Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hotel Chocolat Free From Chocolate Review

While on holiday in London back in February, I couldn't help but notice Hotel Chocolat stores almost everywhere I went. This British chocolatier and cocoa grower is the only company in the UK that grows cocoa on its own plantation, and it's stores are filled with a myriad of fun and tempting treats. 

Unfortunately, most of the chocolate creations made by Hotel Chocolat have a warning that they may contain wheat so they are off limit to celiacs and gluten-free foodies. As it happened however, my visit conveniently coincided with the rollout of Hotel Chocolat's new line of free from chocolates, which promise high quality chocolates sans gluten, dairy, and nuts. Naturally, as soon as I heard, I made a point to stop by Hotel Chocolat's Euston Station shop to pick up samples to review.
Sunday, April 7, 2019

ROLLN Review

After all these years of being gluten-free, it still amazes me when I discover new restaurants where I can (safely) experience a cuisine for the first. Such is the case with ROLLN, a New York City sushi restaurant that recently made the bold and brave decision to go completely gluten-free.  

Other than a few one-off occasions of trying sushi (I'm looking at you Wegmans), I have largely avoided seeking sushi out because of lurking gluten in sauces and ingredients such as soy sauce. 

Recognizing that the central components of sushi are naturally gluten-free, ROLLN committed to sourcing higher quality (and therefore gluten-free) ingredients and making everything in-house to set themselves apart as as a sushi restaurant that not only serves safe gluten-free sushi, but serves up a product that's a higher quality because of their attention to real, fresh ingredients. 

Excited to truly try something new and impressed by ROLLN's gluten-free ethos and commitment to our community, I made sure to stop by their shop the first chance I had to visit New York City. During my latest work trip to the city, ROLLN was the first stop I made after arriving to the city, making a beeline straight to their adorable mint green shop in the flatiron district. 
Saturday, April 6, 2019

Chaia Tacos Review

Now that I've finally caught up with my London reviews (with a few more yet to come), I was excited to turn my sights back stateside and resume exploring gluten-free eats in my own backyard. 

Whenever anyone asks me about where to eat out in Washington DC, Chaia Tacos is more often than not my first recommendation. With an entirely gluten-free menu and innovative take on vegetarian tacos that is downright inspired, they have every box checked when it comes to my idea of a perfect restaurant. 

That being said, my one and only complaint over the years has been that their Georgetown location, albeit cute and homey, is just too far out of the way of my daily life to make visits to Chaia a regular habit. That all changed however when they opened up their second location in the more centrally located Chinatown. Now with Chaia just blocks from my office, I was more than ready to rekindle my love affair with them, and write an updated review, since my last review was written several years ago. 
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea at Claridge's Review

I'm not entirely sure whether being gluten-free has made me a foodie (by being hyperaware of what I eat), or if I was a foodie who developed a gluten-intolerance. Either way, if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that food is a central part of how I explore and experience the world. 

In fact, when building my London itinerary, I made sure to prioritize not only the sights I wanted to see, but also uniquely British experiences where food plays a central role. Of course the grandest example of this is afternoon tea, the daily ritual that has been a tradition since the 19th century. 

When researching options for afternoon tea, I discovered offerings from various venues ranging from a casual meal to formal multi-course affairs. As this was my first trip abroad and a perfect excuse to dress up for the occasion, I narrowed my options down to London's most revered and famed purveyors of afternoon tea. After much debate, I decided to book my reservation for Claridge's, won over by their tantalizing menu, storied history, and legendary service. Because I so rarely dine out at such a splendid venue, I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience from the moment I walked in. 
Sunday, March 31, 2019

Gluten-Free Options at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

When I knew I was planning my visit to London last month, I tried to tailor my itinerary so I was avoiding many major tourist attractions. Crowds and queueing are just not my thing and I much prefer to experience a destination by getting off the beaten path. However, as I was planning my trip, I knew I would make one big exemption to my rule: visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden for a chance to see the sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films up close and personal. 

