Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Our Perfect Family Day Out at Ripleys Believe it or Not in London

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know how fond we are of our holidays and all important family days out! We had an amazing day in London last week at Ripleys Believe it or Not. We were fortunate enough to be given complimentary tickets as part of the MoneySupermarket Days Out Discounts promotion. My boys are huge fans of the Ripleys book which they always ask for on their Christmas lists so we were delighted to actually be able to see the museum (if that's what you'd call it!). Before we went we checked out some of the blurb on line:

"Home to over 700 weird and wonderful exhibits, the central London attraction showcases a painting by Mexican artist Enrique Ramos on a tortilla canvas. Visitors can also see some of Ramos’s other masterpieces including miniature bible scenes painted onto pumpkin seeds and a series of portraits of icons such as Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln, all painted onto quail egg shells.

Marvel at a version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ painted on a grain of rice – created using a microscope and a single human hair – as well as a portrait of Michael Jackson fashioned using Liquorice Allsorts sweets. While Robert Ripley himself – the man behind the attraction and who coined the phrase ‘Believe It or Not!” – is depicted using multi-coloured bubblegums."

If I'm honest I didn't really know what to expect, I definitely haven't been anywhere quite so, well - odd! - before.

Since this day was all about the children I'm going to hand this blog over to them! So, I'd like to introduce you to my newest reviewers - Bats (10), Boz (9), Spud (7) and Boo (5) *clearly not their real names!

What did you think of Ripleys Believe it or Not?

Bats - "Awesome!"
Boz - "It's been a really wicked afternoon, can we come again?"
Spud - "I really liked it, it's cool."
Boo - "I LOVED it"

What was your favourite thing about Ripleys Believe it or Not?

Bats - "Oh definitely the Jade palace, I thought it was amazing and I really liked the matchstick bridge too, it must have taken so long to make"
Boz - "The black hole tunnel, it made me feel dizzy" (Mum's note - we couldn't get him out of it!)
Spud - "I really liked the funny table that made me look like I had no legs, it was silly"
Boo - "I liked the cute little fox and the upside down table"

*Mums note - I loved touching the Berlin wall, even though the kids thought it was "boooooring".....

Was there anything you didn't like?

Bats - "I didn't like that you and daddy wouldn't walk quicker, it's so annoying when you stop all the time"
Boz - "Uhm, not really, the man pulling things with his eyeballs made me feel a bit sick actually"
Spud - "I didn't like the poor three legged animals at the beginning, they made me sad"
Boo - "The dungeon made me very scared" (mum's note - in hindsight we shouldn't have taken a 5yr old to this bit, it was too scary, but the older boys loved it and to be fair Ripleys did warn us, we just didn't listen!)

What about the Laser Race, You forgot that!

Bats - "Oh yeah, I won"
Boz - "no you didn't you cheated, I won"
Spud - "Daddy cheated, I loved it - it was so much fun"
Boo - "Oh that was so funny, daddy was really bad at it, I definitely beat him"
*mums note - I think they all cheated and daddy especially did!

Shall we come back again?

All - "YES!!!!!"

So that's that then! A pretty good day had by all and given the seal of approval from all four kids (a pretty rare thing indeed!) thank you Ripleys, I'm sure we'll be back!

About Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London:
With more than 700 amazing artefacts on display over six floors, the attraction celebrates the weird, wonderful and bizarre in all its forms. With everything you can imagine (and plenty more you can’t), Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London is a family day out that’s definitely out of the ordinary.

For additional information call +44 (0)20 3238 0022 or visit www.ripleyslondon.com

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Center Parcs Europe - De Vossemeren in Belgium - A Gluten Free Review

We spent the October half term at De Vossemeren Center Parcs in Belgium. We love Center Parcs breaks, but two years ago we decided that we weren't prepared to pay the high prices charged in the UK, for instance  a 5 day break at Elvedon (our closest village) in Suffolk would have cost around £1100 over October half term - crazy money! The exact same dates in Belgium cost us £450, or just under £550 if you include the ferry crossing.

That's not all though, we got 5 free 'toppings' with our booking. Toppings include free bike hire, free mini golf, free 'wannabe' (kids club) sessions, free villa location selection and free pony ride (1 topping = 3 free pony rides, what a bargain!). So £550 bought us 5 days in the villa (in a central location of our choosing), our ferry crossing *and* a free 1.5hr session in the kids club for all 4 children. We pre-booked another 2 sessions in the kids club for all of the children online when we went for the bargain price of 4 Euros each!

