Gluten Free Barcelona (and Baqueira-Beret)

Corn-based gluten free pasta

Corn-based gluten free pasta

I’ve just been on a snowboarding trip to a small resort called Baqueira-Beret on the Spanish side of the Pyrenées. Luckily, being able to successfully manage a gluten free diet in Spain has become increasingly easy in recent years.

I was in Barcelona before I went to the mountains and there are a few restaurants that are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to coeliac disease. I discovered these thanks to an article by those CeliacChicks. This led me to the Celiac Society Catalunya Restaurant Guide which has a larger list, although the site itself is in Spanish (or Catalan).

When cooking at a friend’s house, I used some gluten free corn-based pasta that I picked up in a great little shop on Via Laietana called Veritas. Expensive at €4,35 (see photo) but very good none the less. And probably pricey because it’s actually an Italian brand! They also stocked Clearspring products, which I know from the UK.

Anyway, back to the mountains. The resort of Baqueira-Beret wasn’t so easy. The hotel was accommodating but eating out proved more difficult. So on my return I did a quick search on eating gluten free whilst skiing/snowboarding. I found an article by a guy in the US on his site Gluten Free Snowboarder. The site isn’t about gluten free snowboarding per se: he just happens to be a keen snowboarder who is also gluten intolerant! The crux of the article was that, although a few resorts in the US are starting to be more accommodating, it’s probably worth taking a packed lunch with you when you hit the slopes. Let’s hope the resorts in the US and in Europe catch up soon with the major cities.

So plenty to enjoy when eating in Spain even if you are slightly more on your own when in the mountains. Just make sure you take your Catalan or Spanish gluten free restaurant card from Celiac Travel with you!

Is beer gluten free?

Wold Top Brewery's Against The Grain gluten free beer

Wold Top Brewery's Against The Grain gluten free beer

There’s a lot of confusion on the internet as to whether beer is gluten free or not.

Beer is mostly made from barley which contains hordein, a type of gluten. (Wheat’s gluten is known as gliadin.) But some manufacturers claim that all the gluten is removed in the brewing process. This is almost certainly not the case though. And if you’re a coeliac, it’s best to avoid traditional beers altogether rather than run the risk of becoming ill.

The great news is that there are plenty of gluten free beer brands on the market. And they all taste pretty good too.

Here in the UK we’ve tried a few gluten free beers. And, in no particular order, here are our favourites.

Green’s produces eight gluten free beers, lagers and ales which are made using pseudo cereals such as sorghum, millet, buckwheat and brown rice. Our favourites include Endeavour dark beer with its flavour of roasted grain and winter fruits; Quest triple blonde beer with flavours of pear, melon and citrus; and Pioneer lager with its flavours of dried apple and apricot. (Green’s are UK based but distribute in the US and Canada as well.)

The Fine Ale Club produce an award-winning gluten free beer called Against the Grain which is smooth, rich and creamy. It’s also suitable for vegans

Hambleton’s Ales produce two gluten free beers: GFA and GLA. (You can order online or find them in your local Tesco or Sainsbury’s.) The GLA is a honey coloured ale with a full body and fruit and citrus flavours. The GFL is a pale lager style beer, best served chilled, with fruit and citrus flavours.

St Peter’s Brewery produce another of our favourites: G-Free™. This gluten free beer was launched in August 2007, and with its aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops, it has already become a favourite with real ale lovers.

If you’re based in the US or Canada you might want to try out Redbridge gluten free beer produced with sorghum. Or Bard’s who make ‘great tasting sorghum malt beer that just happens to be gluten free.’ True.

New Grist from Lakefront brewery is brewed from sorghum, hops, water, rice and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses. Whilst New York’s Ramapo Valley Brewery produces the beautifully named gluten free Honey Beer made from molasses, hops and of course honey. It’s also a Kosher beer.

Don’t forget: Gluten free beer still contains alcohol. So remember to drink sensibly! Enjoy.

