Dinner: don’t go here solo

I’ve been to this restaurant twice now, but I haven’t told you yet because I have been so busy lately. Solo Eten & Drinken is a bar/restaurant located in the Museumkwartier, in the Van Baerlestraat to be absolutely precise. It’s right across the street from the famous Concertgebouw and the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk are within walking distance, so I dare say this restaurant is a nice option if you’re planning a museumtrip in Amsterdam and happen to have celiac disease.

Although the restaurant doesn’t offer gluten free bread, they did give me some fresh cherry tomatoes as an appetizer. The menu isn’t extensive, but I like that – it doesn’t make me dizzy with options. Still, choosing between all those delicious dishes can be quite hard. The fries aren’t gluten free, but the risotto is – and it’s heavenly. Try it, I recommend it.

I had chosen vitello tonato as a starter, which was perfectly alright. Nothing special, but not bad either. Then, I had mussels, and it was great. I chose the risotto as a side dish (of course) and everything was sooooo good. You can’t have the fries, but just tell them you’re gluten free and ask for another side dish instead. [Risotto. I’m telling you, try the risotto].

For dessert, I decided to order a creme brûlee, which was good as always. You can’t really go wrong with that kind of a dish. The environment in Solo is not as touristy as you might think – a lot of people dine at Solo before they go to the Concertgebouw, so you’ll mainly find older, upper-class people around here dressed in fancy dresses and suits. Quite a nice crowd, if you ask me.

Also, the prices are friendly for a night out, so I’d definitely recommend this place.

Solo eten & drinken
Address: Van Baerlestraat 35-37, 1071 AP Amsterdam
Phone: 020 662 2655
Website: www.soloetenendrinken.nl

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My personal Pavlov-response

I honestly believe my brain is wired for picking up the word ‘gluten’ or ‘celiac disease’.  Whenever I hear the word, or see the word, I become super-attentive and alert, and ready to comment on anything that’s said that’s just wrong, or interesting, or true. I can be really negative about comments on gluten and celiac disease, or really positive – depends on whether they get it right or just spread more false knowledge into this world.

So today, while browsing scienceblog FiveThirtyEight, I stumbled upon this article. It’s about gluten sensitivity, and at first I thought it was just another silly article about people who are supposedly sensitive to gluten. But it’s not. Actually, it’s a really balanced, nuanced article about the question whether gluten sensitivity is a real thing or not. The article includes phrases as:

“For those of you keeping track at home, that means that while 30 percent of Americans are trying to cut gluten from their diet, probably at most only 1 percent of Americans may have NCGS.”

Which is cynical, and I like that.

On the downside, there’s this fragment of a show I love, called Castle. (Some of you probably know it, some of you probably don’t.) It’s about a mystery writer who tags along with a NYPD Homicide detective, just in short. Anyhow, at one of the episodes, Castle is being ‘held hostage’ because he needs to prove that the hostage-keeper is innocent of murder. He walks in and out of the room to help the detectives with their investigation. At one point, he comes back into the hostage-room (where some other people are actually held hostage) and brings donuts for them. One hostage, the annoying one, raises his hand and says: “Ehm, gluten free?” And then Castle responds with: “Dude, they’re donuts. Either you’re in, or you’re out.”

I love Castle, really, but this phrase was sooo redundant. I mean, sure, I enjoy when people on fad gluten free diets are being mocked, but I don’t know whether this man, despite being annoying, is really gluten intolerant. What if he is? Then Castles comment is just rude.

Well, there’s plenty more where that came from, but let’s keep it with these two for now. What are your positive and negative encounters with gluten in media?

Gluten Free holiday in the Alps

So, I went on a holiday last week – a snowboarding holiday in the Alps. To be precise, we went to Hotel Lion d’Or in the small village of Châtel. Châtel is a part of the largest skiing-area in France: Les Portes du Soleil, an area which covers more than 650 kilometers of pistes. Luckily for us, there had just fallen some fresh snow, and the forecasts were promising.

Of course, such a holiday is expensive. But ours was pretty reasonably priced, considering what you got. We had an all-access skiing pass, an all-inclusive mealplan and a nice room, with a double bed and a shower. There even was (some) WiFi available in the lobby of the hotel. The staff of Lion d’Or is Dutch, but they’re pretty good at speaking French and English as well.

First of all: the rooms are not super-luxe, but then again, that’s not why you’re there. Lion d’Or has a sauna, but we didn’t use it, so I can’t tell you anything about that. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and while the interior is somewhat out-dated, it serves it purpose just fine.

Then, the area. Les Portes du Soleil is an amazing skiing-area – you can even travel to Switzerland if you want to, since it’s just a couple of gondola’s away. Châtel has a small piste-complex very near the hotel, and it’s quite fun to start exploring here. When you’ve seen it all, you might want more, and that’s splendidly provided for. A new lift just has been opened, which connects Châtel to the Linga and Avoriaz areas. In Avoriaz, the largest village in the whole Portes du Soleil, you find the so-called Swiss Wall: a supersteep piste that is covered in icy buckels. Not one I’d descend, but it’s fun watching from the gondola.

I know I have kept some information out of this review: the food. That’s because I want to save the best (at least in my opinion) for last. First of all, I can advise you to mention your gluten free diet with your booking. When I arrived in the hotel, they noticed my marking and asked if I was really allergic. I responded positively, after which they assured me that they’d take extra care of that.

Oh, and they sure did! Fresh gluten free bread was provided every morning (even though I had brought some gluten free bread myself, just in case), and at the breakfast buffet there was plenty to choose from. The hotel doesn’t offer a lunch service, but since you’ll probably be up on some mountain at that time, they do provide you with an option for making your own lunchbox – some juice cartons are provided, as well as plastic bottles of still water, and sachets to put your bread in. The buffet furthermore offers a variety of cheese and meat, nutella and jam, butter, boiled eggs, yoghurts in all different tastes and what-not. It’s quite extensive, really.

During dinnertime, we were served a starter, main course and a dessert. This went perfect as well. If there was something I couldn’t eat, I was provided with a very agreeable alternative, and the cook clearly had made some effort to replace a dish with something equally as good. If they weren’t sure about something, one of the waiters would check with me, just to make sure. Overall, this made me feel very secure, and the cook certainly knew what he was talking about.

If there are any celiacs out there wishing to go on such a skiing holiday, I can highly recommend this hotel and area. The snow was superb this year (of course that is something I cannot guarantee) and the area itself is great. We’re coming back next year, that’s for sure.

Tip: we booked our holiday via Sunweb. That way, you’re skiing pass is already included in the costs of the trip. (Use this link)