POSTCARDS FROM A GLUTEN FREE LIFE


Polpo – Soho, gluten free heaven
November 10, 2010, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Eating out

Having been flying across various continents in my role as a professional PR gal, I had been neglecting the BF who had been sitting in raining London, whilst I enjoyed the gorgeous sites of South Africa. So I decided to treat him to lunch on Saturday, somewhere nice, because it’s always good to reconnect over food and wine and when you think about it cheese is helps too. I have literally been dying to try out Polpo for sooooo long, so what a fortuitous moment, when we found ourselves strolling down Carnaby st aimlessly headed towards my old fave Barrafina, when we noticed it was 2pm and maybe, just maybe Polpo would have a free table. Now I don’t make this statement lightly, getting a table at Polpo is something akin to getting a sainthood from the pope. I have tried and failed now three times to get a table, each time wondering about the smug bastards sitting in there who knew something I didn’t. Anywho I digress….. table secured.

The restaurant itself, is gorgeous, very quaint and gave you the general impression of being at home, well at home with someone cool and quirky. The wine is served in carafes which is always nice and it certainly does have a very italiano feel.

The waitress was absolutely gorgeous and explained to us that pretty much everything on the menu could be adapted to be gf. Instead of the normal brushetta they made mine on grilled polenta, divine. I could literally order everything on the menu. In the end we went for two fig and prosciutto Cicheti (Brushetta), then we had Grilled sliced flank steak, porcini cream, roasted pumpkin with rocket and prosciutto, zucchini and parmesan salad (amazing), wet polenta and then flourless orange cake with mascarpone and affagota. It all can to £50 including wine, water and service.

Truth is I cant wait to go back, bf loved it…. epic.



Spanish Tortilla
October 23, 2010, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Recipes

One of the easiest meals to make when you feel like a little flair but without the effort, is a Spanish Tortilla. The BF and I have travelled fairly extensively around Spain and as a gf traveller, the tortilla which can be found in most tapas bars is often a life saver. I think there is something about Spanish cooking which just translates for those on a gf diet. It’s all about the ingredients, there is no fuss and pretension and sourcing is often local an honest. To be fair, not all Spainish food is friendly, I have found it to be one of the places easiest to travel around.

So here is my version of the Spanish classic.

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 onion
2 large potatoes
1 chorizo cooking sausage
1 bag of rocket
Olive oil

Start by chopping the onion , then roughly dice the potatoes. Slice the chorizo. Put the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook through. In the meantime, put the onion in a pan with a dash of olive oil and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the sliced chorizo until browned. Add the potatoes to the onion and chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes so that the potato absorb the flavour of the oil. Beat the eggs and add a dash of water to lighten the mix. Turn the heat on low and add the eggs, cook for about 5-8 minutes until the bottom half is cooked through. Then pop it in the oven on 200 degrees and leave in until the top has browned. Serve with a side of rocket dressed in olive oil.



The Pantechnicon
August 24, 2010, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So the in-laws are in town and even though I am probably well beyond stage where I can impress them, I still try to take them to places that show I a) possess wonderful taste and b) am an excellent match for their very charming son. I say it’s too late as they have shared a hotel room with me in Paris (one room, 4 people, you do the math), they have stayed in ourLondon flat (so been privy to all my annoying habits) and seen me a few sheets to the wind. Never the less I persist. 

Anywho we decided the perfect way to spend a Sunday would be at one of our favourite local-ish places for Sunday lunch. There is something about Sunday lunch in London which is infinitely charming. Relaxed, unobtrusive and warmly inviting and plenty of time to relax with a paper and mentally prepare for the week ahead. So off we went on our Sunday mission and after a few quick stop-offs at Harvey Nicks and a peruse around Knightsbridge we headed to The Pantechnicon on Motcomb st.

The restaurant is sister to the über lovely Belgravia gastropub The Thomas Cubitt.  The Sunday lunch is gorgeous, very rustic and the menu will have you in fits of panic about what you cannot possibly bear to miss. The place itself is  casual dining come gastro come brassiere. I am always a little wary of Sunday lunches so instead of going for the whole hog I went for one of the grills. I let the waitress know about my allergy and they let the chef know to avoid any confusion. In the end I had a gorgeous rib eye with rosemary and garlic mash and a red wine jus. I also ordered some green beans as a side.

As usual the food was divine and with a couple of glasses of house prosecco, I was in a very good place. The in-laws and BF opted for the full roast and as you can see from the pics they were not disappointed.

On Sunday I would recommend getting there fairly early as the place gets very busy. The staff are friendly and efficient and the cost for sunday lunch is around £25pp including drinks. I would heartly recommend a visit, great for gf and regular folk alike.

http://www.thepantechnicon.com/



Bake-a-boo
August 17, 2010, 11:10 am
Filed under: Eating out, Products

So the weekend of my birthday has officially drawn to a close. But I was seriously spoilt rotten by my loved ones. On Saturday after my lovely meal at Bocca di Lupo, I was lamenting the lack of cake in my life since going gf. Its true, I have baked some cakes and with the increasing awareness around gf in London I have had some terrific brownies, but birthday cakes are another matter entirely.

