Tag Archives: allergy

The Allergy and Free From Show 2014

8 Jul

2014-07-03 21.11.07Yesterday was my first full day back in Plymouth following a great trip to London for the The Allergy and Free From Show 2014.  The show was held at London Olympia, as it was last year, but this year it moved to the larger Grand Hall following some overcrowding at the previous show.  I set off from Plymouth on Thursday afternoon to meet my wife, Abby, who was travelling back from working in France.  I met her at Kings Cross which gave us chance to pop round the corner and visit the Kings Cross branch of Honest Burgers.  Amazing burger as always, and washed down with a gluten free beer.

We had decided to visit the show on Friday this year, in the hope that it would be a bit quieter than the previous year when we’d visited on Saturday and it was carnage.  We arrived at 10:20, expecting to join a long queue but were pleasantly surprised to find the doors had opened a little early and we were able to walk straight in.  On entry we were given a guide book, along with a bag and a pack of toaster pastries from this years sponsors Udi’s Gluten Free.

2014-07-04 10.39.16Our first stop was of course to see friends Ann and Steve on the always colourful Perkier Foods stand.  It was good to see them before it got busy so we had a chance to chat.  The calm before the storm I am sure!  I stocked up on my favourite Rocky Road tubs and golden syrup porridge pots.  Two of my favourites from the Perkier range and of course the ones that Sainsbury’s do not stock.  Here I am pictured with Ann (centre) and Twitter friend Flo Bistrow who I finally met here.

On the way in to the show was a huge Udi’s Gluten Free stand, and they were sampling their new Oreo style cookies and Tiger Bread.  The cookies were delicious but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the tiger bread, which was a little dry.  Maybe I had been a little spoiled on that front by the excellent tiger bread by The Wheat Free Bakery that I had managed to get my hands on at Clare’s Gluten Free in Plymouth recently.

2014-07-04 10.57.43Next I had a chat with Peggy from Glamour Puds.  We’d spoken on Facebook a couple of times when Glamour Puds was just launching so it was good to be able to put a face to the name.  It was also good to be able to have a taste of these puds again as I was extremely impressed on the previous occasion that I’d managed to try one.  Thanks to Peggy who gave me a few freebies to take away.  The good news is that these puds are now available in the chilled section at Tesco so do give them a try.  They are dairy free as well as gluten free.

Much of my time at the show was spent catching up with contacts I had made in the Free From community over the last couple of years.  Between the bigger hall and coming on the quieter day, there was much more opportunity to have a chat with the stall holders this year.  It was good to chat with Nick and Martin of Celia Lager, not to mention stock up on some beers.  Unfortunately getting my hands on 6 beers at the start of the show was a complete school boy error and I should have bought them at the end instead of carrying them around with me all day!

I also enjoyed catching up with Sean on the Live Gluten Free stand, Monika from Fria and Alex and Michelle on the FoodsMatter stand.  In fact I spend pretty much the whole day bumping in to people that I know from Facebook and Twitter land, and this was probably the highlight for me.  Several of us also had a blogger meet up in one of the cafes (oddly filled with non-free from cake).  It always great to meet up with these guys and say hello to old friends and meet some new faces.

To be honest I pretty much avoided the uninspired supermarket stands and also most of the big boys at the show.  Nothing against the likes of Glutafin and Genius, but I’d visited their stands over the last few years and felt a bit like I’d been there and got the T-Shirt this time round.  I preferred to spend my time focussing on the little guys to see what I could find.  Of course there are a lot of people doing very similar things at the show so it can be very hard to stand out.

A few other names to look out for this year:

Kabuto Noodles. A posh pot noodle with brilliant fun Samuria branding, full of flavour and now available in two gluten free varieties.  They hope to get their gluten free pots into supermarkets later this year

No.G. A great range of pastry products including a chicken, bacon and leak pie I sampled at the show. Superb pastry and they will be brining their full range to Sainsbury’s later this year.  Definitely one to watch and the blueberry cheesecake definitely caught my eye

2014-07-04 13.19.36Pudology. They’ve been in Sainsbury’s for a little while now, but ours only has banoffee which is a flavour that doesn’t really appeal to me. However I managed to try the chocolate orange one at the show and it is fantastic! Extremely rich and indulgent and I wouldn’t have guessed it was dairy free

Freego. A new online gluten free shop.  I’ve recently ordered from them and they have lots of unusual GF products that I’d not see before.  I love the product reviews on the website and it’s good to see that this online shop will actually deliver to Plymouth! Gluten Free by the Sea readers can get £10 off their first order of £20 on the site using the code “GFBYSEA10′ (exp 31/09).  It was nice to say hello at the show.