Not only are the villages and activities significantly cheaper (10 Euros for archery, zip wire or rock climbing and only 2.50 Euros for a pony ride!) we much prefer the villages themselves, they seem better looked after and cleaner and the staff are so much more friendly and helpful (and all speak perfect English). We have previously stayed at De Kempervennen in the Netherlands which has an amazing indoor snow centre and a (free) childrens' petting farm. Vossemeren in Belgium also has a farm and whilst it doesn't have a snow centre it does have an amazing (free) indoor play area centred around a shipwreck (see picture below). Both sites are less than a 3 hour drive from Dunkirk ferry port.

The only thing we were concerned about was gluten free food, so we packed lots of essentials before we left. We needn't have worried though. The shop had a comprehensive selection of gluten free items including rolls, cakes (brownies and coconut macaroons by Damhert, which I think is the European trading name of Mrs Crimbles as the cakes were identical) and pancake mix! The restaurants too were well trained in all things gluten free, even the snack bar were amazing and couldn't go out of their way enough to help, whilst we couldn't eat anything from there they telephone the main restaurant to bring us some fries cooked in a dedicated fryer. The pancake house also serves gluten free pancakes.

All in all we would strongly recommend European Center Parcs, we'll never return to a UK one again!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Gluten Free Cornwall Part 2 - Fish & Chips - Padstow and St Austell

The latter half of our Cornish holiday was spent at the coast, near our St Austell base, and at the beautiful Padstow.

Gluten Free St Austell - The Trebonney Fish and Chips Restaurant.

The gluten free gem of our holiday has to be the Trebonney fish and chip shop in Fore Street, Roche, near St Austell. Postcode PL26 8EP for those using satnav! This really unassuming little fish and chip shop (that's being polite it looks like somebody's garage!) seemed to have a really good coeliac knowledge and their food was gorgeous. Seb and I both had their gluten free cod and chips and gluten free onion rings (the only gluten free onion rings I've ever had where the batter stayed on the onion and was actually crispy!) and enjoyed every mouthful, the portion sizes were pretty big and neither of us managed to finish our chips. They also offer takeaway meals too. If we lived nearby we'd definitely be regular visitors!

Gluten Free in Padstow, Cornwall.

We had a really successful gluten free day out in Padstow and managed to eat lunch and dinner with no problems.

Green's Cafe - Padstow

We ate lunch in Green's Cafe and were delighted to find that they offered gluten free rolls (dietary solutions granary ciabatta) to replace regular gluten bread. Seb had a cheese and ham roll (they gave him two ciabatta rolls - they're really small - instead of a regular sandwich) and I had a ploughmans, though for some reason I was only given one small ciabatta, whereas my husband had lots of (gluten) bread with his ploughmans. They also offer gluten free scones, so we followed up with gluten free scones, jam and clotted cream. I can't say they were the nicest gluten free scones I've ever had - in fact they'd be at the bottom of the list, they were very heavy and dry, but it was SO nice to have lunch - including cake - with the rest of the family for once.

As great as it was to feel normal at Green's I can't say that our happiness spread to the service, it was absolutely dire. We waited for ages to be served, the waiter just dumped a tray of drinks on our table and said "there you go, I'll let you sort out the drinks yourself" and never checked if our food was OK, nor did he come back to clear the empty plates and glasses and ask if we'd like desert - we had to walk up to the kitchen and ask to order more and the same when it came to paying. We spent £50 on lunch for a family of 6 so would expect better (some?!) service, not a place we'll rush back to, but I guess you have to balance the high prices and terrible service with the gorgeous view and gluten free availability.

Harbour Ice Ice Cream Parlour - Padstow

After a spot of crabbing on the North Quay we were delighted to spot a little sign saying "gluten free cones available" - gluten free cones were an extra 30pence, but how fantastic for Seb to eat out of a cone rather than a tub as he had done for the rest of the holiday! They had a big allergy chart on the wall so we were able to choose gluten free ice cream too - cornish clotted cream for Seb and chocolate for me. Perfect!

