Gluten Free Travel on the Austrian Autobahn: Landzeit Restaurant Review with GF Rosti Recipe, Cucumber salad recipe and Beet recipe

January 18th, 2008 yum Posted in Austria, Gluten Free On the Road, Restaurant Review, Travel 2 Comments »

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salad5.jpg I’d read that salads might be a good option in Austria, and found that to be good advice. From reading the literature sent by the Austrian Celiac society, I had thought that some chains like Wienerwald-Restaurant would be especially easy to navigate. The Austrian Celiac society provided a gluten-free menu for Wienerwald, and I was excited to try it. But, when I got there and ordered some potato dishes, when it arrived I found the potato dishes on the “safe” list were all deep fried. Given the preponderance of gluten breaded fried meat products in the place, I didn’t have the courage to actually eat them, so I ended up making do with a mediocre salad. On the positive side, salad bars in Austria tend to have oil (~öl) and vinegar (Essig) available so you can mix your own safe dressing. So, on our trip to Weinerwald, I had a simple salad, self dressed with oil and vinegar.

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landzeit6.jpgHowever, it was at an impromptu stop at an autobahn chain called Landzeit that I realized how perfect salads could be for the gluten-free traveler with a preference for a vegetarian diet. We walked into this cozy building off the highway and found ourselves in a buffet/deli restaurant that rivaled Whole Foods for variety and options. There were hot food stations where chefs would whip up your choice off extensive varied options, a fresh pasta bar (where the pasta is literally shaped right there), a huge salad bar with bean salads, greek salads, dill cucumber and caraway beet salad, and a higher priced salad bar with things like calamari salad. I filled a plate from the regular salad bar and was in heaven. Not only that, but I found a hot food station where a chef was making fresh rosti, a pan fried potato “hash brown” type dish. I asked the chef if it contained any flour or gluten, and thrillingly enough, she not only spoke perfect English but was able to tell me the rosti was just what it looked like- plain, shredded potatoes. I ordered one along with a cappucino at the hot coffee bar and sat down to a real feast! Now while I love rosti, most recipes call for too much butter and oil for my taste- and this one was so rich it was a bit much. But the salads were perfection. Mayonnaise cabbage salad with peas, the aforementioned cucumber and beet salads- they were all wonderful, and every bite was an adventure. It was one of my favorite meals on the trip, to be honest- all those crunchy, fresh tasting, simply seasoned vegetables were heavenly!

landzeit3.jpglandzeit.jpgIf you happen to find yourself hungry and on the autobahn, and see a Landzeit sign- by all means, stop and have a great lunch! Their salad bar should offer plenty of options that go beyond simple lettuce and a vinaigrette, with things like beets, beans, and corn to add valuable calories and nutrients while on the road. Do be careful as with any salad bar- there may be a macaroni salad with the other salads and you will want to be on the lookout for borrowed utensils or dribbled pasta in any nearby stations. Also, you may want to ask about any sauces that seem thickened or cloudy. I had very good luck and felt great and energized after my salad feast- once I recovered from the greasy rosti. If Austria isn’t on your calendar, you can enjoy some similar recipes at home. Actually, I think rosti made at home is better, because you can make it as healthy or decadent as you like by portioning out your butter or oil. So, let’s hear it for gourmet roadside salad bars in Austria- other chains may have similar offerings, but I enjoyed Landzeit so much I wanted to recommend it in particular. They do vary in size and offerings, though… The first Landzeit we stopped at was the biggest and nicest, with the most elaborate salad bars. Later Landzeit had a little less, but were still better than average, and worlds away from yucky old Weinerwald. (For the latter, imagine Denny’s, with everything covered in gravy and deep fried. )

Carol Fenster reports that some autobahn restaurants have gluten-free packaged food. I didn’t see any at Landzeit specifically, but it’s worth a look!

I’m still looking for the perfect beet caraway salad recipe, but you can try this recipes as a starting off point. DH wasn’t sure about caraway in the beet salad, but I loved it. You might want to start out with a little caraway and add more if you like it. Enjoy! Oh, and if you love potatoes as much as I do, you will like James McNair’s Potato cookbook, which can now be purchased used for a bargain price at Amazon. It’s a good cookbook, even if he is crazy for butter and oil. you might remember his name from the James McNair’s Corn Cookbookthat I recommended in my post on skillet corn cake.

Swiss-style Gluten Free Rosti Recipe
Ingredients
3 or so grated baking potatoes, med-lg (you can experiment with other root vegetables- I tried parsnip mixed half and half with potatoes and was unhappy with the resulting texture and flavor, but if you like parsnips you might like it)
salt
black pepper
1/2 to 1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 or 1 tbsp. butter
fresh parsley or grated hard, flavorful cheese
Directions
Grate your potatoes and pat dry in a towel. Season to taste.

