Friend or Pho: Gluten free street food

If you’re out and about in the West End and you’re struggling to find something tasty, filling and gluten free to grab for lunch or dinner, you should head to Pho.

Pho (pronounced feu in Vietnam or foe by anyone outside Vietnam) is the Vietnamese national dish and is a simple, fresh nutritional noodle soup dish that’s eaten for lunch, breakfast and dinner. And as it’s made with clear vegetable stock and rice noodles it’s also a great choice for coeliacs as it’s gluten free.

Pho Chay - Pho Wardour Street

Pho Chay and Bun Cha Gio Ga

So last weekend we went to Pho the restaurant on Wardour Street, one of the four Pho restaurants in London, to try pho the dish.

And the first thing you notice about Pho is it’s pretty cool. As are the waiting staff. But they’re also friendly and super knowledgeable. Our waitress was very helpful and friendly and was happy to spend time going through the menu and pointing out the few dishes I couldn’t eat because they contained hoisin sauce or soya sauce (although Pho are happy to take these out). But most dishes on the menu are great for coeliacs and there were numerous vegetarian options too.

So what we did choose?

Well I started with Goi Cuon, fresh summer veggies and noodles wrapped in (gluten free) rice paper with a fish dipping sauce. And Andrew chose Cha Gio, fried pork spring rolls. Both these starters are fairly substantial and incredibly filling. So if you want to leave space for your main course you might want to share one of these.

At Pho everything is freshly made with ingredients that are delivered daily. So my Goi Cuon was packed full of fresh peppers and mint. And our server took the time to show Andrew how the lettuce could be wrapped round the pork spring rolls for extra crunch.

Homemade lemonade vodka - Pho Soho

Homemade lemonade vodka

For the main course I chose Pho Chay, which is tofu, mushrooms and rice noodles in a veggie stock, and Andrew chose Bun Cha Gio Ga which is lemongrass chicken with a stir-fry topping and rice noodles, and is served with veggie spring roll and peanuts. This dish had a lovely combination of textures with crunchy stir-fry and soft noodles and a beautiful combination of flavours including coriander, chili, nut, and lemon. My Pho Chay came with side dish of fresh herbs including flat leaf parsley and mint, and chili so I could give my dish a bit of an extra kick if I wanted to. I didn’t need to. It was tasty and filling but a bit on the salty side for my personal taste.

There’s one item on the menu that you absolutely must try and that’s the homemade lemonade vodka. Cold, minty and packing a punch. Highly recommended.

Pho Soho
Opening times: Monday to Saturday
 12 – 11pm, Sunday 
12pm – 10pm
Address: 63-165 Wardour Street,
 W1F 8WN,
Telephone: 020 7434 3938

Multiple food allergies? You’ll Knead allergy free baking

As you know, we always like to find new and local gluten free brands, here at the Gluten Free Blog. So, last week, when we stumbled across Knead Bakery, a new allergy friendly baking company in London we were all rather excited.

Knead Bakery's gluten free, dairy free sugar cane free goodies

Knead Bakery's gluten free, dairy free sugar cane free goodies

Knead Bakery, it turns out, is run by the talented and lovely Sim Smith, who’s a former journalist and long time allergy sufferer.

Determined to prove that a diet void of gluten, dairy and cane sugar needn’t be a diet void of tasty treats, she’s set up Knead Bakery, which has launched with six scrumptious products, including chocolate chip cookies, ginger cookies, mini blueberry muffins, mini lemon and poppy seed muffins, carrot cake and double chocolate brownies, all of which are free from gluten, dairy, cane sugar and additives and preservatives.

And we were fortunate to get a first look last week when Sim dropped into the office with a bag of goodies for us to try.

So we started with the muffins. They were light and fresh, with a bouncy texture and sweet without being sickly. The combination of sweet lemon and the almost peppery poppy seeds was divine. And the blueberries in the blueberry muffins were fresh, plump and juicy like they’d been picked that morning.

Next up were the cookies. You know how so many gluten free cookies and biscuits leave that taste of sugary nothingness in your mouth? Not these. The chocolate chip cookies were incredibly chocolaty and chewy. And the ginger cookies. Well, they were really zingy and mouth-watering. I love ginger cookies with a cup of herbal tea. And these take some beating.

The double chocolate brownie tasted ‘just like a normal chocolate brownie’ said Phil, a non gluten-freer. And it did. Moist and with a lovely consistency, I was left with dark chocolaty taste in my mouth and the feeling I’d eaten something really substantial. ‘Hmmm…perfect with a coffee’ said Miles.

