Help Support Maria Maria Arepas and Geremia Tiramisù

If there’s one thing that I love about writing this blog, it’s having the ability to actually help improve our gluten free lives here in Berlin.  I especially like it when I can help new ventures and people just starting out to try and make gluten free food, or just simply do something new with gluten free food.

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First off there’s Maria Maria Arepas.  For those that do not know, they run a stand at the Thursday Night Streetfood Market at Markthalle Neun and at Neu Heimat food events.  I wasn’t aware that they are completely gluten free, but they are definitely 100% gluten free now and are happily shouting about it (it’s written all over their website).  Basically, if you’ve been living in fear of all these new food markets and have been unable to go, don’t despair, Maria Maria will probably be there meaning you can join your friends and actually eat something!

What they are now doing is raising funds to operate an actual food truck!  How amazing will that be.  The goal is that they’ll be able to attend even more events and have a better presence at those events.  Plus, if you help them, you get perks, like clothes, hats and delicious food!  They’re indigogo is available here.  Go give them some money!

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The second is Geremia Tiramisu is a little bit of a smaller venture than Maria Maria, but they’re really dedicating to the gluten free cause.  Providing the entire Tiramisu experience with homemade gluten free biscuits.  I haven’t had chance to try one myself yet, but they do look rather amazing.  Fabio and Riki are working hard to produce authentic and allergy friendly foods, they are working on a new mascarpone with lactose free options!  Happiness.

They’ve finished their initial test run at Haferkater today, so unfortunately you cannot go and buy some immediately.  But they are working on making an appearance at the food markets and other cafes.  So be sure to like them on their facebook page, send a message let them know you appreciate their efforts ask them to make more!

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The Allergy and Free From Show is Almost Here!

the allergy and free from show berlin messe

Are you excited yet?  January is almost upon us!  That means it’s near time for the Allergy + Free From Show here in Berlin!!  Are you excited now?  I know I am and I cannot wait to stuff my face with as much gluten free food as is possible.

The latest news is that they have moved to a bigger and better hall due to all of the exhibitors they have, very good indeed.  Plus, as their sponsor is Schär, they’ll be hosting “Schär’s Gluten Free Kitchen” on site.  Basically you should be able to go and get cooking tips and hopefully see some demonstrations on how to make better gluten free food.  If that doesn’t sway you then think about all the free samples you can try.  Imagine it, you can walk around a giant hall, with food producers everywhere offering you little trays to select from and you can EAT EVERYTHING.

On top of that, the very kind organisers have given us some free tickets!!  There’s only 50 available so you will have to be very quick.  Just click on the link below and register, you’ll receive a free voucher nearer to the event :

www.allergyshow.de/tickets/glutenfreiberlin

Introducing Allergy Explorer

Allergy Explorer Gluten Free Site

Some time ago I had a thought in my brain box, a thought which I first believed to be quite simple.  Why can’t it be easier for me to travel around the world and find out where I can eat?  Surely you just have a website listing all the places that are Gluten Free right?  Is it that difficult to do?

So, irritated that that things were not the way I wanted them to be, I embarked upon teaching myself web development and set about building a solution to this problem.  Along the way, I realised there are a few more problems that were irritating me (not that I get irritated often).  How about when a new Gluten Free restaurant opens here in Berlin and I only find out about it 6 months later?  How terrible is that!  A whole 6 months I could have been stuffing my face and I didn’t even know it was there!  Nightmare.  Then, what happens when the kind folks at Dr Schär release a tasty new bread?  At the moment, the only way I can find out about this is by memorising their entire range and then, when I’m out bumbling around in gluten free shops, hope that I notice the new package.

The result of all this irritation, pondering, problem solving and fiendish amounts of hard work is Allergy Explorer.  My little digital baby that I am giving a (slightly premature) birth today.

The basic idea is that anybody can list a new business on the site, restaurants, cafes, shops, bakeries etc.  Then, as a community, we can visit, check the food out and then ‘Confirm’ the place as actually being gluten free.  I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly feel happier about eating in a restaurant that 40 other gluten affiliated people have already eaten in.  It’s preferable to just trusting that the staff do actually know what they’re talking about.

