Almond Biscotti and an Ode to North Carolina Weather

IMG_2318 (2)

Winter storm Jonas has come and gone and for those of you who think a state as far south as North Carolina would get off easy, let me enlighten you. Here in the south there is a dreaded winter phenomenon (which requires stockpiles of toilet paper, gluten and milk) known to locals by its scientific name – Wintry Mix.

Situated smack in the center of the eastern seaboard, our state has four seasons (which I refer to as allergy season, hot & humid hell season, autumn and winter) and occasionally an extreme weather situation like a tornado. The coast and outer banks also stick out far enough to make them good target practice for rogue hurricanes that didn’t follow their hypothesized trajectory. Storms against this smattering of islands that jut out into the ocean earned the area its nickname long ago as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Moving from our coast to the beautiful mountains (aka the Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, for example) you will find yourself in the center of the state, also known as the piedmont. The piedmont area and the sand hills of North Carolina include the capital city of Raleigh, famous golf courses and retirement communities, college towns like Chapel Hill, my own industrial-turned-hipster hometown, Durham, a number of pig, corn and tobacco farms, and probably more than a few trailer parks and meth labs less classy than the ones as-seen-on-TV in Breaking Bad. We are a state of great diversity as you can see, and that diversity lends itself to the weather as well. As global warming continues to do very weird things to the outdoor temperatures, snow storms cruise in and cover the suburbs almost as quickly as 70 degree weather comes in to melt it all. And when snow hits the piedmont, our one snowplow just doesn’t quite cut it.

Winter storm Jonas wasn’t nearly as bad in Durham as the meteorologists claimed it would be, and for that we were very fortunate. They predicted up to an inch of ice, which would have been absolutely crippling. Luckily, we only got about 0.2” of ice and almost 2” of sleet in some places. Power outages caused by the ice in other areas of the state accounted for nearly half of the power outages on the east coast thanks to Jonas and while we had electricity, driving on thin ice (haha) simply was not an option for two days (we waited nearly four). So, I did what any normal person would do given the circumstances; drank lots of tea, watched Hallmark movies, and baked.

Being stuck indoors with daily tromps through the snow and ice isn’t nearly as bad as it seems. It happens rarely enough in North Carolina and when it does, for me at least, it is a welcome sort of vacation. The world is silent and covered in white and there is nothing to interrupt your morning coffee or afternoon tea with a perfectly tender and crunchy gluten-free almond biscotti in hand.

I got the second volume of America’s Test Kitchen’s gluten-free cookbook from my father for Christmas and I figured this would be the perfect time to experiment with some of the incredibly thorough and fail-proof recipes. I chose biscotti to start because it seemed a terribly elegant and European cookie to accompany my almost hourly consumption of warm beverages. The biscotti are twice baked; once to cook the dough and twice to crisp the edges just so. Biscotti in general can be a crumbly mess, so it is easy to imagine a gluten-free biscotti being even drier, but this recipe provided the perfect balance and made for a soft center.

IMG_2340 (3)

almond biscotti and cold brew coffee

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. gf flour blend
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. xanthan gum (I omitted this because I add so much xanthan to my flour blend. If you don’t make your own mix, read the ingredients carefully and decide if you will need to add extra xanthan gum)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. slivered almonds (the recipe calls for ¾ c. whole almonds toasted and chopped coarsely, but I find slivered untoasted almonds just as good!)

 

Directions:

  1. Whisk the flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum (if using), and salt together in medium bowl. Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, water, almond and vanilla extracts to the butter and sugar and beat another 2-3 minutes until well-incorporated.
  2. On low speed, add the flour mixture and blend until you get a homogenous mixture. Add the almonds and beat to combine or mix in by hand. Cover the bowl and let sit for 30 minutes on the counter (not in fridge).
  3. Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer all of the dough to the parchment paper and with wet hands form a long rectangular/log shape about 12”. Bake 35 minutes, or until just golden brown and cracked on the edges.
  4. Remove biscotti from the oven to cool for 10 minutes and in that time reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. On a cutting board, slice ½ inch-thick biscottis with a bread knife. Place the cookies flat and space ¼ inch apart on a wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake another 35 minutes, or until the biscotti is crisp and golden on both sides – e sure to flip the cookies over halfway through baking. Let them cool before serving and keep up to 3 weeks.
  6. Make tea/brew coffee and enjoy!

