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Gluten Free Menu at Tasca Restaurant // Brighton, MA

I fell in love with Spain after I spent a semester in college studying in Valencia. Ever since, I have loved tapas, paella and sangria! Jeremy and I go out for tapas once every few months, so when I was invited to Tasca Restaurant to check out the updated gluten free menu I couldn’t resist!

I lived in Brighton and Brookline for three years and ate at Tasca quite a few times, but it has been over 3 three years since my last visit! Well, that was until this weekend.

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I love the atmosphere at Tasca, its dark, rustic and romantic, reminds me of being in Spain. It’s great to go with a few people so you can share and try different tapas. Jeremy and I were pretty hungry so we shared four tapas – they aren’t that big – and one entree, which was plenty of food. 

While the owner Dan is working on getting a gluten free bread into the restaurant, I would recommend to bring some gluten free breadsticks of your own so you can enjoy the bean spread that is served with the bread basket. It varies, but the white bean dip we were served was delicious and I was eating it with my spoon! 

Of course we couldn’t resist ordering a pitcher of white sangria. It’s not too strong and easily sharable among two people.

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Gambas al ajilo (Sizzling garlic shrimp) are served sizzling in a mini skillet with pieces of crispy and flavorful garlic chips. 

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Two of my favorite Spanish tapas are the Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette) and Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato and garlic aioli.) Whenever we see these on a menu we order the.

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The tortilla is a Traditional Spanish potato and onion omelet. This one had wonderful flavors of rosemary in it – perfect for fall! 

For all the times I’ve visited Tasca in the past, this was the first time I tried the Solomillo, petit filet mignon served with blue cheese gratin (no wine sauce). It might look a little plain without the sauce, but trust me it wasn’t. The meat was tender and juicy and full of flavor!

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Jeremy and I shared the Paella de mariscos (seafood paella) made with shrimp, scallops, white fish & calamari with saffron rice cooked in a lobster broth. While the menu says individual portion, it was big enough for us to share.

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Although we were full, we did have a little room left for dessert – when do I not? Almost all of the desserts at Tasca are gluten free and tonight we opted for the Crema Catalana, a rich chilled orange custard with caramelized sugar top. This is very similar to Creme brulée. 

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Are you hungry yet? My mouth is watering as I am writing this post! 

Disclaimer: I received this meal free of charge. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Gluten Free Options at Macondo West // West Village

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Located alongside sister restaurant, Barraca, Macondo West, a Latino taperia (Latin tapas bar), features is Latino comida de la calle (Latin street food) cuisine from all over the Spanish speaking world. Serving arepas from Venezuela, patatas bravas from Spain, empanadas from Columbia, tacos from Mexico, and juices from Brazil. Jeremy and I love both Spanish and Hispanic food and couldn’t wait to eat here. We loved the lively atmosphere and unique culture.

The waitress was very knowledgeable about the menu and which items were gluten free. Surprisingly, many items you wouldn’t think are gluten free are thanks to the separate gluten free fryer they have in the kitchen. 

We shared a few dishes, which were all delicious, with the exception of the empanadas. More about that later.

First we had the Camaron (shrimp) Ceviche with coconut juice, roasted pineapple, and pickled jalapenos. The fruit and citrus juices were incredibly flavorful, yet didn’t overpower the fish. We loved this flavor combination; it was unique and very different from traditional ceviche, and a must try! 

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Patatas Bravas are our favorite dish to order in Spain and at Spanish restaurants. Golden crispy potatoes served with a spicy sauce and alioli. 

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half eaten patatas bravas

For dinner we shared Carne Con Yuca, hanger steak topped with chimichuri sauce and queso fresco served over yuca fries. The hanger steak was cooked perfectly and was drenched in chimichurri. The sauce was fresh and I could have eaten an entire jar of chimichurri. I wanted more.

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We also ordered chicken empanadas because they are Macondo’s signature dish. The empanadas are made from corn and they are not subject to cross contamination in the fryer as the restaurant has two fryers. This was actually the first time we sent a dish back because we did not like it. The empanadas were dripping grease and the chicken was tasteless. These were nothing compared to Empanada Mama, such a disappointment. 

 

Gluten Free Dinner Menu

Click to add a blog post for Macondo on Zomato

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Kiva Gourmet HOT + SWEET SMOKED Spanish Paprika

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As you know I love Spain. I’ve been four times in the past eight years and can not wait for my next trip! So, when I was offered the opportunity to try Kiva Gourmet’s Hot AND Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika, I did not hesitate to say yes.

