Mint Slims by Goodie Girl Cookies

Where From? Goodie Girl Cookies
Available in Supermarkets Across the US and in Starbucks

Back in the gluten days, one of the best times of year for me was undoubtedly Girl Scout Cookie season. I have fond [and somewhat stressful] memories of driving around Columbia, South Carolina when I was at school desperately trying to find stands selling these cookies. There is no denying however, that these delectable cookies were made all the more moreish by the fact that they were not available year-round! It has taken the Girl Scouts a long time to develop a gluten free alternative but Goodie Girl Cookies – an entirely gluten free cookie company – has hit the US by storm and sells seven varieties of their melt-in-the-mouth Girl Scout replica cookie boxes in supermarkets including Walmart, Whole Foods and Stop & Shop as well as online. Now you can also grab a small handy packet of Mint Slims at major coffee stores including Starbucks. And yes folks, they’re available ALL YEAR LONG!

Milk Teeth: Carefree South London Brunching

As the cost of living in London seems to rise on almost a daily basis, I have started to make more of breakfasts and even brunches at home in my efforts to cut costs. That said, I’ve come to realise that there is nothing quite like having brunch made for you and being able to walk away well fed without a pile of dishes the size of a small building to tend to. I recently found the perfect excuse therefore to venture to my newest local brunch spot: Milk Teeth.

Located along Mitcham High Road, Milk Teeth opened its doors to the public in August and has done a roaring trade since day one. Many of you reading this will know its sister restaurant Milk in Balham, famous for its indulgent, photograph-worthy breakfasts and brunches but infamous at the same time for its overbearing queues and wait times. I expected a similar fate when we braved Milk Teeth on a Sunday at 11am but was pleasantly surprised to be told at the door to “wait two minutes” while a polite waiter prepared our table.

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While the simple wooden shopfront is small and understated, the restaurant itself stretches out a good way at the back. This allows a lot of room for multiple bench style and low wooden tables, which immediately makes for a more comfortable setting than the Balham layout where space is limited.

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Milk fans fret not – the Milk Teeth menu is the same as in Balham. After taking their pick from the freshly brewed coffee menu, gluten free diners can choose from a range of egg dishes, including the Eggs Bene, which come lavishly topped with a special Espresso Hollandaise. Homemade chunky corn bread slices can be ordered in place of the classic sourdough to make it gluten free friendly, which the helpful staff who are all clued up allergy-wise will tell you.

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As the Eggs Bene has been my go-to dish in the past, this time I decided to opt for the Sweetcorn Fritters which come interspersed with grilled halloumi cheese slices, smashed avocado, all smothered in kasundi – a sort of Indian spiced ketchup – and served with a wedge of lime. Because I cannot face a brunch without eggs, I ordered one to have on top, as well as the drycure smoked bacon that Milk Teeth staff recommend as an extra. The fritters did not disappoint and were like fluffy, savoury pancakes peppered with juicy bits of corn. The kasundi was fragrant and certainly added an extra dimension to the dish, which overall was incredibly filling and provided me with fuel until dinnertime.

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That said, I could not resist a slice of the gluten free cake of the day – Pistachio and Polenta with a Buttercream Frosting – to finish off the meal. The cake was moist, fragrant and made all the more sweet by the creamy topping which was sprinkled with edible purple flowers – the perfect ending to an overall relaxing and efficient brunch experience. With that said, I urge you all to consider the trip to Tooting Broadway (a mere two stops on the underground from Balham) next time you’re craving a Milk breakfast or brunch. Milk Teeth is open until 5pm everyday and is a must-visit!

Milk Teeth
110 Mitcham Road
London SW17 9NG
(The cafe works on a first come first served basis)

Paris: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

A croissant lover’s paradise, Paris at first glance can seem like a nightmare for anyone gluten free. I have come to learn that the opposite is in fact true. Within the past couple years, an array of gluten free dedicated patisseries, cafes and lunch spots have popped up around the French capital leaving us spoilt for choice. I have made two trips there this year and have finally brought together a selection of my favourites in what I hope will be a handy guide for any non-gluten-eaters heading to the most romantic (and pastry-heavy) city in the world!

NoGlu

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This original and 100% gluten free bakery and patisserie now has two Paris locations. An array of breads, cakes, sandwiches and mouth watering tarts will leave you panicking over just how much choice you have! Across the way from this original Paris location in Passage des Panoramas you will find NoGlu’s restaurant where you can enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with daily specials and only the freshest ingredients. This famous spot not long ago opened a sister restaurant in New York City. Closed on Sundays.

