Wheat Free this, Gluten Free that, Low Carb, Zero Fat. More like taste free. That's what I've always thought to these kind of products. Gimmicky products for the diet conscious. Now, I know there are genuine people out there who can't have gluten or wheat, I know Coeliac disease is extremely serious, however I'm not one of them, so I've always just stayed clear of anything like this.
Last week I was invited down to Vozars in Brixton which is London's first Cafe that is fully wheat and gluten free, to try a gluten free dinner with Ilumi. Ilumi are a home cooking brand who make gluten, wheat, dairy and nut free products. I was unsure as to what to make of this, as my honest perception was it would be tasteless cardboard. However I'm a curious soul and so needed to have my biased opinions tested.
I wasn't too sure how to blog about my dinner as again, I am not gluten free, however turns out some of you lovely lot are, and my Facebook post on the night was a huge hit. So I needed to share my discovery with you.
Ilumi have just launched their Asian flavours range, so we sat down for a feast from the east but first we started with a gluten free lager. Sadly though Wine cant be gluten free by the very nature of the wine making process. Damn.
We started with Sweet Five Spice and Chilli Pork.
I will always be completely honest, so I said the marketing director at Ilumi that my pre-thoughts around gluten free food was that they would taste... well a bit funky.
I thought this as I just presumed that to have no gluten there would have to be something else added- a replacement. Yet, I was pretty impressed when the ingredients of the sauces. No nasties here!
Our second dish was Beef in Black Been sauce. Once again, no nasties, no funkiness. Just clean, honest food, that was flavoursome. This had a real kick too it, and had a nice depth of flavour.
I know its a little silly, but I just didn't think gluten free food would be so... normal looking? I've heard the tales of rock like loaves of bread and heavy, stodge, because of substitutions. Yet, this was... normal. Its not overly fancy food, not the best dish I've ever tasted on this earth, but its good food. Its something I would cook at home, which is what I presume is the takeaway here. Gluten free food shouldn't be one of these crazy fad labels.
We then tried the Chicken Laska, which was a creamier dish, with a deceptive kick that came through afterwards.
It was interesting to hear everyone's thoughts on gluten and what connection they made with it. Some came from sport, others beauty, and some like me, who were curious explorers. I found the topic of sport and more specially running interesting as carbs are vital for performance.
If you are gluten free these carbs are certified Gluten free: rice, corn, quinoa, potatoes, soy and buckwheat.
Lastly we tried Vegetable Biryani. This was my favourite out of the 4. With a slightly nutty texture (although nut free) it was hearty and rich.
At the end we were presented with a platter of gluten free cakes by Vozars themselves. I drew a sharp intake of breath. Messing with a cake recipe? This could be tricky.
I'll tell you something though, they were pretty good. They are not as light and airy as 'normal' and I use that word loosely as really what is normal nowadays in our crazy food culture? No, they are denser than gluten containing cakes, but apart from that, I really wouldn't have thought anything of it. I'll also tell you something else, I think I actually prefer their coffee cake, as I like denser sponge. Who knew eh? Gluten free that actually I prefer? Well there we have it!
After a slice of cake and a cheery wave, I headed off home, feeling rather less bloated that usual. Whether that was actually the effect of no gluten or simply the placebo effect, who knows. What I do know is that gluten free actually is good food. I shouldn't even keep saying 'ooh gluten free is normal' as I really just had a good meal.
Gluten free or not, I'd recommend Ilumi products for a tasty dinner and if you are a Londoner, head over to Vozars for a cheeky cake and a cuppa. If you follow a gluten free diet I'd lvoe to hear from you. Pop a comment below about what you eat and your perceptions of GF foods. I'd love to know more.
Unit 26 Brixton Village