Gluten Free Pub: The Stag On The River, Surrey

Mr D’s parents live on the Isle of Wight and for quite some time we’d noticed that their journey up to visit us in London was suddenly taking an inordinately long time. What, we wondered, could possibly be the reason?

After some investigation, we discovered the reason was a lunch stop en route at a beautiful village pub just off the A3 nar Goldalming; The Stag on The River.

The Stag On The River, Eashing

After hearing such high praise about The Stag, we decided to meet them half way and have lunch together. I didn’t have any expectations in advance on the gluten free front so when I checked the menu online and discovered they had a whole gluten free menu, I was, er, staggered. Ahem.

We visited in March but you can see the currrent summer menu here – it’s quite similar.

Just look at the gluten free choicces! Plenty of choice in tasty pub food options.

The Stag On The River Menu

Gluten free garlic and parmesan toast. I have never seen this on a menu before and despite the fact I didn’t need it, I felt it was my duty to try it. Plus I was sure the mini Ds might give it a try.

garlic and parmesan gluten free toast

I went for the classic Stag burger on gluten free bun.

The Classic Stag burger and potatoes

You’ll notice this comes with roast new potatoes.

Classic Stag burger

On the one hand it’s a shame they can’t offer gluten free chips. But on the other, I’m glad they don’t take chances with cross contamination on the chips if they don’t have a separate dedicated fryer.

I didn’t have room for a pudding but if I did I suspect the Banoffee Pie would have my name on it.

The pub itself is located in a small village. It enjoys a lovely garden right next to the river. The only draw back for us was that there were no parking spaces either in the pub’s car park or on the village road side. Perhaps this was unusual – parking has not been a problem for my parents in law but just to highlight this as travel by car is the only way to reach the Stag.

Inside the pub the décor is country but with a modern feel. I could quite happily settle down with a glass of red and the Sunday papers in this window seat. Although not part of a chain, The Stag is part of a collection of pubs in the Surrey / Hampshire area. It’s worth looking at the list of other pubs here in case there’s one near to you. I understand they all have gluten free menus also.

The Stag On The Riiver

In all, the quality of the food, the fantastic gluten free menu and the super friendly service make this a great pub to visit if you’re in the Surrey area.

Website: The Stag On The River
Location: Lower Eashing Lane, Eashing, Surrey, GU7 2QG
Would I go back?: I’m looking forward to a return visit soon.

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Gluten Free Italy: Ae Oche Pizza, Venice

There are many things that I love about life in Italy (it’s not all about pizzas and gelato! Oh, wait…) but train travel within Italy is so efficient that staying in one place and then exploring other places in the local-ish area by train is very easy.

And so it was that on our recent trip to Verona we decided to head to Venice. I’ve been to Venice a number of times before. Our most recent visit to this unique city was on honeymoon when we caught that train back to London from Venice’s Santa Lucia station. For the record, they provided amazing gluten free meals for me on board the Orient Express, including gluten free afternoon tea. So it was quite exciting to arrive back into the same station, but this time with the mini Ds.

gluten free Venice

Since we were travelling with the double buggy, Venice has 409 bridges and one of the mini Ds has Bear Grylls levels of adventurousness when freed from the buggy (no chance in Venice, young lady) we were somewhat limited in our explorations to the Cannareggio area. This suited the Mini Ds just fine as they couldn’t have been more excited to wave excitedly at the people travelling along the canals in boats, taxis and gondolas (giving me an excuse to wave away too!).

We’d arrived into the city at lunchtime and a random internet search on the train to Venice had uncovered a pizzeria near to Santa Lucia which offered gluten free pizza.

From the outside Pizzeria Ae Oche wasn’t somewhere I’d usually choose with its sports TV and lots of American memorabilia on the walls. But it seemed kid friendly, they had gluten free pizza and Venice was hot and heaving with tourists that Saturday. We headed in.

Ae Oche Pizzeria Venice

Sitting on the next table to us were a group of Venetian gondoliers enjoying their lunch, resplendent in their black and white striped t-shirts which somewhat offset the feeling I could be somewhere in the US from the décor inside.

The gluten free pizza selection was huge.

I chose Gorgonzola with ham, my usual pizza of choice.

Gluten free pizza Venice

Verdict? I thought the topping was just right. You’ll note the pizza didn’t have a great deal of tomato sauce. I think its absence resulted in the base being more crunchy, than thin and crispy albeit perfectly acceptable nonetheless. Whilst the pizza itself was okay, the service was incredibly slow, despite us arriving after the main lunchtime rush when they were less busy.