While the site is still a little baby and is a little rough around the edges, I’m only launching for Germany here on this blog.  We’re eventually going to expand to cover all of Europe, USA and other countries with multiple languages.  Imagine that, being able to get on a plane and know exactly where you can eat without spending days and days researching!

My hope is that you will all be able to help me build up a community, use the site, post a few reviews for places you have been and, if you’re feeling generous, post a little feedback.

Click to see Allergy Explorer for Berlin

The Allergy and Free From Show in Berlin

the allergy and free from show berlin messe

Update 17 June – If you’re in London (or would like to take a trip there), as a thank you for this blog post, you can all get yourself some free tickets by clicking here!!  Yes, you should definitely go.

Around two and a half years ago, a slightly more naive glutenfrei Berlin blogger went to the Gruene Woche exhibition at the messe (click here to see that post).  During those days there was very little quality gluten free food on offer here in Berlin and I had hoped that the halls would be full of international gluten free food producers showing off their wares and organising distribution in the German market.  Alas, I was very disappointed and went back home to sulk and look longingly at pictures of Genius gluten free bread on the internet.

But, it is now 2014 and the German gluten free food producers have stepped up their game.  The likes of Schär and Schnitzer are really producing some great options, a world away from the ‘compressed sand in brick form’ bread I was buying here back in 2008.  Still, things could be better and, thankfully, it looks like they may be improving as in January next year we’re going to have our very own Allergy trade show here in Berlin!  Yes, think of it, a giant hall filled up with food to purchase that you CAN EAT!!!  Hopefully lots of international producers will be there showing off their products along side all the German producers we love (and possibly some of them we dislike too).

The show has been running for a few years in London, you can see an overview of their 2013 show here, and it looks to be very successful.  There are over 200 exhibitors there this year along with cooking classes, talks and events for kids.  Here’s hoping we can get the same treatment.

You can buy day and weekend tickets on their site, although they will only be available to purchase in the autumn, these also include access to the Vdelicious show and the International Green Week itself!

I literally cannot wait.  My only concern is how empty my bank account will be and how giant my belly will become.

Allergy and Free From Show Berlin Website
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The Berlin Gluten Free Dining Club

It can be a lonely existence living gluten free. Your friends look at you like you’re being a fussy eater and shun you from dinner dates, partners huff in exasperation at having to travel 40 minutes to eat in a particular gluten free place and restaurant staff look at you like you’re a raving maniac when you ask if food has gluten or any kind of flour in it.  Add to this living in a country where most people have not even heard of Gluten, plus a country where you may not even speak the same language and you’ll be limited to talking to the wall about the difficulties of gluten free eating (or, in those more positive moments, bragging about how ‘almost like real cake’ that slice you just ate was).

Fortunately for us, a nice friendly Gluten Free American living here in Berlin has started a meetup group!  Happy days!  The idea is to visit the gluten free friendly places in Berlin, dine, chat, make friends and generally revel in the joyful feeling that everybody there understands your pain.  The first meetup is at the end of February at Cielo di Berlino.  There are limited places so sign up quickly!

Berlin Gluten Free Dining Meetup Group

Cielo di Berlino Meetup Event

Restaurant Review – Creperie Bretonne

Gluten Free Creperie Bretonne

As much as I love eating gluten free cakes and sweet treats here in Berlin, it is nice to be able to go out and have a proper sit down meal now and again.  Normally, doing this involves a pizza or such, but one evening I was in the mood for something a teeny bit different so I plumped for a french Gallette at Creperie Bretonne.

glutenfrei Creperie Bretonne Menu

The first thing that struck me is the general French-ness of the place.  But seeing as it is a French place this a welcome feature.

Gluten Free Creperie Bretonne Menu

Perusing the menu it is nice to see that they have quite a wide selection of choices for those of us gluten afflicted.  I plumped for a Juliette, cheese, ham and pear with walnuts.  My favourite combination, meat, cheese and fruit.

Whilst waiting for my delicious sounding dish to arrive, I noticed this a little further into the menu.

glutenfrei Creperie Bretonne Menu

Cider!  The gloriously gluten free drink that is not beer, but definitely close enough.

