Willametta's

Post by Me (Amy) & Gluten-Free Mr. B.


logo illustration by Clayton Sukau
Ah, the elusive gluten-free baked treat.  They are ever-so-hard to find, and almost always an exercise in dry, crumbly disappointment.  I know it's a huge challenge to make "gluten-free" taste good.  Since my husband discovered his gluten intolerance in 2009, we have had many a baking trial that ended in error.  There is just something about that stretchy little protein that makes delicious things.... delicious.

So when my hubby and I scanned the vast table of gluten-free treats made by Willametta's- spicy chocolate crinkle cookies, hazelnut hemp brittle with smoked sea salt, apple brown sugar scones, and molasses oatmeal raisin cookies with walnuts, just to name a few- we spoke in hushed tones of both awe and skepticism.

Wait... I'm sorry, these are vegan, too?!  Oh man, now I was even more concerned.  As a friend of mine once joked, asking for something gluten-free and vegan is like ordering the "nothing nothing."  Leaving out the richness of eggs, butter, milk and cream as well as the gluten would surely result in a tasteless pastry, right?  Well, not necessarily.

Only one time have I tasted pastries that were both gluten-free and vegan and found them to be so delicious that I didn't miss any of the traditional ingredients.  That was at Petunia's Pies and Pastries in Portland.  If you have ever eaten there, you know how high the bar was set for me.
photo courtesy of Willametta's Facebook

"Donuts!"  I pointed and exclaimed, sounding a bit like I had spotted a unicorn and was trying not to scare it away.  Donuts, people.  Seriously, that's how rare a gluten-free donut is.

Dark rum donuts.  Hazelnut donuts.  Chocolate donuts.  And a whole host of delicious glazes- Bavarian cream, brown sugar caramel sauce, and a chai frosting- to top them with.

photo courtesy of Willametta's Facebook
"I feel like I shouldn't be allowed to do this!" said Mr. B., who is usually banished from the dessert table, or offered a very well-meaning but sad consolation dessert ("well, we have vanilla ice cream!").  He couldn't wrap his mind around being able to have anything and everything that he saw.

And so with cautious optimism, we loaded our plates high.

Mr. B started with the molasses oatmeal raisin cookie.  I could tell by the yummy noises that he was impressed.  He gave me a bite and I agreed.  First the flavor was absolutely delicious.  I'm not a big fan of oatmeal cookies usually, but this one was packed full of rich, delicious molasses flavor.  Best of all though, was the texture.  I can't stress enough how difficult it is to get the right texture on a gluten free cookie- or any baked good for that matter.  It was just the right combination of crunchy and chewy.

photo courtesy of Willametta's Facebook
Next I tried a bite-sized chocolate donut, half with the brown sugar caramel sauce and half without.  The donut was more of a cake consistency than what you would imagine a traditional donut to be.  More spongy.  The flavor though, was out of this world!  I preferred it with the sauce myself, but it was delicious both ways.  The hazelnut and dark rum donuts were also very good.  A side note- they all paired quite nicely with the Harvester Dark Ale I was drinking at the time.

Mr. B and I split the scones next.  We sampled an apple brown sugar scone and a pumpkin chai scone.  Both had a nice flavor, though they were lacking a bit in the richness that one would expect from a scone.  My preference was for the apple.

photo courtesy of Willametta's Facebook
I couldn't end the night without a bite of the spicy chocolate crinkle cookie.  I have a special place in my heart for the chocolate and chili combo, and this cookie didn't disappoint.  Again, they have the texture of their cookies down.  The chocolate flavor was rich and followed by a warm spicy heat that didn't bite back too hard.  Yummy.

Finally, we tried the hazelnut hemp brittle with smoked sea salt.  Little rich crunchy nuggets of yum, they were!  The brittle topped Mr. B's list that night and I would rank it highly, too, though I always prefer baked goods to candies.

The verdict?  Yes, friends, these treats are delicious and gluten-free AND vegan!  Willametta's allergy-friendly treats are some of the best that I have had.  It wouldn't really be fair to compare them to a brick and mortar, time-tested Portland bakery such as Petunia's, but what a tremendous start for these new bakers.  I very much look forward to tasting more!
~Will Bragg

So who is behind Willametta's delicious treats?  Summer Keightley and Mitch Duafa founded Willametta's this year, after contemplating other joint ventures such as a breakfast cafe (still an eventual  possibility).  Willametta's is named after Summer's great great aunt, and her family still uses many of her recipes today. 

Currently they are baking out of a commercial kitchen in Dallas, Oregon  kitchen for Capricorn Catering (edited). While the kitchen is not exclusively gluten-free or vegan, they take great care to ensure there is no cross-contamination.  They own and maintain all of their own equipment which is stored separately.  They carefully clean all of the common areas between uses.  They also store nuts separately and bake nut-based treats separately from nut-free ones.

Staying true to their values, they bake exclusively gluten-free and vegan treats, using all plant-based products down to their packaging.  They source many of their ingredients locally, such as the hazelnuts, apples, and rum in the treats that we sampled.

So far they have dished out their delicacies at farmers markets, public and private events, and by special order.  You can find them:
- on Tuesdays through October in Main Street Park in Monmouth from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
- on Saturdays through October at Riverview Park in Independence from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- on Saturdays November through Christmas in Independence at the Elks Lodge from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Look for them at events sponsored by the Salem Creative Network.  They also have a small selection of treats available through the Health and Vitality Center in Dallas. Other retail partnerships are in the works.

Find out more about Willametta's and where you can find their treats on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/willamettas.  

A list of available treats for special order and prices can be found here.  They do offer delivery to the Salem/Keizer area.

You can also inquire about their offerings at willamettas@gmail.com or (971) 209-2369.

-Amy B.

Whats Happening in Salem? Autumn 2014

Special Events & Openings:


Food/Drink:
    Entertainment/Nightlife:

    The party is always in The Kitchen.

    Quick, early report on a new place in town. Demurely called The Kitchen, it's on Court Street where Casey's used to be.

    But you wouldn't know it.

    Walking in, there's a fresh, clean, comfy-homey-modern feel. The narrow, long space is well used with a line of tables along the left, with a large booths that jut into the front windows. Our team of  had a lovely lunch bathed in indirect natural light, with plenty of elbow room, and entertainment as we watched passers by on the street. Noise is fairly well controlled, but it's still a boisterous atmosphere.

    Service was quick and friendly (with just a bit of style), despite being a packed house for lunch. Our table went 4/6 on the Catfish Tacos and my oh my, it was a good choice. Tender, crispy, lightly fried catfish chunks on fresh and flavorful hand made tortillas, topped with a bright slaw mix. We asked for hot sauce, and a very thick, rich and flavorful (if not so hot) sauce was delivered for all. With a small side of rice and beans, it's good food for a decent price. My only shock was $2.50 for a soda; their glasses are small Ball-jar-like glasses, so the one soda with no refill that I had was less than a can of Coke. For $2.50. But everyone's doing that these days; just another reason to avoid the junk. My bad!

    Someone else chose Chicken Tacos, another the chili. I'm sorry I don't have details, but it looked good and all was consumed. :)

    Sorry there are no pictures. Do check out their Facebook page for menu, photos, etc.

    I was pleased and look forward to exploring further. Maybe for dinner tonight...