Christmas tips and favourite places to eat

Beautiful day here, gorgeous blue sky and a little dusting of snow on the ground….perfect time to sit down with a cuppa and write this month’s blog just in time for Christmas!!

winter view

I get particularly greedy this time of year and don’t want to miss a trick. I have to make it to every Carol concert, shopping trip, meal out and catch up with friends and family! Of course, with every occasion, food is high on my agenda, even a Carol concert requires a mince pie to accompany the mulled wine….or is that just me?? Being Coeliac, a bit of extra “prep” is often required, and a carefully wrapped gluten free mince pie in your bag or pocket will not go amiss at this time of year.

My Christmas countdown this year has been lovely. I’ve met up with friends and family and each time we have enjoyed great food together. Let me share a couple of the venues I’ve been lucky enough to visit….

Late November I took a train ride to meet friends in Chester, for a spot of Christmas shopping and a very special Carol concert at the Cathedral in the evening. Before hitting the shops, we popped to M&S for a quick butty and cuppa. Feeling Christmassy, I opted for the gluten free festive feast sandwich. M&S have been offering gluten free sandwiches (and a wide array of other gluten free items) for some time, but it still delights me to know, if there is an M&S about, you can grab a quick gluten free snack! I did spot they had gluten free mince pies in the cafe, but resisted as wanted to leave a gap for tea.

Gluten free mince pie

In the evening, we ate at Joseph Benjamin. It’s the second time I have eaten here and the food is so good. They are really “on it” for gluten free. All the meals are cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients and they are skilled to adapt dishes to make them suitable for dietary needs. I decided on the three-course meal which was £20. The waitress gave me full confidence when taking my order that my meal would be gluten free…perfect! I had roast parsnip soup to start (finest one I have ever tasted!!) followed by turkey ballotine, which was boned and rolled turkey, filled with chestnut stuffing (double checked about stuffing, all was OK). As I couldn’t have the bread sauce they gave me a portion of dauphinoise potatoes….fabulous my favourite potato dish!! Pudding was brandy butter ice cream, with a delicious gluten free lemon sponge, with a gentle sprinkle of icing sugar. Highly recommend Joseph Benjamin….perfect for special occasions or a leisurely lunch!!

Since being diagnosed I have taken advantage of every opportunity to enjoy gluten free fish and chips. Therefore I was delighted, when Jenny, who like me is Coeliac recommended Fylde Fish Bar, Marshside, Southport. Jenny had eaten here on numerous occasions and had given it the thumbs up. With this in mind, it was the perfect place to have a catch up…..Amazing! Best gluten free fish and chips I have had since being diagnosed, and the gluten free curry sauce was tremendous!! You can sit in or take away. Although this place is just short of an hour drive for me, it more than warrants the special trip knowing how good the food is!

Lizzy's Gluten free Chips

Ok, and although I can go on for evermore, I will round off with my Christmas foodie trips with Bents Garden Centre. I have been visiting Bents long before I was diagnosed with Coeliac. What I love about the place, is, it’s privately owned and has expanded massively over the years, but still holds the same magic. Food is big at Bents. In all the eateries they can cater for a gluten free diet and are completely aware of the importance of food preparation to prevent cross contamination. My favourite little corner of Bents has to be the Tapas Bar….the food is great and the menu clearly indicates gluten free options. My last visit with friends was lovely and we shared a great selection of tapas and rounded of the day popping across to the other cafe for a coffee and gluten free mince pie!

Ohh, and if I can just squeeze in. On my “wish list” for a Christmas visit would be The Bells of Peover at Little Peover, Knutsford. Although I have not been for a few months I have had the good fortune to eat there 3 times this year. Each time they have filled me with confidence and served me with great gluten free food. It’s in a beautiful area and is the perfect retreat on a cold day after a brisk walk!

Quick Christmas gluten free food check list to share before I go…..

Order gluten free bread and specialist products (pop into Tesco to top up with Juvela bread and rolls)

Stock up on goodies that are naturally gluten free (check out with Coeliac UK food and drink directory and app)

Marzipan and ice your Christmas cake and make mince pies

Do a menu plan and note down all the shops that I require to pick up gluten free alternatives from….ie , pigs in blankets, stuffing.

Make a big stew, chilli, curry and freeze to have on stand-by to take to friends or pop in the oven if required.

I hope that you enjoy tucking into all your gluten free delights whether at home or out and about and share the sparkle of Christmas, with the people and things that matter most to you!! Magical wishes for 2018!!Lizzy at xmas

Lizzy x

P.S All the venues I have recommended were perfect at the time I visited. However, it’s always advisable to call up eateries before eating there and have a chat to ensure they have the full understanding of your gluten free diet and when placing your order run through this again. Follow your gut instinct and if in doubt leave out.

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