This past week my husband and I have been childless as the girls are spending 10 days with their grandparents. It’s been eerily quiet at home but we’ve been productive with things that are difficult to do with kids under-feet (like go to Ikea and put up new wardrobes). We have also taken advantage of spontaneously being able to go out in the evening to dinner or a movie. And, since next week is our wedding anniversary (8 years!) we planned an evening out in a very nice parisian restaurant. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of choice in that regard!
A neighbour had recommended Saturne. When my husband made the reservation, he gave them a heads up about the fact that my meal needs to be completely gluten free. Eating out is always risky when you have celiac disease but luckily, I rarely have an issue in french restaurants finding gluten free food on the menu. In fact, I have insulted a few chefs over the years just by asking if the sauce might be thickened with flour (Of COURSE not, madame, we only use crème fraiche!!). I know what I generally need to avoid and what dishes are usually ok and I know where the possible stumbling points are (like a biscut sticking out of the top of a chocolate mousse). I’ve got my gluten explanations down pat in french and I have found that the nicer the restaurant, the easier it is to deal with the gluten issue.
We were glad we made a reservation as the restaurant was booked out despite the fact that we went mid week in the middle of july (when half the population of France is on holidays). After we were seated, the first thing the server said was that it was a “carte blanche” 6 course menu with 2 starters, 2 main dishes and 2 desserts, but we would have no idea what would be served until it was actually on the table.
I love being surprised by food since 99.9% of the time I know exactly what I’m eating, both in terms of making sure it’s entirely gluten free and doing my best to guestimate carb content. But it was the next question from the server that really made me smile “Do you have any food allergies?”. This question was asked at each table so we hadn’t actually needed to mention the gluten when we made the reservation.
Food allergies are not a “thing” in France. You aren’t generally asked when invited to someone’s home or when you register for a conference or banquet dinner if you are vegetarian or have any allergies.
In this situation it makes sense that they ask given that everyone in the restaurant are eating the same meal but it is not a question that you’d hear very often around here. They actually told me that the whole meal is gluten free anyway so no worries.
And it was fabulous. A variety of textures and mixes of flavours, beautiful colours on each plate and different types of plates with each course. I should have taken more pictures. Here is the second starter of lobster wrapped in leek and topped with fresh almonds and some tasty greens.
It’s always difficult to bolus correctly for meals like this but I managed with a small square bolus at first and a regular bolus once I saw the desserts. There were minimal carbs in the first 4 dishes and I wasn’t too hard to guestimate the carbs in the desserts (or, more likely, I got lucky!). My blood sugar stayed below 160 the whole meal and I’ll give partial credit the wine that accompanied each dish for keeping my blood sugar steady around 110mg/dl all night.
The only hiccup in the meal was the last dish which was like a chocolate mousse with a dollop of hay-infused cream and topped with bits of brownie. I politely declined and when the server remembered that I was “the one with the gluten intolerance”, she quickly took it away and brought back a very chic fruit salad with green and orange melon, rhubarb and apricots, sprinkled with a variety of fresh herbs.
With the title of this post, it sounds like I’m going out to dinner with friends! Unfortunately I don’t have the choice to leave these two “friends” at home but I certainly don’t let them stop me from going out and enjoying myself. I am so appreciative that I can trust a restaurant to give me a truly gastronomic meal with little fear on being “glutened”.
It was a lovely and relaxing evening out and a wonderful way to celebrate 8 years of marriage.