30 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 18-24, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com It’s not easy being gluten-free. The morning pastry, the restaurant bread basket—so many of our dining habits revolve around wheat. Still, it’s gotten better, which is great news for the approximately 1 percent of the population that suffers from celiac disease, plus more who report nonceliac gluten sensitivity that can manifest as gastrointestinal issues, headaches or brain fog. Visibility of both celiac and gluten sensitivity in recent years has led to increased awareness of a gluten-free diet, and the market has rushed to respond—there are gluten-free meal kits available, restaurants boast gluten-free menus, grocery stores sell gluten-free pastas. Locally there’s Switch Bakery, a gluten-free bakery that operates a delivery bread club in both Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay area. Switch bakes in a commercial kitchen at the Elks Lodge in Santa Cruz, then delivers bread on a weekly or monthly basis to subscribers. The bakery also has a stand at the Tuesday night farmers market in downtown Monterey and the Thursday morning market in Carmel, and sells bread and pastries to various retail partners, including Elroy’s Fine Foods in Monterey, The Power Plant in Moss Landing and more. Switch is the brainchild of Joshua Bradley and his wife, Amanda Bradley. Both have other careers—he’s a tech startup chief technology officer, she’s in advertising and marketing—and yet both are deeply passionate about food. Their first food venture was notpie. com, a cake delivery and subscription service. The development of Switch, meanwhile, followed a transition in the way the Bradley family eats at home. About 10 years ago Joshua was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and adopted a gluten-free diet in order to manage it. Eating this way, the Bradleys began noticing what is (and, crucially, what isn’t) out there. “When you’re gluten-free it’s very easy to find things for breakfast,” Amanda says. “But the rest of your day…a lot of our restaurant habits are around bread.” The duo started Switch Bakery with a mission to make “really great bread” for people maintaining a gluten-free diet. The name “Switch” is a reference to mixing it up and making changes— the bakery’s menu changes regularly, ingredients change, etc. Often the changes are driven by trying to find the right gluten-free flour for the product—Switch works mainly with rice, sorghum and starch; they don’t work with corn or psyllium husk. “It’s a constant state of experimentation,” Amanda says. And yes, they’re perfectionists—for example, Switch will not (at least not yet) make a cinnamon roll, because they haven’t yet been able to nail the texture. Many of the ideas for new products come from the Bradleys’ home kitchen—the gluten-free burrito wrap, for example, emerged when Joshua just really wanted a burrito. Increasingly, however, ideas also come from customers—subscribers or farmers market regulars— who ask, “Can you please make me a [fill-in-the-blank]?” One of the core challenges of gluten-free baking is finding a dough consistency that holds together, but isn’t too gummy. Switch’s approach is to avoid feeling like success lies in mimicking traditional bread, and instead bake something that works on its own merits. The bakery’s popular flatbread with portobello mushroom duxelles, for example, has a stickier texture when compared to a traditional focaccia, but the decadent umami of the duxelles means you hardly care. “We try to make something that is unique enough—but calls back to something that you remember,” Amanda says. Operating the subscription option is “very good for business,” Amanda says, as a way to build customer loyalty without the overhead of a retail storefront. Each bread club box contains a loaf of bread (a baguette, focaccia, sandwich rolls) and something sweet, but the specifics are different every time—part of the joy, Amanda says, lies in creating a fun little surprise for customers. Food, after all, is largely about connection, a challenge for the gluten-free experience in a world of wheat. It might not be easy being gluten-free, but Switch Bakery is here to help. Find Switch Bakery at local farmers markets and at switchbakery.com. First course Amanda and Joshua Bradley at the Carmel farmers market. Both enjoy interacting with customers in person at weekly markets. Mojo Dojo Nacho Night… Loved the Barbie movie so much you can’t wait to see it again? Us too. Here’s a win-win opportunity—Nacho Bizness is hosting a Barbie movie night to benefit Gathering For Women Monterey on Thursday, Jan. 25 from 6:30-9pm. Tickets ($30 per person) include welcome nachos, an entree and an adult beverage to enjoy while watching Barbie. Bring donations of new or gently used clothing items for Gathering For Women and receive a complimentary glass of Rosé. Purchase tickets at bit. ly/BarbieNachos. 470 Alvarado St., Monterey. nachobiz.biz. Sober Selections…Several local establishments have added non-alcoholic options to their menus for those doing Dry January—or simply for those looking for a delicious booze-free beverage. Pearl Hour and Compact Disco both offer a series of craft mocktails, and Alvarado Street Brewery has just debuted Froth Water, a sparkling water flavored with citra and mosaic hops. Pearl Hour is at 214 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 657-9447, pearlhour. com. Compact Disco is at 420 Tyler St., Monterey, 920-2518, compactdisco.org. Alvarado Street Brewery has locations in Monterey, Carmel and Salinas; 8003332, asb.beer. New Year, Old Price…Montrio Bistro is celebrating the New Year by throwing some of their prices way, way back. They have happy hour daily from 4:30-6pm with special signature cocktails for $10, appetizers for $8, and select wines, beer, and well drinks for just $5. They are also offering a select appetizer and craft cocktail for just $1.89—in honor of Monterey’s year of incorporation in 1890. 414 Calle Principal, Monterey. 648.8880, montrio. com. Community Cookbook…Does your New Year’s resolution include more healthy cooking? Blue Zones Project of Monterey County has released a colorful community cookbook made up of 25 recipes from Blue Zonesapproved restaurants and community partners in Monterey County. It is now easier to eat meals that are both healthy and delicious at local restaurants, and also in the comfort of your own home. Access a digital copy at bit.ly/ BlueZonesMontereyCookbook. 525 Main St., Salinas. 800-7355, montereycounty. bluezonesproject.com. By Jacqueline Weixel morsels Send a bite to eatanddrink@mcweekly.com “It’s a constant state of experimentation.” Eat + DrinK Daniel Dreifuss In the Club Subscription-based Switch Bakery is on a mission to make great gluten-free bread. By Tajha Chappellet-Lanier