Heat your equal amounts of butter and olive oil in a cast iron or nonstick pan on medium heat and combine thoroughly, making sure butter is evenly melted.

Add your grated, seasoned potatoes to the pan and let cook, either shaking or gently lifting the potatoes to prevent them from sticking to the pan. Try to leave the rosti as whole as possible so that it can be one whole pancake-type thing. Lower the heat after about five minutes and cook for another five minutes. Then take a large plate, cover the top of the rosti and flip the pan over. Uncooked side should be down, touching the surface of the plate. If you want, and if you used a lesser amount of oil and butter, you can add a little more olive oil and butter to the pan and combine it, raising the temperature again. Then gently slice the rosti off the plate so the uncooked side is directly on the surface of the pan. Cook for another ten minutes, lowering temperature after five minutes again. When the rosti seems done, plate, sprinkle your parsley and/or cheese, and enjoy!

Scandanavian Cucumber and Dill Salad Recipe
Ingredients
1 cucumber (english is preferred)
salt
1 tbsp. fresh chives or chopped green onions
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or dried dill to taste)
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Use food processor or mandolin to slice cucumbers evenly and thinly. Layer slices in a colander and salt as you go (moderately) and let cucumber drain for no longer than two hours. Then spin in salad spinner or pat dry in a towel. Combine all other ingredients and mix with cucumber. Serve right away. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a day, but it’s really best fresh or the cucumbers will decompose.
Notes
Takes longer than you might think- plan ahead!

Yummy with a veggie burger, as a refreshing side dish, or added to a plain lettuce salad.

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Gluten Free Travel in Europe: German and Austrian Reformhaus Product Reviews including GF Beer and Croissants

January 11th, 2008 yum Posted in 3 Pauly, Austria, Europe, German, Gluten Free Beer, Gluten Free Product Review, Schaer, Travel 17 Comments »

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Produkte Ohne Gluten (Products without Gluten-German)
It should be no surprise to you, my readers, that when I found myself in Austria and Germany, I was very excited to explore the various types of European Gluten-free products offered that aren’t accessible here in the States. I had visions of arriving in Vienna and immediately dashing to a health food store (called Reformhaus in German), but it didn’t quite work out that way. However, before too long I did find some grocery stores, and I did scour the shelves until I found the health food section. Tip: just look for the rice cakes!
Supermarkets you can expect to find in Austria and Germany include: MERKUR, BILLA, INTERSPAR, EUROSPAR, SPAR, dm-Drogeriemarkt. I found Spar to be especially nice, as they had a more diverse collection of rice cakes. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve sneered at rice cakes many a time. Who wants to eat puffed cardboard when you COULD be eating homemade bread, fresh from the oven, or some lovely rice pilaf? But these were no ordinary rice cakes. They had chocolate and coconut dipped rice cakes, plain chocolate dipped rice cakes, and even Strawberry yogurt dipped rice cakes. YUM! My non GF DH was stealing them, that’s how good they were.


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How to find a reformhaus in Austria or Germany:
The rice cakes from the grocery store were nice, and some grocery stores even had gluten-free corn flakes or muesli, but I really wanted to explore Reformhaus/ health food stores in Austria and Germany to find out what they had to offer. We finally managed this in Augsburg, Germany. I had addresses of reformhaus, but we found it too difficult to find things by address alone without GPS or the internet. Luckily our hotel (Ibis) was in walking distance of the train station, so we used an internet terminal at the train station. I went to www.reformhaus.de/branche/reformhaeuser.htm, entered in the city, and got a list of Reformhaus. (Note: site is in German so the Google translation feature was very helpful) Then I entered addresses into Google Maps and came up with about 3-4 in walking distance of the train station. I was glad we’d mapped that many because the first reformhaus had gone out of business- luckily reformhaus #2 was open and I was thrilled when I found their gluten free shelves, labeled with “produkte ohne gluten.” Sometimes shelves will be labeled “gluten frei” or not labeled at all, but the products are all in one place so once you find the right section, you are set. I have to admit, I went a little crazy, although the pile you see above was actually the result of me stopping every time we saw a reformhaus and getting “just one more thing” to try. The two major companies in Austria and Germany seem to be Schaer and 3Pauly.