I received one bottle of the sweet and one bottle of our hot smoked Spanish paprika powder. Smoked paprika adds flavor and depth to rice, meat, seafood, stews, soups, eggs, vegetables, etc. It’s incredibly versatile and I use it all the time when I cook.

Kiva
imports their smoked paprika from the famous La Vera region of Spain. Following a century old recipe, hand-harvested peppers are smoked dried over holm oak for a minimum of 14 days. This gives the paprika its unique rich flavor. 

Kiva smoked paprika is made in small batches to ensure optimum aroma, color, and flavor.

Sweet Smoked Paprika has a deep, rich flavor with a slightly sweet undertone.

Hot Smoked Paprika has a deep, rich, and slightly spicy flavor.

Like all Kiva products, the smokes Spanish paprika is non-GMO.

Kiva works directly with local farmers from around the world to ensure that the ingredients they purchase are of the highest quality and are grown through sustainable and eco-friendly methods.  

You can purchase Kiva Hot and Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I was not paid to write this review. 

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Gluten Free Options at El Colmado // Gotham West Market, Hell’s Kitchen

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Gotham West Market is a first-of-its-kind retail and dining destination in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. This food hall Market is more like Eataly, Smorgasburg, and Chelsea Market all rolled into one for a new type of dining experience.

At Gotham West Market, you have the option of dining at the respective eateries or ordering food to go and enjoy their meal throughout the Market’s stylish communal seating areas.

During my first visit to Gotham West Market I found myself at El Colmado, a classic Spanish tapas and wine bar. (surprise, surprise) El Colmado, or “the grocer,” refers to the small, family-owned gourmet shops found throughout Spain that celebrate the artisanal olive oils, vinegars, and preserved seafoods for which the country is famous.

El Colmado offers a menu of both traditional and creative Spanish fare, ranging in size from mordiscos (snacks), tapas (bites to share), and medias (small plates).

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Huevos al Diablo, Tortilla Española, y Aceitunas Aliñadas

The menu is incredibly gluten free friendly and offers plenty of gluten free options.

  • Ostras (Oysters)
  • Aceitunas Aliñadas (marinated mixed olives)
  • Almendras Fritas (Almonds fried in olive oil, dried lemon, urfa pepper)
  • Remolachas Marinadas (Marinated smoked beets, Caña de Cabra cheese, candied almonds, horseradish)
  • Huevo al Diablo (Deviled egg, smoked bacalao, roasted pepper)
  • Dátil con Béicon (Date stuffed with almond and Valdeón cheese, wrapped in bacon)
  • Ración Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (Ibérico de Bellota ham, hand-cut)
  • Ración Jamón Serrano (Serrano ham, aged 18 months)
  • Patatas Bravas (Crispy, spicy potatoes, garlic all i oli)

Patatas Bravas
Patatas Bravas

  • Pimientos (Shishito peppers fried in olive oil, lots of coarse sea salt )
  • Atún Marinado (Marinated raw tuna, artichoke, caper berries, olive, crispy faro)
  • Langostino (Mediterranean prawn a la plancha, fennel all i oli)
  • Ensalada Invierno (Winter Salad -Shaved red and black radishes, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, Mahón cheese, anchovy vinaigrette)
  • Albóndigas (Lamb meatballs, mojo picon, sheep’s milk yogurt)
  • Gambas al Ajillo (Gulf shrimp, garlic, guindilla, olive oil, no bread)
  • Arroz Negro (Black rice, sepia, uni)

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Arroz Negro

  • Pulpo a la Plancha (Octopus on the plancha, marinated potatoes, spicy olivada)
  • Bistec al Minuto (Grilled steak, sunchoke hash, salsa verde, fresh olive)
  • Huevos Roto (Confit potato, sobrasada sausage, two fried eggs)

Wine at Gotham West Market is only available at El Colmado! The primarily Spanish wine list features wines on tap and a wide range of selections available by the glass, to encourage guests to explore and discover the excellent wines and sherries of Spain. This is my dream come true.

Monday-Fridays, 3-7pm, enjoy ½ dozen featured oysters plus a glass of Cava for $11.