Gluten Free Blog iPhone icon

As you might have been able to tell from recent posts I love my iPhone. So I have created a little GFB iPhone icon. Also called a ‘web clip’. This appears (instead of a screenshot of the website) if you link to The Gluten Free Blog from your iPhone Home Screen.

To do this:

  1. Browse to in the iPhone’s Safari browser.
  2. Click the ‘+’ symbol on the toolbar at the bottom of the browser.
  3. Select ‘Add to Home Screen’ from the options that appear.
  4. If you prefer you can change the name of the web clip from the default ‘The Gluten Free Blog’. The name is often abbreviated on the Home Screen if it’s more than 10 characters. I just use ‘GFB’.
  5. The GFB icon will be added to the first available free space on your iPhone screens.

Of course you can easily give this icon pride of place on your first Home Screen by dragging your icons around. You can do this on the iPhone itself or it’s even easier via the iTunes application when syncing. Watch this Apple video tutorial for information on rearranging your iPhone icons via iTunes (it’s about a minute and a half in).

Just what you’ve always wanted. Easy access to The Gluten Free Blog when on the move!

Is 2010 the year of the ‘gluten frees’?

Do you remember the first time you were in a restaurant and you said you were gluten free? I don’t know about you but my waitress looked at me like my head had just spun round and I’d puked up green bile. Suddenly, every visit to a restaurant or a friend’s house felt like an ordeal. ‘Oh what can you eat?’ ‘You’re so difficult to cook for!’

Well listen up people. Being gluten free is the new black. So much so that, The Daily Beast has declared it number three on their list of top ten food trends for 2010. (Number 1 and 2 being organic chocolate and coconut. Go figure.)

In fact, Globe Life declared ‘being gluten free’ as one of the top stories of last year (along with keeping your own chickens; why local produce isn’t always as good as it seems; and how we should all be eating less salt.)

So what’s happening here? Is it now uber-trendy to be gluten free?

No, not really. It does seem that people being diagnosed with coeliac disease is very much on the rise. Globe Life reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found that one in 100 people are now affected compared with only one in every 400 to 500 half a century ago.

Has modern production, processing and additives led to an increase in the disease? Or are medical professionals now recognising the disease and its debilitating affects more readily?

Either way, people following a gluten free diet will hopefully have even more choice in the coming year, whether that’s in their local restaurant or local grocery store. And that’s a good thing.

Chocolate Cake with Roasted Hazelnuts

This recipe is taken from The Wheat and Dairy Free Cookbook by Terence Stamp & Elizabeth Buxton.

Anyone who doubts that a feather light cake can be made without wheat flour should try this!

  • Hazelnuts, skinned, roasted and lightly crushed – 100 g (4 oz)
  • Margarine – 225 g (8 oz)
  • Vanilla extract – 2 tsp
  • Almond extract – 2 tsp
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – 4 tbsp
  • Fructose – 200 g (7 oz)
  • 4 medium eggs
  • All-purpose wheat-free flour – 100 g (3½ oz)
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp

For the frosting:

  • Margarine – 225 g (8 oz)
  • Vanilla extract – ¾ tsp
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted – 12 tbsp
  • Maple syrup – 1½ tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. In a saucepan, melt the margarine with the vanilla and almond extracts and sifted cocoa powder until just melted. Do not boil. Stir and remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, beat the fructose into the eggs until they become light and thick, using a balloon whisk or electric mixer. Do this thoroughly to achieve lightness in the finished sponge. Stir in the margarine mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir. Add the nuts and mix well.

Cut two circles of greaseproof paper/baling parchment and place in the bottom of two 25 cm/10 in round cake tins. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 20 minutes. The sponges will seem soft when removed from the oven and will come away from the sides of the tin if pulled gently with your fingers. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on twp wire racks to cool.

Put all the frosting ingredients into a mixing bowl and using a balloon whisk or electric mixer, beat until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate until the cakes have completely cool. To assemble the cake, put one of the cakes bottom side up on an upturned plate. Cover with a layer of frosting. Then place the other cake on top, bottom side down and frost the top and sides. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Serves 8