The posts ever so subtly draw you in with photos akin to food porn. They’re that gorgeous. But then you read the fine print and words like ‘gluten free’, ‘vegan’ and ‘dairy free’ catch your eye and inwardly you groan. Missing all the good ingredients, there’s no way it can be tasty, right?
Jackie Buckingham has a bachelor’s in nutrition science and it’s been her thing for about a decade. Unable to have gluten herself for the past seven years, and creating foods her husband and daughter can enjoy after the discovery of a medical condition, she’s fine-tuned the art of delicious.
Opening the doors to the “Flagler Tea Company” in 2018, the tea room and bakery is located next door to the Gallery of Local Art in Flagler Beach. The kitchen wizard says she really kicked into gear during COVID, spending time honing her baking skills and developing recipes that cater to those with particular dietary needs.
“We’re a dedicated gluten free bakery. We do not have any gluten inside our shop,” she said. “We’re also a dedicated peanut, tree nut, soy and seafood-free facility as far as the kitchen goes. We also have vegan for those who have a vegan lifestyle or they’re allergic to eggs.”
“A lot of people cannot believe when they taste our items that there is something missing out of there. We have a lot of options that are dairy-free because our daughter is lactose intolerant, and there really was no place when we go out for dinner or a treat that we can get something and not have to worry about it,” explained Buckingham.
“So people can just come here and pick anything from the menu and they get so excited. Seeing that on their faces, especially the kids who see their brothers and sisters getting a treat from somewhere and they’re just sitting there because they can’t have anything because of an allergy or an intolerance, they’re able to come here.”
By no means are her baked goods off limits to others who enjoy a healthy sweet treat (now there’s an oxymoron …) and after having lunch with a friend who’d recently had to eliminate gluten from her menu, I started paying attention to the options.
On Friday Jackie posted a beautiful photo of her carrot cake – full disclosure, carrot cake has never been a dessert I would order, it just looked too good to pass up. Picking it up just 10 minutes before closing, it was divine. So good, in fact, I messaged her the next day to save another slice and learned someone else had called ahead to purchase all of the remaining 8 slices.
This is the kind of reputation Jackie has established as a baker of specialty items, and she’s attracting customers from near and far.
“Now that it’s getting out there that we’re a dedicated gluten-free facility people are traveling from Gainesville, Ocala, St. Pete and we just had somebody else from Georgia,” she said. “We’re trying to hit the level for everybody.”
While COVID rages, customers can’t come inside the shop. But a menu on display offers up an idea of the hot and cold teas and wholesome baked goods available, and the spacious, comfortably furnished front porch offers up a place to relax and enjoy.
Locally sourced and sustainable items help build the healthy recipes, and Jackie shares she has a red velvet layer cake recipe in the works for the upcoming holidays.
“Fall flavors we have right now are pumpkin and we’re working on some apple items. We do an apple danish and we’ve been asked for a caramel apple, so we’re working on a dairy-free caramel sauce,” she said. “The carrot cake is one of our staples but it does go pretty quick.”
Fresh-from-the-oven is posted on social media and even sometimes includes an ETA on when it will be ready, for her most eager customers.
To find out more visit Flagler Tea Company at 208b S. Central Ave in Flagler Beach. Open 12-6 p.m. Thursday to Monday. To preorder or for special requests, visit their website Flagler Tea Company.