Gluten-Free

Advertisements

Lisbon, Portugal – Part 2

IMG_1091 (2)

Basílica da Estrela

IMG_1012 (2) IMG_0975 (2)

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

IMG_0996 (2)

IMG_0991 (2)

My best friend just sent me a message reminding me of something Ernest Hemingway used to say, “Write drunk, edit sober” and since I am home alone in a pueblo outside of Barcelona, I decided this was more of a command than a simple sharing of literary quotes. So here I am on my little Spanish foam rectangle (I’m really not sure what else to call it – “mattress” is too generous a word) with a small bottle of Jack Daniels and a carton of orange juice. I know it’s no glass of wine (which is how I imagine other people drinking alone) and you may raise your eyebrows in disgust or at least skepticism, but in a weird way it’s a reminder of home. Here in the land of wine, sangria, and gluten-free Estrella Damm Daura, drinking whiskey is almost like a trip to Starbucks, KFC, or the American Embassy (where I’ve also been, but more on that later).

IMG_1085 (2)  IMG_1177 (2)

Basílica da Estrela and a view of the Portuguese flag at Castelo de São Jorge

Needless to say, I don’t drink alone how I think you’re supposed to and I realized on my recent solo trip to Lisbon that I don’t travel alone the way you’re supposed to either. Once I start walking the morning I don’t really stop until I’m ready to pass out at 8pm. Aside from my detailed google docs about local museums, hotspots, historical sites, and restaurants, I also write down street names, directions, opening hours and admission costs of everywhere I want to go in a little notebook that I keep with me at all times. This obsessive planning could be a side-effect of celiac disease though; I always do research on how food is prepared in the country I am visiting, what’s my best bet for gluten-free food, how to pronouce various words related to my dietary needs, and where to find organic groceries (because organic stores usually also mean gluten-free jackpot). Whatever the root of this need to plan my every move in new cities, I always walk fast, with determination, and always, always in the wrong direction.

IMG_1192 (2)

IMG_1416 (2)

Museo Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo

IMG_1131 (2)

View of Lisbon from Castelo de São Jorge

So despite my copious amount of note-taking and preparing I always seem to spend half my time lost on public transportation or down side streets that I can’t locate anywhere on my map. Lisbon was no exception to this rule but I still managed to cover a lot of ground and even made it to a few free concerts and fell in love with Portuguese Fado music. Other than finding a concert during your travels in Lisbon, I would recommend the modern art museums in Lisbon, which were especially good, and the (free!) design museum located in the heart of the city. The tile museum was both a long trek and kind of a let down, while the castle was an uphill battle (literally) but absolutely worth it – even first thing in the morning. The cathedral is worth a quick look but in my opinion (and my Turkish roommate’s opinion as well) not nearly as impressive or awe-inspiring as Lisbon’s many monasteries, churches, and basilicas. As for eating gluten-free in Lisbon, I stuffed my favorite day bag full of Luna bars and prayed for the best but, just as in Spain, it turns out I didn’t have to worry.

IMG_1267 (2)

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

IMG_1296 (2)

Tombs; Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

IMG_1363 (2)

Guess what’s for dinner? Silver display at the Museu Gulbenkian

Aside from copious amounts of cheese, cured meat, and olives available in the Iberian Peninsula, I’ve found that these countries (and much of Europe, really) take cooking and eating very, very seriously – which is both good and bad news for celiacs. It’s bad because they (be “they” French, Italian, Czech, Spanish, Irish, or German) enjoy nothing more than a warm croissant or a crusty, fresh-baked baguette and let me tell you, the smell alone is enough to make even the strongest-willed celiac crack (not that we do… because, you know, the next day would be awful).

