gluten free British Grand Prix at Silverstone

On Friday we drove to Coventry in readiness for the British grand prix at Silverstone. We booked tickets at the very last minute through Thomas Cook so finding somewhere to stay was tricky. We eventually booked to stay at Coombe Abbey just outside Coventry. Arriving later than hoped we checked in and carried our bags through the main hotel to the newer buildings beyond. Opening the door we were greeted to the sight of a very narrow single bed, 10.30 in the evening this was not really what we needed. Anyway after phoning reception a new room was found and a complimentary G&T was brought up, a very nice gesture.

Saturday was an early start as we were eager to get to the circuit. We were first to breakfast at 7.30am . The conservatory where breakfast was set out was beautiful, to anyone probably, other than a coeliac the buffet looked great. Plenty of choice and in a seperate area a hot buffet, this always worries me due to cross contamination, fried bread next to scrambled eggs etc. Once I had explained the waitress offered me a freshly made omelette, which I happily accepted. The omelette arrived promptly and to this I added some bacon from the buffet, as we were the only people to touch the food so far I decided to risk it.

Driving to Silverstone was remarkably quick and easy. We arrived in plenty of time. Giving me time to sort out my picnic for the day. I didn’t feel I could chance there being gluten free options on site. On friday evening I had packed sandwiches made using Knead gluten free, yeast free bread, fruit, seabrooks crisps and Honeybuns bakery cakes in a large cool box packed with lots of large cold packs.

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Having made up my lunch we made are way to the circuit. Silverstone was not overly busy  and we were able to get our bearings and have a good look around. Over the two days we watched GP2 and GP3 races as well as the Porsche Super Cup and moved from one stand to another. Woodcote and Luffield area.

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Like a school child on a day out, I was ready to eat my packed lunch by about 10.30am but made myself wait. The ham and cheese sandwich had survived quite well, although probably had been sat a little to close to the ice packs. The cherry tomatoes had frozen! The Seabrooks crinkled ready salted crisps (gluten free and yeast free) were lovely. I had not tried them before, most impressed.

I had a good look around Silverstone for gluten free options but was disappointed to find no choices for Coeliacs. I did however find a coffee stall which sold Honeybuns bakery chocolate brownies, these were clearly marked. Well done Caffe cultura 

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After a busy day we headed back to our hotel looking forward to a rest and a decent meal at 8pm. Unfortunately our reservation had been changed to 9pm. After explaining our busy day and the early start needed the following day, they squeezed us in at 7. Relieved we headed down to dinner. Once again served in the conservatory it had been such a beautiful day that the sun was still blazing in through the glass room. The waiter took our order but was very quick. This made me feel that he wasn’t listening to my very specific requirements for my meal, which left me nervous.

Our starters arrived, I had chosen Asparagus and a cheese brulee with pea shots, asking them to hold the quail scotch egg. Unfortunately the breadcrumbed egg was well and truly in the centre of my meal. Mr S’s Scallops had been brought out gluten free!  After alerting the waitress a new starter was brought out for me and a reheated scallops for Mr S.  I explained again the importance of getting our orders right. My food was delicious and the cheese brulee a great invention. For main course I had ordered the special which was John Dory fillet with new potatoes and samphire without the accompanying sauces. This was very good and it was my first samphire of the year. Sadly Mr S wasn’t impressed with his steak. For dessert the waiter suggested I left it up to the chef, which I was happy to do. Mr S ordered the cheese board and I was given a coconut and lime parfait with slices of pineapple and a tiny chocolate mousse. Very glad I left it up to the chef! The only thing we did notice was the staff were getting lots of complaints that evening about slow service. drink orders not being taken and some not even getting a menu for a very long time. As we were first in we seemed to avoid this.

The hotel is a wedding venue, not surprisingly as it was very picturesque. We saw two weddings while we were there. This did mean that we were woken at 11PM to a firework display outside. Not really what you need when you have to leave at 6.30 the next morning.

