Tula Gluten Free Bakery Cafe {Portland, OR}

Thanks to an invite from Lisa Hill PR (who I met at the Holiday Mingle), I had the chance to attend a really fun Blogger event on Monday night at Tula Gluten Free Bakery Cafe.

Tula was started in 2010 by husband and wife team Mieke (pronounced mee-ka) and Caleb Johnson.  What began in Bend moved to Portland in 2011 and they have been doing very well ever since.

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Do you eat gluten free, by choice or by necessity?  I do not have a health reason to eat gluten free, but I know people who do and I know how important it is to avoid cross-contamination.

A gal I know with Celiac has to have her own jar of peanut butter at home that nobody else is allowed to use.  If her family digs in with the knife, smears it on the bread, and then re-dips the knife for more peanut butter, the gluten crumbs on the knife from the bread are enough to ruin that jar for her!

Fortunately, for people who are that sensitive to it, Tula is a dedicated gluten free bakery which means no gluten allowed!  If you use the same facility to make some things with gluten and some without, you just can’t guarantee there will be no cross-contamination.

Tula takes that seriously and knows that just opening a bag of flour in the same space can be enough to taint everything.  People who have Celiac or a gluten intolerance can feel 100% safe when dining at Tula because they know your health is in their hands.  Mieke herself has a gluten intolerance and began baking gluten free out of necessity.  She gets it.  On a very personal level.

While gluten is the only thing they guarantee against, they know there are a variety of other food allergies these days and they make it easy for customers to identify what’s what.  Their handy labeling system makes it quick and easy to identify what products do contain the other top allergens:

Tree Nuts – Soy – Dairy – Eggs – Corn

The Spinach Mushroom Ricotta Tarts below?  You can quickly see that they contain dairy and eggs.  If you don’t eat those, stay away.  If you do, then go for it because it sounds delicious!

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Those drool-worthy cupcakes?  Soy and corn.

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The Mediterranean Vegetable Tart?  Tree nuts.

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But rest assured, NONE of it contains any trace of gluten!

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One of the reasons for this Blogger event is that Tula has launched some new hot savory dishes.  They have offered salads, soups, pizzas, and paninis for a while, but have just recently added some new layered hot dishes.

We enjoyed an amazing tasting menu and were able to try a lot of those savory options.  Whether you eat gluten or not, you can’t deny that this looks fantastic!

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  • Top left is the Salami Pizza with meat from local Olympic Provisions.
  • Top right is the Mediterranean Layered Dish with spinach, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, red pepper, red onion, pesto glaze & hummus, served with a side of grilled olive loaf.
  • Bottom left is the French Layered Dish with spinach, herbed mushrooms, cream, artichoke hearts & red onion, served with a side of grilled rosemary walnut bread & butter.
  • Bottom Right is the Mushroom, Roasted Garlic & Chicken Pizza.

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That lovely sandwich above was #3 on our tasting menu, a “bread, cheese & plant based things panini”.  It was a vegan option that included tempeh, and while I didn’t try it (tempeh scares me, and I wanted to make sure the Vegetarians/Vegans got first dibs), it got great reviews and Spencer raved about the way it was cooked.  She’s had plenty of tempeh to compare it to – usually barely warmed or totally burnt – and said it was prepared the best she has ever had.  That’s pretty high Vegan praise!

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That was the Italian Layered Dish with fennel tomato sauce, two eggs, mozzarella & monterey jack cheeses, served with a side of grilled focaccia.

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And that would be the Indian Layered Dish with kale, cumin sweet potatoes, red onion chutney & pepita curry sauce, served with a side of grilled flatbread.

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Can’t forget the Tomato & Fresh Basil Pizza!  There’s really not much better than tomato and basil, wouldn’t you agree?

Well, I agreed until we got to dessert.  Freakin’ incredible!

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Just look at them!

  • Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls which tasted like those Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but wrapped in flaky croissant like carbs.  So, a million times better.
  • Curry Pecans which had the perfect amount of curry, not too spicy, not too sweet, just divine and addictive.
  • Cranberry Raspberry Tarts with an Almond Flaxseed Crust, and if you made me choose a favorite this would be it.  The cran/raspberry filling was tart and sweet and I wanted to eat it by the spoonful, and the almond flaxseed crust tasted like I was snuggled by a cozy fire in a log cabin in the snowy woods.  Does that even make sense?  It was warm and comforting and had that hearty/wholesome taste that leaves you wanting another bite.  Not to be mistaken with that other hearty/wholesome taste that makes you check to see if you ate part of the box your treat came in.  I realize this sounds totally sappy, and I promise I wasn’t paid to talk it up this much, I just honestly loved it and have been thinking about it ever since!

