Eating Out Gluten Free

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!

Gluten Free Fruit Cake: Missing at Starbucks

I called in this morning at the Starbucks in the Sainsbury’s near us – daughter 2 had been to the orthodontist, and needed something sweet and sticky (yes, I know, not exactly ideal), and whenever we go there we try and pick up a piece of their gluten free fruit cake for daughter 1 (the coeliac).

They no longer stock the gluten free fruit cake!

Anywhere – unilateral Starbucks decision.

I suppose that they thought sales were falling, but if they’d kept the stock levels up, they’d have sold more, as often we would find that they’d sold out before we got there. And obviously, because our options are limited we can’t choose something else instead. Lost sales opportunity, Starbucks.

Daughter 1 is going to be so disappointed. This was the best gluten free fruit cake we’d found (apart from my own homemade fruit cake made using vodka and cranberries, obviously) – and we’ve tried a lot – certainly the best cake available commercially, and was the only reason that we would visit Starbucks in preference to any other coffee house.

They’ve replaced it with something called ‘Summer Orange Cake’, and I was so disappointed for my daughter that I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.

I’m really hoping that this is just a summer aberration, and that normal service will be resumed shortly. They’re still listing the GF fruit cake on their website …

Cafe Life: Rheged

I think I’ve finally become a grown-up.

We’re home alone this weekend – no children. And far from having the wild time that you might imagine, what have we done? Chores. For the first time in my life, I’ve washed curtains.

How sad is that?
The children have gone to Centreparcs with my parents, and are the ones having the wild time. We met for the handover in Rheged.

We’ve been there before, and it’s a great place to spend time on a wet holiday – a 3D cinema, mountaineering exhibitions, shops (books, chocolate, gourmet food, crafts, mountain gear) and activities (soft play, crafts, chocolate workshop). And cafes – at least three.

We had elevenses at the Terrace coffee bar – which had gluten free Mars Bar cake. Since I feel obliged to buy gluten free food if a cafe provides it, we tried the cake – very sweet, but just right for the occasion.

More eating: a light lunch in the Rheged Cafe. They very kindly made up a sandwich for our coeliac using her bread – and even came out to check that the tortilla chips they would normally serve with a sandwich would be OK. Gold star for that catering team …

We have previously eaten at Taste!, which also catered well for our coeliac – though their style is much more of a proper restaurant meal. We did go into the Taste! food shop this time, though, and pick up some gluten free chocolate pudding to go with the coeliac for the weekend.

Congratulations to Rheged on their approach to eating gluten free – and the service provided by the staff in the Cafe.

And something I hadn’t realised before: Rheged is the largest grass covered building in Europe.

Gluten Free – at the Chelsea Flower Show?

‘Know Your Risk’ – the Royal College of Pathologists runs a campaign at the Chelsea Flower Show to raise awareness of allergies to wheat, apples and carrots, according to FreshInfo.

At the Chelsea Flower Show? The Royal College of Pathologists? What’s more, they won one of the highly prestigious RHS Gold Medals for the exhibit.

What’s going on? The Chelsea Flower Show is a very upmarket gardening show. Pathologists study the causes of disease and death. Relationship: the bad effects some edible plants can have on your body.

Unusual as the combination of the Chelsea Flower Show and pathology might seem, apparently the RCP estimate that 3-6% of Britons are unable to tolerate one of these three: wheat, apples and carrots. Coeliac UK estimates that 1% have coeliac disease, which means that allergies to apples and carrots must be surprisingly high.

Coeliac disease is best known – though experience tells me it isn’t all that well known, and isn’t usually described as an allergy (though I will admit, it does make it easier to explain to people if you say ‘allergy’).

Oral Allergy Syndrome can be precipitated by apples (and a long list of other foods). This is more like an allergy: itching or swelling of the tongue, lips, mouth or throat, and sounds very unpleasant. It isn’t an allergy to the food, but a syndrome that develops in hay fever sufferers – the immune system mistakes the food proteins for the pollen proteins, and causes an allergic reaction. Apples are a cause, but also almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, plums and walnuts.

Symptoms of carrot allergies range from mild, through abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting (sound familiar?) to life-threatening anaphylaxsis. Not at all good.

So – round of applause, please, for the RCP for raising awareness. Coincidentally, this would have been immediately after Coeliac Awareness Week 2007.

I wonder whether it would have been possible to eat gluten free at the Chelsea Flower Show?