Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gluten-Free in Victoria

I don't think one can appreciate just how difficult the life of the celiac is until one has walked a mile or two in their gluten-free shoes. It's one thing to enjoy gluten-free products as a matter of dietary balance, it's quite another to be physically dependant upon the diet. Due to a mild wheat allergy (not celiac disease), I've gone gluten free a couple different times in my life, one time for several months, to monitor the real impact of wheat on my physical and mental state. I did notice a difference, but not enough for me to justify going permanently gluten-free. As a result of these dietary experiments, I do appreciate the day-to-day dining struggles faced by the celiac sufferer. And thankfully for them, and for those of us who like these products, there are a couple great paces in Victoria. I think other cities are farther along in the gluten-free trend. I was really encouraged to see, for example, a couple of gluten-free beers on tap at some of the microbreweries in Portland during my last visit; one of those breweries also had a complete menu of gluten-free restaurant items to complement the beers.

Sante Gluten-Free Cafe, 2630 Quadra St., Victoria, BC

Just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean it can't compete with the real wheat (and other gluten grain) versions. Sante makes dynamite gluten-free pizza, breads and all sorts of baked goodies which can be enjoyed in a cafe setting, or to go. The soups and salads are really good, too. One of the nice thing about dining at places like this is the education one gets in the range of grains we commonly don't see in our diet. There are many grains celiacs can eat and some of them are just as delicious, if not more so, than wheat. Try the muffins here with your coffee and come back and tell me they aren't just as good as the gluten versions.
Sante Gluten-Free Cafe on Urbanspoon

Origin Gluten-free Bakery, 1525 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC 

When I was going gluten-free, this bakery was my go-to place for breads and other assorted goodies. I still go there for the occasional Vega bread. This bakery is a bit pricey, but remember, this is a very niche market, and many of the grains are specialty products, they do not come as cheap as mass produced wheat flour. I treat this food the same way I do organics and locally sourced. You usually do get what you pay for when all factors are considered.
Origin Gluten-free Bakery on Urbanspoon