And another day waking up early… This time I got up at 3.40 in the morning to go to Manchester… through Paris! It was already five years since I was in UK and I really wanted to go back…
Given the experience I had with other short flights, I got up so early to have enough time to prepare a couple of sandwiches: one of ham and one of longaniza. In fact, I prepared it with a longaniza from Pedragosa – also known as the ” Salchichón de Caldes”.
Arriving at Barcelona’s airport, I went directly to Pans & Company to buy something to drink. While waiting to pay, I noticed that there was a sign in the cash register that indicated they had gluten-free menu … hmmm! Gluten free? From there I could see how they prepare the sandwiches and I think there is a lot of risk, since they did not even wear gloves… but hey, maybe we’ll get a surprise. I did not want to try it because I wanted to have a pleasant flight!
On the flight to Paris, the woman sitting in front of me was also celiac, and when she asked the flight attendant if they had something gluten-free, she said no. So even though on the ticket to Paris was indicated that there was a “Gluten Free Menu REQUESTED”, we could not eat anything, and the airline didn’t told us that we would not have anything to eat… this was not a problem because I had just eaten the ham sandwich and, fortunately, I had the other sandwich for the second flight.
When I arrived in Paris, I had to run… the connection to Manchester was quite short and we arrived with delay. I had only 15 minutes to cross two terminals and pass the passport control… OMG! what a stress! Besides, when I got to the passport control, there was only one checkpoint open and a queue that seemed to me to be a kilometer long… I arrived when the doors were almost closed… once the Flybe company plane took off towards Manchester, I switched to a row of seats I was free and prepared the meeting.
Since that FLYBE ticket also indicated that I had ordered a gluten-free menu, I gave it another try and asked the stewardess if they had something gluten free and… Bingo! They had “something”… chan chan! I had no idea what it would bring me and… BANG! She brought me a FEEL GOOD SNACK BOX! I was dying to open it, but since I knew that the next day my flight back to Barcelona was with Ryanair, I preferred to keep it for breakfast on the return flight, so I ordered an apple juice and I ate the other sandwich.
BEWARE! If you go to UK, beware of gluten-free products as they may contain oats. Inform the waiters if you have doubts!
When I arrived to Manchester I went straight to the hotel. Once I got settled, the first thing I did was find out what restaurants were near the hotel. This time I used the Gluten Free Roads app, as it tells you what restaurants are closer to you. As expected, there was a TGI Friday’s two blocks far from the hotel. Decided! I would go there for dinner! Even though I always take it with me, I knew this time I would not need the gluten free travel card.
Before taking the taxi to go to the meeting, which was an hour and a half from Manchester, I took the opportunity to walk around the area. As it happened when I flew to Athens (click here to read the post), I could not see much of the city either. But hey, at least I could experience the volatile climate: yes, only in the 12 hours I was there I had sun, rain, snow, fog, wind and cold, very cold!
I arrived back from the meeting at around 7:00 pm – really starving as I didn’t have time to take lunch -, so I left my briefcase at the hotel and went straight to TGI Friday’s at the Royal Exchange Building on Cross Street. I love this chain of restaurants! I discovered it when I made the Road Trip for England and Scotland (I’ll tell you about this trip later), and I really wanted to go back there. WOAH! What gluten free burgers! We could say that although it is decorated like the American restaurants, this is quite the opposite than the Tommy Mel’s (click here to read the post). It is darker, more intimate if you want, they play more rock music and the dishes seem bigger. In Spain there are several and, as I could see in their website, they also have gluten free!
As soon as I entered I informed the waitress that I am celiac and she already took the gluten free menu (and lactose free). After a while I was hallucinated! Maybe because I am not used to this, but while waiting for the food, the person in charge of the dining room came to explain to me how they prepare all the gluten-free dishes: in a separate area of the kitchen, etc. AAAAWESOME! I did not expect this at all! Of course I felt totally safe in there.
After a while, they brought me the appetizer:”Potato skins topped with melted cheese and bacon”. Delicious! They were very tasty and luckily there was more potato than just the skin… I was really hungry! This dish was perfect as a starter, as it was not very heavy and the sour sauce was very refreshing. An interesting contrast between the hot potato and the coldness of the sour sauce.
To go for the Potato skins was a good decision because the gluten free burger was quite large and there were more French fries. The last time I was in this restaurant chain (in 2012) they did not have gluten free bun, but this time they did, so I could eat the hamburger with my hands… who needs knife and fork to eat burger?
I entered the restaurant with a clear idea of taking appetizer, hamburger and, for dessert, some kind of milkshake with ice cream and popcorn, but after the main course I didn’t have more space left in the stomach for a dessert of that size, so I paid the bill and went to sleep. After a few hours I woke up again to catch the plane back to Barcelona…
Finally! The great moment arrived! At 5 am, already flying back to Barcelona, it was time to open the FEEL GOOD SNACK BOX! The content was more complete than I expected: a bar of almonds, yogurt and apricot; toasted corn; A chocolate bar; And a couple of toast with hummus. I was surprised how good the apricot bar was but, without any doubt, what I liked the most was the chocolate bar. It was like a chocolate chip cookie. Delicious!
You can see the photos of the trip here.
And below, a list of other gluten free restaurants in Manchester. Some are restaurant chains that you will find in other cities in the UK, which is great!
1) TGI Fridays (In this chain it’s Friday every day! “Thank God! It’s Friday”, their name already indicates that you will have fun inside. They offer American food in a separate and very complete gluten-free menu: delicious appetizers, ribs, hamburgers, tex-mex dishes, chicken wings and red meats and, of course, very American desserts! Of course, the cocktail bar couldn’t be missing!):
– Royal Exchange Building in Cross Street (M2 7DH).
– Piccadilly Station (M1 2PB).
2) Nando’s (In this chain you will find South African style dishes: spices, high quality meat and the famous PERI-PERI sauce):
– Amdale Centre Nandos (M4 3AQ).
3) Bella Italia (In this chain you will find Italian food. Very good too!):
– Deansgate 92-96 (M3 2QG).
– Unit 6 in Parrs Wood de Wilmslow Road Didsbury (M20 5PG).
– Piccadilly 11-13 (M1 1LY).
– The Quays Lowry Centre 8 (M50 3AZ).
– Lowry Centre (M50 3AZ).
– Unit R8 in Amdale Shopping Centre (M4 3AQ).
4) Dough Pizza Kitchen in High street 75-77 (M4 1FS). (Here you will probably eat one of the best gluten free pizzas ever!).
5) Pret a Manger (Fresh food, always! What is left every day is given to the charity):
– Unit C3, One Piccadilly Gardens (M1 1RG).
– Trafford Centre, Selfridges (M17 8DA).
– Oxford street 34 (M1 5EL).
– Unit 3 Concourse, Piccadilly Station (M1 2BN).
– Cross Street 27 (M2 1WL).
6) Carluccio’s in Hardman Square 3 (M3 3EB).
– Hanging Ditch The Triangle (M4 3TR).
– Leftbank Spinningfields (M3 3AN).
8) Croma Gourmet Pizzeria:
– Clarince Street 1.
– Wilbraham Road 498-500 (M21 9AP).
9) Aardvark Café in Oxford Road Precinct Centre (M13 9GH), cerca de la Universidad.
10) La Tasca in Deansgate 76 (M3 2FW).
11) Las Iguanas in Deansgate 84 (M3 2ER).
12) The Paramount in Oxford Street 33-35 (M1 4BH).
13) The Seven Stars in Dantzic Street 6-8 (M4 2BS).
P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. Thank you very much!
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