Tag Archives: gluten free

Gluten Free Travel – The Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway, The Cotswolds

I have been away quite a lot recently. Ten days in Seychelles on honeymoon, a week at home followed by a week in Wilmington, North Carolina with my husband while he was working. Lu, my eight year old daughter, spent the time with my mum and with her dad, who had already arranged to take her away during the Easter holidays which is when I was in America. However, it still felt like an awfully long time since I had seen her properly so I suggested a mini-break for us both, a little adventure just her and I. Oh, the excitement. I took her away to the lovely The Great House at Sonning the year before last for a night and she thoroughly enjoyed it. This time around I chose The Lygon Arms Hotel in Broadway, the Cotswolds. I have had my eye on it for months, in fact, I made enquiries about having my wedding there when it was to be a small family affair.  In the end, we went for a large wedding and held it at Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier’s old home in Buckinghamshire, Notley Abbey. Oh how I adore Gone with the Wind, I walked down the aisle to its theme music. And as my husband and I are travelling back to the Carolinas and Georgia at the end of the month I shall definitely be visiting Margaret Mitchell’s house in Atlanta.

As my health has improved (that was then, this is now…) I could now drive for more than ten minutes without becoming exhausted and putting myself out of action for days I thought somewhere further afield would be lovely and the Cotswolds was perfect. We stayed for three nights, and Lu thought it might be nice to ask my husband to stay on the third night. The hotel is child and dog-friendly. I think her request was made mainly so he would bring the dog with him as she misses our mini dachshund, Livia, when she is not around. Also, children can use the swimming pool at the hotel Spa at certain times so Lu was keen to involve as many responsible adults as possible lest I got too tired to take her. She is a very clever girl,  my 8 year old.

We arrived on a rainy Friday evening in May at about 7.30pm, later than planned after a few wrong turns on my part,  and pulled into the gravel drive at the front of the beautiful foliage covered hotel on the main avenue in Broadway. We were greeted by the most charming chap dressed in country casual jeans and blazer and having explained our tardiness for our dinner reservation and the tired 8 year old he arranged a speedy check in and then gracefully directed me to carpark behind the hotel which was just in front of our cottage.  Lu wanted to get changed first as she had packed a number of ‘evening’ outfits.  She is her mother’s daughter.

 

The dining room, The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

The dining room, The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

The dining room, The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

The dining room, The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

It was a short stroll across a lane to the main hotel. I had informed them when I booked that I was coeliac (gluten free) and they said that it would not be a problem. It had been noted on my dinner reservation and the wait staff handled it perfectly. We were looked after by a wonderful woman called Lucia, the same name as my daughter so it boded well!  I was taken through the menu and told they were happy to amend dishes if possible. There was a separate menu for children. The dining room itself is absolutely beautiful, both immense and intimate at the same time, a perfect combination.

 

 

Smoked salmon and olives for starters. The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

Smoked salmon and olives for starters.

Post dinner gluten-free fruit crumble and coffee. The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

Post dinner gluten-free fruit crumble and coffee.

Smoked salmon from the adult menu for us both to start, as well as some delicious olives. Steak (Lu) and lamb cutlets (for me) followed and we ended with fruit crumble which was already gluten-free, with ice cream, (me) and coffee (me) on one of the wonderful sofas found in the maze of lounges they have. It was all delicious and not one person suggested fruit salad as a pudding. I felt in very very safe hands. We ate in the restaurant for the following two nights also and it was just as lovely each time, the third night we were in a separate bar/dining area, as we had the dog with us but it was the same menu and service was just as lovely. As Lu is a very committed meat eater she ended up with steak from the adult menu on the third night which she devoured.

Olives, non-alcoholic cocktails and evening wear. The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

Olives, non-alcoholic cocktails and evening wear.

The cocktail list was super, and Lu and I took to having a cocktail in the bar before dinner, non-alcoholic for us both and when my husband arrived I plied him with the most amazing sounding ones on the alcohol-fuelled list. Try any of them, you really can’t go wrong.

 

Pudding on the beautiful velvet sofa, The Lygon Arms, Broadway

Pudding on the beautiful velvet sofa.

We had breakfast each morning at the Broadway Deli, which I had found before we got to Broadway, as its website mentioned that it could cater for those with a gluten allergy and as luck would have it it was opposite the hotel. Full of picture-perfect looking fresh produce, cheeses, jams, pasta and the like, we didn’t have to wait for a table and having explained to the wait staff about my allergy I was told it was the policy for management to take allergy orders which is just amazing. I enquired about the toaster arrangements – toasting gluten-free bread in a toaster that is used for gluten-filled bread renders everything not gluten free!!! – and was assured that there was a separate toaster and preparation area for gluten free orders. I had the homemade beans on toast and two excellent strong cappuccinos as Lu has woken me up at about 5.30am in her enthusiasm to not miss the childrens swimming slot at the spa that started at about 9.30am I think. She had the most amazing doorstep bacon sandwich and tea. We returned again on the following 2 mornings and was not disappointed. Toast and marmalade for me, I was concerned about the use of the same jar by those have gluten toast and they happily opened a brand new jar for me, they make there own marmaladed and conserves which I can highly recommend.

