I attended the Allergy and Free From Show for the first time on Saturday. The chat on Twitter after last year’s show convinced me that I’d really missed out, so in the name of research I headed to my least favourite place, London.
I’ve attended many ‘exhibitions’ in the past but they were mostly for the trade so I wasn’t prepared for what came with a public show – a lot of people clearly there for the free samples and a quick dash around with a pram as a battering ram. The main difference from a trade show however, is the ability to buy the goods on offer. I saw and took advantage of some great deals. If I wasn’t planning to spend the afternoon traipsing through London, I would have stocked up. The beer deals were especially enticing but I only bought two bottles, one lemon beer for myself and one lager for The Hub.
I was a lot like a kid in a toy shop for the next couple of hours, so great to see brands I love showing off their full range and proudly handing out samples. Amazing how much this industry has developed in the last 5 years or so.
A highlight for me was trying products I’ve seen around and not bought and finding out that they are fab – thus instantly adding them to my shopping list. These products included:
Sweet Mandarin Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce (a squillion times better than that popular brand you see everywhere), Fria Bread (great flavour *and* egg free!) and Hemp Milk (a real surprise, a lot more like cow's milk than soya milk and UK grown).
The best moment of all was trying the frozen tiramisu dessert from Food Heaven. Gluten, dairy and egg free – it’s witchcraft! My tiny sample pot was basically licked clean. Can’t wait to get hold of a box of my own.
I bought a few more yummy things, Co-Yo yoghurts, Dell Ugo Chickpea Pasta (which I’ve had for lunch this week – yes, it stays soft!) and Cornito pasta (they do 10 different shapes!).
(Found photo, uncredited. Please ask me to remove it if you object...)
Then we felt it was time to flee the madness and head to Holland Park, one of my favourite London places, a place of refuge when I first move to London, and just a 10 minute walk from Olympia.
We drank our beers – mine a lemon beer from Schnitzer Brau which was my favourite when I helped judged the beer category of the Free From Food Awards. I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good the second time around but it was the perfect summertime beverage, as I suspected – back in January!
But we still had most of an afternoon left and the sun was still shining. I remembered we were within walking distance of Whole Foods...
What an experience! We grabbed guacamole, nachos, strawberries, more beer (from the fridge!) and a quinoa salad shaker (fancy) and flopped down in Hyde Park. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a wholesome picnic but it sure felt good to be alive.
As I’ve often said, these things remind us that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves, we should feel lucky. We are very well catered for these days, and as anyone who knows me would know – when I’m full, I’m happy :)