Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to fly in and out of airports that had at least one solid, safe gluten free option? I would like to think it is possible. I did a little follow up investigation while at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport (MSP), while heading out on vacation last weekend.
French Meadow Bakery- Gluten Free Options
French Meadow Bakery has been doing gluten free brownies, cookies and breads for a few years now. Brownies are my favorite (and my gluten-free daughter’s favorite). They are extremely generous in donating to our celiac fundraiser walk each May. Plus they’re a local company– baking these products right here in Minnesota.
So I was excited in January of 2010 to see their French Meadow Bakery & Cafe open at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. I went over there and checked it out only to be greeted by an employee who knew nothing about the company’s gluten free endeavors. Which I promptly wrote about– see link here.
So fast forward to last Saturday, 16 months after the last time I checked, and alas, they still don’t have any of their gluten-free goodies or breads. When I asked the waitress about it, she said they have people asking about their gluten-free foods DAILY! She seemed to feel for us…because she always has to tell gluten free patrons “no”.
When the company finally gets around to marketing their gluten free items at the airport (I’m thinking positive), I think they should take baby steps.
Here are my suggestions to French Meadow Bakery: First, sell prepackaged items to people at the airport. Prepackaging will allow you to both freeze the foods and prevent cross contamination on site. And people can breeze in and out purchasing your goodies for home or for the next leg of their plane ride! Market this feature on gluten free blogs, websites and on the airport website.
After you have that part accomplished, then secondly, use your bread to help make sandwiches or toast with your eggs. If you did this, you would have to learn how to keep the foods gluten free– and eliminate cross contamination as best you can. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a program that Minnesota companies have used in the past. For more information click here.
I emailed French Meadow Bakery Monday asking them what’s up. I hope to hear from them soon. **Update: I heard from Emily Dingmann at French Meadow Bakery. She says, “French Meadow Cafe’s are a separate business so while they have some of our products, they don’t carry all of them and what they carry is their choice not ours.”
She recommends commenting to managers that “you would like to see more gluten-free options from them”. She also said, “When I stop into the cafes (at least the larger, main one) they typically have some of the gluten free brownies or muffins.” I did tell her I have never seen gluten free items at either cafe, but I admit the one I checked in with last Saturday was the smaller one. However, I would recommend if the cafe knows that there are gluten free products at the other location, that they share that with customers inquiring about gluten free products.
Surdyk’s Flights – Gluten Free
So after my disappointing visit to French Meadow, I cruised across the concourse to Surdyk’s Flights. Surdyk’s is a Minneapolis liquor store and cheese shop (and I am sure they would argue much more), that I recently heard had a selection of gluten free options. So I stopped by Surdyk’s Flights a restaurant in the airport which is about a year old. I looked at their menu and saw they had approximately 8 gluten free items including a few breakfast items.
I thought that was interesting. I did not have time to pull someone aside and ask about their procedures to eliminate cross contamination, but I think it is worth stopping in and I think they could do their best to accommodate you. Last month they were voted Best U.S. Airport Eatery!
As for other options– in a pinch, you can always go to McDonalds and get a cheeseburger with no bun, grab some fruit or nuts at one of the various food carts, or get a coffee at Caribou Coffee….If you have other suggestions or experiences you would like to share, please do so in the comments below.