Europe, Spain

Guest Post: Gluten-Free Travel in Spain

Maria Roglieri, PhD. has written for Gluten-Free Globetrotter before when she shared her tips for traveling gluten-free. Today’s guest post is about gluten-free travel in Spain which coincides with the launch of her newest book, The Gluten-Free Guide to Spain.

Palacio Real in Madrid (S. Amatangelo)
Palacio Real in Madrid (S. Amatangelo)

GLUTEN-FREE IN SPAIN

Hello everyone, my name is Maria.  I live in New York, and I travel a lot for work and pleasure to lovely European cities like London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid!  We all know that traveling in Europe is great fun but can be somewhat stressful for us as celiacs. We always need to be careful about what we eat, and we need to be able to ask particular questions of restaurant staff in foreign languages.  Luckily, as a professor of Romance Languages, I can maneuver my way around restaurants in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan.

I recently went to Spain to visit good friends who were living in Madrid and Barcelona and to do research for my latest book, The Gluten-Free Guide to Spain. My friends had started looking for gluten-free restaurants for me even before I arrived, and had a list of places ready for me. We had a great time going to these places and exploring the gluten-free scene in Spain.

I loved my trip to Spain because of the museums, the beautiful landscape and sea, the friendship, and especially the gluten-free food! If you haven’t visited Spain  you must go!  Fall is a great time to go, and the airfares are lower than in summer. The crowds are smaller and the weather is mild. Some of the best museums in the world are in Madrid (the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia) and Barcelona ( Museu Nacional D’ Art De Catalunya ). You could spend days and days in these museums enjoying their treasures, but you must also checkout the amazing Sacra Famiglia of Gaudi, as well as the beautiful thirteenth-century Gothic cathedral, La Seu, both in Barcelona.

If you are a musician like me, you will love Barcelona’s Palau de la Musica! Its beauty is unforgettable and entirely different from the Paris Opera House or Milan’s La Scala.

You can also enjoy a walk through Madrid to see the gorgeous Royal Palace, the beautiful Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro), and the sixteenth-century Puerta del Sol (Sun’s Gate) which marks the center of Spain. Or you can catch a flamenco dance performance at the Corral de la Moreria. Inside of Palau de la Musica in Barcelona

There are plenty of things to do and to see in Spain. And the good news is that at every turn I found establishments that were actively catering to the gluten-free community! Thanks to the efforts of the many Spanish celiac societies and the restauranteurs themselves, there are thousands of restaurants all over Spain that will be happy to serve you a delicious gluten-free meal! Here are a few places you will enjoy when you go:

IN MADRID:

The hotels Radisson Blu Madrid Prado (Calle Moratín 52, www.radissonblu.com/pradohotel-madrid), and The Westin Palace (Plaza de las Cortes, 7, www.starwoodhotels.com) have a special celiac menu.

 El Pescador is a great seafood restaurant on Calle Jose Ortega y Gasset 75 (tel.914021290, www.masqueriaelpescador.com). They have many GF options and they speak English. You should make a reservation as this is a very popular restaurant.

El Espejo is a nice outdoor café and indoor restaurant with an international cuisine. In Centro, it is on Paseo de Recoletos 31 (tel. 913082347, www.restauranteelespejo.com). The ambience is very pleasant and the staff is very accommodating.

Da Nicola Gran Via is an Italian restaurant that has a GF menu and is in Centro at Plaza Mostenses, 11 (Gran Via) (www.danicola.es , tel. 915422574). These guys are serious about gluten-free with delicious fish, meat, pasta, pizza and desserts.

IN BARCELONA:

The hotel Apolo (Avinguda del Parallel, 57-59, tel. 8887418931, www.solmelia.com) has a special celiac menu.

Ca L’Isidre is a Catalan restaurant on Les Flors 12 (www.calisdre.com, tel. 934411139).  They even have gluten-free bread and they speak English.

Go for delicious tapas to Quimet-Quimet on Poeta Cabanyes 25, Poblo Sec in El Raval (tel. 934423142). Don’t forget to enjoy a nice gluten-free Spanish beer while you’re at it! (Try Estrella’s Daura brand). Editor Note: Daura is a “gluten removed” beer and might not be suitable for all gluten-free drinkers. 

Finally, the Mediterranean Restaurant La Luna on Carrero Sant Bonaventura (tel. 933424479, www.lallunarestaurant.com) has a special menu for celiacs since they work with the Spanish celiac society.