The good news however, is that due to this passion for food, every chef, waiter, and barrista I’ve ever encountered has been able to tell me whether or not something I want to order either contains gluten or is prepared in a contaminated area. The “gluten-free diet” may be a foreign concept, but digestive and autoimmune diseases seem, to me at least, to be much more commonly understood than they are in the US. In America, if I say I have celiac disease, I get a blank stare from waiters until I explain I can only eat gluten-free foods. Here, it works the other way around. I spent my first month in Spain last year trying to explain I couldn’t eat gluten to very confused waiters until one of them finally said, “Oh! You mean your celiac?” In that moment I couldn’t help but thinking, man, these are my kind of people.

Between this collective knowledge of celiac disease, my knowledge of Portuguese that consists solely of “sem gluten” (gluten free) and “obrigado” (thank you), and these very helpful celiac dining cards, I never had any problems eating in Portugal. Breakfast can be the trickiest meal to sort out due to aforementioned love of fresh-baked gluten, but yogurt and eggs are always pretty easy to find. At lunch, I usually look for a hearty salad, and for dinner I’ve found that traditional dishes of meat, seafood, potatoes, etc. tend to be safe bets; they can easily be prepared without a gluten-containing sauce, as I’ve experienced many times.

IMG_1398 (2)

Loved the all white of this temporary exhibit in the Museo Nacional de Arte Contemporáneo

IMG_1018 (2)

Torre de Belém

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. I’ve only ever been met with politeness, great service, and good food in my travels and by double checking with waiters and even chefs about your food, you can avoid being ill for the rest of your trip. So go boldly my celiac friends, and travel your little hearts out!

IMG_1229 (2)

My favorite photo from Lisbon – taken somewhere near São Vicente de Fora

The Best Tapas of All

IMG_1298 (2)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

This past weekend I went to Basque Country in Northern Spain with some friends. Famous not only for its mountains, The Northern Way of the Camino, its obscure language and rich history but also for some of the most incredible food in the country, if not the world. Some of the most famous chefs in Spain come from Pais Basco so you can imagine I was jumping up and down at the prospect of heading there.

We stayed in Bilbao and visited the Guggenheim before heading out on a mini tapas crawl I planned with the help of yelp, lonely planet, Rick Steves and Google maps. The first place was a bust, the second had perfectly cooked skewers of meat and the third was an absolute gold mine of deliciousness. The terrace and restaurant were bustling so we settled for standing room at the edge of the bar and chatted in Spanish to one of the servers. We watched wide eyed and drooling as plate after plate passed bye and others came back practically licked clean. The main dishes ranged from 12 euro to 30 but after sampling their 3.50 euro tapas… I can’t even imagine how incredible the big plates are.

Phototastic-2014-11-24-14-06-08my best friends and the best tapas

First we ordered wine and beer for the three of us, followed by patatas bravas, tapa txipi encebollada, tapa mozzarella, and tapa huevo + foie gras. We honestly had no idea what we were about to get but the bread was served on the side and the potatoes fried separately so it was safe for this happy little celiac.

IMG_1517 (2)

tapa mozzarella

The patatas bravas – a staple all over Spain – were the best we’ve ever had and the swooning started immediately. Then we dove into the txipi encebollada (calamari? scuttle fish? octopus? The verdict is still out…) with caramelized onions and collectively let out an audible gasp – it was that good. The tapa mozzarella turned out to be fresh mozza in a pool of pesto with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and salad on top. Incredible. And last but not least was the most interesting and sweetest of the tapa trio, the potato puree with egg, foie gras and mushrooms. Served in a tiny pan yet rich enough for me and my two best friends to get our share of, it was, if not my favorite, an experience on its own.

IMG_1514 (2)

tapa huevo + foie gras

We raved so much about these glorious tapas that we took our other friend back the next night (she missed our crawl due to homework and a headache) and ordered almost all the same things with the edition of some mystery tapas. One was pork neck and was so tender and juicy and served with asparagus that we all had to order our own instead of share. The other meat tapa remains an enigma but was one of my favorites. A small portion of meat with gravy served on potato puree, it was like eating Christmas dinner made by one of the best chefs in Spain.

IMG_1511 (2)

pork neck!

