Vichenzo Sin Tacc

Last year, I made my bi-annual pilgrimage to Buenos Aires – also known as the Europe of the south. This beautiful, hectic city was my home for almost three years in my twenties and will continue to draw me back every so often, not least because some of my bestest friends in the world live there. A huge part of my time in Argentina revolved around food – cuisine which is traditionally gluten-heavy. Yes, steak is the main act but when Argentines aren’t eating steaks, they’re usually tucking into amazing fresh pastas and milanesas – a tradition passed down from the Italian community that settled there at the turn of the 20th century. So, returning to this city has often made me nervous, for obvious gluten-related reasons.

What I discovered upon returning was a complete surprise however. The city’s gluten free scene in the last three years has totally exploded, with a long list of 100% gluten free eateries and bakeries sprouting up in multiple areas. Luckily for us, that explosion includes the 100% gluten free bakery and pasta factory Vichenzo, tucked away in the Montserrat neighbourhood, which is a hop skip and a jump from Avenida de Julio.

tempImageForSave (18)

Vichenzo opened its doors to the public in October 2015, primarily as a pasta producer. “The original idea was to create a high quality and delicious product that would, in addition, be gluten free and safe for coeliacs or those intolerant to gluten,” Vichenzo co-founder Gaston told me. “We saw the gluten free market as a challenge, and one that would make us grow,” Gaston said. The pair therefore put their learnings from their pasta maestro and store namesake Vicente Fabiz to use and created a range of fresh, gluten free pastas using traditional methods and machinery. The range of traditional pastas on offer in store quickly expanded beyond spaghetti and gnocchi to delights including spinach tagliatelle, beetroot ravioli, salmon casoncelli and more. Today, the store acts also as a bakery, offering a huge array of fresh bread, pastries, cakes and beyond.

tempImageForSave (17)

“Many of our products came about because of what particular customers requested of us and they became permanent,” Gaston said, who told me when I visited the store that the store’s only enemy is time and the limitations that it creates. The duo have successfully overcome the trials and tribulations of creating gluten free dough for their pastas and pizzas. However, as everyone and anyone gluten free will know, this is a science, given that a change in the humidity of a kitchen or the slight over-pour of an ingredient can leave the dough unusable. Having tried and tested a multitude of the store’s offerings I can vouch for Vichenzo and the success it has had in creating top notch gluten free products, not least the ready-made pasta dishes and fresh Milanesa sandwiches on crusty bread that you can take to go and eat right then and there in the street.

Discovering that neither Gaston nor Pablo were themselves gluten free makes the story of Vichenzo all the more exciting. In my experience, gluten free businesses come about because of health issues in the owners or founders themselves and so having the opportunity to visit a shop where gluten free is just considered normal in the eyes of two non coeliacs really was an eye opener. Luckily for the people of Buenos Aires, Vichenzo will continue to grow as a business. While plans are still not finalized, it looks possible that the north of the city could be home to a new shop in the future. In the meantime, those reading this from outside of Argentina: get on a plane to Buenos Aires and head straight to Vichenzo. You will not be sorry and I can say with confidence you will never have had a gluten free experience like it!

tempImageForSave (16)

Vichenzo Sin Tacc (Closed on Sundays)
Salta 529
C1074 Buenos Aires
Argentina

Barcelona: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

My memories from Barcelona when I was little are filled with bread, croquettes and other gluten-filled Spanish delicacies. When I took my first trip to the Catalan capital as a member of the gluten free crowd therefore, I was worried. Turns out, there was no need to worry in the slightest. Barcelona has quickly become one of my favourite global spots for not only gluten free Spanish food, but gluten free pizzas, cakes and more. Everywhere you need to visit when in Barcelona is detailed in this trusty guide that is sure to leave you craving another trip purely for the food!

Gula Sana

tempImageForSave (6)

A new addition to the gluten free scene in Barcelona, this 100% gluten free eatery has more of a cafe vibe, as you have to walk past the long counter filled with sweet and savoury treats to get to the seating area. In the summer, seats are available outside and a perfect location to enjoy Gula Sana’s vast ice cream selection in a gluten free cone of course! Enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch or an early dinner here and don’t forget to try the Red Velvet cake!

