Eating {gluten-free & vegan} in Portland, OR | Back to Eden

July 26, 2016

Citrus-ginger iced gluten-free vegan scone at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon


I didn't try Back to Eden Bakery until my last trip to Portland mainly for one reason: It was vegan. While I have nothing against someone's choice to be vegan, for me personally, I believe my friend Adam explained it best: "If I have to give up gluten, why would I also take great things like dairy out of my diet by choice?". I couldn't agree more and while I have a borderline obsession with French butter (...and French yogurt and French cheese...sorry, vegans), what matters to me most is that food still tastes amazing while allowing me to eat safely with a massively-restrictive auto-immune disease. When I finally conceded and tried Back to Eden, which is both vegan and gluten-free, I was so shocked you could have knocked me over with a feather. This was the best vegan food I'd ever tasted!

As a gluten-free baker, I am very particular about the taste and textures of what I make, working hard to make them feel like their gluteny counterparts. But take out the eggs and butter, and it just feels hopeless. Every time I've tried vegan baked goods, I've experienced what many people do when they taste one of the many sub-par gluten-free treats out there - it just tastes too vegan, in the sense that it's off or unsatisfying. Back to Eden single-handedly proved to me it is possible. Flakey, delicious pie crusts? Check. Fluffy, spongey cakes? Yup. Scones with the perfect crumbly-yet-moist texture? They've got that down too. Somehow they got a buttery vibe in things without using any butter. I was blown away. And my family, who couldn't be further from vegan, was too. Very much like the goal for my cakes is for gluten-eaters to think it doesn't taste like it's gluten-free, everything I tasted here I felt similarly about: I couldn't even tell that it was vegan.

I always feel apprehensive about recommending vegan spots, as it's not my area of expertise, but I am confident in saying this place is a tremendous bakery for gluten-free fare and if you're vegan, then even better. When ordering the biscuits and gravy, I let myself be talked into adding the vegan sausage made of walnuts and was impressed at its non-meat meatiness and satisfying addition to the dish. Having the sweet tooth that I do, my other stand-out favorites were the scones (both the savory pizza scone and the sweet iced citrus-ginger versions), the incredible chocolate cream pie I'm pretty sure my step-father had no idea was vegan at all and of course, that chocolate doughnut topped with root beer icing and dusted with cocoa powder that started it all for me. I dream about those doughnuts!

Until next time, PDX...


Gluten-free and vegan Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Corn chowder and biscuits and gravy with walnut-sausage gluten-free vegan at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Quiche gluten-free vegan at Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon Chocolate-rootbeer doughnut gluten-free vegan from Back to Eden Bakery Portland, Oregon


Back to Eden Bakery
2217 NE Alberta Street, 97211
also a truck at corner of SE Division & SE 28 Place, 97202
Portland, Oregon
1 (503) 477-5022


Portland Street Art

July 24, 2016

Ashley Montague and Joshua Mays mural Portland, Oregon


One of the things I love the most about Berlin is the street art. The creative vibe around the city is just so inspiring. So how lucky did I feel when I realized that my new home-away-from-home is a city that fills public spaces with art as well? A bit more polished than Berlin, Portland's art is no less impressive or creative, from the giant murals of the Alberta Arts District to The Horse Project, it's like a giant living, breathing art gallery.

With organizations like the Portland Street Art Alliance and Forest For The Trees advocating and creating public art in the city, it's easy to see why it's thriving in this Pacific Northwest spot. So just like in Berlin, one of my favorite things in Portland is to just wander around, seeing what urban art I stumble upon. Any idea what/where some of these pieces are in the city...?


colorful mural at Tamale Boy Portland, Oregon butterfly and bird mural Portland, Oregon
Faith47 Capax Infiniti mural Portland, Oregon The Horse Project Portland, Oregon
Rabbit mural by Mateu Velasco Portland, Oregon boat in a storm mural Portland, Oregon Painted owl bench Portland, Oregon Everything is Everything mural Portland, Oregon colorful abstract mural Portland, Oregon Arrows mural by Blaine Fontana Portland, Oregon
Transcendence bronze fish by Keith Jellum Portland, Oregon woman mural Portland, Oregon
To Oregon With Love mural by Blaine Fontana Portland, Oregon shell-headed man mural Portland, Oregon Keep Your Chin Up mural by Zach Yarrington and Jun Inoue Portland, Oregon


Summer 2016 Hair Inspiration

July 14, 2016

Hair Decisions Summer 2016

So I only ditched my platinum locks about six months ago in favor of something a bit more natural... and already I'm itching for a change. Surprise, surprise. It doesn't help that I've joined up with the roller derby crowd, with heads awash in a rainbow of vibrant colors. My natural, ashy blonde shade, complete with my first visible greys (eek!), just feels so 'blah' in comparison. I miss my days of pastel pink and lavender...

