Food Journal by The Food Diary Co.

Where From? The Food Diary Co.
Available Via the Company’s Website

Since discovering I could not eat gluten, my journey has most certainly not been smooth sailing. As hard as I try, and as careful as I am with labels and checks in restaurants, I sometimes suffer from stomach pains, headaches and more after eating. Thanks to The Food Diary Co, I’ve been able to keep on top of what I eat, when I eat it and whatever symptoms might occur as a result. Founder Laura was in the exact same position as me a few years ago after she received her coeliac diagnosis and so developed this stylish, discreet and easy portable food diary to track food and a whole host of well being statistics, including sleep, medicine intake, stress and more. The pages are undated and so anyone who wants to grab one can start tracking straight away on not only a daily basis but in the form of a monthly round-up too so connections can be made between flare ups and possible triggers. Grab your own diary via The Food Diary Co website to start taking control of your gut!

Chocoful by Prewetts Biscuits

Where From? Prewetts
Available in UK Supermarkets Including Waitrose and Morrisons

Who reading this in the UK remembers Rocky Bars from back in the gluten days? I have fond memories of opening my lunchbox at school to find that my mom had packed me off with one of those red-wrappered rich buttery milk chocolate biscuit bars, my only criticism of which would be that they were too small! While a lot of shops have had a go at creating a gluten free chocolate biscuit bar, nothing has come close to the Chocoful bar by Prewetts Biscuits, which I picked up in Waitrose. Also available in Morrisons, and smaller independent shops across the country, these are the perfect answer to that late afternoon sugar craving I know so many of us get! You would not know that the biscuit base is gluten free as it is totally lacking that all too familiar dust taste so many of us gluten free people know! Warning: they are addictive, and I would be lying if I said I did not eat two or more in one go!

Mozzarella and Pomodoro Panzerottini by Schar Bontà d’Italia

Where From? Bontà D’Italia by Schar
Available in supermarkets across Italy and Spain

Living in Argentina for several years back in the gluten days certainly got me hooked on most starches but empanadas were right at the top of the list. The amazing hot savoury doughy pockets filled with steak, chicken, ham and cheese and other combinations were mostly out of reach for me until I found the next best thing from Schar’s Bontà D’Italia range. These pastry half moons come frozen in packets of four and are stuffed with a flavourful tomato sauce and mozzarella which produces a top notch cheese pull when fresh out of the oven. I have found these in supermarkets in both Italy (Conad) and Spain (Carrefour) and strongly recommend you try them! My only advice would be to avoid the toaster and bake at the recommended oven temperature until they are golden brown on either side, turning multiple times. In my experience they have taken up to 35 minutes for the perfect texture, which is a lot longer than the packet suggests. Bon Appétit!

The Spotted Cow: A 5 Star Gluten Free Fish and Chips Experience

As the summer drew to an end in the UK, we were invited by my friend to take a couple days out of the hustle and bustle of London for some sea air and long dog walks on the beach. I was promised that there was an enormous Sainsbury’s close to where we would be staying in Rustington, West Sussex, and managed my expectations for much else in terms of gluten free food.

Unsurpisingly, Saturday night came around and the fatigue from the day’s outdoor activities left no one with any energy to rustle up a meal. I did what I never usually do and allowed a restaurant to be chosen without taking a glance at the menu myself and just went along with the plan. I knew (or hoped) that in the worst-case scenario, a steak or grilled fish with salad could most probably be conjured.

Our taxi pulled up to The Spotted Cow – a charming, country pub in the heart of Angmering village. We were led through the bar to the cosy dining room where the tables were covered in white linen and decked with candles. Immediately presented with the regular menu, I held my breath as I asked the waitress what, if any, my gluten free options would be. Within a flash, she had been and gone and placed a gluten free menu in my hands. Utterly gobsmacked at my immense luck, I perused the menu which had options for all three courses, including fresh fried seafood.

Within 30 seconds I had set my sights on gluten free fish and chips for a main course and so opted for the pub’s fresh soup of the day with fluffy, toasted gluten free bread on the side. A warming bowl of tomato and basil soup arrived and served as a good stomach liner for the fried indulgence I was about to experience.

FullSizeRender (39)

The fish arrived, dominating much of the long dinner plate. The batter was light-coloured, piping hot and had extra crunch when I broke a piece off the end of the fillet to test the texture. The helpful waitress told me that the batter was made with a gluten free flour blend, including tapioca and rice flour which gave what can usually be quite heavy and greasy, a lighter, crunchier feel. The chips served on the side were large cut and crispy but of course my main focus in this case was the fish which conquered me about half way through. I have heard many with gluten allergies and coeliac disease describe just how unaccustomed their bodies have become to heavy food and I totally sympathise. In this case however, I was truly upset I could not finish given the kitchen at The Spotted Cow had got the taste and texture of the battered fish spot on.