We made a prompt departure early on sunday morning and arrived at Silverstone for breakfast. Considerably more people on Sunday for the big race, It was very exciting to be there after watching for so many years on the tv. Once again I made up my picnic and made our way down to Woodcote B stand where we spent the majority of the day.

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After watching some exciting races in the morning I queued with Mr S for his gluten filled pizza which looked amazing. As it was such a lovely day we sat on the grass watching the Red arrows flying overhead.

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Then time for the big race, we had a very good view and a large screen directly in front.  Which was just as well as with my ear defenders in, I couldn’t hear the commentary. I thought Saturday was loud but it was nothing compared to Sunday. Those F1 cars really do make quite some noise! Rooting for Jenson Button and the rest of the Brits we settled down to enjoy a great race.

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We certainly weren’t disapointed. Although would have prefered not to have had all the tyre blow outs. The crowd were quieter than expected but I put that down to Lewis’s tyre nightmare early on. The final 6 or so laps the crowd certainly made up for the quiet start and it was a day I will never forget.

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We quickly made our way to the car and after much polite queueing, we were on our way home.

Maybe by next year at  Silverstone, there will be some gluten free options? Here’s hoping!

 

 

 

 

 

Isabel’s naturally free from easy pizza base mix

On Sunday as my youngest son and his girlfriend were back home after there final Uni exams. I decided to make some gluten free yeast free pizzas for lunch.

Following the instructions on the back was very straight forward.

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I used both packets of Isabel’s Naturally free from pizza base mix, which makes four medium size pizzas. The dough came together very easily and just needed a knead until the dough was silky and pliable.

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I divided the dough into four equal portions, and rolled out using a little corn flour into pizza shapes. I’m sure with practise I can make them look slightly neater. But for my first attempt they weren’t too bad. The Pizza’s then went in a hot oven for 5 mins on each side, using good non stick pizza trays.

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I used a mix of tomato puree and passata to make the tomato base.  The advice on the back was to avoid a tomato sauce with too much moisture. After 10 mins in the oven, we all added our own favourite toppings. mozzarella, basil, italian salami and ham and cheddar cheese. We all had fun decorating our pizza’s . The family’s pizza’s turned out much better than mine.

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I do like my cheese, so mine was definitely cheese heavy.

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We all drizzled basil infused olive oil on our pizza’s . They looked good enough to eat already!

The pizza’s went in a hot oven for a further 10 mins or so. We watched them carefully, checking they did not burn around the edges.

Success! the pizza’s came out looking amazing and smelling terrific.

ImageWithout prompting the family said that thought they tasted as good as regular pizza, if not better! Strong words from two Uni students who have sampled a few pizza’s in their three years. Both said they would choose to make them again. Result!  Much nicer not having gluten pizza’s and flour in the house.

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I have stock piled lots of boxes of Isabel’s pizza mix’s in my pantry for the future . They will be great for the occasional treat supper or quick tasty lunch.

Can definitely recommend.

Isabel’s cuisine mixes can be found on her website and also available at Ocado and some Asda stores also some health food shops. Stockists here

New gluten free play dough ‘GLU DOH’

While visiting the Creake Abbey farmers market, North Creake Norfolk. I noticed a new addition to the gluten free, dairy free Glu-10-3 stall.

Glutenfree playdough, 5 bright coloured containers of allergy free dough for children. What a brilliant idea! 

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As I work in a pre school setting I thought it would be a great place to road test it!

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With 25 children under 5 this was going to be a tough test.

Not only did the children enjoy playing with it I ask staff members their opinion. Less sticky then our regular homemade dough . Dry to the touch , lovely colours. Reminded us of play dough as children. The little ones really liked the little containers with their coloured lids too.  The dough was very popular, we noticed some children spending a great deal of time at the table . It rolled out well and was great with cutters and for moulding in to different shapes.

It has survived well in a Nursery setting and although it is now a pale orange colour is still very useable. The tip I was given was if the dough starts getting a slightly dry salty edge use a damp hand to knead it back to normal, which worked really well. 