El Colmado on Urbanspoon

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Sin Gluten {Gluten Free} Tapas in Galicia, Spain

I just got back from my forth trip to Spain. You could say that I love traveling to Spain. This time I went to Galicia. It was my first time in this part of the country. Jeremy and I spent 6 nights traveling to different cities— Vigo, Pontevedra, Ourense, and Santiado de Compostela. We also spent 2 in Portugal– I’ll be posting about Portugal later this week!

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Located in the northwest corner of Spain, surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean, is the region of Galicia. Seafood is the king of cuisine here and about half of the seafood consumed in Spain comes from the waters of Galicia.

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Why do I love Spain so much? The people, the landscapes, the culture, and the food is all amazing! If you haven’t been to Spain, you must go! And I promise gating gluten free is a breeze! In Galicia is quite easy, as most dishes are seafood-based. The selection of tapas in Galicia is not as broad as that of Barcelona or Madrid, but the quality is just as good and you won’t feel a lack of options! I promise! [If you are interested in learning about the gluten free options in Barcelona and the Rioja region, click here.]

Here is a list Galician tapas that are naturally gluten free.

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Pulpo (Octopus) Slow boiled tender octopus garnished with extra virgin olive oil and paprika

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Pulpo (Octopus) Slow boiled tender octopus garnished with extra virgin olive oil and paprika

Almejas (clams) Almejas refer to a broad category of clams.  In Galicia you will most often find the small grooved carpet shell species.

Almejas (clams)
Almejas (clams)

Berberechos (Cockles) Very similar to standard clams but you can distinguish them by the ridges on their shells and their heat-shaped shape when viewed sideways.

Mejillones (Mussels) One of the most affordable options are mussels, served fresh with lemon wedges as mejillones al vapor (steamed mussels) or in a spicy marinade called tigres.

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Tigres

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mejillones al vapor (steamed mussels)

Vieiras (Scallops) Scallops are the symbol of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that ends in the Galician capital of Santiago de Compostela. The yellow scallop shells direct the path all the way from the French boarder across northern Spanish boarder. In Spain, scallops are served on the half shell. Smaller scallops are called zamburiñas.

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zamburiñas

Percebes (Goose Barnacles)

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Galicia is also famous for Piemientos de Padron, (Pedron peppers). Grown in the city of Padrón, these small green peppers have a mild taste.

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Once in a while you will get a spicy one, but of the 10+ times I’ve ordered them I have yet to come across a spicy pepper. Padrón peppers are usually eaten fried in olive oil and with a sprinkle of coarse salt that not only enhances their flavor, but adds a nice crunch.

There are many types of chorizo in Galicia.

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Tetilla cheese. The word “tetilla” means “small breast” clearly defines the traditional shape of this cheese made from cow’s milk.

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Manchego Cheese
Manchego Cheese

Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet) No doubt about it, the Tortilla Española is the most commonly served dish in Spain. Made with eggs and potato.

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Patatas Bravas are not too easy to find in Galicia but you can still find plenty of fried potatoes.

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Galicia is also known for its wine— Albariño, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, and Valdeorras.

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On our first day in Spain we went to the Alboriño Wine Festival in Cambados, Spain.

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This festival is held every during the first week of August. The outdoor festival is free to attend. You pay by taste or you can pay 15 euros for the exhibit hall and try over 100 wines.

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We also visited the Viña Costeira Winery in Ribiero, one of the wine regions in Galicia. We took a tour of the facility and then did a wine tasting, complete with a tapas spread.

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The Old Cellar

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Wine Tasting

Viña Costeira is available in select states in the US. Off the top of my head I know you can find it in stores and restaurants in New York and Ohio.

I highly recommend doing a wine tour if you ever make it to Spain. Make sure to book your tour well in advance of your trip. It’s not like here; you can’t just show up for tasting and tours, appointments are required.

More pictures from our trip:

Pontevedra
Pontevedra

Pontevedra
Pontevedra

Ourense and el Rio Mio
Ourense and el Rio Mio

El Rio Mio, Ourense
El Rio Mio, Ourense

Hot Springs, Ourense
Hot Springs, Ourense

Pontevedra
Pontevedra

Santiago
Santiago

The Basilica

Gluten Free (Sin-Gluten) Guide to Zaragoza

Zaragoza is located 200 miles west of Barcelona, about 2 hours by Renfe, Spain’s railway. The city is famous for its landmarks such as the Basílica del Pilar, La Seo Cathedral and the Aljafería Palace, as well as ts renowned local gastronomy— specifically a vast array of tapas bars. The best place to eat is the old city, (Casco Viejo) which is formed by a maze of small, narrow streets similar lined with bar after bar.  This quintessential tapas area is known as “El Tubo” (The Tube). El Tubo becomes alive at night, swarming with people, young and old, walking from one bar to the next and enjoying excellent tapas and fine wine.