Enjoy your trip to Spain, and stay as long as you possibly can! The people, the landscape, the culture and the gluten-free food are wonderful!

¡BUEN PROVECHO

Part of Gaudi's Sacra Familia in Barcelona
Part of Gaudi’s Sacra Familia in Barcelona

About Maria of The Gluten-Free Guides:
Maria is a professor of Romance Languages at St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York. She is a celiac and author/editor of the series, The Gluten-Free Guides (see www.theglutenfreeguides.com). The series currently includes: The Gluten-Free Guide to Spain, The Gluten-Free Guide to Italy, The Gluten-Free Guide to France, The Gluten-Free Guide to New York, and The Gluten-Free Guide to Washington, D.C. She lectures regularly and writes for magazines and blogs worldwide on gluten-free living and travel. She also coaches newly-diagnosed celiacs. She is a member of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, The Celiac Sprue Association USA, and the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group.

South America

Guest Post: Dining in South America (Part 3)

Kathleen shared her amazing South American travels with us in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. In this final section, I share with you the communications Kathleen sends out prior to her travels. You will see from the letter that Kathleen’s restrictions go beyond avoiding gluten and she is thorough in her explanation. I also include where Kathleen had both good and bad gluten-free meals during her travels. 

This is the basis of my communication when traveling where I am not familiar with those that prepare my food. Blanks and information can be filled in or deleted to suit your needs.

My husband and I are travelling with ABC Tour Ref: ——–
Tour Name: ———
We arrive in your hotel: ——–
Booking Ref: ——-

I have an illness called Coeliac (celiac) and must adhere to a strict GLUTEN FREE diet.  I may become very ill if I eat foods containing flour or grains of Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, malt or foods derived from anything made with or cross-contaminated with these ingredients.

Safe (or healthy) foods include, but are not limited to, potatoes, beans, rice, quinoa, maize, amaranth, almost all vegetables and fruits, as long as they are not blended with Wheat, Rye, Barley Oats or products derived from them.  I must avoid acid foods such as Tomato, all Citrus Fruits, Peppermint, garlic, onions, caffeine, fried foods.

I am lactose intolerant and, with these conditions in mind, I try to adhere to a vegetarian, low cholesterol, low fat diet.

We will be guests in your hotel on the above dates.  We appreciate you having some foods available which I can eat.  More often it is the cross-contamination or preparation method (not avoiding wheat, rye, barley, oats, malt or their derivatives) rather than the menu which offers conflict.

A suitable selection at breakfast for example: gluten-free grain or bread such as a cereal and bread, soy milk, fruit.  At Dinner: gluten-free bread, a potato, quinoa or rice dish, a variety of any (safely) grilled, pan-seared or lightly steamed vegetables with the exceptions of onions, tomatoes, garlic, with herbs if possible.  Beans.  No butter.  I have never met a vegetable I don’t like.  A soy/tofu, vegetables or bean dish is a perfect main course.  Many salads, soups and desserts can be made safely for me before any wheat ingredients or seasonings are added.

I can manage some dairy prepared in foods I consume, like milk, cheese but the harder, the better. No added salt, please. We hope our advance notice helps you.

Thank you so very much for your efforts to accommodate my illness. Please reply to this email so we know we’ve reached you.

Thank you,

As you will see, Kathleen is thorough with her dietary requests yet polite. A little kindness goes a long way! 


Here are some of the places Kathleen ate while in South America. To read Kathleen’s full reviews, please visit the GlutenFreeTravelSite.

El Viejo Almacen
Balcarce 799 C1064AAO, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentina
Phone: +54 11 4307-7388 // 6698
Website: http://www.viejo-almacen.com.ar/ing/tangueria.html
Contact: info@viejoalmacen.com.ar

Sheraton Libertador Hotel
Av. Cordoba 690, Capital Federal, CP 1054, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: 54.11.4321.0000
Website: http://sheraton.com/libertador
Contact: Enrique Ercigoj, Assistant Food & Beverage

Porto Canoas, Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls National Park
Iguassu Falls, Parana state, Brazil
Website: http://tinyurl.com/6ns6kwj
Contact: Head chef Geraldo Alves de Souza

Read all of Kathleen’s reviews here. 

