Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Leon new Gluten-Free Chicken - Oh dear!

Gluten Free Chicken
I was invited to try the new Gluten Free Chicken at Leon that is trialling for a week at their Spitafields branch.
The Spitafields branch is well located inside the market, so it's fun to see the hussle and bustle from the windows.

My invitation included the new chicken dish plus side, cake and drink which was very generous of Leon.

Every item I ordered was labelled gluten-free on the menu, however I started feeling unwell a bit later, and I believe there was some cross-contamination in the food I had.

After mentioning it on twitter I got a call from their Head of Food who went through all the processes they have in place and I have to say, it is surprising if they do all that that I got ill there, but unfortunately my gut doesn't understand of processes, only of gluten.

They seemed to take it seriously and someone was dispatched to the restaurant to investigate. It might just be a problem with training.

Pecan Pie
Although I am unlikely to go back due to food safety, I did like the chicken, the flavour was very nice and the coating quite crunchy and full of flavour. The pecan pie was lovely too, with lots of nuts.

I would like to know if anybody else has had a similar experience or a positive one eating gluten-free at Leon, please leave a comment, I'd love to read it.

Leon Restaurants

The Truscott Arms - Very Gluten-Free Friendly

I went to the Truscott Arms at the weekend with the Gluten Free Meetup group.
I had already heard lots of good things about it and I'd been looking on their website at their food and drink options for us GF eaters.

Fish & Chips
The pub is quite spacious and welcoming and we had excellent service from the staff, no question was one too many and all our doubts were put to rest with a smile. A 10 for service!

We had our dinner at the bar (there is also a restaurant upstairs), and it was great to see that most of the menu is gluten-free or there is a gluten-free option.
As an example, of the eight mains on the bar menu, four are gluten-free and two have a gluten-free option. Brilliant!

Most of us went for fish and chips, and it felt like such a treat.
I could write a whole post about the delicious chunky chips, worth the trip just for them, and the fish was quite good too.
I generally like my batter a bit lighter (like the one we had at Maddys recently), but I guess this is just a personal preference.

On the drink front, there is the normal pub choice plus five different gluten-free beers!!!
It was brilliant, and I finally tried Daas Blonde, which I loved and now shares with Greens the top spot of my favourite gluten-free beers.
All the puddings except one are GF too, what is not to love?

Overall, I felt the staff knew how to handle gluten-free, and were happy to answer any questions. There was a good selection of GF food on offer and I loved what I had.

The Truscott Arms
Tube: Warwick Avenue
Address: 55 Shirland Road, Maida Vale, W9 2JD

Friday, 12 September 2014

Naturally Chinese - Gluten Free in Surbiton

Soft Shell crab
I went to Naturally Chinese in Surbiton at the weekend.
I first heard about it from the Gluten Free London meetup group, and although I couldn't go on that occasion, I've been wanting to go for a while.
This is a Chinese restaurant with lots of gluten-free options and all of them very tasty.
The restaurant itself is spacious and light and as we went for an early dinner it wasn't too busy.
The service was very attentive and I even got my own Tamari sauce to use at will!

So, what did we eat?

Steamed dim sum
Soft-shell crab, steamed dim sum platter, chilli squid, vermicelli noodles Singapore style and, as I couldn't have the crispy duck pancakes, I ordered crispy lamb, which is served with lettuce instead of pancakes and plum sauce instead of hoisin to make it gluten-free.
It is very easy to see the gluten-free options on the menu, as they are marked with a red G, and it's also easy to spot the vegetarian options marked with a green V.

It was really nice food, and I was happy that they knew how to keep gluten-free food, gluten-free. I didn't feel unwell at all after visiting, which was fantastic!

I'd love to go back for dim sum as this is something I really miss from my gluten eating days.

They told me they will be launching a dedicated gluten-free menu towards the end of the month (Sept 2014) with even more choices.

Naturally Chinese
59-63 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 5LR
Getting there: Trains from Waterloo take around 20 mins

M&S growing range

Everytime I visit M&S I find some new gluten-free products. It is fantastic that the cater for us, but why not advertise it a bit more?

Most of their products are very nice, so it's a pity that we don't hear more about it, maybe more twitter photos would encourage even more of us to visit? Just an idea.

So, what did I find this time? A lovely quiche Lorraine (£3, 522 kcals per 1/2 quiche), chicken & mushroom crispbakes (£1.25 on offer, 214 kcals per bake), fishcakes (£1.80), cheese puffs (£1.70, 445 kcals per bag), green olive ciabatta rolls (£2.10, 214 kcals per roll).
I've been eating most of it over the last week and I'd say they are all very tasty and deserve recommendation.
chicken crispbakes

It is a pity that their gluten-free sandwich range is not as good. In my opinion the filling is ok (egg and crest, ham and pickle, chicken salad), just the bread is quite dry.
Of their gluten-free breads my favourite is the white boule, so maybe they could swap the bread for this one?

I read on twitter that many of their normal products are also gluten-free, although not advertised as such, so I had a bit of a label-check-fest while I was there.

Of their sausages, most of them do not have any gluten containing ingredients so one could presume they would be ok? Does anyone know if there is a chance of cross-contamination?

