Went – Ate – Loved: July 2017

…not very far. July presented us with lots of reasons to stay in London; my sister was back in the UK for a holiday, the twins’ birthday & their parties, the completion of a work project for me, not to mention the hiking of flight prices as the schools close from early July for the summer holidays. So instead we hung out closer to home.

A real highlight of the month for me was visiting The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew for a picnic. Each time I visit (which is no more than once a year) I wonder how I cannot visit this absolute gem (and one of London’s 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites) more often. The displays are stunning, I love the tropical hot houses and all the lily pads in particular….

Kew Gardens lily pad

…..they even have several types of gluten free cake labelled and stored both separately and covered.

Gluten free cake Kew Gardens

I was glad to see the Hive was back this year. The Hive is a multi sensory structure mimicking the real bee activity in a bee hive at Kew and I find it absolutely mesmerising.The Hive

Also joining us for a picnic in Kew Gardens was a friend of my sister and her young son. He absolutely howled when we left, he didn’t want to leave the noise of the bees, loved it.

If you’re planning a trip to London, do consider adding Kew to your agenda.

Kew Gardens

This month I finally had dinner at Brindisa (I visited their Shoreditch restaurant).

I was impressed they had such attention to detail on allergies. However, this meant that a surprisingly large number of dishes were off limits, including patatas bravas. (WHAT!). The waiter explained they were cooked in pans previously used for gluten containing food and therefore a cross contamination risk. Shame.

It did mean I was able to choose this spectacular looking Spanish meat selection to share with my friends….

Gluten free Brindisa

Since there were no gluten free and nut free dessert options…well….cheese selection to share. At least cheese is always gluten free! The goats cheese, bottom left, in this selection was absolutely stellar. Gluten free Brindisa

I enjoyed my meal at Brindisa (limited choices and no patatas bravas aside) but I was a bit miffed that after we’d finished our tapas and moved on to cheese, I was asked at that point if I’d like some gluten free bread. It would’ve been better if I’d been asked earlier as I’d had a prawn dish I’d like to have mopped up a few juices with, as my gluten eating friends had with heir gluten-y bread.

At Kew we had a fantastic picnic from all the fabulous gluten free offerings at M&S. I love how each time I go, I discover something new like these gluten free “Dinky Posh Dogs”.

Picnic at Kew Gardens

These aren’t just dinky cocktail sausages, they’re posh gluten free cocktail sausages…

Having my sister home also meant I had an excuse for lunches at Pho, Leon, Nando’s…… and this great gluten free pizza at the consistently excellent Pizza Express.

Gluten free pizza at Pizza Express

Also enjoyed this month were brunches at my local brunch joint, Brother Marcus.

Gluten free Brother Marcus Balham

However, perhaps my top ‘Ate’ pick for July is this epic birthday cake made for the twins’ birthday by the lovely DeeLight Bakery in Balham. I’d given fairly vague instructions to Dee (my son likes jungle animals, my daughter is in to rainbows at the moment, the cake had to be plain Victoria sponge, buttercream icing and no jam) so when I opened the box on collection, I nearly burst in to tears.

Gluten free birthday cake DeeLight

After the party, one of the parents emailed me asking where I had got the cake from it tasted delicious, she said, just like she remembered the cakes of her childhood tasting. Can there be a better compliment for a gluten free and nut free cake?

I’ve loved having a house full of people this month. At times I’ve lost track of the comings and goings of the various family and friends who’ve been staying with us but – endless laundry aside – it’s been fun.

Blog posts I’ve loved reading this month:
If you’re planning to go to Madrid (and I’d love to go back) you might enjoy reading this review of Da Nicola. Both the hotel we stayed in and a random coeliac I met in the Sana Locura bakery (I love it when that happens!) recommended eating here.

This is a great comparative review of restaurants in London and the UK. Worth bookmarking if you’re planning on a trip to the UK or would like to explore more restaurants here.

I really enjoyed reading this commentary piece on the Nima sensor. I see this used a lot by our friends across the pond but I’m not aware of anyone who lives (rather than visiting) in the UK. If you could use it, would you?

Another US based blog, this time sharing experiences of London. I really enjoy reading what visitors to my home city make of the gluten free offerings here. I also enjoyed this post because the family had a mixed experience; they didn’t love every meal they ate. How refreshing to read an honest account of restaurant dining.


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