Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gluten-Free in Dublin

Travel can be hard if you're not sure where or what you will be able to eat.

I recently returned from a trip to Dublin with my husband. Prior to departure I did my research. Would I be able to eat? I need to avoid gluten and soy (making this an easier trip than if the whole family were traveling - then we add dairy, eggs, and peanuts to the list of foods to avoid).

I am happy to report that Dublin is not only a very food-allergy-friendly city, but the food is fabulous!! I'm not sure what I was expecting. I had visions of over-cooked, over-priced, mushy foods, and lots of potatoes. Okay, there were lots of potatoes, but also lots of fish, and well-cooked vegetables.

My very first food stop was a fish and chips place called Beshoff's. I have a thing for gluten-free fried fish and shellfish,  probably because it is so hard to find. Susan Heim Kelly suggested Beshoff's and she was spot on! First I had the haddock, but later in the week I went back for Cod.

Yes, they use a separate fryer for the gluten-free fish and chips!

My favorite place to eat was Rustic Stone. Another friend turned me onto this place with the promise of chocolate soup (yes, please!). Many of the dishes (meats and fish) at Rustic Stone are served on a simmering stone. They arrive rare and it's up to you how long to leave them cooking on your hot stone. Very cool! After an olive appetizer, I had the tuna steak. What a treat!

Oh, and that chocolate soup was divine!

The chocolate soup was a scoop of cool chocolate mousse, with a slightly warmed puddle of chocolate sauce poured around it, and a dollop of whipped cream. I plan to work on a dairy-free, egg-free version so that everyone can enjoy it.

My husband and I liked Rustic Stone so much that we dined there a second time. This time I had the fish-in-a-bag (yummy) and (of course) more chocolate soup!

I was on my own for lunch. I discovered a sandwich chain called O'Brien's that carried BFree bread and was able to make me gluten-free sandwiches. I didn't even have to ask them to change their gloves, they did it routinely.

Another great lunch find was at the Brambles Cafe in the National Museum of Archaeology. They had lots of gluten-free options (and lots of vegan options). I chose the Shepherd's Pie.

Brambles even had gluten-free snack options.

Burgers are big in Dublin. I was excited to find Bobo's on Dame Street (near Trinity College) had gluten-free burgers including my applewood bacon burger.

Another dinner favorite, The Farm, was right around the corner from the hotel we were staying at. All of the food at The Farm is locally sourced. My husband and I shared a veggie and hummus appetizer and then I had the salmon.

Oh my gosh, that was good!

Overall, Dublin is a very food-aware place. I found that most restaurant staff could tell you exactly where the food came from. How great is that? Menus are well-labeled with notations for gluten-free (either as "gf" or sometimes "c" (for celiac) or "ca" (for celiac adaptable), vegan, and top food allergens (although the list in Dublin is different than the US top 8).

Many restaurants had specific notations for dishes that contained nuts. Those with dairy and egg allergies would find it relatively easy to eat due to the preponderance of vegan choices.

More important than the menu and the labels was the knowledge of restaurant staff. I didn't encounter a single restaurant worker who didn't "get it." They understand about separate fryers and are able to articulate how the food is prepared (and they can do this without running back to ask the chef). I was impressed... and very well-fed.

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