Busy Bee Cake House, Newcastle-under-Lyme

A local blogger let me know about this great new place which has recently opened in Newcastle-under-Lyme and has gluten free cakes!

Busy Bee Cake House sign

Busy Bee Cake House sign

Busy Bee Cake House is a cafe specialising in cakes (surprise surprise!). They also serve a variety of hot and cold drinks (at very reasonable prices!) and sandwiches. They have loads of delicious looking cakes, and even better they have cakes which are suitable for a variety of different dietary requirements, including gluten free, lactose free, dairy free, vegan, paleo, diabetic friendly, and protein cakes.

We visited one afternoon after lunch, and shared two of their gluten free cakes. It was so great to be able to have a choice. We actually arrived just as they had finished a new recipe so we were the first customers to try one of the cakes (currently unnamed!).

Busy Bee Cake House

Busy Bee Cake House – unnamed cake

Busy Bee Cake House

Busy Bee Cake House – unnamed cake and Chestnut Tower

Both cakes were lovely and light (always impressive for gluten free cakes which can often be dense and crumbly). The chestnut tower was really interesting; it tasted like it had liqueur in but we were assured that was the chestnut puree. It was really delicious – the different creams and the light sponge base worked together so well. The unnamed cake (I suggested just calling it a chocolate cream cake!) was made with rice flour but as anyone who has baked with rice flour knows, this doesn’t mean it tastes like rice. It had quite a subtle chocolate flavour and was again very light. There were other gluten free cakes available too; one I’m keen to try is the vegan cheesecake which I believe is free of all main allergens and diabetic friendly too.

It’s a lovely relaxed atmosphere in the cafe; whilst we were in there there were some people eating cake and others who just came in for tea/coffee. The owners are very friendly too – they talked to us about the gluten free items, and came to ask us for feedback on the new cake as well as name suggestions. It’s a lovely light airy space with minimalist decoration (mostly branded with the Busy Bee Cake House logo or featuring photos of their celebration cakes). They can make cakes for occasions and are happy to adapt to your needs – when we were in there someone was discussing plans with them for a couple of birthday cakes. They had a Despicable Me Minion cake and a 3 tier traditional wedding cake on display when we visited and they looked great.

Busy Bee Cake House in Newcastle-under-Lyme

Busy Bee Cake House in Newcastle-under-Lyme

Busy Bee Cake House is at 6 The Midway, Newcastle-under-Lyme and is open from 10am until 6pm every day. I’m sure we’ll visit again and it’s a great place for meeting friends. Highly recommended!


Gluten Free Favourites – July 2016

According to my photos from the last month, July involved a lot of eating out! I had some conferences and work events, as well as a few lunchtime and evening meals out to celebrate (I left my job at the end of July and am now freelancing). Here’s a selection of the things I’ve loved in July…

Gluten free favourites - July 2016

Gluten free favourites – July 2016

Leon – I can’t believe Leon hasn’t featured in my monthly favourites yet; I adore Leon! For those who don’t know, Leon is a growing chain of fast food restaurants offering ‘healthier’ choices. Most are in London, but they are expanding and there is one in Birmingham New Street station. The allergens are clearly marked on the menu and many of the options are gluten free. I usually have a rice box with brown rice, coleslaw, plus whatever main choice I fancy. During July I visited Leon three times (twice in London, once in Birmingham), and had the sweet potato falafel, and Sicilian chicken meatballs – these were amazing so I had them twice! Leon also have gluten free cakes (from Honeybuns) – the lemon ginger crunch is really good.

Gluten Free Pizza at Amalfi White – we visited friends who live in Melbourne (the one near Derby, UK, not the one in Australia) in July, and went for a meal at Amalfi White. They have a gluten free menu with quite a lot of variety, and staff are very knowledgeable. I chose the Italiano wood fired pizza which was quite honestly one of the most amazing topping combinations I’ve ever had – it had chicken, pancetta, bolognese, goat’s cheese, red chilli, and basil pesto. It sounds like far too much for one pizza but it’s so good. I did have to take half of it home as it was massive but it really was amazing!

Cheshire Farm Ice Cream – I went to a food festival in July and although I wasn’t expecting there to be a lot of gluten free food, I was disappointed at how little there was I could try. One highlight however was Cheshire Farm Ice Cream who had a van with loads of different flavoured ice creams, many of which were gluten free. The staff were really clued up and had a full list of allergens, and were very aware of cross contamination issues too. I was able to have my ice cream in a tub rather than a cone (though apparently they do provide gluten free cones at their farm!). I chose one scoop of honeycomb ice cream and one scoop of sticky toffee pudding ice cream (which I was amazed was gluten free!). The sticky toffee pudding was quite possible the best ice cream I have ever tasted. I’ll definitely be seeking this out again!

Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger – the last few times we’ve eaten at Cappello Lounge my partner has had the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger so not wanting to copy, I’ve tried other things. The most recent time we visited however I took the plunge and chose to go for the gluten free version of the Harissa-Spiced Chicken Burger. I’ve been missing out! The chicken was really succulent and the flavours amazing – it has red pepper mayo and pimento soft cheese and is just lovely. I adore the fries there too so all in all an excellent meal! I’ve previously reviewed Cappello Lounge and would highly recommend the Loungers chain for gluten free.

What have you been loving in July? Any recommendations? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Peaches Chinese, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Since moving to Newcastle-under-Lyme I’ve been keen to try our local Chinese takeaway, Peaches, who offer gluten free options in their menu. Chinese cuisine is one of the trickiest when you have to follow a gluten free diet because soy sauce usually contains gluten and is in so many dishes. As most food is prepared in the same woks, you also have huge risks of cross contamination. Fortunately for me though, Peaches offer gluten free options for many of their dishes, and cook any gluten free meals separately. Peaches offer a buffet menu and an a la carte menu, but we chose to get a takeaway.

The menu is available online (current menu available here) and all the options that can be adapted to be gluten free are clearly marked. The majority of the menu can be gluten free, which I was very pleasantly surprised by. Obviously any of the deep fried dishes are out, and quite a few of the starters (spring rolls, dim sum etc.), but many of the main meals and accompaniments can be made gluten free.

I decided to go for Peppered Salt Mushrooms as a starter/side, and for my main I went for King Prawn and Scallop with Cashews with Egg Fried Rice. I also had a little bit of the Roast Crispy & Char Sui, Cantonese Style (which I asked to be made gluten free). The prawn crackers are unfortunately not gluten free so we bought our own and had those instead!

Peaches Chinese Takeaway, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Peaches Chinese Takeaway, Newcastle-under-Lyme

I ordered over the phone and was very reassured when I placed my order as I was informed that my food would be cooked separately and even stored separately. When we collected the food we were given a crate, and on the top was a plastic bag which had the gluten free dishes in (it did also have a crispy potato basket in which I was told wasn’t gluten free, but as this was in a separate bag and the gluten free items were all in sealed containers there were no concerns for cross contamination).

The food itself was lovely. I’m not that experienced in Chinese cuisine but I very much enjoyed the dishes I tried. I particularly enjoyed the scallops in my main dish, and the flavours of the mushroom dish. One thing others pointed out was the variety in flavours – each dish had very different flavours (all of which were delicious!). I don’t think this is necessarily the case at all Chinese restaurants/takeaways so Peaches got a big thumbs up from us!

I’m sure I’ll be trying more Chinese cuisine now we have somewhere so close (walking distance!). I’d like to eat in too though I’m not sure I’d be able to have the buffet as I imagine that isn’t gluten free. I’ll happily work my way through the a la carte menu though!

Peaches is on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme and offers eat in and takeaway options. For more information see their website.

David’s Brasserie, Trentham Gardens (Staffordshire)

One of the great things about moving to a new area is trying out new places to eat. Fortunately, there are lots of places we’ve found so far in Staffordshire that are able to cater for coeliacs. One that is fast become our favourite for a treat is David’s Brasserie at Trentham Gardens.

We first noticed David’s Brasserie when we went for a walk round Trentham Gardens on Valentine’s Day, but they were fully booked. They did confirm that they had plenty of gluten free options and stocked gluten free bread for sandwiches and starters, so we went back a couple of weeks later for a meal.

We went early evening and each had a three course meal from the main menu. We tried all sorts of interesting flavour combinations – many of which we loved (though you can’t love them all!). My dessert was my favourite course – a tonka bean panna cotta with a fudgey ice cream.

Tonka Bean Panna cotta at David's Brasserie

Tonka Bean Panna cotta at David’s Brasserie

The portion sizes for all course were great – nothing over the top, with a focus more on flavour and presentation. The dishes are presented beautifully!

We had a friend to visit this weekend and went to the Monkey Forest (next to Trentham Gardens), and afterwards we had another meal at David’s Brasserie. This time I only had two courses, but partly this was because I had a white hot chocolate instead of a dessert. You can buy the courses individually but they also have deals for two or three courses. I enjoyed the soup (shallot, garlic and rosemary) to start, which came with gluten free toast. For my main I had chicken breast stuffed with caramelised pineapple and wrapped in Parma ham, served on a bed of sautéed tenderstem broccoli and new potatoes, finished with a Malibu cream sauce. I was really intrigued by these flavours (especially the pineapple and Malibu cream sauce!) and I wasn’t disappointed; it was delicious.