The best Schaer Products I tried:
magdalenas.jpgThis was the only product I bought multiples of on our trip- Although I’m not a huge fan of apricot, these jam filled sponge cupcakes are absolutely delicious and satisfying. They are also individually wrapped, making them perfect for travel, even on the airlines. DH liked them too. 9/10 I would buy them back home, too, for the right price.

crisprolls.jpgThese crisp rolls looked promising in the package and were just as I expected them to be. They are crispy, crunchy bits of bread perfect for jam or an impromptu sandwich- and best of all, don’t need toasting to be delicious! They aren’t individually wrapped, so it is best if you can put them in a sealed ziploc bag once they’re opened so crumbs don’t get everywhere. As time went on, they got a bit broken up in the bag, but they were perfect for a bite of bread with breakfast. I have a feeling these aren’t the healthiest of snacks- they have a strong margarine or butter flavor, but I didn’t care- we were on vacation! 8/10 Great for traveling. I probably wouldn’t buy them at home.

quadritos.jpgThese decadent little wafers taste just as you would expect them to from the package. Chocolatey wafery goodness, conveniently packaged. I’m sure they’re terribly bad for you, but they’re perfect for staving off depression after you watch your DH eat his 5th apple strudel of the trip. (That boy really loves his apple strudel!) DH also gave them a big thumbs up. 9/10 for taste 7/10 for high calories and being junk food. I might (guiltily) buy them at home, very rarely, if they were not too expensive.


Schaer Products that were Not too Bad:
ciabattine.jpgThese rolls, like most of Schaer’s bread products, require a toaster oven, so I didn’t actually try them until I came home. Once heated for 10-15 minutes in the oven, they have good texture and satisfying “roll” like qualities- a nice crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. The powdery corn flour taste on the outside bothers me a little bit- it can taste slightly bitter and “off” to me if I think about it too much. However, these rolls were pretty nice with some butter, honey or jam. Not good for traveling unless you have access to your own oven or toaster oven!
7/10 I might buy them at home, if I had no time at all to bake.


GRISSINI breadsticks were ok, but nothing special. Tolerable for travel. Good as a side with salads. 7/10 I wouldn’t buy them again, unless traveling and nothing better was available.

Schaer Products that were Not good:
baguette.jpgbaguette2.jpgI was really excited about these baguettes. It made me wonder why we don’t have any nationally available shaped breads available like this in the States, when Schaer has more than you can count. However, when I finally tried it, I was disappointed. I tried it three ways- first, toasted, and then cut in half horizontally. The bread was gummy and did not slice well post toasting. Then I tried cutting the bread in half horizontally and then toasting it. It maintained its structural integrity much better, and wouldn’t be half bad with tomato sauce and cheese melted on it- or some other flavorful topping. The bread itself had very little flavor. I also tried slicing the bread in little circular rounds- they were quite crunchy and would be good for crostini. I didn’t like the flavor of the bread especially, but it was ok.
6/10 for texture and flavor. I would not buy these at home.


scroissant.jpgThese gluten-free chocolate “croissants” were the biggest disappointment of all. It sounds like a good idea, especially described on their web site. “Quickly warmed in the oven, they taste heavenly!” they claim. They come in a two pack, with two “croissants” per side, for a total of four “Croissants” all together. These must be toasted to be palatable. They smell very gluten-free and bland. Toasted they taste just as gluten-free, and just as bland. The chocolate is mild and not especially sweet. Far inferior to other European gluten-free croissants. Edible but not deserving of the name, with no butter flavor whatsoever. One positive- they don’t taste rich enough to cause feelings of dietary guilt. 5/10 I would not buy these again, anywhere.


Schaer Products that were Pretty Awful
rustico1.jpgThis bread looks fairly typical for packaged gluten-free bread that is antiseptically sealed for long storage, a la Ener-g foods. I haven’t eaten Ener-g foods bread in years because there are so many better options out there- Whole Foods Bakehouse gluten free bread comes to mind. If I had any better option, I wouldn’t have eaten this bread either. I toasted it in safe toaster bags in one guesthouse that we stayed at- none of the others had toasters. I made grilled cheese sandwiches by packing it in the toaster bag with cheese between the bread- it wasn’t too bad. I would not enjoy it plain, or even with jam- it just tastes too bland. Gluten-free bread can be so much better than this! 5/10 with cheese, 4/10 without. I would not buy this again unless I was traveling and wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and had no other options. Bleh.


funkies.jpgFunkies taste like they sound. Funky. I thought that corn wafer snacks might be tasty. I was wrong. These are awful. DH refused to even try them after getting a whiff of the seasonings. I wish I hadn’t bought or tried them. 2/10 I would never buy these again, anywhere, anyhow. I wouldn’t even accept them if they were free.


FETTE CROCCANTI, gluten-free cracker toast- about as tasty as corn Styrofoam. They seemed like a good idea, but weren’t. I couldn’t even finish the package on the plane. 3/10, higher if you put really flavorful sandwich fillings on them. I wouldn’t buy them again as I disliked the texture.


