It's not that hard to make a vegan bagel. And nowadays, it's become easy to find gluten-free bagels. But gluten-free and vegan? Harder than you'd think.
Sweet Note Bakery, based in Manayunk, may be one of the few places anywhere to pull this off.
"Yeah, it's easy to do them vegan," said Michelle MacDonald, the founder and self-styled Head Bagelologist of Sweet Note, "but in the gluten-free world, we're the only one I know of."
For gluten-free bagels, "most use dairy or egg white to replace it," she explained. "We started out with egg but took it out as we noticed more people were looking for the vegan option."
This weekend marks the second anniversary of the company, which MacDonald and staff will celebrate with a tasting event (including "a bagel cake surprise") at the location of Sweet Note's newest Philadelphia partner - Di Bruno Brothers, Rittenhouse (1730 Chestnut St.) on Saturday, July 19, from 10:30 am - 1:00 pm.
The bagels are available in more than a dozen other Philly locations and are shipped to 150 spots in 10 states - not a bad level of expansion in just 2 years. MacDonald credits her staff and a willingness to stick with it: "Passion, persistence and red lipstick made me believe that anything was possible," she said. "I pushed myself to start something I was passionate about."
The business has moved into high gear, with the bagels available online as well as in brick-and-mortar outlets such as Di Bruno Brothers. But if you need a taste of a gluten-free vegan bagel before buying, then head over to the Rittenhouse Square area on Saturday - and get a bonus of meeting MacDonald and some of her passionate partners in gluten-free vegan bageldom.
It's a bonus for her too, MacDonald said. “The most exciting part about our 'baby bagel' turning 2 is the fact that I get to celebrate it with my employees."
Sounds like a delicious time. Pass the vegan cream cheese!