Lepelblad, Ghent

I recently had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Ghent, a lovely city in Belgium which I can’t recommend enough.

Lepelblad was just around the corner from our airbnb, in a great shopping and foodie area of the city.

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The menu was in Flemish but thankfully the waitress spoke English, so I was able to tell her that I was a coeliac and ask about the food. Amazingly, she said that I could order anything I wanted and they’d be able to make it gluten free (apart from the pasta because they’d run out their gf version). This was the best start to my trip possible!

I ordered lamb meatball tomato curry and rice, not a traditional Belgium cuisine but bloody hell it was nice. One of the best curries I’ve had, ever.

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We didn’t have time for dessert unfortunately but if you find yourself in Ghent, I’d highly recommend trying Lepelblad – the food is great and EVERYTHING can be made gluten free!

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Caravan, Kings Cross

Caravan, located in the beautiful Granary Square near Kings Cross station, is another great option for the gluten-free (especially when the queues for Dishoom are too long). Caravan does tapas style small plates, hearty but interesting mains and pizzas.

I asked for the gluten free menu on arrival and was pleased to see that I had plenty of options amongst the ‘small plates’. Pizza is obviously out and most of the mains I sadly couldn’t have, so on the advice of the waitress I ordered 3 of the smalls.

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I went for the burrata with ancho chilli, pan-fried mackerel and the brown shrimp with grits.

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Having recently enjoyed some amazing burrata when I was in Italy and at the Camberwell Arms, I was very excited about this plate. Unfortunately it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It wasn’t as creamy as I had hoped and the salsa didn’t pack the punch I was after. It was still nice, just not as nice as I wanted it to be.

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The mackerel on the other hand, was delicious. The pine nuts and sultanas worked perfectly with the fish, which was fresh and juicy. My one criticism is that the skin wasn’t as crispy as I like it to be.

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Another dish which came with high expectations after my New York experience, but again left me a disappointed. Shrimp and grits are always a winning combo so I shouldn’t really complain but…the grits were a little sloppy rather than fluffy and the shrimp was a bit too sweet rather than salty. I still ate and enjoyed it all with a spoon though!

Even after 3, not so small plates, I still had room for a pudding. So I ordered the coconut panna cotta with passion fruit coulis, which was fabulous.

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I feel like I’ve been a bit harsh on Caravan purely because I got my hopes up. It’s actually a really lovely restaurant, with great food, loads of gluten free options in an awesome location. Judge it for yourself, booking is necessary because they are always busy!

Caravan has three locations now – Kings Cross, Exmouth Market and Bankside.

Blighty India Cafe

Last Saturday I found myself in Seven Sisters looking for somewhere to have brunch, when I stumbled across Blighty India Cafe.

Although Blighty specialises in lovely, freshly baked bread, they also do gluten free sliced white so I didn’t miss out on toast with my fry-up.

I went for a full English with gf bread and it did not disappoint. The sausage was removed due to its gluten content but it didn’t matter – the breakfast arrived with a side of spicy beans, 2 fried eggs, 3 rashers of bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding!

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The baked beans were definitely the highlight, especially because I could mop up all the sauce with the bread, a luxury I don’t usually have! The rest was great too, good quality and fresh, up there with the best fry-ups I’ve had.

Should I end up in Seven Sisters again I will definitely be making a return visit to Blighty.

Castel del Piano, Tuscany

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to spend a few days hanging out with friends at the wonderfully rustic Cenno, in a beautiful Tuscan town called Castel del Piano.

Initially I worried about holidaying in the land of pasta and pizza (or Wheataly as some might say), but in the end I had absolutely nothing to fear. It seems the more a country likes it’s gluten, the better they are at catering for those who don’t.

Castello Banfi – La Taverna

Banfi is a beautiful winery and hillside vineyard with incredible views of the surrounding Grosseto province. It also has a lovely restaurant based within the ancient barrel cellars of Brunello castle.

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We booked to have lunch here not only for all the reasons I just mentioned but also because their sample menus clearly identify allergens, which is always a good sign.

When we arrived we were greeted with a selection of bread and a gluteny amuse-bouche. I mentioned to the waitress that I was gluten-free and she rushed off to the kitchen to tell the chef, returning with a basket of gf breads, crackers and an amended amuse-bouche. Happy days!

There were plenty of starters for me to choose from, some naturally gluten free, some gluten free with alterations. I went for the selection of cinta senese cured meats without the mixed crostini.

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When the absolutely massive portion arrived, they’d unexpectedly swapped the crostini with some gluten-free crackers so I could properly enjoy the rich pate and tomato salsa. The meat itself was excellent – fresh and flavoursome, a million times better than the packaged stuff you get here.

Unfortunately I had to skip ‘primi’, as this is the pasta course. But not worry, moving on to ‘secondi’, I chose to have the cod with chickpea, vegetables and red onion.