Where?
Carrer de la Diputació, 361
08009 Barcelona

Amiette

tempImageForSave (7)

If you want the best gluten free croissant of your life, go straight to Amiette – one of Barcelona’s 100% gluten free bakeries which has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to free from pastry and bread. You have a choice of plain croissants or those filled with ham and cheese or sweet fillings like chocolate and custard. I recommend going first thing in the morning when they are fresh out the oven. This bakery is purely a take-out destination, so why not grab some treats and take them to a local park? Or eat them in the street, outside the shop as I did because I couldn’t wait! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
Carrer de Calàbria, 65
08015 Barcelona

Patisseria Jansana Gluten Free

tempImageForSave (11)

A gluten free staple in Barcelona, this beautiful bakery in the Eixample neighborhood has been spoiling customers for years with their stunning sweets and savoury treats. The selection is neverending, and you will never come out with just one item – it truly is impossible. Grab a sandwich to go on fresh bread of your choice, with a number of fillings, which are made on the spot or eat in, with a coffee, and enjoy some of the more delicate savoury open faced sandwiches. The croissants here are also top notch, as are the donuts, cookies, macarons and eclairs.

Where?
Carrer de Balmes, 106
08008 Barcelona

Pasticelia

tempImageForSave (10)

Perfect spot for breakfast or brunch, Pasticelia is another 100% gluten free haven located in the Esquerra de L’Eixample neighorhood. Like Jansana, Pasticelia will prepare you a sandwich of your choice on fresh bread to take away or eat in. The chocolate croissants here and palmeras are not to be missed, and should preferably be enjoyed on one of the bakery’s comfy chairs with a cafe con leche. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
Carrer de Paris, 165
08036 Barcelona

Celiadictos

tempImageForSave (1)

This 100% gluten free gem has been open for several years now, serving locals with unbeatable freshly baked gluten free bread and cakes. Customers can pick their loaves off of a trolley which showcases all varieties of bread that Celiadictos bake each day and is constantly topped up. The cakes here were some of the prettiest I’ve seen – including the merengue pie and apple tartlette. Be sure to grab an Ensaimada – a traditional Mallorcan pastry that resembles a sausage roll – they are absolutely incredible! Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
Carrer de la Pobla de Lillet, 5
08028 Barcelona

Cal Marius 449

tempImageForSave

Gluten free tapas are still a rarity in Barcelona so gluten free people will rejoice in knowing they can safely eat croquetas, empanadillas and more at the famous Cal Marius bar. The menu, which also prominently features pastrami on gluten free bagels or baguette, is 100% gluten free. Regular gluten bread can be ordered upon request if you are dining with a non gluten free diner. Be sure to check out Cal Marius’ impressive gluten free beer menu whilst you’re there to accompany your meal! Closed on Tuesdays.

Where?
Carrer de Mallorca, 449
08013 Barcelona

Copasetic

The perfect spot for brunch, Copasetic is a long-time favourite of mine, located in the Eixample neighbourhood. Take your pick from a numer of gluten free options on the menu from hamburgers to eggs florentine. I can never say no to a savoury crepe here however, which I usually order stuffed with ham and cheese, followed by a homemade gluten free cake – the selection of which changes daily. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Carrer de la Diputació, 55
08015 Barcelona

Conesa Entrepans

tempImageForSave (8)

Sometimes what you need in a city like Barcelona is a quick place to grab a bite. Conesa Entrepans is a regular sandwich shop which offers most of its sandwiches on gluten free baguette, which are toasted on their own separate grills to avoid cross contamination. A decent option for when you’re rushing around sightseeing – their ham and cheese baguettes are incredibly moreish! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
Carrer de la Llibreteria, 1
08002 Barcelona

Viena

This Spanish fast food restaurant has more than 10 branches around the city and a coeliac-safe menu upon request. The menu features a number of grilled sandwich options which are all prepared separately and can be accompanied by gluten free friendly french fries. Sometimes all you need is gluten free junk food! For your closest restaurant, check out the company website.

