Tag Archives: gluten free

Starfish and coffee Maple syrup and jam


It’s a 2 coffee kinda morning

Last week I posted a photo of two mugs of coffee I had on the train to work which I captioned “Its a 2 coffee kinda morning” and I got a comment from a friend of mine, Helen, a super solicitor, we worked at the same law firm in London. She suggested the unthinkable ‘Have you thought of giving up coffee?’ as she had done so a few years ago and felt much better for it. She did acknowledge that it may be a step too far for me! Wise woman.


I wish I could remember where this was??

But I did give it some thought. I know it has caffeine in and is generally believed to be not very good for you to have too much but I just can’t think of not having it. I don’t just down coffee for its energy giving benefits, I genuinely love it. I look forward to having my first cup everyday with great excitement (maybe I need to get out more?). I tweet with some lovely coffee aficionados such as @BrianCoffeeSpot and when I go on holiday I always research the local coffee shops in order to find the good ones and make a point of trying them out. Also, since I no longer drink alcohol, meeting for a coffee is a treat and a lovely way to conduct my social life. I realize that one could order a different drink and on the days that I am feeling a bit coffeed out I have Earl Grey tea. Mainly because I am so ridiculously fussy about the tea I drink. It is aways Yorkshire Gold, milk and two sugars and I never let anyone else make it for me. But Earl Grey is okay when out and about. I despise the taste of green tea and oddly enough fresh mint tea gives me a tummy ache.


A very cute place in NYC

My ridiculous plethora of illness and diseases have meant that I have had to give up a lot of the things that I enjoyed. I gave up smoking ten years ago in preparation for getting pregnant and I gave up drinking three years ago as even one glass of wine would give me a hangover. Not something on wants when single-handedly dealing with a six-year-old. I was diagnosed with coeliacs disease 20 years ago, so am entirely gluten free. Considering the fact brunch and afternoon tea are my two most favourite meals of the whole day and that they are predominately gluten based feasts. I moderate my intake of the nightshade family; tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes as it exacerbates my arthritis, as does orange juice. I don’t eat take aways or pre prepared food. I cook from scratch because I can and I enjoy it. So taking all of these things in to account as well as the absolute pleasure I derive from each mouthful of coffee I think I shall continue to worship at the altar of caffeine a while longer.


Pat Val, an old fav

P.S. Prince – Your purple reign shall never end in my heart xxx


Review – Newburn Gluten free White Sourdough Artisan Cob

I have been a coeliac for a long time, over 20 years now, and I have seen loads of changes on the food option front which is super, but I never write about it and I’m not entirely sure why because I love reading other peoples reviews and finding out about new products so I though I’d better start.

Now, you have to understand that over the years the offerings of gluten free bread mainly consisted of bread that was as heavy as a house brick or so crumbly that merely picking up a slice can cause disintegration. Also the bread would have to be heated or toasted in order to be edible, and it usually tasted horrid. Trust me, this is not an exaggeration but hings have moved on substantially with loads of main steam companies jumping on the gluten free band wagon which is always a good thing for us coeliacs. So I am sure you can imagine that there was much excitement in the gluten free world when Warburtons announced the launch of their own gluten free range, Newburn,  not least because it was the first proper – i.e. gluten filled -bakery that was tuning its hand to gluten free. The thing that  I miss the most about being gluten free is a fresh crusty white load and here is where Warburtons have cornered a bit of supermarket market. Their brand of Sourdough Cob sells out so quickly at my local Sainsburys that it has become a bit of a treat for me, and I always buy two if they are there. It is very thing I want in my fresh bread, crusty and floury on the outside, beautifully soft on the inside and if I choose to toast it there is the most delicious crunch and it tastes amazing.


Now before you all start shrieking at the screen that I have fallen prey to hipsterism, yes that is avocado on my toast, just as I have been eating my toast for the last 25 years. See, I’m very old and avocados have been around much longer than Instagram. Newburn also do gluten free Crumpets which I haven’t tried yet and yesterday I got hold of a Orange and Sultana Breakfast Cob, at Waitress, it looks like the Sourdough but sis weet. It was also delicious, not too sweet, just right. I must be honest and say that I ate it straight out of the packet at my desk, no need to toast this delicious offering.

As a side note, I was in  Marks and Spencers recently and saw that they had brought out a gluten free Sourdough loaf, it was so beautiful to look at but it tasted absolutely dreadful, the inside was dry and crumbly, I didn’t even finish one slice before I put the whole lot into the food waste bin. What a shame as M&S are doing so well in the gluten free stakes, they make the best cheesecake and the trifle is delicious. Such a treat.