Rick Stein's Fish and Chips - Padstow

A 5 minute walk up to the South Quay opposite the Lobster Hatchery, Rick Stein's fish and chips takeaway offers gluten free fish and chips, although there is nothing on the menu to tell you that they do! We had cod and chips each which tasted like normal gluten containing fish and chips, or at least how I remember them to taste! The prices were nowhere near as high as I'd imagine, £7.80 for a pretty decent sized portion of cod and chips. A great way to round off a pretty successful gluten free day in Padstow!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Gluten Free Cornwall - Part 1 Polperro & The Eden Project

We enjoyed a very wet week in Cornwall in August, this was our first gluten free Cornish visit and we didn't have high hopes for finding good coeliac friendly (not to mention child coeliac friendly!) fayre, but thankfully our fears were unfounded!

Gluten Free Polperro

A quick google before we left led me to find the Treble Cafe, they don't seem to have a website, but you can see their facebook page HERE. Situated in Landaviddy Lane in Polperro, a quick walk from the harbour this cafe/restaurant is really coeliac friendly. They had quite a large pasta menu, all of which could be made with gluten free pasta. Any bread based items could be substituted with gluten free rolls and in the evenings gluten free pizza bases are available. They also cook their chips in a dedicated fryer so the chips are coeliac friendly too!

I had ham, egg and chips and Seb had their homemade bolognaise sauce with gluten free pasta, which he said was great!

Gluten Free Eden Project

We spent the wettest day of the holidays at the Eden Project, whilst I think the entry tickets are vastly overpriced, the food on offer at the Eden Project is conversely really reasonably priced and very coeliac friendly!

We ate in the bakery, in the link between the rainforest and mediterrenean biomes. They have homemade gluten free bread available if you ask for it and a few gluten free main menu items. I had a gorgeous gluten free fritatta, rosemary potatoes and salad and Seb has their homemade tomatoe and basil soup with gluten free white bread and butter. Main meals are only £6 which includes the main menu item and as much salad, potatoes and bread as you like.

Three of the desert items were amazingly gluten free (not just the usual fruit salad!) - a gorgeous chocolate orange cake (which we both plumped for), a lemon polenta cake and another chocolatey looking cake. A pretty good gluten free day!

Click for Part 2...Gluten free Cornish Fish and Chips - St Austell & Padstow!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Warburtons Gluten Free Bread - or Should I Say Bread CRUMBS!

Warburtons make a bold promise on their website:

"Our baking team has been researching into producing a gluten-free and wheat-free range for about five years. It is only now that we believe that we have got the right recipe and a range of products that are of the high quality that you would expect from us."

When you're spending around £2.50 on a miniature loaf of gluten free bread from a major manufacturer, i.e: a loaf of Warburtons Gluten Free sliced brown bread, you don't expect it to resemble bird food, especially not when you open a brand new loaf and the slices come out looking like this, for the second time:

It's a shame because the bread tastes great and the texture is great (for gluten free bread) and most importantly my son really likes it, but we won't be buying it again.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Gluten Free Camp Bestival Festival!

Almost two weeks ago we set off for our second Camp Bestival experience at the beautiful Lulworth Castle in Dorset. The kids absolutely love the whole experience from the freedom of camping to queueing for the loo at 7am, playing with clay at Daemons and Doppelganger, riding the Ferris wheel, engaging with the Camp Bestival bluecoats, Silly Science, pimping our trolley, the English National Ballet and Mr Tumble, the music is not great but I don't think most families go for the music!

 For my eldest, Seb, though the highlight of Camp Bestival is alway the food - not just any old food but gluten free food and LOTS of it. Before we went last year I spent hours on the Camp Bestival forum and google looking for gluten free food information, I didn't manage to find out much other than "don't worry, you'll be fine". So I thought it might be useful for future visitors to hear about our gluten free Camp Bestival experience.

Top awards go to the fabulous Paellaria stand, close to the main (Castle) stage this food stall definitely wins our "best gluten free Camp Bestival food" award. Suitable for coeliacs they offer a chicken and chorizo paella and a vegetarian option. Friendly service, decent prices and really, really good food. This is always our first stop and so good we always eat there twice. You can check them out on facebook HERE.

Pasta Heaven
Another stop of choice! Found in between the upper and lower kid's garden, Pasta Heaven offer gluten free pasta and freshly made sauces. Just tell them you need gluten free pasta and they'll cook it fresh for you, it makes the wait a bit longer, but they're knowledgeable about cross contamination so you won't get gluttoned! You can check them out on facebook HERE.

