Every gluten free eater--whether they are new to the gluten free way of life or have been following a gluten free diet for years--has experienced the challenges of this dietary restriction at one time or another. It can be hard enough to source appropriate products from our local grocery stores, let alone try to find something appropriate on a restaurant menu. For years, unless we specifically chose to patronize health-conscious restaurants, it was either next to impossible to order a meal guaranteed to be gluten free or the options offered were so bland and unappealing that eating out lost its appeal.
Fortunately, things have gotten easier and easier for gluten free diners with every passing year. As awareness of gluten sensitivity has spread, so too have the options available to those of us who need to avoid gluten. The only thing that I have been completely unable to find is decadent, French-style pastries... Until now!
While visiting Paris this past spring, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven when I walked through the doors of Helmut Newcake, a 100% gluten free patisserie. For the first time since I had been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity over 10 years ago, I was able to eat my fill of beautiful, indulgent petits fours, such as eclairs, blackberry tartes, opera cake, and so forth. Every scrumptious, beautifully-prepared pastry helped me to appreciate the world renowned French joie-de-vivre. Every lovingly prepared bite felt like a near-sinful decadence. I enjoyed the food so much, I even teased my boyfriend that we would have to have these pastries flown in for our wedding.
Little did I know at the time, but Ottawa is blessed with its very own gluten free foodie paradise. Located in the heart of the Byward Market, Olive & Chili offers sweets every bit as tasty and aesthetically appealing as what I found in Paris. Croissants, chocolatines, eclairs, oh my.
Don't let the title of this article fool you. Olive & Chili doesn't only offer gluten free pastries. It offers the full gluten free breakfast-to-dinner dining experience.
Olive & Chili began in 2013 with the mission of providing Ottawa with 100% gluten-free food that is fresh and delicious. Inspired by the traditional home cooking of France, Spain, and Italy, they are dedicated to making food that everyone can enjoy. Every day, they prepare a variety of deli specials, salads and soups, pizza from a wood-burning oven, and gluten-free treats. It is quite the experience!
While many of the main courses, ranging from duck confit to spiced lentil salad, look to have been prepared with health in mind, I won't even try to pretend that the dessert offerings are healthy. It would surprise me greatly if they weren't heavily laden with white sugar and refined gluten free flours. Despite this, I am thrilled to be able to endorse Olive & Chili. While I would recommend reserving their sweet treats for extra special indulgences, there is something to be said about being able to treat ourselves to culinary decadence every now and again.
The next time you are in the Byward Market, I would recommend dropping into Olive & Chili and seeing if your taste buds are as tantilized as mine were.