Where?
16, Passage des Panoramas
75002 Paris

69 Rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris

Sitron

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This charming coffee and tea shop, where everything in the cake counter is 100% gluten free, is the perfect hideaway after a busy day of sightseeing or shopping. The cake and tart menu is subject to change, with a seasonal special making a guest appearance. A couple of savoury quiche options are also available if you aren’t in the market for something sweet. All products are made onsite and a selection of pre-packaged cakes and biscuits are also on offer to take home. I highly recommend the praline loaf cake which is to die for! Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?
15 Rue Marie Stuart
75002 Paris

Helmut Newcake

Your only destination for gluten free eclairs should be Helmut Newcake. While other cafes may offer you a gluten free alternative to this classic French cream-filled pastry, you will not find any better than here, in this 8th arrondissement haven. The chocolate, coffee and salted caramel flavours are all to die for, with a chocolate and hazelnut flavour on offer also for the lactose free celiacs out there. This beautiful patisserie also has a selection of melt-in-the-mouth patisserie cakes and bread to take away or enjoy in store with a coffee. At lunchtime, you can stop in for a homemade soup and freshly baked gluten free bread as well. A must visit! Closed on Sundays.

Where?
28 Rue Vignon
75009 Paris

Chambelland

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Home to the freshest gluten free bread in Paris, Chambelland is a staple for any celiacs visiting or living in Paris. Baguettes, Foccaccia, you name it and Chambelland probably has it. Chocolate bread is even on the menu, which will make it hard to choose when it comes to sweet options. The bakery offers two daily sandwich flavours on delicious flat bread – a meat option and a vegetarian option but the meat option sells out quickly so grab yours early in the day and head to a nearby park for a wonderfully picturesque lunch. A small number of tables are tucked away in the corner for anyone wishing to pause for a minute during their busy Parisian day. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
48 Rue Ternaux
75011 Paris

Lunch, Brunch and Coffee

La Guinguette D’Angèle

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This gluten free concept with a healthy twist is perfect for lunches and snacks to go. Established by the wonderful and organic-inspired Angèle A Baigné, you will find an array of gluten free options prepared with the finest, freshest ingredients which will not leave you feeling guilty like so many gluten free cake shops have the ability to do. Angèle now has two locations in Paris – one sit down tea room in the 11th Arrondissement with a lovely menu and a takeaway nook in the 1st, which you cannot miss come 12pm as the queues of hungry lunchtime patrons eagerly await their scrumptious lunch boxes and fresh juices. For those with a sweet tooth – the tarte au citron here is unbeatable and a must-try.

Where?
34 Rue Coquillière
75001 Paris
Closed on Saturdays and Sundays

2 Rue du Général Renault
75011 Paris
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Thank You My Deer

A coffee shop and lunch spot, Thank You My Deer prepares a selection of fresh dishes each day which sell out quickly. The restaurant is entirely gluten free and has a frequently changing menu, which can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook and Twitter pages. I think it’s particularly lovely for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays but as there are very few tables, it is advisable to get there early to avoid disappointment. The shop also has a selection of products to take home like gluten free bread mixes and granola. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
112 Rue Saint-Maur
75011 Paris

Ob-La-Di

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Arguably the most Instagrammed cafe in Paris, Ob-La-Di is so small you may not even be able to get in, especially if you come armed with shopping bags. However, I suggest you grab a coffee and whatever the gluten free cake of the day is and take it outside to one of the small benches directly outside the shop entrance. This is not a gluten free dedicated eatery by any means, but some cakes are suitable for non gluten eaters and really are something quite special.

Where?
54 Rue de Saintonge
75003 Paris

Dinner

Big Love Caffè

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Eating Italian food in Paris should not be frowned upon, especially when there is a 100% gluten free pizza menu on offer. Big Love Caffè, part of the Big Mamma group, unsurprisingly got a fantastic write up in Vogue for its Neapolitan gluten free pizzas, which are all made in a kitchen where only gluten free flour is handled. It was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten, with a mind boggling dough base so good, that I got the gluten fear several bites in. “Nothing this good can be gluten free,” I said to the waiter who proceeded to tell me that he is met with this reaction several times a day. The pasta dishes are not gluten free so stick to the pizza. You will not be sorry!

Where?
30 Rue Debelleyme
75003 Paris

Le Relais De Venise L’Entrecote

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The original location of what has now become a global chain, branching off into other major global cities including London and New York, still remains the best around. A paradise for meat eaters, this eatery has no menu and offers the tenderest steak, frites and secret recipe sauce to all hungry patrons. While the restaurant has no gluten free bread on offer, the main attraction is entirely gluten free, including the sauce. Be warned that the plate you are first given will not be your last, and once you have finished the wait staff will top up your plate with more food. The mouthwatering experience makes the waiting time worth it, so do not give up!

Where?
271 Boulevard Pereire
75017 Paris

Bears and Raccoons

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Fresh to the Paris gluten free scene, this Brooklyn-esque sandwich shop opened its doors to the public in 2017. A 100% gluten free zone, Bears and Raccoons is famous for its menu of luscious sub sandwiches which most non-gluten eaters will find a novelty. Made on the softest, chewiest sesame sub rolls these sandwiches are jam packed with fresh meats, vegetables or cheeses and are served warm with a variety of crisps available to have on the side. The shop serves a range of beers in cans from Canadian brewery Glutenberg and is therefore the perfect casual dinnertime spot on Thursdays and Fridays. Highly recommended!

