The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate in April (France Edition) + Celiac Awareness Month

May 10, 2016

Genius Sans Gluten croissant and jam from France

I've always traveled mostly for the food. After my celiac diagnosis, I've mostly not traveled because of food. The amount of time most people spend researching all the sights and historical points of interest in a destination pales in comparison to the pre-planning that goes into a celiac trying to eat safely while on holiday. Just having a 'gluten-free' label on the menu isn't always enough. How was it prepared? Do the owners understand cross-contamination? What have other celiacs said about eating here? Did they get sick? It's all a careful and exhausting balance, one that can detract from the true to travel: the destination.

With May being Celiac Awareness Month and fresh off a successful (read: no accidental glutenings!) trip to the south of France, I figured I would focus on all things food - and all things French in the coming weeks. I'm starting with my new feature, 'The 5 Best Gluten-Free Things I Ate', to kick off the month and give you a little preview of what's to come...

Genius Sans Gluten croissants and breads at Carrefour France

1. Pretty much the entire assortment of Genius Sans Gluten products

Thinking about this now, nearly a week after the final pastry was enjoyed from my France haul, it makes me cry. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful that Genius has come to Germany at all. It's bread and rolls are so much better than anything else we have here. But the delicate textures and flavors of things like croissants and brioche, things I previously resigned myself to never enjoying again, are not only attainable gluten-free, but Genius is already producing them... in France. Ever since I read that its pain au chocolat had won awards, I've started a one-woman campaign on Facebook and Twitter, begging them to bring it to Germany. Now that I've actually tasted it, I'm considering flying to the UK and picketing for these products until they share them with us. Yes, they are that good. Stay tuned for a more thorough review of these baked goods next week!

Maison Bremond apricot-lavender jam from France

2. Maison Bremond Apricot & Lavender jam

Apricot jam has always been my favorite, but when I saw this stuff at a little shop in Roussillon, I knew I had found the accompaniment to the Genius croissants I'd come to love. After the first bite with those flakey pastries, I fell deeply in love. The sweet fruitiness is cut with the perfect amount of lavender that is neither overpowering nor too floral. Pricey stuff to enjoy on the regular, I do plan to order some more to have on hand for more special occasions.

Risottos to eat in or takeaway at Risotto & Co in Avignon France

3. Risotto, Risotto and more Risotto

I couldn't believe my luck that there was a completely gluten-free restaurant in the town we were staying in, which turned to absolute delight upon realizing it was relatively inexpensive, quick and surprisingly delicious. There was chicken risotto, chorizo risotto and perhaps my favorite: a lemon-seasoned parmesan risotto. I cook exactly one risotto at home (Molly Yeh's damn good pumpkin risotto), but this shop has inspired me to work on my own 'hot wet rice' game at home. Stay tuned for my review of this Avignon restaurant later this week!

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

4. The most decadent pizza, perhaps ever

This pizza was representative all great French things: Cheese, cheese, dairy, fat... and more cheese. Unlike a greasy American counterpart, this was super creamy with rich, complex flavor, with vinegar notes from olives and a bit of saltiness from lardons. All that and a gluten-free buckwheat crust? I'm about ready to pack up and move to France! And yes... you did notice a Brewdog beer off to the side there, that is GLUTEN-FREE! What?! This place had the most amazing gluten-free beer selection and needless to say, my husband was in heaven. Enjoying great beer and he got to kiss me afterwards (note: even kissing someone who's eaten gluten can make a celiac sick - sucks, right?). This place is a must if travelling France gluten-free. Stay tuned for my review of this Montpellier restaurant later this month!

gluten-free vegan cheesecake with spoon at Le Cafe Vert Lyon France

5. A surprisingly delicious raw vegan cheesecake

On a stop in Lyon to grab some lunch on a Sunday, most places were closed, save a small vegan spot that advertised gluten-free offerings on the sign out front. I ditched my packed sandwich in favor of a meal with my road tripping companions, and ended it with this lovely little dessert. Cool and creamy, with a hint of citrus, this was the opposite of everything I dislike about traditional cheesecake. Perfectly ripe berries and a mint leaf added little pops of contrast, in both color and flavor. Stay tuned for my review of this Lyon cafe later this month!

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!

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