Sunday, 10 August 2014

London South Bank

Last weekend we jumped on the train from the East Midlands and headed down to the big smoke. The main point of this trip was for my husbands (early) birthday present. I'd booked us tickets for the Silent Disco at the top of The Shard on the Saturday evening. We normally stick to the main Central London areas or Camden so it made a nice change to stay and explore the South Bank area. 

On arrival we had a wander around Borough Market. It's a foodie heaven. We'd been a few years ago so we knew what to expect, it's a fab place for fresh produce and has a huge array of different foods. From research I did before the trip I knew a company called The Free From Bakehouse had a stall on the market so I had to find it. They sell lots of different allergy friendly treats, not all of them cover the same allergens so you do have to be a bit careful but all items are clearly labelled. I chose a spiced plumb cupcake and a banana chocolate chip loaf. The banana loaf was definitely my favourite out of the two. It's was moist and delicious. Whilst walking round I also picked up an organic iced tea and a fresh watermelon juice. 

After walking down the side of the river taking in the sights it soon became lunch time. I'd found a Leon in the area so it was a perfect lunch stop. I love their Meatball Lunch Box as it's so tasty and a perfect size. I did on this occasion have a side of the baked fries too as I love them. My husband had a pecan pie for dessert, this was gluten free but sadly not dairy or egg free so I sat and watched him enjoy it :) I'm also loving their white tea & peach drink. Very refreshing.

Early evening after having a bit of a relax at the hotel (CitizenM is highly recommended if your staying on the South Bank) we headed back down to the backside for an even meal before going to The Shard. I'd picked The Real Greek as it has lots of safe options. We both ordered a few items each. I had the hummus with crudites and the boiled potatoes and chicken wings. It was nice to sit outside and watch the world go by (you have to people watch in London it's a rule).

*Silent disco at the top of The Shard is much fun*

The following day we visited HMS Belfast and then headed over to Carnaby Street. My husband wanted to visit SAID chocolate shop. Very nice little shop and had a few dairy free options too (and did mention they could order in GF cake options with notice). I got a posh bar of dark chocolate. 

It was lunch time again and our train was 3pm so we stopped off at Whole Foods Piccadilly for our lunch. I opted for a salad box with salmon. Just wish I'd have found some sort of dressing to put on it but it filled a hole. 

I couldn't spend too much time browsing round Whole Foods so I did a supermarket sweep and grabbed a few old faves that I can't get near me and a few new finds. I love the veggie chips and the blue chips so we got those to eat with some fresh guacamole (forgot to put in pic but is delish). Also picked up the Lazy Days shortbread as I love those but not in our supermarkets. I'd never seen the ice cream tubs so look forward to some summer ice creams in those. I tried the kale chips but I ate one piece and threw them away. I like kale chips when I do them in the oven but I've come to realise that I don't like the air dried ones. 

Now onto the CUPCAKES, they deserve a section on their own. Now I've had cupcakes in the past from Whole Foods and some haven't been that great. I'm always a bit dubious of buying ones that are not freshly made or have been refrigerated. I spotted these and couldn't resist the descriptions. I didn't eat them until I got home but they travelled well. They are made by a company called Vujuria Vegana and from what I can make out are a company in Barcelona. Well theses were the BEST cupcakes I've ever purchased from a shop. The toppings were nothing like I'd ever tasted before. The blueberry one had a cream cheese style topping and was so smooth, creamy and delicious. The chocolate was more like a dense chocolate mousse and very rich but it had a sharp raspberry centre so was well balanced. I'd definitely get them again when I'm in London. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

East Of England - Suffolk & Stamford

'Last weekend we headed down to Ipswich. We had a few things planned while we were there, one of which was the Sausage & Beer Festival at Jimmys Farm.

We stayed for two nights at the Premier Inn at Chantry Park. It's a nice quite location with a country pub The Beagle next door. It was within ten minutes drive of everywhere we were going which was good. 

Anyway hotel breakfasts for me are always the same. I stick to my safe options and don't often stray. I like to have bacon and grilled tomatoes, cranberry juice and peppermint tea. I did take some DS brown ciabatta rolls with me too so the 2nd morning I used one of those to make a bacon cob (roll, bab, tea cake, butty...whatever you may call it). The breakfast was nice and cooked to order. I did notice The Alpro logo on the menu so assume they have soya milk available.

On Saturday afternoon we headed over to Jimmys Farm for the Sausage and Beer Festival. We'd been two years ago and really enjoyed it so we thought we'd go again while we were in the area. Much to our surprise the festival had grown in size compared to when we last went. It was huge. Lots of food stalls, craft stalls, music stage, kids areas, smaller stages with cooking demos, sausage making classes and other performances. The sun was beaming down and the atmosphere was great. My husband even won me a pair of Joules Wellies in the wellie wanging :)

The hunt for safe food began. I saw a few stalls with "Gluten Free available" signs but obviously it didn't mean it was also dairy and egg free for me. I don't like to ask too many questions especially when stalls are busy so I wondered around until I came across Glorious Fodder. They had all their food marked with allergy information so it was easy to pick a safe option. I chose a sausage pasta box. It was a great choice as it was really yummy :) They are on twitter @gloriousfodder and make savoury and sweet foods that are gluten free and some dairy & egg free. As the temperature heated up I headed into the farm shop to find an ice lolly. I found a Chilly Billy which was made of pure apple juice and mango juice. It was tasty and refreshing. 

Over all I would highly recommend visiting the festival or even just visiting the farm. It's a lovely place to relax and have a stroll looking at the animals, plants and shop. 

After the festival we headed to The Brook Inn for our evening meal. A tip would be to book as it seems to be a popular place. I found it by searching for gluten free food in Ipswich. This place had great reviews for the amount of choice there is for GF diets and the quality of food. They are also more than willing to help with other allergies too. You can find their sample menu online. You will be spoilt for choice with the options. I believe the owners wife is coeliac which is why the focus on great GF options.

It was a toss up between fish & chips or scampi for me. I've not had scampi for years so I made my choice. The waitress checked with the chef that it was also DF & EF which it was. It came out with hand cut chips and a side salad. It was really really nice and a good portion size. The others I were with really enjoyed their meals too and we all left with full belly's. It's not often that a pub goes to so much effort to cater for allergies. More should follow in their footsteps.

The following day we decided to break the long journey up by stopping at Stamford, Lincs. We knew we needed to find lunch somewhere so started to wonder the lovely quaint streets. First we spotted a building that was hosting a "quality market". We went inside to investigate. As soon as we stepped through the door I saw a food stall, not just any food stall though, to my delight there were veggie, vegan and gluten free options. My eyes lit up. How lucky! The company was called FarrinHeight Foods (@FHFoods). I chose a GF & Vegan Blackberry Sponge cake. I ate it later in the day and it was scrummy :) 

We decided on Pizza Express for lunch sat on the terrace overlooking the river. I didn't fancy pizza so I chose the Leggera Salmon Salad. It was marked as GF and upon checking was also DF. I really enjoyed it. I love hot smoked salmon so it was a perfect salad. I'll definitely be having it again.

I went into the weekend wondering when or if I'd find free from food but it actually turned into a really great weekend will lots of options and no need for me to use the emergency supplies I'd taken (well except for a late night Lazy Days Millionaires Shortbread).