Vegan For Non Vegan

Since beginning my journey as The Gluten Free Suitcase in March, my discoveries have not only included the ever-expanding variety of gluten free options on offer to us today, but the widening choices for those who follow a dairy free, vegetarian or vegan diet too. As most of you will have noticed, a lot of brands now create gluten, dairy and egg free products, including Schar and large UK supermarkets such as Sainsburys and Tesco, thus making it easier to source products friendly and fit for everyone, no matter what their diet.

However, having spoken to a number of vegans based in London and beyond, there are still limits when it comes to eating out and sourcing food “to go” or food to eat in restaurants and markets – the latter of which seem to have taken over the capital in the last two years. Imagine my excitement, therefore, when I stumbled across an entirely gluten free and vegan Italian hot food stall at this month’s Feast Market in South London.

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When I had finally pulled myself together, I approached to find out what Vegan for Non Vegan was offering. I was met by Luca and his wife Sarita who created this business together just this year. Since starting to exhibit at West Norwood Feast, the couple always offer a selection of pastas, including the ever-popular gnocchi, which are cooked up fresh in front of you, and topped with fresh homemade sauces of your choosing. The team also go the extra mile to make sure that patrons can enjoy a fresh side salad, bursting with leaves and freshly steamed vegetables and all topped with freshly made salad dressing, usually with a vegan mayonnaise base. The team plan to create a gluten free and vegan lasagne for future Feast and local South London markets. I opted for the fresh gnocchi and requested a mixture of sauces, which I would highly recommend to anyone visiting in future.

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Vegan for Non Vegan may be a very young business, but this does not stop the duo from having high hopes and aspirations. “The reason I started this business is my wife, and my love for her,” Luca, who is gluten intolerant himself, told me. “Every time we would be invited out with friends or go to a restaurant, the only options available were salads, rice or a simple pasta al pomodoro,” he said. The couple were also shocked at the limited offering at street markets, where vegan-friendly food often lacking in flavour was on the menu. It was then that Luca decided to put his background as a chef back into use and start offering delicious yet simple Italian vegan food for local Londoners. “I want people to understand that veganism doesn’t have to be boring and that it’s not all about salad and falafel,” he said.

Since starting up, Luca and Sarita, who are kept busy by their day jobs, have worked hard to bring fresh flavours to local South London street markets in their spare time. “We also are expanding to cater weddings and parties,” he confirmed, which will be good news for anyone looking to meet all these dietary requisites on their big day.

I advise you to all keep your eyes peeled for this fabulous duo who make vegan, gluten free food with love and care not only for flavour and freshness, but for each other.

Vegan for Non Vegan will appear at West Norwood Feast on the first Sunday of each month. Follow them on Facebook for further announcements and scheduled Pop-Ups.

 

Cakes by Sweet Carolina

Where From? Sweet Carolina
Available at Local South London Markets

I grew up in South London, where the famous West Norwood Feast takes place on the first Sunday of each month. This market, made up of a number of local food, art and clothes vendors really has brought life to the area and is something I always look forward to if I’m close by. Thanks to Sweet Carolina, I can indulge in a selection of delicious gluten free cakes while I’m enjoying the market. Carolina, who was born in Argentina, stays true to her roots by offering a free from Alfajor – a cookie sandwich, filled with Dulce de Leche – as well a number of seasonal gluten free sweet treats each time she appears at Feast. You can also find Carolina and her stall of cakes every Sunday at the ever-expanding Herne Hill Market and at the Horniman Farmer’s Market the first and third Saturday of every month. Go along and take your sweet tooth with you!

Pizza by Mamma Dough

Where From? Bocconcini Bakery
Available at all Mamma Dough Restaurants

I have been a lover of Mamma Dough – a small South London pizza restaurant chain – for a while now. Their simplistic, fresh ingredients make perfect toppings for their scrumptious bases, none of which will ever make you feel as if you’re eating gluten free. Mamma Dough recently switched suppliers and now uses gluten free bases from north London producer Bocconcini Bakery at all of its three locations. You will pay a £2.50 supplement to eat gluten free, but you will not be disappointed. They are light, flavourful and perfect when well done and extra crispy. Word of warning: call ahead if you are planning a trip to Mamma Dough to reserve your base – these sell out fast! Mamma Dough has three London locations in Brixton, Peckham and Honor Oak Park.