A perfect option for children who have coeliac disease.  Accidental glutening can be a real problem with regular play dough as its so easy for children to put their hands in their mouths whilst playing or forgetting to wash hands carefully afterwards. This is the perfect answer. Not cheap at £10 for 5 different coloured tubs, but it would last a long time in a regular home situation.

Find it on Twitter @glu_doh

It is available from Farmers markets and The Royal Norfolk show,  check Glu-10-3 website too, for more information. Also available on ebay

My first Allergy and Free From show at Olympia

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Last Saturday I made my first visit to the Allergy and free from show at Olympia. Now I had been warned that I would need lots of bags to bring back the many gluten free offers. So bags in hand and a husband, or should I say official bag carrier. We boarded the train to Clapham junction then went on the overground train to Olympia. 

Arriving at 10am just as the doors were opening. A large queue had formed outside the hall but we quickly made our way inside. I was so glad we had arrived so early as we were able to make our way to the gluten free stands with ease. One of the first stands we found was Isabel’s cuisine. It was lovely to meet Isabel in person as I have followed her on twitter for a while. The Pizza mix is so versatile I have made the pizza bases before and I cannot wait to make bagels with it very soon. They had a very good offer, I bought five boxes including the batter mix and dough ball mix, another tweeter was on her stall the happy coeliac who had made some yummy cakes using one of Isabel’s mixes. It was great to meet her too and try the delicious cakes.

Moving on we found Perkier also on Twitter , a small business who use gluten free oats to make a selection of porridge and granola. One thing I thought was particularly good was the individual instant porridge pots which would be great for a weekend away or festival food.  We both tried some flapjack made using the apple and cinnamon porridge very good! I went away with a box of porridge. 

Now being gluten and yeast intolerant means i’m always on the look out for a bread I can eat. At the show we found Sukrin they had a sunflower and pumkin bread mix which was soy milk and yeast free. result. I filled a bag with a supply of bread mix, I cannot wait to try making it at home. The taster on offer at the show was good, denser than regular bread but that is to be expected.

Moving on we found Nairns gluten free and as they had a special offer on packs of savoury biscuits I picked some up. Warburtons also had a stall and had there new wraps at £2 a packet. So brought some for the freezer.

I really wanted to search out small businesses as I feel it is important to support them, on the next isle we found one such business, Knead. It was good to meet Sim in person a I follow her on Twitter and was eager to try there gluten free yeast free bread. They had a good offer on the gluten free bread so once again choose 3 loaves 2 seeded and one white. Almost demolished one loaf within 2 days scrummy, I even made a fish finger sandwich something  I hadn’t been able to have in ages. Good news if you weren’t able to get the show  Ocado are now stocking Knead bread.

We took a break from the stalls and made a dash to the cafe area where a TweetUp was taking place, It was great to meet up with many fellow coeliacs and gluten sensitive Tweeters and put faces to names. It is such a supportive community and I can recommend joining Twitter. I have learnt so much in the last year or so about Coeliac disease and tips on baking, shopping, cross contamination and living with a gluten free diet .

After spending some time at the cafe , we said our goodbyes and headed back to the stalls. Unfortunately it was now 12ish and the hall was rammed. Fighting through the crowds we headed towards the free from bakehouse previously called Sugargrain where we chose lemon meringue tarts to take home, also choosing a cinnamon sugar doughnut for my journey home.

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Whilst it was quite nice, I think it would have been nicer eaten with a big mug of coffee as it was a little dense. The Gf lemon meringue tarts survived the journey very well and were delicious the gluten free pastry was very good.

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DS gluten free had a stall and I decided to treat myself to a few boxes of bourbons and chocolate biscuits. I like them as they are in little packs in side the boxes and keep well.

We found another new company I hadn’t come across before Pudology run by Lucy. Individual Puddings dairy, egg and gluten free. We tried the chocolate, lemon and banoffee puddings and brought 4 to take home. Again Ocado are stocking them as are some Waitrose shops. The banoffee was particularly good.

