Sunday, 8 November 2015

Fusion Cakes and Bakes Launch, Bristol

Bored of brownies, meringues a little mundane? Check out new gluten free cake company 'Fusion Cakes and Bakes'.

I attended their opening evening in a space on Bristol Harbourside (complete with gorgeous sunset, pictured above).

I entered the space and was faced with a long table covered in free from cakes, bakes and loaves. Everything was available to try, you just needed to grab a knife or spoon and tuck in.

Some of the products were both gluten and egg free, including Hazelnut & Chocolate Squares and the Rosemary & Orange Cake.

I cut myself a few slices and sat down with an espresso. I can still taste the rosemary and orange cake now. I'm glad I finally got to try cake with rosemary as it's not something I would have made myself. It was very well balanced with a satisfying dense texture. Definitely the work of someone who knows their onions.

The ingredients used are inventive and healthier than the standard gluten, dairy and egg alternatives. Organic ingredients and natural sweeteners are used where possible. Many classics were on offer (a tiramisu looked especially appetising) as well as some exciting flavour combinations like Chestnut and Pear Chocolate Frangipan and Lime and Matcha Madeleines.

The brains behind the company, Rosa, started baking for coliac friends after finding that shop bought alternatives can be high in sugar, salt and artificial thickeners.

If you'd like to order any of Rosa's fantastic products, you just need to call this number with your order - 07850 471667 or email

When we left, full of cake and coffee, we popped into the Arnolfini to check out Richard Long's 'Time & Space' exhibition. A perfectly haunting and atmospheric end to an early autumn evening. Cake, art and Bristol! Is there a greater combination?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Gluten Free Day Out in Bath

It probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that Bath caters very well for specialist diets. Areas with a lot of wealth have a higher proportion of places that cater for specialist diets. Why is that? A discussion for another time maybe. 

Me and the husband went for a day out in Bath for my birthday. I found out that there is a bus that goes from the end of my street straight there. It's funny what you find out after 1.5 years of living somewhere. The bus really appealed to me as parking issues have always marred our previous trips to Bath.

We departed at about 9.30am. The logic behind this was that I wanted to get beat the crowds and to get on a quiet bus, And because I wanted to fit in at least 2 meals while I was in Bath. I don't think of myself as greedy, I'm deprived of proper food for most of my waking life! 

We got there and pretty much went straight to The Whole Bagel for breakfast. I chose a New Yorker - pastrami, red onion, tomato, mustard and dill pickles. Unfortunately, the gluten free option was white sliced bread rather than bagel. Hopefully they'll look into that in the future, especially as brands like Udi's now produce bagels of such great quality.

Our meals came with a side portion of potato salad and were wrapped up in little paper bags. My sandwich was delicious, if a bit heavy on the raw onion (the husband is a bit phobic of raw onion but he tried his best to stand near me for the rest of the day, as it was my birthday.)

This set us up brilliantly for a day of sight-seeing. The husband hadn't been to the Bath baths before so we sucked it up and joined a massive queue to get in. It was very much worth it though. The place was unrecognisable from 1992 which was the last time I was there. 

After that we went into the Cathedral (stunning) and then found ourselves in a really cute monastery museum. The couple running it were very welcoming and I got to try my first mead (naturally gluten free, sweet and potent.) After that we were looking for our next food stop and I remembered about The Green Rocket which is a vegetarian cafe who also accommodate for specialist diets.

I enjoyed an ice cold bottle of Daas Blonde while I surveyed the menu and took in the impressive cake menu (pictured below). There was a lot to choose from but I finally decided on Sesame Ramen Noodles with Lime Satay. The menu said that a gluten free option was available which I made the waitress aware of when I ordered. Unfortunately there was an annoyingly long wait for our food and my dish came with rice instead of noodles. It was tasty but I'd had my heart set on birthday noodles.

We finished the day with a pint in the cute Coeur De Lion pub, found nestled in one of the old alleyways. Had we stayed for a third meal, I'd have chosen Acorn - Vegetarian Kitchen whose menu was full of intriguing and local ingredients. I'm sure we have only scratched the surface of the free from option in Bath. If you're looking for more, check out Gluten Free Queen's post and the Twitter account Gluten Free Bath.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Gluten Free Fish and Chips in Clevedon, North Somerset

Before the evenings get too dark and the clocks go back, why not do what we did recently and head to Clevedon Fish bar after work for a slap up (gluten free) chippy dinner?

