The Factory Smoke House and Grill – gluten-free takeaways!

I just came across this article in today’s NZ Herald – a takeaway shop that is full gluten-free!! Unfortunately, it’s in Rotorua, which may be a little far for me to drive for my Friday night dinner, but HOORAY!! When I am next in Rotorua I will definitely be stopping by!

Eating out in Sydney – Chat Thai

On my very first trip to Sydney, aged 20 and the first time I’d been out of New Zealand, I got horribly lost in the Centrepoint mall. I was stuck in there for what seemed to be hours, unable to find my way out and totally disoriented. I had to keep shopping and eventually found an exit and escaped, likening it in my mind to the 7th plane of shopping hell. I haven’t been back since and still don’t like shopping. On my most recent trip to Sydney, I returned. Centrepoint is now a Westfield Mall and is as confusing as ever. Luckily, I had a guide.

On Levels 5 and 6 of the mall is what can loosely be described as a food court. That is to say it is a group of individual restaurants – a huge variety of them – and a few faster food places. We had been recommended Chat Thai by a colleague and we weren’t disappointed (although there were so many interesting looking places, it would have been nice to have sampled a different restaurant on another night. Oh well, that’s for another trip!).

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This beer was NOT gluten-free but it was extremely nice and locally made in Sydney

Chat Thai was busy and bustling, but the service was great and the food was fabulous and very reasonably priced and they have a HUGE menu. The flavours were amazing and very different in the three dishes we had selected (roasted duck red curry, water spinach with garlic and grilled chicken with lemongrass, turmeric and chilli). We ate until we were stuffed and then had to go for a walk to recover! Best of all, most of the food was gluten-free.

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Chat Thai can be found on Level 6 of the Westfield Mall in the Sydney CBD, but has other locations throughout Sydney as well.

Cross Eatery – best gluten-free breakfast in Sydney!

Cross EateryOK, so as I can’t claim to have tried every cafe which offers a gluten-free breakfast in Sydney, the title of this post may be somewhat unsubstantiated! However…some of you may have read about my disastrous breakfast experience on morning one of my recent stay in Sydney. On morning two, my colleague suggested we find something on our way to the bus. I strolled along Clarence St and poked my nose into a very large and flash looking café. Cross Eatery is so named after the heritage Red Cross building, the lobby of which they are located in. It’s different from many of the central Sydney cafes in that it has a large floor space and is light and open – giving the impression that it is larger than it is.

The staff were welcoming and when I sat down and asked what they had that was gluten-free, they pointed me towards Nonie’s Roasted Hazelnut muesli with fruit and yoghurt or a coconut rice pudding. I’m not a fan of coconut, so thought I’d try the muesli. As I was talking to them, I discovered that they source as much of their ingredients locally as they can, and aim for fresh and unusual combinations and flavours.

This is what came out.

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Healthy, filling, fresh and incredibly tasty. It was so good that even though Cross Eatery had many other gluten-free options for breakfast and lunch, this was my breakfast for the rest of the week.

Highly recommended – great food, lovely staff and excellent service.

Cross Eatery

155 Clarence St

Sydney, NSW 2000

They don’t seem to have a website, but you can find them on Facebook

Vapiano – great gluten-free Italian Food in the heart of Sydney

VapianoAfter a few years’ hiatus, I was back in Sydney for a work trip last week. I had an inauspicious start on Monday morning when the café we went to for breakfast had NO gluten-free options. They couldn’t even give me just yoghurt and fruit, as all their breakfasts were pre-made with muesli in them. They had no gluten-free bread available, and only very grudgingly agreed to make me avocado and bacon for breakfast.

However, this was redeemed in the evening when my colleague and I went to Vapiano – the Italian restaurant in the ground floor of our hotel building.  This was a very slick operation. At the front desk you are given your own card. There is a pasta station, a salad station, a pizza station and a bar and dessert station. You place your order, swipe your card and then at the end of the evening, you pay your bill. It’s a very simple and efficient way of taking orders and organizing a bill split between multiple people if that’s the way you choose to do it, as you each have your own card.

Vapiano describes itself as ‘fresh casual’ and that is very true of the look and feel of their restaurant. There are tubs of fresh herbs growing all through the restaurant and even at each table and it gives the whole place a welcoming and informal feel. There are a selection of high and low wooden tables, with soft lighting. The air is redolent with garlic.

The menu is fairly simple, and broken down into the four categories or stations mentioned above. I was a little disappointed that there was no gluten-free pizza available – they make the pizza dough themselves on premise. Happily, I was reassured by the many ‘GF’ notations against the pasta sauce options.  Underneath these was a tiny footnote to say that the gluten-free pasta was gnocchi. GNOCCHI!!!! I had to double check to make sure. Happy, happy days – I love gnocchi and rarely have it as I can’t be bothered making it. Just a note that they also make all their pasta on the premises too!

