Ten years ago, few people other than nutritionists even knew what gluten was. Now it’s gluten-free this and gluten-free that, and, frankly, we didn’t even know we were enslaved. Every other day a new bakery sends us some brownies that look normal but taste like the Serengeti. The lone exception is Rose’s WheatFree Bakery & Café, whose offerings may be gluten-free, peanut-free, casein-free, corn-syrup-free, and trans-fat-free, but they obligingly leave in the most important element: flavor. Rosemarie O’Carroll’s apple pie is every bit as good as your mom’s, and her cakes are a godsend to parents forced to bring safe treats to school birthday parties. They ought to be: Her kids are allergic to gluten, and so is she. “We knew there was a market for this café,” she says. “I was baking all the time anyway.” 2901 Central St., Evanston; 847-859-2723.
Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa; Food Styling: Christina Zerkis