1-2-3 Gluten Free. This one has really excited Abby, as they are based in her home town of Cleveland, Ohio.  Being an American company they do some very traditional recipe mixes such as (American) biscuits and cornbread.  The cake samples made with their mixes were excellent.  They were at the show last year too, but it sounds like they are much closer to a UK launch now.

I also stocked up on some Venice Bakery UK pizza bases, which were the highlight of last years show for me.  I would say they were still one of the highlights this year and it really is a fantastic product that deserves wider availability, and it would indeed be a great product for any of the takeaway pizza chains to use.  It was good to get my hands on some focaccia from the Free From Food Award overall winner Focaccia Per Tutti, and I’m looking forward to tucking in to that.  I also picked up a few packs of the delicious chilli corn chips from Amaizin, really good.

We spent six hours at the show but still think I missed half of it after reading other peoples recommendations on Twitter.  There is so much to see and taste, the show was HUGE this year.  I have been chatting to Abby and I think next year we may do Friday morning and then come back and finish on the Sunday.  I think by the time we did the second half of the show we had tasted so many cakes and crackers it was hard for anyone to stand out and we were too full to even try some brands, and we didn’t give some of the smaller stands the attention they deserved as a result.  I think it will be better if we can have a break in between and come back refreshed and ready to go again.  This approach may also mean we can get away with buying some chilled products if we go home straight from the show.  Just one thing I’d like to point out is that Ocado don’t deliver past Bristol and we don’t have Whole Foods in Plymouth.  The amount of times I heard “we’re available in Ocado” on Friday, the heart sinks a little!

Overall I enjoyed the show a lot more than last year.  There was so much more room and the atmosphere was much more relaxed on the Friday, which was reflected by the fact we spent a whole six hours there.  Great credit to the organisers for responding to last years issues.  We didn’t see any gluten near misses this year with potential cross contamination, though it was a bit worrying that ASDA were giving out unlabelled samples.  I also noted that I did get asked my dietary requirements when asking for samples a lot this year, good to see that more companies were on the ball in that respect.  From a personal point of view, I’m probably getting less out of the stall holders due to my increased knowledge of the producers, and of course the fact I’m lucky enough to be sent samples regularly.  This year I didn’t quite feel like the “kid in a sweet shop” that I did on my first visit, but we’ll still be back next year.  It really was just fantastic to see everyone, and the rest was almost just a bonus.

2014-07-04 21.14.40

Friday evening Abby and I met a few other bloggers and tweeters for a fantastic meal, and not to mention a few cocktails, at Dishoom.  Both Abby and I were really impressed with the food at this Indian street food restaurant.  There was a really good gluten free choice for us, and plenty of veggie options for Abby.  The evening was made complete by great company and great cocktails, we will definitely be going back.

I hope those that visited the show had  a great time with lots of new discoveries.  Please comment below with your favourite finds!  For more photos from the show see my Facebook page.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

 


 

 

Free Tickets to the Allergy and Free From Show 2014

23 Mar

Last May I paid my second visit to the Allergy and Free from Show at London Olympia.  It’s always a fantastic event and a great chance to say hello to some of your favourite gluten free producers and of course meet some new ones.  Personally I find it’s always a great opportunity to meet up with gluten free friends from the social media world too.  This years show will again be held at London Olympia, though slightly later than last year with the event running from Friday 4 – Sunday 6 July (2014).

AFF-freetickets

The good news is that Gluten Free by the Sea has teamed up with the Allergy and Free From Show to bring readers of this blog unlimited free tickets to the 2014 show in London.  To apply for your tickets follow this link.

The show as always provides free seminars and a chance to meet a range of specialist consultants, cooking demos, support groups and engage in workshops.  Running simultaneously at Olympia this year will again be V Delicious, a vegetarian good food show.  Of course though, the big attraction is the chance to sample and buy so much great gluten free food from so many suppliers at once.

