Genius Gluten Free Bread launch

May 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm (Uncategorized)

Its been a long time, some 25 yrs, since I sat down to a plate of sandwiches, so this was a real treat. Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, a professionally trained chef, spent 3 yrs perfecting a recipe for gluten free bread for her gluten intolerant son. The resulting Genius loaf is now available in a number of supermarket’s which is really good news for all those who suffer from gluten intolerance.

The Genius gluten free tea, held at Claridges, served us a selection of gluten free; salmon, chicken, egg & cress, ham and cucumber sandwiches. Followed by an assortment of delicious tasting pastries and cakes.

Despite only hours noticed, that, not only do I not eat gluten but am also on a dairy and sugar free diet, Claridge’s managed to deliver said sandwiches gluten and dairy free! Very impressed.

I didn’t manage so well on the dessert front, which was understandable. Who ever heard of a sugar free macaron! But bless their hearts they had made a special selection of dairy and gluten free pastries for me, so I did taste my first macaron and a gorgeous almond strawberry tartlet. The taste was worth the sugar headache afterwards.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne makes a lovely loaf of bread, the marketing company did a good job of the launch and I particularly  liked the sustainable goody bag with wooden spoon, a brown and white loaf and a fab cook book. I look forward to making some of the great recipes.

Having Candida, unfortunately, I couldn’t make a habit of eating the brown bread as it contains yeast and treacle, or the white as it has sugar and treacle. Despite it only being a small amount, I find it best to avoid completely dairy, sugar, yeast and gluten, as complete abstinence means, once in a while, I can let rip and sample some delicacies like those presented yesterday.

For those who are on a gluten free diet, I think this bread is very good news. It toasted well and didn’t crumble into small morsels when formed into a sandwich. Always a plus when eating food you want to end up in your mouth and not deposited down the front of your clothes.

Since over ten million people in the UK are suffering from one kind of allergy or another and allergic conditions have increased four-fold over the past 20 years. Any new widely available food produce with intolerance in mind is welcomed.

In terms of venue, I’d never been to Claridge’s before. What a beautiful hotel, fabulous chandeliers. But a bit disturbed to find, on visiting the ladies room,  a woman who’s job it was to turn on the tap for you and place a napkin next to it for you to dry your hands. Now, maybe the genteel clientele of Claridge’s don’t have the ambidexterity required to turn on a tap or the wrist strength required to reach for a hand towel, but I sure as hell do.  A bit of a flash back to another century perhaps?

While I was drying my hands the woman had scuttled into the toilet cubicle and deposited half a can of some sort of deordoriser/air freshener down the toilet bowl and into the few cubic feet of air in there. Does she do that after everyone, I thought? Or was it just cos I looked like my wee might smell bad?

My god woman! Think of your health! The health of the planet!! And the health of the next asthmatic who uses that cubicle and is struck down with a fit of dyspnea from all the phthalates, synthetic fragrances and other noxious chemicals contained in that can.

Can’t Claridges find more gainful employment for her before she kills herself and us all with that can of superfluous air polluting nonsense? Smell wise, a couple of sprigs of lavender or eucalyptus or some crushed cardamoms should see us right.

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Lets elect to eat!

May 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm (Uncategorized)

The most important political office is that of the private citizen. So lets eat!
Supper club: 8th May 2010
Menu
Welcome drink
Starters: Goats cheese, pinenut + oven roasted tomato charlotte with puy lentils and basil oil served with grilled polenta.
Mains: Pork tenderloin stuffed with chestnut and prunes served with colcannon of spring greens.
Dessert: Zeppole di san Giuseppe (Italian style donut) with rhubarb and orange Marmellata.
Tea/coffee/Sweet things!

Tickets available from: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/80912

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April 17, 2010 at 11:40 am (Uncategorized)

The Brixton Riad night: All things moorish.

Welcome Drink: something Moorish!
Meze of bean dip with feta, lentil vadas & shot of tomato & harissa soup with coriander cream served with turkish flatbread
Mains: Moorish skewers with pork fillet & mejadarah.
Intermezzo: Vanilla lassi with rosewater
Dessert: Baklava with & pistachio ice cream
BYO
Tickets from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/78868

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Free-from Night

April 12, 2010 at 10:55 am (Uncategorized)


Free From Night:
I decided to do a free-from night based around what I eat myself. My own diet is a fairly unusual combination but just in case there are others who like to eat out and not forgo starters and dessert:

Welcome drink: Shot of lemongrass vodka

Starters: Mini potato cakes filled with chestnut & roasted hazelnuts with aubergine & sun dried tomato pate. Spicy polenta chips.

