Tag Archives: london

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





Eating Out Gluten Free in London

13 May

Last month myself and my wife, Abby, made a trip up to London to show my father-in-law the sites as he made his first trip over to the UK.  I hadn’t really planned on blogging about my eating out experiences, but on reflection my previous London post is starting to get a little out of date.  So here is a brief mention for some of the eating out experiences we had on our most recent visit, along with a few suggestions from the past that are still very much relevant.

honest burgerHonest Burger: In my days before coeliac diagnosis I always loved a burger, but it wasn’t until I visited Honest Burger in London a few years ago that I was finally able to enjoy a burger in a gluten free bun for the first time.  These burgers are simply sensational, served nicely pink unless you ask for it otherwise, along with amazing rosemary salted fries.  Whenever I am in London this is the first place I visit, and I am never disappointed. Gluten free beer and onion rings are also served.  On this visit we took a trip to the Kings Cross branch, which is quite a bit larger than some of the original venues and so has reduced waiting times: http://www.honestburgers.co.uk/

MestizoMestizo: Being married to an American means that Mexican is a regular in our household.  Mexican options in Plymouth are thin on the ground so we are always excited to make the most of London’s increased options.  We’ve now visited Mestizo a couple of times and the food has been excellent on both occasions.  The restaurant offers a separate gluten and wheat free menu, not to mention Europe’s largest tequila bar.  I can heartily recommend the Enchiladas Cancun, really delicious!  Abby loves this place as it is also home to the elusive vegetarian mole sauce: http://london.mestizomx.com/

wahacaWahaca: Another Mexican restaurant, which also offers a gluten free menu.  The food here is billed as “street food” and in that respect the style of food is different to Mestizo, but just as tasty and we love Wahaca too!  Be aware that some of the items on the gluten free menu are cooked in fryers with other gluten free items and so are not suitable for coeliacs.  These items are marked as such on the gluten free menu, and there are plenty of other options such as tasty taquitos.  The food is very good value and it has been known for us to spend more on margaritas on a few (every) occasion we have been there: http://www.wahaca.co.uk/

vozarsVozars: This is a completely gluten free restaurant based on the site of the former WAGFree bakery in Brixton.  The restaurant is inspired by the gluten free Celia lager and this is available in abundance!  The food here was fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough about my meal.  I demolished a venison burger, served with chunky wedges and garlic mayo.  Everything had so much flavour that I can still taste it now!  I will definitely be going back here on our next visit to London.  Desserts are provided by WAGFree so plenty of choice in this respect too: http://vozars.co.uk/ UPDATE: Sadly Vozars has now closed

Otto Pizza: Obviously gluten free pizza isn’t as hard to come by as it once was, but Otto Pizza was the first place I managed to eat gluten free pizza out after being diagnosed.   This is a very different kind of pizza experience to the norm though, with Otto serving a deep dish cornmeal crust pizza that I’ve not seen anywhere else in the UK.  Indeed my wife rates this as the best pizza she’s tried in this country.  The gluten free pizzas are very good and there are some great topping choices.  There’s also Celia Lager served to wash it down: http://www.ottopizza.co.uk/ UPDATE: Sadly Otto has now closed

leonLeon: Leon is always a great place to grab a quick gluten free lunch or breakfast when out and about in London.  There are numerous branches spread across the capital that give the chance to grab some healthier fast food with plenty of gluten free choices.  There’s also some very tasty baked fries and cakes available so no need to be too healthy!  The still lemonade is also delicious: http://leonrestaurants.co.uk/

Pod: Another quick and easy fast food choice with gluten free options.  There are lots of Pods to eat in around London, and it is worth noting that they sell bacon sandwiches on Genius gluten free bread which is why I quite often stop in for breakfast: http://www.podfood.co.uk/

Rossopomodoro: I’d heard good things about the pizza at Rossopomodro so we visited last time we were up in London.  However, I did not heed the warning to call ahead and make sure they have gluten free dough in and they were out.  You can read a review of the GF pizza from @itsgottobegf here.  Other GF choices were limited but the staff were helpful and I did have grilled chicken and Mediterranean vegetables in a balsamic dressing which was very nice: http://rossopomodoro.co.uk/nogluten/

Namaaste Kitchen: I’m very much a fan of Indian food, so when I was told award winning Indian restaurant Namaaste Kitchen had a separate gluten free menu I was keen to visit.  I went for the tandoori chicken which was absolutely delicious.  The only downside was the lack of cider served in the restaurant: http://www.namaastekitchen.co.uk/

A few others that I’ve yet to try but have been recommended to me more than once, so I’m adding them here so I don’t forget them:

Elliot’s Café: http://www.elliotscafe.com/

Dishoom: www.dishoom.com

Nopi: http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/locations

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).


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


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

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