FREMONT CENTER, NY — Far too often, eating gluten-free baked goods is not an enjoyable experience. “Nothing tastes the same,” said Alex Matsu, co-owner of County Road Bakery in Fremont Center. “You’re eating food that is not comforting.”
So, a little like the “Babes in Arms” kids who decided to put on a fabulous show, Matsu’s family decided to start a bakery.
County Road specializes in gluten-free, celiac-safe baked goods that actually do taste wonderful.
It’s a family-run business, Matsu said. Her parents live in Fremont Center. They both became ill with Lyme disease and Matsu came home to help. “They couldn’t eat bread, so we experimented with trying to find gluten-free alternatives. There’s a chemistry behind it.”
Gluten is a protein, and “it’s the most delicious thing on the planet,” she said with a laugh.
A gluten-free baked good needs a replacement protein, and it’s often created with a blend of flours. “We measure our own flour blend,” Matsu said, balancing everything to create a flour that’s not chalky and baked goods that don’t crumble.
Slowly, product by product, they created a line of items that “everyone appreciates,” she said. And “to have these specialty items in Sullivan County is really rare.”
Clearly, the food is appreciated. This year, County Road sold in three farmers’ markets, and on a farmstand in Fremont Center, plus in New York City through NYClub. You can order online, then pick up on Sundays in Tompkins Square Park.
“The food is 100 percent celiac-safe,” Matsu said. “We set up a separate bakery and the equipment has not been exposed to wheat. It’s also nut-free.”
They offer vegan options, like a vegan carrot cupcake that’s been very popular, she said.
What’s special for the holidays? Crescent rolls, stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple cider doughnuts, she said. It’s all listed on the Thanksgiving menu, available on their website, and can be picked up at the farmstand.
“We’re just a family who loves to cook.”
Indeed. They have chicken pot pie for those who can’t partake of a main turkey course stuffed with bread. “Suddenly everyone has something that is good and delicious,” Matsu said.
And that’s kind of the point.
“Food is so emotional for people. To have food that is reliable and safe—you’re tapping into some deep emotions… We’re really trying our hardest to make sure food is not a burden.”
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