Mains: Thai style tofu-cashew fritters served with thai vegetables & pineapple chutney.

Dessert: Plum, banana, raisin & ginger cobbler with vanilla custard & banana cream

Tea and coffee and biscuits

Tickets available from: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/78866

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St Patricks night , snake free supper club

March 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm (Uncategorized)

When I was young I dont remember a St Patricks parade that it didnt piss down with rain. Standing, scrabbling to catch a glimpse of the floats or as they were, tractors drawing trailers, full of dacing irish girls and boys in their trad irish dancing costumes. Many of the floats used to be just lorries, or shiny tractors, and the odd pipe band. It was a very sombre affair. Cork was no NYC, no green beer or silly tricolour hats.

Pubs and shops closed their doors for the day. And what with a good helping of mass thrown in for starters, this gave the day a dull, grey, depressed sunday feeling. As I got older, I tried hard to overcome this feeling with all day parties. This helped tremendously and I even attended the St Patricks Day parade in london, a few years ago, where true to form, it pissed down with rain.

So, by way of bringing some variety to the day that celebrates the man who drove all the snakes from ireland, the less said about the bringing of christianity the better, a trad irish supper club night.

Menu

Welcoming drink: Cork Dry G & T or glass of Guinness.

Starters tasters of: Black Pudding, wrapped in Parma Ham with a Sundried Compote.

Tripe and onions. A Gluten free alternative.

Main course: Irish Stew, Floury potatoes, Farmhouse cheddar cheese biscuits. Soda bread.

Dessert: Apple pie and berry or brown bread ice cream. Gluten free alternative, berry & cream dressed pavlova.

Irish Coffees.

Tickets from wegottickets http://www.wegottickets.com/event/75102

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My so called diet…

March 12, 2010 at 3:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I recently felt moved to write something about my ‘diet’. Half in response to some of the misunderstandings in relation to people who don’t eat gluten, dairy etc and half by way of explaining why you’ll never hear me utter the words, “surprise me” in relation to food.

Its also the reason why I cant attend fellow underground restaurants/supper club nights. Set menus are a no no.

I’ve been on one restricted diet or another ever since I came to the UK in 1987. From stone age to prehistoric age. I sought help because of recurrent episodes of ‘food poisoning’, which had plagued me since my time as a laboratory technician working in microelectronics research.

When I started work I was ok, but after 3 yrs of forced exposure to various organic chemicals, I was very sick. Initially it was diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome but after shaking 10 tins of Lindane containing flea powder all over our flat, it progressed to full blown Candida.

I wasn’t working in the environmental field at that stage and thought like every other consumer ‘if its on sale, its safe’. It was during one of those long hot London summers. Our old flat had previously been a squat for dogs and all the fleas had been bedded down cosely in the floor boards waiting for a nice long basking heat wave.

It was quite cartoon like the way several hundred pinged off the floor when you walked across it, but become untenable when the cat started going insane and the fleas turned on the humans.

And so I started to balloon up, crave sugar, wine, anything yeasty, mouldy or fungusey. Its strange how the body craves the exact things that make us ill. The theory is they give us a temporary ‘high’ before we start to feel the ill effects.

My diet is not a lifestyle choice, or an option, it is a health regime. By following it I tend to remain the wrong side of healthy but the options of neglect results in some painful consequences.

Currently, I don’t eat; sugar (processed or too much fruits sugars), yeast, gluten, dairy, butter, yogurt or milk, acidic things like lemon, lime or orange juice, vinegar (particularly that yucky balsamic stuff) and no overly mouldy things, and now add mushroom risotto to that as well!

I have candida, in my gut. The medical establishment is currently ‘out’ on that diagnosis. That diagnosis was confirmed in the Homeopathic hospital after the glucose solution I was given to drink converted to a massive blood alcohol level in less than an hour.

Candida occurs naturally in the intestine, but we can get an overgrowth, from being exposed to too much yeast, toxic chemicals, antibiotics, or by having our immune system compromised in some other way, for me it was through my occupation.

With candida you get all the symptoms of over indulgence in alcohol without the actually feeling of being drunk. The headaches & migraines, the forgetfulness, the ‘head in a bag’ syndrome, the confusion, the nausea, the vomiting, and the worst kind of hangover and also what I call a liver overload which gives me chemical sensitivities mostly to perfumes, aftershaves, cleanings products, paints, and solvents of various sorts. All in all it pays to stick to this diet and avoid all these things, when and where ever possible.

