When was the last time, you went to a food show where nothing was off limits and the event had gluten free caterers? Never? Well I think you need to take a trip up North! The last time I went to the Allergy and free from Show was a number of years ago and it was quite a small affair. I’d been meaning to go to the London show this year but never got round to it, so when I found out they were doing a show up North. I decided to hop on a train and check it out.
I walked in and the place was buzzing, lots of happy gluten intolerant people zipping through the aisles and popping tasters into their mouths. I have to say, that was the coolest bit, being able to walk around and taste things without having to check, double check and triple check it was all gluten free. By the time I reached the end of the show, I felt like I’d eaten a whole meal!
There was some lovely food and some not so lovely food. Some people bore smiles as big as their taste platters and I had a feeling that if they tasted what was on that plate, they wouldn’t be grinning so fiercely. But I moan enough about lack of gluten free during the year so I’ll stick to the positives for this review.
Lots of space and movement and a huge buzz. Compared to the London Allergy and free from show a couple of years ago, there’s a huge difference. It seems like the gluten free market has exploded bringing all the big names with it. I guess the only downside to that is when gluten free becomes a buzz word there tends to be profit over quality and taste and you end up having seen and tasted a certain ubiquitous brownie a few times too many. Having said that there were some stalls that I’m hoping will be major players in the future.
DS gluten free as always did not disappoint. I practically lived on their ciabbatta rolls before their fresher for longer bread came out and their Margherita pizza was crunchy, hot and had a great elasticity which is usually missing from gfree bases. The two stars of the show were definitely Freedom Deli and Fria Gluten Free, simply for the fact that their food tasted like it was baked in a gluten free paradise of melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.
Biting into a hot chicken and leek pie from Freedom Deli brought back memories of school dinners when I was a happy-go-lucky child running round the playground, queueing for my meat and two veg at a wonderfully ignorant time of my life, when gluten and I had not yet been formally introduced. That’s literally how long ago it’s been since I’ve tasted a good chicken and vegetable pie! I then took a bite of their panini and literally moaned with pleasure. You heard it here first. The gluten is well and truly free.
I saw similar reactions at the Fria Gluten Free stand, I would have been the same myself but was quite familiar with their brand. It was partly thanks to Fria that I created the ‘I-love-Sweden-dance.’ An intricate ensemble consisting of me prancing around swedish supermarkets with a cold loaf of Fria bread in my hand and a trolley full of gluten free products which I’d already planned to stuff under my clothes if they didn’t fill my suspiciously bulging suitcase. In short Fria is heaven. Fria is freedom and I think the most important thing about Freedom Deli and Fria gluten free is that their food allows you to feel normal again. No substitutes, no almosts, no second bests. This is it. Plain and simple.
I also have to give a mention to Isabel, a lovely lady who started up her own gluten free food company with none other than my favourite brazilian pão de queijo recipe! We talked about Brazil, about gluten and I had a look at her mini pães that had come straight out of the oven. The biggest surprise of the day was Asda’s free from stall. I found it to be a good inexpensive option for people who want to be gluten free but are on a tight budget. All in all I found it a useful and fun trip and I even managed to sneak to the Tate cafe afterwards for a flourless chocolate cake! Will definitely be going next year and I recommend you all do the same. Best tip for next year, take lots of cash and go on an empty stomach. This is the one food show where you don’t have to and certainly don’t want to say No!