Gluten free Milan

Gluten Free Flying: British Airways Milan to London

We reached Milan by train which was one of the most stress-free and enjoyable journeys I’ve ever had the pleasure to take.

On the return to London we decided to fly back on BA. It was a short 1 hour 40 minute hop back to London and BA were serving afternoon tea on board.

The regular meal consisted of sandwiches, a choice of hot quiche, scones with clotted cream and jam. Thank heavens I’d ordered a gluten free meal and it had been loaded!

So what was in store for me?

A prawn salad with some lettuce and what appeared to be an entire cucumber chopped on the side. Anyone who knows me in real life knows I love all veggies, except….cucumber, which I think is the devil’s food.

Perched on the side of the tray was a bread roll, swiped before I took the photo. The stewardess told me she had a Coeliac mother and said I ought to be careful with since it didn’t look gluten free and certainly wasn’t labelled as such. Exactly the same thing happened on our flight back from Istanbul (see post) except this time the outcome was different. Mr D (my personal guinea pig!) tried it and declared this one to be a regular gluten roll. It was just too springy, it didn’t crumble and it certainly smelt just like regular bread. Absolutely no chance of me eating it. Also on the tray was some clotted cream and strawberry jam, which should have gone with the bread, both donated to Mr D.

I decided I was hungry and as the stewardess reached over me to give Mr D extra scones to make up for me not being able to eat them, I resolved to eat it. All of it. Cucumber included.

So how did it taste? I discovered the prawns were in fact quite large, although they’d been tucked under the lettuce so it wasn’t immediately obvious. And how about the cucumber? My first bite nearly blew my head off! The specks of red are in fact fiery fresh red chilli. Normally this might be a problem but since all I could taste was the chilli, and not the grim cucumber, it wasn’t so bad.

As I looked down at my tray of pure health (albeit airline stylee), a single thought struck me. What on earth has happened to me? I eat gluten free and am no longer ill (admittedly a fantastic thing!). My coffee cup is empty since I’ve stopped drinking caffeine. The usual glass, or to be honest several glasses, of wine I usually enjoy on a flight has been replaced by a glass of fruit juice since I’m on the wagon for the next couple of months. It’s even been 8 years since I last smoked. Really….I need some new vices. Any ideas for legal and healthy highs?!

Gluten Free Mrs D

Dining Senza Glutine: Milan

When you think of Italy, your mind automatically conjures up images of delicious looking and smelling pizza, pasta, foccacia, breadsticks, peroni beer…..basically gluten packed food. There are a few things in life I’d wish I’d known earlier (perhaps before my Italian wedding AND honeymoon)….Turns out how easy it is to eat senza glutine in Italy is one of them…

Mr D decided to indulge me for our 1st wedding anniversary and we booked a table at a gluten free pizzeria for our anniversary dinner. I had originally wanted to dine at the Be Bop Cafe and art deco style pizzeria I’d read a lot about before travelling to Milan. Unfortunately, Italy, August, well everything is more or less shut so after a few frantic calls by our hotel concierge, a table was booked at Le Specialita located at Via P. Calvi 29, Milano. In truth the slightly plain restaurant frontage didn’t exactly fill me with warm fuzzy feelings for an anniversary dinner but step inside and – wow – we were almost knocked over by the warmth and hospitality of this friendly family run restaurant. Despite it being a Sunday evening and the restaurant not being centrally located, the place was heaving with local Milanese having a great time. Ours was the last table remaining unoccupied. Good job we booked.

When the hotel made the reservation they must’ve told the restaurant I couldn’t eat gluten because the waiter immediately brought me a menu and instructed me what I could eat. Guess what?? Nearly the WHOLE menu could be made as gluten free. And that included pizza!

The menu was so extensive I needed a drink to get over my shock and help in the selection process. What’s better with a pizza than beer? Gluten free beer, of course!

So, beer in hand I finally selected a pizza with Gorgonzola and a locally produced Prosciutto Crudo. As we sat waiting for our pizzas to arrive, soaking up the buzzy atmosphere I realised Mr D had become transfixed by something over my shoulder. No, not a leggy Italian supermodel, it turns out. But the huge wood fired pizza oven out of which pizzas were emerging steaming hot and freshly baked to have the prosciutto sliced directly on top of the pizzas. My pizza it turned out. Crikey.

So how did it taste? One word. Amazing. Thin crust, baked in the wood fired pizza oven with chunks of intensely flavoured Gorgonzola with truly delicious prosciutto crudo reclining majestically on top.

After that I decided to have a semifreddo for desert. A chocolate one:

I was well and truly stuffed after all this but then the waiter appeared with a jar full of Amaretti biscuits, well, who would refuse? I’ve later discovered these delicious almond packed biscuits normally don’t contain gluten, which I hadn’t realised.

If you’re looking for a place to eat gluten free in Milan, I thoroughly recommend Le Specialita. The food and atmosphere were both fantastic. Really can’t wait to go back!

Eating senza glutine in Italy is really easy. In Italy, there is a Coeliac screening programme in operation for young children upwards and so help (medical and financial) is delivered to those diagnosed with Coeliac disease. Are you listening NHS? Importantly what this screening programme also means is that there is a great awareness of Coeliac disease amongst the general population. Even with my very limited Italian language skills, I found saying “sono Coeliaco” (pronounced “chee-lee-a-ca”) got the message across absolutely everywhere we ate. Not once did a waiter ask me the equivalent of “You’re WHAT? Silly yak??”. They immediately nodded their understanding and noted which items on the menu would / would not be suitable for me.

Gluten free heaven.

And at least Mr D knows where to take me for our 2nd year anniversary!