Dessert was chocolate mousse that may (or may not?) have contained a gluten-filled wafer cookie in the bottom. While it was fantastic (of course) I’d recommend my fellow celiac’s steer clear of that specific dessert. We finally left after oohing and aahing all over again right at closing time, thanking our same waiter friend from the night before and basically dancing out onto the street. 
IMG_1521 (2)

happy celiac in Spain chowing down on tapas and red wine

If you ever, ever find yourself in Bilbao, I am telling you La Vina del Ensanche is a life-changing meal.

Gluten Free in Prague? Czech.

Of all my mini-trips during this fall semester in Spain, going to Prague was the one that had me most worried food-wise. What do they eat there? And does anyone really understand that tricky language? Who knows. But I can tell you they eat like every day is a mid-winter holiday and it is amazing and dense and rich and gluten-filled.

Imagine my surprise then when an entire weekend went by without so much as a stomachache or dizzy spell from accidental gluten consumption. In fact, I would say I managed to eat better there than almost anywhere else and I owe a large part of that success to having printed out one of these bad boys to help with the language barrier. I’ve never used a gluten free dining card before and it truly saved my life. At restaurants I would simply present it to the waitress and when I went to order they would help me find something gluten free on the menu AND free from cross-contamination. I ate myself into a blissful, gluten-free, food coma.

I didn’t just eat there though. My friends and I found an underground cave/bunker bar, visited Terezin (one of the largest ghettos from WW2), walked to Prague Castle and Cathedral, crossed the Charles Bridge, visited the Lennon Wall, aaand ate some more. I snacked on chips as per usual but also found a nice gluten-free section at Tesco near the main square of Prague. For breakfast I packed and then bought certified gluten free oats because that is the best breakfast in frigid Prague. (Okay, it wasn’t that cold, but we were coming from Barcelona!!)

IMG_9131 (2)astronomical clock in Old Town Square

Our first night in Prague we went to a restaurant suggested by my friend who is studying there and its a good thing we showed up early (at 6:00pm) because by the time we left, and even the next evening when we walked by, the whole place was packed and there were lines out the door. U Medvidku is a hotel and restaurant with a brewery and outstanding food. I ordered and devoured grilled pork tails with garlic sauce, devil sauce (not spicy but maybe people in Prague think it is?), and a side of cabbage.

IMG_9116 (2)grilled pork tails with all the fixin’s

That gorgeous meal (horrible photo taken in a dark dining room) left me with a great first impression of Prague’s food that would last all throughout the weekend. The next morning, we were off on our walking tour guided by my old roommate and took in all the sights while huddling together for warmth. Our breakfast/brunch stop was at MLS Bistro on the hill up to Prague Castle. I had a deliciously gluten free goat cheese omelette with a salad and coffee for under $9. In fact, we loved it so much we back for brunch the next day to say goodbye to my friends before our plane left. On this occasion I inhaled a buckwheat crepe stuffed with basil pesto, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes followed by a glass of hot wine – my absolute favorite new drink. Its like sangria and Christmas got together and reproduced, giving birth to this heavenly drink.

IMG_9291 (2)even the bad lighting in this photo can’t keep me from swooning…. – MLS Bistro

Now I know being gluten-free is hard enough without having to hear about everyone elses delicious desserts, but I have to mention the trdlenik’s in Prague. What are they? Dough that’s been cooked into a large, hollow cylinder and then filled with chocolate, cinnamon, walnuts, or jam. They were all over Prague and even though none of the people I know can pronounce their name (Turtleneck? Tradelink?) they all agreed MLS Bistro makes a damn good dough shell thingy.

IMG_9290 (2)Trdlenik – NOT GLUTEN FREE – caution!!! (unless you’re normal, in which case enjoy)

IMG_9245 (2)$2 for happiness in a convenient takeaway cup

Last but not least but certainly not least was our smorgasbord dinner at Restaurant Mlejnice. There are two locations not to far from each other so while one was full, the nice waiters called ahead to the other to make sure we could be seated there. What they didn’t know is we would need to be rolled out of our seats after that meal.

