Please feed the coeliacs (but serve fruit salad at your peril!)

Please feed the coeliacs (but serve fruit salad at your peril!)

Gluten-free symbolEating out when you have coeliac disease is a little like the proverbial curate’s egg – good in parts.

I’ve had some really great dining experiences and some I’d not care to repeat.  I’ve experienced everything from being spoiled for choice to ‘it’s that or starve.’  And I’ve been fed enough fruit salad to put me at least three years in credit with the five-a-day police

In fact, the next time I hear the words  “chef can make you a fruit salad”, I’m likely to be found weeping quietly but uncontrollably into my napkin.

gluten-free cateringThat said, I know from people who have lived with coeliac disease far longer than I have that things have improved massively over the years and it is so much easier to eat out now (and with much more choice) than, say, ten years ago.

So I am both aware and thankful for this, but I still think that more could be done to improve the options and choices for people who have coeliac disease or are otherwise on a gluten-free diet.

Don’t fear the coeliac!

The gluten-free food industry is a growing market – and it’s not just another food fad or fashion that will die a death in a couple of years when certain celebrities decide to denounce some other unsuspecting foodstuff as the root of all evil But don’t just take my word for it.  As many as 1 in 100 people in the UK are thought to have coeliac disease and according to information released by Coeliac UK as part of Coeliac Awareness Week 2014, diagnosis has increased fourfold over the last twenty years.

Coeliacs everywhereThere are more of us than you think!

So as both awareness and detection of the disease increase, so too will the demand for gluten-free food – whether on the shelves of local shops and supermarkets, online or eating out.

As a coeliac who loves food and enjoys eating out, I’m keen to discover good places to eat (and drink!) that can cater for my gluten-free diet and to encourage more pubs, restaurants and cafes to think more about the growing number of us who eat gluten-free because we *have* to and not *because* we choose to.  We’re not going to go out of fashion like a puffball skirt or pair of bell-bottomed jeans.  We’re in this for the long-haul

So how about expanding your menus so that there are at least a couple of gluten-free options always available?  And perhaps you could make a little promise that you won’t, by default, present gluten-free diners with a fruit salad for dessert when there are some simple and hugely popular desserts that are naturally gluten-free (such as pavlova, chocolate mousse, creme brulee to name but three!)

Fruit is not a puddingBut if you really do have to serve fruit salad as your go-to gluten-free dessert, then please be kind enough to add a big glug of fresh cream (it’s naturally gluten-free!) or a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream (assuming it’s got no nasties in it!) as I’m not entirely sure how much more of this I can take:

Save the coeliac from death by fruit salad!

There are now quite a few national food chains that provide gluten-free options and that’s great.  But I like to eat local and so would love to see more restaurants, pubs and cafes in Northamptonshire start to cater for gluten-free diners.

Here are some of the places in and around Northamptonshire that I have eaten who cater well for coeliacs/a gluten-free diet…

Beckworth Emporium, Mears Ashby – specifies which dishes are gluten-free and also offers gluten-free bread and cakes so you don’t have to miss out on sandwiches and cake for lunch. They now stock some of our Most Marvellous Baking range in the food hall, too.

Bread and Pullet, Northampton – a great place to go if you support the eat local philosophy as chef Adam is a great supporter of small local producers and there is a lot of Northamptonshire food and drink on the menu (including our Most Marvellously Munchable Multiseed Crackers!)  All dishes containing gluten are clearly labelled on the menu so you know what is off limits (although wherever I go I always do double check for potential cross-contamination with fried food like chips).

Nuovo, Northampton – Italian cicchetti (small plates) in a lovely relaxed setting.  Plenty to choose from (the risotto is to die for) and they have a gluten-free option for the pasta dishes.

Sol Y Luna Tapas Bar, Northampton (Kingsley Park Terrace) – delicious Spanish tapas.  They use an ear of wheat symbol on menu items containing gluten so it’s very easy to see what you can and cannot eat AND they have bottles of gluten-free beer in the fridge!

The Church Restaurant, Northampton – has a completely separate gluten-free menu, a lot of which is very similar to the main menu so you don’t feel too much like you’re the ‘special needs’ diner

The Hopping Hare, Duston – has a separate gluten-free menu AND a dedicated gluten-free dessert menu!  The food is delicious and service first class

The Old Bakehouse, Rothwell – their allergen information is available online with all gluten-free options labelled.  The food is delicious and when I ate there as part of a big party, my plate had GF painted in sauce on the rim. Clever and reassuring!

The Red Lion at East Haddon – has a good understanding of the dietary requirements of people with coeliac disease *and* you can eat the chips!!  See my review of the pub/food here.

The Saracen’s Head, Little Brington – great food, knowledgeable staff and another place where you can eat the chips.  Happy coeliac!

And there are lots of lovely coffee houses and tea rooms around Northampton that now stock Little Slices of Happiness, so don’t forget to check out our ‘Eat local‘ to find out where they are 🙂

If you’re a Northamptonshire-based eatery serving gluten-free food that I don’t know about, do please get in touch as I’d love to know about you, come and try your food and add you to my list of coeliac friendly places to eat

And if you don’t have the time or expertise to prepare gluten-free options yourself, there are plenty of local suppliers (me included) who would be happy to discuss supplying you with fresh, local, gluten-free produce.

Please feed the coeliacs 🙂

Feed the coeliacs
Share your experiences of eating out gluten-free on Twitter using #feedthecoeliacs