Chunky Chips and Wicked Dips
This is a firm favourite with the kids! Reasonably priced (for a festival!) freshly cooked chunky chips with a choice of toppings - they only fry chips in their fryers so they are definitely gluten free and really tasty, I like mine with baked beans. Check out their website HERE.

Thali Cafe
Really tasty chicken and vegetarian curry and rice. All festivals need a good curry and the chicken one is particularly tasty and gluten free! Check out their website HERE.

Manna Kitchen
Seriously clued up and *definitely* the best gluten free chocolate brownie I've ever tasted! They sell gluten free lunch boxes for kids (with gluten free rolls) for only £4.50 too. Their stall was in the farmer's market marquee in the upper kid's garden. Check out their website HERE.

Not so good this year compared to last, but they still had a stock of gluten free biscuits available to ice and decorate (and non gluten free cupcakes) and definitely the cheapest place to buy a kid's drink (50p for a cup of orange or blackcurrant squash). You can check out their facebook site HERE.

The WI Tent
This is definitely the secret jewel in the catering crown of Camp Bestival. Gorgeous fresh made sandwiches (£2.50) and baguettes (£3) and lots and lots and lots of homemade cake. They had quite a few different gluten free cakes available (not on display though because of cross contamination, you had to ask). We loved their gluten free rocky road (£1) and had two pieces each, they also had gluten free lemon drizzle cake  and gluten free chocolate beetroot cake (no I didn't fancy it either!) and all for a good cause too!

We didn't  eat at the Wagamama at Camp Bestival, so I can't confirm if they could  definitely offer gluten free, but they are usually pretty  good at adapting their food to be gluten free - see HERE - so I'd be surprised if they didn't offer something.

The Hurly Burly
Again, we didn't eat here (we meant to, just ran out of time!) but they had a delicious sounding homemade gluten free cornbread, butter and jam on their breakfast menu, so I'm guessing they're be pretty clued up at lunch and dinner too.  Maybe next year! Check out their website HERE.

Texas Corn Roast
Sweet, tasty roasted corn - simple and gluten free, a great snack or a light lunch in the lower kids garden. Check out their website HERE.

and lastly.........Not Camp Bestival - but nearby Weymouth:

The Old Harbour Fish Bar
After we pitched our tent on the Thursday morning we headed into nearby Weymouth for the afternoon. We parked in one of the 1hr free parking bays at the marina and headed to the Old Harbour fish bad for some gluten free fish and chips, cooked freshly to order. They were definitely the best gluten free cod and chips I've ever had (and I've had a lot!), made only better by eating them on the harbour wall! Check out their reviews HERE.

I'm sure there were more that we missed too! All I can add is if you are planning on going to Camp Bestival in 2013 and you are a coeliac or in need of a gluten free diet don't panic, you will definitely be more than catered for!

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 5: Restaurants Outside the Parks and Wholefoods

So, I'll admit we did most of our Florida gluten free eating inside the parks, but we still had a few evening meals in restaurants on I-Drive and  the surrounding area.

Bahama Breeze
This was definitely my favourite restaurant chain, just because I love Caribbean food and really liked the vibe, we ate at the one on I-Drive twice (near the Wonderworks building), both times we had to wait around 30mins (they operate a pager system). They were really friendly and knowledgeable about gluten and offered us lots of choices. Both times I had the grilled chicken with cilantro crema, mashed potatoes topped with toasted corn. Totally gluten free and really tasty. Seb had grilled chicken breast and fries (dedicated fryer) both times. You can see their menus HERE but unfortunately they do not mark them gluten free.

Brilliant for coeliacs! They even have a dedicate gluten free menu, I think this is probably my top choice for a gluten free friendly restaurant outside of Disney. Both times we had their ribs with a jacket potato, I think they are probably the nicest ribs I've ever had. Top marks, the only downside is we had a long wait, even at 9pm.

Pollo Tropical
We grabbed a quick lunch here on the way back to Sanford airport. It's a quick fast food type place but with really good food. We totally over-ordered, just beware the portions are huge! You can check out the gluten free/containing items on their website - we had lots of grilled chicken, corn, slaw, rice and mashed potatoes.  