This was definitely one of my better ideas. We jumped in the car after work and headed down the motorway (just 25 minutes from Bristol) to the seaside town of Clevedon.

The fish bar is a no fuss, traditional style chippy on the main strip through Clevedon town. While we waited we noticed that quite a few people were also ordering gluten free fish and chips. I've had this place listed on my Gluten Free Fish and Chip Guide for a while so I was a bit worried that we'd be out of luck - it wouldn't have been the first time.

We went back to the car and drove to the seafront. Without a doubt, this was the best gluten free batter I've eaten. The fish itself and the chips were great quality and full of flavour. It was a substantial meal that I tried my best to finish. Once again, putting myself second to my blog and my loyal readers!

We went for a very slow stroll afterwards and watched the waning sunlight highlight the beautiful Victorian railings and the pier in the distance. This is the right way to do a mid-week supper. Thanks Clevedon Fish Bar for making it happen.

Clevedon Fish Bar
15 Old Church Road, Clevedon BS21 6LZ
Available on Tuesdays

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Gluten Free on the Penny Lane Boat, Bath

This is a review of extremes. Extremely good and extremely not good.
Firstly, I need to apologise for the lack of food photos. I was out with work and I didn't want to be too anti-social. I wasn't even going to write a review because I wasn't expecting anything to happen of note. But here it is, a review of two halves.

The Penny Lane river boat hosts corporate events, parties and even weddings. It sets sail from central Bath and then travels up the river where it stops for an hour or so before sailing back to Bath again. We had booked a work event which included a BBQ. It tipped it down on the day and only a few of us braved the top deck. We needed to duck while the boat went under the bridges as the river had swelled so much. It was great to see Bath from the river and despite the weather, we were enjoying the surroundings and novelty.

They called us in for the 'BBQ'. We didn't see any cooking taking place, the food appeared from the kitchen but it was a good selection of salads and meat. I approached the table and said 'I'm the gluten free one' and I was told that I could have everything on the table and that they would bring me some GF bread. I enquired about the sausages and was assured by the chef himself that they were all gluten free. With a lamb chop, sausages, a burger, new potatoes, salad and 2 slices of bread I had plenty to eat!

They then brought out desserts and I was told that I had my own special one. I held my breath while they got it for me. Being GF, my dessert is normally very eggy - pavlova or polenta cake for example, and I normally end up eating it and being egg poisoned afterwards. However, I was served a really delicious mixed berry jelly which I was told was also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It was really delicious and I was feeling very looked after.

Afterwards I went to the bar to get a pint of cider. The cider came out very frothy and the barmaid said it was because they'd just changed the barrel. As I was drinking my cider, I kept thinking that it tasted odd. I thought maybe the cider was a bit off or maybe it was because I'd just eaten. After a while, I got a colleague to try my pint and they said that it tasted a bit like lager. I took it back to the bar and the staff checked all the taps and confirmed that they had accidentally put a lager barrel on the cider line. A few people since have been surprised that I didn't spot the mistake straight away but in all my 13 years GF, I've never had this happen before. Later on, when I went back to the bar, I was told the issue had been sorted and they poured me another pint that looked perfect. But as I was drinking it I could still taste lager. Disaster. For the rest of the night I resorted to an extremely sweet and sickly bottled fruit cider.

This was on a Friday and by the Sunday afternoon I was in agony. Intense stomach spasms like labour pains, that made me dizzy each time I doubled up. I was out with family and had to be taken home. I was crippled with constipation and trapped wind for at least a week afterwards. I've told many people this story and not many people can understand how serious this was and could have been. I was on a boat, out on the river and I had been glutened. Imagine if this had happened to someone with a gluten allergy. (Or to someone I know who suffers with immediate vomiting and diarrhoea.) I've been told that I shouldn't have taken the risk. OK, the second try was a mistake - but as I said, in 13 years, I've never been glutened by a pint of cider. I've decided not to let this experience change anything but maybe this post should be a warning to those in the hospitality industry. 

Has anyone reading been glutened with alcohol whilst out and about? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Guest Post - The UK Milk Price Row

I've read a lot about the dairy crisis in the last week, but it was one of my good friends who really blew me away with her well argued points on Facebook. As I don't buy milk, I was interested to find out what the situation means to milk drinkers. Are we prepared to pay more or will we buy less milk or switch to milk substitutes? This may seem absurd as milk substitutes are more expensive, but has the milk row focused our attention on the welfare of cows used for the production of dairy products? I asked my friend to write a guest post for me which you can read below. She also writes a smashing blog about step parenting which you can find at (I love the name!)