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Tip: In Spanish “tapas trawling”, strolling from on bar to another, is called Tapear.

We arrived in late morning and spent our first hour site seeing.

The Basilica
The Basilica

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Then it was time for lunch. It was such a beautiful day so we chose to sit outside at Taberna el Lince, in the Plaza Santa Marta, and enjoyed a baked potato stuffed with cheese and bacon (patata rellena de queso y bacon). This rich and yummy comfort food was a bit too heavy for me. It was delicious but I am glad we shared it three ways.DSC00353

Our next stop was the charming La Republicana. Here, the walls and shelves are lined with living room style décor, bric-a-brac and objects dating back throughout the decades. I loved the atmosphere here, I felt like I had stepped back in time.DSC00356
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We ordered 6 tapas for €9. This is a practical and inexpensive way to sample many tapas at the same time. We tried risotto with mushrooms (risotto con champiñones), potato salad (ensalada Ruso), Spanish omelet (tortilla española),  scrambled eggs with salted cold (huevos revueltos con bacalo), and mashed purple potatoes topped with eggs, tomato sauce and ham. (The 6th appetizer was not gluten free).
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Ensalada Ruso, which means Russian Salad, is a classic Spanish tapa you will find in many tapas bars. It is made with mayonnaise, potatoes, carrots, peas, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna fish. The menu at La Republicana is big. Most items are on display in a glass case on the bar. It is easy to point and ask for what you want!

To drink we ordered Tinto de verano (summer red wine). It is a much simpler form of Sangria, made with only red wine, soda water and carbonated lemonade. It is perfect for a hot afternoon.

After a little more site seeing and a brief siesta, we headed back out to tapear. Eating in Spain is an adventure, something that is not rushed and should be savored slowly. This is a very different concept than American eating. While you are in Spain it is wise to embrace the local culture and eating habits. An evening out includes tapas rather than a sit down dinner, and nothing is ever rushed.

The Central Market
The Central Market

Our first stop for dinner was Bar Circo which offers a small selection of local tapas. Here we had one of the best tortilla española in all of Spain. This one was warm and gooey on the inside. In the twenty minutes we were there we saw the bartender go through 3 full tortillas (each one had 8 slices)!

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Our next stop was Bar Marpy located in the Plaza Santa Marta. Surrounded by other bars in the Plaza this one stands out because of its bullfighting theme and the waiter’s outfits – they dress as matadors. While we were there a bullfight was being broadcast on the large flat screen TV. We didn’t eat anything here, but we did drink delicious Rioja, Ramón Bilbao. This award winning wine is dense with hints of cherry and notes of anise and a savory finish. This place is worth a visit if only to check out the waiters!DSC00376

Next on our tapas tour was El Ensanche de Carlos. The most popular dish on the menu here is the madeja (spool) made from lamb tripe (tripas de cordero) stuffed with lamb organs, cartilage and other parts, and then fried. Everybody was ordering it, even us! It sounds awful, but tastes great. This restaurant is on the Michelin Guide.DSC00381 DSC00383

If you like mushrooms, La Cueve en Aragon is your place. This bar is dedicated solely to the mushroom cap (€1.85). The only thing served here are grilled mushrooms with garlic and olive oil, topped with a baby shrimp, and placed atop piece of bread. You can order this without the bread and then it is completely gluten free.DSC00389

Tip: This tapa has been dubbed with the nickname “champis”, and you will hear people call it this.

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The only things to ever touch the grill itself are the mushrooms and the garlic olive oil that is drizzled over the them. These are served scorching hot, so I’d advise you to wait a minute before biting into the hot oil and mushroom. As simple as this is, it is one of the best dishes I ate and a must try in Zaragoza.

The last bar we visited was a classic tapas bar and winery, Almau Bodegas. In addition to enjoying some tapas you can also buy bottles of wine from their winery and from different regions in Spain, as well as a variety of salted anchovies. We chose to eat outside on one of the wine barrel tables. This is very common in Spain; wine barrels are made specifically to be tables.