M2 Gluten Free

tempImageForSave (3)

This 100% gluten free restaurant is a great shout for brunch when you’re in Barcelona. M2 Gluten Free makes good use of local, fresh produce to create several delicious open faced sandwiches and egg dishes. There’s no worry about cross contamination here which makes eating a breeze, and there are even vegan options. If I were you, I’d opt for the open faced turkey sandwich with tomato and avocado on delicious gluten free toast.

Where?
Avinguda Diagonal, 505
08029 Barcelona

Il Piccolo Focone

If you want real Italian food whilst you’re in Barcelona, look no further than Il Piccolo Focone. This restaurant has a gluten free menu which includes the most incredible pizzas, pastas and desserts – all of which are prepared safely. I always start with the fried artichokes before tucking into a pizza. Finishing with the gluten free tiramisu is also advisable! Closed on Sundays.

Messie Sin Gluten

tempImageForSave (5)

This 100% gluten free pizzeria is a great lunch or light dinner option. The bases here are thin and crispy and come with a variety of toppings, which can be accompanied by one of the delicious salads on offer. I have never seen a larger gluten free beer selection, which includes a number of international beers as well as Spanish.

Where?
Carrer de Siracusa, 15
08012 Barcelona

McDonald’s

Yes, Barcelona is another city where you can enjoy gluten free McDonald’s! All McDonald’s in the city have carefully marked gluten free menus, which include almost all beef burgers and fries with the option of a gluten free bun. If you’d rather enjoy the city’s other gluten free options during your stay in Barcelona, you can enjoy a gluten free McDonald’s in the airport on your way out.

Restaurant En Ville

Another 100% gluten free tapas restaurant, but this time with a French twist. En Ville is a gorgeous space located near Las Ramblas and is ideal for dinner. All tapas are gluten free on a menu that proudly displays a gluten free bread option on its first page. While En Ville offers a number of delicious main dishes, I was not able to get past the tapas and even ordered a second round of the croquetas de jamon which were absolutely melt in the mouth. Save room for dessert – En Ville serves up a gluten free giant cream puff which comes with hot chocolate sauce to pour over. Closed on Sunday.

Out of China

tempImageForSave (9)

How long has it been since you ate dim sum? Well at Out of China your gluten free dreams can come true as free from options are available for most of the dim sum selection. It’s therefore hard not to go crazy with the dumpling selection but if possible save room for some soup or a main dish. You’ll also feel safe at Out of China – as soon as you say you are gluten free or coeliac, your very own gluten free soy sauce pot will be delivered to your table.

Where?
Carrer d’Aribau, 112
08036 Barcelona

Envalira

Everyone needs to eat paella when in Spain. Whilst far from Valencia – the home of paella – no frills eatery Envalira serves up the best Spanish rice in Barcelona, with a clearly marked allergen menu presented to all diners. Take your pick from a number of fresh and grilled starters, and be sure to follow those with traditional paella and arroz negro – black rice coloured with squid’s ink – an absolute delicacy. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Plaça del Sol, 13
08012 Barcelona

Gocce di Latte

tempImageForSave (4)

Your one stop shop for gelato whilst in Barcelona should be Gocce di Latte – an ice cream shop which has a 100% gluten and dairy free branch on the same street as its regular store. It’s a cross-contaminatin free zone and stays open late so is perfect for those late night sweet cravings. Cash-only.

Where?
Carrer d’Espaseria, 14
08003 Barcelona

Shopping

tempImageForSave (12)

Barcelona has a multitude of supermarkets which have a huge offering of gluten free products from cookies, breads and snacks to chilled pastas and frozen pizzas and tapas. The top chains for gluten free are Mercadona, Carrefour and Alcampo. Check out the company websites for your closest branches.

Toulouse: The Mini Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

Known for its cassoulet and confit de canard, Toulouse can be a food lover’s paradise. The city pulls in multitudes of tourists each year, especially during the summer months when the masses head to the wine region. It’s a beautiful city to walk around in, with lots of culture and a rich history. But how good is it for gluten free food you ask? Finding gluten-free friendly eateries can still be a challenge and so I’ve pulled together a mini guide to the provincial city, which will be perfect for anyone staying nearby and venturing in for the day or in Toulouse for a city-break over a weekend. Bon Appétit!