A Cow, Two Trout, And An Argument About The Meaning Of Value

Tangible value is a rarefied thing found only where competition lacks. Value is determined by the irreplaceability of an object or product combined with its utility. It is so rare, in fact, an example eludes me. A mother’s milk, perhaps? Particularly in the days before formula milk could so well replicate its benefits, and in an era where wet nursing is out of fashion.

The other type of value, the type we make up as we go along; the value we socially construct, that’s the concept at the heart of the dairy crisis.

The value of the beautiful painting of two dead trout hanging in my study is high. It would be very difficult to rationalise why to a hypothetical alien visitor to earth. The value of gold fluctuates wildly. Human perception, complex market dynamics, supply and demand, and manipulation are the causes to this effect, with tangible value having no role at all.

Despite its utility remaining consistent, milk apparently has reduced in value to us in the UK this year, by 25%. We place less importance on our morning cereal, make 25% less appreciative noises as we swallow our after dinner Comte with relish and crackers, and find only three quarters of the contentment we used to when taking that first slurp of hot, milky tea.

Supermarkets have faced heavy criticism over the value they afford to milk illustrated by the price per litre they are willing to pay to dairy farmers. To produce more for less is easier to do in large-scale, non-organic set-ups. So if we value milk less, we must also place less value on the work done by the farmer, and the welfare of the cows he milks.

Yields per cow are on the increase(i), and one contributing factor to this is the availability and use of drugs such as Posilac. The side effects include increased chances of mastitis and infertility, alongside an array of other general health problems(ii). At least these are short-lived, with dairy cows usually being slaughtered due to ill-health after three lactations at around the age of five, compared to their natural lifespan of twenty years of age(iii).

The remnants of milk production are calves. Calves of dairy cows are removed rapidly from the mother to optimise yield, which is critical in such competitive times. This causes great distress to the mother and the calf. Some calves are killed immediately, others sold for veal, and the females reared for dairy.

This article isn’t about animal cruelty and so the sob stories stop here. One point only needs to be made: ultimately the economic value we place on produce will reflect proportionally the value we place on the lives involved in its creation.

Asda and Lidl have just promised to raise the price they will pay to farmers to 28 pence per litre, and Morrisons to 26 pence per litre. It costs 30 pence per litre to produce so we still have a problem and our farmers must continue to drive efficiencies to compete with large-scale corporations(iv).

We have a duty of care to facilitate the highest possible chances of wellbeing in our fellow humans and the animals that we own, utilise and profit from. This can only come from placing a high enough value on all involved to optimise conditions for all, and this means the economic cost of production and the end products must rise.

An over-simplification to rile the fact-centred reader: I bet the less something costs, the worse the conditions for the workers and animals involved. Improve conditions, pay workers and farmers more, charge more, and in a rather wonderful cycle, it turns out that we can pay more for produce, as we are paid more for working.

Many regions of the UK have banned the selling of Foie Gras, because force-feeding Geese is considered cruel. Comparably both qualitatively and quantitatively the production of Foie Gras causes less harm that the production of milk. Sheer scale and the vast health problems experienced in the latter lead to this speculative conclusion. However, we only condemn the cruelty that is shown to us, and we double condemn it if doing so is unlikely to inconvenience our breakfast routines.

The supermarkets will not pay enough for milk unless we shift the dynamics operating within its supply and demand. In theory this could be done through a union stance to set a minimum price per litre, but then the supermarkets will go directly to the international conglomerates who through scale can keep prices lower, ultimately driving small farmers out of viable business.

In ten years the number of dairy farmers has fallen by a third – from around 15,000, to just over 9,000(v), and it will continue to do so.

And this is why we have an argument about subsidies, one that has been ongoing since 1962 when the Common Agricultural Policy was introduced(vi). Subsidies keeps small farming alive, but on a life-support machine, and that’s no way to live.

In essence, subsidising small farming is tacit condonation of the supermarkets’ power to drive their own profits through large-scale production reliant on poor conditions for both humans and animals. It artificially prolongs the existence of an industry that cannot survive in a climate in which life is valued so low.

Do we have the power to really transform the subjective value of life to such a degree that the pressure on supermarkets will force them to adhere to the shared ethical standards of a society that values cows as well as farmers? I don’t know, but I would at least like to change the debate to one on the value of life, rather than the value of taxes and subsidies.