USA

Guest Post: Gluten-Free in Palm Springs

In 2007, I took a trip to Southern California. I had planned a few days in beautiful La Jolla followed by a trip out to the desert to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. Unfortunately, there were devastating wild fires that changed my itinerary. Since San Diego County was declared a state of emergency, I couldn’t leave La Jolla. I extended my hotel reservation, got myself a face mask for the ashy days, and sadly missed my first California desert experience. 

Recently, I “met” Jen of GFPalmSprings on Twitter. From Jen’s informative Tweets, I assumed she was a blogger so I asked her to write a guest post about being gluten-free in Palm Springs since I didn’t get to experience her city myself. Turns out Jen is not a blogger, but she was up for the challenge. I am excited to share her awesome write-up about her city. I love Jen’s approach to gluten-free eating and exploring. She does not let Celiac stop her, which is a theme on this Gluten-Free Globetrotter website. Thanks Jen for your contribution. I hope to meet you in Palm Springs one day! 

Gluten-Free in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs Sunset

My name is Jen, and I’m a year-round resident of Palm Springs, California. I have celiac disease, which means I have to be very careful about eating out, but I refuse to let my diagnosis keep me from enjoying the world-class dining that Palm Springs has to offer. I also eat at dives, bars, and less-classy places, so I have a lot to share about living gluten-free in this particular oasis.

Palm Springs is a unique resort community that attracts visitors from around the globe. Whether your vibe is casual or elegant, you can find world-class dining without batting an eyelash. I try a new restaurant about once a week, which is hard, because it’s very easy to fall into a routine of your favorites when the menus are so good. I won’t go into the finer points of ordering a celiac safe menu, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of common sense: If you get a blank stare, get out of there!

If you haven’t visited Palm Springs, I can’t recommend it highly enough. “The season” begins when the weather gets cold everywhere else, so winter is hopping here. There is something deeply satisfactory about strolling down Palm Canyon wearing shorts, when you know your family is shoveling snow. Summers are slower, and some restaurants and stores restrict hours or even close in late July and August, so if you visit in the summer it’s a good idea to call ahead.This happens less frequently than it used to because Palm Springs and other desert communities have done a great job bringing tourism in all year round, but double-check if you have your heart set on a particular place.

Global exposure does good things for local cuisine, and Palm Springs has a wide variety of tastes to appeal to every palette. Of course, some cuisines are more naturally gluten free than others, and I have had really good luck at the Mexican and Spanish restaurants. At Casa De Frida (www.casadefrida.com) they make their own corn tortillas and you have to specially request flour — what a fun change! The tapas menu at Alicante (alicanteps.com) is clearly labeled with gluten free items and the sangria is delightful on a hot afternoon.

The following are just a few places that I recommend for safety, food quality, and general ambience:

A Palm Springs highlight, Trio (www.triopalmsprings.com) is known for exceptional food and desserts. Their menu is very clearly marked, and the first time I went in, I almost fell over when I counted fully eleven gluten free items, many of which were naturally gluten free and very high quality ingredients. The wait staff is knowledgable and will always double check with the chef. The lamb shank is to die for and it comes with gravy — a rarity for the celiac diner!

Bill’s Pizza (www.billspizzapalmsprings.com) makes the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s fresh and prepared safely, and they have a small beer and wine list. The menu is very unique and the staff is truly delightful. Bill’s is always packed, so order ahead if you’re starving.

The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge (www.thetropicale.com) is true Palm Springs. The decor is swanky and chic, with enough nod to the 50s and 60s to feel nostalgic. The menu in the restaurant is very elegant, and the taro chips are a must try. The patio is a great place for a light dinner, appetizer plate, and a drink or two. Another nod to a staff that really gets it, they’re very careful with my orders and make suggestions for modifying the standard fare.

Escena Lounge and Grill (www.escenagolf.com) gets an honorable mention for the extensive wine list and the best view in the valley. The gluten free selection of food is not great — mostly salads — but I go often for a glass of wine at sunset. It’s too pretty to stay away!

workshop

One more honorable mention to Workshop Kitchen + Bar (www.workshoppalmsprings.com) for their unique, fresh, delicious cocktails. I’ve never eaten there, but it’s a frequent last stop for a nightcap on the way home. Try the Matador #2 for a spicy kick or the Town & Desert, a delicious take on a sour.

There are many more delightful little hideaways in the desert that I’d love to share with you all. If you can brave the summer temperatures, Palm Springs Restaurant Week (www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com) is a great time to visit — price fixe menus are available at over 100 restaurants and they pull out all the stops. But any time of year is great here in the desert, and I hope you plan a trip knowing you can eat delicious and safely-prepared gluten-free meals!