I had various theories put forward over the years as to how to overcome this particular infliction, one friend thought if I didn’t know what was in the food then I wouldn’t feel sick afterwards….that was blown to shit, literally, when I spend an hour on a beach in the sand dunes not feeling the effects of the milk that had been in an omelette I’d eaten earlier.

By way of an experiment, I was fed digestive enzymes in Canada by one friendly woman, and then everyone watched as I ate dessert. I don’t know if they worked as I puked it all up a short time later.

I used to travel a lot with work, and hence know the word for butter, flour, sugar and milk, in several different languages, and have nearly been arrested several times from the length of time I spend in shops scrutinising labels.

I have to forgo culinary delights, if I don’t know exactly what’s in them, or if I cant get across the vagaries of my diet in my pidgin attempt at a particular language.

I remember one trip to Brussels, then far from a culinary experience, and…even now…..anyway, it seems they eat bread or some combination thereof for breakfast, dinner and tea. Having had boiled eggs for breakfast three days in a row, and served sandwiches for every meal there after, I was ravenous. I’d have eaten the horse and chased the jockey.

There was no such thing as the V word in Brussels at that time, either varieties of.
The dinner I attended had no provision for vegetarian, or vegans or those allergic etc. Food was place in front of you and they looked fierce insulted when the plate was returned full.

Having to sat embarrassingly thru the first creamy, buttery course. I explained quietly to the waiter what I couldn’t eat, after several muted conflabs he returned form the kitchen with the only thing they had I could eat, a boiled chicken breast. Lovely!

While this kind of offering maybe acceptable 6 yrs ago. Anywhere that offers me a plate of food striped of any sauce and food I cant eat cos of my diet without any replacement extras, and then has the cheek to charge me full price, gets a big black mark and a comment on their website.

Food and eating can be a very emotive issue and as a fairly shy person its hard to ask for what you need especially when there is an unsympathetic reply.

Over the years the response have varied from utter incomprehension, to totally unsympathetic, and downright rudeness. Food has been removed with a snippy glare and returned with the offending butter scrapped off (and left uneaten as a result), chefs have refused to serve me particular combinations of food together if its not on the menu, I have been reduced to tears on many occasions when they think I am just a ‘fussy eater’.

The unfortunately growth of nut and sea food allergies has heightened awareness and understanding considerably. And while I don’t need to carry an epipen, the better labelling of ingredients and heightened awareness benefits all of us with intolerance’s and allergies.

So what happens if I do eat something I shouldn’t’? I will spare you the disgusting digestive details, suffice to say they run to polar ends of the digestive spectrum.

After eating sugar, I liken the intestine sensation to that of a small creature, dressed in a wetsuit, with razor blades on the outside crawling through my digestive system.

Depending on what I eat I get different reactions: lemon juice and vinegar – severe pain; milk or dairy products – severe pain and a path worn to the toliet; sugar- migraine, pain and dulling of brain, tiredness; bread – dulling of brain, pain & tiredness. And all accompanied with rapid weight gain in the form of water retention – I have two sets of clothes. And adding even more to the unsocial nature of this ailment, eating any of these gives me an intolerance to synthetic chemicals, phthalates, fragrances (perfumes and aftershaves, yuck) etc. But that’s for another blog entry.

I do, of course, when cooking, taste my own food. I mean the food I cook for the supper club. I just couldn’t eat a whole one. But my taste buds are more sensitive not having been overrun with overly sweet, creamy and buttery food.

When out with friends it’s a running joke that I will stick my finger into whatever they are eating to get a taste. An unhygienic practice I know, but makes me feel like I am normal & can participate. I also have a great memory for how things used to taste.

I have had some wonderful meals in restaurants where they have been so nice in relation to what I can and cant eat, they make me cry with appreciation because of their thoughtfulness. More recently this happened in Ottolenghis, but also in Café Paradiso in Cork and Otto’s in West Cork. I’ve had the best meals of my life in Hotel De France in Riberac, which is alas now closed. The chef there delighted in making such amazing food and sugar free desserts it would leave you guessing all night what was in them. Always the sign of good food in my book.


So what do I eat.