The only downside was that it arrived in the smallest serving I have ever seen for an alcoholic beverage, a teacup.

Gluten Free Galette Creperie Bretonne

Thankfully though, the Galette was rather good indeed (it was much bigger than it actually looks in this picture, damn perspective).

All in all I was quite pleased with Creperie Bretonne, nothing too amazing, special or exciting, just a good place to go and enjoy a little food.  Which is definitely not a bad thing, how I wish there were more of them out there.

Click the banner below to see all the details of this restaurant on our sister site, Allergy Explorer.
Allergy Explorer - Gluten Free food and restaurant listings in Germany

Cafe Review – Freckles

glutenfrei berlin freckles

Four years ago, when I moved to Berlin with my gluten aversion, I had quite a hard time when it came to my food based experiences.  Especially when traversing the city with my friends of an afternoon, sitting down in one of the many cafe’s the city has and then having to watch them eat delicious looking gluten filled cakes, feeling punished by life.  Fortunately though, the last few years have seen a vast improvement in the availability of gluten free food here and in cafes especially.  It is even getting to the point now where every corner of the city has a cafe with gluten free cakes to go to, which, to be honest is both a blessing and seriously bad news for my waist line.

So, in steps Freckles, a small and old-timey warm feeling kind of place in western Kruezberg, with a rather good selection of supported allergies written on their board.

glutenfrei berlin freckles - allergy board

I do so love a geometric based logo warning system.  The only downside is that they are more focused upon Vegan food than Gluten Free food, meaning that they may not always have a cake but they should have something sweet and nice available to eat.  On the day I visited though, they had some rather good looking chocolate cake.

gluten free berlin freckles - cake

Yes, it was as rich and good as it looks.  I have since returned and have been met without a cake option, although on that occasion they had a cherry and marzipan dessert which was equally as delicious.

glutenfrei berlin freckles - lamp

Each of the tables in the back has one of these old style lanterns and there is a giant window in the corner, giving a nice “thankfully we’re inside in this warmth and not out there” in the winter months.

glutenfrei berlin freckles - window

As mentioned, the place is a little on the small side with around 5 tables, so I’d suggest getting there a little earlier to grab a seat inside.

gluten free berlin freckles - table

In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend a visit, even if it is a little out of your way and may be a gamble as to what you’ll be able to eat.

gluten free freckles - front

Click the banner below to see all the details of this cafe on our sister site, Allergy Explorer.
Allergy Explorer - Gluten Free food and restaurant listings in Germany

The Slowfood Naschmarkt – Take 2

As my last visit to the Slowfood Naschmarkt, back in December, was verging on the magical I was super excited when, around a week ago, I found out that there was another happening!  For some reason, I thought it a Christmas market only thing, But, thankfully, it isn’t.  So I got myself down there as quickly as I could with dreams of filling a bag full of gluten free goodies (I think last time I bought 3 types of brownies alone).  On arrival I noticed the familiar signs next to some of the stalls, proclaiming their glutenfrei goodness.

Great! I thought.  But, my hopes were soon dashed on the rocks.  The signs were far less apparent than they had been before, and many of the places I had bought from the previous time had nothing gluten free atall.  Disappointment indeed.  Thankfully though, Frau Zeller had the same delicious cake as last time.

Along with Hudsons, who had their yummy gluten free brownies.

So, all in all, quite a let down.  But I guess we can’t really blame the stall owners.  If there aren’t enough of us buying gluten free food from them, it’s simply not worth them stocking it.  I suggest sending a few emails through to the owners, hassling them to make more gluten free goodies, the list of them is here.

I’m going to live in a land of hope and believe that next time, on the 17th June, there will be more for us.

Website
Googlemaps
Slowfood Berliner Naschmarkt
Markthalle Neun
Eisenbahnstr. 42/43
10997 Berlin

 

Glutenfrei Berlinale 2012 – Part 2 – Friedrichstrasse

As in Part 1, this is a list of places you can go to around the Friedrichstadt-Palast, although it should not be treated as a list of ‘places to eat gluten free’, but more as a guide of what is available.  I have not eaten in most of the restaurants and cannot guarantee that they have gluten free food.

