of inspiriation for cooking.