 

The Broadway Deli

The Broadway Deli.

The Broadway Deli Marmalade.

The Broadway Deli Marmalade.

The cottage itself had just been completed so there were no photos of it on the website yet but the rest of the hotel looked beautiful so I was willing to take a leap of faith. I was richly rewarded as it was a beautiful typically Cotswolds stone building, set over two floors, bedroom and huge dreamy bathroom upstairs and living area downstairs with a sofa bed, outside there was a little flagstoned patio area with table and chairs. I had originally booked a room in the main hotel for 2 nights but as it turned out it was the bank holiday weekend and Lu asked if we could stay for three nights and have Malcolm bring the dog for the third, as above. After a few emails, it turned out that I couldn’t have my original room in that combination but the cottage would be free though it was a bit more expensive and I decided to treat us. It also had two of my most favourite things that I almost require now when travelling – air conditioning and a Nespresso machine. I am not very good company without these. The coffee is necessary to take the edge off the chronic fatigue syndrome and the air conditioning is required for the horrid sweaty overheating I experience from my steroids.

The Spa, The Lygon Arms, Broadway

The Spa, The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

The Spa was lovely, though I only saw the changing facilities and the pool, there are treatments available. The pool area is beautiful, with a jacuzzi at the far end and loungers for relaxing There were other families using it when we were there but it was not too crowded, we had a lovely time but I was very grateful for my husbands arrival early on Sunday so he could take her while I read the papers in the hotel lounge. I always worry that I’ll be struck down out of nowhere with the exhaustion caused by my illness, which is how it happens, without warning, so I try my best to conserve as much energy as I can so I can enjoy as much time with Lu as possible and not overdo it too much. The grounds of the hotel were immaculately kept and other rooms faced onto the main courtyard and had little seated areas, there was also a large enclosed garden area with benches that was perfect for taking Livia for a little roam.

The Cotswold Tearoom, Moreton in Marsh

The Cotswold Tearoom, Moreton in Marsh.

Gluten-free sweetcorn fritters, The Cotswold Tearoom, Moreton in Marsh.

Gluten-free sweetcorn fritters.

Gluten-free scone, The Cotswold Tearoom, Moreton in Marsh.

The most delicious gluten-free scone.

As I spend most of my travel research looking for gluten-free places to eat I had found a lovely looking place in Moreton in March, about 15 minutes away called The Cotswold Tearoom which did gluten free cakes, my obsession. Lu and I love popped there for lunch on our first full day. Sweetcorn fritters with avocado tomato salsa for me, soup for her, all items are clearly marked gluten-free. I then had a huge gluten free scone with cream and jam. So delicious was it that we returned on our journey home for the scones and took some home with us. As well as a huge bag of cheese, olives, gluten-free crackers and condiments from the gorgeous The Cotswold Cheese Company next door.

 

Took the dog for a roam in the hotel garden before dinner time. The Lygon Arms, Broadway.

Took the dog for a roam in the hotel garden before dinner time.

Livia sleeping soundly while we ate dinner. The Lygon Arms, Broadway

Livia sleeping soundly while we ate dinner.

Whilst in the area we had a little roam around Broadway and Moreton in Marsh, as well as Blockley, another nearby village and they were just beautiful. Though I left my heart in Broadway. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time in the area but took a jaunt to Cheltenham for the Literary Festival last year. I had booked four events but illness meant I only made it to one but it was super all the same. It is also the area that my husband and I have at the top of our list for moving to as we currently still live in separate houses, separate counties. We both have school age children, it’s complicated.

I would return to The Lygon Arms in a heartbeat, we were all very sad to leave, and though it isn’t cheap it was worth every single penny. It would make an amazing treat, and if I am lucky enough to ever go again I shall go without child or dog so I can take advantage of the adult time in the Spa and maybe a lie in.

Starfish and coffee Maple syrup and jam

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Monday

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

Tuesday

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

Wednesday

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Brushed up on illness before seeing Neurologist.

 

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

Thursday

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One of my besties came to see me.

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Another day another hospital.

Friday

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Had a quiet day hanging out with the puppy.

Saturday

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Not feeling great – Before.

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After.

Sunday

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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.

I ate the Big (gluten free) Apple

Following on from my last post, The Big (gluten) Free Apple, I thought i’d let you know what the food was actually like at the places that I went to.

IMG_1961Pips Bakery pipsplacenyc.com I was so excited about this place and it did not disappoint. There are  a number of gluten free bakeries in New York, such as Tu-Lus and BabyCakes NYC, but I loved the look of Pips website and they had a shop right around the corner from my hotel which clinched it for me. There were lots of great looking cakes and muffins but, to be honest, when I find gluten free cake I am drawn to the things I would rarely make at home so when I saw the gorgeous chocolatey loveliness of their freshly baked eclairs I knew that it was the cake for me. They also fill their eclairs with creme patisserie instead of cream which I prefer. I think the photos say it all.