Lucas et Marie Sans Genes

A highly popular free from spot, Lucas and Marie Sans Genes is a 100% gluten free bakery, which also specialises in vegan products too. From beautiful pastries to homemade bread, you’ll be spoilt for choice here and will not have to worry about traces. The bakery prides itself on creating food that is free of up to 14 key allergens and is entirely organic. A lovely family run business created by mother Marie and her son Lucas, this place is a must-visit for coeliacs and vegans alike who will go absolutely crazy over the pastry selection – trust me! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
28 Rue des Polinaires
31000 Toulouse

Yard – La Burger Factory

IMG_6714

If you’re craving a proper hamburger while you’re in Toulouse, this is your one-stop shop. This fast food joint is incredibly gluten free friendly, and offers most burgers on a soft and squidgy sesame seed gluten free bun! I was assured that the regular fries and sweet potato fries are also safe, so just be sure to state your dietary requirements at the beginning so the staff make sure to take extra care of you. I opted for a classic cheese burger, which is entirely gluten free when the house Yard sauce is removed and it was absolutely delicious. Yard gets brownie points in my book for also offering a gluten free beer on the menu – the perfect accompaniment to your burger!

Where?
51 Rue du Taur
31000 Toulouse

Invita

Another organic hotspot, Invita is a great destination for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch while you’re in Toulouse. The menu, which is entirely vegetarian, has a great array of options from salads to gluten free pizzas (yes you read correctly!) to galettes. What’s great about Invita is their availability of a weekday meal deal, where you can get two courses for €16 or three for €20. As I hate missing out on dessert, I’d personally recommend you opt for three courses! If you fancy a pizza or vegetarian lasagne course, head to Invita on a Friday or Saturday when they are available. Vegan options are also aplenty!

Where?
18 Rue d’Aubuisson
31000 Toulouse

Pastel & Sarrasin

IMG_6717

Everytime I venture to France I crave crepes and galettes. Luckily for the gluten free community, more and more places are starting to offer a gluten free friendly alternative so that everyone can feel included. Pastel et Sarrasin is a must-visit during your time in Toulouse as they not only use the freshest of ingredients to top and fill their pancakes, but they offer a gluten free batter on the menu too. This expansive restaurant has lots of indoor seating and sets up tables outside on warmer days so you can watch the world going by while you feast. WARNING: As Pastel et Sarrasin deals with non gluten free flour in its kitchen as well, the company warns that traces in the preparation area are a possibility but they take as much care as is possible to avoid that by keeping the gluten free batter away from the rest and cleaning the pans before use.

Where?
75 Rue du Taur
31000 Toulouse

Silex & Fourchette

Are you both gluten and lactose free? Then Silex & Fourchette must be your first stop in the city. This is the first “paleo” restaurant I have seen in continental Europe, so imagine my excitement, especially as paleo food is all naturally gluten free! Silex & Fourchette serves lunch five days a week and has a monthly Sunday brunch for only €18, which includes a lot of food, so check the company website to see if brunch falls on your weekend! The most photographed and ordered item here is undoubtedly the paleo burger, which comes with sweet potato fries and is definitely worth a try! Closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Where?
138 Grande Rue Saint-Michel
31400 Toulouse

Aux Douces Heures

IMG_6713

While not an obvious gluten free spot, Aux Douces Heures is the perfect place to stop for a coffee and a rest while you are whizzing around Toulouse. The regular menu at this French tea room is not gluten free, but the team at Aux Douces Heures make sure to always have at least two freshly baked gluten free sweet treats to accompany your coffee or tea for a pick-me-up. The cakes are kept separately from the rest of the restaurant’s offerings and are usually displayed in the window next to a welcoming gluten free sign. The chocolate tart makes a regular appearance and is deliciously rich. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
9bis Rue des Lois
31000 Toulouse

Shopping

IMG_6711

Supermarkets in France have come a long way in the past few years, and that includes smaller city branches. The two biggest supermarket chains in Toulouse are Carrefour and Monoprix, both of which have several stores across the city, so you are never too far from gluten free snacks or necessities. I was able to find gluten free bread, pasta and cookies in all shops I went into so check the company website for your nearest store and stock up!