Torquay, Devon: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

This summer I took my first EVER trip to the UK’s beautiful South Coast and our first stop was the quintessentially British beach town of Torquay. This lovely seaside town is located along the English Riviera and home to an insane selection of gluten free hot spots and I felt absolutely spoiled for choice when eating out. From the freshest of seafood to one of the best gluten free bakeries ever, you’ll want to add Torquay to your destination list at any time of year!

Jacksons Gluten Free Bakery

Tucked away in Torquay’s old market place, Jacksons Gluten Free Bakery is a family run bakery which has the most incredible selection of classic bakery style treats, including custard slices, deep fried doughnuts, Cornish pasties and award-winning loaves of gluten free bread. While these guys always have a selection on display to buy, I would recommend pre-ordering your treats online to avoid disappointment. I just wish I lived closer to this bakery! Open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Where?

Market Forum Market Street
Torquay TQ1 3AE

Hanbury’s Fish and Chips

This epic fish and chip restaurant has been serving up the goods for over three decades and it’s absolute music to any gluten free person’s ears that they have a dedicated fryer. Any fish can be fried in gluten free batter and comes with a mountain of crispy, fluffy chips. Be prepared to queue for your order as this restaurant gets popular, especially at dinner time! Closed on Sundays.

Where?

Princes Streetm, Babbacombe
Torquay TQ1 3LW

Kalipso Artisan Coffee

This delightful, independent coffee shop is a haven for coffee lovers in Torquay and also offers a lovely selection of gluten free cakes and sweet treats. We grabbed coffee and snacks to go and wandered to the seafront, which was the perfect pick me up!

Where?

45 Fleet Street
Torquay TQ2 5DW

On the Rocks

Located on the water front, this seafood brasserie has an extensive gluten free menu upon request and is home to the holy grail – A SEPARATE GLUTEN FREE FRYER! They offer lots of delicious seafood dishes including a Devon Crab Crumpet which blew my mind. Also available are gluten free burgers, pasta, gazpacho and more. All desserts can also be made gluten free. Highly recommend booking a table on the terrace if the weather is nice so you can take in the Riviera views with your meal.

Where?

1 Abbey Crescent, Torbay Road
Torquay TQ2 5FB

The Elephant by Simon Hulstone

Did someone say GLUTEN FREE TASTING MENU? Yes, you read right. This beautiful Michelin starred restaurant overlooking Torquay Harbour offers a gluten free version of their famous tasting menu and adapts all dishes so we get to partake in the fun too! Featuring eight courses of goodness with coffee and petits fours to finish, you will want to make The Elephant a location for a special occasion! The service is wonderful and the wine list fantastic. Booking well in advance is recommended to secure your table. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Where?

3&4 Beacon Hill
Torquay TQ1 2BH

Rockfish

Torquay is home to one of nine Rockfish restaurant locations and is somewhere you will want to visit over and over again. Accredited by Coeliac UK, this beautiful and casual seafood restaurant offers gluten free fish and chips, whitebait, fried squid and so much more (including dessert!). This eatery is located along Victoria Parade with views of Torquay Harbour, so if the weather is nice definitely grab a table outside! Closed on Mondays.

Where?

Victoria Parade
Torquay TQ1 2BB

Number 7 Fish Bistro

Serving up some of the best seafood I’ve had in the UK, Number 7 Fish Bistro is a paradise for seafood lovers. Almost the entire menu can be adapted to be gluten free and the staff are incredibly helpful and re-assuring. The specials on offer are bound to tempt you too, and change on a daily basis. With gluten free bread on offer to enjoy on the side of your meal too, it’s an absolute win win situation. The restaurant has an extensive wine list too and a wine bar upstairs if you fancy a tipple before or after your meal. Closed on Sundays.

Where?

7 Beacon Hill
Torquay TQ1 2BH

Madrid: The Gluten Free Suitcase Guide

Spain has always been a great destination for anyone gluten free and the Spanish capital of Madrid is no exception. One of the first places I ever travelled as a gluten free person and the home of notorious bakery Celicioso and tapas galore, Madrid will have you spoilt for choice. Just take note that most restaurants in Madrid still take bookings, especially at peak times on weekends, so call ahead to make sure you secure your spot!

