Friday, July 19, 2019

Paris Gluten Free

The second stop on our European summer vacation this year was Paris. After spending a few days at Disneyland Paris, we headed into the city, where we stayed at an Airbnb in the Marais for five nights. I first learned about the Le Marais on House Hunters International, and it is recommended by Rick Steves, the author of the travel guide I purchased before our trip.

First off, let's start with a little information on how I research restaurants for our trips. I always use the Find Me Gluten Free app, and reviews from fellow bloggers, if they are available. For this trip, my favorite posts were written by Becky Excell and The Gluten Free Suitcase. I also like to read restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor once I decide where I might like to dine, and Instagram can come in handy too. I follow a lot of 100% gluten free restaurants, and bloggers who travel internationally. I am a planner, but I don't necessarily have specific restaurants picked out for every day of our trips ahead of time. When we decide what sites we want to see in Europe, I use the Find Me Gluten Free app to figure out what restaurants are in the area, then I cross reference them with the list of restaurants I want to dine at that I create before we leave home. I never just walk into a random restaurant and ask if they have gluten free options. Thankfully, my family is willing to tag along with me on my gluten free eating adventures. There are so many 100% gluten free restaurants and bakeries in Paris, there was no way I could visit all of them in five days, and there was no need for me to eat anywhere with gluten, if that is what I chose to do. The Find Me Gluten Free app has a great filter for dedicated gluten free restaurants that really comes in handy when I travel.

Our favorite cuisine is Italian food, so we decided to visit two 100% gluten free Italian restaurants in Paris. I have reviews of every restaurant we visited in Europe on my Facebook page Alexis's Gluten Free Adventures. If you want to see all my menu pictures from a restaurant we dined at, use the Facebook search bar, and enter the name of the restaurant and the name of my blog to find the photos. This post would way too long if I included all the pictures I took at every restaurant and bakery.

Our meal at Little Nonna started with complimentary bread, which was dense, but very good.

I am not a huge fan of tomato sauce, so I almost always order a white pizza when I dine out. I was excited to try the Tartuffello pizza with truffle, mozzarella, arugula, and Parmesan. The crust was incredible, and this pizza might be the best pizza I have had since my celiac diagnosis 11 years ago. The only pizza that might rival it was the four cheese pizza I had at Ciro & Sons in Florence last summer.

My daughters, and my aunt and uncle ordered the Nonnargherita pizza with mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and basil.

My aunt and uncle, who avoid dairy, had their pizza with lactose-free cheese, and loved it. My uncle also like the fried calamari he ordered.

My husband and I shared my pizza, and an order of burrata with tomato water, served with a bruschetta topped with tomatoes and oregano. Mitch ended up eating most of this dish, because I was too busy stuffing my face full of pizza, and he likes burrata more than I do. I thought the tomato water was a little strange, so I was perfectly happy to let my husband eat the rest of this dish after I tried a bite.

For dessert, I ordered roasted figs with honey and walnut ice cream. It was just as amazing as my pizza, which is why my meal at Little Nonna was my favorite of our trip to Paris, and maybe the best of our entire three week trip to Europe.

My aunt and uncle also loved their dairy free dessert of roasted peaches served with a crumble and apricot sorbet. My aunt told me earlier this week that my uncle was still talking about the meal he had at Little Nonna. As far as sites go, Little Nonna is a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe, which we visited after lunch.

The day after we dined at Little Nonna, we had lunch at Tasca, which you can walk to easily from the Eiffel Tower.

Our meal started off with complimentary bread, and ricotta to spread on it, which we really enjoyed.

My husband and I shared a La Tasca pizza with homemade tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, arugula, and Parmesan. My husband liked this pizza better than our Tartuffello pizza at Little Nonna, because of the toppings and the thinner crust. I like thin crust pizza, but prefer Neapolitan pizza with its thicker crust around the edges, and as I said before, my preference would always be a white pizza without sauce.

My husband and I also shared lamb shank with honey and candied orange peel. It was amazing, and I loved the pasta it was served with too, even though it had red sauce on it. I usually don't like the acidity of tomato sauces, but if they are slightly sweet, I enjoy them, which was the case at Tasca.

My daughters shared an order of beef ravioli, which they said was good.

My aunt loved her salmon, and my uncle had a bowl of the same pasta that was served with our lamb.

For dessert, I had vanilla panna cotta with a berry sauce on top of it. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts, and this one did not disappoint.

My aunt and uncle raved about their lemon sorbet with limoncello. My uncle had the limoncello on the side, because my aunt does not drink alcohol.

Overall, we had great meals at Little Nonna and Tasca, and would return to both on future trips to Paris.