We are living in a material world. And I am a material girl

My spending ban remains firmly in place but my desire to have nice things has not abated. I continue to satisfy myself by gazing at pretty things online and thinking ‘one day….’

I am loving the crockery at H&M at the moment:


I really need/want new bed linen and this gorgeous set from La Redoute was top of my list BUT they don’t do the right size for my Super King Duvet cover…..

Image Plain Cotton Duvet Cover In a Range of Mix and Match Colours SCENARIO

I have my eye on this Happiness Planner:

How gorgeous are these pink boots from Office? I bought the black leather version last year – a dupe for Chloe Suzanna’s, and I love them:

Lucky Charm Studded Boots

*Basically anything pink or flamingo themed gets added to my wish list.

But I can’t help falling in love with you

I love food, I mean everything about it. The history, the preparing, the reading, the eating. It is my passion, and often my reason for being, and it has been for as long as I can remember. I was making choux pastry at 10 years of age, churning my own butter at 11, at 13 I was making hand made filled chocolates, by 14 I had a subscription to US Gourmet magazine, at 16 I decided that I wanted to own my own catering company and live a life revolving around food for the rest of my life. And then life got in the way. A bit of family trauma, a bit of displacement, a violent boyfriend at uni and the diagnosis of coeliacs disease at a time when gluten free bread occasionally still came in tins!


Picked up those lovely Goodhousekeeping ones on the left at church fete, complete bargain!

A catering company when I couldn’t taste anything seemed crazy so that idea faded away with sadness and instead I ended up working in the nightclub/bar/restaurant industry. It was hard work, fun, crazy, tiring and a complete buzz. My (ex) husband was extremely successful in his field of nightclubs – I think there is a still a plaque dedicated to him somewhere in the bowels of Fabric! – and we spent our spare time, and money, not clubbing but going to amazing restaurants and bars in the Uk and abroad. Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental remains the best food I have ever eaten, Chris Staines we love you!


The ones I requested as Christmas gifts.

I started hosting dinner parties again. 14 people around a table that took up our whole living room in a our tiny basement flat in Notting Hill was not an uncommon event. 8 courses with a wine flight? I’m your gal. all prepared in a kitchen the size of a small wardrobe – the fridge lived in the hallway. Oh how I loved it. I have collected cookery books as long as  can remember, I never part with any of them, I read the recipes for pleasure, they relax me, always have. I was the odd 12 year old at the library borrowing cookery books and then taking them home to type out the recipes as I couldn’t afford to photo copy them and the internet didn’t exist then.


Mixers and blenders and whisks, oh my

How could I let this passion slip away from me? I have no idea, it lights me up, makes me feel enthusiastic, it’s my measure of life. if I tire of cookery book I know I have tired of life and am feeling a bit depressed. It is my constant gauge of happiness, its amazing. And yet I never really ever write about it, why? I have no bloody idea so I shall start writing about here, in my tiny space in the internet, and I shall love very single minute of it.


Fascinating facts about food. I have re read this three times, never gets boring.

Food, Glorious Food

Since I started my PhD, the weekends that Lu spends wither dad are the ones that I spend studying and a few weekends ago I had to pop into the library at uni to pick up some books. Since I was going to be in Oxford anyway I thought it might be a good idea to have little jaunt around with the puppy and grab a coffee. I was actually on my way to one of my favourite brunch places, Organic Deli Cafe, but only  got as far as Gloucester Square which is conveniently located between one of the car parks and the city centre. What was a “I’m just going to have a quick look before we pop off for breakfast’ ended up with a “lets eat here”. And oh my goodness was it worth stopping.

I did a quick circuit of the stalls and ended up at a food truck serving Arepas, traditional Venezuelan food, which is *drum roll* naturally gluten free!!! It was like a cornbread pocket filled with yumminess. I took advice from the owner/chef and had the slow cooked beef with the chipotle sauce and a smidgen of salsa, it was amazing, I had a cup of sugar cane lemonade too and then could not say “no” to a meringue topped cake dessert, in fact it was so good that M ordered an Arepas too. We stood and chatted with the lovely owners and ate our food licking the sauce off our fingers.






I could have eaten it agin but wanted to give the restsof the market chance, one must be fair to ALL the nice food. So off I went to the coffee stall where I had spied gluten free brownies – orange, cheesecake or salted caramel. I went for a cheesecake one as M adores cheesecake and I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it all myself oddly enough (to others) I am not a big fan of chocoltely things, but I wanted something a little sweet to go with the coffee, which was amazing.


