Tag Archives: perkier

My Gluten Free Heroes!

17 May

As it is coeliac awareness week, I thought it would be nice to give a big thank you to some gluten free heroes who have made my life so much easier to deal with since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease.  Some of those listed are heroes for providing advice and support, whilst some of them are heroes for providing amazing gluten free food that has helped to persuade me that life isn’t all doom and gloom and in fact I can still eat amazing food and there really is no need to compromise.

There are many more who could have been on this list, but for all of those who have given me advice or support over the last few years I really appreciate it.  The gluten free community have been such a rock for me, and have inspired me to try and help others.  For all those who work so hard to bring coeliacs safe and delicious gluten free food, I thank you all!

2014-01-18 12.24.51Clare Jones of Clare’s Gluten Free Catering: Clare has been a coeliac for over 40 years and last year started a gluten free catering company.  This year with, some huge help from husband Jon, she has opened Plymouth’s only completely gluten free eatery.  Clare’s Gluten Free on Bretonside provides a huge range of gluten free sweet and savoury food that is simply delicious.  Pasties, pies, chocolate eclairs, lemon meringue pie, scotch eggs, the list foes on.  If Clare doesn’t make it she will always respond to demand and give it a go.  The cafe is not only a safe haven for coeliacs from a food perspective, but you will find such a friendly atmosphere and you will usually find yourself chatting away to Clare, her family or other coeliac customers.  Clare has also been a big supporter of our work at the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group.

2013-06-24 19.31.51Dave Cossar & Justin Meaney of JD’s Grill: Finding somewhere to eat out safely is always a massive challenge, finding somewhere to eat safely where the food is good even more so.  Fortunately for coeliacs and those following a gluten free diet in Plymouth JD’s Grill can do both.  I simply love this place, the food is right up my street and Justin and Dave have really gone the extra mile since my original review to expand their gluten free range.  They are on a mission to try and find a gluten free option for anything they list on their expansive menu.  Fancy a half pound burger made in house from local meat, topped with delicious pulled pork and cheese on a gluten free bun with Cajun spiced fries, that are of course fried in a separate fryer?  I am always made to feel so welcome at JD’s and the staff are so knowledgeable and treat gluten free like it is the norm, I am never made to feel out of place.  JD’s have also been big supporters of the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group and this week hosted 40 of us for a fantastic gluten free night.

LTEC-LisaLisa Hackett of Let Them Eat Cake: Lisa herself is gluten free due to Crohn’s disease, and set up her company Let Them Eat Cake to ensure those on a gluten free diet could enjoy food that actually tasted good.  Let Them Eat Cake have recently re-branded to Let Them Eat to reflect the increased savoury options they now produce.  The company is based in Hatt in Cornwall and I love their ethos of using ultra local produce.  Many of the cakes are baked with vegetables to reduce the sugar content and keep them moist and also dairy free, and all vegetables used are from producers in the Tamar Valley, meat is sourced from a local farm and honey from Lisa’s own bees.  Lisa is not only a huge supporter of local businesses and but has been a great support to Gluten Free by the Sea along the way.

honest + beerTom and Phil of Honest Burgers: Tom and Phil will always be heroes of mine for a moment I experienced in Brixton in 2012.  Still in the early days of my gluten free diet after diagnosis I followed a recommendation and set off to Brixton to find a tiny little restaurant in the middle of nowhere (at least to a tourist from Plymouth) called Honest Burger.  The restaurant was so busy that we had to wait a long time for a table but when we got one it was worth the wait.  I sat down and ate the most delicious burger I had ever tasted, topped with some amazing red onion relish on a gluten free bun with some ridiculously good rosemary salted fries.  There was a also a gluten free beer to wash it down with.  This blissful moment was the moment I learned that gluten free food didn’t have to be a poor substitute and that by following these recommendations I could actually eat better than before.  Honest have grown considerably since and I’m thrilled for their fully deserved success, and I’m always a frequent visitor when I head to London.

