Sunday, 27 February 2011

Graffiti, Hotel Felix, Cambridge

My girlfriend and I went to Cambridge this weekend for our anniversary and stayed at the excellent Hotel Felix, a modern, elegant hotel on the outskirts of the city. Graffiti, the hotel's restaurant was equally modern and elegant with attentive service. We'd booked it well before I found out I was gluten free, so this was going to be the first test, and I was very impressed. The menu had a star next to all the dishes which were suitable for coeliacs and a diamond against those that they could adapt to make gluten free. The menu wasn't restrictive with the majority of dishes already gluten free.

The menu was also very inventive. For starter, I had Baby Squid stuffed with Chorizo on a bed of Tomato which had real tasty Spanish flavours. My girlfriend had Ballotine of Goose with Roast Pear, Port Syrup and Goose Scratchings which was equally as good. The main courses were the real highlight. I had Roast Breast of Mallard, Confit Leg Boudin, Potato Rosti, Brussel Sprout Chiffonade and Plum and Orange Jus. The breast was cooked perfectly and the Leg Boudin (a duck sausage) was sensational, absolutely packed with meaty flavour. The Rosti was all caramelised on the outside and had a great texture. My girlfriend had Fillet and Braised Blade of Tilbury Beef, Shallot Tart Tatin, Crisp Bone Marrow and Cavalo Nero which received equal plaudits. The only let down of the dish was the Bone Marrow which was a crispy nugget, lacking any real filling. Neither of us could resist the Bitter Chocolate Delice with Rapsberry Ripple Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce which tasted as fantastic as it looked.

The restaurant clearly seemed to have a gluten-free influence and with an increasing number of people eating gluten free they're on to a winner. Providing me with a gluten free bread roll was real attention to detail and the bread is probably the best wheat free bread I've tried!


Hotel Felix

Monday, 21 February 2011

Gluten Free!

So, last weekend I finally took the decision to go gluten free. I have been recently diagnosed with coeliac (or celiac as it's spelt across the pond) disease, an intolerance to gluten. When most people think of gluten, they think of the obvious things like bread, pasta, etc. but it's in a lot more than you think! Checking packets of crisps, I can eat plain Pringles but not prawn cocktail and at restaurants, sauces can be difficult as they are often thickened with flour. The blog, therefore, is probably going to have a bit of a change of direction. It gives reviewing restaurants a whole new dimension - how accommodating to a gluten free diet are they?

When you make most things from scratch, gluten can be easily avoided, and my girlfriend has already bought a variety of gluten free flours such as potato flour and even coconut flour (see In some respects, my diet has probably become more interesting, lunches especially. No longer is it a sandwich everyday! The majority of recipes are gluten free anyway and most are easily adaptable. They're also perfectly suitable for anyone on a normal diet because you'll get more than enough in everything else you eat. 

One of the foods that I would say I'd miss the most is pizza. My girlfriend and I frequently visit Pizza Express but unfortunately their menu is somewhat restrictive for me now. However, my girlfriend made a great gluten free pizza last week and you couldn't tell the difference. The base was a little lighter but tasted great and the tomato, mozzarella and pepperoni topping was a delicious classic. She cooked it on the pizza stone I got her for her birthday which cooked the base evenly and gave it a crisp finish.

We didn't have any dried milk but it didn't really need it, she just added a little extra flour to get the right consistency.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Japanese Feast!

Wagamama's is a fairly unique restaurant in the UK. Not many restaurants would get away with seating you on long, Victorian school dinner tables whilst serving you courses 'when they're ready', but you can certainly excuse it when the food is quick and tasty. Wagamama's has a limited choice for those on a gluten free diet, but the servers always come across as knowledgeable and can adapt certain dishes. However, it's not everyone's cup of sake, and a great way of having the food but without the novel experience is to 'do it yourself'.

Since we got the Wagamama's cookbook for Christmas my girlfriend has made some great Japanese food. Last night, we had home made Cucumber Maki Sushi and Chicken Miso Ramen which were both delicious. The home made sushi tasted fantastically fresh compared to the supermarket versions and the soup was full of flavours and textures.

Chicken Miso Ramen and Cucumber Maki
Girlfriend's Chicken Miso Ramen Recipe

Stir fry chicken (2 breasts, thinly sliced) and garlic (1 clove finely chopped) for 4 minutes. Add a large handful of beanspouts, 2 to 3 chopped pak choi for a final 2 minutes and add a splash of soy sauce (Tamari for those who are gluten free) and chilli oil. Meanwhile,  make up 320ml Miso Soup (2 sachets, you can get them in supermarkets, for those who are gluten free, be sure to double check the ingredients) and add 500ml chicken stock - bring to the boil and add 2 bundles of noodles (I've found the gluten free King Soba noodles the best) , until cooked. Put the noodles in bottom of a large bowl, ladle over the hot broth and top with the stir fry. Add sliced spring onions to serve.... ps. I like mine with a little kick so you can add chilli oil to taste after you've served it!
King Soba Noodles (Gluten Free)