Ok, now on to some French food. Paris has several 100% gluten free bakeries, including Helmut Newcake, Chambelland, Onyriza, and Noglu, a favorite of ours from our Christmas Break trip to New York City. In the middle of our Rick Steves' historic Paris walk, which started at Notre Dame, we headed to the closest Helmut Newcake to have lunch. Both Helmut Newcake and Noglu have two locations in Paris. I would have loved to have visited all four bakeries that I mentioned, but we did not have time, so I chose the one most recommended by my blog readers.

I was a little disappointed that there was only one sandwich with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto when we arrived at Helmut Newcake, because my daughters and I wanted the same sandwich.

I ended up ordering the curry chicken vegetable sandwich, which we all preferred to our original choice. My aunt and uncle were able to eat this sandwich too, because it was dairy free, and they loved it as much as I did. My aunt later told me it was the best sandwich she had on our trip to Europe, and she ate several others with gluten-filled bread in Paris and Barcelona.

My favorite pastry at Helmut Newcake was the palmier, which was so incredibly flaky and buttery. I had several versions of this dessert in Barcelona, but did not like any of them, because the butter taste was a bit off for me, making me wonder if they were dairy free. I also enjoyed the other pastry on the plate with apples, which I ordered for my daughter Emma, who loves apple desserts.

Katie chose the same dairy free chocolate cake my uncle did. We ate at the bakery, which did have some indoor seating, so we were able to enjoy the cake warmed up. It was good, but because I can get this kind of dessert at so many restaurants back in the United States, I would not have picked it myself.

My aunt chose this beautiful raspberry tart, which she shared with all of us. It was just as incredible as it looked, and it was my girls' favorite pastry. My daughters and I also shared a chocolate eclair. We all liked it, but would have preferred the filling to be a vanilla cream instead of chocolate. I took some of the filling out, and spread it on the bread I had left over from my sandwich. Chocolate on bread is so good!

We also ordered a pain au chocolate, but I did not realize until we walked by the pastry case before leaving, that I had never received it. I think it was forgotten in the chaos of us ordering so many pastries, but I know we did not pay for it, because the employee helping us totaled our bill by looking at everything she laid out on plates for us.

My aunt and uncle also had this beautiful salad topped with an interesting mix of fruits and vegetables. If I had seen it when we ordered, I definitely would have gotten one too. Overall, we had a great lunch at Helmut Newcake, and I look forward to going back again on future trips to Paris.

Another favorite of ours was Yummy & Guiltfree, a 100% gluten free restaurant with several location in Paris. Thankfully, one of them was a short walk from our Airbnb in the Marais. The night we had dinner there, we all ordered a combo that included a savory waffle, a sweet waffle, and a drink.

My daughters ordered La Chipo savory waffle with sweet potato cream, fajita vegetables, corn, and sausage. They were afraid they would not like the cumin yogurt sauce, so they asked for it on the side, but they said it was great, and ended up eating it. My girls loved their savory waffle so much, I regretted not ordering it.

I liked my La Fish with cod, mashed potatoes, Parmesan and lime, but I grew a little weary of the taste after a few bites.

My husband enjoyed his waffle with marinated salmon, fennel with black sesame, and cream cheese.

My top dessert choice was a sweet waffle with lemon curd and lime. It was one of the best things I ate on our three week vacation, and I was sad I had to share it with my husband. It reminded me of key lime pie, one of my favorite desserts.

The four of us shared two chocolate cream waffles. They were good, but the lemon curd was a better choice for a warm summer night.

My girls also enjoyed the seasonal jam waffle they chose, but said their savory waffle was their favorite. The waffles themselves at Yummy & Guiltfree were delicious. I loved how perfectly crispy they were, and they are dairy free too.

Our first night in Paris, we had an early dinner at Cafe Mareva, a 100% gluten and lactose free restaurant that we walked to from our Airbnb.

I ordered their best-seller, the classic sweet potato waffle with homemade guacamole, arugula, a poached egg, and bacon. I really enjoyed this dish, and was shocked that my daughter Katie, who ordered the same thing, did not like it. She said she was expecting avocado instead of guacamole, though I am not sure why that would make a big difference.

My daughter Emma chose the sweet potato waffle with curry chicken, which she thought was just ok. I tasted it and thought it was good, but I liked my waffle better.

I was surprised that both my aunt and uncle ordered a savory English breakfast waffle with crispy bacon, fried eggs, and new potatoes. The menu says the new potatoes are baked in the oven, but it seemed liked they were breaded and fried, which my aunt and uncle did not enjoy. They did say that the rest of their meal was good though.

Emma and I shared a sweet waffle with powdered sugar and chocolate. The waffle was way too dry, and we did not really like either half of it.

Katie was happy with her large brownie with nuts on top.

My aunt and uncle said the strawberry crumble they shared for dessert was very good.

Because our meal at Cafe Mareva was a little hit or miss, I doubt we would return on our next trip to Paris. We did love our server though, who happened to be the owner.

Wild & The Moon, a 100% gluten free juice bar, was across the street from our Airbnb.

