Went – Ate – Loved: February 2017

Went
Even for the shortest month of the year, February seems to have whizzed by in a blur of intensity and stress at starting a new project at work. I end the month suffering from the horrid lurgy (10 days so far and counting) everyone seems to have succumbed to recently. Not ideal when so much of my job involves talking.

Luckily, preceding the sickness was a long weekend trip to Valencia. This Spanish city has been on my travel wish list for so long and I was excited to finally visit. And it was certainly worth the wait!

Central market Valencia

In truth, with the exception of the central market, I wasn’t bowled over by Valencia’s historical centre.

Central market Valencia

What I really loved was the area close to where we stayed which was home to the City Of Arts and Sciences. I’ll post separately in the coming weeks on the things we enjoyed in Valencia and also where we stayed. I think I’ve only posted on one previous occasion about a hotel I’ve stayed in (and that was also in Spain) but for the gluten free and/or family traveller we found a great hotel.

City of Arts and Science Valencia

And what we all absolutely loved was walking through the park in Valencia which winds its way along the course of the diverted river. The trees were laden with oranges – impossible to resist!

Valencia oranges

Walking was super safe for kids with no cars, there seemed to be a playground every 5 minutes and plenty of cafes too.

Roll over Barcelona, Valencia is where it’s at!

Ate
Following my birthday in January, Mr D gets to celebrate his in February. We went to Chez Bruce for dinner as we have done many times in the last 14 (eeek!) years together. Yes, it’s Michelin starred but more than that it’s exactly the kind of restaurant you’d want on your doorstep to celebrate a special day in…or just because you can. High end cooking in unpretentious surroundings using great ingredients and one of the best cheese boards in London, I’ve never failed to have a great meal here. On this occasion, the highlight for me was this white chocolate and rhubarb Vienetta.

So good – for the only time of visiting Chez Bruce – it tempted me away from the delights of the cheeseboard.

Loved
February saw the opening of the Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. I’m relatively recent fan of Hockney following his show at the Royal Academy in 2012 and after visiting family Saltaire. Saltaire is home to an exhibition of Hockney’s work along with Salt’s Mill which features in a number of his paintings.

We were lucky as Tate members to visit a private view of the exhibition (on Valentine’s Day no less!) and thoroughly enjoyed dinner with friends in the Rex Whistler restaurant at Tate Britain.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hockney inspired menu and was impressed that despite not giving prior warning of my dietary restrictions they catered for me expertly. I’d eaten here previously and was confident they would adapt the menu to be gluten and nut free.

Take this starter. The regular version contained wheat (not corn) containing nachos. The kitchen adapted it with no prior notice to have Parmesan crisps in place of the wheaty nachos.

Gluten free Tate Britain

Gluten free bread was also available.

If you’re in London and would like to visit an exhibition which you’ll leave smiling, Hockney at the Tate is the one for you!

This month I’ve not had much time to catch up on blogs but these posts have caught my eye:

This guide from Erin of the gluten free fast food options in New York. I think it’s important when travelling with both dietary restrictions and young children to have a back up list of safe options to eat at quick meal at.

I’ve recently started following Forever Amber blog and this post on fake Instagram comments and followers was interesting. Naively I thought people were just buying followers, I didn’t realise there were people paying for bots to leave comments and thus drive up engagement with their accounts. Like I say, naive.

And finally, whilst not specifically about gluten free places, I loved Bronwyn’s post which showcases some real gems in South London.

Went – Ate – Loved: January 2017

Went
January 2017 quite literally started with a bang. Or in fact successions of bangs as I enjoyed a spectacular panoramic view of the New Year fireworks from our hotel in Sydney.

Sydney New Year fireworks

Wow, doesn’t even come close to the incredible panoramic view we had. Mr D met each other in Sydney, and later got engaged on the steps of the Sydney Opera House (the location of our first date) and it was really fantastic to spend time back in Sydney.

Sydney

The journey back to London from Australia to London was a bit of slog and we’ve concluded that a 14.5 hour flight (as ours was from Singapore back to London) is too long for all of us, not just the twins. In all we had a fantastic trip to Australia, despite the flight home; it was worth all the effort and jet lag to enjoy some sunshine and catch up with friends and family in Australia.

On the last weekend in January we went to Gothenburg, Sweden, a city which has been on my travel wish list for a long time. I really enjoy visiting Sweden and this trip did not disappoint. I’ll post separately on this in the next few weeks.

Ate
Meal of the month award has to go to my birthday dinner at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. This was my first time – knowingly – eating Michelin 3 star food. (Knowingly because we once ate at the El Bulli hotel restaurant outpost in Seville without knowing what it was. Ahem).