Being one of the house specialties I ordered an anchovy dish called Vinegar Explosion [Explosión de vinagre). The anchovies were served on top of tuna with balsamic vinaigrette. It’s funny because when I am home in the US I never eat anchovies, but in Spain I ate them all the time and really enjoyed the salty taste and meaty texture. This was absolutely delicious. The vinegar nicely complemented the saltiness from the fish.DSC00394

In addition to the local food scene, there are a number of good wines produced in Aragon. The Denominations of Origin in this region include Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Calatayud and Somontano. Wines of these Denomination of Origin (Spain’s regulatory classification system for wine) are full-bodied red wines of high alcoholic content.

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Shawn and Jeremy enjoying a glass of wine.

Tip: When a wine label says vino joven (young wine) it means the wines have undergone very little, if any, barrel aging. Crianza (aged wine) red wines are aged for two years with at least six months in oak. Crianza white and rosés must be aged at least one year with at least six months in oak.


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Next up: Logroño and Burgos

Click here to read A Gluten Free Guide to Barcelona Day 1, Day 2 (Barceloneta), Day 3 (Il Born and the Gothic Quarter), Day 4 (Las Ramblas), Day 5 (El Raval) or Day 6 Sarria

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Gluten Free Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelete)

The Tortilla Española or Spanish Omelet, is the most commonly served dish in Spain. While there are hundreds of variations even in any one specific region, the traditional tortilla is made with eggs, potatoes and onions. Some of the many additions you will often see in tortilla española include green peppers (pimientos verdes), chorizo, mushrooms (chamiñones), and ham (jamón).IMG_4856

Tortilla Española is naturally gluten free. It may be eaten hot or cold; it is commonly served as a tapa or picnic dish throughout Spain. As a tapa, it may be cut into bite-size pieces and served on cocktail sticks, or cut into pie style portions (pincho de tortilla). It can also be eaten in a sandwich (bocadillo).IMG_4858

You do not need to be a gourmet chef to make this dish yourself.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and potatoes for about 10 minutes until the potato is soft. You may need to turn the heat down slightly so the potatoes do not burn.IMG_4850
  2. While the onion and potatoes are cooking, beat the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the potatoes are soft, pour the mixture into the eggs. Try to drain as much oil as possible, the less oil in the eggs the better. Mix together with a large spoon.
  4. Pour 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil into the non-stick frying pan (approximately 8-11 inches) and reduce heat to medium. Pour the tortilla mixture back into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the eggs to cook around the edges.IMG_4853
  5. Once the egg mixture is nearly set, and the bottom is slightly browned, you are ready to turn it over. Place a large plate upside down over the frying pan. Quickly, flip the frying pan and plate so the omelet falls onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the stove and add just enough olive oil to coat the pan.  Slide the omelet back into the frying pan and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.IMG_4854
  6. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes.IMG_4855
  7. Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve. Cut into 6-8 pieces like a pie, or if you are serving it as an appetizer, cut into 1-½ inch squares. Place a toothpick in each square and serve. You can also place each square onto a ½ thick piece of gluten free baguette.IMG_4857
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Gluten Free (Sin-Gluten) Guide to Barcelona Day 6: Sarrià

Quaint, quiet and a world away from the busy city center, Sarrià is a traditional old Catalan neighborhood on the fringe of Barcelona.
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Sarrià is a gluten free haven. We were only there for a few hours but during that time we discovered a whole slew of gluten free shops and restaurants. I was in heaven. Here you will find Espai, a bodega specializing in gluten free products.


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If you can’t make it up to Espai, don’t worry, you can still find plenty of gluten free products in the city. Barcelona is full of specialty food stores called Dietétics, that specialize in healthy foods, herbal products, supplements, and gluten free foods.

Most neighborhoods have at least one, and there is even one in the Mercet de la Boqueria. The one located near La Sagrada Familia is called Arrels Centre Dietétic. This store carries gluten free pastas, crackers, muffins, cookies, and more. Before leaving Barcelona, I stocked up on a few brands that we don’t have here in the U.S.DSC00309