The Safest Option – Make it Yourself

Probably the best option all round here, as the choice is a fair bit better than at Potsdamer Platz.  There is a Vitalia inside the Friedrich Strasse S-Bahn train station on the ground floor tunnel entrance, on your right if walking down from the palast.

They have one of the best selections of gluten free items in the city, at the back on the right is an entire wall full of goodness.

Plus, if you have access to a kitchen and want to cook, they have a good gluten free frozen selection.

Next to the entrance on the right is a mini BioBackHaus, a bakery chain here, and they have recently started offering freshly baked gluten free bread.  I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but they informed me it should be available from Thursday through to Monday, depending on stock.

Vitalia Website
Vitalia Googlemaps – ignore the misplaced googlemaps location for Vitalia.

There is also a DM just outside the station, a few doors down from the Block House.

Their selection is pretty much identical to the one at Potsdamer Platz.

There are two mini markets available nearby for sandwich fillings, the better of the two being a little further down Friedrichstrasse, more or less opposite the palast, called Bio Company.

Bio Company Website
Bio Company Googlemaps

The other, Edeka City Markt, being a little further inside the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station past the Vitalia.

Friedrichstrasse

There are a few places between the S-Bahn station and the Friedrichstadt Palast, but most are just restaurants for hotels and tend to be on the expensive/terrible side from what I’ve seen.  Personally, I’d avoid eating on this street and instead get the underground U6 line south 2 or 3 stops to Stadtmitte and visit Cha Cha, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to get there.  But, if you want to stay, here are a couple of options.

Best Option – Block House

A fairly standard chain steak restaurant, but they do have a fairly detailed allergy sheet on their website.  It’s only available in German and on the German version of the site here, basically page 3 lists all the gluten free items and page 4 all the lactose free items.  The staff should have a working knowledge of those of use gluten afflicted and therefore should be able to help.

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Googlemaps

Desperation Option – Bombay

If you’re used to good Indian food, don’t go here (or to most any Indian restaurant in Berlin, they’re all terrible compared to the UK).  But, as with all Indian restaurants, there is a pretty good selection of food if you avoid some of the starters and the breads.

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Googlemaps
 

Oranienburger Strasse

There are plenty of restaurants down this street as it is one of the main tourist destinations, most located on the left side of the road as you turn in from Friedrichstrasse.  Here are my two recommendations, but if you want to check out some other places I’d go for a walk down Oranienburger Strasse as far as Tucholskystrasse, turn left and then back round to the left via Auguststrasse.

Best Option – Gambrinus

The place looks pretty tacky from the outside, then combine this with the gambling machines when you walk in and you’d think this place is terrible.  To be honest, in all aspects apart from the food, it is, the service is stereotypical German ‘bad’.  When I’ve been there they haven’t had a clue about Gluten (although I may of just had a bad waitress), but assured me that the sausages only had meat in them.  So not the safest option and you will have to rely on your own wits to pick out what is gluten free on the menu (there is an English menu on their website).  But, it is my personal favourite for German food in the city and the food itself is pretty damn good (if you’re adventurous, try the eisbein)

It’s located just off the main Oranienburger Strasse, next to the corner with Friedrichstrasse.

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Googlemaps
 

Desperation but Good Food Option

A couple of doors down from Gambrinus is (supposedly) one of the better Falafel places in Berlin.  I’ve been once and they assured me that the falafel didn’t have any wheat in it (as it shouldn’t), but on this visit to check, the guy didn’t understand what Gluten is.  So, again, the falafel with salad should be gluten free (minus the bread of course), but I have no definite confirmation for this.

Website
Googlemaps

 

Sunday and Late Night

If you’re looking for a few snacks (crisps/chips without gluten, some fruit and chocolate, but not much else) and drinks late at night it’s worth visiting Fresh n Friends.

As the sign says, they’re open 24/7 and they’re of a higher quality than you’ll find in any spätkauf (the German equivalent of a corner shop).  They’re located opposite Oranienburger Strasse on Friedrichstrasse.