Also most of their fresh sauces do not have any gluten containing ingredients, so it might be an idea to get your own gravy sachet from M&S if you are going out for a Sunday roast so that you can have gravy too!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Hummus Bros New Book: Levantine Kitchen

I had been thinking of visiting Hummus Bros soon as I've been hearing a lot recently about their gluten-free options, so I was very happy when I received a complimentary copy of their book Levantine Kitchen. Thanks Pavilion!

The book has a nice and manageable format and most recipes have some amazing photos so that you know how each dish is supposed to look like.

In the introduction you also get to know a bit more about Ronen and Christian, the Hummus Bros, who are not related, and why did they start their company, and for each recipe you can also read how it came about and the best ways to serve it.

Most of the recipes are suitable for a gluten-free diet, but in case you are in doubt, there is a useful table at the back with all the dishes listed, indicating if they are gluten-free, lactose-free and nut-free, which is very helpful if you are not familiar with some of the ingredients.

Which recipes can be found in the book?

Yes, there is quite a good explanation on how to make a good hummus and a few options for toppings.

There are four recipes for falafel, with unusual ingredients like sweet potato and beetroot.

With chickpeas, lentils and even Jerusalem Artichokes

Breads and sauces
All sauces are ok for gluten-free and most dairy-free too, but not the breads, although it is easy to get some gluten-free pitta bread nowadays from most supermarkets to go with your hummus.

All gluten-free but not dairy free

There are also recipes for wraps (not gluten-free), salads, drinks and quick snacks

I love having a new recipe book and experiementing in the kitchen, even if the tidy up afterwards takes a year or two, so I read through the different options and decided to start with Falafels.
I've never made them before, but that has never stopped me!

My first two attempts with green Falafel and sweet potato Falafel were not too successful, but I can report a reasonable Spicy red Falafel ;)
What went wrong, I wanted to know? 
Nothing like good old google to get some tips from those who have been there before me.

The tips that helped me where:

Spicy Falafel,  result!
*Dry the ingredients as much as possible before mixing so that the mixture is not wet and can be shaped into a nice ball

*Check that the temperature of the oil is not too hot or the Falafel will disintegrate (I got some good results too by cooking them in the oven, just sprayed with a bit of olive oil)

Also, I think the consistency is more creamy if you use an extra ingredient like cooked sweet potato or beetroot, so I'd try those ones first if you are cooking Falafel for the first time.

I have also tried the roasted Aubergine salad which was very nice just with a bit of salt and lemon juice. And finally I am attempting Hummus later on today!

Overall it is an interesting book if you like Levantine cuisine, and it's mix of spices and flavours or if you just like to try new dishes and experiment in the kitchen.

Update: The hummus is Amazing!!! I was very surprised when I finished making it, it's so creamy and nutty, it reminds me a bit of peanut butter but so much nicer.
Never again Hummus from the supermarket, Hbros forever!!!
Just be aware of the amount you will get. I've only done half of the recipe and I got 3 full jam jars, so I might need to organize a hummus party ;)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Gluten Free Greenwich and New Cross

 This weekend I went to Greenwich with the Gluten Free London meetup group.
We started the afternoon in the market, visiting  Rubys of London's stall. I had been looking online at her products, and was looking forward to some GF donuts (although there were lots of other yummy cakes on offer too!)  and I was a bit shocked when there were only 4 left when I got there at 4pm on Saturday.

Oh no! I had to get a couple before it was too late, and so I did, although I could only try the chocolate ones, as all the others had sold out by then.
Obviously need to get there earlier next time for more choice.
As we were going to have some fish and chips I took them home for Sunday and they were quite yummy.

Were they like the gluten containing donuts of my past?

Well, that is a difficult question to answer, as there where no plain donuts left when I got there so I cannot compare like with like.

The chocolate ones I tried were very nice, and they were a nice flavour and texture eaten on the following day. They were slightly heavier than I expected, but quite good, so I would be very happy to go back for some more and to recommend them, obviously aiming for a morning visit.
Ruby's of London
Visit their stall Saturdays&Sundays at Greenwich Market
Getting there: Cutty Sark DLR

We had a -not so- quick stop at Greenlands Health Foods, a proper shop in the market for some supplies. I have to say that although it looks small from the outside, it's extremely well stocked up for the Gluten Free eater. I just had to restrict myself as I would be carrying it around for a while, but I still managed to get some quinoa, Spanish paprika and tahini for my cupboard.
Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Greenlands Health Shops

Then we visited Maddy's Fish Bar in New Cross.
Ben had added quite a lot of information about it on meetup and it looked very promising.
(Read it here: )

Maddy seems to know a thing or two about fish and I certainly was not disappointed.

Fantastic fresh fish with some very light gluten free batter teamed up with some chunky chips and some tartare sauce.

IPA gluten free beer is also on offer, plus cider, wine and some interesting soft drinks.

Overall it was a really enjoyable Fish and Chips.  I can't remember the last time I had some, and I would be very happy to recommend Maddys to any gluten free eaters.
Maddys Fish Bar
Getting there: New Cross train or overground