El Corte Inglés, Spain’s biggest “hypermarket”, and grocery stores also carry gluten free items.  Mercadona has the best slection of gluten free foods. There is also Condis Consum, and Carrefour.
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I’m not sure why Sarrià is a gluten free Mecca but it is. I needed a bottle water so I decided to stop at the first store we saw, and it just so happened to have the largest Schar’s selection I have ever seen. I didn’t even know Schar’s made corn flakes or oreos before walking into this store. I spent five minutes just staring at all of the products. It was very difficult to keep myself from buying anything, but I knew we were about to eat lunch.
DSC00311Pollo A L’ast specializes in homemade croquettes (croquetas) and prepared meals. You can sit down and have a meal or buy something to go (para llevar). This is the one and only place I saw in all of Barcelona that makes gluten free croquetas. Croquetas are small breadcrumbed fried rolls typically filled with ham (jamón), cod (bacalao) or mashed potatoes (pure de patatas), although apart from the standard fillings, you will find them with just about anything from chicken curry to shrimp. The croquetas are formed into a cylinder, disk or oval shape and then fried in olive oil.DSC00313Sarrià ‘s claim to fame is Bar Tomás. Bar Tomás is legendary for it’s patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy aioli). According to some, they are said the have the best bravas in all of Barcelona. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about these bravas in 2008, you can read it here. DSC00317

The setting is simple, no frills, and very laid back. There’s not much to look at other than the newspaper clippings on the wall mentioning their famous patatas bravas that are served here. The patatas bravas were quite good. They were served piping hot with a drizzle of oil and their special sauce. I don’t know what the secret is to the sauce, but it was good and noticeably different from other patatas bravas we tasted all week. DSC00315


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Before leaving Barcelona make sure you try Horchata. A traditional beverage made of ground tiger nuts (chufas), water, and sugar. It is served ice cold and is a refreshing summertime drink. It has the same consistency as a milkshake or smoothie but without the dairy. Tiger nuts are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. The health benefits include improving digestion, helping with hot flashes, cleansing the liver, as well as possessing anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties, to name a few. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before Horchata makes its way to America. A local specialty is horchata mixed with lemonade—it’s delicious, give it a try!

 Tip: El Tío Ché in Poble Nou has great horchata lemonade.

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There are over 50 restaurants in Barcelona that offer gluten free menus. Click here to view Barcelona’s Gluten Free restaurant guide.

Up Next: Zaragoza, Logroño and Burgos

Click here to Read A Gluten Free Guide to Barcelona Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 or Day 5.

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Gluten Free (Sin-Gluten) Guide to Burgos

 

DSC00488As the capital of Castilla, Burgos is rich in ancient churches and convents. The three main sites are the cathedral, the monastery of Las Huelgas, and the notable entrance to the city, the Santa María Arch. Burgos, the gastronomic capital for 2013, has much to offer in addition to its legendary history. In Burgos you will find some unique dishes, and excellent regional wines, and not to mention, a plethora of good restaurants and tapas bars.DSC00534

Burgos was named the Gastronomic Capital of Spain 2013 by the Spanish Federation of Hospitality, (FEHR) and the Spanish Federation of Journalist and Tourism Writers (FEPET). The FEHR and FEPET created this title in order to promote Spanish gastronomy at a national and international level, as an attractive form of tourism in Spain. Each year a city is nominated as the “Capital Española de la Gastronomía’’ (CEG)—Gastronomic Capital of Spain—which runs from the January 1 to December 31.DSC00538

The most famous foods of Burgos are certainly Queso de Burgos (Burgos Cheese) and Morcilla de Burgos, (pig’s-blood sausage). The Queso de Burgos is a soft, fresh, white cheese. This cheese is made from sheep’s milk and is acceptable for people with sensitive digestion, in fact it is said to promote good health if eaten everyday.

Morcilla de Burgos is a staple country-food that is highly regarded across Spain. Morcilla is made with rice—which is often mistaken for fat— and spiced with onions and herbs. It is actually one of the lightest and healthiest products of its kind, who knew?

Burgos is also known for its great variety of local products including, roasted lamb, pork chops, veal, cured sausages, and other game. All of which should be enjoyed with a glass of its famous wines, such as Ribera del Duero or Rueda.

