Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Empire

Empire-View

Empire-View-2

Recently, I went to New York. I stayed at The Empire Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in Manhattan. The staff are lovely and the whole place feels great. Walk into the reception/bar, and you’ll find a slick modern space with soft lighting and lounge music that becomes a hip hang-out at the weekends (going on until very late). There’s a roof terrace bar (with a DJ) on the 12th floor that is opened up to the public – and becomes packed on the weekends. And the floor above is a guests-only sun deck with a bar and a plunge pool. The views of the city are utterly mesmerising…

Empire-Starter

There is, of course, room service. There are no specific gluten-free or dairy-free options, though – unless you bring your own bread in for them to toast. But the hotel is so central, only steps from a myriad of restaurants, and from an amazing Wholefoods, so it wasn’t a problem.

I went one evening to the restaurant below, Ed’s Chowder House. The interior is a disparate combination of sleek glass, mirrors and white leather seats, but with photographs of fishing scenes. The menu, too, seemed to be trying to mix urban sleek with rustic seashore. You can order a Shaved Vegetable Salad with Citrus Verjus Vinaigrette or a Scallop Ravioli, for example. All very smart. But then there’s also bone fide seaside Smoked Chatham Cod Cakes, Lobster Roll with House Slaw or the eponymous New England Style Clam Chowder.

Empire-Fish-&-Chips

But never mind. The one thing you can usually be sure about, in a modern fish restaurant, is that they can give you a gluten-free and dairy-free meal. It’s called fish and chips*.

* as long as they can do you uncontaminated grilled fish and they don’t add flour to the chips.

We had the Dinner Prix Fixe Menu. I loved the Salmon Tartare with Cucumber & Horseradish Crème. Soft, melting flavours with the fresh, light tartare and creaminess without dairy. But the Skuna Bay Salmon with Grilled Eggplant (Aubergine), Squash & Salmon Roe wasn’t nearly as good as it sounds. I had chips on the side and they weren’t great. And the flavours of the aubergine, roe and squash were nice, but didn’t blow me away or make the dish special. The salmon was well cooked but just that.

We went to the rooftop bar for a drink afterwards, and sipped our drink, looking out at the view. That was really, really good!

The Empire Hotel is at 44 West 63rd Street, New York, NY 10023

The Allergy and Free From Show in London

Allergy-Show

Last Friday, I went to The Allergy & Free From Show in Olympia, London, and it was brilliant. Definitely the best it’s ever been. Also on was the V-Delicious Show. The shows were PACKED with stalls – and there were so many exciting, vibrant food producers showing their products. A couple of years’ ago, my overriding memory of the show was one of chocolate brownies wherever you went. But this year, there was a fantastic variety of foods and producers. Whether it was vegan kale chips, gluten-free pizza, dairy-free ice cream or sugar-free chocolate – it was all there, and more.

For most of the show, we went round tasting freebies. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Here were my favourites –

Saf-Crackers

Saf Crackers. These are awesome. All of them – and especially the Kale & Spirulina Crackers.

Rawlicious-Foods

The Rawlicious Crackers were lovely, too. Especially the fiery Tomato Pizza Crackers.

Ugg-Foods

Ugg Foods Muffins, especially the Coconut Chia ones. These are all paleo, so they’re completely grain-free. And, as well as having the usual coconut flour (full of nutrients), they’re also packed with chia, too. These are seriously healthy indulgences!

Inspiral-Foods

And I love Inspiral products. They’re the original gurus in the raw food area and they have a lovely cafe/bar/event space in Camden. Their kale chips are really, really good.

Conscious-chocolate

And there was a huge variety of chocolate on offer at the show. Dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free – all types. My favourite, hands down, was the Conscious chocolate – the Love Potion no.9. Unbelievable aromas and flavours from the raw cacao powder, essential oil of rose, cinnamon and Himalayan salt – and all sweetened without refined sugar, but with maca and agave nectar.

On my way out, I stopped at the Udi’s stall. Just to see what they were like (but not because they’re normally my sort of thing), I tried their gluten-free and dairy-free Oreo-style biscuits, and they were great! Now I just need an excuse to make a birthday cake in the shape of a train – complete with these biscuits for the wheels – and I’ll be sorted! (Very unlikely to happen with a 5-yr old daughter, though…)

Gluten Free Gathering – Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Food at GB Pizza Co

GF-Gathering

Last week I went to the first Gluten Free Gathering. The brainchild of Kim McGowan, Gluten Free Gathering is a brilliant idea. Kim’s vision is for a regular get-together for like-minded GF people, revolving around meeting up to hang out together, eating delicious food in gluten-free-friendly restaurants and getting inspiration from each other, and from the invited speakers.

This first event was at GB PIzza Co in Exmouth Market and it was fantastic. There were over 25 of us and it was great to meet so many people with different experiences and stories.

GF-Gathering-Cured-Meats

We listened to a couple of speakers. Cannon & Cannon brought a great selection of artisan charcuterie, including a completely delicious sage and thyme one, an air-dried ham from Wiltshire, a pepperoni (which had dairy in it so I didn’t try it) and a dairy-free chorizo. Often chorizo contains a little dairy, so it was lovely to be able to have some.

GF-Gathering-gluten-free-bread

Gluten Free Baking & Living brought some bread. The French baguette that he brought was dairy-free as well as gluten-free and it was delicious. It had wonderful savoury notes from the sorghum and teff flours that he used. The slightly sour flavour went really well with the chorizo. So I ate lots!

GF-Gathering-Pizza

Then came the pizzas – and they were really good. Annie from Annie’s Supper Club had made the bases and they were lovely and light. They folded over brilliantly so you could eat the pizzas with your hands, instead of having to saw up a hard, dry pizza base with a knife and fork like you used to. I had the Air-dried Ham & Rocket one, without the cheese. And I munched away, safe in the knowledge that not only would the pizza be completely and utterly gluten-free – free from contamination – but also completely dairy-free, too because Kim had made sure that GB Pizza Co would be able to do this.

GF-Gathering-Tiramisu

We finished with a tiramisu. Annie very, very kindly made me a dairy-free and coffee-from one, as she had the time before when I’d been to her Supper Club. It was lovely. Many, many thanks, Annie!

GF Gathering will be hosting events regularly. Do go. They’re great value. We got a glass of wine, all the food I’ve mentioned, a goody bag at the end (including my new favourite snack, the Rude Health The Beetroot snack bar), and access to the gluten-free book library (where you can borrow either of my books!). And they’re great fun.