Many of the menu options at David’s Brasserie are gluten free, for all courses, which is really refreshing – it’s so nice to be able to have a three course meal if I wish to.

I’m sure we’ll become regulars at David’s Brasserie – it’s certainly our favourite ‘date night’ type restaurant for when we want something a bit more special. It’s so great that there are so many interesting flavour combinations I can try despite being gluten free. The menu isn’t extensive (around 4 or 5 options per course) but it’s very varied and they change it regularly.

If you’re visiting Trentham Gardens or Monkey Forest (both of which I recommend!) I’d definitely encourage you to visit David’s Brasserie. They also do light bites for lunch (sandwiches, soup etc.), and the white hot chocolate is amazing!

You can view more information about David’s Brasserie on their website, including their opening hours and their current menus.

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Gluten Free Favourites – March 2016

So many things to share this month – it has been a good month for new gluten free discoveries and re-discoveries!

Gluten free favourites - March 2016

Gluten free favourites – March 2016

Stokie Sauce – Laura from Twice as Nice Bakery (see my previous review) told us about this sauce a little while ago and said she was hoping to stock it, so when I last picked up some gluten free oatcakes and saw it on the shelf I had to have some! It’s a really interesting sauce and not at all what I was expecting. It’s thinner in consistency than I thought it would be, and more spicy, but it does work well with oatcakes and I’d definitely recommend giving it a go if you’re in the area.

Gluten free pikelets – another local speciality! When I got my gluten free oatcakes from Twice as Nice I noticed these with them and thought I’d give them a go (they’re both from Weston Coyney Oatcakes). I’ll be honest, when I got home I was wondering if I might regret the purchase as I’m not usually a fan of fruit in things like this (I tried to like hot cross buns this year but just couldn’t!). The pikelets though – well that’s a different matter. There’s only a small amount of fruit and it really helps to sweeten them. I love them with plenty of butter – delicious!

Heck Chicken Italia Sausages – we’ve had these before but I was reminded just how excellent they were when we had them recently. We just had a really simple meal of the sausages, sweet potato mash, and some greens, and it was wonderful. I did try a bit with Stokie Sauce too and it complemented them really well! So much so in fact that I had an oatcake with one of these sausages, some mozarella, and Stokie Sauce – delicious! I love the flavour of these Heck sausages in particular, and they’re nice and smooth too.

Pizza Express Gluten Free Dough Balls – they’ve already had their own blog post so I won’t say too much more but they really are delicious and I can’t wait to go back for more!

Tesco Free From Dough Mix – I didn’t think it would be possible to find a pizza base mix we would enjoy as much as Isabel’s (see previous review) but this really surprised me. It’s easy to make and doesn’t need pre cooking (though does need to prove for half an hour or so). It makes a lovely pizza base with a crunchy crust but a softer middle – the best of both worlds. We’ve had it twice now and both really enjoyed it (yes, it even got the approval of my non-coeliac partner!). We still love the Isabel’s mix when we want something lighter so will probably alternate between the two.

Gianni’s Cheeky Monkey Ice Cream – After learning the leftover Ben And Jerry’s Phish Food had been eaten in secret without me, I came across this ice cream in Aldi which is very similar but less than half the price! It’s chocolate ice cream, with swirls of marshmallow and swirls of caramel sauce, and chocolate monkeys. I think I might actually even prefer this to the Ben and Jerry’s!

What have you been enjoying this month? Any recommendations? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Mothertown Fish and Chips – Burslem, Stoke on Trent

This little beauty definitely deserves its own blog post in case anyone in the area isn’t aware of it, or in case any one is visiting the area. I’ve been visiting Mothertown Fish and Chips when I can for a while now. Before we moved back to the Stoke-on-Trent area, we made it a habit to take my Grandma there for her birthday, and when I attended a conference nearby I took the opportunity to nip in for lunch too. Now we’re back in the area, it’s become our ‘local’ chippie. There are other chippies closer, but this one has gluten free fish and chips every day. Quite a few fish and chip shops have gluten free occasionally, but it’s rare for them to have it available all the time. Mothertown has a dedicated gluten free fryer 🙂

Mothertown Fish and Chips

Mothertown Fish and Chips

The name comes from the fact that Burslem is often referred to as the ‘Mother Town’ of the six towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, the only polycentric city in the UK (it has 6 town centres rather than 1). Mothertown Fish and Chip Shop is in what used to be the bank, and the building is impressive looking (especially for Stoke-on-Trent!). Inside, the vault door is still there (you can see a bit of it on the right hand side of the photo) so it makes for quite a unique chippie. But what about the food?! There’s loads of choice for both the regular menu and the gluten free menu, and I’m gradually working my way through most of the gluten free menu.

