Vichenzo Sin Tacc

Last year, I made my bi-annual pilgrimage to Buenos Aires – also known as the Europe of the south. This beautiful, hectic city was my home for almost three years in my twenties and will continue to draw me back every so often, not least because some of my bestest friends in the world live there. A huge part of my time in Argentina revolved around food – cuisine which is traditionally gluten-heavy. Yes, steak is the main act but when Argentines aren’t eating steaks, they’re usually tucking into amazing fresh pastas and milanesas – a tradition passed down from the Italian community that settled there at the turn of the 20th century. So, returning to this city has often made me nervous, for obvious gluten-related reasons.

What I discovered upon returning was a complete surprise however. The city’s gluten free scene in the last three years has totally exploded, with a long list of 100% gluten free eateries and bakeries sprouting up in multiple areas. Luckily for us, that explosion includes the 100% gluten free bakery and pasta factory Vichenzo, tucked away in the Montserrat neighbourhood, which is a hop skip and a jump from Avenida de Julio.

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Vichenzo opened its doors to the public in October 2015, primarily as a pasta producer. “The original idea was to create a high quality and delicious product that would, in addition, be gluten free and safe for coeliacs or those intolerant to gluten,” Vichenzo co-founder Gaston told me. “We saw the gluten free market as a challenge, and one that would make us grow,” Gaston said. The pair therefore put their learnings from their pasta maestro and store namesake Vicente Fabiz to use and created a range of fresh, gluten free pastas using traditional methods and machinery. The range of traditional pastas on offer in store quickly expanded beyond spaghetti and gnocchi to delights including spinach tagliatelle, beetroot ravioli, salmon casoncelli and more. Today, the store acts also as a bakery, offering a huge array of fresh bread, pastries, cakes and beyond.

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“Many of our products came about because of what particular customers requested of us and they became permanent,” Gaston said, who told me when I visited the store that the store’s only enemy is time and the limitations that it creates. The duo have successfully overcome the trials and tribulations of creating gluten free dough for their pastas and pizzas. However, as everyone and anyone gluten free will know, this is a science, given that a change in the humidity of a kitchen or the slight over-pour of an ingredient can leave the dough unusable. Having tried and tested a multitude of the store’s offerings I can vouch for Vichenzo and the success it has had in creating top notch gluten free products, not least the ready-made pasta dishes and fresh Milanesa sandwiches on crusty bread that you can take to go and eat right then and there in the street.

Discovering that neither Gaston nor Pablo were themselves gluten free makes the story of Vichenzo all the more exciting. In my experience, gluten free businesses come about because of health issues in the owners or founders themselves and so having the opportunity to visit a shop where gluten free is just considered normal in the eyes of two non coeliacs really was an eye opener. Luckily for the people of Buenos Aires, Vichenzo will continue to grow as a business. While plans are still not finalized, it looks possible that the north of the city could be home to a new shop in the future. In the meantime, those reading this from outside of Argentina: get on a plane to Buenos Aires and head straight to Vichenzo. You will not be sorry and I can say with confidence you will never have had a gluten free experience like it!

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Vichenzo Sin Tacc (Closed on Sundays)
Salta 529
C1074 Buenos Aires


Since becoming gluten free, travelling has become a tall task. Exploring the world, anyone with allergies, intolerances or autoimmune diseases will know, always involves a lot of research, preparation and a significant amount of stress upon arrival to ensure that eateries will cater well and not result in illness. It is incredibly unusual therefore, that I get the chance to travel to a 100% gluten free destination. Being invited with my good friend Alice (@glutenfreealice) to experience not only the yoga on offer at Kaliyoga but the totally free from cuisine too was a huge privilege.


Kaliyoga was founded by Rosie and Jonathon Miles back in 2002, who ventured to Spain in search of a location for a brand new yoga retreat. It was there, in the Alpujarra region in Andalucia, that they set up the first branch and 11 years later went on to establish a sister retreat in Puglia, Italy. The retreats offer a 6 day yoga experience, with cycling or walking activities too and work according to three basic principles: truth, wisdom and love. Guests are served three beautiful vegan meals a day, put together by a hard working team with guest seasonal chefs who all share one thing in common – a passion for delicious, plant-based food.