There was an really nice looking mexican stall who I chatted with, they did gluten free tacos and nachos and I had made mental note to pick some up or the journey home but I was so full after the brownie that I felt i needed to be sensible and stop myself. But next time I am around on a saturday its nachos first then Arepas then coffee. Then Arepas again.




My week in pictures



My vision cleared enough and for long enough for me to read a book, it was good.



The very talented Miss Mercedes came to my house to give me a mani and pedi.



Brushed up on illness before seeing Neurologist.



Post hospital treat at Five Guys (gluten free obvs).



One of my besties came to see me.


Another day another hospital.



Had a quiet day hanging out with the puppy.



Not feeling great – Before.





Lucia’s dad adopted a new kitty cat.

I ate more of The Big (gluten free) Apple

More about all the lovely gluten free food I ate in New York, the pictures don’t do all the deliciousness justice but to be truthful I was too eager to eat than take photos.

IMG_2011Risotteria www.risotteria.com – If you have ever searched for a gluten free restaurant in New York this place will pop up time and time again. I found it many moons ago when I was seeing what the rest of the world had to offer gluten free and it was at that time only doing it one night a week but now it always serves a gf menu. They don’t take reservations but there is a little bar area to have drinks (loads of gf beer) and wait. Its quite cozy so don’t arrive with a days worth of shopping bags. The wait staff were super friendly, there were big fat crunchy gf bread sticks on each table and loads of gf risottos, pizzas and pasta, and ‘proper’ puddings (#fruitisnotapudding). Again the bf ate gf, bolognese risotto for him (heavenly) and pizza for me, light crispy and very olively, it had a tapernade base which i loved. I would eat here every night of the week if I could, well, I’d alternate it with Lilli and Loos. Baked cheesecake for pudding with a proper cheesecake base and tiramisu for him, were perfect. Its not a ‘hang around and chat’ sort of place, it was very busy and clearly extremely popular. Do not miss it off your list.

IMG_2052Friedmans www.friedmanslunch.com – This was recommended by many fellow gluten freers but more importantly it was recommended by my trusted friend www.glutenfreemrsd.com, so I put it on the list. It is in the middle of Chelsea Market which is a bit of a foodie heaven. Amazing looking fresh seafood places, a great looking wine cellar and an Antroplogie to wander around. Friedmans don’t take reservations so you put your name on the list and mooch around the rest of the market. We had a reviving coffee standing at the counter of No9, great coffee, highly recommended then wandered back for our table. We both ordered the waffle with fried chicken and syrup which was very unusual but delicious. The chicken was deep fried and crispy and all the things us gluten freers are usually denied because of cross contamination in fryers. The non alcoholic special drink was fresh raspberry lemonade was superb. We also got chatting to the people on the next table and one of them was a coeliac too! By the time I finished all my chicken and half my waffle I was full up so no pudding for me, which is very unusual. There were lots of amazing things on the menu and I really wanted to go back but the trip was too short to allow that. Chelsea Market is a great spot to start the Highline walk, www.thehighline.org, which is exactly what we did after lunch, hot coffee in hand. It was beautiful, it is an old railway track that has been re purposed as a walkway across the city, there are plants growing and seating areas all along it, you get a perfect view of the busy goings on in the streets below while you feel rather serene safe on your viewing platform.

IMG_2072Lilli and Loo www.lilliandloonyc.com – I love Chinese food, love love love it because I very rarely have it, and I’m talking once every 5 years. It is virtually impossible to find a gluten free Chinese place anywhere near me. Or anywhere in England actually. The main culprit that prohibits us gluten freers is the use of soy sauce, you can get a gluten free version but it is rarely used commercially. So imagine my prolific joy at finding a Chinese restaurant with a gluten free menu, even it t was nearly 4000 miles away in New York. Four hours after our place landed I was sitting in Lilli and Loos admiring the menu. Unfortunately it was then that I hit a wall of tiredness but I soldiered on and ordered special friend rice and stir fried spinach, the boyfriend ate gluten free too so I could share, and the dumplings he ordered to start were so delicious that I ate most of them and was then too full for my main but I persevered and it was amazing. We went back for lunch two days later and again it was wonderful. I was sad to fly home after such a great break but it wasn’t New York I was going to miss, it was Lilli and Loos. If you have the chance, go go go.