For lunch we ate at Bar Restaurante Gaona Jardin, specializing in traditional Burgos cuisine. For €11 each we enjoyed a 3 course Menú del Día (Menu of the Day). For our first course we had the choice of green beans with potatoes and ham (judías verdes con patatas y j amón), or lentil soup (sopa de lentejas) with chorizo. DSC00495 DSC00496

For the main course we all ordered lamb; ribs (costilas) and chops (chuleta de cordero). DSC00499 DSC00498

For dessert we had the choice of flan or pears soaked in wine.DSC00503 DSC00502

We stayed at RimboMbin, an “urban hostal”. This 8 room hostal, was more like a hotel then any hostel that I am used to staying in. Our room was clean and spacious, and right below was their very own bar-restaurant.  The menu includes everything from small tapas (pinchos) to salads (ensaladas), vegetables dishes (platos de verduras), scrambled egg dishes (revueltos huevos), cheese (queso), sausages (salchichas), meats (carnes), and desserts (postres). The long, spacious bar was our meeting point before starting our tapas bar crawl. Sadly, a cold front came through the city just as we were arriving and it snowed earlier in the day. The weather at this time of year (mid-May) is usually in the 60-70’s. So I had a glass of red wine (Vino tinto) and bundled up in order to get ready for the night.burgos

Cerveceria Morito is located on one of the most charming streets in the old town of Burgos, close to the cathedral.  It is one of the most popular tapas bars in Burgos and it’s always crowded. DSC00523

Some of the typical orders include pincho de morcilla (small tapa of local blood sausage), and revuelto capricho burgos (scrambled house specialty) made with eggs (huevos), mushrooms (setas), eel (anguila), and morcilla. The house wine starts at €0.50. We loved Morito so much we went back the next day for breakfast and ordered scrambled eggs with chorizo and French fries (patatas).

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revuelto capricho burgos

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mushrooms (setas) and cheese (queso)

Another old establishment in Burgos is La Mejillonera. Known for their patatas bravas, calamari, and above all, their mussels, this famous bar is a must stop for seafood lovers. The mussels, which can be ordered in various forms, are what this place is named for.DSC00520DSC00519

They have different styles of cooking the mussels: vinagreta (vinaigrette), a la escocesa (Scottish style), picantes (spicy tomato sauce) and al vapor (steamed). When you are done with the shells, you just throw them below the bar into a designated tray, and someone cleans it up later—very efficient!DSC00522

In March 2013, Meson Froilan won first prize for best tortilla espanola (Spanish omelet) in Burgos. So of course we had to try it! It was quite good, but by the end of our 9th day in Spain we were starting to get a bit tired of tortilla española.

At Froilan, you can sit—or stand—outside, which is a very popular thing to do in Burgos at night.

The next stop on our tapas tour was La Perla Arandina. This cozy tapas bar has been around for 31 years and serves an elaborate assortment of tapas. The variety and quality of the tapas here is impressive. We tried a pincho of setas (mushroom) filled with cheese, bacon, potatoes, and garlic. Other specialties include octopus (pulpo), crispy fried bacon (torrezno), and tiger shrimp (tigres).DSC00516

Copas Rotas (Broken Glasses) offers wine, beer, and tapas, all for €1, and cocktails for €4. In Spain it is hard to go wrong with a glass or wine or beer, but the patatas bravas we ordered here were just so-so.  Copas Rotas is a popular chain throughout northern Spain, but with so many other great options in Burgos, I would recommend skipping this one.DSC00512

Our next stop was Taberna La Favorita, which has a barn-like interior with wooden beams and exposed brick. The house specialty here is local cheeses and cured meats. A glass case on the bar displays the nightly offerings, and there is also a larger menu with dinner options. Wine by the glass starts at €1.50. I really enjoyed both the food and the vibe here.

As the night went on we continued our tapas tour through Burgos, and with each passing hour the streets became louder and livelier.

Of course we didn’t leave Burgos empty handed. We bought 3 bottles of wine to take home with us, and our friends bought Morcilla to take back to Barcelona with them.

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Click here to read A Gluten Free Guide to Barcelona Day 1, Day 2 (Barceloneta), Day 3 (Il Born and the Gothic Quarter), Day 4 (Las Ramblas), Day 5 (El Raval), Day 6 Sarria, Zaragoza or Logrono.

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Gluten Free (Sin-Gluten) Guide to Logroño – A Wonderful Gluten Free Discovery

DSC00442Logroño is a city in northern Spain, on the Ebro River, and is the capital of La Rioja, Spain’s third smallest province.  When planning a trip to Spain, few people choose to go to Logroño. This is not because it’s not worth visiting, but probably because most people haven’t heard of it.