About Jen of GF Palm Springs:
Jen is a lifetime resident of Souther California, currently living in the resort town of Palm Springs with her husband and two Australian Shepherds. A celiac diagnosis mandated a new relationship with food, and she tweets about living the good life, gluten-free. You can find Jen on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GFPalmSprings

 
Central America, El Salvador

Guest Post: Gluten-Free Travel in El Salvador

I am thrilled to share today’s guest post with my readers. Today’s post comes from Candice of Embrace G-Free. I randomly “met” Candice through a giveaway on my Gluten-Free Fun blog a few years ago. We kept in touch after her win, finally met in person after many emails and Tweets, and she soon started her own blog: Embrace G-Free. Candice is a strong and encouraging young woman who recently took her first gluten-free trip outside of the United States. In her guest post, Candice shares her stores of a service trip to El Salvador.  I am so proud of Candice for overcoming her fears of gluten-free travel and thrilled that she shared her story with us today. I highly encourage you to follow Candice’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Her posts are very honest, emotional, and inspiring. Thank you Candice for today’s post! 

Embrace G-Free in El Salvador

 1st Day in El Salvador - Hiking at La Puerta del Diablo
1st Day in El Salvador – Hiking at La Puerta del Diablo

Since I was little I have always had aspirations of traveling and seeing the world. I am blessed to have parents who love to travel and have been fortunate to travel to many breathtaking destinations both domestically and internationally.

Traveling is one of my many passions, and I have a list of places I want to see. However, my ultimate dream is to travel to Italy, and I want to go on a cross-country adventure, since one of my goals in life is to see all 50 states.

Another passion of mine is to engage in service activities. Service became a huge part of my life in high school, but was then fostered by my Jesuit education at The University of Scranton. Throughout my undergraduate career I engaged in many domestic service activities which all have made an impression on my life. In engaging in many service opportunities, I have not only had the privilege to serve others, but they have taught me so much about life, myself, and have helped me develop an understanding about cultures that are different from my own.

Last Group Shot Before we headed on the plane to USA
Last Group Shot Before we headed on the plane to USA

Since I step foot on Scranton’s campus I knew I wanted to be apart of Campus Ministries’ International Service Program. However, after being diagnosed with gluten-sensitivity during my sophomore year, this dream seemed unreachable.

How could I safely follow a gluten-free diet, while being immersed in another culture?

Not only did going on an international service trip seem daunting, but traveling in general seemed like a stressful task when I first received the news that I had to be gluten-free. However, as time moved on and I began to gain more confidence I began to realize that just because I had to be on a gluten-free diet, did not mean I had to stop chasing my dreams.

Active Volcano - On Bus during Guatemala Day Trip
Active Volcano – On Bus during Guatemala Day Trip

It took a lot of support and encouragement, but four years later, during my first year of graduate school at The University of Scranton, I succeeded in my dream of participating in Scranton’s International Service Program (ISP) and traveled to El Salvador this past May. To say this was a trip of a lifetime is an understatement, and I can’t fully express how wonderful this trip was.

Traveling to El Sal was different then any other trip I had taken. Unlike many of the travel posts you read on Erin’s blog, I can’t provide recommendations on the best gluten-free/ accommodating restaurants to eat at when traveling to El Salvador, because as part of ISP we were immersed in the culture and lived at Casa Voluntariado Santa Rafaela Maria (Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).

One of the painting at our host site.
One of the painting at our host site.

That being said, I was able to enjoy many authentic Salvadorian foods which was made by the outstanding cooks each night. My favorite meal which the cooks made were Pupusa, which is a traditional Salvadoran dish; tortillas are stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese – when made this way they are called “Crazy Pupusa”. However, the cooks only made theirs with beans and cheese. This was a naturally gluten-free meal, however, they made me a special Pupusa with just beans, since I can’t have dairy. Although I was not able to eat all the same meals as my group I was thrilled I could have a Pupusa, plus the rice was amazing! My host site was more then accommodating and Sr. Gloria (our host) was always making sure I had enough to eat!