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While eating, we were able to chat with Mieke and pick her brain about owning a business, her vision for that business, recipe development, etc.

You know those people who are just naturals at what they do?  That’s how Mieke is with gluten free baking.  She can take a standard recipe, read through it and just know what changes need to be made to de-gluten it.  She can nail a gluten free version within about three tries, and often does it on the first try.  As she puts it, it’s her “flow”.  Obviously she didn’t start out that way, she is self-taught in the kitchen and after so many years she can just see it, it’s like she speaks fluent gluten.

And thank goodness she does, because we can all benefit from it.  Even those who don’t need to avoid gluten can eat at Tula and have an enjoyable experience, and that was their goal – a communal food experience people can enjoy and share whether they eat gluten or not.

Mieke didn’t want us to leave empty-handed, so we got these cute little gift bags with some goodies to-go.

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This goodie is a pound of their Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Dough!  Say what???  It’s currently in my fridge waiting for my next spare moment, I can’t wait to bake them up!

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And this gem is their Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake!

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I was putting it in the fridge and decided to try “just one bite”.  You can see how well that worked out.  Check out that crumb!  Some gluten items I have tried seem to disintegrate if you breath on them too hard, but this was a sturdy little cake with great flavor!

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Whether you eat gluten or not, you should absolutely check out Tula!  I highly recommend it and I know I’ll be back, especially to try the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, and the Chai, two things they are known for.

If this post has made you sad because you don’t live in Portland, cheer up because you can order some Tula items online!!

If you do live in Portland, head over to the corner of Alberta & MLK and feed your face!

Tula Gluten Free Bakery Cafe
4943 NE MLK Jr. Blvd
Portland, OR  97211
503-764-9727
(menu)

Open Mon – Sat, 7am – 6pm
Open Sunday, 8am – 3pm

Email: mieke@tulabaking.com

You can like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter too.

And before you go, check out this lovely group of local Bloggers!  Lisa snapped this picture and it cracks me up, apparently I was quite enamored with that L, I couldn’t take my eyes off it, haha!

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From L to R: Mieke (love those pants!), Rachel (Love, Rachel), Kristen (Winning Without Gluten), Sara (Salt. Water. Coffee.), Me, Spencer (12 Oz. Beehouse), and Erin (Bakery Bingo)

So tell me, do you eat gluten-free?  If so, what’s the best (or worst!) gluten free thing you have ever eaten?

Comments

  1. says

    What a great post!!!!!!! This is amazing. Love your recap! I’ll be posting mine Friday. SOOOO good to meet you. Hopefully we see each other soon.

    Have a good holiday!
    Rachel

  2. says

    So cool!! Looks like a super cute place! I never thought I had a gluten issue (I’ve tested negative for Celiac) but after cutting out all grains and legumes I realize I most likely have a gluten sensitivity. I feel so much better eating gluten-free (and grain-free) and I totally appreciate places like this! Nice that they label everything! Cuz I don’t eat corn or soy, either, so nice to know!

    • says

      They say lots of people have some level of intolerance but just don’t realize it until they cut it out of their diet, sounds like that’s what happened for you. Definitely check out Tula, I think you’ll love it!

  3. says

    I have wanted to try Tula for sometime, I have non Celiac gluten intolerance and its nice to know for that more and more of dedicated G-free places exist, dining out can be very difficult in places because you can’t always trust that its gluten free if they aren’t aware of cross contamination, something I wouldn’t have to worry about at Tula.

    • says

      Yes, definitely check it out, they totally get how serious a gluten issue can be for some people. And your family and friends who don’t have issues with gluten can dine with you and get tasty and satisfying treats for themselves too and not feel at all like they’re missing out on anything! Gluten who? ;)

    • says

      Right?! I normally wouldn’t go to a gluten free place… not sure why… it’s still good food that anyone can eat. I guess this visit to Tula changed my view on that, now I’ll just know that it’s a bakery like any other, great food just different ingredients! Thanks about the shirt, it’s from LOFT, I’m a little addicted to that place, haha!

    • says

      Knowing your love of cute coffee shops, I think you’d enjoy this place! Great coffee from Lone Pine Coffee Roasters (Bend, OR), and amazing treats to go with it. And wi-fi :)

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