Eating Out Gluten Free

Motorway jams with a silver lining – gluten free

Remember the half-term holidays? I know, only last week, but already it seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it… Did you enjoy it?

We drove south, and spent a few days visiting relatives – which was lovely – but then had a hideous journey home. All motorways were blocked. Eventually, we headed cross-country only to find that our last remaining route was also blocked, so we decided to take a break and hope that the roads would be clearer in a couple of hours.

So, not expecting much, we pulled off the country roads at Bicester, and trekked into the Bicester Retail Village. This was due to close for the night in a couple of hours, so we really weren’t optimistic, and there wasn’t a lot of choice.

A typical distress purchase, in fact.

carlucciosHowever – and you knew this was going to end up well, didn’t you? – we walked into Carluccio’s. We’ve not been there before, though we know of it, of course: it’s an Italian foodshop with a cafe attached, isn’t it?

Turns out to be rather more than that.

Could they feed us? Yes. Even though one of us was a coeliac? Yes – tell your waitress.

So we sat, and did the usual picking out of items that might possibly be acceptable, only to discover a note that said they had a dedicated gluten free menu. Could we see that?

Oh the joy.

3 starters; 4 salads; 6 different pasta dishes (yes – pasta!); 2 meat-based dishes; and 6 side dishes.

Such a delight to go somewhere where my daughter has a choice – and more than a choice of salad, salmon or baked potato. And the staff were delightful: […]

You do know its Coeliac Awareness Week, don’t you?

Free For Tea?Free for tea?

That’s the branding for this year’s awareness week, organised by Coeliac UK.

One of the best elements of this year’s arrangements is the focus on being able to go out for the day and have a cup of tea and a cake with a friend. The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland are supporting the campaign, so you could go for a day out, explore some of the beautiful gardens, historic buildings or natural landscapes of Britain and have a gluten free cake or biscuit to celebrate.

This is one of the things that we struggle with – we go out as a family for an explore, fancy a drink and a snack, and find that while everyone else can have a delicious cake, our coeliac daughter either has nothing, something we brought with us, or yet another packet of crisps. Very far from ideal. So hurrah for CUK and the National Trust.

Check if there’s a National Trust property involved near you.

And if you’ve got questions for Coeliac UK, you’ll find them at many of our most beautiful places this week.

Coeliac UK are hosting tea-parties in the Westminster Houses of Parliament, and in the Scottish Parliament this week, and there are many other activities and offers available. Visit the Coeliac UK site to learn more. (Scroll down to see all the offers available).

So – line up in twos by the front door, and let’s go out for tea and cake …

El Piano: gluten free and vegan

El Piano, in Grape Lane, York, is the first restaurant in the UK to go 100 per cent vegan and gluten-free. Don’t you think that’s amazing?

El Piano: gluten free and vegan

Eggs, dairy products, meat, wheat, rye, barley and oats are all now off the menu. The restaurant’s speciality is apparently Thai Thai, a spicy coconut cream with red pepper, baby potatoes, lime leaves, lemon grass and wild rice.

And El Piano is now getting ready to open a brand new sister restaurant in March, in Granada, Spain, which will also be 100 per cent vegan, gluten-free – and also nut-free.

How does falafel, hummus, onion bhaji, corn fritters, mexislaw, millet cous-cous and a gluten free ‘bread’ assortment sound? Perhaps followed by sticky toffee pudding or cheesecake?

Sounds great to me.

El Piano offer cookery classes, too, in York and in Spain. How about Cooking with Children, for adult/child pairs? Or Desserts for Restricted Diets? Both sound good, but perhaps Cooking with Children would be the one for us. We’ll have to be quick, though, because my coeliac daughter is already 12, and the children’s cookery classes only go up to age 12. I suppose she would count as able to cope with an adult cookery class in a few months …

If all that is sounding like good news, you can find El Piano at 15/17 Grape Lane, in York, and find more details and their current menu at their website.

Gluten Free B&B: Halfway Inn

If you’re travelling in the South West of England, and should be anywhere near Exeter, it looks like this place – the Halfway Inn near Sidmouth – would be worth checking out.

They do bed and breakfast and have a gluten free menu for dinner as well as breakfast. And it sounds as if they understand the issues involved – and are prepared to provide substitutions where appropriate.

Also, they are clearly interested in supporting local food producers, which I think is fantastic. Their meat comes from a local butcher who knows where his meat comes from, and it is within 4 miles of his shop (4 miles!); and they also have at least one local ale. And nine different ciders available.

Now, if only this was as near to me as the cows are to the butcher … Exeter is a long long drive from here, but I will bear it in mind for a future trip.

If anyone has visited it, please let us know what it was like – thanks!

Eating Italian Gluten Free in London

Eating Italian Gluten Free in LondonRochelle emailed me to alert me to a rave review of an Italian restaurant in London – Cotto.

This was the review from a contributor to the Delphi forum:

I just wanted to let everyone know about my families amazing experience in London this week. We stopped into a Restaurant named COTTO to have lunch the day we arrived. The owner has Celiac disease and is a true gentleman. He personally cooked the best GF Brick oven pizza we have every had. It was as good as if not better than the pizza I had pre Celiac in NYC Pizza places. He also made us great pasta and chicken dishes completely GF. He takes great pride in his food and his care in cooking GF. This is real old world Italian food in a great little restaurant. I can not say enough good things about the food and the owner ! The Restaurant is only a few blocks from the London Eye /Big Ben ( The Westminster train station ). COTTO 89 Westminster Bridge RD

Rave review, isn’t it? Next time we’re in London, I think we’ll check it out. If you’ve been – please let us know how it was for you.

Thanks for the tip, Rochelle!