Perhaps it's just my impatience getting the better of me while my poor, overworked hair takes a much-needed break - but life's too short for lackluster hair, am I right? In addition to considering warmer variations on my current situation, in both a more golden blond or coppery tone, I'm also really into Meg's recently faded, true orange locks or bright tips. I had dark blue on the ends of my auburn hair several years back and loved it, so I can't deny this is the way that I'm leaning...

What do you think? Should I go more dramatic or keep it neutral? And what about you? Do you change your hair as often as your clothes or have you had the same haircut since grade school? I want to know!


image credits, clockwise:
Getty Images via Huffington Post 

Wonderful You
Max Doyle for Vogue Australia via anyonegirl
via BuzzFeed
Boden

Product Love: Pacifica of Portland

July 12, 2016

Product Love: Pacifica of Portland



I've known about Pacifica for many years, believing it was purely a company with positively decadent candle scents. So when I discovered that this Portland-based brand offered so much more on my trip there last month, I was completely smitten. In addition to the candles and rollerball scents I knew from many years ago, there is also a complete line of make-up, skin care and hair products. They offer most products on its site, but also sell many items at places like Whole Foods, Target and Ulta in the States.

In addition to smelling divine, these products are gluten-free, vegan and one of the most sustainable product lines out there. As if that weren't enough, just look at that packaging! Who wouldn't want an entire shelf of such beautiful products lining their bathroom shelves? I, for one, wouldn't mind

Lucky for us Europeans, it looks like some of the line can be found through sites like Amazon, though many items include absolutely outrageous shipping fees. My advice? Book a trip to the great city of Portland and stock up! And bring some back for me, would you please..?


The 10 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in June (PDX Edition)

July 6, 2016

Portland Food Truck on Division

For any of you who are gluten-free and have visited Portland, you know there was no way for me to keep this month's gluten-free round-up to just the five best. Impossible, for sure. Even if you don't have to be gluten-free, I promise you will not be disappointed by this list and even more impressed once you taste some of it.

It's so good in fact, it made my return to Berlin a little bittersweet. Even at the Bio markets here, I'd pick things up to read the label, and sigh. Nope, not safe for me. Here, I'm relegated to the veg/dairy/meat sections (not that that's a bad way to eat, but sometimes it's nice not to have to make everything from scratch). It was a jolting reminder of how far we still have to go for the gluten-free community here in Germany. Portland, you spoil me.

So for now, I will dream about my next visit... planning to wear exclusively elastic-waist pants, of course.


Kyra's Bake Shop gluten-free cinnamon roll closeup with fork

1. Cinnamon Rolls from Kyra's Bake Shop

I tried a few cinnamon rolls while in Portland, but this was the only one that brought back pre-celiac-diagnosis memories of decadent mall Cinnabons I indulged in when too often while working the retail circuit. Yeasty, cinnamon-y and perfectly iced, these were perhaps my very favorite treat of the trip. Rave reviewers consistently praise Kyra's baked goods for not tasting at all like gluten-free and these are no exception. I have yet to make homemade cinnamon rolls (I mean, all that work...), but these might be just the push I need to give it a shot.


Seattle Ciders Basil Mint cider

2. Seattle Cider Basil Mint Cider

OK, so here's where I had to break with only featuring food here, because the whole drinks scene is so good in Portland, it's worth adding to the list. There was a plethora of good gluten-free beer, but it was this crisp, summery cider that had me swooning. I'm still mourning the bottle that was left at my parent's house, forgotten to be put in a suitcase for our crack-of-dawn departure. I'll come back for you cider, I promise.


Eating Back to Eden chocolate-rootbeer doughnut with Upper Left Roasters coffee

3. Back to Eden's Chocolate-Rootbeer Doughnut

Let me just preface this by saying my first gluten-free doughnut was the maple-bacon weekend special at Kyra's, and while it was indeed amazing, it had that overwhelming feeling on one's gut and psyche that my friend refers to as The Doughnut Sadness. Enter Back to Eden's slightly healthier, baked vegan treat graciously recommended to me via Instagram. Now, I'm a firm believer in fried doughnuts, but this chocolate-y moist doughnut iced with perhaps one of my favorite flavors from childhood was neither too sweet nor overpowering, and made the perfect accompaniment to that good, Portland coffee. Let's just say I ate far more of these than I should have.