Website
Googlemaps

Glutenfrei Berlinale 2012 – Part 1 – Potsdamer Platz

It’s that time of the year again, that time when Berlin fills with a myriad of hollywood stars (well, at least 6 or 7 of them) and various people flock from all over the globe to enjoy Berlinale (the global film festival, incase you are lacking in knowledge).  This presents a couple of challenges for those of us gluten afflicted, one, where to eat in a city where you likely don’t speak the language and traveling to find restaurants is pretty low on your priority list, and two, where to eat in those 25 minute gaps you get between stuffing your eyeballs with filmy goodness.  So, I decided to take it upon myself to help a little, to cut down on the amount of places you’ll have to rifle through.

First off a bit of general information about Berlin itself.  You are going to find that most people here have no idea what you are talking about when asking for gluten free food, whilst it is becoming more common to find gluten free items in supermarkets, in restaurants I’m generally met with bemused looks or flat out incorrect information.  Definitely bring a translation card with you as basic English is usually spoken around the main tourist areas, but often not to the extent to explain your ailment.

Now, if you want to eat some good food, avoid the main two areas of the festival that I’m covering here, Potsdammer Platz and Freidrichstrasse.  Whilst the latter is a little better, Potsdammer Platz is a tourist trap of overly expensive bad food.  So, if you can spare the time, look through the few reviews I have on the site and examine the google map of places, it is well worth traveling.  Especially to places like Cha Cha, which is around 5 to 10 minutes away via the U2 and they have gluten free options clearly marked on their menu, plus if you have a free day, be sure to make it to Sauvage as everything there is gluten free.

But, if you are unable to travel or simply wish to stay around the festival, then this guide is for you.  Although, I wouldn’t use this as a list of ‘places I can eat gluten free food’, but more as a research tool to aid in finding options, mostly as I haven’t eaten at most of the places listed and I cannot guarantee they are gluten free.  All restaurants here either have items on the menu which are usually gluten free, or the staff have told me that they are gluten free (although I wouldn’t expect that information to be too reliable).  Basically, it’s going to be tough and risky to eat in these restaurants, but it can be done. Plus, I’d expect there to be a high likelihood of cross contamination everywhere.  If that is a worry for you, then this first option would be best.

 

The Safest Option – Make It Yourself

If you’re unwilling to risk eating in the restaurants (understandably), you’ll most likely want to make your own food.  Fortunately you can do this with two shops located in the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden ( the shopping mall).  On the basement floor, on the North East corner past the restaurants, is DM.

From the outside you’d probably think it was just a drug store with no food, let alone any gluten free options, but they have a pretty good selection.

Lots of bread options, plus many biscuits, snacks and cereal bars.  Personally my favourites are the Ciabatta Rustica mini-rolls (review) and the normal loaf Rustica.

Then, at the far opposite end of the basement floor is Kaiser’s, not the best supermarket in the world but they do have a pretty good range of meats, spreads, cheeses and salad for inclusion in a sandwich.  Alas, they don’t sell anything gluten free.

Its also worth noting that both places have some lactose free products available, DM has Minus L milk and Kaiser’s has some pre sliced cheeses.

 

Potsdammer Platz – Around Alte Potsdamer Strasse

This is the side street inbetween the sony centre and the arkaden, there are quite a few restaurants down here, mostly chains and tourist traps though.

Best Option 1 – Maredo

They are the only restaurant in the area where you can display the gluten free items on their online menu > Link.  They are pretty much just steaks with sides, but the staff should at least know what you’re talking about.

Googlemaps
Website
 

Best Option 2 – Mesa

In my opinion one of the better looking places on the street, with a fairly small menu that you can pick and choose from with what looks to be a few gluten free options (sausages usually are here), but as with all places on this list, check first.  There is a German menu on their website, but they do have an English menu on display outside.

Googlemaps
Website
 

Desperation Option 1 – Mommseneck

Not a huge amount that can be eaten here, but they do have a few German dishes and Berlin specialties which can be usually eaten (eisbein/beef liver), plus there are English menus available outside.  I had no joy with the staff understanding gluten free, but you may have better luck.

Googlemaps
Website
 

Desperation Option 2 – Oscar & Co

Not much that can be eaten here, the usual standby of salad, soup and steak.