Where?
21 Rue Richard Lenoir
75011 Paris

O’Scià Pizzeria Napoletana

Late night hunger can often catch up with you, especially if you are on holiday and not sticking to a traditional time frame. The kitchen at O’Scià’s traditional Italian trattoria is open until 10:45pm so is perfect for that nighttime pizza and Aperol Spritz craving I seem to get all too often. The team here usually suggest you call ahead and check that gluten free bases are available but last time I chanced it and grabbed the last one! Fate perhaps?

Where?
42 Rue Tiquetonne
75002 Paris

Shopping

Parisian supermarkets are  fantastic for gluten free. Those of you in search of packaged bread, biscuits, pasta and other items will be able to source them from stores including Bio c’ Bon, Monoprix and Carrefour, all of which have multiple locations across the city. Check their websites for your nearest branch.

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An amazing selection of dry and frozen gluten free goods can also be purchased at La Maison du Sans Gluten in the 10th Arrondissement of Paris. This petite treasure trove of gluten free treats is closed on Sundays.

Where?
12 Rue d’Hauteville
75010 Paris

Gluten Free Food Tour of Paris

For those of you wanting to be led around some of the city’s top gluten free spots in style, Chiara of Baci Di Dama is your first port of call! Chiara is one of the gluten free world’s most established bloggers and organises day tours around Paris with multiple stop offs at some of the most beautiful and gluten free friendly cafes and restaurants. Chiara also organises cooking classes on demand should you have the energy after your tour so contact her for more information via her website!

Anyone with a bit more time in Paris can also take gluten free cooking classes with wonderful chef Celine. Again, venture to her webpage for more details and what she has in store for you!

Plot: Small Plates to Tempt Your Inner Carnivore

Everyday when I get off the tube at Tooting Broadway, I think to myself – I am home. Not only physically but emotionally. The sights, smells and sounds are a hectic and eclectic mix which all harmoniously come together to create what Lonely Planet this summer named as one of 10 of the world’s “coolest neighbourhoods to visit right now.” While I don’t think Tooting is quite there yet, I definitely delight in inviting friends from near and far to visit and explore the surroundings with me, knowing that there is something for absolutely everyone here.

Growing up near Brixton has already made me a witness to one major London marketplace transformation. Judging from the wide array of trendy eateries popping up alongside the traditional Pakistani and Sri Lankan restaurants surrounding my Tooting abode, I now believe I’m witnessing another. Plot is but one of many new hot spots which no matter the day of the week is always bustling, with all seats both at the elegant marble bar and at lower tables permanently occupied by hungry patrons.

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The restaurant opened its market stall to the public this year with a kitchen headed up by former Roux at Parliament Square chef Giles Elstob and an emphasis on locally sourced produce. The concept is small plates, with staff recommending two to three plates each. This week I ventured there for the second time since its opening with fond memories of gluten free friendly options and a kitchen willing to adapt. I was delighted to learn upon being seated that five out of six plates on the small menu were naturally gluten free with the final option – Smoked Salmon, Beetroot & Douglas Fir Mayo – easily made me-friendly by removing the Treacle Soda Bread.

I opted for the London Burrata cheese – a long-time favourite of mine – served with walnut pesto and crispy Oxspring’s ham, the latter of which added a delectably salty edge to a traditionally creamy and understated flavour.

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This is I shared with my partner, alongside a Cured Beef Carpaccio with the most decadent and flavourful celeriac remoulade I think I have ever tasted. The carpaccio came drizzled with truffle mayo and pickled girolles.

For a heartier plate, we decided on the Roast Shetland Cod, atop a bed of creamy butternut squash puree and sea vegetables. Everything was delicious and beautifully put together on an array of ceramic and white enamel plates with that familiar farm kitchen-style blue rim.

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While I enjoyed another relatively carefree night at Plot, a friend I dined with was sadly not privy to the same experience as a vegetarian and was left with incredibly limited options. Amazingly, the kitchen had only one entirely vegetarian friendly plate on offer: Charred Hispi Cabbage. While another dish was adaptable, there appeared to be no sides or additional vegetables that the restaurant was willing to improvise with to create an additional small plate.

After much debate, our waiter finally got word that some fried potatoes from a meat dish could and would be brought to the table as a small dish themselves, but we were told that the kitchen did not want to “just throw other ingredients together.”

The vegetarian plates which arrived my friend said were flavourful, but by that point fatigue from negotiating choices had already clouded the atmosphere around the table. As a meat eater through and through, that night I counted my blessings for having to cut out only one thing and one thing alone: gluten. To appeal to a wider array of eaters however, I realised that Plot’s “modern” kitchen still has some distance to go.

Plot
70-72 Broadway Market
29 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0RL
Tel: 020 8767 2639
(Tables bookable over the phone or via Opentable)