At the pasta station, you tell one of the chefs at the counter what you would like to have. That night, I chose the gnocchi with a fresh basil pesto (made on the premises), roasted pinenuts and extra mushrooms. And here’s the kicker – when I asked for it gluten-free, the chef said “are you coeliac and would you like this cooked in fresh water?” How great is that?

I inhaled my pasta so fast that I forgot to take a photo that night or a couple of nights later when I grabbed another order of gnocchi, this time with sundried tomatoes and chilli. Again, the chef asked if I was coeliac.

Highly recommend Vapiano for a great dining experience (and I’ll talk more about the salted caramel white chocolate cheesecake in another post!).

Vapiano MWL

Vapiano is located on the ground floor of the Grace Hotel, corner of King and York Sts in the Sydney CBD.

The Unbakery – raw, organic, delicious

20160302_130650I’ve seen this place for weeks now as I walked along Customs Street, and finally went in the other day to see what they had on offer. Turns out most of their sweet things are gluten-free – woohoo!!! And look at these little beauties – brownies, slices, cheesecakes and more! They are all uncooked, organic and really very nice, using unusual ingredients for interesting tastes.

They have all sorts of other food as well – muesli from Little Bird, savoury food and lots of pre-packaged product. Well worth a visit if you’re in Downtown Auckland and looking for a snack.

Just a note, I had a piece of the salted caramel tart. It was lovely, but at $10 a piece, very pricey. The Unbakery will definitely be a “treat” visit shop for me!

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Yes, everything in this cabinet is gluten-free!!

The Little Bird Unbakery

14 Customs St E

Auckland CDB

Pita Pit – oh how I love thee!

I miss Subway. The fresh, sweet smell of bread baking never fails to make my mouth water. Despite my repeated requests, they don’t seem to want to trial gluten-free bread, and to be fair, it would be hard to keep the bread from cross-contamination. So I’ve grown accustomed to not eating at most of the fast food outlets but it can be tricky when I’m travelling for work or helping out during a sports trip. My very helpful kids are all about looking out for gluten-free things for me, and happy day, daughter #2 told me that Pita Pit offer gluten-free pitas! I tried one and it was very good, but I wasn’t watching too closely as they made it, so couldn’t answer for the cross-contamination.

However, we were recently in Mairangi Bay with a team of hungry waterpolo players and we went down to the nearest Pita Pit, the one on Apollo Drive. I ordered my gluten-free pita and watched the process with an eagle eye. I was totally impressed. They changed their gloves before getting out the pita bread and used a different knife which came from a selection of clean knives to cut the pita open. They then put the pita on a piece of greaseproof paper to pas it on to the next stage. The next person also changed their gloves before handling the pita. When the pita was put into the toasting grill, the baking paper stayed around it, so that even if the paper came into contact with gluten on the grill, the pita itself didn’t. Finally, they used a new piece of paper to wrap the pita pocket in.

I’m not sure whether the other Pita Pits around the place are as rigorous as the Mairangi Bay outlet, but I was amazed by the care the staff there took. And do please note that we had 10 starving 14 and 15 year old boys with us so there were a pile of orders to be made up. Full marks Pita Pit, well done to you!

Click on Pita Pit NZ for more details.

Since I posted this a couple of weeks ago, I’ve heard again and again how good Pita Pit is from all sorts of people all over the country! Pleased this isn’t confined to just the Mairangi Bay Pita Pit.

Note: this post was not sponsored in any way by Pita Pit. Also, I can’t talk about the processes used to make the gluten-free pita bread.

Ethos Cafe – gluten-free, vegetarian, raw haven

When I ventured to East West Organics in New Lynn recently, I observed a nice looking cafe. It was closed, but I thought I’d go back because it looked very inviting – wooden tables, light and airy and the menu looked nice too with LOTS of gluten-free options.

I duly went back with my husband and the two youngest children for lunch. Until we ordered for the small fry, I hadn’t noticed that the menu was vegetarian! We managed to find some lovely food – here’s a sample of our brunches!

Fritters

Big Brekkie

Buckwheat crepes

The building used to be part of a timber yard, and it has been beautifully converted. There were a large number of tables outside, which was lovely in the heat of the day. Do take a sunhat and sunscreen though. The food was great, although the small boys would have liked it a little faster. We finished up with cheesecake, rhubarb crumble and a brownie and it was all very delicious.

Do stop in if you’re want to eat good quality vegetarian or gluten-free food, or just wanting to try something a little different. It was a little pricier than a lot of the local cafes, but was very high quality food, so we were happy to pay it for an every now and again treat.