mugsAnn Perkins of Perkier Foods: Ann is someone who I have had the pleasure to meet at a few of the gluten free “tweet ups” in London.  A coeliac herself, she plays an extremely active part in the gluten free community on social media.  Her company, Perkier Foods, is one that I love as they have really managed to put the fun back into living gluten free.  The company just oozes fun from it’s brightly coloured packaging, playful competitions, hilarious social media banter and not to mention delicious gluten free treats.  The personalities of Ann and fellow Perkier founder Steve Turner very clearly come through.  Ann always seems to find time in her very busy schedule to give the gluten free community a voice, supporting local Coeliac UK groups and being vocal about coeliac disease.

GFChipsJo Haimes of Eggbuckland Fish and Chip Shop: Many coeliacs will tell you that not being able to eat fish and chips is one of their biggest losses when diagnosed.  One of the worst things about my lunch time walks around the Barbican is the smell of chips everywhere!  So when Jo decided to take a Coeliac UK training course and open her chippy especially for gluten free customers once a month I could not have been more excited.  What many customers fail to appreciate is that a gluten free night was a two day event for Jo, as she would have to spend her Sunday’s steam cleaning the fryers and making sure everything was ready for Monday.  I always look forward to the first Monday of every month and it feels like a real treat.  It’s also so lovely to see so many happy customers when I stop by.  Sadly Jo is moving on to pastures new, so this seems like a good time to thank her for doing gluten free nights for the last year and a bit and wish her every success in the future.  Thankfully Jo has convinced the new owner to carry on gluten free nights so I am extremely grateful to her for that too.

Alex Gazzola, Health Journo: I really must give a special mention to Alex.  A journalist and author of books which include “Coeliac Disease: What you need to know”, Alex is not gluten free himself but plays a huge roll in the gluten free community.  His blog, Food Allergy and Intolerance Ink, is loaded with articles helping us wade our way through some of the more complex issues of living with coeliac disease and other allergy/intolerance, not least the minefield of food allergen labelling.  I always feel that Alex has our back and is ready to lead us into battle, but the fact he is a gluten eater and all round level headed guy means he is equally well placed to tell us to stop being daft when our battle march is (often) misplaced.  Alex seems to have a unique ability to be able to bring us back down to earth when someone has upset us, and give an alternative point of view that will always give us food for thought.  It’s great to have someone that can so eloquently give a viewpoint for both sides, and this makes him an important and respected member of the GF community.

Bloggers: There is a fabulous network of gluten free bloggers out there.  There are so many giving their time to provide recipes, eating out recommendations and tips for living gluten free.  I have found so many blogs so helpful since being diagnosed and these guys play such a vital role in the gluten free community.  I really appreciate the time you all spend to bring us the latest information and news, and thank you for inspiring me to get involved and have a go!  Some of my favourites: Gluten Free Mrs D, Chatty Daisy Days, Fabulously Free From, Gluten Free B, Gluten Free Blogger, Little Missed Gluten, Love Free From, FreeFromFairy, Not a Trace, Positively Coeliac and Wuthering Bites.  So many more I could mention and please see my links page for more.

Coeliac UK and the local group committees: It would be remiss of me to talk about those who do great good for coeliacs without giving Coeliac UK a mention.  We have seen so many more gluten free options recently and this is in part down to the amazing work that this charity do to raise awareness of the condition and encourage and train businesses to provide us with safe options.  There has been a great spirit amongst the coeliac community this week for awareness week.  I would also like to give a huge pat on the back for all of those volunteering their time for the local groups.  Having been on the inside for the past year I’ve been able to see how much work goes into planning events by people who are giving their time for free to help others.  If you’ve got good ideas for your local group I really would encourage you to get involved with the committee and help make these things happen.

AbbyThe wife: Of course one last big thank-you from me must go to my wife Abigail.  She is the one who cooks me delicious gluten free food on a daily basis, listens to me drone on endlessly about the latest cake or packet of crisps I have found, and looks after me when I have been glutened.  She has also be known to fulfil the role of gluten free beer wench at Coeliac UK Plymouth events!  I really couldn’t have come as far as I have without her support on a daily basis.

