I’m not sure why it took me so long to write about Taffets in Philadelphia. Once I heard about the amazing, new gluten-free bread bakery, it was just a few days before I got in my car and drove down to check it out. It may come as a surprise, but I haven’t had bread on my mind much since going gluten-free. Most gluten-free bread I’ve tried was so unexciting, I’ve figured I’m better off without it. (This is weird coming from a guy who used to eat a sandwich every single day for lunch.) My logic is, why dwell on the things I can’t eat when there is so much more good food out there? Well, that’s all changed now.
Taffets is located in the Italian Market area of Philadelphia which, although it may be a tourist trap, is a lot of fun for me. Sabrina’s is nearby, and the area is packed with specialty markets carrying great meats, imported ingredients, cheeses, and more. Add to that, there is Fante’s (an amazing kitchenware store where I bought myself a new Lodge cast-iron skillet!) and a few great spots to eat — what’s not to love? But you’d never expect an artisan gluten-free bread bakery to open here.
Though I admit I tasted all of the breads right outside the store (I couldn’t resist), I did manage to get some home for these photos. The teff loaf was still warm when I bought it, so that one was really hard to resist. It was love at first bite. Honestly, from what I’ve tried, I can say that nobody else is doing gluten-free bread of this quality. Nobody. Add to that, the baker/owner at Taffets was a cool guy. We chatted for a while about the bakery (open just since March of this year, I believe) and why there aren’t places like this in New York City already.
The baguette was amazing too. The texture is hard to describe. No, it’s not just like a traditional baguette, but for someone like me who hadn’t had fresh baked bread in several months, this was insanely good. If I could get this bread nearby where I live, I’d be buying it constantly.
The Kaiser rolls were probably the most likely to satisfy anyone, meaning that even your non-gluten-free friends wouldn’t mind a sandwich on one of these. They looked great and tasted even better.
As good as the bread was, I have to give a shout-out to the sweets too, like this gluten-free brownie. Unlike the breads which I bought fresh from the oven, this was packaged already, but that’s not a complaint by any means. The brownie is very rich and dense. Personally, I’d suggest you stick with the breads, unless you’ve got a serious sweet tooth to satisfy.
So what did I do with all that bread besides just eat it? I made a grilled cheese (with bacon) of course! What a treat. Grilled cheese sandwiches were a distant memory for me. And look how beautifully it toasted up in my new Lodge skillet.
Amazingly I actually had some leftovers two days later (I bought a lot of bread), and like any fresh bread, it had gotten a little firm. This was the real test. Could the bread hold up in a panzanella (bread salad)? It held up really well. I ate it within 15 minutes or so, just long enough for the oil and vinegar to soak in, but not so long that I had to worry about the bread disintegrating, and that seemed about right. Totally amazing.
I have to give one more shout-out but with a caution. The famous sandwich shop Paesano’s is right across the street from Taffets, and they’re now offering gluten-free sandwiches made with Taffets bread. Above is the famous “Paesano” sandwich, made with beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperincino, provolone, and a fried egg. If you know this sandwich, then you love it — a total Philly classic. My caution is, keep in mind that Paesano’s makes a lot of sandwiches with regular bread, and the risk of cross-contamination has to be high here. I’m not saying they did anything wrong, but you can’t see them putting your sandwich together in the back, and so there is clearly some risk if you have celiac disease. You know what your sensitivity is to cross-contamination, so just be smart. But I have to give Paesano’s a lot of credit for trying, because most sandwich shops like this, especially ones here in New York City, can’t be bothered to cater to the gluten-free community at all. I didn’t see this hero-style bread they made my sandwich with for sale in Taffets, but it was wonderful.