Last year the show was absolutely packed on the Saturday when we visited as it has become increasingly popular.  The show is moving to a bigger hall this year, so hopefully there will be a little more room for manoeuvre in the Grand Hall.  You can read my review of the 2013 show here.  For those that found the show too busy last year, the organisers are also offering a VIP package this year.  For £45 per person you will get early access to the show, special offers, access to a VIP lounge and more.  You can see full details of benefits and book tickets here.

Personally I think the VIP package sounds great, but is a bit expensive for me on top of the cost of travelling from Plymouth.  However if it does appeal to you then you can get 20% off VIP tickets by using the Gluten Free by the Sea discount code GfreeBYtheSEA

AFF-VIP

If you will also be travelling some distance to London, then it’s very much worth spending a few days in the capital exploring some of the great gluten free places to eat.  For a few ideas have a read of a blog post on one of my previous trips to London here.

So what are you waiting for?  Grab your free tickets to the Allergy and Free From Show here and I will hopefully see you there!

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Allergy and Free From Show 2013

11 Jun

AllergyShowWell I’m just back from another trip to London for the Allergy and Free From Show 2013.  The trip provided a great opportunity to find some new gluten free suppliers, stock up with products from some old favourites, eat out at some of my favourite London restaurants and meet up with fellow coeliac Twitter friends.  We’d had such a fantastic time last year that I was really looking forward to it.

Like last year we decided to make a few days of it in London, as it’s quite a trek from Plymouth.  This year we stayed at a Premier Inn at Earl’s Court which worked out really well.  The hotel was right next to Earl’s Court tube station which was served by the Picadilly and District lines so made getting around London really easy.  It was only a mile from Olympia so we able to walk to the show too.

I travelled up to London on Thursday afternoon to meet my wife, Abby, who had been working in London so was already up there.  We went for some delicious Mexican food at Wahaca in the evening, not to mention some lovely margaritas!  On Friday we went for gluten free breakfast at pod before a walk around Kew Gardens to enjoy the London sunshine.  Sadly it started to rain about five minutes after we went in, and stopped five minutes after we left.  It was still  great though and the we managed to duck inside for the heaviest showers.  A quick break for a fabulous Honest Burgers followed before a trip to Zoo Lates, which is a trip around London Zoo where alcohol replaces children 🙂

2013-06-08 09.56.16Saturday and of course the main event!  After a 20 minute walk from our hotel we got to Olympia and thought they must have been hosting a rock concert at the same time.  The doors were not yet open and the queues were massive.  The picture shows part of the queue, and it was the same around the corner and shortly after behind us too.  The queues cleared fairly rapidly once the doors opened and before we knew it we had picked up our goodie bags and programs and were inside.  This year the event had moved to the larger National Hall due to the previous years success.  This year there were over 200 stands to visit.

First stop (where else?) was to visit friends Ann and Steve on the Perkier stand.  I’d met these guys at a couple of previous tweet ups in London and they are a lovely couple, and their products have such amazing branding.  Happily their producPerkierts are great too and I am a big fan of their brownies, rocky road and popping tiffin.  Whilst I’m not a porridge fan, their breakfast treat has also featured on Gluten Free by the Sea previously.  I got to try their bread for the first time and it was fantastic.  The closest gluten free bread I’ve tried to the real thing to date, and I bought a loaf to take home.  I was also lucky enough to win the final Perkier goodie bag on the day too!

We stumbled upon the Venice Bakery UK stand pretty soon after.  I’d heard lots of good comments about these products recently, but must admit when I read they were gluten, wheat, dairy, soy and egg free as well as being vegan I was a little sceptical about how good these could really be.  We tasted a fair few pizzas at the show, but this was the best by a long distance for me.  The base had great flavour and the texture was superb.  Pleasantly soft but with a good crunch on the outside.  The large bases are pricey, usually two for £7, but we happily picked up two for £5 which was the offer price for the show.  They also had smaller bases and flat breads available.  Certainly one to watch.