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3 Pauly Products I regret that I wasn’t able to try more 3 Pauly products while I was in Europe, as I get the feeling that they are more innovative than Schaer with new flours. Schaer seems pretty comfortable with their corn flour, but 3 Pauly is experimenting with various teff products, and I say more power to them! I would have to try more of their products to really give them a fair assessment, however.

The Best 3 Pauly Products
croissantpkg3paul.jpg3 Pauly Croissants are a world away from Schaer’s travesty of a gluten-free croissant. They do require heating in the oven, and I found I liked them better baked more like 15 minutes than 10 minutes, but they actually taste buttery and flaky. They may not be the perfect gluten-free croissant (see the French products below sold through Amazon for a superior gluten-free croissant) but they’re pretty good! They have that guilt-inducing richness we all look for in a croissant, and taste nice with jam, or pretty much whatever you care to put on them. They are not quite as fluffy as they could be, but they were pretty good! 8/10, mostly for novelty. I would buy them again IF traveling with access to a toaster oven.


Glutenfreie Brezeln- Gluten-free pretzels- These corn-based pretzels are not much different than gluten-free pretzles from Glutino or Ener-g Foods. Great travel food; I ate them up faster than almost anything else. High in fat, though. 8/10 I would buy them sometime for travel on the road.

Corn Flakes These hardly need explaining- any gluten-free corn flake you can find should be good, and I was very happy to have them at breakfast time. 8/10 Great for travel but nothing special, persay.

The Worst 3 Pauly Products
lighttomato.jpgThese light tomato crackers were about as bad as the Schaer version of this type of cracker. They may be healthier for you, but again, who really wants to eat corn Styrofoam? Certainly not me, even if it is “tomato-flavored.” These might be ok with some great toppings, but I didn’t enjoy them. 4/10 I wouldn’t buy them again unless dieting and desperate.


Other products to be on the lookout for:
Gluten-Free Beer in Austria and Germany
Luckily we now have Redbridge Beer and Bard’s Tale to stave off our hunger for gluten-free beer, but it can be fun to try new gluten-free beers, and I loved the two Gluten Free beers that I tried in Austria.

brau.jpgThe German Schnitzer Brau is the best sorghum beer I’ve ever had! It contains Water, Sorghum malt *, Sugar *, Hops *, and Yeast *, and comes in at least two varieties- a golden lemony beer and a regular beer. I tried the lemony beer and it was sweet and wonderful for this hard-cider loving gluten-free girl! We found it at the Reformhaus in Augsburg, so keep your eyes open for it on the shelves!10/10 I wonder if I can Buy it Here I would buy it if I could!

upbeer.jpgAustria’s gluten-free beer, “Up Bier,” is made from a blend of Sorghum Buckwheat, Corn malt, Hops, and water, which may explain its authentic beer taste and complex flavor notes. It was really very, very good and I was happy to get the chance to try it at the Gluten-free pension in Austria. 8/10, perfect for real beer lovers. Buy it Here I would buy it if I could, although that lemon beer was really my favorite.

I also enjoyed little pizza flavored cracker wafers (Great with cheese), by an unknown company, and there were many things on the shelves I would have liked to try. In retrospect I would have tried less breads and more cookies and cakes- they don’t need toasting and are better for snacking. If I’d had my own kitchen with toaster oven I think I could have enjoyed more of the products- next time I really think we’d consider renting a place with a kitchen, or maybe buying a cheap toaster oven for on the road.

Want to read more about gluten-free croissants in Europe? Read Catherine’s story here about the French Croissants sold through Amazon now. (Also see slideshow below- looks pretty yummy, huh?)

Other Gluten-free European croissant options include the frozen ones offered by Dietary Specials. What I want to know is why no gluten-free companies in the US have jumped on this and created a gluten-free croissant? C’mon guys, what are you waiting for??? Are you really going to make us order our gluten-free croissants from France through Amazon? Really? Well… ok…

Or, you can follow the amazing Kate’s example and make your own, using her Gluten-free homemade Croissant Recipe

For more information on traveling gluten-free in Austria, contact the very nice people at Austrian Celiac Society (But don’t put it off until the last minute, like I did! Way too stressful!)

For information on traveling gluten-free in Germany, go to the German Celiac Society

Read about Carol Fenster’s experience in Austria and Europe


Traveling in Switzerland? Read this article on Gluten Free Travel in Switzerland

Traveling in Italy?

Let Catherine of a Gluten-Free Guide Help you! Read her gluten free experiences in Italy- sounds like an amazingly yummy trip!

Read about Shauna’s gluten-free experiences in Italy
More here

Celiac Travel on Gluten Free Italy

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