IMG_1313

Desserts were definitely available on the gluten free menu including a selection of local ice cream flavours, but, I was in no position to eat any more after two delicious courses. I would like to say next time I will choose something else for a main, but after that batter I can’t make any promises! A charming and reasonably priced restaurant, The Spotted Cow is a must visit for any seaside adventurers in search of a good feed at lunch or dinnertime.

The Spotted Cow
1 High Street, Angmering
Littlehampton
BN16 4AW
Tel: 01903 783919
(Tables bookable over the phone or via the pub website)

Red Velvet Cupcake by The Free From Bakehouse

Where From? The Free From Bakehouse
Available in Borough Market

A friend recently asked me what my favourite cake flavour was. While this might seem like an impossible question to some, I had an instant answer: Red Velvet. For me, nothing beats this fluffy red cake topped with irresistibly indulgent cream cheese frosting. However, it is not always done right, so coming across those made by the wonderful Free From Bakehouse in Borough Market was an absolute pleasure. The cake is perfectly moist and topped with an unbeatable amount of creamy frosting which you simply won’t believe is gluten free. These cakes are lovingly made by Caroline and her team and sold during the week in the iconic London Bridge market, along with an amazing array of free from treats including scones, savoury tarts and blondies. Head there early Wednesday – Saturday to avoid disappointment!

Bistrotheque: A Gluten Free Secret Worth Shouting About

When it comes to choosing a dinner location, I am usually guilty of opting for French cuisine over anything else. I’ve been called unoriginal in this regard but I never regret my decision when I’m happily sat with my steak frites or moules marinière. When it came to selecting an eatery for my partner’s birthday, I knew it had to be special and silently rejoiced when I glanced at my “must visit list”. Not only was the top choice French-inspired, but a highly rated, chic one at that.

Tucked away in the backstreets of Hackney Borough, Bistrotheque has become somewhat of an East London establishment since it opened its doors over a decade ago. I remember the reviews that were published around its launch date and how it had been painted as some sort of dining speak easy, whose location was well known but never really spoken about. Bistrotheque has certainly maintained its air of mystery over the years however, as we walked back up and down Wadeson street two or three times before realising where it was. With no sign on the outside, you do not know you have arrived until you are up several flights of stairs in a warehouse-type building, facing an impeccably long cocktail bar and surrounded by well presented staff.

FullSizeRender (33)

The restaurant is modestly decorated, dimly lit and could be either in Paris or Brooklyn, depending on your mood that evening. We were sat at our table, and within minutes I was presented with a basket of freshly grilled gluten free bread, thanks to Opentable who provide an “extra information” box when booking any restaurant through their website.

FullSizeRender (32)

While I no longer not sit down and peruse restaurant menus without any sort of direction from a waiter on what can and cannot be gluten free, I thought I would take my chances and select things I would absolutely love to try just for the hell of it. This obviously came with the great risk that I would then be told by waiting staff I could not in fact have my dream meal and instead some grilled fish or salad. Amazingly for me, my prayers were answered and the signature twice baked soufflé with broad beans and black truffle just happened to be gluten free, with a corn flour base instead of that of the wheat variety. This scored immediate points for Bistrotheque who within minutes had already proven that not every establishment opts for the more well known version.

The soufflé arrived perfectly cooked, rich and moreish inside its own dainty Le Creuset dish, pairing perfectly with an extra chilled glass of Picpoul de Pinet: my favourite white wine thanks to my mother’s teachings.

FullSizeRender (36)

For a main course I selected the beef rump heart with wild mushrooms and smoked butter, which came cooked a perfect pink and beautifully arranged like some sort of meat fan. My only regret was its size, which after an entire cheese soufflé was slightly daunting. A fresh gem salad eased the struggle slightly and reminded me that my meal was not entirely carnivorous. The smoked butter added a delicious twist to a traditional steak, and gave the array of dainty mushrooms extra flavour and moisture.

FullSizeRender (34)

Because declining dessert simply is not an option when anyone is celebrating, I shared a pannacotta with the birthday boy which came surrounded by fresh strawberries, pistachios and light green leaves. I had not been short of options however, and could have also indulged in a crème brulee or an apple sorbet with East London Liquor Company vodka.  

IMG_1045

We tottered out to our Uber well fed, watered and exceptionally impressed by the staff and kitchen who exhibited a high standard of knowledge of allergies and dietary requirements. If anything I was made to feel like a regular diner, with no follow up questions asked (the ole’ “is it an allergy or a preference?” chestnut fantastically was avoided). I already cannot wait to return to Bistrotheque for brunch which on the weekends showcases dishes likes Eggs Benedict and Avotoast as well as some of the restaurant’s own classics from it’s A La Carte Menu including my trusty soufflé – you would be crazy to miss it!

Bistrotheque
23-27 Wadeson Street
London E2 9DR
Tel: 020 8983 7900
(Tables bookable via the restaurant website or Opentable)