Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
Whilst the Autumn nights are drawing in and Halloween is just around the corner (with plenty of GLUTEN FREE Ghostly Treats to enjoy), it seems a little early to be thinking about Christmas but I guess not if you wander the shops. Already I’ve seen Mince Pies, Advent Calendars and of course Christmas Puddings: all for sale and some with discounts!!!
After my recent visit to the Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2015, held at London’s Olympia, I was lucky enough to see plenty of new Christmas Treats. This trade show is a showcase for “speciality” food products and last year my blog focused upon the GLUTEN FREE Crisps, Popcorn and Savoury products, GLUTEN FREE Sweet snacks and treats, as well as trying lots of GLUTEN FREE Chocolates, many of them were there again.
So back to Christmas… What was new and GLUTEN FREE!
JOE & SEPH’S POPCORN is a great range of Popcorn which is largely GLUTEN FREE. Not quite all of their flavours are but most of them ( so it’s easier to list the ones which aren’t GF: “Smooth Caramel, Mirin, Soya & Sesame” and “Thai Style Peanut Satay” both part of the Sweet & Savoury Collection, “Cosmopolitan” part of the Cocktail Collection and “Easter: Trio of Chocolate” part of the Seasonal Collection). The rest are GLUTEN FREE! For Christmas they have “Mince Pie” popcorn, “Brandy Butter” popcorn and “Mint Chocolate” which I have tried and love, especially the “Mince Pie” popcorn. Another favourite of mine is the “Cheese on Toast” popcorn which does taste like real cheese on toast (without the GLUTEN!).
The Christmas Cracker has 6 mini packs (Salted Caramel), 6 hats and 6 terrible Christmas jokes (£19.99). In addition they told me they are introducing a “All you want for Christmas” stocking. This will be filled with 10 different snack packs including the seasonal favourites of “Mince Pie” and “Brandy Butter” and will be sold in a red stocking (£24.99). I will be looking out for this!
Also NEW are their sauces: “Salted Caramel Sauce”, “Sticky Toffee Sauce”, “Chocolate Caramel Sauce”, “Chocolate & Hazelnut Sauce”, “Cappuccino Sauce” and “Gin & Tonic Caramel Sauce“. I did try the G&T sauce but as I am not so keen on caramel. It was fine but I won’t be dipping my popcorn in any of them. Indeed, disappointed that they were encouraging tastings with wheat-based crackers and not GLUTEN FREE popcorn!
Last year, I enjoyed my Jelly belly Advent Calendar although I was uninspired by the picture (which was Father Christmas made up of Jelly Beans but loved the contents of 24 little bags of beans). It makes a change to have something that is sweet as well as GLUTEN FREE and not made of chocolate (not that’s there a shortage of alternatives). As beans go, they do have some really great flavours such as Buttered Popcorn, Watermelon and Blueberry, which use real natural flavorings to make them taste good (although not all of them are natural!).
In addition to the Advent Calendar, they will be offering Candy Sticks (suitable for hanging on a Christmas Tree or stuffing into stockings) in two different packs: “Very Cherry, Green Apple & Orange” and “Watermelon, Tutti-Fruitti and Blueberry“. Of course they are also showing a new strange product which was on show… “Bean Boozled”
Bean Boozled: a strange concept which they explained has taken off with “young people”: you push down on the jar and a bean is selected for you. You then try it and it could be a “nice” flavour or indeed a “bad” flavour: yes: they have made beans which are the same colour but have a different taste! Those familiar with Harry Potter will know that Jelly Belly does make Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and I am guessing this is a development of this product. They suggested to check out YouTube to see some “consumer reactions”.
So the bean I tried could have been “Toothpaste“ but luckily for me it was “Blueberry“. I think I’m too fussy and would rather enjoy the beans than “dare” to have a bad one: some of the flavours include: “Vomit”, “Lawn Clippings”, “Dog Food”, “Baby Wipes” and “Stinky Socks“.
The Jelly Belly Beans are all GLUTEN FREE and if you’re in California, I would recommend visiting their factory: you get to see how they’re made and of course taste lots and lots of them!