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Logroño is the center of the La Rioja wine trade and a stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. It is a very charming city well-known both for its wine and gastronomy.  In 2012, Logroño was named the Gastronomic Capital of Spain, putting this charming town on the map and attracting tourists from all over the world.DSC00412

While tapas are served everywhere in Spain, the question of which city serves the best is still up for debate. My vote goes to Logroño. In the old quarter (Casco Viejo) of Logroño, there are nearly 50 restaurants, tapas, and wine bars crammed into one block along Calle del Laurel, Travesía del Laurel, Calle San Agustin, and Calle Albornoz. Each offers specialty tapas and regional wines that cost merely €0.85-€2 per glass, it is a foodie and wine lovers heaven.DSC00437

The narrow and crowded streets of the Casco Viejo are full of bars and many of them have gluten free tapas. “Sin-Gluten” signs can be found on many restaurant doors, indicating that they offer at least one gluten free item on their menu.DSC00423

With so many bars and so little time, we got started right away. The local nickname for the tapas circuit is called La Senda de los Elefantes (the Trail of the Elephants), because of the way people walk if they’ve visited all of the bars.DSC00446DSC00443

Our first stop was Bar Sebas on Calle Albornoz. The specialty here is tortilla española (Spanish omelette). Their wine list contains over 100 by-the-glass wines! Because we were in La Rioja I opted for a glass of Azpilicueta Rijoa. Both the food and the wine were delicious.DSC00420

Tip: Spanish wines are often labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. When the label says joven (young), the wines will have undergone very little, if any, barrel-aging. Crianza (mature) red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.

Bar Ángels sole menu item is a two high-high stack of button mushrooms topped with a tiny shrimp (pincho de champiñon con gambas). This simple dish has extraordinary flavor and was one of our favorite tapas that we tried during our trip. You can read more about this dish in my review of Zaragoza. Each, costing only €1.50, can be ordered without the bread, thus making it gluten free. They pair perfectly with a glass of wine!DSC00430 DSC00473

Across the street is Bar Donosti, a tiny corridor of a place serving gluten free bread! Although the gluten free bread costs €1 more, it is €1 well spent. I could have spent hours here trying everything on their gluten free menu! The bread was one of the best gluten free breads I have ever tried.

Me enjoying a glass of wine & gluten free tapas
Me enjoying a glass of wine & gluten free tapas

DSC00468We also tried machito, a specialty of the region. Made from the internal parts of a goat (such as the esophagus, heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver), which are chopped and wrapped in a stomach lining (tela), tied with a piece of small intestine (tripa), and served with a spicy romesco sauce. Yes, I actually tried it, but think I could live without ever having to taste crunchy cartilage again.DSC00469

Bar La Tavina was one of our favorite spots; we visited twice in one day. The first floor is the tapas bar, where we enjoyed a variety of diverse tapas and exceptional wines. The wine list is hand written on a chalkboard behind the bar. Just tell the bartender what you like and he will make a suggestion for you.

The Wine List
The Wine List

We ordered the cod with red peppers (bacalao con pimientos) and the Spanish omelette with spinach and chorizo (tortilla española con espinacas y chorizo) without the sauce (which contains flour). We also tried the specialty of the house—skinned, crispy pig’s face (careta de cerdo), and a dish made of pig’s feet topped with careta.DSC00433 DSC00431 DSC00435DSC00434

The second floor wine shop has nearly 500 bottles of wine to choose from. Every glass of wine on their menu is also for sale here. I bought my favorite Lealtanza, a dry white Rioja made in Logroño. We also left with two bottles of red Rioja recommended by the shopkeeper.

Tip: plan winery and vineyard (called bodegas) tours ahead of time. Your hotel can make the reservations for you.

Next on our tapas tour was Bar Cid, which only serves oyster mushrooms (setas). For a mere €4, we ordered a ½ portion (ración) and received a plate piled high with setas. DSC00454 DSC00455

Our last stop of the night was Bar La Jubera, supposedly home to the “best” patatas bravas in all of Logroño. The bravas here were a bit spicy, so be sure to have a drink handy.

Logroño is well worth a stop on any trip around Northern Spain. Unlike tapas bars in major cities, the eateries here are more selective and concentrate on only a few dishes, preparing them to perfection. The food and wine is both excellent and inexpensive.  Seriously, the food here will blow your mind. Expect to pay no more than €2 for a glass a wine and just a bit more for the tapas.

Next up: Burgos

Click here to Read A Gluten Free Guide to Barcelona Day 1, Day 2 (Barceloneta), Day 3 (Il Born and the Gothic Quarter), Day 4 (Las Ramblas), Day 5 (El Raval), Day 6 Sarria or Zaragoza