2013-06-11 17.31.39I was also eager to try the wraps from BFree, an Irish company who are shortly to start selling their wraps at ASDA.  These were very impressive and I bought a couple of packs to take home.  Whilst slightly smaller than the Newburn Bakehouse wraps, they do have six in a pack for £3.  I think I actually slightly preferred them to the Newburn version.  Again we bought a couple packs to take home, and like last year the bags were suddenly getting a bit heavy within the first hour!

11am came which gave a chance to have a sit down in the cafe area during a planned meet up with some coeliac Twitter friends.  For me this is one of the great reasons for going to a show like this.  There are so many people on Twitter I “speak” to on an almost daily basis, it’s brilliant to have a chance to have a chat in person.  It was lovely both to catch up with some familiar faces and also meet some new ones.  An hour passed all too quickly though and I didn’t really have time to chat to everyone properly, so sorry for the ones I didn’t really get to speak too.  Brilliant to see you all in any case.

Back to the shopping and it was good  to see Devon represented by Clive’s Pies and Tideford Organics.  I first discovered Clive’s at last years allergy show and have been a regular eater since.  This was the first time I had got to try the Tideford products though and I will certainly be seeking them out again.  I tried a minestrone soup made with GF pasta, which was a previous pre-coeliac favourite of mine.  I think this is possibly the first time I’ve had it since being diagnosed and it was fantastic.  The flavour of the soup was great and I can’t wait to try some more of the range.

Another company which I think we will see big things from this year is ilumi world.  These guys are giving some heavy promotion to their free from ready meals at the moment, and I have to say I’ve been very impressed with the ones I’ve tasted so far.  They are offering £10 off orders over £20 during June and I think I will be stocking up based on the products I’ve tasted so far.  I got to try a few of their products at the show and came away with a sample of Spanish rice and vegetables which was very tasty, with all natural ingredients.  The beauty of these meals is they do need even need to be refrigerated.

A great thing this year was seeing friends working on the stalls too.  As well as the Perkier guys, it was also nice to see Sam (The Happy Coeliac) working on the Isabel’s stand.  It was also good to meet up with a few that I’ve long time Tweeted but never met before.  These included the guys from Live Gluten Free, CELIA Lager and the lovely Helen and Lisa from Sweet Mandarin.  It was interesting that CELIA have removed the prominent “gluten free” wording from the front of their bottles due to suppliers saying some people have been put off, though the crossed grain symbol remains for all coeliacs to see.  Also great to catch up with Alex Gazzola on the Skin Matters stand, a true gent as always!  It was really good to see Caroline of The Free From Bakehouse again, especially as she was selling Lemon Meringue Tarts which were nothing short of sensational, I wish I’d have bought more.

The Happy CoeliacLive Gluten FreeSweet Mandarin

At this point the show was getting busy, really busy!  It was getting quite hard to move around without being buffeted which I could live with, but my real frustration came from not really being able to get to the store holders as they were just being mobbed.  I gave up trying to get to a few of the stands and from seeing other people’s Tweets I think I missed quite a few of the producers as a result.  I think in hindsight we should have gone on the Friday when it was a bit quieter, but we had plans to meet friends and I’d have hated to have missed the Tweet-up.  I think next year though I’ll definitely be aiming for the Friday to help preserve our sanity!

One slight concern I had was the proximity of the V Delicious show.  Apparently there were different coloured stand hoardings and carpets to mark the different shows, but I have to say I didn’t notice these.  We went to one stand right next to the allergy show and were offered a taste of a chutney on a gluten free oat cracker.  However the spoon being used to serve up was also being used to spread on spelt bread.  A lucky escape which we made them aware of, and we hope others were not caught out.  It wasn’t until checking the program afterwards that I realised this company wasn’t actually exhibiting at the free from show at all.

Overall though I really enjoyed the show and it’s so good being able to walk around and indulge in so many gluten free treats, meet old friends and find new tasty products.  I will definitely be going back next year.  After a quick rest stop at the hotel we enjoyed a gluten free pizza at Otto accompanied by a CELIA Larger before sampling some live music and a few ciders in Soho during the evening.

Sunday saw a (slightly hungover) trip around the Science Museum before having some lunch before catching the train home.  We decided to hit Honest Burgers again after enjoying it so much a few days before.  Who knows when I’ll get my next fix?  Hope to see you all at the show again next year folks.

See more photos at the Gluten Free by the Sea Facebook page.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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