Googlemaps
Website

Desperation Option 3 – Weilands Wellfood

While better than the other two, at least to minor degree, there is only some salads available and the staff couldn’t guarantee anything was gluten free, but they do make it there and then so you can check what they are putting into it.

Googlemaps
Website

If you’re really really desperate, there is a Tony Romas and a McDonalds (see here for what they have glutenfrei in Germany).

Potsdamer Platz – Inside the Arkaden

There are quite a few restaurants/snack bars on the top floor and basement level, mostly what you would expect in a shopping mall.

Best Option – Pomme de Terre

Most of their menu is off limits, take a closer look at their (rather odd) display case, it’s basically everything in breadcrumbs.

But, they do sell baked potatoes in quite a large variety of options.  Plus, they have the option of just buying a plain baked potato, ie. without anything that could be gluten-laced sprinkled on top.

The second page there is with bacon and onions, or with eggs etc.  (although stay clear of the Kartoffelpuffer as they’re made with flour)

Website
Googlemaps

Best Dessert Option – Caffe e Gelato

Whilst containing no real food, they do have plenty of delicious ice cream, and as a rather nice touch they have all the options which are gluten free written in the menu.  Mostly this just means that you can order the larger dishes without worrying about a stray wafer or selection of gluten filled crumbs being included.  All the gluten free items have a little logo in the corner as below.

Website
Googlemaps

Desperation – Play Off

There’s something about this place I find a little odd, I think it’s the faux 50’s US diner furniture just out in the open of a normal mall.  Inside of a faux 50’s US diner building, it would be tacky, but not quite as misplaced.  The food is as you would expect, faux American, there are no gluten free options marked and the staff had no idea what gluten free was.  But, if you’re craving meat, you can buy a steak.

Website
Googlemaps

Desperation – Basement Options

Down in the basement the restaurants seem to be mostly run in a fashion akin to McDonalds, as in, cheaply employed staff who don’t really know too much about the food.  The best option would be Asia Gormet, they do have some dishes served with rice that contain no soy sauce, but you’re relying on the staff member you get to tell you which is which.

Nordsee has a few pre-packaged salads on display.

There is a sushi place called Sushi Circle, but I would recommend avoiding it.  I inquired about their use of gluten and specifically if they used traditional Japanese soy sauce (which is generally gluten free), I was told that their soy sauce doesn’t have gluten, but that there are tiny droplets of it in the food.  I’m thinking this was a translation problem, as the idea of them taking gluten free soy sauce and adding droplets of gluten seems odd.

 

Elsewhere around Potsdamer Platz

A little south of Potsdamer Platz (between the S-bahn and U2 lines) on Stresemannstrasse there are a couple of options, the first being Cara’s Cafe, located on the south east corner of Potsdamer Platz/Stresemannstrasse.

It is, surprisingly, the only cafe that I could find in the area serving pre-made salads without any of that nasty gluten filled pasta or cous cous stuff, plus they have little cards in front of each with a list of ingredients.  The coffee is passable and the ambiance is akin to a starbucks, although it is one of the few places around to have free wifi (for 30 minutes, ask for a username/password when ordering).  Get there early as the salads tend to dwindle in numbers quickly around lunchtime.

A few doors further down is the FBI Eatery, seemingly a mix of Thai and generic asian food, with the option of a couple of dishes served with rice.  Although the staff weren’t able to assist in the gluten free options when I asked, specifically if the ricepaper wraps had any soy sauce or other gluten ingredients, you may wish to try your luck though, here’s their menu.

On the street of Potsdammer Platz, directly inbetween the Sony Center and the Cinemaxx Cinema is Andys Diner, another faux American place with a couple of options, mostly that they have breakfast dishes which are not available in any of the other places (eggs, bacon, hash browns etc).

If you wish to stay within the Sony Center, there are a few places with Lindenbräu being the better of them.  They have a pretty good selection of German food and a few safe options (like baked potato), but I find the staff to be quite useless and (understandably) they seem to have a hatred of tourists.  Check out their menu.

There is also Josty, much in the same vein with German dishes, here’s their menu.

 

To follow, Part 2, Friedrichstrasse.