Tamale Boy horchata and tamale with sides of spicy corn and bacon-chorizo beans

4. Chile Verde Tamale at Tamale Boy

Of all the Mexican food that I love, tamales reign supreme for me. After the one restaurant in Berlin that made them stopped doing so (for reasons I can only assume about Germans not knowing or understanding the wonder that is the tamale), I felt a gaping hole in my life. So when I discovered that there was an entire location in Portland dedicated to these, I knew I had to plan a visit - or three - to this spot. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. After enjoying the best horchata I've ever tasted, I determined this place is a definite winner, receiving high marks from everyone I brought here during my stay. A close second to this amazing tamale? The chipotle refried beans with bacon, ham and chorizo were almost the best thing on the menu. Almost. (note to celiacs: many items are noted gluten-free on the menu, but after inquiring about shared cooking spaces with gluten, some were clearly unsafe for us 100% gluten-free folks, so exercise caution when ordering)


Kyra's Bake Shop box of gluten-free cupcakes

5. Kyra's Award-Winning Cupcakes

What PDX food list would be complete without the only baked goods to win the Food Network's Cupcake Wars a record four times?! I mean, this girl is clearly a goddess of gluten-free baking, and to have gone up against bakers baking with gluten is really telling, I think. So huge props to this lady for changing the world's perception of gluten-free cake! Being the glutton that I am, I tried almost every cupcake that was available during my three week visit. While the award-winners that were featured during that time - cherry balsamic black pepper and apple fritter - were nothing short of incredible, I want to say the simple Ding Dong, made to resemble a Hostess childhood staple, was one of the most impressive. It took what was, let's be honest, a rather shit quality product and elevated to gourmet proportions. Kyra has single-handedly proven why I don't need to live in Portland: I'd easily weigh 400 pounds.


Eliot's Adult Nut Butters spicy thai and honey chipotle peanut butters

6. Eliot's Adult Peanut Butters

In the words of Gwen: This shit is bananas. No joke. I was intrigued when I picked up a jar of the Honey Chipotle flavor and found a recipe for rice krispies treats made with the stuff (which are the perfect pairing with Oregon's recently-legal herbal refreshment, btw). After one spoonful, I was hooked. These are most definitely adult, the Honey Chipotle the perfect marriage of sweet and spicy, and the Spicy Thai straight out of your favorite Thai dish, with notes of lime leaves and lemongrass. I picked up a couple to bring home, but I already fear the day when my jars are empty. I used to request Jif from all my US visitors, but now, it's going to be this stuff.


New Cascadia Traditional Bakery gluten-free cream puff

7. Cream puff at New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

There's something about fluffy French pastries that I've always had a soft spot for. Finding good gluten-free ones, ones that really nail that texture is like the unicorn of gluten-free baking. New Cascadia Traditional Bakery has always blown me away with the textures on its baked goods - from pizza crusts and cakes, to French bread and Challah - I can't say that I was surprised to be bowled over by this delicious dessert. Admittedly, I'm more of a custard-over-cream kind of girl, but this vanilla-flavored filling was nothing short of extraordinary nestled between two pieces of impressively delicate pastry dough. I'm going to dreaming about this one for awhile.


Upper Left Roasters coffee and cool chairs

8. Coffee at Upper Left Roasters

Too many good coffee shops, too little time. This was the mantra of my trip. While I enjoyed coffee at Barista, Coava and Water Avenue Coffee, this spot might have been my favorite. In addition to having a fantastic cappuccino with an extra shot - my drink of choice since flat whites are not as ubiquitous here as in Berlin - the decor was something of a Scandinavian dream. My mother was even compelled to ask where the light fixtures came from (Europe, ironically). While they do offer gluten-free bread for their tasty-looking-yet-simple breakfast plates, the food prep area looked too cramped to allow for safe separation of gluten and non-gluten, though to be fair, I didn't test this theory. I was perfectly happy to stop by Back to Eden for a doughnut or scone as the perfect accompaniment to such great coffee.


