If I still haven’t convinced you that traveling gluten-free is easy and fun, this post should do the trick.
I’d like to introduce you to Darren and Michelle, who opened the Gluten Free Hotel earlier this year, in the German Alps. As you might guess, the hotel offers room and board in a 100% gluten-free environment — perfect for anyone wary of traveling abroad safely. They were kind enough to answer a few questions — and provide a recipe for us — via email:
The hotel is fairly new – how have things been going, and what are your hopes for the next five years?
We were excited and pleased when the Gluten Free Hotel opened on August 1, 2010, after a lot of hard work. Over the next 5 years our plans are to either purchase adjoining property or to find larger premises. Both enable us to offer more facilities to our customers. In the very long term a chain of “Gluten Free Hotel” around the world would be fantastic!
Michelle, you’re not gluten-intolerant, right? Do you eat strictly gluten-free, and if so did you notice a change in your health when you made the switch?
Yes, that’s right, I’m not a celiac. But since Darren was diagnosed 2 ½ years ago, our whole lifestyle has had to change; it is far easier for us to eat the same food. So yes, I am now virtually eating a gluten-free diet, and am really enjoying it. Since eating gluten-free food, I have noticed a considerable difference in my energy levels, my skin & hair are healthier and I have lost a little weight.
Initially when Darren was first diagnosed, it was a shock to the system and a very steep learning curve for us both (3 hour grocery trips). But once you know the safe brands and begin to cook with natural ingredients, it really is a better way of life: you know exactly what is going into your meals.
How did you end up in Garmisch-Partenkirchen?
Obviously it’s a beautiful part of the Alps. But Garmisch-Partenchirken is an alpine town not only for the winter season, but 365 days of the year. So whether you are into mountain biking, hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, shopping, sightseeing or just relaxing and sunbathing, there is a vacation here for everyone.
We first came here about 15 years ago, when we were touring Europe in our 1972 MG Midget. We found it such a lovely and welcoming place that we’ve regularly made it one of our stop-over locations, when traveling to Italy, Austria, Croatia or Slovenia and of course exploring Bavaria.
How does the hotel interact with the wide Garmisch-Partenkirchen community? Do any gluten-intolerant locals stop by for dinner?
Partenkirchen (our side of town) benefits from the charm of a quiet and a much more relaxed village. Cows walking past the hotel for milking, tractors on the road, locals sitting and chatting on their front benches and a real sense of community that we have been welcomed into. Even the local bar now stocks our gluten-free beer. We have a couple of locals eat at the restaurant, strangely they mainly come on our Indian menu nights.
How did you develop the menu?
We have thought long and hard about our menu, as we wanted to offer our customers the type of food that people with gluten intolerance miss out on. As a celiac you don’t always appreciate being offered a salad or meat & potatoes without any dressing, as many restaurants offer.
Can you share a favorite gluten-free recipe with us?
This is a very quick and easy recipe for gluten-free chocolate brownies, for those days when you just feel hungry.
250g gluten-free flour
200g cocoa powder
½ tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
125g margarine, melted in microwave
125g brown sugar
125g white sugar
ground almonds, other chopped nuts or gluten-free chocolate, to taste
Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, it is really this simple. Put the mixture into a well-greased baking tray and place in the oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes. Allow to cool or eat hot with a scoop of gluten free vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!