I bought a juice there, and a delicious acai bowl. I was shocked when I saw how much granola they gave me. I did translate the ingredients on a bag of granola at Wild & The Moon to make sure they are using gluten free oats. If I had not brought granola bars with me from home to eat for breakfast, I probably would have stopped at Wild & The Moon a few more times. We also stocked the fridge of our Airbnb with fruit we bought at local grocery stores.

The only restaurant I ate at in Paris that was not 100% gluten free was Breizh Cafe, which was recommended by Becky Excell. Our server confirmed that the buckwheat crepes are gluten free, and that they are made on a separate surface with separate utensils from the gluten-filled sweet crepes.

I really enjoyed my buckwheat galette with a sunny side up fried egg and raw milk comte cheese.

I wanted a galtette with ice cream for dessert, but the only safe option was sorbet, so I decided to go to GROM instead. My aunt had a a buckwheat galette with farmhouse butter, and sorbet for dessert. She is lactose intolerant, but can eat butter without issue.

One of my blog readers gave me a heads up that GROM, a 100% gluten free gelateria with locations around the world, now had brioche filled with gelato, so I was excited to try one. They cut the pre--packaged brioche in half, stuff it with your gelato of choice, then put it in the brioche press, so you end up with a warm brioche. I decided to keep it simple and chose vanilla gelato.

It was so amazing, my husband and I went back with our daughters our last night in Paris so they could try it too. The second time we stopped in, the brioche press was not heated up, so we had to wait about 15 minutes for our dessert, and my brioche was not pressed as well, but it was still incredibly delicious. Sadly, when I stopped at the GROM in Nice, France, I ran into the same issue, but there, I did not have time to wait.

In Nice though, I was able to get this amazing waffle cone with stracciatella gelato. This was my first time finding waffle cones at a GROM gelateria. I have only seen sugar cones at the stores I have visited in Hollywood, New York City, Genoa, Florence, Venice, and Rome. GROM gelaterias have not always been 100% gluten free in the United States, because of their ice cream cones. That seems to have changed in the last year though, but it is always a good idea to double check before ordering. 

In Paris, we also purchased a few bags of our favorite GROM biscotti to bring home.

Paris has a great 100% gluten free coffee shop called Le Cairn, and it is a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. We shared some pastries, which were delicious, and my daughters and I had iced decaf mochas, which I highly recommend.

My husband also enjoyed his cafe au lait. As far as food goes, Le Cairn has sweet and savory options to choose from if you are looking for breakfast or a light lunch.

While enjoying our coffee, we started talking to a family from the United States that was staying in the area, and had stopped in a few times during their trip. When I asked if anyone in their family had to eat gluten free, they said no, and were surprised when I mentioned that everything at Le Cairn was gluten free. They told us that all the baked goods they had tried were very good, and seemed a little shocked that gluten free pastries could be that delicious.

The day we visited Versailles, we did not have time for a formal sit-down lunch, so I had a Magnum almond ice cream bar that I found at a small shop in the middle of the gardens, while my family ate sandwiches.

Earlier in the trip, I had a Magnum bar at Disneyland Paris, where I was happy to see "gluten free" mentioned in the ingredients list.

I also ate one of my Patagonia mango-almond bars that I brought from home. They are one of my favorite travel snacks, because the ingredients list is clean, they are the perfect size for my small purse, and they taste great. I buy them at the Patagonia shop in Santa Cruz, but they can also be ordered online.

Before leaving Versailles, we found a Laduree macaron shop inside the palace. All the macarons at Versailles were gluten free, so we picked out a few flavors to snack on before we took a train back to Paris. Believe it or not, these were the only macarons I ate in France. They were very good, but I can find amazing macarons in the United States, so I did not have too much interest in eating them while on vacation.

From Paris, we took a train to Barcelona out of Gare de Lyon. I knew there was a Yummy and Guiltfree at Gare de Lyon, so I had a sweet waffle with lemon curd for breakfast while we waited for our train.

While I was wandering around, I also found a GROM at Gare de Lyon.

Overall, Paris ranks as one of the best cities I have found for gluten free dining. It would be in my top 5, along with New York City, Rome, Barcelona, and Florence. Portland, Oregon and Orlando are two of my other favorites. I had no issues with language or service at any of the restaurants we visited. My husband and I both took French in school, so knowing the basics is helpful when greeting people and trying to order. We did find though, that when people heard us speaking English to each other, they automatically spoke English to us, even when we were attempting to speaking French. I rarely needed my Google Translate app, because we were given menus in English.

In the next few years, I would love to go back to Paris to see more sites, and eat more amazing gluten free food. There were several other 100% gluten free restaurants and bakeries that I wanted to visit, like NoGlu, Chambelland, Onyriza, Bears and Raccoons, and Bio Sphere Cafe. I guess I just need to make sure we return again soon!

What are your favorite restaurants for gluten free dining in Paris?