California Pizza Kitchen gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza

9. California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ Chicken Frozen Pizza

Can I just say: Who knew?! CPK not only makes frozen pizzas for the comfort of your own home, but even makes gluten-free versions?! OK, those of you lucky enough to be living in the States knew, but I was blown away when I spied these at the grocery. Even more impressive? My mom shared the first one with me and declared the crust was way tastier than the gluten-filled version she'd bought before. Now that's a ringing endorsement, if I ever heard one. Wonder if they'd consider shipping overseas...?


Fifty Licks ButterSCOTCH and Water Ave Coffee ice cream in gluten-free waffle cone in front of shop

10. ButterSCOTCH ice cream at Fifty Licks

Salt & Straw may be the darling of Portland's ice cream scene, but I think Fifty Licks is actually where it's at. Just a few blocks down from Salt & Straw's Division Street location, this quieter spot has flavors that pack more of a punch than it's competitor. Coffee made from Water Avenue's caffeinated good stuff, lavendar-mint chip, and blood orange creamsicle are all nothing short of amazing, but it's the boozy flavors this place is known for. My last visit over the holidays, it was Noggin Boots, an eggy, spiced ice cream spiked with with rum and brandy. This summer? The hangover-inducing scotch ice cream run through with ribbons of butterscotch, which might be my new favorite flavor, period. Add to that, gluten-free house-made waffle cones and it doesn't get much better. I mean, any place that names its basics 'Vanilla-' and 'Chocolate as @#$&' has the life-long devotion of this foul-mouthed ice cream lover. Go getchu some!


And because there's that much good stuff... Here are my runners up: Back to Eden's ginger-citrus and pizza scones, New Cascadia pizza (which I've raved about before) and French bread, Teote's arepas and mimosas with house-made agua frescas like pineapple-lime and strawberry basil, Whiskey Soda Lounges's Mango Alexander, Heat Ray and Lord Bergamot cocktails (I swear I didn't drink all three in one go), Thai Iced Tea gelato at Bassotto Gelateria, Hi-Wheel fruit wines, Green's Tripel Blonde Ale (from Belgium!), Kyra's doughnuts on the weekends... Seriously, just go eat in Portland!


Top 5 Reasons to Visit Portland, Oregon

July 1, 2016

The view over Portland from Washington Park
View of downtown from International Rose Test Gardens, Portland, Oregon


If you haven't been to Portland yet, you are missing out. It's got city, it's got mountains, it's got more beer and coffee options than one could drink in perhaps a whole lifetime. I lucked out when my parents moved here a few years ago and I was introduced to this Pacific Northwest gem. It's a major city with a neighborhood-centric, welcoming feel. It's gorgeous, it's green and, most importantly for a food-lover like myself, it's filled with some of the best eating an drinking one could ask for. I'm proud to call Portland my US home base and always look forward to my next visit.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should visit Portland (as if you need any persuading):


The tagline at Kyra's Bake Shop is a fitting motto for all of Portland
Kyra's Bake Shop cup with 'Treat Yourself to Something Extraordinary' on it, Lake Oswego, Oregon


1. The Food

Oh, the food in PDX... so, so good. Coming from San Francisco, I admit my standards are pretty high, but Portland delivers. Everything from the renowned - Pok Pok's award-winning chef, Salt & Straw's swoon-worthy, oft-Instagrammed ice cream flavors and 4-time Food Network's Cupcake Wars winner Kyra's Bake Shop - to the smaller, more diet-specific and neighborhood staples can be found - and enjoyed.

Whether you choose to eat vegetarian or vegan, or must follow a strict gluten-free diet like I do, Portland not only has a plethora of options, but the people in food service here are unbelievably knowledgeable and willing to help you find the food that you need. I was often asked about the particulars of my needs by waiters if I requested an allergy menu, and even pointed in the direction of other safe establishments if one didn't offer what I needed. Portlandia did a great sketch poking fun of how allergy-friendly Portland is, but it's truly a treat for those of us who constantly fear the pitfalls of eating out safely. I just call it my gluten-free mecca.


Ping pong at Pips & Bounce
Pips and Bounce ping-pong club front desk in Portland, Oregon


2. Always Something To Do

The first time I visited Portland, I was rather taken aback by how small the downtown area was. The Nordstrom was laughable. Malls were practically shutting down. But capitalism isn't Portlanders main concern, enjoyment of life is. In addition to all the nature surrounding the city (more on that below), there are so many things to within the city itself: kayaking on the rivers, visiting countless tap rooms and coffee shops (also below), and two of my favorite things while I was there - playing ping pong at Pips & Bounce and watching the Rose City Rollers kick some roller derby ass. Portland always has something going on.


