It all began about 6 weeks ago, during the Minnesota State Fair. A person who stopped by grabbed my card and talked to me about the fact that she worked in this gluten-free bakery in Fridley. I had never heard of such a thing!
The City of Fridley is an older suburb in the northern part of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Let’s face it– North Metro people, we are not exactly at the hub of gluten-free activity. In my opinion, when it comes to gluten-free deliciousness, most of it happens east, west and south of here.
A week or two later I got a call from the owner of Lily Bloom’s Kitchen, Larry Shiller. I finally got over there last week to see what it was all about.
LBK is housed in a strip mall just off of University Avenue, just north of 694. How they got to be where they are is an interesting story. Shiller started the company in 2009 in honor of his mother Lily Bloom Shiller. The goal was to recreate her macaroons.
That lead to the Poparoons (macaroon-style treat on a stick). Kowalski’s was carrying those products and then asked Shiller if he would be willing to expand his selection. He moved into his new digs on University in 2010 and that is where the expansion really happened.
Gluten free was not his intended market– it just sort of went that way since the macaroons are gluten free. But it has ended up being a successful direction for the company. “There was a lot of experimentation,” Shiller said. “I have some suppliers I buy from who provide high-quality gluten-free mixes, some come with recipes and then we make it our own.”
Kowalski’s currently carries all of LBK’s muffins, bars, brownies, mini cakes and cupcakes under their private label. The mini cheesecakes and Chocolate Decadence bread pudding are sold under the Lily Bloom’s Kitchen name. Whole Foods Market in Minnesota carries the Chocolate Decadence as well. Shiller also enjoys working at the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market on Sundays, “Everything on the table is gluten free! [Shoppers] are so grateful! They come back week after week!”
Besides Minnesota, Shiller’s distributor also gets his products in natural food stores in Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and parts of Missouri.
“I expect to grow and expand the facility. At that point, I would like to add a retail section,” Shiller says. In the immediate future, Lily Bloom’s Kitchen will be making gluten free pumpkin and apple pies for Kowalski’s private label for the holiday season.
How did the gluten free treats taste?
Shiller did send me home with several gluten free products to try: chocolate chip muffin, chocolate chip banana muffin, Chocolate Decadence bread pudding, brownie, vanilla cupcakes and a lemon bar.
When I returned home that day, my gluten-free girl, Emma messaged me that she needed a lunch. So I grabbed some turkey, cheese, crackers, carrots and the chocolate chip muffin and brought it to school. Here’s what I heard back from her via text:
Not surprising. The sliver of Devil’s Food Cake I had at the bakery was so moist and not grainy at all! So we brought the rest of the goodies up to Duluth over the weekend for a taste test with my gluten-free brother and dad (non-gf folks sampled too).
High marks for the brownie, lemon bar and cupcake. My dad really liked the chocolate chip banana muffin, but Emma did not like that as much.
The one that wasn’t quite as much of a hit was the Chocolate Decadence. You have to be ready for a chocolate bread pudding that has raisins in it. But there are many other desserts they had as well that we didn’t try, cookies, cheesecake and a few other muffins.
I give a thumb’s up to Lily Bloom’s Kitchen. A nice addition to the north metro and I am looking forward to a retail store there– eventually!