Oh my goodness I am totally in love with this HUGE natural supermarket in Turkey Lake Road. We only discovered it a week into our holiday but I wish we'd found them sooner. It is literally gluten free heaven. I've never seen so many gluten free products under one roof - they stock anything you can imagine, we bought gluten free pizzas, gluten free waffles, gluten free doughnuts (yes doughnuts!), gluten free blueberry muffins, gluten free breakfast cereals, gluten free brownies, gluten free cookies, gluten free bread and more and the fresh salad/ready cooked food section looked glorious. Oh how I wish there were stores like this in the UK (I know there are a handful in the UK, but nothing like the size of this one and all too far away sadly). I would seriously consider moving to Florida JUST for Wholefoods, it's that good. If you are a coeliac off to Orlando you MUST, MUST, MUST go here as soon as possible to stock up on gluten free goodies, you know when you go to a normal supermarket and spot something gorgeous, choc full of gluten and you wish that you didn't have coeliac disease? well that doesn't happen at Wholefoods, you feel normal and their gluten free food is *really* good. Have I sold it to you yet? LOL.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 4: Universal & Kennedy Space Center

and so the gluten free Florida journey continued!

Universal Studios
We spent a day at Universal studios, whilst we all absolutely loved it the food options here are pretty terrible. A google before we went told me we might be able to find gluten free food at the World Expo. So we headed there and were really disappointed to find disinterested (even rude) staff who had no knowledge of gluten. We had chicken and chips and were definitely gluttoned, I spent the afternoon in and out of the toilet whilst Seb complained of feeling nauseous all afternoon. All I can say here is if you're going to Universal studios, leave the park to eat and go to Universal City Walk instead!

Universal City Walk - Margaritaville
Wow - I *loved* this place, they had a seperate gluten free menu! A great atmosphere and really knowledgeable, helpful staff. Definitely the best (non Disney) dining on our trip. I had mushroom Cheeseburger and fries (with a gluten free bun) and Seb had their volcano nachos, followed by brownies and ice cream sundae (or as they call it chocolate hurricane) for desert. The food here was really good and SO nice after a terrible gluten free day in Universal Studios. Thank you Margaritaville for making us feel normal!

Universal Islands of Adventure
We made ADRs at Mythos restaurant well in advance, it's supposed to be the no.1 theme park restaurant. It was pretty good and nice to eat 'proper' food instead of burgers and chips! They were knowledgeable about gluten free food and helpful. I had their chicken caesar salad and Seb had their pad thai. Both were really good. We skipped desert as we were so full. Later in Harry Potter land we had some pumpkin juice (the butterbeer topping contains gluten and they won't make it without). Although we didn't eat there we did notice another restaurant, the Confisco Grille, had a seperate gluten free menu.

Kennedy Space Center.
Although this was a great day out the food was awful, I had enquired in advance if food would be available. We had booked their 'dine with an astronaut' package and I had emailed in advance to enquire if there would be gluten free options available. I received this reply:

We can't wait to have you join us for Dine with and Astronaut, the lunch takes place only at 12:00 pm. This is a wonderful experience because the astronaut will go to each table for a brief discussion and then they will discuss their experience in space.  When you arrive just let the server know about the restrictions, and we will be more than accommodating to your families needs. We are very excited to have your family join us. I will also suggest that you sign up for the Up Close Tour, this is a once in a life time experience. If you wanted to purchase snack at out concessions just ask for the manager and they will be able to suggests the different items that your family can have.

Thank you,

Aina Wukits, C.S.C.
Executive Sous Chef
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts
Mail Code: DNPS
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

In reality though it was absolutely terrible, there were no special provisions, all we could eat from the buffet were the mixed vegetables and the salad. They prepared us a grilled chicken breast each (no sauce or seasoning) so we had a plain chicken breast and a few pieces of carrot and brocolli and lettuce. I wasn't too bad, but Seb was really upset. For desert they bought us out 2 packets of plain gluten free cookies (2 small cookies in each pack). It was possibly the worst gluten free dining experience of our trip. All I can suggest is if you are a fellow coeliac/celiac that you DON'T eat at KSC and instead take your own food. We were soooo hungry in the afternoon and after searching for a snack all we managed to find to eat there was a snickers bar each. Not good.

Part 5: Gluten free Florida outside of the parks & Wholefoods gluten free heaven: http://glutenfreechild.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/gluten-free-in-orlando-florida-part-5.html

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 3: Sea World and Discovery Cove

Hmmmm after we'd been spoilt with gluten free food at Disney,  Seaworld - Orlando and Discovery Cove were both a bit of a let down. Disney definitely rules the gluten free/allergy catering stakes. I researched gluten free dining heavily at both Seaworld and Discovery Cove and had never really discovered much, but I was hopeful - given how great Disney was. I had even emailed Discovery Cove to ask about their gluten free catering and even though their reply was very swift and courteous it didn't fill me with hope:

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for contacting Discovery Cove. We appreciate the opportunity to 
provide world-class customer service!

