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

ricecakes.jpg

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.


zeh.jpg zeh3.jpg zeh2.jpgzeh1.jpgzoliakiecntr.jpg

foods.jpg


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.


croissant2.jpg

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


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

17 Responses to “Gluten Free Travel in Europe: German and Austrian Reformhaus Product Reviews including GF Beer and Croissants”

  1. Great, informative website, and great article! My celiac son suffered through a month in rural France and Macedonia this summer with very few GF food choices. Guess we sent him to the wrong place…

    I am the owner of Against The Grain Gourmet (www.againstthegraingourmet.com,) and I just wanted you to know that there are indeed some US manufacturers of baguettes. We sell both plain baguettes and fresh rosemary baguettes, and baguettes are our best selling product. Our company is just a year old, and we are currently distributed on the East Coast, but we expect to be on the West Coast within the year. Another GF company that makes baguettes is Everybody Eats (http://www.everybodyeats-inc.com/) in NYC. Unlike us, they ship directly.

  2. Hi Nancy! Thank you for coming by, and thank you for the nice comments. I think France can be a good place to be gluten-free, but the health food stores would probably be in the big city so it might be good to stop for a gluten-free food run before heading to the countryside. There weren’t so many reformhaus in rural Austria either. :) Both Austria and France can be tricky, though, as both have a strong tradition of gluten in their cuisine. It can make it very difficult to eat out!

    Thank you for pointing me to your website. Your products look lovely. I was actually looking for a gluten-free croissant, but a gluten-free baguette looks pretty darned good, too. Heh heh. It would be great if you could start distributing on the West Coast- I’d love to try your products. ;)

    Thanks for the visit and I hope to see you again sometime!

    -Sea

  3. Hi Sea – Just wanted to stop by and tell you how great your site is :-) What a great resource for GF travelers! Do you travel as part of your job? Also wanted to let you know I left you a comment/question on my blog in regards to your comment..Talk to you later!

    Katie

  4. What a pleasant surprise to find this post!

    I’m kind of amazed that we’ve both been gf in Augsburg…but I don’t think gf beer was available when I was there. I did get an amazing almond horn cookie, which was in a foil wrap, but I guess there’s a chance I got that in Munich. And I had some light muesli that was excellent. I also took a long walk to a bakery that was supposed to make great gf bread, but I got there mid-day, when the bakery was closed and I guess no exceptions could be made for traveler who had merely traveled across an ocean to be there….

    So it goes.

  5. [...] daughter will also be traveling in Germany soon, so she also enjoyed this post on Health food stores and gluten-free food in Germany and [...]

  6. I am a plain ole consumer and I testify to the yumminess of the Against The Grain products. We are wheat, corn, soy and yeast free and these products taste like a real piece of french bread without the wheat. Totally Amazing!!! Thanks Nancy for creating the yummiest bread ever.

    Other great wheat free baking mixes we use are namaste. Way better than the baking mixes listed above and much less expensive.

  7. Hi Katie,
    Oops! I’ve been doing a bad job of keeping up with old posts. Sorry! I don’t travel for my job, except as a graduate student I do travel to do field research, but my husband travels sometimes for his job (mostly to India). I like to tag along. :)

    Hi David,
    Cool, thanks for the recommendations. I know just how you feel missing the open hours- that has happened to me more than once! Now I’m so paranoid I always call first to get the hours. :) Here’s to being GF in Augsburg!

    Hi Ani,
    Thank you for coming by! The point of this post was less to suggest that people buy their GF products from Europe and more to help people who might be traveling to Europe and shopping at Reformhaus (Health Food Stores) pick out some good products. I wonder if you might be referring to another post? I’m not sure, but anyway, thanks for the recommendation of Against the Grain. I haven’t tried their products. I have tried Namaste- I think it was a brownie mix. Unfortunately here in California they are quite pricey in the stores so I haven’t bought very many of them. :) I wonder if either is available on Amazon- I do a lot of my gluten-free mix shopping online with free shipping and it usually beats store prices.

  8. Thanks so much! I find your information very comforting as my family and I are moving to Germany for the next three years. I was worried I would have to order specialty products online and that is not always easy because some companies wont ship to APOs.

  9. I just wanted to tell you about a cool experience I had, in case you ever make it back to Vienna. I am visiting a town near Vienna called Heilegenkreutz where there is a monasery that has a restaurant. I went tonight for dessert, and I handed the server a card I had downloaded off another website that explains gluten in German. He took the card to the kitchen and came back with 2 suggestions: ice cream, and something very local called Kastanienreis. According to Google Translator it means Chestnuts Rice. It looks like it comes out of a Play-Doh Fun Factory, but I’m SO glad I tried it!!! The first bite felt/tasted doughy, so it scared me and grossed me out. But then it really grew on me, and I felt like I could really try something Austrian. Way cool. Thank you for what you do here.