Well there are my gluten free heroes, I would love to hear yours so please comment below.  A huge thank-you to all the heroes out there!

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

Perkier Foods Rocky Road and Tiffin

12 Dec

Well most bloggers will try and claim their complete impartiality when reviewing products.  I am going to start this post by declaring my complete bias for this company, Perkier Foods.  I just completely love everything about them, apart from one small thing that I will cover later.  The company was founded by coeliac Ann Perkins and partner Steve Turner, who have been producing fabulous gluten free products since 2012.

feeling-perkyI first got to hear about Perkier following my first visit to the Allergy and Free From Show in London.  I’d somehow managed to miss them at the show, but kept hearing good things about them on Twitter.  I subsequently had the chance to meet owners Ann and Steve at a couple of the “Tweet-Ups” I went to in London.  They are such a lovely couple and always so generous!

I subsequently ordered delicious brownie, cake pops and rocky road off them whilst they were doing limited orders via email.  The products were great, but the only trouble was that living all the way down in Plymouth and the goodies were not easy to get hold of!  I made trips to Whole Foods to stock up on Perkier goodies on my next few trips to London.

BeFunky_PERKIER-HI-RES-POSTER-01

But it’s not just the products that suck you in.  Perkier have such fantastic, colourful and distinctive branding too.  The other thing I love about Perkier is the way they engage on social media.  These guys really are part of our gluten free community, and over the last couple of years I have shared much (too much?!) banter on Twitter and Facebook with them, and a few other Tweeters (you all know who you are!).  They are always running fun competitions, and they are just such a fun company.

flakesThis year has been a real breakthrough year for Perkier.  Earlier in the year Tesco began to stock their range of porridge and cereal flakes across the country.  Whilst not a porridge fan, I was really delighted and maybe even a little proud that these guys had hit the big time.  I was also pleased that fellow Perkier fan David was able to review the porridge on Gluten Free by the Sea at the time.  The porridge pots have also recently arrived in Sainbury’s.  I have tried the fruity berry flakes and they are really good.

Thquotee real breakthrough for me though was recently when Tesco started stocking Perkier Tiffin, and most importantly my favourite Rocky Road!  The Rocky Road is crunchy biscuit and soft marshmallows enveloped in milk chocolate.  I just absolutely love this stuff, I could eat it not stop to be honest.  The contrast of the crunchy biscuit with the chewy marshmallow works really well for me, and the chocolate that glues it all together is delicious too.  There’s a statement on the pack from one of the “Guinea Pig Network” that says “Amazing! You don’t need to be gluten free to love these” which perfectly sums up my feelings, largely as it’s my quote.  Yes I love this stuff so much I even have a quote on the pack!

As for the Tiffin, this is also delicious.  This consists of crunchy biscuit, honeycomb and raisins covered in milk chocolate.  This one is a bit of a conflict for me as I love honeycomb but hate raisins!  The highest praise that I can give the Tiffin is that it is the ONLY thing in the entire world that I will eat that contains raisins.  Oh yes, that one small thing I don’t love about Perkier? The raisin fairies at the Yummery.  Raisins in the Tiffin, raisins in all the porridge and raisins in the fruit flake.  Maybe next year Ann and Steve might consider swatting some of those raisin fairies for me 😉  Both Rocky Road and Tiffin are available in pots of bite size chunks or individual bars.

rroad_tiffin

I’d like to finish with a personal thank you to Ann and Steve.  They’ve provided great support to Gluten Free by the Sea through social media and their website and more than a few free samples over the year.  They also provided an absolute massive mound of free samples for our recent Coeliac UK Plymouth meeting and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that.  I hope you both have a fabulous Christmas and an even more successful 2014.

Samples

If you don’t have a Tesco near you, you can visit the Perkier on-line shop.  The products are also available to buy on-line via Amazon, Ocado and Goodness Direct.  If you buy some though, just beware of the #snafflers.

mugs

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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