Our Culinary Team, like everyone else at Discovery Cove, would like to provide 
you with peace of mind that your day will be as enjoyable, and safe, as 
possible.  They also recognize the importance of all aspects of food safety – 
especially those challenges our guests with food allergies encounter when dining 
out.  We would be more than happy to place a note on your reservation to alert 
the culinary staff of a guest’s specific food allergy.  Please respond to this 
e-mail with this information.  Then, on the day of your visit, you are welcome 
to visit our restaurant, Laguna Grill, early in the day to discuss your personal 
dietary needs with one of our chefs.  
After speaking to many guests, we have found that allowing our guests to use 
their judgment based on personal experience is best.  Guest response to this has 
been excellent.  In addition, many guests have expressed it is the best 
experience they have had, since it allows anyone dealing with food allergies a 
more precise idea of what menu selections they should avoid. 

I hope this information was helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we 
can be of further assistance.

Best Regards,
Louise | Guest Relations

Discovery Cove, Orlando
6000 Discovery Cove Way | Orlando, FL  32821
O. 407-370-1427 | F. 407-370-1452

Discovery Cove
So, after receiving the email above we were more than nervous about a gluten free day in Discovery Cove! We did as instructed on arrival and headed straight to the Laguna Grill and they said that "yes we provide gluten free food and snacks". We had a pretty decent cooked breakfast of scrambled egg and bacon - the food was unlimited, which was good as the portions served were pretty tiny!

The refreshement stands all carried gluten free snacks, we tucked into several bags of trail mix and crisps (potato chips) and ice lollies, however were pretty sad that everything else was gluten containing.

Lunch was in the Laguna grill again. Gluten free food was very limited. I had a salad to start, which they prepared freshly for me, with no dressing (I wanted dressing - but they said that it all contained gluten), whilst Seb skipped his starter as salad was the only thing on offer. For our main course they cooked us plain chicken and chips, which was nice, but again quite boring and we had to wait 25  minutes for it. Desert was only fresh fruit, which didn't impress Seb! However in the afternoon - after the lunch rush - a sign appeared saying "gluten free snacks available" - so I asked and was given two "Gluten free to go" packs. These are an amazing idea, from two Floridian mums. They contained  all sorts of gluten free snacks, my favourite were the snickerdoodles! We really appreciated our packs, it's just a shame we had to ask for them! Food aside though Discovery Cove is an amazing place - we'd go again in a heartbeat!

Seaworld - Orlando
Again I hadn't read great reviews about SeaWorld's gluten free offerings before our trip. Upon arrival we visited every restaurant we could find. We really wanted to buy their all day dining deal wrist bands, but were worried that there would be nothing for us to eat. We were assured we'd be OK though and were told it was a shame we weren't there a month later (we went in April 2012) as they were introducing gluten free pasta and pizza to their restaurants shortly.

We managed to find a decent lunch in the Voyager's Smokehouse restaurant. Seb and I had ribs (with no sauce and corn on the cob. We couldn't eat the fries here as the fryer wasn't a dedicated one, but the ribs and corn were feeling and taste really good, even without the sauce and were cooked especially for us by the chef (more waiting!).

We ate dinner at the Seafire Inn, cheesburger and fries again, but without the bun. It was OK, we were hungry and it filled us up, but we wouldn't rush back and we certainly didn't get value for money out of our wristbands. Hopefully if they now have the GF pizza and pasta as we were told things will be a lot better at Seaworld for fellow coeliacs.

One thing to note though, on our way home we popped into a little shop nearish to guest services selling drinks and snacks to find that they sold the Gluten free to go packs we had been given at Discovery Cove, which helped to quell the hunger on the journey home! 

Part 4: Universal studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, Universal City Walk and Kennedy Space Center: http://glutenfreechild.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/gluten-free-in-orlando-florida-part-4.html

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 2: Walt Disney World & Epcot

Disney does it again! Following our amazing first day at Disney's Animal Kingdom we headed off to explore the gluten free culinary delights of Walt Disney World and Epcot. Again we had booked all of our table service meals well ahead of time, which I really recommend doing as the best restaurants get booked up really quickly!

