If you missed the outstanding Freefrom Food Festival at Bristol's Passenger Shed this November, let me go through all the reasons why you need to make sure you're there next time.
Let's start with Exhibit A, shall we? That'll be these AMAZING brownies from Little Roar. Now I know you may be thinking a gluten-free brownie's about as exciting as a lump of ice to an eskimo, but let me assure you these were no ordinary brownies. Made from raw ingredients, the entire lot were vegan and gluten-free. And before someone tries to make a clever joke about what on earth went into them, the ingredients for the brownie I chose (Dark Matter, if you're wondering) included raw cacoa powder, coconut oil, medjool dates and cashews. It was outstanding.
Next up is the delicious gluten-free granola from Primrose's Kitchen. Since I can't tolerate gluten-free oats, I chose the Orange & Cashew granola, which is oat-free and utterly delicious. In fact, it's so nice I've hidden it behind some cornflakes so I won't guzzle it in one go.
Was it all snacks?
One of the things I find difficult as a coeliac is I'm often faced with snacks instead of a real meal. There have been countless times where I've been into places stacked with stalls but found there's only crisps on offer that are gluten-free (while normal people can tuck into all sorts of street food).
Not so at this festival!
I headed towards Pho (one of my favourite places in Bristol) for their chicken rice noodles. With a selection of ginger and fresh herbs for me to decorate my dish with, it was exactly what I needed in this wintry weather. Plus, it was definitely enjoyed by my little ones who kept clamouring for more.
It wasn't until afterwards that I spotted Shakey Shakey, a stall that did Tofish & Chips (i.e. a gluten-free battered vegan alternative to fish that looked fab). The line was so long I mistook it for the one leading to the seminar room. But there's only so much a gal can eat in a day.
And for pudding...?
I made a beeline for the Booja Booja van where I opted for a chocolate icecream in (wait for it) a gluten-free waffle cone!
Too. Much. Excitement.
Unsurprisingly, the icecream didn't last long.
But was all the food good?
I have to admit, there were some samples on offer where the food fell short of the mark. I believe if you can tell something's gluten-free or vegan, it's not worth buying. This included an independent vegan chocolate producer (nowhere near as good as Booja-Booja) and a waffle maker whose gluten-free batter left a lot to be desired (in short, it was a bit rubbery).
But the fact is, this was the first festival of its kind in Bristol, which means a fair amount of trial and error. By next year, these same producers may well have upped their game.
Meanwhile, here are a few of the foods I came home with and can't wait to try:
I'm desperately hoping there'll be another festival in Bristol in 2019. If you'd like to see them too then let them know! Click here for their contact details.
Did you go to the festival? What did you think? Do share your experience below!