Admittedly, I'm a huge Potter fan (see my reviews from the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando), so this was one outing where I didn't mind the tourist-y trappings at all. As a delightfully simple day trip from London, I made sure to have snacks on hand to munch on throughout the day, but was curious to see if there were gluten-free options available in the attraction's Backlot Cafe.

Hemsley + Hemsley Cafe at Selfridges Review

Now I'm not much of a shopper, but when I was planning my trip to London, I knew I wanted to pay a visit to Selfridges, the storied department store that is the second-largest shop in the UK and whose Oxford Street doors have been welcoming customers for over 100 years. 

While part of my visit was motivated by seeing the spectacle of Selfridges, I was also motivated by the lure of Hemsley + Hemsely, a cafe nestled in the third floor that serves food free from grains, refined sugars, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when dining out in the middle of the swimsuit section of an astonishingly expansive department store, but it certainly wasn't the carefully crafted, almost calming experience I had. With a health-conscious menu and calming vibe, this was among one of the most relaxing meals I discovered in London.
Friday, March 29, 2019

Pho Review (UK)

On my final night in London, I knew I wanted to lay low and have a low-key night after nonstop sightseeing for a full week. With an late afternoon flight back home to DC the next day, I wanted to use the evening to pack and get situated to make sure my travel to London Heathrow Airport went as smoothly and stress-free as possible.

In looking for soothing, safe places to eat out for my final dinner, I quickly zeroed in on Pho, a UK chain serving up Vietnamese street food and soups where "practically everything" is gluten-free. With a menu not only filled with options, but also reviewed and certified by Coeliac UK, I was sold that this was the perfect place to get a cozy, comfort food meal before a busy day of travel.

The location nearest to my Holborn hotel was in Clerkenwell, which also happens to be the chain's first location. Arriving for an early dinner, I was excited to settle in and enjoy a big bowl of broth and noodles.
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Krumville Bake Shop Review

If there's one thing I know for sure, its that the real MVP of the gluten-free world are gluten-free bakeries. These dedicated bake shops not only serve up sweet and savory baked goods, but provide an all-too-rare experience of normalcy for those who have to live free from the number one ingredient in cakes, breads, and so many other sweets. 

When Antonella from the Brooklyn-based Krumville Bake Shop recently reached out offering a sample of her dairy-free products to review on the blog, I enthusiastically agreed. 

What sets Krumville Bake Shop apart from other gluten-free bakeries is that their artisanal products are made in small batches with carefully selected ingredients, including their own proprietary flour blend. Their ultimate goal is to make products that not only compete with their gluten-free competitors, but can stand up to (and apart from) gluten-containing baked goods. As I reviewed their website in eager anticipation of my order, I got the sense even before my samples arrived that Krumville Bake Shop was going to impress me.
Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beyond Bread Review

Wherever my travels take me, I try to seek out and support 100% gluten-free establishments. Few and far between, these dedicated cafes, bakeries, and restaurants are truly an oasis in a gluten-full world and provide the rare experience of dining out without fear. 

That's why as soon as I landed in London, I started my first morning in the city with breakfast at Beyond Bread, a lovely little gluten-free bakery whose stellar reputation put it on my radar long before my plans were set to visit the UK. I've seen countless other gluten-free bloggers and foodies share mouth-watering photos of their gluten-free baked goods and couldn't wait to have my turn to enjoy their delicious offerings.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Oliver's Fish & Chips Review

Of course I couldn't travel thousands of miles to the UK without seeking out one of Britain's most iconic food pairings: fish and chips. 

After crowdsourcing recommendations for the best gluten-free fish and chips eateries via social media, Oliver's Fish & Chips in Belsize Park quickly made my short list of restaurants to visit. Not only do they have an abundance of gluten-free options, but they dedicate each and every Wednesday to going completely gluten-free.

Dedicating an afternoon to the enjoyment of fish and chips and exploring nearby Camden Market area, I eagerly anticipated enjoying one of my favorite pre-gluten-free meals on UK soil.