Well problem solved when my lovely friend Clare gave me a box of gluten-free cupcakes from Bake-a-boo. I have been to Bake-a-boo before after another celiac friend gave me the heads up on its superior gf cupcakes. Bake-a-boo is based in West Hampstead,  it’s a quaint little place and ideal if you feel like indulging your girlishness for a day.

The cupcakes are faboush. They come in a variety of flavours and are soft and sweet and everything a good cupcake should be. I have to say and I hate to be partial but the Raspberry is my favourite.

The website is here http://www.bake-a-boo.com/. I am telling you if they delivered I’d be a much larger ladiee.



Bocca Di Lupo
August 16, 2010, 2:32 pm
Filed under: Eating out

For my birthday this year, I was absolutely spoilt by my lovely BF. He announced that we would be lunching on Saturday and had decided on Bocca di Lupo or mouth of the wolf. I have heard people rave about this place, but some of the online comments were mediocre. But I have to say in all honesty, I think Bocca as I shall affectionately christen it, was one of my favorite London meals.

The restaurant draws it inspiration from across Italy, stretching from the gorgeous islands of Sardinia and Sicily through to the heartlands. Having travelled extensively around Italy and knowing its the one place that being gluten-free just isn’t a drama, I was excited to see what Bocca could serve up. The waitress who served us was lovely. the BF had explained in advance that I was celiac. She simply ran through the menu of the haves and have-nots – I am happy to report there was a lot of haves!

The plates are served small or large, so it in effect becomes an Italian tapas.  You can still eat in the traditional way of starters and mains, but we opted to share so we could scope out the whole menu.

 We started with

  • Shaved radish, celeriac & pecorino salad with pomegranates & truffle oil
  • Home made wild boar salame & pecorino Fiore Sardegna
    Sardo

Followed by

  • Finferli’ (girolle mushroom) & Asiago risotto
  • Roast suckling pig
  • Cannellini beans all’uccelletto Toscana (with a little tomato & sage)

And finally

  • Watermelon granita
  • The amazing milk-free espresso gelato

The risotto (above) was for me a triumph, one of the best I have had and the pork with canellini beans was epic. We had a lovely bottle of the house prosecco, which was crisp and light.

A great venue for GF folk and wont break the bank at about £100 for two. Worth noting as well we were so full after this we could barely walk! But we did manage to meander over to Cafe Boehme for a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir and then off to Covent Garden for the French film Heartbreaker….. what a day!

http://www.boccadilupo.com/files/main%20menu.pdf

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/52/1346071/restaurant/London/Bocca-di-Lupo-Soho”><img alt=”Bocca di Lupo on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1346071/minilink.gif” style=”border:none;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>



Cotto – gluten free italian
August 3, 2010, 11:11 am
Filed under: Eating out

Through the wonderful blogs on celiac disease that populate the internet, I stumbled upon a lovely little Italian restaurant in North Lambeth. Its called Cotto and is a traditional Italian pizza and pasta joint. Its falls into a category of places I call cheap and cheerful. The owner is a celiac himself so will literally bend over backwards to make sure you have a lovely evening. My BF and I often go as it’s just a short bus ride from our place.

You can see from the pics that they do a pretty mean pizza and the pasta is excellent (both pictured are gluten free). When you arrive you just need to let them know you are celiac and then you will be greeted with warm service and a generous helping of gf bread. It is worth noting that this is a family run restaurant, a rarity in London, with the family making up most of the staff. Prices are about £8-10 for a main, so certainly wont break the bank.

Here is the link. http://www.italiancotto.co.uk/

If you have kiddies as well with allergies and are visiting London, this is a great place to take them. Also the desserts are divine!

Cotto gets two thumbs up from me.
Cotto Italian Restaurant Pizzeria on Urbanspoon



Big Brunch – one dish wonder
July 19, 2010, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Recipes

This has become a bit of a famous dish in our house. Whenever we host a brunch, we prepare this one dish breakfast . It’s all done in the oven and doesn’t require too much effort once guests arrive.

I made this recipe recently for a pre-ascot champagne brunch.

Ingredients (serves 6)
6- 10 sausages (I like Black Farmer Chipolatas)
20 button mushrooms
6 streaky bacon rashers
1 punet of cherry tomatoes
6 -10 eggs
1 bunch of spring onions
1 large handful of chopped basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C. Chop spring onions and basil and mix together in a bowl and set aside.

Arrange the sausages and mushrooms in a large roasting pan. Drizzle over some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven, turning once, for 10 minutes. Add the bacon and bake for a further 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes until cooked. Arrange the mixture in the pan to create spaces. Crack 1 egg into each space. Bake for 4-5 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Sprinkle over spring onion and basil mixture and serve.

And off we go champers in hand!




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