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Gluten free traveling in Montreal, Canada

By Ton Nederhof

Canada
Courtesy of Anirudh Koul

Glutenberg - "mountain of gluten"; the unlikely name of a gluten free beer brewed in Montreal, Canada. Another good one, also locally produced, is the Messagère blanc (white). Yes, this is French speaking Quebec, so don't forget to bring your French restaurant card. But the one beer I really enjoyed was the dark Messagère rousse (red), the first gluten free dark beer I have tasted since turning celiac. Amazingly, it tastes just like a dark Belgian Leffe, an abbey beer that is not gluten free. The waitress told me that the Messagère red had won the price for the best new gluten free beer world-wide. All three beers are called ales in translation, but their alcohol content is 5%. The restaurant-bar serving these great beers is Zero 8 (www.Zero8.com), an allergen free outlet in the lively Montreal Quartier Latin district, at 1735 St. Denis (nearest Metro station: Berry Uqam).

Watch carefully, Zero 8 is easy to miss. I could eat everything on the menu (that listed both meat and vegetarian dishes), including the lovely desserts. Nice French fries, and even ketchup if you want it.

The concept of an allergen free restaurant is great, and might attract a much broader public than a gluten free only outlet. Instead of having to explain your situation, you are greeted with "What is your allergy?" "Gluten intolerant? That's easy". I have dined here several times, without any problem. Both French and English were spoken. At the Delta Montreal hotel (475 President Kennedy), upon request, the waiter served toasted gluten free bread at breakfast. At their Cordial restaurant (mezzanine floor), choice was limited for lunch or dinner: several salads (I had a nice one) and one salmon dish. In the North part of the city, the health shop Bio terre (201 St. Viateur Ouest; www.bio-terre.com) sells gluten free items including bread and flour. Downtown, there is a gluten free bakery, but I had no opportunity to visit it. Finally, I received good gluten free meals on board of two KLM/Air France/Delta flights.

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Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

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