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I want back the next day but there were no eclairs (boo) so I had a slice of coconut cake which was very coconutty and very moist. They have a little counter for eating so I perched there with my coffee and watched the world go by, I would highly recommend this place.

IMG_1975El Rey www.elreynyc.com This isn’t strictly a gluten free place but I didn’t go there for food, I went for coffee and it was great. I’d read about it in Bon Appetit (December 2014) magazine that the boyfriend had brought back from his last trip to New York and there was a glossy article about this new very cool spot. As soon as I received my invitation to NYC I dug out the magazine and brought it with me. El Rey is described as a luncheonette which is such a lovely old fashioned sounding word. Again, like Pips, it is small but oh so perfectly formed. Its a little off the beaten track, I went after a tour of The Tenement Museum,http://www.tenement.org, which is near by, and both are well worth the effort. I rambled on at the staff about the article in Bon Appetit and how lovely the place was and they were totally amenable to me taking photos. It was a warm haven from the cold snowy streets and the coffee was delicious. The most beautiful thing was the glass beehive water cooler but I didn’t get a photo, silly me.

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Bloom’s Deli www.bloomsnewyorkdeli.com This place had been recommended on a few gluten free blogs, and their chocolate and banana pancakes were highly praised so it was naturally the first place I went to the morning after we arrived. It it was super early so that the boyfriend could come before he headed off for a day in the office. Ps. His office is in the Chrysler Building, such a beautiful place, he is a very lucky man. These are the infamous pancakes and they were, well, ok but I must be honest and say that I wasn’t blown away. I make griddle pancakes for Lulu (and my boyfriends children when they stay over) on a Sunday morning and I have to say that they are rather nice. Nicer than those in America (whispered). The chocolate in America is very different to that in the UK which I wasn’t keen on, I think next time I’ll order one of their Ruben sandwiches which also gets high praise. There is actually a dedicated gluten free menu so there is plenty of choice.

I shall tell you all about Lilli & Loos, Risottorea and Friedmans soon (Spoiler; they were all just amazing).

 

The Big (gluten free) Apple

It has been many years since I flew anywhere – business or pleasure- so an impromptu invitation to New York was firstly, a complete surprise and secondly, a very welcome break from ‘life’. Being a grown up has been very trying recently – divorce, solicitors, finances – and an escape to a new destination was, literally, just the ticket.

Dont get me wrong, I have travelled quite a bit, my first plane journey was at the age of eight, all on my lonesome, visiting my father who lives very far away (I am the product of divorced parents). In those days your mum handed you over at check in, the nice air stewardess put an ID hanging from a piece of string around your neck and you amused yourself in Duty Free until they found you and put you on your flight.

But I digress. My point being that I love travelling but for some reason have never made it to New York. The only places in America I have visited are Miami – beautiful but expensive – and Las Vegas for my honeymoon (see reference above to divorce! Not that I’m blaming Vegas). I see a clear theme running through these detention choices; they are all locations for the CSI series but that really wasn’t why i chose them. (Ps. I adore CSI, Team Grissom).

So I had four nights and three days to make New York my own. My boyfriend was officially ‘working’ so I was left to my own devises on Friday and then we spent Saturday and Sunday together. For those of you who don’t know, I am a planner, not a “at 9am we are doing this and then we must be at place a. by 2pm’, I take a more ‘organised spontaneity’ approach.

Firstly, I found all the yummy restaurants and coffee places I wanted to try out and then I left the rest to chance. I marked them all very clearly on my map (goodness, am I overly organised?). The reason for this was two fold; I love love love food and I have Coeliacs disease (an intolerance to gluten – barley, wheats, oats and rye), it is a serious disease that is just miserable if you don’t adhere to a gluten free diet, and the long term consequences are grave. So I can’t just go with the flow and eat where ever the fancy takes me therefore I have to be organised.

From the research I did, and the recommendations from fellow gluten freers, New York had a great variety of paces to eat at, top of my list was Lilli and Loo on the Upper East Side, a Chinese restaurant with a gluten free menu. I tweeted with them to confirm they still catered for gluten freers and they sent me a copy of the dedicated gluten free menu which I kept drooling over. In fact, I was so excited about having Chinese food, usually impossible because of the wheat in soy sauce and wheat batter used in some dishes, (including cross contamination issues, ie frying gluten free food in a fryer in which gluten covered items were cooked renders every thing contaminated with gluten) that I planned dinner there twice.

The other big things on my list were pancakes and waffles and I was lucky enough to find two places, Blooms, an old skool diner, around the corner from my hotel, and Friedmans in Chelsea Market. They both had gluten free menus and I tortured myself for ages regarding what I’d choose and, as US portions are simply huge, I wasn’t sure i’d be able to get through more than one dish at each place. That’s where my boyfriend always comes in super handy, I get him to order something else that I’d like to try and then share his. He is a good man, he is not coeliac.