Pick of the Day: Allergy and Free From Show 2013


We’ve been back from the Allergy and Free From Show in London for a while now, and have had time to mull over the various things we learnt, new things we tasted, and food we liked enough to bring home.

Sometimes, it’s a little like coming back from holiday with some kind of local gourmet treat, and finding that it just isn’t as good out of context… In other cases, you know that you’ve found a real treat, and will go out to hunt down more.

Whereas last year, I’d say the theme was cupcakes, this year it was definitely back to basics, but with a twist: pasta (especially fresh), and wraps. My poor coeliac tried so much of both that we didn’t need to find lunch.

The pasta that we really liked came from:

  • Dell’Ugo. Not so much the fresh chickpea pasta—they’d sent me some of this to try in advance, and if you’re missing wholewheat-style pasta, this is the one for you—but the fresh penne and tagliatelle. We thought these were very good, and although they are fresh, they’ll last for 35 days in the fridge, apparently. We will be buying this.
  • Asda’s fresh gluten free pasta deserves a mention too; again, we’d been sent some to try in advance, and it was also good. Sadly, we don’t have an Asda near us, but if you do, you should try it. (Asda are launching 95 new gluten free lines this summer. 95! Go check them out…)
  • Then I must mention Feel Free’s ravioli. We’ve been wanting a decent ravioli for ages, and here it was! This is a frozen meal, with meat and […]

Astonished by Tesco Finest

Two days ago, I was in Tesco, doing a spot of reshelving. Well: moving the NOT gluten free Warburton wraps away from the gluten free section, leaving the new seeded gluten free wraps in place (have you tried these yet? Our coeliac likes the white ones and is now enjoying the seeded ones too).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who mutters about people leaving inappropriate foods on the gluten free shelves. Shoppers probably see empty shelves, and decide to jettison things they’ve changed their minds about there. I hope it’s not deliberate! I know that some people see deliberate rearrangement of supermarket goods as an art form, but I think it is highly risky – it’s too easy for consumers to be confused – as you’ll see.

Anyway, I was in Tesco again yesterday—oh the exciting life I lead—and was just about to set off on another reshelving adventure when I looked more closely at the packaging. Have you spotted the new feature?

  • Tesco Finest Stem Ginger and Belgian Dark Chocolate Cookies
  • Tesco Finest Belgian White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
  • Tesco Finest Quadruple Nut Cookies

And they are all both wheat free and gluten free!

I’ve not seen these on the shelves before. It’s about time that gluten free foods were included in the Finest range. Yay for Tesco!

I guess my only quibble is the potential for confusion, since the packaging is so similar to the ‘normal’ kind. But we all read the labels carefully anyway, don’t we?

Now I can’t wait for coeliac daughter to come home from her own, rather more exciting, adventures, so we can taste them.

Gluten Free Cake Mixes: Hill Cottage Bakery


Did you know that the National Trust has over 3.7 million members?

Some of those are lucky enough to be able to visit Tyntesfield, and after exploring the property, stop at the cafe and eat wheat- and gluten-free cake made by Hill Cottage Bakery.

Tyntesfield is too far for us (we’re more Little Moreton Hall way) but Amanda Armstrong, who bakes the Hill Cottage cakes, kindly sent us some of her new venture, cake mixes, for us to try.

Her cakes have been on offer for some years at Tyntesfield, and have been extremely popular. If they are anything like the mixes, I can understand why.

We’ve made up both, and they are just fabulous, with a genuinely home-made quality taste. The ingredients list includes only those things that might be in your own cupboard (assuming you bake with xantham gum)—certainly in mine—and the mixes are extremely easy to make up. Just add eggs and oil (and carrot, for the carrot cake) and bake. Amanda has even included a piece of greaseproof paper in each mix pack!

Amanda sent us two samples:

  • White chocolate brownie mix.

    We all love brownies here, and this one came up gorgeously fudgy, just how we like it. My husband gallantly said ‘but your homemade ones are a bit better, obviously’ – but I really don’t think he meant it. The brownies didn’t last long enough to be served with ice-cream, but I can see that this would work well.

  • Carrot cake mix.

    This is both dairy and gluten free. I think carrot cake is my favourite of all cakes, and this mix came up light, soft and moist, tasting really fresh and carroty. […]

A Tale of 3 Universities

It’s that time: trawling around universities so that coeliac daughter can choose which she’d like to apply to. This is important: she needs to know which feel right, and they all offer slightly different courses. But naturally, the gluten free thing matters too.

Here is a quick summary of her experiences at 3 of the universities she’s visited over the last year (I’m not going to name them!).

  1. Just in time—not

    She stayed at University 1, and we’d gone through the usual rigmarole of advance notification and being assured that it would be fine, and then introducing herself to the staff, so that they knew she was the coeliac that evening.

    On being presented with a bowl of soup, she asked if it was GF, and was assured it was. However—after she’d started eating it—another member of staff came rushing over and replaced it with a bowlful of a different soup, saying ‘Are you the special needs? Phew, just in time’.

    Of course, it wasn’t, and coeliac daughter was unwell. (Special needs?)

  2. Peas and chips

    She stayed at University 2, and again, we’d done the advance notification thing, and were told she should introduce herself to chef. So much, so typical. But when she asked to be introduced to chef, he came out to meet her, and when she explained, chef said ‘oh, is that all?’ and went back into the kitchen.

    She ate peas and chips that night, because that is all that was safe to eat.

  3. Coeliacs on staff

    And she ate at University 3 (no overnight at this university – though she’s going back, this time to stay, so we’ll see…). They also had a separate tour for parents, […]

  • gluten-free-beer
    Cakes and Ale: gluten free Cakes and Ale: gluten free

    Cakes and Ale: gluten free

Cakes and Ale: gluten free

You may remember I was invited to help judge the Free From Foods Awards again this year…The winners were announced at the awards ceremony last week, and I went down to London for the evening.

Entries were up by 40% since last year, and it’s not surprising.

Apparently there is a 15% growth year on year of the free from market, and it is expected to be worth 6bn dollars by 2017. That’s a lot of us eating—and drinking—gluten free…


The two key points I took away from the evening this year were:

  1. The array of free from beers that are now available

    I’m not a big beer drinker, but I was surprised by the range now available. If you’re interested in gluten free beer, then you should definitely check out the beers people were enjoying on the night:

  2. The number of new entrants to the market

    There are always newcomers to the free from market, particularly in the cakes/biscuits area, but it is sometimes difficult for such companies to find their place, and grow from supplying farmers’ markets locally to supplying nationally.

    However, this year, almost every manufacturer I spoke to during the evening had been in business for a very […]