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

 

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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.

Eating with food intolerances in Krabi, Thailand

We are staying at the Tubkaak Krabi boutique resort for 4 days. The hotel is very small and has only a very small restaurant. Breakfasts have been a little tricky. Quite concerned about cross contamination. Waffles and pancakes are made at the same station as the fried eggs so I have opted for omelettes so far which are made in a special pan in that station. The bacon has had to be cooked for me separately as all bacon tomatoes etc are sitting on slices of bread in the warming trays.
Lunches have been lovely. I have been choosing egg fried rice with prawns or chicken sometimes in curry or chilli. Just delicious!

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Also fresh crab and avocado with tomatoes and lots of fish.
Evening meals alfresco have been very memorable . Gin and tonics at sunset followed by usually the crab and avocado or chicken satay. The rest of the family have been able to sample some amazing food which I am very envious of. Main courses have been good Sea bass and rice dishes

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The chef kindly made me some gluten free and yeast free bread but sadly it was inedible. I made the family give it a try, but they thought it tasted like an eraser.

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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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Eating free from in Bangkok

After what seemed like a very quick flight we arrived in Thailand. A minibus was sent by our hotel to pick the 6 of us up. After a bit of head scratching at the amount of luggage we had brought with us, they squashed us into the minibus and we were soon on our way to the Hotel in Bangkok about 40 mins away. Siam Kempinski is set in the very heart of the city. Great if you like shopping!
Our first meal had been booked in advance. An email had also been sent explaining my food intolerances.
What we didn’t know was it had one an award for one of the top 50 in Asia. We soon understood why!

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20130420-170036.jpgThe menu was exciting and a tiny bit scary but an iPad was brought over to show us what everything was. They also went over my food intolerances to make sure they understood. Very reassuring.We decided on the 8 course tasting menu. Always a terrifying thought for me, as there are some many dishes that could go wrong.

20130420-170353.jpg Nibbles followed by 3 spoonfuls of delicious spicy food.

20130420-170501.jpg Then a piece of salmon sat on some pebbles. Delicious.
Followed by tuna tartar with lemon grass, 4 lolly sticks with chicken pork meatball etc.

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20130420-170948.jpg The salad with river prawns was very special and incredibly spicy.
Then came the main course, Fried red mullet with curried peanuts and turmeric cauliflower. Lemon grass tea was offered when it all got a bit too spicy.
Pineapple and ginger sorbet with tiny lemon meringue squares was a perfect way to finish.

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20130420-171403.jpg But the we were surprised by a spoon of frozen sour cream and spearmint ice with popping candy. Crazy! But made us all laugh.

20130420-171544.jpg All in all one of the best meal experiences I have ever had. We chatted, laughed, cried at the spicy surprises and were thoroughly impressed by the imaginative meal. Especially all the extra effort the chef went to for me.
We would certainly make an effort to eat there again if we returned to Bangkok in the future.
Many thanks to the Chef and team at Sra Bua for making it an evening to remember.

Eating out with multiple food intolerances

On Easter Saturday we went for an early supper at The Duck inn Stanhoe Norfolk. I always now ring or tweet ahead to give the restaurant warning that I have multiple food intolerances. I was reassured that this would not be a problem.

When we arrived I explained to our waiter that I had intolerances to gluten, onion and yeast including wine and vinegar. He made some notes and said he would talk to the chef, good news I thought. Unfortunately between our table and the kitchen, yeast had been missed off the list. So when my starter arrived with a pickled looking vegetable on the side I was obviously worried, just by the smell I was sure it was vinegar but got husband to check it too. I really should have sent it back, but family urged me to push it to the side, the rest of the starter was lovely grilled salmon with a few salad leaves.

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Looking back I think I should of sent it back, although fortunately this time I was fine. But I really mustn’t take the risk.  All the other starters were enjoyed thoroughly. I spoke to a different waiter when he came to collect plates and explained about the vinegar, he then went to the kitchen to inform the chef who came out to apologise, which was really appreciated.

I was then able to explain about yeast intolerance. Not an easy one to get your head round, as it covers so many things from wine to mushrooms.

The problem always seems to come between speaking to the waiting staff and them taking all the information back to the kitchen. Have decided to get some business card type things made up with all the necessary information on so that it can be taken straight to the chef, hopefully saving any more accidents.

The main courses at The Duck were very good the chef suggested a few options, I choose the fillet of hake with mash and green vegetables. A very good choice, delicious! the family were all very impressed with their meals too.

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We thought we should treat ourselves to a dessert as it was Easter, the chef suggested the vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb for me. The family went for yummy brownies with salted caramel and apple crumble which seemed to go down very well.

The Duck has just been taken over by Chef Ben Handley and I am pleased to say the food continues to be of the same great standard as it was before. We will certainly be returning.

I think having more than one food intolerance has been a huge learning curve for me, with Yeast being the most tricky to be understood. Unfortunately resulting in a few stomach aches, bloating and nausea recently. Hopefully soon I can get to the point when I can hand over a card with all the information on, giving the chef the best chance in making my meal safe for me to enjoy and making the evening hassle free for the family.

We love to eat out as a family, especially up in Norfolk where the restaurants and pubs serve some really special local food. These minor hiccups will certainly not put me off eating out.