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The cod was so beautifully cooked it was falling apart on the plate, I really don’t think I’ve ever had a better cooked piece of fish – subtly salty and not overpowered by the onion or chickpea. Very, very impressive and much needed after my meaty starter.

Unfortunately there was only one dessert option that I was able to have – tangerine sorbet and fruit. This isn’t something I’d usually order but thought it was bound to be good in a country that specialises in gelato and granita, and I wasn’t wrong.

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The fruit salad was presented so beautifully I felt guilty tucking in, but the tangerine sorbet was out of this world. I have never tasted an ice-cream that had such flavour, it was so remarkable I wasn’t even jealous of my friends’ chocolate fondants!

We finished off the meal with a delicious dessert wine called Banfi Rosa Regale which I recommend you all immediately go out and buy.

10/10 La Taverna, I hope to visit again some day.

Del Dombi

After wandering around Castel del Piano looking for somewhere to have dinner, we stumbled across Del Dombi, a great family run restaurant serving Italian classics for a very reasonable price.

If you’re looking for something fancy, Del Dombi probably isn’t for you, but it was just what we needed after a day floating around the Saturnia thermal springs.

This restaurant is so Italian, no one speaks English and there were no helpfully translated menus, so we had to rely on Google to decipher them.

For a starter I ordered cozze e vongole con burro all’aglio (mussels and clams with garlic butter).

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The mussels were absolutely enormous, juicy and fresh and the clams the same. For such a back to basics restaurant, I was really impressed with how great this starter was. Special mention to the amazingly garlicky butter sauce, which the rest of my group took turns in dipping their bread in to.

As a main I went for bistecca alla griglia (grilled steak) with a side of melanzane grigliate (grilled aubergine) – usually I’d have fries with a steak but I didn’t have the language skills to explain what having coeliac disease means!

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It arrived just seared and deliciously rare, just how a like it! I’m not sure what the cut of beef was, it certainly wasn’t a fillet as it had quite a bit of fat to navigate but for the price it was delicious and great quality.

For dessert I decided to go full Italy and have a panna cotta con creme caramel (I probably don’t need to translate that one). Another unusual choice for me but I’m so glad I did, it was by far the best part of the meal, despite what it looks like.

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The whole meal including a bottle of prosecco and a carafe of wine cost only €30 each and the food was great, definitely worth a visit.

Coop

Coop or co-op is Castel del Piano’s local supermarket and thought it was worth a mention because it has the BEST gluten free section ever.

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This meant not only did I get to enjoy cheese with lots of crackers but also Nutella cake, fresh pasta, and surprisingly gluten free Tenants lager!

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Busaba Eathai – Deliveroo

Every Sunday hangover deserves a takeaway, so this week having noticed Busaba Eathai was now available for me on Deliveroo, I decided to treat myself to some Thai food.

Busaba handily indicates which dishes are gluten free on their menu, which makes it very easy – helpful when you’re feeling a little worse for wear.

I ordered the fish cakes with cucumber and peanut relish, green chicken curry, steamed jasmine rice and prawn crackers. It arrived about 25 minutes later, still piping hot.

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As I served up, I was a disappointed with the curry’s sauce to chicken ratio, it was so wet the rice completely drowned and it only had about two pieces of chicken in it.

The fish cakes were average at best – greasy, rubbery and the dip was just sweet chilli sauce rather than the cucumber and peanut relish promised.

The curry itself tasted really good despite being mainly sauce, creamy and rich with a mild spice and the chicken was tender and juicy. Supposedly it should have contained aubergine as well but there was no sign of any.

Overall it did the job and helped me on my way to recovery but it’s weird that I can get Busaba in my area because there isn’t a restaurant anywhere near. I have a feeling they are letting a local kitchen cook on their behalf, which would explain why corners were cut and ingredients missed.

Again, if you want to try it for yourself you can get £5 off your first Deliveroo order by using my invite link: 

Theo’s

Before being diagnosed with Coeliac disease, I was a Theo’s regular even attending their opening night, so I absolutely was gutted when I had to stop eating there. Then a few weeks ago, my friend and I were discussing how great it was and he mentioned they’d developed a gluten free dough!!!

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I promptly gave them a call and ordered a pizza for collection and voila, 10 minutes later I was chowing down on honestly the best gluten free pizza I have ever had.

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I went for the Napoli Salami with added aubergine on a gluten free base. The ingredients they use at Theo’s are of the highest quality, including the dough which they’ve clearly spent some time developing as it tastes just like the regular stuff. The salami was peppery and crisp, mozzarella creamy and aubergine perfectly cooked. Finished off with spicy chilli and the freshest of basil, I was an extremely happy customer and am in danger of developing a pretty severe pizza habit to make up for lost time.

