Monday, November 17, 2014

New Starts

Welcome to the new authorship of Gluten-Free in Edinburgh.  It was because I had found the blog and read its content and been impressed by it that I have taken on the authorship rather than create a new site from scratch.  So with thanks to Rob for his efforts, I will now begin a new phase in this blog’s life. I hope to make him proud of the child I am now adopting…

As a newly diagnosed Coeliac I am very much learning as I go and beginning to get to grips with what many of you already find straightforward.  As a keen baker I am beginning almost at the bottom of the class and learning again, as so many rules for gluten free baking are different.  While I do not eat a lot of cake and bread generally, I do have a family and I do like to have these things in my life and appreciate the comfort of a good bake.  My main aim is to learn the creation of good pastry and my medium term ambition is to produce a superb gluten free mille feuille.  But I have started humbly, with a victoria sponge, so watch this space for how it went!

Like Rob did, I live and work in Edinburgh.  I use quite a few city centre coffee shops for meetings (though not always eating cake!), and I work professionally with quite a few tourism businesses, so hope to bring some interest in these to the blog, plus I enjoy eating out with my family.  I will also include my growing GF baking knowledge and my love of mountain walking (while eating GF sandwiches and being symptom free, which will be the big revelation - can't wait!) and the great outdoors generally.

My first step into the GF retail experience has been to try the Pret beneath my office, which for the last few years has been the equivalent of my office canteen.  I regularly buy the salads and soups as I have avoided sandwiches for about 20 years – after discovering they were the cause of the 3 pm slump.  So I know the shop well, but being a GF purchasing virgin, I am seeing it in a new light.  Pret has always been seemingly impressive in its provision of nutritional information and for the wide variety and quality of its food.  However, looking at it through my new GF-tinted glasses, I am more than slightly uneasy about the lack of information.  The website has a PDF printout of what is ok for a wide range of allergies and diets, but the lists are not up to date and many items which change daily, such as many of the soups in particular, are not referenced.  Within the shop the signage is poor, with even the Gluten Free Harissa Chicken Wrap only obviously GF because the clue is in the name.  According to the website PDF the Chef’s Chicken Salad (which is a favourite of mine) is GF, but within the shop there is no indication.  So I begin to think that Pret assumes we will all google its food before a purchase, which is not very practical or helpful.    

In time I will know what is ok and what isn’t, but not everyone visits Pret as regularly as I do and has the chance to study its food. For most people it should represent a quick and easy purchase.  Look at the terrific London chain, Leon, if you want to see how it should be done.

My teenage son is dreading the strident consumer I am about to become, but I think he will have to just put up with it if this is what lunchtime buying is going to be like …..

More soon and thanks for reading!

The Oystercatcher

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