Because even in beautiful Venice the washing needs to get done...
Because even in beautiful Venice the washing needs to get done…

Location: Venezia S. Lucia, Cannareggio, 158/A, 30100 Venezia (VE) Italy
Cost: Under EUR 50 for 2 adult pizzas (one gluten free) and 2 childrens meals with (non-alcoholic) drinks
Would I go back: Maybe, if I were in the Santa Lucia station area. Ae Oche have several restaurants in the Venice area.

Have you been to Venice? Could you recommend a good place for gluten free pizza? If so, please do leave a comment below. I’d love to return to Venice soon.

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ae oche pizzeria

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Gluten Free Italy: Bella Vista Pizzeria, Lake Garda

My global quest to discover the world’s best gluten free pizza is well documented both on this blog and via my Instagram/Twitter feeds. So epic is this quest I sometimes wonder whether this blog should be called (with a large nod to Kelly) Around the World in 80 Gluten Free Pizzas. Except my tally of gluten free pizzas consumed around the world now far exceeds 80. Sorry? Not really, no.

So when I took a trip to Lake Garda on our recent weekend in Verona, I was particularly happy to discover that in the town we were visiting there was a highly rated pizzeria offering gluten free options.

Restaurant Bella Vista Pizzeria located in Peschiera del Garda a small town on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.


As far as gluten free pizza perfection comes, Bella Vista’s pizza is very high on the list. Why?

Gluten Free Options on the Menu

Not just gluten free pizzas are on offer here, but a whole host of tempting gluten free treats such as gluten free calamari (so long since I had that) fritto misto and more.


Pizza Crust

I like it thin, crispy and cooked in a proper pizza oven. This ticks all boxes!


Toppings

For me the perfect pizza is as they are served in Italy – with just enough topping to taste but definitely not over loaded.

Location
What’s not to love about sitting out on a vine covered shady terrace, right next to the sparkling waters of Lake Garda in the May sunshine?


Finally, is there gluten free beer?

Yes there is! Although I stuck to water on this occasion.

Website: Bella Vista Pizzeria

Cost: Under EUR 50 for 2 adult pizzas (one gluten free), 2 children’s meals plus salad, grilled vegetables and drinks. Outstanding value.

Would I go back? You bet! I wish every Sunday lunch could be like this.

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Gluten Free Dorset: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of the TV programme Coast but I’ve wanted to come to Chesil Beach for what seems like forever. Located at the centre of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, this impressive 18 mile stretch of shingle beach is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chesil Beach

After sitting on the blustery beach, thinking how much I miss living right by the sea, rolling the super soft pebbles through my hands while watching mini D1 learn how to skim stones (or rather just lob stones) into the sea, we were all ready to have lunch.

Chesil Beach Stones

Just up the lane from the beach car park (there are surprisingly few access points onto Chesil Beach) is the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. This turned out to be a double surprise. Not only were the gardens beautiful – subtropical gardens are not usually my kind of thing – but the Colonial Restaurant had a fantastic selection of gluten free items on the menu. Just look how many items here are noted as gluten free or dairy free!

IMG_6549

I wavered slightly between ordering a peri peri chicken or a jacket potato (I needed to warm up after sitting on a windy beach) but instead went for something which was adjusted to be gluten free to see how that was; grilled steak and onion baguette.

Gluten Free Steak Baguette

The steak was tender and I loved having the onions with it. I’m not sure who makes these gluten free rolls but they didn’t crumble. Perfect lunch.

I was too full to try one of the gluten free cakes on offer (there were several choices) but there’s always room for a fantastic locally produced ice cream!

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A few shots of the Subtropical Gardens.

I have never seen so many bluebells as I did during our trip to Dorset. Beautiful carpets of them everywhere, not just in these gardens.

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Loved this walkway – I could almost believe I was on the Italian Riviera.

IMG_6566

Reminding us of our recent trip to Japan:

Japanese garden

Website: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Cost: Under £30 -for a meal for 2 adults and 2 children with drinks

Would I come back: Absolutely. I love being on a beach at any time of the year and visiting the gardens anf the Colonial Restaurant would be a bonus.

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Gluten Free Dorset

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Gluten Free Fish and Chips at The Old Harbour, Weymouth

When I recently attended the Free From Food Awards presentation. I was reminded again of the fantastic developments – both in terms of scale and quality – of the free from food sector. Since 2010 when I first started writing this blog the free from retail sector has almost doubled from £278 million to £531 million in 2016, according to Mintel.

Yet that great British meal of fish and chips seems to be one of the last bastions of food to escape the current expansion of gluten free food within the UK. I suppose in no small part this is due to the probable proponents of the current free from market explosion being ‘lifestylers’ – those who choose to eat gluten free as they see it as the healthier option. Consequently, deep fried and battered fish with chips is unlikely to win any converts from this group, even if those with medical reasons not to consume gluten would love to find it more regularly when eating out. When gluten free fish and chips can be found, it’s often limited to once a week (or less frequent) and usually after the fryers have been cleaned and replaced with fresh new oil. (I’ve written before about several notable exceptions to this herehere and here).

