By Maria Kalaitzandonakes
MIDLETON, Ireland — Tucked in between icy fish stalls and heaping piles of fresh veg in the Midleton Farmers Market, Michelle’s Bakery sticks out. It’s an eclectic mash up of signs, desserts and doilies. Delicious chaos. There’s a huge chalkboard sign that hangs precariously behind the table, showing off the handwritten names and prices of the sweets. Little perfectly baked pies and tarts sit in rows and stacks, beckoning. A sign on the left proclaims, “Carpe the hell out of the diem.”
“A gluten free welcome to ya,” owner, Michelle Mansuy said.
Mansuy has run this stall for four years and has only been baking for eight. She was self-taught, explaining, “I learned how to cook how I learned how to knit. At first it is complicated, but then you begin practicing and now I simply love knitting orange jumpers.”
A witch themed wind chime blows in agreement, and a regular customer comes up to request a gluten free strawberry and cream cake for her mother’s birthday.
“Of course dear,” Mansuy agrees. “Now, you know where I live right? Come and pick it up Thursday afternoon.”
Mansuy makes treats for those who suffer gluten intolerance or those who prefer to avoid it. Coeliac Society of Ireland estimates that one in 100 people in Ireland are coeliac, and a further 7 percent of the population claim gluten sensitivity. Mansuy said she hope her stall can break stereotypes of gluten free foods.
“People say gluten free cannot be delicious, but the proof is the in the pudding,” she laughed.
Mansuy is the perfect pastry shop owner. She has dark hair, a gorgeous French accent and an obsession with the band Pink Martini. She bakes early in the morning with the band cranked to full blast. And she is always smiling.
“Days are only gray if you allow them to be,” she said. “Especially if you eat dessert.”
Every bite I took was delicious. The oat bars were tender and fruity. Her chocolate tarts were creamy and mellow. The fruit tarts were to die for.
Mansuy’s secret ingredient must be joy.