I had never followed a vegan diet before and what I was met with on day one totally exceeded my expectations. Upon arrival, we were met by the smell and sight of freshly baked gluten free bread, summer minestrone soup and beautiful, vibrant salads with mounds of crunchy seeds and herbs. “People fail to realize that there are a hundred times more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains than there are animal products,” guest chef Francesca, who has a vegan catering business in her hometown of Colorado, told me in an interview. “When you realize this, you start to see cooking vegan as a limitless possibility of flavors, textures and combinations, and cooking with the natural foods the earth grows and the sun nourishes is a truly beautiful thing,” Francesca added.


Obviously elated that everything on the menu was gluten free, I could not wait to see what other delicious concoctions Francesca had in store for us. “A fully gluten free kitchen is very important to Kaliyoga,” Francesca told me. Founders Rosie and Jonathon began to see the demand for coeliac friendly cuisine several years ago and decided to make the switch to ensure that it was a totally inclusive space. “Before coming to work for Kaliyoga, I wasn’t a fully GF chef, but working here and eating the food I’ve been making made me realize that gluten free can sometimes mean much more natural and wholesome foods that are very high in fiber and minerals,” Francesca said, listing buckwheat flour for pasta or almond or sorghum flour for use in pizza crusts as her top discoveries in the kitchen.

Francesca admitted that gluten free cooking is sometimes challenging, especially when it comes to baking. “It’s definitely a science and it takes a bit of manoeuvring but once you get to know your best flours (mine are: quinoa flour, buckwheat, brown rice, almond flour, organic corn flour, chickpea flour) then the rest is just practice,” she said.


The food choices were always a welcome surprise, and the menus kept a secret until the moment of the meal. As someone who cooks a lot for friends and family, I was positively overwhelmed to be free from decision making in this regard for a week and presented instead with colourful, filling meals each day, which at dinnertime involved three delicious courses. I don’t think I will ever forget the taste, texture and smell of the homemade pumpkin gnocchi I was served one night, which came tossed in a spicy red pepper sauce with local asparagus on the side, or the smooth fennel and pear soup which came topped with local olive oil and crunchy seeds.


Desserts always exceeded expectations – a course which was undoubtedly won by the raw cheesecake with berry coulis and fresh strawberries. On two days, the non vegan crowd were surprised with a selection of local cheeses and eggs to accompany brunch, which were all delectable and allowed us to sample more of the local Puglian produce.

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After just 24 hours at Kaliyoga and three yoga classes lead by the incredible Tashi Dawa, I already felt a release. My body was less tense, my mind less heavy and my stomach free of complaints. I totally embraced the opportunity to be caffeine and alcohol free for the week, which allowed me to focus on my yoga practice and nourishment – two things which I had rarely given time to back home in London.

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It is also easy to be relaxed at Kaliyoga. When you’re not taking part in a yoga class, or cycling in the countryside, the environment onsite encourages tranquility and breaks from social media or technology. When I first heard this I will admit I was nervous, as my lifestyle means I am usually glued to my phone. There was however something incredibly refreshing about removing myself from the outside world, and totally focusing on rejuvenating my mind and being kind to my body, which included spending time with the retreat dogs, Tommy and Akira and their friend – Nabuco the donkey.


Rejuvenation also came thanks to the food I was eating. Gluten free food can often be full of sugar and unpronounceable ingredients but at Kaliyoga I was able to consume food that was only doing my body good, which is a feeling so great, I honestly can not put it down into words. Thank you, Kaliyoga for such a wonderful and refreshing experience – I am already planning my return and cannot wait for more yoga, peace and gnocchi!

