Perhaps you have written off the old world as a vacation destination, since going gluten-free. The birth place of pasta, baguettes, strudel, and beer may seem completely off limits. Fortunately with more awareness of celiac disease and other gluten sensitive conditions, Europeans are getting the hint and opening up many more gluten-free dining options so travelers can be at ease and not feel deprived. Here are some of the top gluten-free friendly cities in Europe.
Vienna, in general, does a great job in labeling gluten and dairy-free as well as vegan and vegetarian options. But even better is their gluten-free cake scene. Particularly Kurkonditorei OberlaaIf, where you can sink your teeth into the Kurbad Torte's decadent layers of nuts and chocolate mousse or the Schoko-Mousse Torte, a solid chocolate mousse cake. If you were afraid you were going to have to pass on the traditional Austrian dish, wiener schnitzel, head over to Schuebel-Auer in the wine district to sample their gluten-free version. Next you take a stroll through Prater Park where you can enjoy a frothy glass of gluten-free beer at Karl Kolarik's Schweizerhause a nearby traditional beer hall. While in Vienna, you may consider staying at the Hotel Am Konzerthaus in the third district as they feature an amazing gluten-free breakfast.
When the peasants complained about the bread shortage, Marie Antoinette replied, "Let them eat cake." Gluten-free travelers can rejoice that in Paris they can eat both! For starters Helmut Newcake by Canal Saint Martin is France's first 100% gluten-free bakery. There you can indulge in French treasures such as artisanal breads, éclairs, tarte aux franboises and my personal favorite, the Paris Brest. Another must are the buckwheat (farine de sarrasin) galettes at the Galette Café near Saint-Germain-des-Prés. These naturally gluten-free savory crepes are served up fresh with fillings such as scallops with leek fondue and goat cheese and apple with chestnut honey. Other gluten-free friendly dining spots include Fish la Boissonerie not too far from the Galettte Café and the gluten-free only take away NOGLU in the 8th arrondissement.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that Italy is the most gluten-free friendly country in Europe. This is mostly thanks to the Associazione Italiana Celiachia, or AIC, Italy's celiac association, which offers training and certification for restaurants, bars and hotels. Now let's start off with a sweet note, cannolis! La Cannoleria Siciliana, on the east bank of the Tiber, offers a gluten-free cannoli filled with lush sweet ricotta and chunks of chocolate. For traditional Italian fare, Taverna Barberini has a wonderful gluten-free menu including bread, a variety of pastas and raviolis and you can even finish your meal with their gluten-free tiramisu. If you are a pizza lover, Voglia di Pizza offers gluten-free pizza with a light, chewy authentic Roman pizza crust and delicious toppings such as zucchini and gorgonzola. You can even pair your pizza with their gluten-free beer. When in Rome, Residence II Vittoriano might be the perfect spot to rest your head. Besides being located on one of the most beautiful streets in the world, Via Giulia, you will be able to wake up to a scrumptious gluten-free breakfast.
As with any vacation, it is always a good a idea to plan ahead. So make sure to bring some safe snacks that can tide you over between gluten-free meals. Then you can make appropriate decisions. Also click here for free gluten-free restaurant dining cards in languages from Albanian to Vietnamese. Despite the eerie resemblance, the woman in the photo is not me with a haircut :)