When she heard all the talk about gluten-free foods, Cara Pearson, who is part of the family behind the thought it was a fad that would go away.
But after hearing so many requests from customers and friends, and seeing how seriously the whole food industry is taking wheat allergies, she realized there may be more to it than she knew.
After doing some extensive research, the company at 1203 Pacific Ave. has unveiled its first gluten-free line of cookies, including a Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt and a Snickerdoodle.
The dough for these new cookies is made in the Westside's Red House Bakery, which has no storefront but sells to healthy markets such as New Leaf. It is then baked at Pacific's storefront, on special trays, with separate equipment and hinged plastic display cases to keep them away from cookies made from flour.
"We've been waiting for it to go away, but it just didn't," said Pearson. "It's getting more and more common to find people who have Celiac or are just wheat intolerant."
The big challenge was making it tasty. Pearson tried a recipe a year ago, but the cookies were just awful, she said. She looked all over for someone making a wheat-free cookie that could pass the shop's standards for tasting good, and sampled a Red House cookie, and voila!
"It had a clean mouth feel," she said. Some flour substitutes were rough and grainy. "They use light chocolate, organic butter and, what's really important is your flour base. They use sorghum, which is like whole wheat, but gives you a solid flavor."
Sorghum is a variety of grass that is high in protein, something needed by those with wheat-based allergies.
"We have never made a health claim," said Pearson. "Once we tried to do something low fat, but it had a fruit base and attracted fruit flies. That didn't work."
Pacific is known for gourmet cookies, filled with butter, that are going to taste good and you don't worry about calories, said Pearson.
Taste was the most important priority, and in a slow rollout over a week, the gluten-free varieties have been passing muster with the customer base.
"For us, we wouldn't have brought in something that didn't taste good," she added. "When someone bites a Pacific Cookie, they expect it to taste great. We wouldn't serve it if it didn't."
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