Walt Disney World
In total we spent 3 days at WDW and we ate a LOT of gluten free food there! Here's a quick round up:

Cinderella's Royal Table - WDW
It was my daughter's fifth birthday whilst we were in Orlando. What better place to spend her birthday lunchtime than in Cinderella's castle. We had taken her to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique earlier that morning and bought her a Rapunzel makeover as a birthday present and most other girls were head to toe in pricess outfits too! We booked this as soon as we could, 180 days before our stay, at the same time as booking I had also purchased the HRH package, which was about £50 and included a really big Disney Princess balloon at the table, a birthday card - signed by all of the princesses, a little tiara and a chocolate birthday cake - gluten free of course! The cake looked brilliant and it was wonderful we could all eat it, but whilst the frosting tasted good the inside was actually really dry.  I think it would have been nice if it had been served warm with cream or ice cream though, to be honest it didn't really matter though - it was just lovely to be able to have a big chocolate birthday cake that we could all share!

The food here wasn't that good if I'm honest - the experience was amazing, but I was expecting better food, gluten free or not, though I know it's not known for its good food! I had a salad to start followed by a vegetarian cassoulet, which was OK but not something I'd like to eat again, I finished with chocolate mousse - which was actually really lovely. Seb had cheese and grapes to start and then gluten free chicken nuggets, mashed potato and corn, finishing with ice cream for desert.

The Crystal Palace - WDW
Again this was a bit of a disappointment, mainly because of the price we paid. The restaurant was very crowded, we had to wait 45 minutes outside despite having ADRs and inside was chaotic and dirty. We also had poor service. Still, it's another character restaurant so you go more for the experience than the food. The chef came and took Seb and I on a tour of the food we could eat - which was a good selection of the buffet and we were given a warmed gluten free roll and butter too. Desert here was a pre-packed chocolate brownie. It was OK, but not worth the money.

Peco Bill's  - WDW
A large, quick service restaurant. The server was knowledge about gluten free food and a supervisor was called to take our order, we both had cheeseburgers and fries (with a bun!). Simple, quick and easy - the bun was pretty good for gluten free too.

Pinocchio Village Haus 
Another counter service restaurant. Our server was once again clued up about gluten free food and after a quick chat with a supervisor we had ordered two gluten free cheese pizzas, my only complaint was that they were pretty small - so I had a side salad with mine.

Blizzard Beach Waterpark

Avalunch - Disney's Blizzard Beach
We had a great day at Disney's Blizzard Beach waterpark, I was a bit worried about finding gluten free food here, but really needn't have worried at all - it was great! We had lunch at Avalunch. Seb had chicken nuggets and fries and I had Cheeseburger and fries, all really well cooked and very tasty. We had the pre-packaged brownie for desert. We did mean to try a turkey leg in the afternoon but it was just too hot to eat anymore!


We had a really great, if somewhat unusual! lunch at Epcot's Biergarten. The entertainment was brilliant and it was lovely to be inside in the cool out of the heat. The food here is buffet style and we could eat lots of it - especially the sausages! (german style) - Seb had a plate piled full of sausages and potatoes and I experienced a little more with a huge variety of salads, vegetables and meat. Desert was disappointing though - more pre-packed brownies and chocolate chip cookies, or fruit salad. Actually reading this back it doesn't sound bad at all, I guess we were just getting spoilt!

The Electric Umbrella
Another quick counter service restaurant - the staple gluten free offerings at Disney resorts are gluten free cheeseburgers, gluten free mac'n'cheese (Amys), gluten free chicken nuggets (they call them chicken tenders) and a small gluten free cheese pizza.  We both had the chicken tenders and fries here, they really don't taste gluten free!

Part 3: Discovery  Cove and Seaworld: http://glutenfreechild.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/gluten-free-in-orlando-florida-part-3.html

Gluten Free in Orlando, Florida - Part 1: Disney Animal Kingdom & Downtown Disney

In April 2012 we had an amazing fortnight in Orlando, Florida. It was amazing because of the parks, the dolphin swim, the weather and the magic of it all - but more than anything it was amazing because of the food! We have never found gluten free eating so easy anywhere else. We had a pretty crazy 2 weeks and visited pretty much all of the parks and quite a few different restaurants. I had researched heavily before we went and had pre-booked everything in advance, which I really recommend.

