Sunday, 22 April 2012

A GF evening at Annies secret supperclub

I heard about Annies through the various GF people I follow on twitter, and was intrigued.  Annies has been going for just over a year, there are now often 2 events per month and most nights are themed around an event or type of food.  Annies food is gluten-free and as I found out last night she will also cater for other types of allergies such as lactose intolerance.  The St Georges day themed night was the evening I had my eye on, but as the menu is not released until a few weeks before the event you book without actually knowing what you are going to eat.   There was an example menu from last years SGD evening and the food looked delicious so I was happy to take the plunge and book.  The anticipation grew nicely as I continued to follow Annies tweets about trials in the kitchen for some of the dishes.   A few days before the night, I received an email with the secret address and mobile number of the hosts in-case we got lost, part of the booking promise is that you wont reveal the address or the identity of any of the hosts or their family which adds a nice mystery to proceedings.   On the night we had to put the baby down earlier than normal to ensure we could get to Annies by 7pm.  Our babysitter turned up on time and we were off following the sat nav.  There are 10 guests for each evening and I had been wondering what the mix of age was going to be on the night.  When we arrived I was relieved to see a good mixture ranging from early 30’s to late 50’s, we were sat opposite a couple of a similar age and with a new baby so we had lots in common.  The dining room is just off the main entrance and is nicely presented but very homely with dim lighting.  The first course was a take on an English fry up.  Plum tomatoes, sausage meat with a quail’s egg, some little toast and bacon Jam that was like a pate was absolutely delicious and really beautifully presented on the plate with small portions of everything.  The next course ‘fish and chip’s but without the chips was lovely battered fish presented in cone shaped newspaper along with homemade mushy peas and tartare sauce. This course was also wonderful, I really enjoyed the fish in a great tasting batter and the mushy peas and tartare sauce were a great accompaniment.  The next course was beef wellington with mash and tender stem broccoli, I ordered mine medium and it came perfectly cooked, the beef was divine, this was in my opinion the best course of all, the meat was obviously of great quality as it just melted in your mouth, the pastry was also really good, nice and crunchy and complimented the meat very well, the mash and broccoli were also delicious and this came with yummy gravy.  Even though the portions were not very big I was really starting to fill full at this point!  The conversation was slightly split down the middle as it would have been difficult to talk from one end of the long table to the other, we were happy talking to the couple opposite and to our right but I wonder if that normally happens on these evenings, I suppose it will depend on the group.  Before the desert came out our host informed us that one of the deserts hadn’t turned out as planned, the mini spotted dick hadn’t risen, I actually just felt really sorry for Annie because this had obviously not happened to them before, the spotted dick was served for those of us who wanted to still try it along with the other deserts which was a take on a trifle and a rhubarb and strawberry crumble.  

This wasn’t my favourite course even without the spotted dick not turning out as it should, I felt the crumble topping was too sugary and the strawberries mixed in weren’t to my individual taste although my husband really enjoyed it,  I really liked the strawberries and mascarpone cream in the ‘trifle’ but found the sponge base a little bit dry.  It really didn’t detract from the meal for me though, I was incredibly full anyway and they were so apologetic I just wanted to reassure everyone how good everything else was.  We then moved onto coffee, which came with handmade peppermint chocolates and fudge which were very sweet but nice and a lovely touch at the end of the meal. 

The host (Annies husband) is incredibly charismatic and adds very nicely to the evening as front of house, I would absolutely recommend Annies, if you want an evening with very good gluten-free food and like the idea of meeting new people then this is the evening for you.  I can definitely see us going to another event in the future as we enjoyed the food very much.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Freefrom awards 2012 results!

Hot off the press!

The results are in for the freefrom food awards, I have listed below all of the yummy sweet things that won in their category.

Innovation Award
Bessant & Drury Fine Ice Cream Co. – Lemon

Gluten-free scones, sweet tarts, Bakewells, muffins etc - sponsored by Tesco
Joint Winners:
Sugargrain Almond, Apricot and Tahini Flapjack
Sweetcheeks Almondies
Gluten-free cakes and mixes – sponsored by Mrs Crimbles
Joint Winners:
Sweetcheeks Maple & Pecan Cupcakes
The Cake Crusader Gluten, Wheat and Dairy Free Carrot Cake
Gluten-free puddings, desserts & cheesecakes – sponsored by Hale & Hearty
Food Heaven Sicilian Lemon Cheesecake
Dairy/gluten-free chocolate and snack bars – sponsored by Tesco
Booja Booja Rum Sozzled Sultana Chocolate Truffle

Dairy/gluten-free Christmas foods – sponsored by Produced in Italy
Foodamentalists Frangipane mince pies

What a great list, congratulations to Sweetcheeks for winning in multiple categories

For the full list of award wins check out the freefrom food website

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Better Brownies @ Leon

Have you been to a Leon Café?  I feel like I ‘discovered them’ over 10 years ago when I happened upon their café in Carnaby street, now they have 12 restaurants across London so things are obviously going well!  What I loved about them then and still do, was the clear labelling of food that was GF, and their really strong branding that gave such a standout identity to the place, its billed as healthy fast food and it is almost the only place I have lunch if shopping on Oxford street as they are still on Carnaby street and also have a smaller café on Regent street.  I wanted to review today the brownies at Leon, I have had many a brownie from this café so I thought I should tell you about them if you haven’t already discovered it.  

They are called ‘better brownie’ and are made with Valrhona chocolate (the best chocolate in my opinion)!  I went for a bite last weekend and had a healthy superfood salad knowing I would follow it up with a brownie!  The brownies are moist and gooey, with chunks of chocolate; there is a hint of orange  and a slightly crunchy exterior.  Brownies are the type of ‘cake’ you often get gluten-free, I suppose because they are often made without flour anyway, I have tasted some really good ones, and reviewed some on this blog.  

However, I have never had a brownie as good as a Leon brownie, the chocolate is just so delicious and they don’t taste overly sugary like so many can, I also really like the subtle orange flavour to them, unfortunately this orange flavour doesn’t agree so much with Jools otherwise I think the first 10/10 score would have been achieved for 2012.  

So to conclude, if you are in London you MUST check out Leon for a healthy, reasonably priced lunch, and then blow it and have a brownie for dessert!

Leon ‘Better Brownie’ – scrumptious 9.5/10

Verified by Jools