In the summer of 2015, I had the job of planning our wedding, and my husband planned our three weeks in Spain and Portugal. I’m sure it’s no shock, that I was rather absorbed in my own planning and was not very supportive of all my husband’s work. Little did I know that he was planning three weeks that would change me forever.
I had never been abroad. I barely spoke Spanish, and after the wedding planning was over, I was suddenly very nervous. Thankfully, I only had 10 days to think and we were off.
First, always call your airline in advance, minimum of 24 hours. Most offer a gluten free option. I ate pretty much this and granola bars on our 9.5 hour flight. Never again!
When we arrived in Spain, our Airbnb was in the best location. We could easily access the whole city, but when we first arrived, all I cared about was its location right across from the Mercado San Miguel. I was starving, and at the time, intimidated to order so I focused on the olives, cheeses, and meats. Always safe and always yummy.
Our apartment continued to put us in the best location, just down the road from the market, I found Cafeeke. I think I have an eye for the words gluten free. They literally just pop out at me. Put them on a sign, and I will find them. That is exactly what led us to Cafeeke.
This is the place where I first discovered Mongozo beer. At this time there was only a pilsner. There is a now a Buckwheat White Beer which is even better! I have emailed Mongozo, but they still have not taken me up on my suggestions to distribute in the United States.
They also had Brunehart (not as good but okay) and gluten free toast with chorizo. Needless to say, we went here more than once. Please excuse the toast that I ripped into before taking the picture.
Another stop in Madrid is Celicioso. This is a gluten free dedicated bakery. Need I say more?
My sweet husband went on a rather long search for this place with me, but it was completely worth it. I opted for the key lime pie with no regrets.
Paella is what people think of when they think of Spain. I needed to have some! But most places we went, I found that there were fillers. Be careful!! We did find one restaurant that served the BEST Acorn Fed Jamon Iberico and decent Paella, but they were clear on the ingredients and very helpful. The restaurant was near one of our favorite plazas, Santa Ana, and neat to walk around, it was called El Caldero.
Finally, we had a day trip to Segovia by train. This is a MUST. This city was amazing. To this day, I have never felt like I was in a more magical place, okay MAYBE in Sintra, Portugal, but otherwise this is it.
But when you aren’t walking through gorgeous castles, tiny winding streets, or staring at Roman Aqueducts, you will probably find yourself eating the local delicacy – suckling pig. I couldn’t bear to take a picture of ours, it wasn’t pretty looking, but I did capture the prawns and manchego cheese slathered in olive oil that preceded it. While eating baby pig may not be your forte, the location of our meal was superb and highly recommended. We ate at Meson de Candido right under the thousand-year old aqueducts.
Final tips for the Madrid area, and Spain, in general. Look for fresh fish, meats, and vegetables. I ate a lot of potatoes as well. (I’ve found this advice holds throughout Europe.)
What’s unique to Spain? The Spanish Omelet! Served everywhere, at every time. They are a filling combination of eggs and potatoes. I never encountered one that was not gluten free. Another item that I looked for on all menus were grilled padron peppers. Some places even gave them for free with a drink!