Moo Free Chocolates have a NEW Advent Calendar for this year. Last year, the picture on the box was a little more serious (if that’s possible with an Advent Calendar: with Father Christmas) whereas this year’s cover has the different characters in cartoon format. Of course, Moo Free is Organic, GLUTEN FREE, Lactose Free, Soya Free and Dairy Free: which makes it a great choice for those with allergies/ intolerances and for Coaliacs and Vegans. They do use Rice Milk but having tasted their products, they taste like regular chocolate.
They talked about their upgraded “Merry Moos Christmas Selection Box” which includes four small chocolate bars (Bunnycomb Bar, Cheeky Orange Bar, Minty Moo Bar and Organic Chocolate Santa Bar). This is a good product for those who haven’t tried their different flavours.
Montezuma’s Chocolates are pitched as a luxury brand which is GLUTEN FREE, SOYA FREE, GM FREE and organic. Their Advent Calendar, last year was lovely with fairly large chunky chocolates everyday, rather than a small mere taste. This year they have extended their advent calendars to include a NEW Childrens one (£8.99), a NEW Milk & White Chocolate (£9.99) alongside the Dark Chocolate one (£9.99). On display at the show was their Chunky Chocolate Snowmen (8 in a pack). They also have a variety of gift selections including a Chocolate Library: which has a seasonal picture of a Snowman on it!
If you sign-up for their email distribution list, they will give you a 5% code off your first order online.
I’m not one for Christmas Puddings but at the show, I saw the Hale & Heart Christmas Pudding (which I was told, was launched last year). It wasn’t available for tasting: not that I would have, but for those who love them: this is GLUTEN FREE, WHEAT FREE, DAIRY FREE, MILK FREE and SULPHITES FREE.Never seen these before, and indeed, at this stage, Tyrrells had only the packaging to show (and they are not available YET for purchase) but for Christmas they will be selling “Merry Crisp-Mas” crisps. These are regular sea salt crisps made with red and white potatoes. An interesting seasonal offering which will be a colourful addition to any Christmas buffet. Strangely enough they already sell Red, White and Blue crisps so may be it isn’t that weird!
Walkers have been making Shortbreads for over 100 years. Their distinct tartan packaging is world-famous so it was great when they launched a GLUTEN FREE version of their products. Other shortbread biscuits are available but these are very buttery and taste just like their real counterparts. I’ve included these in the Christmas listing as whilst they aren’t NEW, they are becoming more widely available (now stocked in Waitrose, several online retailers, as well as direct from Walkers). They look appropriate for the Happy Holiday season and are available with Chocolate Chips, lemon and plain shortbreads: now in two sizes: a box of 12 biscuits or individual snack packs (with 2 biscuits). Personally, I have found the snack-packs useful to ensure I have something to nibble on when I am out and about. They do crush although you can clearly eat broken biscuits!
And finally, in this preview of Christmas products at the Show, two more Advent Calendars made by Divine Chocolates.
Made by Divine Chocolates with wildlife shaped chocolates, this Advent Calendar supports the work of RSPB (Royal Society for the Prevention of cruelty to Birds). I was advised that the picture on the cover was designed by Children’s book illustrator David Wojtowycz and it is available in shops as well directly from the RSPB. This product is a FairTrade but note: they do not state that it is GLUTEN FREE as (“None of the ingredients in Divine contain wheat/gluten. However, they are produced in a factory which does produce items containing wheat/gluten, so we cannot guarantee that they are completely gluten free“. Be warned if cross-contamination is an issue for you!
In addition, Divine Chocolates have a Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar with an appropriate nativity scene on it. It is nice to see the meaning of Christmas on an Advent Calendar rather than some character /generic picture and at a good price (£4.00). Also at the show, they had Festive Chocolate Lollies (£2.40) a snowman and a reindeer. As above, these products have a “MAY CONTAIN GLUTEN” warning as “None of the ingredients in Divine contain wheat/gluten. However, they are produced in a factory which does produce items containing wheat/gluten, so we cannot guarantee that they are completely gluten free“.
Fairtrade Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar by Divine with no GLUTEN containing ingredients.
This was selection of what was on show at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, clearly, there are many other GLUTEN FREE products out there. Enjoy your Christmas shopping! I’m looking forward to seeing the new Christmas products out there including Mince pies, even more Advent Calendars as well as other Chocolate festive treats.
But as I am learning, remember to check the Ingredients listings as Manufacturers do change their recipes and “magic formulas”.
This information was correct as of October 2015. And if you love Ice Cream…