Parisian pastries, minus the gluten

SHANEY HUDSON
Last updated 12:59 13/02/2014
Croissant
Chris van Hove

GF PARADISE: The Helmut Newcake in Paris sells an intoxicating array of gluten-free treats.

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Sometimes, worse than the actual threat of getting sick on the road from contaminated food is the frustration of not being able to indulge in the incredible regional specialities a destination can offer (because let's face it: who wants to eat grilled meat with salad every meal?).

However, in the City of Light, there's no need to miss out. A new wave of Parisian restaurants and cafes catering to gluten intolerances has emerged, allowing visitors to have their chocolate eclair - and eat it too.

Best known is Helmut Newcake, a French patisserie offering les petits gateaux a short walk from Goncourt Metro.

The cafe delivers an incredible array of sweet treats, from feather-light choux a la cremes filled with vanilla bean cream to pistachio tarts topped with a pyramid of red berries; indulgent Paris brests filled with praline creme and the not-to-be-missed Madame de Fontenay; a chocolate custard-filled choux pastry covered in chocolate icing, topped with a smaller, chocolate covered choux pastry ball and crowned with a sliver of crisp toffee: all 100 per cent sans gluten.

The reaction from first-timers to the store is priceless: it's not uncommon to see a coeliac close to tears at the sight of the pastry case.

Along with their indulgent pastries, they also offer lunch, bake fresh bread and on Sundays offer brunch.

After six visits purely in the name of research, I can happily report the taste, texture and execution live up to the visual promise: if you're a coeliac, this is the Holy Grail of pastry shops.

Located in a tiny space in the 11th arrondissment is Thank You my Deer, a friendly gluten-free cafe that got its start in part through online crowdfunding.

With just a few tables, this cosy cafe serves waffles, sandwiches, cake and (surprisingly for Paris) good coffee. On weekends, it also offers a traditional Parisian brunch.

Bio Sphere Cafe, just a few blocks from the Galleries Lafayette offers gluten-free organic meals.

Along with their speciality, galettes bretonnes, they serve pizza, quiche and pastries (they also have some lactose-free pastries for those who also have to avoid dairy).

Most importantly, this is the best place to play Parisian and pick up gluten-free baguettes to take away, a perfect option for those wanting to picnic by the Seine.

For something more savoury, head to NoGlu, a popular gluten-free French bistro in the ambient Passage des Panoramas. The restaurant has a menu that includes options like veal stew with black risotto or duck with polenta and pear.

MORE INFORMATION

en.parisinfo.com

EATING THERE

Helmut Newcake, 36 Rue Bichat, helmutnewcake.com.

Thank you my Deer, 112 Rue St Maur, thankyoumydeer.com.

Bio Sphere Cafe, 47 Rue de Laborde, bio-sphere-cafe.blogspot.com.

NoGlu, 16 Passage des Panoramas, noglu.fr.

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