The iconic Multnomah Falls
The iconic Multnomah Falls, just outside Portland, Oregon


3. NATURE!

Just look at any Pacific Northwest-related hashtags on Instagram (#theNWadventure #northwestisbest), and you will have a feed full of green. Forests, waterfalls, mountains - it's a nature-lover's paradise. Sure, you've got to get out of the city proper to reach a lot of the more spectacular sights, but there's still plenty of green within the city limits in various parks and the dreamy International Rose Test Gardens situated overlooking Portland. Just 20 minutes outside the city is the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and string of waterfalls, completely with hiking trails. The coast is just over an hour away. Washington's greenery is just across the river. The unreal-looking Mount Hood towering over the skyline, with its surrounding lakes and forest, is a couple of hours drive. When visiting Portland, it would be a crime not to get out and be one with nature!


Coava Coffee, home to award-winning Baristas
Coava coffee cup and bamboo counter - home of award-winning barista in Portland, Oregon


4. Coffee and Beer Capital

When looking at great coffee and beer capitals of the world, Portland ranks pretty high, some say it's even better than Seattle, the oft-believed US capital for the caffeinated. Whether you're looking for a pick-me-up cup of coffee or that next microbrewery's glass of ale, Portland has it all - in spades. Sure, somehow there are still Starbucks on every corner, but seek out the gems serving up truly great coffee (there's also fantastic Chai in this city, too!) and pouring beers that owners are passionate about making. One noteworthy spot: Coava's team has placed first in several Barista Competitions, not to mention its Brew Bar shares a large, warehouse space with bamboo workers, who have transformed it into a warm, modern-meets-industrial space.

If you're gluten-free like me, don't fret about being left out of this great beer city. The US's only dedicated gluten-free brewery is in Portland, complete with a gastro pub serving only gluten-free fare. With beers like Campfire (aged Dark Ale with rum soaked French oak, vanilla, and cacao nib) and Ollalie (ale brewed with blackberries and rose hips), not to mention classic IPAs, it's a must-stop for any gluten-free beer fans. Even Whole Foods has an impressive assortment of gluten-free beers for your backyard BBQ. And don't even get me started on all the amazing ciders...


Alberta Arts District Mural
Alberta Arts District mural Portland, Oregon


5. The Creative Vibe

Just take a walk down the main street in the Alberta Arts District and it's easy to see the creativity all around you: sprawling street art, independent food and drink spots, shops filled with wares by local artisans. While it's a bit more polished, not to mention expensive, than my more rough-around-the-edges home in Berlin, it retains that same up-and-coming, artistic atmosphere. There are many pockets like this around the city, filled with art, great food and a homey, neighborhood vibe. Don't miss the Portland Saturday Market - the nation's largest continually operating open-air arts and crafts market - for more of what this city's creatives has to offer!


Stay tuned for more from Portland on the blog this month! Just like May was all about France, July is going to be all about PDX!


The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in May

June 25, 2016

Oak & Ice Prenzlauer Berg Berlin ice cream

Oh June, you have flown by with the last-minute travel to Portland, making me nearly forget all the great things I ate the previous month.

Well, almost...


Lakrids gluten-free summer peach licorice

1. Summer Lakrids

Somehow, Lakrids has outdone itself. Again. As if it couldn't get any better than my beloved mint licorice, it released a Summer flavor that is reminiscent of peachy, warm-weather cocktails. I am currently doing my best to shove handfuls of these in my mouth every day.


Thai Beef and Peanut Curry bowl

2. Thai Beef and Peanut Curry

This recipe was one my husband made for us awhile ago, yet it made me suspiciously ill (though I've since determined that our old Le Creuset was sadly contaminated with gluten). Thanks to my very generous in-laws, we now have a squeaky-clean Le Creuset, safe for me to eat from. So what was my first request? This phenomenal Thai beef, with notes of lemongrass, kaffir lime and spicy chilis, is one of my current favorite at-home meals. And now, my wanderlust for Asia is at all-time high...