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Deciding that it really was now too busy we reluctantly made our way to the exit, very relieved I had taken my husband with me, as had far too many bags to carry by myself , also needed more cash than I had expected as not all stalls took cards. He came in useful for that too!

Just our bags alone took up all the baggage space on the train!

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Finally made it back home with a huge array of gluten free goodies. No shortage of choices for a late lunch.

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I will definitely be returning next year and hopefully will find even more small businesses.

 I trust that the company’s I found this year will be bigger and even better in 2014

 

Wow! muffins

Based in Wymondham, just outside Norwich WOWmuffins are a small gluten free business. Making the most amazing sweet and savoury muffins, many are dairy free too. Selling at farmers markets in East Anglia and available to order online.

I first met Karen a few months back at Creake abbey farmers market near Burnham Market, Norfolk. I literally went Wow! when I saw her stall.

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The stall was easy to spot with a big sign saying “muffins for everyone” and bright red gazebo. With a huge array of the most delicious looking gluten free goodies, I was a very happy lady!

I have never been a big fan of supermarket muffins as they always seem to me to be quite heavy in texture. But WOW muffins are quite different. Freshly made, they have a short shelf life, like all homemade bakery goods. But they freeze well on day of purchase. Or you can eat them immediately like I do.

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‘Muffinettes’

Light and airy in texture and available in two sizes regular and muffinettes, half the size and perfect if you are trying to be good or can’t decide which flavour to buy. They are also a lovely size for children, and would be great for a birthday party.

ImageA selection of sweet and savoury muffins from this weeks visit to the farmers market.

 

Even more exciting than the sweet muffins, I think are the savoury ones. Sausage, sun-dried tomato and paprika. which has a real kick to it. Feta, basil and sun-dried tomato my favourite, The feta cheese works perfectly. I really could eat a large amount of these!  Also bacon and cheddar and red onion ones which look amazing but am unable to try as I am intolerant to onions. But I would love the combination of bacon and cheese.

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Perfect as part of gluten free lunch.

 

The muffins are best eaten warmed for about 30 seconds in the microwave maybe slightly less. I think I over warmed my banana fudge muffin yesterday and the fudge centre had virtually disappeared. still very yummy though. I had mine with a big cup of tea for pudding. But they would be perfect for breakfast, I have a blueberry one lined up for breakfast today.

 

 

Karen has a good knowledge of all things gluten free as she herself is wheat intolerant and has friends who have Coeliac disease. 

I urge you to go online today and have a look at the website. Or if you are up in East Anglia seek them out at your nearest farmers market.

Creake Abbey farmers market, North Creake, Fakenham

Wymondham farmers market, market place Wymondham

Mildenhall  farmers market, jubilee centre . near Bury St Edmunds

You can also follow WOWmuffins on twitter @wowmuffins and on facebook

I think it is really important to support our local small businesses, especially when they produce gluten free produce.

April 2014

Unfortunately Wow Muffins has ceased trading, hopefully one day soon they will be baking again. Will blog about it when they are up and running again

 

 

Finding Free from treasures on Lamma island , Hong Kong

On monday we took the ferry to Lamma, an island off Hong Kong island. Sadly the weather was poor. Cloudy with very little sunshine, but still a warm 27c.

It was a far shorter journey than I was expecting about 20 mins which as the sea was quite choppy, that was long enough!

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Lamma island is where many ex pats live. The island has no cars and the only mode of transport is bicycles. Many of which were parked up by the terminal ready for their owners arriving back later.

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As it was nearing lunch we went off in search of somewhere to eat. Now Lamma island is famous for its seafood restaurants all along the road from the ferry terminal. We decided on a small, clean looking restaurant called Beer and Babble seafood restaurant.

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The waiters were very friendly and spoke very good english. As always I had my trusty food intolerance translation sheet with me. Now looking slightly worse for wear! Sticky tape holding it together from an incident a few days ago. The waiter read it carefully and took it off to show the chef. I decided on grilled king prawns with plain boiled rice and broccoli. 