Well, I adapt recipes using soya milk, non-dairy marg or sometimes goats butter, various gluten free flours, mostly maize, millet, & gram. I eat pretty well at home. I can tolerate the odd bit of Italian bread (no dairy) and have the odd square of chocolate which keeps me happy. I wish there was more understanding given the increasing incidence of food and other allergies. I do love good food, and I love been able to eat and drink like every one else. I do realise its a hassle to cook for me, and others like me, but sometimes its nice to feel part of the herd and graze normally.

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Day of the Dead (Saints and Souls food) 31st Oct.

October 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm (Uncategorized)

The Last Supper Club Day of the Dead (Saints and Souls food) 31st Oct.
If your looking for an alternative to dunked apples?

Tequila shot.
Starters: Roasted pumpkin seeds, homemade tortilla chips and guacamole.

Mains: Tamales (veggie or chicken option) Black bean and plantain or Jalapeno chicken with mole poblano. Corn and sweet red pepper salsa and salad.

Dessert: Mexican Bread Pudding with thickened cream.

Tea and coffee and Calabasa en Tacha (pumpkin candy) or sugar skulls if I can get the mould.

Tickets available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/62270

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Private Party – The 50th Birthday

September 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm (Uncategorized)

As any cork person knows, certain Italian words are great to say in a cork accent. The accent, for those who are not familiar, ‘starts at the bottom and goes up to the top’, in terms of pitch. So words like gnocchi, have great comic potential. Tis far from gnocchi I was brought up, gnocchi come in for your dinner and leave that cat alone etc, etc..So its not hard to understand why the catering shop assistant didn’t understand what the hell I was looking for when I asked for a passatutto, in my best cork accent. I did mimes. ‘A potato ricer’ he suggested helpfully ‘no, a passatutto’ I said holding onto those vowels for dear life. I much prefer the word passatutto, potato ricer sounds so…well…functional..

Why, the guests asked did you make the gnocchi yourself, when you could have just bought it? A pertinent question. Well, because I really wanted to burn my fingers with hot potatoes and spend a few hours trying to decide which way to passatut!

My first time tea smoking, I wonder if you can tea smoke other things besides fish. It’s a great way to burn the arse off your good kitchen stainless steel cooking trays, but it gave off a beautiful aroma, I used lapsang souchong and some twig tea for balance.

It was a night of firsts, first time doing a charlotte, first time gnocchi, first time granita (another brilliant Italian word), first time forgetting to put salt and pepper on the table…it was also my first time doing a dinner for all friends, payment is a bit awkward, thinking of ways to make it less painless.

The marinated Shimeji’s with walnut and tahini dressing…

The chocolate pear tart is one of my stable dishes, when I want to go that extra furlong. I can’t eat it myself, too much butter and sugar but it always goes down a treat. I found the recipe ages ago in a magazine and my thumb leafed copy is soon to be replaced by the book that’s its from, Florentines, A Tuscan Feast. Who knew…

The night finished with the guests getting intimate with the curtains…very caravaggio..

and the dog…

Menu

Pomegranate Fizz

Starters: Marinated shimeji and chestnut mushrooms in walnut and tahini yoghurt dressing.

Mains: Tea smoked salmon fillets with pickled cucumber salad.

Vegetarian option – a Charlotte of cheese’s with pine nuts, and roasted tomatoes on wilted greens and puy lentils with basil oil.

Feta, spinach and pine nut salad with sumac. Homemade gnocchi.

Strawberry Granita.

Dessert: Chocolate pear tart.

Tea, coffee and biscotti.

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Kyteler’s Revenge

August 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Kyteler’s Revenge – An Irish Feast 5th September 2009

Tickets available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/58350

Menu

Ballygubnet cocktail

Black Pudding, Mustard Mash, Basil and Orange Pesto

Grandmother Slye’s Irish Stew and potato scones.

Apple tart and Jameson’s ice cream

Irish Coffee and truffle chocolates

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The Confessional Dinner

August 19, 2009 at 9:48 pm (Uncategorized)

The confessional dinner

Make your last supper divine….

An eating ceremony:

Menu:

Glass of Pomegranate fizz,

Aubergine and goats cheese wraps with pine nuts, thyme and caper sauce.

Salt cod croquettes and sweet tomato sauce.

Almond tart with blackberry ice cream.

Tea, coffee and pistachio biscotti.

Time: Saturday, 22 August 2009 19:30

Host: The Last Supper Club

Location: The Last Supper Club – email with details will be forwarded after tickets are purchased.

Tickets can be purchased from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/57376

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