There's just so much to talk about I've decided to split this into several different posts, starting with the Disney Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney, out of all of the Florida parks Disney definitely do gluten free the best!

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Tusker House Restaurant
We started our holiday with a bang with an amazing character breakfast at the Tusker House restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom park. It wasn't cheap, but boy was it worth it, it was definitely our best gluten free dining experience in Florida! I have never seen such a huge breakfast buffet!  I had marked our ADRs (advance dining reservations) as being gluten free and the server had a ticket stamped with a big red 'allergy' stamp when we arrived. We reminded our server who immediately went to get the chef. The chef personally came to our table and took my son and I on a private tour of the buffet, telling us what we could and couldn't eat (most things!) he then asked if we would like him to make us some fresh waffles and blueberry muffins? of course we would!!!

We sat down to our enormous plates full of bacon, sausages (yes sausages!), potatoes and scrambled eggs and just as we were finishing chef came over with two huge plates full of gluten free heaven. He'd made us fresh Mickey waffles covered in syrup and two warmed blueberry muffins each, he also gave us some packets of chocolate chip cookies to take with us for later in the day. I actually cried at this point. Proper tears. It felt SO good to be normal, the look on my son's face when his Mickey waffles appeared was sheer joy and excitement - more than any the characters or rides produced.

Here he is tucking into his Mickey waffles.

If you are coeliac/celiac visiting Florida and needing gluten free food - the Tusker House breakfast in Disney's Animal kingdom is an absolute must. I can't recommend it strongly enough!

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Rainforest Cafe
Breakfast from the Tusker House was enough to keep us going until 5pm, when we had ADRs for the Rainforest Cafe. This experience wasn't so great.

If you haven't been to a Rainforest Cafe it's well worth it for the experience, my kids loved the 'storm' and animated characters hanging from the trees. The food is overpriced and mass produced, service really could be better too, but they were knowledgeable about gluten. That said they still catered for gluten free diners. My son and I both had a cheeseburger and fries, with a bun! sadly it was a very dry gluten free bun, but it was edible. We skipped desert as everyone was still full and a bit jet lagged!

Downtown Disney - BabyCakes 
We never ate a meal at Downtown Disney, but did visit twice to stock up on the *amazing* gluten free cakes on offer at BabyCakes bakery. This fantastic little gem, tucked inside Fresh-A-Peel was just wonderful. We went slightly mad and spent $50 on our first visit. ALL of their cakes and cookies are gluten free (and dairy and egg free too). It was literally a little slice of heaven.

My personal favourite was the cinnamon sugar doughnuts, although they were 'cake' type doughnuts, rather than the type we're used to in the UK, it was still soooooo good to eat a doughnut for the first time in 3yrs!

Seb tucked into their brownie, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate dipped doughnut and carrot cupcake. You can see their menu HERE for their Orlando store, all gluten free (another tears moment!).

Image Copyright BabyCakes

Part 2: Walt Disney World and Epcot: http://glutenfreechild.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/gluten-free-in-orlando-florida-part-2.html

Gluten Free Tumbleweed?

Gosh, has it really been that long since my last blog? Sooooo much has happened since I last posted. To summarise:

  • I got a book deal (alas not about GF living, but I hope to write a 'life with gluten free kids' book one day in the not too distant future!).
  • We had lots of birthdays!
  • We've been to Tuscany, Orlando and Camp Bestival and survived without being gluttoned (I'll post reviews of each as soon as I can!).
  • Seb had his annual coeliac review which has by far been the most traumatic event of the year so far, it appears his coeliac disease has made him phobic about needles. We tried for 3hrs to get a blood sample. It didn't happen and we both left the hospital in floods of tears. The hospital has suggested a course of play therapy before next year's appointment. I told my husband I couldn't go again, last year was bad, but this year was really, really bad and I'm not strong enough to take him alone again.
  • We've learnt a whole lot more about GF living, dare I say it - some days even seem (whisper) 'easy' and some days I forget we are "different".
  • I think my 3rd son may also be a coeliac. We never had him tested as he's such a big healthy boy, but lately he's been displaying symptoms, including some strange skin issues - so we're off to get him tested too. If his test is positive I know it will be a struggle, he is a total pizza fiend!
  • I've discovered the Paleo diet and OMG I love it so much (though I cheat and still eat haloumi, feta and sweet potatoes).
So, that's our life in a nutshell. I can't wait to get back into this blog properly again!

Sarah & Sebx