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A safe sensible choice, could of done with some lemon or something to cheer it up but at least I knew it was Free from.

After lunch we had a little look around the shops, only a few and not very exciting. Until we came to, Just Green a health food food with a good selection of gluten free and free from goodies. Now if only I could have found this shop a week ago! Anyway it was good to check it out and it will be useful for future visits to my Brother in law and his wife on Hong Kong island.

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A few doors away was an intriguing cafe, very quirky. I loved the look of it.

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Bookends cafe was a vegetarian cafe which had some gluten free and free from options so I had to try it out!

The blackboard had an array of gluten free, free from cakes written on it . I decided on an english breakfast tea and a slice of their gluten free carrot cake. Sadly they had sold out, so had to make do with some gluten free biscuits I had hidden away in my handbag for such occasions.

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The cafe had a lovely atmosphere and I can see why it is mentioned in the guide books.

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It was soon time to head back to the ferry terminal, I’m so glad we made the trip over. Otherwise we would have never discovered the free from treasures Lamma had to offer.

 

Family wedding in Hong Kong

Thursday 25th April was a very special day for our family. My husbands brother Phil was to marry his girlfriend Katy at the Renaissance Harbour view hotel in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Where Phil and Katy live and work.
The day started very early for my husband who was best man. Breakfast with the groom and ushers. Followed by a visit to the wedding hotel where they were set tasks by the bridesmaids to do various challenges. Feeding m&m’s with chop sticks, press ups with the groom on their backs and finally Phil had to woo his future bride in Cantonese. As a forfeit for not achieving all the goals the groom had to sing a song.
Then came the first of many tea ceremony’s to take place that day. The first one was for the brides parents. Following this the Bride and Groom came to our hotel where they served tea to the grooms parents and myself and my husband as elder siblings.

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Katy and her bridesmaids looked beautiful and it was a huge honour to be part of the ceremony. Katy wore a traditional Chinese wedding dress in gold and red, adorned with gold jewellery.

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After photo’s being taken in the foyer of our hotel, we all made our way to the Hotel in a minibus for a relaxed lunch with the brides parents. Following this the Bride and Groom travelled all over Hong Kong having pictures taken. The rest of us were able to go off for a rest and to prepare ourselves for the evenings celebrations.

Being very keen we arrived back to the wedding hotel an hour early so my sons and their girlfriends joined me for Pre drinks in the bar while the best man went off to help set up.

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The wedding was beautiful. We sat at our tables as Katy came in wearing a stunning white wedding dress, followed by her bridesmaids.
The registrar led the marriage ceremony and Phil and Katy made their promises to each other and gave each other wedding rings.

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The wedding was witnessed by 2 friends and it was announced that they were husband and wife. The wedding was a real East meets West with some traditionally Chinese parts and some familiar British ones. A relaxed family affair which brought me to tears for almost the entire evening.
A slide show was then shown of all the days events. That started me off again!

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A large buffet was set up for everyone and a special menu had been prepared for me which was stunning. Possibly the best wedding food I have ever had. The bride and groom had gone to so much extra effort for me, it was very kind.

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The evening finished with my husbands best man speech in English, and Cantonese by Herman the MC. Then the first dance by the Bride and Groom.
A day to remember forever!

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Photo’s were being taken all evening and within moments were being handed to us in beautiful envelopes. This was one of my favourites my grown up sons and myself. Made me cry again !