For more information and to book your stay at Kaliyoga, please visit the company website



Coori Free From

As my favourite gluten free brand Coori gets ready to open its new shop in Richmond, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you more about their story and how they came to be the household name that they are today. Many of you will know Coori from their 2013 pop-up in Selfridges Food Hall, which was the pioneer for gluten free space in the famous London department store and is now occupied by London bakery Beyond Bread. Coori closed its concession after several months, leaving customers eagerly anticipating its next move after almost ten years on the gluten free market in various shapes and forms. Others may remember Coori from the large scale Allergy and Free From Show which comes to London’s Olympia every year, where the team would prepare fresh stonebaked pizzas for the masses.

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I first came across Coori (which means heart in Sicilian dialect) when I moved to Tooting in south west London, several years ago. One day walking through my new local market I did a double take when I saw a small hand-written “100% gluten free” sign and realised that fresh pasta was being cooked and arancini being rolled, ready for the fryer. It was then that I met founder Julia, a gluten free scene veteran and cook, who was testing Tooting out as a pop-up space.

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Born and raised in Italy, Julia had always been exposed to good, simple cooking. However, when her sister was diagnosed with coeliac disease and Julia discovered she was gluten intolerant, her interest in food took a different turn and she leapt on what she saw as an opportunity to fill a huge gap in the market. “I wanted to take things back to the basics and start over with gluten free food,” Julia told me in an interview, as we sat enjoying a classic, and naturally gluten free Italian dessert: affogato. “Not only would creating good simple food for coeliacs make people happy, but it would help change perceptions of gluten free products, which for a long time were lacking in flavour and yet packed with additives and excessive amounts of sugar,” Julia said. This mindsight, as well as help and support from Coeliac UK, led Julia to open up a restaurant in 2008 – Bruschetta – in Kingston. The restaurant specialised in Italian classics like pasta and pizza, which back then were still a huge novelty.


Julia commened that when she launched, she did not initially advertise the restaurant as gluten free, to test out her food on doubting customers. “I invited restaurant critics, journalists and bloggers to try my food without saying it was gluten free. After they ate it, I revealed that what they had just feasted on contained to no wheat, barley or rye and they couldn’t believe it,” she said. Julia continued to work on products and food that not only appealed to those unable to eat gluten, but to a wider audience who simply craved good food made from high quality ingredients. Julia soon became well-known in the gluten free community and after several years, switched her focus to manufacturing, which aided the launch of the company’s online business.

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Coori online began to ship pasta, flour mixes, sweet treats and more across the UK, quickly becoming a booming venture not only in London but in the north of the UK, where a staggeringly high percentage of coeliacs live. Julia still remains dedicated to working with a range of manufacturers, both in the UK and in her home country, to keep the company both localised and true to her own heritage. What makes Coori individual however, is that all recipes are created by Julia herself and then recreated by the manufacturer, as a means of keeping the business, which is headed up by Julia and her two close friends and business partners, “very much a family affair.”


As business boomed, Coori was able to grow its customer base and venture into new fields, including the catering industry and department store scene. The pop-up at Selfridges was revolutionary. It drew in both gluten free customers desperate to try tantalising fresh pasta with a range of sauces or pizza slices fresh out of the oven, but also people without any particular dietary requirements. “The queues were always made up of a mixture of people, most of whom I quickly recognised as returning, happy customers,” Julia told me, adding that working in a customer facing environment is her real passion. “Seeing people come in on a daily basis and almost cry at the array of safe food they could choose from was really the highlight for me,” Julia said.


However, after several happy months it was time for Coori to move on and focus on securing its own space again, now that it had so much backing and a fantastic reputation to boot. The new store, which will occupy an old local dairy dating back to 1980, will have a very similar offering to the Selfridges stall. Customers will be able to take their pick from an array of hot and cold snacks, meals and packaged food both prepared by Coori itself and by collaborating brands, including Italy’s Nutri-Free. Please join me in supporting this wonderful company, as it embarks on an exciting and utterly delicious new chapter.

Coori’s Richmond Cafe will open its doors to the public on June 2, 2018.