Das Brunch at Breakfast Market bowls with bacon, egg and beans_sold out

3. Das Brunch Breakfast Plate

Unsurprisingly, my friend Sophie's side project, Das Brunch, has once again hit it out of the park. Bacon, beans, the most perfectly poached eggs ever... Each dish is packed with flavor, and with accoutrements like lemon and rosé pepper-marinated manouri cheese and lime-chive vinaigrette, you feel like you're getting a first-class meal on a street food budget. Better yet, Sophie's gluten-intolerance means the food is naturally gluten-free and better yet, even gluten-free toast is on offer alongside it. Be sure to follow Das Brunch on Facebook to find out when the next one will be!


Nimms's Mitchen gluten-free herb waffle with meat and cheese

4. Nimm's Mitchen Savory Waffle

I first tried these waffles a few weeks earlier at Markthalle Neun, but this one at the Handgemacht Craft Beer and Street Food fest was the best one I've had yet. Perhaps it was the heaps of spicy meat where it's usually vegan-based fare, but the flavors and textures were perfection. It's such a treat to have more and more great gluten-free options on the food truck scene!


Oak & Ice Prenzlauer Berg Berlin gluten-free ice cream in a cup

5. Oak and Ice Ice Cream

I had been so busy preparing for my last minute trip to Portland, the new ice cream shop in my neighborhood's grand opening slipped under my radar. Lucky for me, I passed it on my last day in town while I was running errands and couldn't resist stopping in to give it a try. Assured that everything they had was gluten-free (note: the gluten status is now noted on its window menu board), I immediately was smitten with the mascarpone with fig I tried, so I got scoops of that and the salted caramel. I did my best to save a melting bite or two for my husband at home, which took a lot of restraint, let me tell you. With this new spot just around the corner, I could end up here more often than I should this summer.


Stay tuned for June's food round-up: A special edition of eating greatness from gluten-free mecca, Portland, Oregon!


Eating {gluten-free & vegan} in Lyon, France | Le Café Vert

May 26, 2016

Le Cafe Vert storefront Lyon France

'Gluten-free? That's the same as vegan, right?'

If I hear this one more time, especially in vegan-centric Berlin, I might scream. Admittedly, this dietary niche is often a source of gluten-free eats for those of us whose dietary needs are not a choice, so I try not to take the misconception to heart. And when the vegan spot is charming and French? Well, then I'm even more likely to concede.

Our road trip back from the south of France last month took us through the beautiful city of Lyon, and I of course, had a sandwich ready-made in my bag for our lunchtime pitstop (thank you, Genius bread!). After walking around briefly, we realized that (a), it was freezing and wet and (b) we were there on Sunday, when most things were closed. Heading back to the car to eat whatever we could pick at from our gluten-free French grocery haul, we spied a little cafe that looked open. Upon further inspection, it had a notation for sans gluten on the sandwich board out front. With everyone eager to get out of the cold and the prospect of a warm lunch, we went inside.

We managed a small spot by the window in an otherwise very cozy and bustling cafe. When the staff realized we were American, and that my French would only get us so far, they brought out the chef from the back, who was also from the U.S. and happened to run the place. Josh had a friendly, Midwestern demeanor and a clear passion for his relatively new establishment. He explained that in addition to being vegan and entirely gluten-free (as always, do confirm the absence of gluten if you visit), the concept of the place was raw food. Hummus, seed crackers and salad dominated the modest food menu, rounded out by fresh-pressed juices, coffees, teas and my favorite part of any meal: dessert.


Le Cafe Vert hummus, salad and cracker plate Lyon France

While my companions went for hot coffees and miso soup, I opted for a green juice and the tapas plate, complete with salad, house-made dehydrated crackers and hummus. While this was exactly the kind of fare I needed after sitting for hours on our roadtrip back to Germany, I must admit this isn't my usual kind of spot. But I came away rather surprised. The salad was diversified with kale and carrots, the seed crackers were hearty and flavorful, even the 'vegan cheese', something I am highly against considering my intense love of all things dairy, was surprisingly good. Even after such a satisfying meal, I remained skeptical but intrigued by the 'cheesecake' ordered by the next table over, but I needn't be. Cool, creamy and delicious, the punch of perfectly fresh raspberries and mint leaves just the thing to accompany the slightly citrusy tang of the cheesecake.

This little Lyon spot is so new, it seems it's still finding its footing. The handful of tables inside means it can fill up rather quickly and the electricity that flickers off every now and then only add to the charm. The warm wait staff give off none of that stereotypical French attitude, and chat together in varying levels of French and English. It appears since my visit that the menu is rounding out with more options (again, be sure to inquire about the status of gluten in the kitchen with these changes) and hopefully is gaining more momentum in a culture so dominated by dairy and bread. In addition to being a cafe and restaurant, Josh and his wife Pauline also run Ashtanga Yoga out of the spot in the off hours.