Sunday, 5 July 2015

Review - Gluten Free at Bearritos, Bristol

People dressed as pandas and bamboo outside Bristol.

Taco Face - Take 1

Taco Face - Take 2

Taco Face - Take 3. Pre 'real-life' taco face!

My 3 gluten free tacos

Gratuitous Close-Up

The Menu

Tacos from a double decker bus in the middle of a roundabout - how Bristol?!

Bearritos serve fresh burritos, tacos (gluten free), desayunos and tortas from the side of their refurbished double decker bus. There is seating in front or on the top deck. It's definitely a unique dining experience but Bearritos don't just rely on gimmicks or passing trade. The food is good quality, freshly prepared and the fillings are well thought out so that any combination you go for is fantastic. I also love that the fillings and sauces are a bit different to the Mexican food you can find elsewhere. 

My gluten free tacos were filled with a fresh coriander salad, grilled halloumi and a scotch bonnet sauce. They were soft, crunchy, spicy, creamy and completely moreish. Even though I was happily full, I still wanted a few more so I could try some of the other fillings. They often serve specials of the day too, and many of the 'snacks' are also gluten free such as the cheesy quesadillas. You can very easily go vegan too. Just ask the staff, they are very happy to help.

Bearritos is an amazing addition to the newly improved Bear Pit (the site is receiving a £1 million makeover). And it rightfully takes pride of place in what is becoming a new culinary mecca for Bristol. The Bear Pit Social (cafe) serves toasties and ciabattas to hungry workers, as well as exciting and unique salad boxes which can be made gluten free and vegan. The adjoining covered area known as Haymarket Walk is already home to Matilda's (GF chilli con carne), long standing Mayflower (authentic Cantonese) and in July, a small plates vegetarian restaurant called Flow

The Bear Pit is quickly becoming the most exciting thoroughfare in the UK! 

St James Barton Roundabout, Bristol BS1 3LY

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Restaurant Review - Everyday Thai, Fishponds, Bristol

After reading a promising review on Bristol Eating Adventures and reading that the staff are very lovely and accommodating on Trip Advisor, I thought I'd give Everyday Thai a call and see if they could cater for my particular dietary restrictions. I know that gluten and egg free is asking a lot, especially as eggs add flavour and texture to a lot of Thai dishes.

The lady I spoke to on the phone was easily the sweetest person I've ever conversed with and after I explained about my food intolerances, she was very sympathetic and actually said "aww love you!"  I am really not used to that as a reaction! It's funny how you get used to feeling like an inconvenience for trying to eat most of a meal in someones restaurant!

I suggested that we pre-ordered a set menu and she agreed that that would make it easier for them to prepare and make sure I got to try more things. I went for Set Meal 1, which is a mixed starter platter, Thai red curry, chicken with garlic and black pepper, prawn pad Thai, mixed veg with oyster sauce and jasmine rice. (£19.95 per person)

Once at the restaurant we were given an extra table to fit everything on. There was definitely plenty to go around. There is no alcohol served at Everyday Thai (and no BYOB permitted), so we quaffed a bottle of non alcoholic red wine while we tackled the mountains of food before us. I can only apologise for the quality of the photos! I felt oddly self-conscious taking photos which I think was due to the restaurant being quite small and the staff being quite attentive to check all was OK.

The decor in Everyday Thai is pretty random. I recommend a seat that looks into the restaurant which will allow you to take it all in. I'm not sure what hockey sticks and African wood carvings have to do with Thai food but it is definitely something to look at!

At the end (once we'd admitted defeat) a waiter apologised to us as he felt that the food wasn't very tasty because it had no egg or gluten. I had to disagree - I felt that every dish was fantastic. I like things hot, so I asked for chilli sauce or some fresh chillis and I was given a bowl of  nam pla prik (thai chillis in fish sauce) which really set things off! The only thing I found lacking was the starter platter, which was just mini spring rolls and satay skewers - obviously most of the normal options are battered or covered in pastry, but it would have been great to get a GF alternative to one of these (I don't ask for much do I?)

We were offered a doggy bag and even to hang onto it for us while we went to the pub - a very sweet touch. One disappointment was the very long wait for the table to be cleared after we had finished eating. I don't think you notice or mind so much when the wine is flowing but we were very sober and keen to continue with our evening! It's a pet hate of mine but did not take away from an otherwise brilliant meal.

Everyday Thai
11 Station Road, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 3RP
01179 657 007