So on our recent trip to Dorset I was really happy to discover The Old Harbour, a fish and chip shop in Weymouth which offers gluten free fish and chips every day.

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

The Old Harbour is open 7 days a week and offers gluten free fish and chips on all of them. This fish and chips are cooked separately to avoid cross contamination. You can eat in its restaurant or take out. No need to phone ahead and pre book the gluten free batter either.

I ordered the gluten free haddock. I missed the bit on the menu that noted it was large.

gluten free fish and chips dorset

Large is an understatement. Ginormous, bigger than your head, enough to feed a small army, these would all have been better descriptions of this enormous piece of fish. And yes, it did defeat me.

gluten free fish and chips

The batter wrapped around the fish was crispy and certainly more like a regular, more dense fish batter than I’ve tasted elsewhere.

I could’ve ordered gluten free curry sauce to go with my fish and chips but on this occasion declined. If it’s the one I tasted recently at Olley’s in Herne Hill (and I suspect it would be), then it’s delicious.

They even had gluten free vinegar.

gluten free vinegar

However, Coeliac UK say barley malt vinegar is safe for Coeliacs to eat. But that’s up to you which you’d prefer, the good thing is there’s a choice.

Weymouth itself is very much a typical British seaside resort. Even down to the weather which was murky before we had lunch…..

IMG_6451

And then broke to beautiful sunshine.

IMG_6486

A great day for a cloud spotter like me.

Cost: £28.50 for 2 (enormous) adult portions and 2 children’s meals plus 2 drinks. Fantastic value.
Location: 16 St Edmunds Street, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8AR
Website: www.theoldharbour.co.uk
Would I go back? I’d love to. But next time I’ll order a smaller portion of fish and will go for the curry sauce

Are you a fish and chip fan? Have you found any great (and safe) gluten free fish and chip restaurants which you’d recommend?

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www.glutenfreemrsd.com

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2016 Free From Food Awards

I’ve been really honoured to participate for the last 4 or 5 years as a judge in the Free From Food Awards, the UK’s awards celebrating the best of free from products. You can read my write up from last year’s awards here.

Free From Food Awards 2016

Each year I discover new-to-me products. What I like about this are that these new products are not just from the large retailers, but also from the small producers who are passionate about supplying fantastic quality (free from) products to this rapidly expanding food sector. It also gives me the opportunity to catch up with a growing group of friends I’ve met over the years as part of the free from community. This night is always a real highlight of my year and something I look forward to enormously.

For a full list of winners and runner’s up in each category, please click here.

A couple of photos from the awards party buffet featuring the winner’s products (aka the free from buffet of dreams) with my top picks from the winners in 2016.

– Tesco garlic baguette – Hard to tell this was gluten free, the baguette was so crusty. Even harder to think of this without thinking of the Peter Kay sketch. (Gluten and Dairy free) Garlic? Bread? It’s the future.

(Gluten and dairy free) Garlic? Bread? It's the future

– Oast to Host Quongo (quiche on the go) utterly delicious quiche from this small Kent producer.

gluten free pie

– Hotch Potch pies – Loved this pie from another smaller producer based in Dorset. I’m off to Dorset very soon so will try and track one down.

Hotch Potch Gluten Free Pie

– White Rabbit Pizza – the one that keeps getting away. Not only had this pizza run out by the time I got to the winner’s buffet, each time I’m in Planet Organic (stockists of this pizza) there’s always some reason why I can’t buy it. Being the pizza fiend I am, I need to rectify this pronto.

Gluten Free Pizza

– Nutribix – this breakfast cereal which is the gluten free version of Weetabix was the big winner of the night. Nutribix is made from 96% sourghum, an ancient grain. I haven’t tried this but I will be soon. I’m not keen on eating cereal with milk (lucky, really, in the scheme of things!) so will be trying this with natural yoghurt. On the evening so many people raved about just how great this is, I really need to try.

gluten-free-breakfast-cereal

Image thanks to Nutribix website

– Borough 22 Doughnuts – Special mention to Ryan who managed to keep smiling despite his doughnuts being pipped to the top spot in not just one, but two categories. although highly commended is still a fantastic achievement in these awards.

And, finally, a selfie. This has become something of a tradition for this gang of free from bloggers. It’s blurry, yes, but look at those happy faces. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the great gluten free beers in the bar on the night….

gluten free selfie

Are there new to you products in this list? What do you think of the winners? Any surprises?

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