Sana Locura Gluten Free Bakery

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By far my favourite bakery in Madrid, Sana Locura boasts one of the most impressive cake, pastry and bread counters I’ve ever seen in my life. The bakery has a family business atmosphere and is always buzzing with people either buying treats to go or sitting down for breakfast and lunch. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Sana Locura’s croissants or red velvet cake. And if you’re dairy free order a delicious soy or rice milk latte and ask the staff to point you towards any dairy free sweet treats for the perfect afternoon combination. Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Calle del Gral Oraá 49
28006 Madrid

Celicioso

The original gluten free bakery in Madrid, Celicioso has branched out to four different locations across the city, and now even has branches in Malaga and Marbella. Picture anything you miss since going gluten free and I can guarantee you that Celicioso offers the gluten free version. Perfect for brunch (order the legendary avo toast!) or lunch with an epic sweet and savoury selection of goods to pack in your bag to fuel your sightseeing around Madrid, Celicioso is somewhere you will want to visit over and over again.

Where?
Calle de O’Donnell, 4
28009 Madrid

Plaza del Callao, 2, 9º planta
28013 Madrid

Calle de Hortaleza 3
28004 Madrid

Calle del Barquillo 19
28004 Madrid

Maestro Churrero

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Lo and behold – a place that has finally answered all our gluten free churro prayers! Maestro Churrero prepares its gluten free churros separately so there’s no chance of cross contamination and you can even dip them into lactose free hot chocolate. A perfect spot for in between meals or even to start your day because is there ever a bad time for churros?!

Where?
Plaza de Jacinto Benavente 2
28012 Madrid

Pasteleria La Oriental

Another winner on the gluten free bakery scene in Madrid, La Oriental is packed almost to the ceiling with gluten free cakes, cookies, tarts and pastries that will make you do a double take. Their traditional Roscon cake is something else and keeps well for a few days if you want to stash one away in your hand luggage! Better yet, La Oriental is open seven days a week!

Where?
Calle de Ferraz 47
28008 Madrid

Solo de Croquetas

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Croquettes are a special part of the Spanish food scene and sadly one that we’re rarely able to indulge in. So you will be delighted to know that Madrid is home to a 100% gluten free croquette restaurant where you can sample the whole menu and wash down your selections with an icy gluten free beer. Perfect for lunch!

Where?
Calle de Echegaray 5
28014 Madrid

Mercado de San Miguel

Well worth a visit, Mercado de San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest markets, with an array of food and drink stalls offering some of the freshest seafood, tapas and chilled cava I’ve ever had. Keep your eyes peeled for what’s on offer gluten free wise as the menus at various stalls can change. I hopped around sampling tortilla and fresh prawns at different stalls when I went but I have it on good authority that Tacos Margaritas y Punto is 100% gluten free and well worth a pitt stop for their outrageously delicious tacos.

Where?
Plaza de San Miguel S/N
28005 Madrid

La Tintoreria

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A traditional Spanish restaurant, La Tintoreria is a great spot for tortilla and a good platter of traditional jamon. The staff are very clued up when it comes to allergies and will take extra care when serving a gluten free customer. Booking advised, especially on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to ensure you are seated!

Where?
Calle Espoz y Mina 20
28012 Madrid

Emma y Julia

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In the market for some delicious Italian food while in Madrid? Well when it comes to the menu on offer at Emma y Julia I think it’s well worth a go! This restaurant makes almost every single item on its regular menu gluten free upon request and has some of the best pizza I’ve had in years. The portions are huge and the staff go out of their way to accomodate coeliacs and customers with dietary requirements. Another gem that is sure to set you up well for a night out on the town! Closed on Mondays.