When going on a trip like this, preparation was key! I worked well in advance with the ISP program director to select a host site which would best accommodate my needs. Everyday we were at work sites during lunch so we all made PB & J in the morning. This made it easy because all I needed to do was make sure I traveled down with plenty of gluten-free bread, almond butter, and many gluten-free snacks. Schar Deli Style bread traveled well in my suitcase and is great because it has a longer shelf life. Additionally it was helpful to travel down with individual almond butter packets from Barney’s Butter. I also made sure I brought down my Triumph Dining card and made an allergy card on Allergy Translation, which was a great suggestion by Erin for my additional food allergies. This helped tremendously with the language barrier!

This is part of the memorial they have for all those who died or who went missing during El Salvadorian Civil War
This is part of the memorial they have for all those who died or who went missing during El Salvadorian Civil War

Overall, the biggest message I want you to hear from this post is just because you have celiac or gluten-sensitivity doesn’t mean you can’t travel or go on an immersion trip like I did. Although food is central in so many of our experiences, it doesn’t always have to be the center of your attention. To me traveling down to El Sal (and taking a day trip to Guatemala) was so much more then the food I ate. It has only been 2 months since I took this trip and honestly the memories of the food I ate are not as clear, but the memories of the people who I met grow stronger everyday. I saw more beauty in a week; in a place which is so impoverished, then I have ever seen in my lifetime.

After traveling to El Salvador, I can honestly say that although nothing will compare to my first international service trip, seeing a country in this way is something I want to do again. This trip and overall planning experience was a blessing in so many ways. Not only did I get to combine my love for travel and service, but overcoming my worries to pursue this dream made me truly believe that my traveling aspirations don’t have revolve around my dietary restrictions. I promise you, with a little extra planning and preparation it all works out!

general

Guest Post: Eat Your Way Through Culture Shock

Just yesterday, a fellow blogger and Gluten-Free Globetrotter reader sent me a link to one of her most recent posts on the blog Culture Shock Toolbox. I really enjoyed her post because so much of my favorite travel memories revolve around food. For me, one of the best ways to learn about a new culture is through their interaction with food. From the markets, to the restaurants, to even how and what people eat, I am so intrigued about such a simple yet universal thing. Everyone eats, but not everyone eats the same. Whether in the United States, Prague, or Thailand, food has been an integral part of my travel experiences and lingers in my memories. Being gluten-free has not stopped me from traveling the world and learning about food and culture along the way.  

With permission from author Helene, of Culture Shock Toolbox, I am reposting her blog that really struck a familiar chord with me when I  read it. Thanks Helene! 

Eat your way through culture shock

Eating your way through culture shock is effective in many ways.

In Mumbai, a local saw us browsing through our guide and heard us talking about food. He approached us and said: “you know what you MUST try?” He named the dish, the restaurant and explained how it should be eaten!

We ended up going to that place 3 or 4 times and I will be eternally grateful to this man for introducing me to a delicious local specialty that was so much fun to eat! Hello, fingers!

Eat your way through culture shock

So how can food help us deal with culture shock?

  • Food is a part of culture and a very tasty way for us to get an insight into a country’s culinary world. How does that help? Well, a full belly isn’t the wrong way to start…
  • Food is a source of comfort, obviously. On a primal level, it keeps us alive. On an emotional level, a hot bowl of yummy soup can work wonders. This is true at home and abroad.
  • Taste is dynamic, constantly changing and developing. Trying out new dishes and ingredients helps develop our taste and incorporate a bit of that new country into our lives. It bridges a gap.
  • Showing interest in another country’s food tradition is a way of showing interest for its culture and getting to know it a little better, again bridging the distance between us and our new environment.
  • Showing interest in another country’s culinary specialties is a way to communicate with locals too. If you’re shy, not sure what to talk about or how to approach people, why not start with food? You’ve got to eat anyway, so you might as well ask questions: what’s your favorite local dish? Where’s your favorite restaurant? What do you recommend I try? What’s the best way to eat this? Where do you recommend I eat [insert name of dish]?
  • Being interested in local food is also a way to bring us out of our shell. When we’re dealing with culture shock we might feel completely overloaded and ‘shut down’. In that situation, food is a way for us to be in that new culture, to get to know it while taking care of ourselves, because eating well equals care and therefore comfort.

Food is powerful in many ways, so don’t be afraid to eat your way through culture shock!

Helene is the author of Culture Shock Toolbox. She is gluten-intolerant, fascinated by all things culture shock, loves yoga, animals and the outdoors. Connect with her on Facebook @CultureShockToolbox or Twitter @helenerybol