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Luscious gluten-free pasta at Da Mario!

September 19, 2010

This little Food Dork is another year older and enjoyed an absolutely scrumptious dinner of gluten-free pasta at Da Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Covent Garden last night. Da Mario is an authentic family run Italian restaurant and is very popular with locals and tourists alike. They cater for gluten-free diets and the waiter confidently informed us of everything we could try on the menu.

We shared an entrée of carpaccio of beef then I was spoiled with a piping hot plate of Linguine all’Astice (with fresh lobster, brandy, lobster sauce and fresh tomatoes). Even though the portion was ginormous I managed to find space for all of it. (It’s surely poor form to waste lobster.)

The pasta tasted like the real thing, the restaurant was buzzing with happy customers and the service was excellent.

Dinners like that make getting older a little more bearable. Do yourself a favour and grab a plate of their gluten-free pasta next time you’re in town. We’ll certainly be back again; it means we don’t have to go to Carluccio’s every time we want pasta.

Da Mario Restaurant

63 Endell Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2H 9AJ

http://www.da-mario.co.uk

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Christmas in… September?

September 15, 2010

It might surprise some of you but Christmas has already started to creep into the UK’s major retail outlets. You’ll find mince pies, puddings and the ubiquitous Quality Street tins from now until the end of the year.

The major food retailers have been planning their Christmas assault for months and are ready to stock their shelves with Christmas fare.

Selfridges in London aren’t backward in coming forward and launched their Christmas range on August 2 – a staggering 145 days before the big event. Food magazines in the UK have been tasting, testing and photographing their Christmas spreads this week in preparation for their Christmas editions coming out in November.

It will be weeks before mums and dads up and down the country spare a thought for treats and decorations for Halloween and fireworks for Guy Fawkes night, so is it to early to start thinking about Christmas? Is it too early for UK retailers to start using the C-word?

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Dragons’ Den dairy-free desserts now available

September 14, 2010

Young mum Kirsty Henshaw pitched her idea for Worthenshaws dairy-free desserts to the Dragons in July this year and impressed them with her hard work and determination. Just a few months later after some mentoring from Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne, Kirsty is ready to launch her Worthenshaws frozen desserts in the major supermarkets across the UK.

The Worthenshaws Freedom frozen dessert range includes strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours and the desserts are suitable for vegetarians, coeliacs* and vegans. The range is free from dairy, sugar, gluten, soya, egg, nuts and artificial flavours and colours so will tick all the right boxes for the majority of people with food allergies.

From this week the range is available in Asda and Sainsbury’s stores. Morrison’s, Asda and Waitrose will follow very soon.

If you’d like to know more about Kirsty’s products there’s plenty of information on the Worthenshaws website. Kirsty is also blogging about her experiences on the website and keeping her fans up to date on the launch on Twitter.

Kirsty is an inspiration and we wish her all the very best.

*Correction 12 January 2011: Please note that Worthenshaws is produced in a factory that handles gluten. For the company statement on allergens please visit their website.

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Sainsbury’s Magazine – Gluten-free cover star

September 12, 2010

This month Sainsbury’s Magazine has relaunched with a more modern and stylish design to make their recipes easier to follow.

The beautiful cover shot features double chocolate fudge cakes decorated with glossy chocolate ganache and sugared violets from Jane Asher. It’s easy to see why this gorgeous image shot by Jonathan Gregson and styled by Kim Morphew was chosen to be the cover star; the cakes look irresistible.

To my surprise and delight this recipe is gluten-free! At first they appear to be rich floury mud cakes that would be off-limits, but upon closer inspection these are in fact flourless chocolate cakes and the coarse, muddy texture comes courtesy of ground almonds in place of flour. This is a fantastic example of a treat that can be served up to a gathering of coeliacs and wheat-eaters without having to announce that it’s gluten-free.

I can’t publish the recipe as it’s not available online but Sainsbury’s mag is a bargain at £1.40 so I recommend that you race out to get a copy for this recipe alone. Better still, do a shop online at sainsburys.co.uk, throw a load of your usual freefrom goodies in the basket and a copy of Sainsbury’s Magazine and have it delivered to your front door.

Well done to Sainsbury’s Magazine for featuring a gluten-free recipe on the cover. Shame you have to flick to page 88 to find out that it’s gluten-free though and a lot of coeliac shoppers will miss this… unless, of course, they are fellow Food Dorks!

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If you’re looking for similar flourless cake recipes I can recommend the flourless chocolate cake recipe in Sweet food by Murdoch books. It’s another lovely, nutty cake based on ground hazelnuts but I substitute ground almonds and it is delicious.

Nigella Lawson’s clementine cake is another foolproof gluten-free recipe and is a perfect Christmas treat. Substituting lemons for clementines in this recipe is not so foolproof – it was an unmitigated disaster and not the syrupy lemon drizzle cake I imagined. Still, both versions fill the house with glorious citrus scents.

For more info on the October issue of Sainsbury’s Magazine click here.

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NEW Wahaca restaurant coming soon to Soho

September 9, 2010

Thomasina Miers has announced on Twitter that a new Wahaca restaurant will open soon on Wardour Street in Soho! She’s also inviting any creatives out there to design t-shirts for her team in the new restaurant in exchange for a year’s free food at Wahaca.

More info on the t-shirt competition is available on the Wahaca blog here. If you win feel free to share the prize with me!

Don’t forget that lots of the scrummy food at Wahaca is gluten-free – check out Wahaca and gluten-free Mexican food for more details on what to order.

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Product recall: Sainsbury’s Freefrom Rich Fruit Cake Slices

September 9, 2010

Sainsbury’s have issued a product recall for their Sainsbury’s Freefrom Rich Fruit Cake Slices due to accidental contamination with gluten. The affected batch has a best before date of 4 November 2010 and come in 160g packs.

Sainsbury’s will accept returns of these packs at all stores and will issue a full refund.

Marketing Magazine was critical of this mishap, saying “given the nature of the product, the implications could hardly be worse. Despite trumpeting its ‘free from’ status, the contaminated product poses a potentially severe heath risk for any consumer with an intolerance or allergy to wheat or gluten – the very group at which these products are aimed. The damage to the brand’s reputation may take some time to dissipate.”

No other products in Sainsbury’s Freefrom range have been affected.

What do you think? Does this affect your confidence in Sainsbury’s Freefrom products?

Source: Marketing Magazine, 8 September 2010.

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Are you the Gluten-Free Chef of the Year?

September 7, 2010

As of today there are only 38 days left to get your entry in for Coeliac UK’s 2010 Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition.

Professional chefs and catering students are invited to compile recipes for a three course gluten-free menu for four people that can be prepared in 90 minutes. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to recreate their menu in a 90 minute live cook off to serve to four judges in November.

Judging the competition is resident celebrity chef on ITV’s This Morning and author of Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Cooking, Phil Vickery. Entries will be judged according to originality, taste, texture, seasonality and balance. In the taste test, judges will be looking for dishes that aren’t noticeably gluten-free.

Professional cooks could win a stage at Gleneagles with twice Michelin starred chef Andrew Fairlie. The winning up and coming chef or catering student will win a stage at Pennyhill Park working alongside Michelin starred chef Michael Wignal.

All written entries must be received by Friday 15 October 2010. For more information, visit the competition page on the Coeliac UK website.

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