For starters, my roommate from Spain and I split a warm brie wheel (small) with cranberry sauce. Although it came with a side of bread my roommate is super careful and separated all the cheese before touching her bread at all. It was so delicious I almost didn’t want my starter. But then…. my main course arrived and it was incredible. Pork tenderloin on a skewer with vegetables and red pepper sausage that the waitress helped me pick out due to its gluten-free-safe-ness. The pork was incredible, the vegetables fantastic and the sausage… yum! My side of potatoes was underwhelming and my friends side of grilled veg tasted way worse which was weird considering how good mine was but overall everyone was satisfied. We all had beers (my friends) and hot wine (me, duh) and enjoyed a leisurely, filling dinner together.

IMG_9264 (2)my very weirdly saturated photo of a phenomenal meal

After this feast we were hungry again somehow though and moved on the Cafe Louvre for a hot raspberry sundae dessert. Oh Prague, how I miss your food!

IreLAND of Celiacs

Ireland may put the grey in great but they sure do know how to show a Celiac a good time! A  few weeks ago I returned to the motherland (I’m actually so pale a drunk Irish man trying to flirt with my cute American friend just looked at me and went “You’re definitely Irish”… so that answers that I guess) and home to a BUNCH of fellow gluten intolerant Celiac disease-having pale people. Needless to say I was in heaven.

IMG_8244 (2)walking along the cliffs of Howth outside Dublin

The very first thing I did after a my short, uneventful flight was head straight for the Old Jameson Distillery. Now if you know anything about liquor or gluten free diets you may be thinking I shouldn’t be drinking whiskey at all. And while it’s true that there is still some debate and even a handful of myths surrounding which alcohols are and are not safe for Celiacs to consume (definitely NOT beer, of course) it is widely accepted that the gluten used to produce whiskeys, bourbons, etc., is removed during the distillation process – unlike beer and other malted beverages.

The tour for students was 10 euro and very much worth every cent. The Guinness Storehouse costs almost twice as much, it’s self-guided, and if you can’t drink beer anyway it’s not worth it. At the end of the Jameson tour you are given a free drink (a generous glass of the famous drink or a mixed drink with ginger ale, Jameson, and lime) and left to your own devices in the bar. Also well worth the extra money is the Jameson dark chocolate bars sold in the giftshop. Holy gluten free Irish whiskey mecca.

Next stop for anyone visiting Ireland is – of course – fish and chips. Normally gluten intolerance and a craving for this incredibly fresh and delicious meal would mean you’re up the creek without a paddle but there’s such a high demand for gluten free foods in Ireland that Beshoff’s Fish and Chips serves up tasty gluten free options. Tell them you want it gfree and it is prepared in a separate batter (rice flour, spices, etc.) and fried in different oil. Yay! No gluten and no cross-contamination – every girls dream, right? Just beware that the traditional condiment for this dish is MALT vinegar. No, you can’t eat it. Tell the waiter and they’ll grab a gluten-free white vinegar just for you… But if you’re anything like me by the time they make it back to your table you are neck deep in tartar sauce and happy as a clam.

IMG_8219 (2)drooling over Beshoff’s gluten-free battered cod with chips

Another treat I enjoyed immensely was the buckwheat crepes (prepared on a separate crepe making plate thingy) at Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co. in Dublin. First time we went I got a chicken tikka masala and tomato stuffed buckwheat crepe – omg it was increeedible. A little pricier than your average European crepe stand at 6 euro a pop (at least) but well worth the visit for any Celiac – or anyone period. Visited again the next night for dessert with my friend and she got a sweet buckwheat crepe too so we could share our treats. Banana and chocolate? Heavenly. Strawberries and liquor? Perfect. Just what the doctor (gastroenterologist, to be exact) ordered.

IMG_8337 (2)my cutie cute roommate enjoying our dessert spread

IMG_8279 (2)me, attempting to eat my entire chicken tikka crepe in one bite….

Be sure to stop by Antoinette’s Bakery filled with ONLY gluten-free goodies. It’s a little out of the way but if you’re headed towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral or up to Dublin Castle it can’t be missed. I got the chocolate peanut butter brownie and it was so good I thought I was eating gluten. Don’t you love when that happens?!

