Sunday, 29 November 2015

Good Food Show Winter 2015 - Free From Haul

I used to go to the Good Food Show every year back in the days when Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver appeared on stage and did book signings. I loved it, especially the winter one to start feeling festive, but over the last few years I felt it had got too samey and nothing felt new anymore. Back then the free from market wasn't as well known either so purchases for me were limited. 

After seeing a discount code for the tickets and seeing that a few free from brands were on the exhibitors list I decided to book. We arrived just after the show had opened at 9am knowing that as the day goes on it gets busier and busier. 

I'd got a few stalls that I knew I wanted to visit. The first one I came across was The Raw Chocolate Company. I've tried quiet a few of their products but my favourite at the moment are the lovely chewy mulberries. My husband wanted to try the golden berries which he sampled on the stall and enjoyed. Warning - Once the bag is open its hard to put them down without eating the lot!

I spied on the VBites stall Schlagfix dairyfree & vegan spray cream. As its hot chocolate season I picked up a couple as they were only £2 each. I've never seen it in shops (only online) so I was happy to find it. The stall also had plamil chocolate products and VBites own brand items. 

I then headed to the Delicious Alchemy stall to say hello. They were selling all their fabulous products and their new Christmas Cake mix. I stocked up on my favourites as I always like to have a supply for when we fancy a little treat. I love making their mixes egg free by using banana in the vanilla cake mix and recently tried the brownie mix with peanut butter instead of egg. I can't wait to try out the Christmas cake mix. Was lovely to chat to the ladies. 

My husband spotted the next purchase. These Gordon Rhodes packets are designed for use in slow cookers which is fab. We love slow cooked meats so I can't wait to try these very soon. They are clearly marked Gluten Free. 

I treated my self to a little bottle of gin. I have painful chest/throat problems (would love to know why) when drinking wine and fizzy alcohol so I tend to stick to spirits. I don't drink often at all but I do like a gin and tonic once in a while. I've never tried this brand so I'm looking forward to tasting it. 

I very nearly walked past the Bakedin stall until my husband pointed out the gluten free box stood between all the normal boxes. Much to my delight the Gluten Free box doesn't contain dairy and does not require egg so it's perfect. 
Each box makes 4 mug cakes. 

I tried the brownie and it worked great. I used Vitalite and Rice Milk in my mix and it came out fab. Perfect sized portion when you fancy a sweet treat. Yummy!

I love bubble tea so I picked up a few pots of bubbles. They are a great size (3 servings per pot) as I've brought big pots in the past and they have gone to waste. These can be added to any drinks so great for Christmas cocktails.

Another favourite which is always at the show is Punjaban curry sauces. They are great to have in the cupboard for when you don't fancy making a curry from scratch. I love that they contain no dairy or coconut. They are tasty too. 

Last but not least I managed to find the BlueBird Tea Co. Earlier in the year I visited their Brighton store and brought lots of their teas. I picked up the Gingerbread Chai at the show.

I tested it out at home and really enjoyed it with a drop of rice milk. It's a nice winter warming drink.

I really enjoyed the show. I'm glad I'd given it a break for a few years as it was nice to see some new stalls and also a lot more stalls catering for allergies/intolerance's. I didn't think it was as big as it had been in the past (some stalls were duplicated too) but it was just right, we did two laps in around two hours before it got too busy. I'm really pleased with my purchases and I'm looking forward to trying them all. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Chester Weekend 2015

Back in October we spent a weekend in Chester staying at the Abode Hotel which is conveniently located a short walk from the shops, cathedral and river.

We had a meal on the first evening in the hotel restaurant which is owned by Chef Michael Caines. The servers were very helpful in helping me choose what would be suitable and checked with the chef. We were served an amuse bouche. Mine was a lovely beetroot soup in a little cup. It was very tasty. 

For my main I decided on the pan roasted cod which came on Cauliflower florets with a nice sauce. The fish was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Breakfast at the hotel was simple for me I always have bacon & grilled tomatoes with a side of melon. They were happy to just serve me the bacon & tomatoes instead of the full breakfast. 

While exploring Chester we came across the Roccoco Chocolate shop. The girl in the shop was very helpful and pointed out all the dairy free options which were also Vegan Society approved. I picked out some of the smaller taster bars in Violet, Rose, Moroccan Mint, Early Grey and Basil & Lime. We also picked a large Sea Salt bar and I treated myself to two cognac cherry chocolates. They were amazing and full of cognac.

Further down the street was the Holland & Barrett Extra store which I have heard a lot about on twitter. The store was very impressive but I was expecting to see a lot of new things and I didn’t. A lot of the items are readily available on the internet but not so much in shops so it was nice to see them on the shelves. I picked up a few of my favorites. I'm loving the Raw Chocolate Co. Mulberries at the moment. I also really enjoyed the Foods of Athenry Lemon & Blueberry cookie which i'd never seen before.

Later in the day we headed down to the river to eat at Hickory's. Again they were very helpful and knowledgeable with what I could and couldn’t have. We picked the sharing platter as the only item that wasn’t suitable was the hot links sausage which was substituted with one of the other meats of our choice. If you like smoked slow cooked meat this place is a must. It’s the best smokehouse house we’ve eaten at. The whole platter was delicious.

On our last day we drove into Wales to visit Conway Castle. Whilst exploring the streets in the town we came across a chocolate shop which sold handmade chocolates by Stilwells. I picked up a peanut brittle but then noticed by the counter a mound of dark chocolate coated Turkish delight. The lady pointed out that they were vegan. Of course I had to try some. I do miss Frys Turkish Delight. These were a great alternative. 

I had a great weekend with lots of safe food. Thumbs up to Chester!