84 Hill Rise
TW10 6UB

Photo Credits: Ilmi Perez-Stubbs


The Mad Batter

When I had to cut gluten out of my diet for good, the sheer panic of missing out on cake at social gatherings, namely birthdays, was overwhelming. Still to this day, I’ve grown to accept that there won’t be an option for me when we set off to a party and while this is upsetting, I’ve learnt to deal with it. However, when it comes round to my own birthday, I know I want to be able to indulge. And thanks to being recently introduced to The Mad Batter – or as her friends and family know her, Stacey Manning – my bespoke gluten free dreams can come true next time I celebrate!


The Mad Batter’s Instagram page is filled with pictures of cakes that look so professional that upon first glance, you might think they are manufactured by some sort of machine. The truth however, is that they are all lovingly handmade by Stacey – a self-taught baker, who is gluten free herself. Her cake journey began in the summer of 2016 when, in between jobs, Stacey took to watching cake making video tutorials on Facebook. “It was then that the obsession grew,” Stacey told me, adding that her love of cake making dates all the way back to time in her grandmother’s kitchen growing up. Stacey began learning from the videos and was soon sending out samples to offices where friends worked. She accepted a different job in October, but her taste for cakemaking did not go away and so come January, The Mad Batter was born.

“As a gluten free person, it’s important to me that everyone – intolerant to certain foods or not – is able to enjoy something as amazing as everyone else,” Stacey said, adding that her goal has always been to create a gluten free cake “that tastes like it isn’t gluten free.” As an avid cake taster, I know exactly the taste Stacey is referring to and I suspect those of you reading this will know too. What is guaranteed is that you won’t know the difference when you taste Stacey’s cakes, because I certainly did not when I received two beautiful cake jars in the post.

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I was lucky enough to try The Mad Batter’s Victoria Sponge – a white vanilla sponge held together by lashings of fresh buttercream and strawberry jam – and Chocolate Fudge Cake. I somewhat begrudgingly shared these jars with my non gluten free partner but was amazed to see his reaction when he took the first bite. Not only did the cake taste non gluten free to me, but to him too. The cake was moist and delicate – a rarity especially in store bought cakes which tend to be drier than the regular variety. The cake did not crumble too easily either, which is another sign of a good gluten free bake. I for one, have long suffered through cake so crumbly that it virtually falls apart before you are even able to bring it to your mouth. The buttercream in both jars was glorious and was not lacking in freshness despite being shipped in a jar. If anything, the jar as a vestibule keeps the cake and its extras more fresh than a simple box or tin. I was not surprised to learn that these jars, available in a wide range of flavours, are some of The Mad Batter’s top sellers and can be shipped all over the UK.


“I tried a lot of things from supermarkets before I began baking when things were a bit more limited and found that the choice wasn’t always great,” Stacey told me, adding that the new gluten free efforts of Mr. Kipling and other brands have been a welcome addition to the market. For those wanting personalisation however, The Mad Batter seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of what the gluten free market in the UK is still lacking. Stacey will listen to each clients needs and work carefully to create just what is wanted, whether the order be vegan, dairy free or gluten free. This could be an elabroate unicorn cake, a simple and delicate sponge or a batch of freshly baked rainbow cookies – all of which are baked according to Stacey’s own tried and tested recipes in her Hertfordshire kitchen. The Mad Batter has already been approached by a local restaurant to provide its desserts and is flourishing fast, which will come as no surprise to those of you who have already had the pleasure of sampling. So start planning your next birthday or celebration and be sure to drop a line to The Mad Batter on Facebook when you do – you will not be sorry!


Need a cake? Drop Stacey a line on: for cake-related enquiries or visit The Mad Batter’s Instagram page for more information.

Photo Credits: Stacey Manning

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Kane’s Donuts
120 Lincoln Ave
Saugus, MA

Kane’s Donuts
90 Oliver St
Boston, MA

Kane’s caters for special events including weddings. Contact for more information!

Photo Credits: Maria Delios and The Gluten Free Suitcase