People seem to want to give me cake.
Now I don’t want you to misunderstand. I like cake, truly I do.
In fact, I love it.
Cake always makes me think that it is my birthday and that it is ‘all about me’which I am foolish enough to believe, even now.
Perhaps it is the chemistry that I like in cake: adding dry ingredients to wet and then something to create a lift and heat — and well, that sort of begins to sound like one of my hair appointments….
But ah, I digress.
For a long time it has not been possible for me to eat cake out — because of dietary restrictions, medical and otherwise, so I make cake on my own, when I crave it — and it is usually lemon and poppy seed, or vanilla, or chocolate with or without zucchini — and vegan…
And always gluten free.
This past year, in fact, I was shocked, amazed and completely touched that for my birthday my friend Jean delivered a huge lemon cake. It is quite a thing to have someone else put in all that effort — just for you.
Then I came across an article while researching my trip to Madrid, that there was a strong public information campaign afoot in Spain, opening many more doors for the something-like-forty-eight-thousand medically non-gluten Spaniards, not accounting for ‘sin gluten’ lifestylers and/or touristas.
It was in doing this research that I found Celicioso, in central Madrid, just off the Gran Via.
Of all the exciting things we had planned for the town — and in all the ways I wanted to explore (and we are truly explorers of towns….), this was a place I did not wish to miss.
To say that my Spanish ‘es malo’ is an understatement. What I lacked in accent and vocabulary, however, I made up for in gesture and charm, I hoped.
So, the first day that we walked into Celicioso I felt as though I had died and gone to heaven. Every time I sat down in a restaurant I had to announce (somewhat apologetically)to the server “soy celiaca” which, because of the national PR attention, made many nod in acknowledgement and then in apology because there were limited choices in my dining experience…
Celicioso was and is welcoming and warm and amazing.
They offer cakes and cupcakes and sandwiches and breads and teas and coffees and tables and music and wifi, and, and, and…..
All offerings are free of gluten, made from a combination of corn and rice flours — many are free of sugar and some, additionally and happily, are vegan as well.
That day we shared a palmera (puff pastry palm coated in white chocolate) and a vegan chocolate raspberry cupcake. Plus two cups of good tea…not as easy to find for us there.
Of course we loved it.
So successful was our first time there that on our last day, just before we left, we headed out one more time, on the metro….getting off at Gran Via…
and making a left onto Calle Hortaleza and stepping in.
The same people were there to serve us as five days earlier….and when they asked us which was our favorites (this time getting a lemon-lime and a vanilla mascarpone)…my answer, in my much-improved Spanish was “todos” — which caused them to giggle.
(of course, everything)
And when we had finished our snack and got up to pay — on our way out the door we were handed a bag — a happy little white bag which we carried back down the street, down to the metro and on the train up to Cuzco…
A happy little white bag which contained something unexpected…
A gift of cakes!
I don’t know the names of those nice people and they didn’t know mine — but I thanked them with a million ‘gracias’s’ and smiled and blew them kisses.
(probably completely out of cultural context I am sure that I embarrassed myself, as usual).
But it seems, that people want to give me cake.
I cannot promise that you will be gifted with cake but I can promise that little Celicioso is in itself a gift.
A lovely gift indeed.
Calle Hortaleza, 3, 28004 Madrid, Spain
+34 915 31 88 87