“Traditional Cake Since 1968” or so says the logo of Zarzuela bakery in Lison, Portugal. But this is no ordinary place of pastries and breads. Zarzuela is an allergy friendly cafe and deli counter, selling gluten free and lactose free goods. In fact, the entire menu, covering breakfast through to early evening, can be served gluten free.
I have a gluten intolerance, so finding an eatery where not only are my dietary requirements understood but fully catered for is near impossible. Especially in a foreign country where my knowledge of the lingo is (embarrassingly) minimal to nothing.
I found mention of Zarzuela online while doing research on GF restaurants and cafes before flying out. We hot-footed over on our second day and ended up visiting three times and taking away a few cheeky treats each time. Being able to walk into a BAKERY and take my pick of ANYTHING was INCREDIBLE. I can’t overstate how utterly wonderful it was to have that sense of freedom when choosing what to eat while outside of my own home. It’s been three and a half years since I’ve been able to do that.
The menu has breakfasts, snacks, sandwiches, chips, pizzas, burgers, and a huge range of sweet dishes including waffles, doughnuts, ice cream and traditional Portugese custard tarts. Everything I sampled was delicious, homemade and high quality – including the best Sangria we had all week. Pure gluten free heaven.
Nipping over to the continent for a Christmas market or weekend of cultural amusements is a snitch. So it beats me why I don’t do it more often. Over three years ago I took in the festive delights of Bruges, including a display of Disney themed ice sculptures that quite literally rendered me speechless but since have been something I’ve not been able to stop rambling on about.
I’m not going to lie, chocolate was high on our agenda for the weekend. A peruse around the chocolate museum and discovering that brandy tipped unceremoniously into a mug of frothy hot cocoa really is as good as it sounds were some of the highlights.
We made regular diversions into shops selling candy of all colours and unimaginable flavours – most of which have been long forgotten. Except Dumon Chocolatier.
A small establishment located quite centrally in Eiermarkt, Bruges, Dumon looks like something the Brothers Grimm dreamt up – a perfect Hansel and Gretel-esque cottage, a little at odds with the larger and later buildings. After descending a miniature staircase into the shop, floor to ceiling chocolate awaits.
Not wanting to put all of our chocolate eggs into one big Ballotin, we opted for a medium selection to take home. Our carefully transported haul of Bruges’s finest were slowly sampled in the run up to Christmas. Despite other chocolates displaying far heftier price tags, Dumon Chocolatier won on all fronts – taste, texture, design – leaving us hungry for more.
A colleague of mine recently headed to Bruges and asked for travel tips. Being mid-summer enthusing about ice sculptures was futile but chocolate has year-round appeal. Directions to Eiermarkt duly divulged, I was not expecting an offer of Dumon’s produce in return.
An email entitled “Mission Accomplished” pinged into my inbox and a gleaming picture of a Dumon Ballotin rewarded my eyes. What followed was a very long weekend of waiting.
The passing of time can warp memories, distorting opinions. Not so with these beauties. Packaged just how I remembered, the gleaming chocolates were once again a delight to be savoured. (If savoured means not scoffing them all in just one night.)