Product Reviews, Restaurant Reviews and Recipes: All GLUTEN FREE!
As a Food Blogger, I am a keen lover of all that is GLUTEN FREE and contribute to the FreeFrom Food Awards as well as judging the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards. These awards are the UK’s only industry awards for FreeFrom foods by FoodsMatter set up to encourage innovation and celebrate excellence in the FreeFrom food industry. The awards are entirely independent, supported by sponsorship and entry fees only. As a blogger, with a focus upon Chocolate (Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Bags and Chocolate Boxes), as well as enjoying travelling and eating out, it was great to be part of the team tasting a wide variety of entries for the 10th Anniversary competition. So alongside the judging of Desserts and Puddings, as well as Confectionery, I am also looking forward to the Free From Eating Out Award ceremony later in the year, I also judged Ready Meals as well as TeaTime…
READY MEALS: Occasionally, I feature a one of my own recipes on my Blog, but I confess not to be the greatest cooker and therefore, I do rely on Supermarkets and Retailers to provide me with the basics for dinners. Therefore, it seemed both interesting to find new products (entered into the Ready Meal class) as well as contribute my taste buds to this category for the first time.
Surprising the number of dishes that we had to try as part of this category. Most had to be heated up with supporting people organising the continual supply of hot dishes for our review and judgement. It varied from fish fingers to cook-in-the-bag pasties, chicken & bacon Pasta heated in the oven to curry meals heated in the microwave. The instructions from manufacturers were followed so that each product was at the optimal temperature and recommended cooking method.
Several sausages were entered into the Ready Meal category which suggests that this may become it’s own class at some point. A great variety was enjoyed including a very sweet sausage which included pork belly and maple syrup to add sweetness to the pork filling as well as a rather unusual Coronation Chicken sausage. This had the kick of curry alongside the clean taste of chicken which I found to be both different as well as rather lush. This wasn’t universally felt and we had some debate around sausages when it came to awards. And one of the sausages was made with Ostrich meat: it tasted like chicken!
We also tasted several burgers, which varied in size, added flavours and intensity. One was made of Buffalo meat which was very gamey, a strong rich flavour as well as more traditional beef burgers. Some of my personal highlights included:
One of the many sausages we enjoyed.
The winners and awards will be presented at the Royal College of Physicians at the end of March 2017 so I can not share with you the Winners, Highly Commended and Commended entries but be reassured that after much deliberation, discussion and debate, the FreeFrom Awards will recognise some great Ready Meals for 2017. And the shortlist has been released, so check these excellent Ready Meal providers:
Meaty and Fishy Ready Meals – Sponsored by Mrs Crimbles
- Asda Breaded Gluten Free Chicken Breast Fillets
- Asda Gluten Free Quiche Lorraine
- BigFish Salmon Fillets Marinated in Piri Piri Sauce
- Bird’s Eye Gluten Free 10 Fish Fingers
- Debbie&Andrew’s Coronation Chicken Chipolatas
- Doherty’s Gluten Free Meat Balls
- Kezie Buffalo and Mushroom Burgers
- Kezie Ostrich Sausages
- Oh So Lean Low Fat Smoked Maple Steak Burger
- Pure Free From Dairy & Gluten Free Chicken Tikka Masala
- Slightly Different Foods Sweet Quebec Sausages
- Tesco Free From Chicken and Bacon Pasta
- Tesco Free From Beef Casserole and Dumplings
- Tesco Free From Chicken Tikka Masala with Pilau Rice
- The Black Farmer Premium Pork Chipolatas
- Wiltshire Farm Foods Apetito Free From Chili con Carne
A great selection of Meaty & Fishy Ready Meals for 2017.
TEATIME: Another new category for me to judge was “TeaTime” which I imagined would include cakes (rather than desserts and puddings) and some sweet (and possibly savoury) biscuits. Now these are a stable part of my diet so I felt I could contribute to this Class of the competition. After having a morning of eating Ready Meals (as above), it was quite exhausting to have so many cakes to sample.
The cakes varied from whole cerlebration cakes which were quite expensive as a whole but very large and would feed a party /dinner party to smaller packs of individual cakes such as muffins, some with rich zesty fillings (such as Lemon Curd or Triple Chocolate with pieces of Chocolate as well as a runny Chocolate Ganache). We also tried a few Tray Bakes which were rather tasty and I rather enjoyed my first taste of Treacle Tart: a cake I’d never had before but will definitely be trying again!
And lots of biscuits including several variations on the traditional shortbread, some very buttery to others which were quite chalky and hard. Other biscuits included snappy ones which were thin and quite exotic to a savoury cracker made from Coconuts (which actually could be used with both sweet toppings as well as savoury ones as it was fairly neutral). It was a delight but after all those cakes, and the Ready Meals, I certainly had my fill of biscuits. Some of the highlights for me included…
So lots of special TeaTime treats tasted and judged to be Commended, Highly Commended and /or the overall Winner. I will not reveal these as they will be announced at an event later in March 2017 but the shortlist includes:
Tea Time! – Sponsored by Romer Labs
And at the Awards Ceremony, in celebration of 10 years of the FreeFrom Food Awards, a new publication will be released to mark the occasion and share the history of the awards. I am sure this will also provide some useful insights into how the winners are decided and the story of some of the winners which are truly inspirational.