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Jul 12 2010

Review: French Meadow Bakery

Note to anyone who cares or might come after me with Bunnicula or threaten to take my children (wait…hang on…ya really want ’em?), this is a compensated review for French Meadow Bakery.
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A few months ago (seriously, it was ages ago, I’ll get into why in a minute), I was contacted by a marketing person to gauge my interest in doing some product reviews. I glanced at the offerings, realized that most of them were food that I couldn’t eat (hello, gluten-free lifestyle!), and politely declined. The nice woman pointed out that there was a company on the list that had gluten-free products. I checked again and made happy squealing sounds, because I recognized the company and liked their stuff. Last summer when we visited Disney World, the gluten-free desserts were French Meadow Bakery, and I fell so hard for the brownies that I used our remaining snack tickets to buy a bunch to take home.

So why the delay in the review? I was contacted in March, finally got the coupons at the end of April, and started searching for products to try. And searched. Four stores later, still couldn’t find any gluten-free products. On our trip to Chicago in June, jackpot. Got some gluten-free goodies, took notes, brain fell out when summer started and forgot to write the post, and here we are. Of course, once I found the products and used the coupons, I’ve been finding gluten-free French Meadow Bakery goodies¬†everywhere.

(Time sensitive note: I just checked out their website and it appears to be down as they comply with FDA regulations regarding packaging. Huh. This means I can’t link directly to the products I sampled.)

I sampled four different products, all gluten-free.

  • Take and bake chocolate chip cookies, found in the freezer section
  • Pre-packaged brownies, found in the freezer section
  • Bread, found in the freezer section
  • Brown rice with Cuban vegetables, found in the freezer section

Take and bake chocolate chip cookies
I bought these in Chicago and made them in my mom’s kitchen. With her crappy oven. And thusly overcooked the suckers a bit. However, I think even if I had not done that, that I’d not be a huge honkin’ fan. See, chocolate chip cookies are my all-time favorite cookie, forever and ever amen. And I’m pretty picky about them. I like them a bit chewy, with a little snap, with enough size to dunk. These came out like many gluten-free baked items: a little dry and crumbly. I think they’d be fantastic in ice cream sandwiches, but as cookies they left me wanting. I’m glad I tried them, but I have a fantastic recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and I think I’ll stick with that for the time being.

Pre-packaged brownies
Oh.My.God. I love these. I want to take them home and hug them and love them and name them George. And then eat them. One after another. And then cover every mirror in the house so I don’t have to see my fat and happy ass. They are chewy with a rich chocolate flavor and, as they are individually wrapped, sized for self-discipline. I do have a killer recipe for gluten-free brownies, but these are great to have on hand for the days (like this week) when it’s too hot to crank on the oven.

Bread
It’s a good thing I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches. I’d much rather have a rice bowl or a salad or pasta. Sandwiches never really do a lot for me, unless they are super-deluxe sandwiches that I don’t have to make. Calorie-free would be a nice bonus. Just sayin’. That said, I’m always looking for a tasty gluten-free bread. Sometimes sandwiches are the only thing available, or you want to make toast, or whatnot. Sadly, this bread is not a tasty gluten-free bread. Dry, crumbly, did not hold up well to sandwich-making. Made decent toast, but failed miserably on the sandwich front. I kinda like my bread to stay in one piece as I’m eating the sandwich and not crumble into a pile of chunks and crumbs on the plate. This would make pretty good bread crumbs, though.

Brown rice with Cuban vegetables
Not bad! I mis-read the package and thought it was just the veggies so I made brown rice to go with it. They had a great spice flavor with a little kick. I think with a little leftover cooked chicken, this would make a delicious rice bowl, good for taking to work for lunch or having as a quick dinner. I think I’d keep these in the freezer as a backup, and use to fill out dinner.

So there ya go. A review of some new gluten-free offerings from French Meadow Bakery. I will be enjoying the brownies again in the future, they are that good.

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Remember! Compensated review. I received coupons to purchase the reviewed items. I’m really not worth hunting down. Truly.

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