The food at Gordon Ramsay was, as you’d imagine just incredible. The different flavours and the pure skill involved in the cooking were sensational. Take this egg presented as a canapé. Still intrigued at how the top of this hen’s egg was sliced off so cleanly without breaking the egg shell.

But it wasn’t just the food which blew me away, the service was amazing. As a diner with dietary restrictions, nothing makes me happier than every single person who came to our table re confirming which items I can’t eat (gluten & nuts), explaining why and how my canapés were different to Mr D’s, important as these weren’t items I’d selected from the menu.

Special mention to the waiter who told me he’d be disappointed if I didn’t take more of the gluten free bread to mop up my meat juices. I loved this – who says 3 Michelin star restos have to be stuffy?! And the sommelier who we’d instructed to bring us wines of his choice by the glass to match our dishes. I really enjoy doing this when eating out in good restaurants as it’s a great way to balance food and wine but also we’ve been introduced to lots of different grape varieties in this way. “Any wines you don’t like?” He’d asked. We like trying new wine suggestions, but I asked for no German wines please. So you’ve guessed it…..he brought me a German wine. This wine was, of course, perfect.

I won’t be writing a review for my meal there (I was too busy enjoying my meal to take notes and subtle lighting in the restaurant equals rubbish iPhone photos), but I will add it to my gluten free guide to London.

Also this month I was invited to judge in the 2017 Free From Food Awards. This year I was judging in the Innovation and Veggie Ready Meals categories. This is a real highlight of the year for me; it’s fascinating to see the development of the UK’s Free From (not just gluten free) food sector.

In Australia I loved these gluten free and nut free Anzac biscuits.

gluten free Anzac biscuits

I’m still a bit miffed that Mr D scoffed the last packet before I had a chance to bring them home. Not least since they would’ve lifted the boredom of endless gluten free meals of boiled fish on our flights to and from Australia.

Loved
On the long flight back from Australia I concluded that I’d like to give this blog some regular love by posting more regularly in 2017. So far this month I’ve managed to post weekly, on Fridays. However, I work on 5 days of the week and have two small children so time is always short for things I enjoy doing for myself so we’ll see. I plan to write a monthly round up at the end of the month (starting with this one!) and if that’s all I manage at points in the year, that would be just fine.

I’d like to say that I loved having the gluten free afternoon tea with Kelly and Rachel this month but unfortunately I didn’t make it. I have never met either Kelly or Rachel before but I thoroughly enjoy reading both of their blogs. If you haven’t checked out Kelly’s blog posts on visiting all the English counties you should for great photography, as well as gluten free recommendations. Rachel is due to move to Sydney in a few months, a city where she had also got engaged. I’m looking forward to reading her blog posts as she makes the move.

However, the night before our afternoon tea, I was eating gluten free pizza (hmmm) and a mishap occurred with one of my molar teeth. Cue a trip to the emergency dentist to have it seen to instead talking about travel plans over some delicious gluten free cakes. Initially I was told I’d need a crown fitted but now my sentence has been commuted to wisdom teeth removal – which for me means a hospital job. So looking forward to that! My dentist – who’s Italian – assures me it was the wisdom teeth which caused it, not the pizza! So this is definitely a not loved of the month but hopefully we’ll get to meet another time.

I managed to keep up with my blog feed this month and I loved reading these blog posts in particular:

  • Gluten Free Las Vegas: I’ve been to Vegas a couple of times and although it’s the absolute antithesis of how I’d describe my perfect holiday, I really love it there. I very much enjoyed this post by Gluten Free Philly on the dining options in Las Vegas.
  • 5 gluten free and vegan restaurants in Porto: Bookmarking this for future reference as it doesn’t seem as though gluten free options in Porto are plentiful
  • What to do on long airport layovers: I don’t agree at all with the advice given in this post for London layovers but the rest of the article is interesting and there are heaps of airports listed.
  • 5 ways to beat the heat in Brisbane: The post I wish I’d read before we went to Brisbane and wilted in the heat!

And finally, some of the moments I love most about having kids are the most unintentionally funny. Earlier this week I had to manage a 3 year old in an utter meltdown first thing on Monday morning before I left for work, and just as we were rushing to get them ready for nursery. Why the tantrum? Because we didn’t have any avocado. And this meant that Mini D1 wasn’t going to have her current breakfast of choice, smashed avo on crackers. The absolute absurdity of me having to placate an inconsolable child who couldn’t have smashed avo for breakfast by promising to go out on my lunch hour to find her some avocado has kept me chuckling for days.