British food writer opens gluten-free pastry shop in Olhão

A British food writer has opened a new pastry shop in Olhão called Santa Maria Madalena, where he sells a mouth-watering selection of gluten-free products including bread, cakes, pastries and biscuits.

The pastry shop opened on May 8 and is already garnering fans despite the difficult tough circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester-native Kevin Gould has lived in Olhão with his wife for over two years, having moved to the Algarve after working as a food and travel writer for the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

He is the owner of the neighbouring Chá Chá Chá restaurant, famous for its delicious gluten-free desserts.

“We noticed that our clients really liked their flavour, freshness, lightness and the fact that they have less sugar than traditional desserts,” Kevin told Barlavento newspaper.

As soon as a space became available near the restaurant, Kevin and his business partner, pastry chef Deborah Goodman, jumped at the opportunity to open their own gluten-free pastry shop, inspired by Olhão’s fresh produce.

“I want to showcase the quality of local products and ingredients, which are among the best in Europe.

Everything we use is bought at Olhão’s municipal market, apart from some gluten-free flours which we import from the UK as they don’t exist in Portugal,” Kevin told Barlavento.

“We also wanted to cater to people with celiac disease, as well as people with digestive issues who want to eat healthier and lighter. Additionally, we only use cane sugar and a much smaller quantity than most pastry shops. Our goal is to prove that these sweets are tasty and accessible,” he said.

There is no shortage of variety at Santa Maria Madalena. Every day, Deborah makes fresh batches of goodies including madeleines, a cheesecake, bread, biscuits, muffins and jams. One of the specialties is a bitter orange British-style marmalade, which takes three days to make.

The pastry shop has only been open for three weeks but feedback is already positive.

“We are starting slowly, but we are optimistic. People come here every day for the pleasure of eating something sweet, as one of our other essential ingredients is love. It warms our hearts to know that people like our recipes,” he said.

In fact, keeping things simple and local is part of Kevin’s plan for the future.

“We do not want to grow, I don’t have any other plans. I am happy with the smaller businesses that I have. I don’t aspire for more. I just want both businesses to be a part of the community and the neighbourhood. I just want our clients to be happy with us,” the former reporter said.

Prices at Santa Maria Madalena are “slightly above average”, although Kevin says they have to be due to the specific ingredients that are used.

A slice of cheesecake costs €3, while a madeleine costs €1. The pastry shop’s special marmalade costs €4, while a bag of cookies will cost €2.50. A loaf of bread €4.50.

Santa Maria Madalena is located on Rua do Gaibéu and is open between 9.30am and 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday. For now, Kevin is advising customers to contact the pastry shop via Instagram or by telephone to check if it is open.

Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.