Sunday, 12 March 2017

Eric's Fish and Chips, Thornham, Norfolk

A couple of years ago finding gluten free fish and chips was like finding the holy grail. Now, as awareness of food intolerances continues to increase and gluten free food becomes more mainstream the choice of chippies is getting better! Frustratingly, there are still those that claim to do gluten free but don’t have separate fryers (I won’t name and shame).  Let’s not dwell on the negative though; I think I’ve found my favourite fish and chip place ever
Eric’s fish and chips is in nestled in North Norfolk in the picturesque village of Thornham. At just over an hours drive from Norwich, I think it could be the first ‘destination chippie’. Plus there are tons of beautiful places to visit in this area, we were nearby at Wells beach this weekend but couldn’t resist the short drive to Eric’s.
It’s simply decorated inside with a stripped back colourful look. The menu is kept simple too, which means that they pay plenty of attention to everything they do. Both times I’ve visited I’ve had the battered cod loin. The fish is the most succulent I’ve ever had, the batter crunchy and crispy. The gluten free batter is a thing of beauty… I had a look around and I think it actually looks better than the ’normal’ one. They use separate fryers so there’s no cross contamination. The chips are great too, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Letting you know which of the local spuds was used is a nice touch. Mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce are both excellent. An extra special mention has to go to the battered gherkins… I could just eat a plate of these! That same crunchy batter gives way to the acidic hit of the pickle and it just works brilliantly! There are so many dishes I want to try too but it’s hard to resist when the cod loin is so good. The squid and prawns both sound delicious, plus there are more unusual fish shop catches like gurnard and mackerel.
My only niggle would be that we couldn’t take the dog in. As I said the décor is pretty minimalist so I wouldn’t see a well behaved dog causing a problem. In the summer though, there a tables outside which will be dog friendly but it was cold and raining this weekend. We saved her a little fish to make up for it. Even she was a fan of Eric’s cooking!

I absolutely love this place and can’t wait to go back.

For a couple of other Norfolk gluten free fish and chip reviews, check out these links:

No.1 Cromer, Norfolk
Orford Plaice, Norwich

Friday, 3 March 2017

Gluten Free Guide to California and Las Vegas Part 3

In this final part we head out of San Francisco and on to Napa Valley for some wine tasting. We stayed in an Airbnb, which had a BBQ so we took the opportunity to eat in a couple of times. The local supermarket was well stocked and things like gluten free bread was readily available. I would definitely recommend the wine tasting experience at Gloria Ferrer! We took the 'Bubbles and Bites' package and got to sample an array of still and sparkling white wines with a few nibbles alongside. Our host was hugely entertaining, giving us a mix of information about the wines and gossip about the Ferrer family, weddings and other tales. The setting is stunning; overlooking the vineyard and to finish we were treated to another large glass of our favourite wine!
Bubbles and Bites at Gloria Ferrer
We headed on to our next stop - Yosemite National Park. We stayed at a place called Tenaya Lodge on the outskirts of the park. It was great to be nestled in amongst the forest and wildlife and we did a trek to nearby waterfalls. The food was good and like most places in America, knowledgeable about gluten free. As it's the only place around, it was quite expensive, knowing it had a captive audience. Deep fried sprouts were again a highlight and dishes of salmon and steaks were well presented and tasty. During the day the bar served sandwiches on gluten free bread and I had a good club sandwich.
Salmon at Tenaya Lodge
After a stunning drive through the breath-taking Yosemite park, we headed for Death Valley. The contrast is incredible. We broke up the journey with a stop in a little town called Bishop where we'd heard about an amazing BBQ joint. It didn't disappoint, Holy Smoke did amazing BBQ meats including brisket, pulled pork, ribs and more. Nearly everything was gluten free and the staff were clued up. Sides of potato salad and slaw were nice accompaniments to the delicious slow cooked meat.

Holy Smoke BBQ in Bishop
Slow cooked brisket and sides at Holy Smoke
On to Death Valley and we were treated to 120 degree heat and desert landscapes. Little did we know that we'd be caught in a rare storm! Half way through our meal at Furnace Creek the power went out leaving only a back up generator powering the kitchen and a couple of lights. Even worse, we now had no air conditioning in the restaurant or any of the rooms. I've never felt heat like it, even the wind brought by the storm was hot! The food included dates wrapped in bacon with blue cheese for starter, followed by a huge Tomahawk steak. My friend and I shared this but we were beaten, a combination of the sheer volume of meat and the heat was just too much. After very little sleep we were up and out early to escape the heat and headed on to Las Vegas.
Tomahawk steak at Furnace Creek
Bacon, dates and blue cheese at Furnace Creek
There's a huge choice of places to eat in Vegas from luxury hotels to casual diners and like the rest of our trip, it was easy to find great gluten free food. Here's a quick list of places we found:

Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel
We stayed at the Hard Rock and this was definitely one of my favourite places. Really great corn tacos filled with things like re-fried beans, slow cooked pork and beef, and fresh salsas were delicious. Make sure you try the bacon wrapped jalapenos, stuffed with melting mozzarella as these were a real hit.
Tacos at Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel
Mr Lucky's at the Hard Rock Hotel
We only had breakfast here but they do some awesome gluten free blueberry pancakes. The menu was clearly labelled and staff were knowledgeable. Washed down with some maple syrup they were a great way to start the day.
Pancakes at Mr Lucky's at the Hard Rock Hotel
PF Changs
If you fancy a gluten free Chinese then PF Changs is a chain that's always worth hunting down. With a dedicated gluten free menu they know what they are doing. We tucked in to delicious dishes including Chang's spicy chicken and Mongolian beef.
Chang's spicy chicken at PF Changs
Mongolian Beef at PF Chang's
The Buffet at Aria
I'm always a bit wary of buffets, they conjure up images of generic beige food but this was something else! The chef came and took me round the plethora of different stations. Most was gluten free so he just pointed out the things to avoid. Highlights were definitely the snow crab and the various sweet treats I could have. Worth adding on the all you can drink option too to stock up on cocktails!
Snow crab and seafood at Aria
Desserts at Aria buffet
Chart House at the Golden Nugget
On our final night we headed to the older part of Vegas - Fremont street. We had a delicious steak dinner at Chart House. I had the crab to start, a mountain of fresh crab meat with a mango and avocado salad - delicious.

Crab at Chart House at the Golden Nugget
We loved our American road trip and from a gluten free perspective it was easily one of the best places we've visited. It was always easy to get great food and the service and knowledge was brilliant.