Le Cafe Vert raw cheesecake Lyon France

Le Café Vert
48 Rue Saint-Georges
69005 Lyon, France
Tel: +33 6 52 39 12 23



Take part in #CeliacAwarenessMonth by exploring the hashtag and sharing more about the disease through resources like advocacy organization Beyond Celiac. Don't forget to tag your positive gluten-free food photos and experiences with #celiacdoesntsuck - and help spread the gluten-free goodness!



Eating {gluten-free} in Montpellier, France | La Coutinelle

May 24, 2016

Creamy 4-cheese gluten-free pizza at La Coutinelle in Montpellier France

Finding a restaurant created and run by a fellow celiac is pretty much the holy grail of gluten-free travel - and La Coutinelle in the seaside town of Montpellier in the south of France is no exception. Beyond a kitchen entirely free from gluten, there is an impressive wall featuring gluten-free products ranging from spreads and sauces to a plethora of pasta I haven't seen anywhere else. Add to that the entire refrigerator case full of gluten-free beer, and this might be the most impressive gluten-free restaurant I've seen yet.


La Coutinelle gluten-free beers Bon Samaritain Mongozo Estrella Damm Brewdog Montpellier France

My husband found this gem when researching where to travel to on the southern French coast, based on, as it so often is, somewhere safe for me to eat. While the beach out that way was a bit disappointing compared to the Côte d'Azur I knew and loved, upon arriving in Montpellier for dinner on our way home, we immediately regretted not spending more time there. Walking through the narrow, winding streets to get to La Coutinelle, the city had a Barcelona-esque vibe, with lots of young people out at bars and cafes with friends, spilling out onto the streets. When we made it to our dinner destination, things looked even better.


La Coutinelle weekly new gluten-free beers Montpellier France La Coutinelle gluten-free menu options Montpellier France

La Coutinelle gluten-free menu request for no outside food Montpellier France

The fully stocked gluten-free beer case wowed us as soon as we entered, but then the wall of food stuffs and menu that proclaimed not only that is was a 100% gluten-free establishment, but asked patrons to refrain from bringing any outside food or drink in that could compromise the safety of others, confirmed we had come to the right place. The menu offerings were rather simple, with pizza, appetizers and burgers of an impressive assortment (from beef to fish to vegan), but very French in its decadent details and presentations.

Since we wanted to try everything, yet again, we got an appetizer plate, a traditional beef burger and a pizza to share. Our pizza had a similar chewy crust out of buckwheat to Berlin's Cielo di Berlino, but with the most incredible cheese and creamy, fatty toppings, it almost felt like dessert. The burger was not overcooked, as so often happens in Europe, and the bun was fluffy and flavorful, perhaps the best gluten-free burger bun I've had yet. Going all in, I opted for some dessert as well, and where the apple crisp felt rather lackluster in presentation, it was made up for in simple and satisfying flavor. And of course, there was beer. Lots of gluten-free beer.


La Coutinelle gluten-free appetizer plate Montpellier France
La Coutinelle gluten-free Brewdog and quinoa beers Montpellier France
La Coutinelle gluten-free burger Montpellier France
La Coutinelle gluten-free apple crisp dessert Montpellier France

The owners of this casual little spot were warm and friendly, happy to make accommodations and answer plenty of questions. I could see them take pride in the gluten-free assortments they stocked, and even prouder when they saw how I oooed and ahhhed over all the treats that were safe for me to enjoy. The place was empty at our rather early French dinner time, but filled up pretty well as the night went on. The crowd seemed to be like us, deliberately seeking out free-from foods in a country that was practically founded on bread and cheese. Let me assure you, it is worth seeking out.


La Coutinelle gluten-free restaurant Montpellier France

La Coutinelle
25 rue de l'université
34 000 MONTPELLIER
Tel: +33 (0)4 67 60 95 41
info@lacoutinelle.fr


Take part in #CeliacAwarenessMonth by exploring the hashtag and sharing more about the disease through resources like advocacy organization Beyond Celiac. Don't forget to tag your positive gluten-free food photos and experiences with #celiacdoesntsuck - and help spread the gluten-free goodness!