Where?
Calle de la Cava Baja 19
28005 Madrid

Taberna La Concha

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By far my favourite tapas bar in Madrid, Taberna La Concha is small, traditional and offers an extensive gluten free menu upon request. What’s special about Taberna La Concha is the albondigas or meatballs which are so rarely gluten free and here they are huge and delicious! This restaurant is perfect for a late night dinner but be prepared to wait in line as it’s a popular spot!

Where?
Calle de la Cava Baja 7
28005 Madrid

La Gamella

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Finally, if you’re in need of a top notch brunch to start or end your time in Madrid on a high, venture to La Gamella for a gorgeous and gluten free friendly brunch. Most things on the menu can be made gluten free and can be all washed down with a mimosa with freshly squeezed orange juice and followed with an array of sweet treats to accompany a post brunch espresso. The Eggs Benedict here is incredible so don’t forget to call and reserve your table as this place gets packed during the day on weekends.

Where?
Calle de Alfonso XII 4
28014 Madrid

Burger King

Like the rest of Spain, Burger King in Madrid offers a gluten free bun for their burgers and cheeseburgers. Better yet, this option is available at the airport so in case you didn’t have enough pastries or tapas while in Madrid, you can grab a cheeseburger on your way out of the country. Check with each branch if the chips are fried separately as sometimes they are not. P.S. McDonald’s has gluten free options in Spain too!

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Mozzarella Sticks by Asda

Where from? Asda
Available in Asda supermarkets nationwide

The American in me cannot get enough of bar-type snacks. I have incredibly fond memories of chomping on mozzarella sticks dipped in marinara or ranch from my days studying in the US with an ice-cold beer, which I thought were well and truly over when I discovered I couldn’t eat gluten. Imagine my surprise and excitement therefore when I came across these gluten free mozzarella sticks in the refrigerated section at Asda recently. They are ready after a mere 8 minutes in the oven and perfect with aioli for dipping. Available in Asda stores across the UK and online. Enjoy!

Côte Brasserie: A Coeliac UK Accredited Gem (Invite)

While eating out for gluten free folk in the UK is becoming easier in terms of the variety of options available, places that adhere strictly to standards safe enough for coeliacs are still a rarity. UK chain Côte Brasserie is one of those exceptions, and is fully accredited by Coeliac UK. To celebrate Coeliac UK Awareness week, the team at Côte invited me along to try their extensive gluten free menu with some of my wonderful gluten free friends. I have always been a fan of this restaurant, which offers up traditional and modern French dishes with a twist. Côte has recently however revamped its gluten free offerings and even now has a dedicated Gluten Free Prestige set menu so coeliacs need not feel left out of the two and three course deals offered in all branches.

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While perusing the menu, we ordered a selection of mixed olives and saucisson sec to start, which paired perfectly with Côte’s wonderfully crisp sparkling wine Blanc de Blancs Brut. I then opted for the Prawn Gratinee as a starter: king prawns baked in a white wine, garlic, chilli and tomato sauce. This came with a serving of gluten free toast on the side and was one of the most delicious starters I have had in a restaurant for quite some time – not least because of the blue gluten free flags that came in the dish to indicate that this was indeed coeliac safe! My friend Jessie and I also shared a chicken parfait, which came with a serving of cornichons, spiced apple chutney and more gluten free bread, toasted to perfection.

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For my main, I could not resist ordering a fillet steak, recommended to me by the manager. Perfectly cooked, the steak was served with a generous portion of Côte’s trademark coeliac safe fries and truffle hollandaise sauce. To add a touch of greenery to our meal, Jessie and I also ordered some creamed spinach and French beans to accompany our meal. Again, our meals came with gluten free flags intact, allowing us to be fully relaxed without having to ask the usual twenty questions that follow the arrival of food for most gluten free diners.

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What’s important to note about Côte is that you will need to save room for dessert. Forget the usual single ice cream option all of us gluten free diners are far too familiar with in most restaurants – Côte offers a great selection including Creme Brulee, chocolate compote, crumble and more. I finally decided on the mixed summer berries with warm white chocolate sauce, which I would quite happily eat everyday if I could.
To conclude, I urge you all to head to Côte as soon as you can to see for yourselves just how wide a variety they have on offer for gluten free diners. If you have any other dietary requirements, intolerances or allergies, Côte will also go above and beyond to ensure you eat well and safely. Thank you again to the team for taking such good care of us – we all can’t wait to come back!