Gluten Free Menu at Mothertown Fish and Chips

Gluten Free Menu at Mothertown Fish and Chips

We decided to go for Good Friday (I tend to follow the tradition of fish on Good Friday from my Catholic upbringing, so thought it was a good excuse to go to Mothertown!). I went for my usual mini fish, chips and peas (with a side of onion rings to share which came later and I forgot to photograph!).

Mini Fish, Chips and Peas and Mothertown Fish and Chips

Mini Fish, Chips and Peas and Mothertown Fish and Chips

We usually eat in so the food is at its freshest; it’s served in plastic trays with greaseproof paper. The gluten free batter is lovely and light, with a great crunch (though not so crunchy that it almost breaks your teeth as some batter can!). The fish is lovely – it flakes apart but is lovely and moist. The chips are fairly standard chip shop chips like I remember, and it’s always a treat to have those. I prefer garden peas to mushy peas though you can have mushy peas.

I’ve also tried a couple of the fish cakes and they were lovely, especially the madras spice cod. I wasn’t so keen on the mushy pea fritter when I tried that, but I’m not a huge fan of mushy peas so that’s hardly surprising really. The only downside for me is that you can’t get a gluten free curry sauce. Does anyone know of a gluten free chip shop curry sauce? I’d love to be able to have curry sauce – that would just make it even more perfect!

We’ve been with many of our family and friends now and everyone we’ve taken has loved it there. It’s so great for me to be able to have great gluten free fish and chips whilst others can enjoy the regular fish and chips (though they actually usually prefer the gluten free onion rings over the regular ones!). It’s a really friendly environment in Mothertown; in fact on our last visit I ended up chatting to someone who was getting tea for himself and his coeliac wife. We had a lovely chat about some of our favourite local places which cater for gluten free, recommended products, and places to visit further afield. Speaking of local things, can you decipher the local phrase over the till at Mothertown?

Sowt an vinegar duck?

Sowt an vinegar duck?

Mothertown Fish and Chips is definitely one I recommend visiting if you haven’t already, and I’d encourage you to eat in so the food stays lovely and fresh (we find chippy food tends to go soggy in transit!). Further information including their opening times is available on the Mothertown Fish and Chips website and they also have a Facebook page.

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.

Gluten free dough balls at Pizza Express

Yes, you read right – gluten free dough balls! I’m a huge fan of Pizza Express – their gluten free pizzas are great and I love the fact that things are so clearly marked on the menu. However, their gluten free starter and dessert options were definitely lacking. So I was delighted to hear the new menu included gluten free dough balls. I was so excited in fact that I set a date in my calendar and we went to check them out on the day they launched. I must have been the first person to ask for them in the restaurant I visited as the staff had to check they had them and what they needed to do! So, are they any good?

I hadn’t been to Pizza Express before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease so I haven’t had the regular dough balls and to be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I love the Isabel’s dough balls but have cheese in those and the regular Pizza Express ones don’t. They’re basically small bread rolls which are served warm with garlic butter. Pizza Express have said they’ve been working on the gluten free recipe for a long time so I had high expectations, and I’m really pleased to say they definitely met, if not exceeded, those expectations! The dough balls have a lovely light texture and a slightly crisp crust (though not as crisp as a crusty roll). For gluten free bread I thought they were excellent. They held together well; no crumbling. The texture was even throughout with no big holes.

I really enjoyed dipping my dough balls into the garlic butter, and enjoyed the flavour of the bread on its own too. I did wonder if the bread may have garlic in, but I think it’s just in the butter. My partner ordered some ‘regular’ Dough Balls Formaggi (though the ones with cheese) and tried some of the gluten free ones and he said the gluten free ones were very slightly drier in texture but not too noticeable a difference, and he’d happily have the gluten free ones.

I’d definitely recommend trying the gluten free dough balls next time you visit Pizza Express, and I’m sure I’ll be having them again. I just hope they stay on the menu as Pizza Express do change their menu frequently (the Noci are no longer available, or the full size brownie). For now though, I’ll be taking every opportunity to enjoy the gluten free dough balls whilst I can! I’m secretly hoping that if these are successful they may sell them in stores as part of their supermarket range (and gluten free pizzas too) – that would be amazing!

Have you tried the Pizza Express gluten free dough balls? What did you think? 

If you’d like to receive updates from Gluten Free Joeyanne please follow the blog by email or RSS (links on the right hand side) or you can like Gluten Free Joeyanne on Facebook for links to blog posts as well as more regular updates, or Gluten Free Joeyanne on Instagram for photos of gluten free products and meals.