IMG_8281 (2)outside Antoinette’s Bakery…. Gotta love a good cookie joke

Last but certainly not least – my favorite place in all of Dublin. Little Ass Burritos. In four short days we ate there a total of three times and each time was just as delicious as the one before it. I would get a box with beans, grilled seasoned chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, rice, cheese, salsa, crema, and a hint of chipotle for less than six euro with my Spanish student ID card. At first it didn’t look like enough food but I was so full I practically had to be rolled to the bar after. In fact, we usually opted for coffee after at Bean Hive just up the street. Order the London Fog and prepare to be amazed by what they can do with Earl Gray tea.

IMG_8334 (2)My favorite meal – the Cinco de Fryo box at Little Ass Burritos with extra pico de gallo & chipotle salsa!

No matter what your dietary needs, I highly recommend traveling in Ireland. Sure it’s cold and kinda dismal sometimes but the people are friendly, the alcohol is flowing, the food is comforting, the landscape stunning, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a leprechaun (which we did by the way. Tourist stunt? Definitely. Hilarious? YES.) Happy gluten free trails!

 

I’ll Have the Salad

A few weeks ago I went to Porto, Portugal with some friends and had an absolutely amazing time. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ve included a stunning photo below to make you jealous and immediately grab a pen and scribble it down on your bucket list. In the north of Portugal and situated on the Douro River, Porto (or Oporto if we’re using the correct Portuguese word) is a gorgeous, walkable city full of friendly people and close to some amazing hiking. Also home to the best Port wines in the world – which are totally gluten free.

Sunset over the Douro

Sunset over the Douro

As far as eating gluten free in Portugal goes though, I struggled a bit. For breakfast most mornings we ventured to local Cafe Java for omelettes “sense gluten” for me. Otherwise the damn thing would show up on a baguette – rendering it inedible for us poor Celiacs. Eggs are a great start to the day when you’re walking as much as we did though so this little place did perfectly for us.

Lunch I honestly don’t remember. I know I gorged on snacks and desserts one day and had a salad the next because a nice sit down, breadless, affordable lunch was difficult for me to find. There’s always the sandwiches and fried foods and french fries (boy do Europeans love their fries!) to make your mouth water but otherwise…. you might have a hard time. If you’re not as addicted to sugar as I am though and want real food cooked potatoes and grilled or baked fish shouldn’t be too hard to find. The Portuguese (like the rest of the world, really) love their gluten so while it will be tricky, just be smart.

Molotov Flan - worlds least photogenic cake

Molotov Flan – worlds least photogenic cake

If it is sweets you’re after however they make a Molotov Flan that is essentially a soft, caramelized meringue that loses its form as soon as it is cooked. These aren’t hard to find in bakeries – and when your friends are swallowing croissants whole you will need something to make you feel better – but one slice is full of enough sugar to keep you wide eyed all weekend.

Another thing I found in Portugal that I loved is this weird dessert that I can’t for the life of me figure out on the internet. Sold with macaroons it’s basically a little flavored sticky ball of heaven. I got maracuja (passion fruit) and a port wine flavored macaroon, pictured below. Let’s just say this might have been my breakfast one morning and it might have been the best breakfast ever.

Mystery confection & a macaroon

Mystery confection & a macaroon

When I was in Porto I stayed in an airbnb rental with some really nice Portuguese  guys and one of my friends. One of my favorite parts about using airbnb is that staying with locals means you get the best recommendations on where to go, what to eat and drink, and the best day trips. Our hosts did not fail to deliver and pointed us in the direction of some amazing and unique finds – including my favorite restaurant A Sandeira. This tiny restaurant is owned and run by the most incredibly sweet lady ever who helped my friend (who had a nasty cold) learn how to ask for medicine in Portuguese. Aside from that the ingredients are so ridiculously fresh that they run out and go buy more depending on what you order.

Needless to say, my friends and I were obsessed. Starters for just 2,5 euro and salads and sandwiches (NOT gluten free) for 5,00 euro. I ordered the salad with jamon, the freshest mozzarella I’ve ever had and tomato. I couldn’t have the house dressing so I asked for it with oil and vinegar. I don’t know how but this simple salad is the one of the best things I’ve ever had and weeks later I’m still craving it. Throw in some 6,00 euro wine, mango mousse for dessert and great friends and you have got yourself the best meal in Porto for less than 15,00 euro. On top of that, my gluten eating friends absolutely loved their sandwiches and everything else A Sandeira had to offer. The quality of this photo may be bad, but the food and people were the best.