Choosing to have your pizza on a gluten free base will cost you an extra £3, which is a little steep but I’m very happy to continue to pay it so they keep doing it! Occasionally Theo’s pops up on Deliveroo, so if you live in Camberwell you can get £5 off your first order with my Deliveroo link: 

Peter

This week I was away for work in glamorous Loughborough, so as always I went to Google to research potential dinner venues. Not much was coming up other than the usual Pizza Express, Nandos etc and a few cafes that closed too early. Then I stumbled across Peter, a cool looking pizza place that does gluten free bases.

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The menu had a good selection, nothing too out of the ordinary but thankfully not a pineapple chunk in sight!

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I ordered the Diavola on a gluten free base and a glass of house white. I’m always relieved when you order gluten free alternatives and the waiters don’t flinch or look confused, it’s very reassuring. Thanks Peter staff!

The kitchen was open and I was sat next to the pizza oven, which was lovely as it was 0 degrees outside and all the regular pizzas being cooked looked delicious, so I had high hopes.

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It arrived with the look of a high quality gluten free pizza, however when I cut in to it I was disappointed. I’m not sure if the base was under-cooked or it just wasn’t very good but the centre of the pizza was very dry and gritty.

I probably would have complained if I wasn’t so hungry, so instead I ate the outer edge and the topping, which was actually very good.

I think Peter just suffered from a bad base because all the other customers were happily dining and the ingredients they used for the toppings were clearly great. If I were to find myself in Loughborough again, I’d give Peter a second chance and actually say something if I found the base under-cooked. Plus, your bill is delivered by a cute little dragon which is worth a repeat visit alone.

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Peter also has a branch in Leicester if you are an East Midlands resident and fancy giving it a go.

Motu Indian Kitchen – Deliveroo

I’d heard great things about Motu Indian Kitchen from other food bloggers so when I was faced with another freezing night, I thought I’d give it a go.

Indian food tends to be pretty good for gluten free options but it’s rare to find the allergens shown on the menu. Motu does though and all of the mains and most of the sides are gluten free – hurrah!!

I went for the Madras Prawn Masala, plain rice, poppadoms and a side of Kachumber Raita.

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It arrived really quickly (big thanks to the very cold Deliveroo cyclist) so was still piping hot. At first I was a little worried about the portion size as it looked a bit small but I was just being a pig, once I plated it up it was the ideal amount for one.

The curry itself was amazing! Rich, flavoursome with just the right amount of spice. The kachumber raita was lovely – fresh and cooling unlike the usual bright green crap you get at bog standard takeaways.

Honestly this was one of the best Indian meals I’ve ever had, from a takeaway or a restaurant!

Motu is delivery only using Deliveroo and has kitchens in Camberwell and Battersea. So if you live in the area, I’d highly recommend you try it out. If you’re new to Deliveroo, you can get £5 off your first order by using my invite link: . Enjoy! 

The Red Lion

Lovely Barnes, one of my favourite areas of London. Great for runs, bike rides, bird watching and visiting my friend Louise. It also just happens to have a fantastic pub, The Red Lion, which makes for an excellent post-exercise pit stop.

On this occasion I had just finished the Putney and Fulham half marathon so I was in desperate need for some refuelling.

The menu changes regularly and although they don’t indicate the allergens, the staff are very friendly and happy to find out what is or isn’t suitable for coeliacs. On the Sunday I was there, I treated myself to steak, chips a red wine.

As always the food was lovely, my steak perfectly rare and chips fluffy and massive, and the red wine was the perfect finisher. Unfortunately The Red Lion doesn’t do gluten free beer but who cares when you’re eating steak!

When in Barnes, visit The Red Lion, I really need to go there more often.

The Hanbury Arms

Before going to see the wonderfully funny 2 Become 1 at the Kings Head Theatre back in December, my friends and I headed to The Hanbury Arms for a gluten free pizza.

When I arrived and asked about the gf pizza bases, the bar staff looked slightly perplexed and disappeared out the back to check the freezer. Not an ideal start to an evening. A few minutes later, they came back with the happy news that they had 1 gf base left. Thank god!

The Hanbury Arms offers a large variety of pizza, including my favourite – spicy salami with aubergine and basil. I love aubergine, so I had high hopes for this one.

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As with all gluten free pizzas, it arrived much smaller than regular ones, what I didn’t expect was just how stingey they were with the aubergine! You might just be able to make it out, it’s the tiny brown bits in between the salami. Gutted.

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Lack of aubergine aside, the pizza was really tasty, around about the Pizza Express level of quality. So if you’re looking for a decent, reasonably priced, gf pizza to fill you up, I’d definitely recommend The Hanbury Arms. If you’re looking for quality toppings, then it might not be for you. Sadly, there’s also no gluten free beer here.