Kane’s Donuts

For celiacs and those with gluten allergies or intolerances, donuts are a rare indulgence. Across the UK, several companies have tried their hand at the traditional fried dough dessert, none of which I am sad to say, have left me entirely convinced. Therefore when I heard about Kane’s – a traditional, family-run Donut joint in my mother’s home state of Massachusetts which offers a gluten free alternative – I had to give it a go when last in Boston.

Kane’s Donuts originally opened its doors in Saugus, Massachusetts in 1956. Created by the late donut extraordinaire Peter Delios and his wife Kay, the store quickly became an establishment whose sweet treats would attract not only locals but visitors from other states and beyond. The company was handed down to the Delios family’s five children after 34 years of business, and was quick to expand into downtown Boston. I ventured to the financial district location on my first morning back in Boston, to meet with the founder’s daughter, Maria Delios. It was there that I spent the morning learning all about the family business and the development of a particularly special gluten free donut.

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Maria and her brother Paul Delios began their quest to create a “Kane’s Standard” gluten free donut seven years ago. The project was inspired by an event that took place at their Saugus location, where a family with children was sat eating donuts. “I noticed one of the children – a little girl – was sat there, not eating but instead with just a bottle of water in front of her, crying her eyes out,” Maria said. “Our dad never wanted anyone to be anything but happy when eating our donuts and so I had to go ask what was wrong.” Upon asking, the child’s mother responded that the girl had celiac disease and often had these outbursts when she couldn’t eat what everyone else was eating. “The sadness I felt for this child was unbearable, and so I hurried back to the kitchen to rustle together some toppings that I knew were gluten free,” she said. She placed them in a cup, topped them with a little bit of classic frosting, and presented them to the child with a spoon. “It was as if I had given this girl a pot of gold,” Maria said.

The emotion of the whole encounter inspired Maria and Paul to embark on the challenge to develop a gluten free donut, which took them a gruelling three years of trial and error. “Paul and I attended classes and we researched gluten free ingredients and combinations until we were blue in the face,” she said, confirming that the difficulty was not only in finding something decent to present to gluten free customers, but finding an ingredient combination that was comparable to the regular, trademark donuts which made her father famous. “We wanted everything to be as good as the way our Dad had made donuts for years,” she said. What evolved was a perfectly fluffy, high rise, rich and indulgent pillow of fried dough – the recipe for which remains a secret to this day. Maria did confirm that rice flour features prominently in the donut, but the rest remains a mystery.

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Maria, Paul and the team are very cross-contamination-aware and cook all gluten free donuts in a separate kettle. “We are very upfront with all of our customers about the conditions of our manufacturing facility,” Maria confirmed, adding that while all the donuts are made in the same facility, the team go out of their way to keep all of the ingredients for regular and gluten free donuts entirely separate.

Kane’s Donuts, which will be opening a third location on Route 1 in Saugus at the end of 2017, offers three different gluten free donuts – original glazed, chocolate glazed and a special seasonal flavour, which changes each month. When I was there, I reveled in the fact that my favourite chocolate candy – Heath Bar – was the flavour of the month and sprinkled generously over a honey dipped, chocolate glazed donut. The flavour of Kane’s gluten free donuts is unbeatable and I fear for the emotional state of those who travel to the States and then have to return to a Kane’s free zone, like me. But then again I am already counting down the months, weeks and days until I can go back and indulge in these award winning donuts, each and every one of which is served up with a whole lot of love.

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Kane’s Donuts
120 Lincoln Ave
Saugus, MA
01906

Kane’s Donuts
90 Oliver St
Boston, MA
02110

Kane’s caters for special events including weddings. Contact maria@kanesdonuts.com for more information!

Photo Credits: Maria Delios and The Gluten Free Suitcase