  10. Hello,

    Some great information here. Off to Vienna soon so the GF details will come in handy.

    Many thanks,

    Richard

  11. I just got back from 2 weeks in Germany (Straubing) with my husband, who was working. I am now trying to find how to order 3 Pauly products here as I’m sitting here eating the remains for the Sesam Krackers I brought back. I didn’t find the health food store until my second week there. I mostly ate a lot of fruit for breakfast, as we had free breakfast at a bakery (and there are bakeries on nearly every corner). But, Germans eat a lot of meet and veggies, and the waiters and chefs were very accommodating and helpful when I showed them my gluten free card. I truly did not have a problem with gluten free there. It was a wonderful trip.

  12. I just wanted to add, for anyone else travelling to my wonderful home country and needing to be gluten-free, that apart from the “Reformhaus”, Germany also have a number of organic shops and supermarkets that are well-stocked with gluten-free products. Look out for the signs “Bio-Supermarket” (organic supermarket), “Bioladen” or “Naturkostladen”, all indicating organic shops of various sizes (“bio” is German for “organic” or “wholefoods”). I hope this helps any future traveller! :-)

  13. Thanks for the great post! It was really helpful for my Germany (Munich, Augsburg, and area) trip. I loved Sacher too! Now I want to travel Italy and buy the whole collection of Schaer and try them all! I didnt buy much of the bread, or beer. Instead I focused on the sweet snacks. Schaer’s Hazlenut flavour wafer is my favourite! I’m glad that I can find Schaer’s Magdalenas back home in Hong Kong. =) I posted further review / gluten-free info of my trip in the link below:
    http://rainyrice.blogspot.com/search/label/Germany

  14. I just want to add some updates to this post relating to Austria. I have lived in Vienna the last six months and recommend trying a shop called “DM” for gluten free as well as “Merkur” (especially if in Vienna – the huge on on Mariahilferstrasse has a massive range). Merkur is variable in how much GF it has but every DM (a chain of healthfood/chemists) I have been in both here and in Germany has had a good range of gluten free. Also, if you are looking for Gluten free austrian food you can’t go past the steltze – giant fried pork knuckle. It is not health food by any means but it is basically roast pork (with awesome crackling). It is usually eaten just with fresh horseradish, mustard and sauerkraut which are generally GF.

  15. Any suggestions of a cafe in austria that does any nice gluten free fresh baking?? Im going to Vienna for new year and will be in agony watching everyone tucking in to strudel and sacher torte so il need to know where i mgt get a treat gluten free!!

  16. Any current recommendations for GF travel in Germany? My husband was diagnosed with celiac just last month, and we’re going to the Hessen/Rheinland region (staying in Gross-Gerau) next month. This is all new to us, so traveling to Germany, not speaking German, and trying to eat GF are weighing heavily right now. Printed out the GF dining cards, but restaurant recommendations would be most welcome!!

  17. Hi Rebecca,
    I think these tips should apply as much now as they did before although the products available may have changed a little. I can understand how you would feel stress at traveling in a foreign country with a new Celiac diagnosis! Definitely bring your travel cards. I would also bring toaster bags, gluten-free soy sauce packets, favorite gluten-free protein bars (check country for regulations on nuts or dried fruit), favorite gluten-free cereal, and a favorite gluten-free crackers and/or pretzels.

    Your husband should be able to eat breakfasts with the hotel buffet. Yogurt, fruit and possibly meat products may be ok. They will have jam available with a spoon (good to top yogurt), and sometimes hard boiled eggs. If he brings his own cereal/granola he can use their milk and have a pretty satisfying meal. Also, if he brings toaster bags, he can use the hotel toaster to toast his own gluten-free toast (probably easiest to buy this at a reformhaus health food store in the country.) Oh, and make sure he has extra space in his suitcase for newly acquired gluten-free foods!

    When in a pinch, you can always find a sushi restaurant in a metropolitan city. Bring his gluten-free soy sauce packets and order plain veggie sushi or plain raw fish sushi (no sauces! no marinades! no fish eggs!) and he can have a decent meal.

    Since the slideshow above from my post was broken, I made a new slideshow with some suggested items to make travel easier. These are some of my favorite things, but of course he may have his own favorites. Amazon likes to sell things in bulk so you may not want to order through them for everything but you can get some ideas. Look in the post above for the new suggested items for your suitcase.

    I can’t help with restaurants, but the German celiac society probably can. Contact them asap! Also look for posts written by people who have traveled in your specific area. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip and eat safely!

    -Sea

Leave a Reply