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Gluten free travel in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi
Courtesy of Sarah Ackerman

By Celiac Traveller, Kylie McKenzie

My husband and I have lived and worked in Abu Dhabi for 6 years and over this time the gluten-free scene has changed dramatically. There is a lot of gf food available in the supermarkets; everything from the staples of breads and cereals, all the way to gf pastry, pizza and yorkshire puddings. You can find just about anything if you know where to look.

LuLu Supermarkets have the best range of gf foods by far - a wide variety of breads, bagels, rolls, slices and biscuits, cereals, pasta, savoury crackers, stock cubes, cake mixes and from time to time they also carry gf frozen pizza, shortcrust pastry, yorkshire puddings and other ready-made frozen meals. The range at the different stores varies; I shop at the Khalidiya Mall branch and am never disappointed.

Other supermarkets which carry some gf foods include Carrefour and Choitrams and a small range at Spar Supermarkets. Organic Foods and Café, located at the Masdar Institute, have a very good range of cereals, flours, pasta, cake mixes, bread mixes and a lot of specialty items like guar gum etc. Spinneys and Abelas are western-style supermarkets who carry some gf cakes, biscuits, cereals and pasta but also carry pork products. You can find a good range of gf bacon and sausages at both of these stores. A word of warning, not all bacon is gf - some are dipped in soy sauce, others sprinkle flour between the rashers during packaging. Take care to select a truly gf brand.

The newest addition however is the Gluten Free Online Supermarket www.glutenfree-supermarket.ae. Their range is extensive and their service is excellent. All their products are displayed on an easy to use website; place your order online and within 48 hours a parcel is delivered to your door. Although you do pay a small delivery fee, it saves a lot of time driving from store to store looking for gf items.

The restaurant scene is improving too. While most chefs and restaurant staff still do not know what gluten is, there are some outlets that are doing a great job. The best hotel by far is the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. Cuiscene, their all-day-dining restaurant, has two wonderful chefs (Chef Eric and Chef Pico) who will go out of their way to ensure your meal is completely delicious and gluten-free. Next door at Frankie's Italian, the service is equally good and the chefs are also very helpful. Chamas Churrascaria and Boccacio Italian at the Intercontinental Hotel are helpful. The buffet restaurant at the Shangri-La is OK, but Bordeaux, their French restaurant is excellent. On Yas Island, Blue Grill steakhouse and Choices Buffet, both at the Rotana Hotel, are fairly knowledgeable. Stills Restaurant at the Yas Crowne Plaza is also good. La Vendome buffet at Emirates Palace is pretty good, but beware their signature Chinese restaurant, Hakasan - although they have an extensive gluten-free menu, many of the items contained soy sauce and oyster sauce and fried items which may not be gluten-free. I am sure there are other good places too if you take the time to look. But as always, we must ask questions, check cooking techniques and sauces. Never just eat a meal directly from the menu - always check the details with the chef first.

Abu Dhabi is a great city, come and visit us soon.

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