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.

IMG_20170310_154918

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.

IMG_20170310_133857

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.

IMG_20170310_140433

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.

IMG_20170310_145713

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).

IMG_20170311_212637

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!

IMG_20170311_215257

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.

IMG_20170311_225242

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.

IMG_20170311_163733.jpg

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!

IMG_20170311_170900 (1)

Advertisements

Le Petite Bretagne

Whenever I have lunch with my friend James, we always meet somewhere in between Tooting and Camberwell for convenience, so the day before I started frantically researching gluten free lunch options around Clapham.

I came across Le Petite Bretagne on Clapham Park Road, a creperie that specialises in savoury buckwheat (gluten and wheat free) crepes – perfect!

The restaurant itself is modern and spacious and the waiting staff are very attentive, we were seated immediately by the window and the menus explained.

2016-08-21 13.01.52

It’s a two step process, first you choose a savoury crepe and then a side salad. I went for a ‘Savoyard’ (cheese, ham, gherkin, potato and onion) and ‘Sergent pepper’ salad (peppers, pine nuts, Parmesan, olives and basil).

When our food arrived we were astonished by how big the portion sizes were (my photos don’t do them justice). They certainly don’t scrimp on crepe fillings or bulk out the salad with lettuce, ideal as we’d both been for long runs earlier that morning.

2016-08-21 13.16.32
Savoyard
2016-08-21 13.16.50-2
Sergent pepper

The pancake itself was delicious, buckwheat works so well for savoury pancakes. The combination of cheese, ham, gherkins, onions and potatoes was excellent (obviously) and it was great having the salad to offset the huge amounts of melted cheese.

We both decided to have dessert too, because we’d earned the extra calories from running.

I ordered the banana split and James the Nutella and banana waffle (sadly there were no gf waffle options).

2016-08-21 13.43.13

The banana split was massive, consisting of two chocolate chip and vanilla ice cream scoops, chopped banana, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I had to give the wafer to James but the rest I took my time over and finished. Well worth the effort and the feeling of being unbearably full.

For all you non-special dietary requirement people out there, the waffle looked amazing too and apparently tasted incredible.

WhatsApp Image 2016-08-21 at 15.30.17
Thanks for the photo James

I can’t wait to go back to La Petite Bretagne, the food was great and it’s so nice to have something different than the usual gluten free buns/pizza bases you often have to rely on for lunches.

Top marks to La Petite Bretagne! Clapham has suddenly become far more appealing!

There’s also a restaurant in Hammersmith on Beadon Road. Hurrah!