Blueberry mini muffins and lemon and poppy seed mini muffins

Blueberry mini muffins and lemon and poppy seed mini muffins. That's my hand!

So then we tucked into the carrot cake. Now, Knead Bakery sells this by the slice and also as a whole cake. And I would encourage you, for any celebratory gathering whatsoever, to buy an entire cake. In fact, just by a whole carrot cake for yourself. I won’t tell. Because rarely have I eaten cake that has given me goose bumps. And this carrot cake did. Laced with fresh lemon curd and topped with a soya yogurt frosting, the combination of flavours is exquisite.

What we love about Knead are the quality ingredients Sim uses. So the chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate brownies taste of rich, dark chocolate. The lemon curd tastes super lemony. And you can really taste the vanilla, ginger and cinnamon in the products.

Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free carrot cake

Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free carrot cake

Knead offers a personalised baking service. So if you need an allergy free cake for a special occasion such as a wedding or birthday give Sim a call. She also does gluten free, dairy free and sugar free goodie bags and gift bags which are ideal for corporate events, fashion shoes and even kids’ parties.

The online store will be available soon. In the meantime you can order from Knead by emailing or calling Sim on 07920 102 284. Mini muffins and cookies are just £3.40 a bag. The chocolate brownie is £2.99 and the carrot cake is £3.99 for a substantial slice (but just get the whole cake!).

For more information visit Knead Bakery, London.

Enjoy a taste of Italy with gluten free ciabatta rolls from DS Gluten Free

Gluten free ciabatta rolls

Gluten free ciabatta rolls from DS Gluten Free

At Gluten Free Towers we’re always getting sent new things to try.

Last week we received some gluten free ciabatta rolls from DS Gluten Free. DS is one of our fave brands: their products are all good quality, well priced and available in most UK supermarkets. Oh and don’t forget to visit the DS website and sign up for their gluten free starter pack.

Anyway, back to the ciabatta rolls. After five minutes in the oven – to give them that homemade freshly-baked vibe – we scoffed the lot with some Covent Garden Leek and Potato soup (yes, we still like soup – even in the summer). And, we have to say, they were very good indeed: moist, light and bouncy in the middle and with a nice nutty flavour. They’re a good size as well and perfect for packed lunches stuffed with a tasty filling.

Ciabatta brown rolls come in packs of four, cost around £2 and are available in all major UK supermarkets. Try them for yourself and let us know what you think.

You can read more about these gluten free ciabatta rolls on the DS website.

Gluten free ciabatta rolls

A packet of DS Gluten Free Brown Ciabatta Rolls

Enjoy Lazy Day Foods and Steph’s Free From Cakes

At the Allergy & Gluten Free Show the other week we found quite a few brands we hadn’t come across before including Lazy Day Foods and Steph’s Free From Cakes.

Dr Sally Beattie of Lazy Day Foods

Dr Sally Beattie of Lazy Day Foods

Dr Sally Beattie who is a director at Lazy Day Foods is a professional food scientist, so she knows a thing or two about delicious food. And as a mum with kids who have allergies she knows a thing or two about food intolerances.

We chatted to Sally for a while and tried quite a few of her products – all in the name of research of course – and we can highly recommend the Millionaire’s Shortbread and the Belgian Dark Chocolate Tiffin. Delicious. And both wheat, gluten, dairy and egg free.

All Lazy Day products are handmade in a dedicated gluten free factory in Scotland and are available to order via the website. They’re so beautifully packaged we think they make ideal gifts.

New items to be added to the range soon include celebration cakes and muffins along with a Rustic Savoury Biscuit range flavoured with cracked pepper, mild spices or sweet chilli. We can’t wait for those.

Stephanie Palmer of Steph's Free From Cakes

Stephanie Palmer of Steph’s Free From Cakes

Another stand we spent quite a bit of time at was Steph’s Free From Cakes run by the lovely Stephanie Palmer. Steph told us she suffers from a number of food intolerances herself and began baking free from cakes when she couldn’t find anything suitable (or edible) in the shops.

I rather over indulged in Steph’s sweet Lemon Drizzle Cake and some very cute heart shaped Ginger Cookies which were a fabulous combination of crispy, moist and spicy.Steph’s Free From Cakes are all available to buy online and include classics such as Carrot cake and Battenburg cake. (Not forgetting the aforementioned Lemon Drizzle Cake – a personal favourite.)

There’s 10% off your first order – so get ordering now!