Monday 11 May 2015

Coeliac Awareness Week & Dinner at Pho

Today is the start of Coeliac Awareness week. Every year it makes me stop and think about my own diagnosis. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was life changing, both for the better and worse. However, every year I like to think it’s getting a little bit better. Along with wider knowledge and awareness of coeliac disease, means more people are being diagnosed, increasing the demand for gluten free food in shops, restaurants, supermarkets and even airlines. This means more gluten free companies, a greater variety of food and a better quality, both inn terms of taste and nutrition. There are now some gluten free products on the market that you genuinely wouldn’t know where gluten free. Others I feel still have some way to go and others are still distant longing memories….but I’m sure they will be available one day J

I recently learnt that Caroline Quentin, of Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek fame, has herself been diagnosed coeliac. I read an interview she gave and I think its one of the best, most genuine and informative stories I’ve read. If you yourself suspect you may be coeliac or have a problem with gluten, it’s imperative to go to the Dr for tests FIRST. Under no circumstances stop eating gluten, you need to have been eating it in order to get an accurate result and your symptoms could do down to something different, so don’t self diagnose.

And now for something completely different
I’ve now moved to London after starting my new job, meaning the 4 hour daily commute is no more – yay! I’m now living in a lovely house with 6 new flat mates. I feel quite settled in the area already but sharing with so many people means I haven’t been able to being all my ‘stuff.’ I’ve also had no time to do any baking yet (not to mention lack of tins etc), it may take a few weeks, but rest assured I will be baking again soon!

To celebrate my move to London I went out with a friend for dinner. We chose a restaurant called Pho as it was close to work and we both love Vietnamese, oriental flavours. This turned out to be a fantastic choice and upon arrival I was told that apart from the steamed buns (fair enough), I could have any other dish on the menu – most of it naturally gluten free. Wow, what choice and I was impressed they knew exactly what I meant when I said ‘gluten free’

The restaurant was quite compact, but we got a nice table for two and enjoyed carrot, apple and ginger juice while perusing the menu. I liked the vast selection of chilli dressings and sauces on the table for you to spice up your dinner if you liked.

I decided on two smaller dishes to make my main. Summer rolls to start, which are just like spring rolls, only made with a sticky, chewy rice wrapper rather than a crisp wheaty one. I’ve heard lots about them but had never tried them until now. They are stuffed with veg, rice noodles, mint and your choice of extra veg or prawns. There was a choice of chilli sauce or spiced peanut sauce, I was dithering over the choice and the waitress kindly bought me both. My favourite by far was the peanut one. Nutty, creamy and with a gentle kick. Delicious.

The Summer Rolls were great. Very fresh and packed with crunchy crisp veg and I loved the chewy rice wrapper. A little hard to eat with chopsticks, but fun.

For the main I had a green mango salad with citrus dressing and peanuts. Again another dish I’d never had before. You don’t eat it and think ‘mango’ its green mango meaning it’s crunchy and shredded in strips. It adds just a subtle fruity note, but more salad than fruit. The dressing was amazing. At first it was very zingy and citrusy, then as I ate more I got little hits of chilli coming through. I love that. It doesn’t look that special on the plate, but there were hidden layers.

My dining partner went for a big bowl of Chicken Pho – an iconic dish which is described as: “Pho [ pronounced fuh] is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic, nutritious and delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs and chilli to add as you please. The addition of these herbs and table condiments is an essential part of eating phở and adds another dimension to the dish - our chilli paste for a kick, fish sauce for extra saltiness, garlic vinegar for sourness.”
She loved it and it was such a huge portion she couldn’t quite finish it.

We were both very impressed. The whole meal came to £12 each and they do takeaways too if you don’t have time to sit and want to grab something on the go. They have a few locations in London and I’d be happy to visit one again. It’s so nice to get something so fresh and tasty as a quick option. Plus, extra bonus points for most of it being gluten friendly – hurrah!

London Hints & Tips Please!
As I’m new to London I’d love any hints of tips of nice (affordable) places to eat that offer some good gluten free options. Restaurants, food markets, little cafes, hidden gems, places for cake or lunch on the run etc. I’m open to anything including raw, vegan, veggie, sushi (hold the meat through please). All advice welcome. The areas I visit most are Kings Cross, Farringdon, Kentish Town, Camden

Thanks J


Simones Kitchen said...

I was just in London last week! Would have loved to go to that Vietnamese place. Looks like you had all my favorites! Love fresh spring rolls. They are so delicious, healthy and versatile!
As for Coeliac... I would definitely Henk a lot more people know of it these days, so yes that's a good thing! Enjoy settling into London life!

Richard Gottfried said...

Congrats on your new job and move to London.

I've been to Pho a few times and always enjoyed it.

Have you been to La Polenteria on Old Compton Street? They have gluten free and vegetarian options.

All the best.

Katie said...

Hi Richard,
No I've not been to La Polenteria, sounds delicious. Love how everything is polenta based. I've added it to my 'to visit' list. Thank you