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We dined at the Soho branch of Côte Brasserie on Wardour Street. Tables bookable on the company website and on Quandoo.

Free From Christmas Range by Co-op

It’s the most wonderful [foodie] time of year! Food has always been the central part of Christmas for me and my family and some of my fondest memories from my childhood involve the delicious tastes and smells of the festive season. Since going gluten free however, it has not always been easy to source Christmas treats.

Co-op – a supermarket I have known and shopped in for years – is really ahead of the curve this year, and has introduced a delicious range of sweet treats which, unlike most free from items available in the shops these days, are totally affordable. More importantly, they’re 100% coeliac safe and honestly do not taste gluten free. So, I suggest you have a read below about the products in the range (which I’ve listed in order of personal preference!) and give them a whirl with your family and friends. Gluten free or not, your crew will definitely appreciate these! These products are all available in Co-op stores across the UK now!

1. Cranberry and Orange Tiffin Stackers

I am a massive fan of Tiffin bars in general – there’s something amazing about combining crushed biscuits with chocolate and dried fruit… These Christmas-tasting Cranberry and Orange Tiffin Stackers have a wonderful tang to them, whilst staying true to the origins of a Tiffin. They’re also gorgeous, and covered in edible glitter. What’s not to love?

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2. Iced Fruit Cake Stackers

Another traditionally festive item that Co-op has nailed. I am particularly a fan of these as they come in bite-sized form. As fruit cake is traditionally rich, the size means you can indulge without going overboard (or, eat more of them – whichever works!). Beautifully presented and wonderful on a platter.

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3. Ruby Reindeer Cupcakes

I don’t need many excuses to tuck into a cupcake, especially not if they’re as cute as these! Delicious moist vanilla sponge topped with fluffy marshmallow and a chocolate reindeer. It’s not always easy to find a gluten free cupcake that is springy and flavourful so I am over the moon with these! Perfect with a cuppa!

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4. Free From Mince Pies

Most of you who know me well will know I have never been a massive fan of mince pies. I have grown to realise however that this meant I just had not had a good one! Co-op’s Free From Mince Pies have won me over and are WONDERFUL warmed up in the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The pastry is so flaky you will not believe it is gluten free and the filling is tangy, sweet and perfectly spiced for Christmas.

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5. Irresistible Spiced Salted Caramel Cookies

Another winner, these decadent cookies are not only jam-packed full of caramel goodness, but are also partially covered in Belgian chocolate, making them very decadent indeed! They are also incredibly moreish, so be warned that the pack will not last long! I would recommend enjoying these with a post-meal coffee!

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6. Hand Finished Yule Logs

Co-op has also delighted us with their free from take on a classic – the all mighty Yule Log. Conveniently again, these beautiful yule logs come in small slices, the size of which makes them even easier to polish off! The chocolate sponge base is moist and light, completed by the rich fudgy chocolate topping, decorated beautifully with more glitter. A real crowd pleaser!

This post has been sponsored by Co-op.

Empanadas by Lincoln’s Cafe, Holborn

Where From? Lincoln’s Cafe, Holborn
Available in Store from Monday to Friday

As a massive empanada fan, I cannot tell you my delight in coming across what Lincoln’s Cafe has to offer. This modest eatery tucked away behind Holborn station in the West End of London not only offers gluten free bread as an option for its vast sandwich menu, but a selection of homemade Colombian savoury treats too. Pictured, the Empanada de Pollo (Chicken), is a must-try if you’re passing, and even if you’re not, I would recommend the trip purely for this! This empanada is corn based and is perfectly crispy on the outside when heated and soft as a pillow inside, jam-packed full of flavour. Whilst you’re there, you would be silly to not also try some of the Pan de Bono (traditional Colombian cheese bread), an arepa or a vegetable stuffed empanada. This store closes early every day so make your way there before 4pm to avoid disappointment!