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. 
Sunday, March 10, 2019

Leggero Review

For gluten-free diners, dedicated gluten-free Italian restaurants are the closest thing we have to the iconic "candy room" scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You mean everything on the menu is safe? Even the pasta and bread? Absolutely. Therefore, any opportunity to visit such a restaurant makes me want to burst out in spontaneous song. 

In doing my pre-trip homework on eateries I wanted to dine at in London, Leggero topped the list not only because they were a 100% gluten-free establishment, but the pasta, bread, and other dishes on the menu are all crafted with care in-house. Promising attention to detail and an innovative take on Italian cuisine, I made sure to arrive at Leggero with a hearty appetite and culinary curiosity. 
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Leon Review (UK)

Leon's Oxford location.
For my gluten-free, dairy-free review of Leon in the United States, click here.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the United States because I live and work in the only US city (to date) that has Leon. This British fast food chain wowed me last year with their American debut and impressively delivered gluten-free friendly fare that was not only healthy, but absolutely delicious. 

As I was planning my recent UK trip, I knew for certain that stopping by one of Leon's many locations in London was a must, both as a comparison to their stateside shop as well as to try their highly-regarded gluten-free chicken nuggets, a menu item that has not made it across the pond (yet). As it happened, I was able to stop by Leon twice while overseas: I had lunch at their Oxford location and breakfast at Heathrow Airport before jet setting back to the States. 
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Gluten-Free Options on United Airlines International Flight (2019)

Up until now, my frame of reference with airplane food is the pint-sized and often gluten-laden snacks handed out at cruising altitude. Now that I've been gluten-free for several years, I've learned to approach any air travel like a chipmunk, stashing snacks in my carry-on to ensure I'm never without safe sustenance when traveling. 

However, when booking tickets for my first international flight to London, I was excited to see a gluten-free option listed as the meal selection option. While I would still plan to have plenty of snacks (because I guessed there'd be a high likelihood of dairy showing up in the meal), I was excited to see what would be served, and how edible it was (or looked).