Eating free from in Hong Kong

One of our first meals in Hong Kong was at a tiny spanish tapas bar full of ex pats. The food was very good, I was able to have simple prawns in garlic. Brocolli and goats cheese and seabass simply cooked, and some quails eggs with celery salt.
The next day to celebrate the Wedding of my brother in law the following day, the Smyth clan and his ushers went to another small restaurant this time Italian run by a very friendly couple. They had pre prepared a special meal for me to run alongside the celebration meal they served to the others. 13 of us in all. We took up almost the entire restaurant on one long table. I was served first a delicious salad of pear and a soft cheese. It was delicious, followed by a clear soup I think made from orange and fish stock. The family had theirs with tiny ravioli floating in it. My next course was spinach and ricotta balls ‘ naked ravioli ‘ . Followed by sea bass and tomatoes. Lots of garlic and chilli in my food that night which made such a nice change. Usually everything is so plain. It was so tasty I had to keep checking with the owner that it really was yeast free. He assured me it was and went in to great detail about how they made each course.

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In Hong Kong last night we ate out at Aqua. We wanted to go somewhere special as it was our sons last evening before flying home to the UK. Sensibly they had already checked their suitcases in before we boarded the Star ferry.
The restaurant had a amazing views over to Hong Kong island and the laser show that happens ever evening at 8pm .
The restaurant was Italian and Japanese. I chose Italian, A simple Lobster salad with no dressing just olive oil followed by Cod and asparagus.

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All very delicious and safe for me. The restaurant had been informed by email about my food intolerances, so they were prepared for my arrival! Which makes for a much more stress free meal.

For breakfast/ Brunch we have mainly eaten in our hotel room as we have a tiny kitchen. Omelettes have been the easiest to achieve with lots of cheese from the local international supermarket. We also found some delicious yoghurts. Only downside was food in that particular supermarket was very expensive. £7 for a block of cheddar cheese! I brought gluten free cereal from the UK In my suitcase which just about survived the journey!

Here are just a few photo’s of some of the food I have eaten in Hong Kong .

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Glutened in Krabi

On our penultimate day in Thailand, what I had been dreading unfortunately happened. Stomach ache and cramps started at around ten in the evening after eating at our hotel. The Tubkaak Krabi boutique resort in Krabi, The staff had been so helpful and keen to make my stay perfect, it was such a shame. All I can think is that I had been glutened by cross contamination. I chose chicken satay which I had already had on a previous evening, followed by stir fry rice and crab.

The hotel manager immediately checked with chef about my food and no yeast or onions were used.
So what followed as many of you well know! was hours of pain and nausea causing a sleepless night for both myself and my husband. The hotel room whilst being beautiful, was small with no where for me to go and moan by myself.
I tried the usual things to help including drinking peppermint tea. But no real improvement. At least these days I don’t panic about it, as I know whats happening and that by morning the pain will stop and I can get some rest.

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The next day I took things very easily and had no breakfast or lunch and stuck to drinking lots of water and camomile tea. Fortunately I had no further pain or discomfort and was able to have my per booked lavender oil massage in the afternoon. Even feeling comfortable enough to allow the lady to massage my tummy.

The staff throughout the day were very concerned and asked constantly if I was feeling better. The head waitress at the restaurant even advised my as to what I should eat that evening. Which was off the menu!
Chicken in a watery rice type broth with salt and pepper. Popular in Thailand and China for poorly tummies.

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It may look like gruel, but it was perfect. I was advised not to eat anything else, so watched the family tuck into the most delicious 3 course meal. Not easy watching chocolate fondant and ice cream being devoured I can tell you!
I have had no further effects from the glutening episode so
here’s hoping for a safe eating experience for the rest of my time in Asia.

My free from eating experience so far in Bangkok

I was really quite worried before we came to Thailand at the thought of two weeks gluten free, yeast free and onion free as these are used a great deal in Thai food. I really thought I would be very hungry all the time.

My husband was very organised and emailed all the hotels and any restaurants that we had booked from the UK. This turned out to be incredibly helpful. I still needed to go over everything with the waiting staff but they had at least some idea of what I was talking about. I also used my translation sheet to check about gluten free. Which has been helpful often getting thumbs up from the chefs.

We stayed at the Siam Kempinski in Bangkok which I would definitely recommend. Not cheap but staff very helpful and restaurant manager happy to help and keen to make my stay worry free.

I have eaten lots of fish so far, especially sea bass and have had far more spicy dishes than I expected.

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