A Sandeira's heavenly salads

A Sandeira’s heavenly salads

Barcelona Prep: Where and What Celiacs Eat (part 2)

I told you in my last post that the internet is my best friend, and while googling “Barcelona gluten free” throughout the past month or so I have come upon some real gems. Nothing is official in the sense that it came from Spain or Barcelona’s tourism department (unless you count a few yelp reviews… which I don’t) but the blogs I have found with just one or multiple posts related to eating gluten free while traveling or living in Barcelona have prepared me enough for my arrival that I no longer fear starving to death in the first week or imploding from gluten exposure. 

First I’d like to share a few of my favorite resources with you that I found extremely helpful, then below I will include a list of restaurants and grocery stores I plan on visiting as soon as the plane wheels hit that Spanish ground. 

1. Spain Gluten Free: I really like this blog even though it is focused on Spain rather than just Barcelona. In fact, there is little to no information about Barcelona aside from a very helpful list of gluten-free bakeries all over Spain (yay!) and a few other helpful lists. But the travel guide/travel research help and list of resources is very useful for those traveling to Spain on a gluten-free diet. You can search this site by city to find gluten-free meals wherever you are visiting! Here I come Madrid!

2. Guiri Girl in Barca: This one post is loaded with great information – namely the best gluten-free brunch, sandwiches, tapas, pizza, and grocery stores in Barcelona. Perfect!

3. Gluten Free Boston Girl: This link takes you directly to the archives and entire “Barcelona” category. At first, I saw only one post and it was so thorough that I was excited to go all the places mentioned. Then I discovered even MORE posts about what seems like a very gluten-free Barcelona. Tons of great recommendations and even a few trips further outside the city are covered. 

4. Gluten Free BCN: I haven’t even arrived in Barca and this site has already saved my life. This blog is dedicated to everything gluten free in Barcelona and will just rock you celiac socks right off. Post after post reviews places to eat, shop and more around the city.  I will be keeping up with this blog religiously and sampling many of the places mentioned!

5. Yelp: Okay so it’s not the most comprehensive or detailed, but at a glance yelp can help you find a safe place to eat that’s already been reviewed by others and provide all the necessary information to get you there. Phew!

Okay! Now on to the list I have been cultivating for myself with help from the resources listed above as well as a few others. As I visit them (I’ll be there in just eleven days – ah!) I will try to write regular posts and talk about what I’ve been doing (aka, eating) out and about in the city and beyond. 

  • Copasetic I’ve read about on multiple sites and it has been described as the best gluten-free brunch around. And what’s more, it’s a mere ten minute walk from where I’ll be staying. First stop in Barcelona? Probably.
  • Conesa is sounding kinda like gluten free sandwich and panini heaven to me for a tiny fraction of the cost of what one would pay in the states. The bread tastes real according to reviewers too…. which is something less widely available in the US, as much as it pains me to say it. With two locations in Barcelona and one located near my campus, I can’t wait to get my hands on those gluten free buns (haha).
  • Syngluten is a bakery also located conveniently near my future residence and just the website alone is making me drool from across the pond. When every bread and sweet my heart could dream of is followed by “sin gluten” I’m sure I will become a fixture here.
  • Gelatomania I may not be able to have my cake but you better your bottom dollar I will eat my gelato. Also located so near my residence it makes me swoon just to think of, this popular gelato shop will get lots of euros from my grubby little foreign hands. I can’t wait.
  • El Corte Ingles I’ve been told by multiple people that this is the department store/superstore/grocery store to frequent for amazing and edible gluten-free deals while in Barcelona. You don’t have to tell me twice!
  • La Boqueria is Barcelona world famous market full of fresh foods like fruit, meat, veg, etc. I will be wandering through it as much as possible and buying up all kinds of fresh produce to snack on when my granola bar supply runs out. Or maybe just instead of granola bars. Good thinking. 

That’s all for now! I’ve got to get there and do some of my own exploring before I get a longer, more detailed list going. Stick with me and I’ll include actual pictures of the deliciousness I’ll be feasting on in Barca. You’re welcome in advance!