I choose to prepare almost all my own meals unless I am eating out. I do not *need* to, I could buy ready-made gluten-free foods. During the working week I could visit places offering gluten-free options, I have that option. My reason for not doing so is certainty that the meals I prepare have superior nutritional virtues, and ethical virtues, and are at least as tasty, if not more so, than anything I can buy.
Every meal I prepare is contains a balance of macros (protein, carbs, fats) and a rainbow of different colours for a spectrum of micronutrients. I favour low glycaemic index carbohydrates, lots of fiber, and fats I believe to be the good types. I choose organic ingredients, in season. Office colleagues often say “oh that looks so healthy” and ask what I am eating? I have the dilemma that few of my meals have any “name” and actually naming the ingredients means recalling the 20 or so things I have likely included. Oh yes, diversity, I like that.
My meals also have the virtue of what I do not include in them. No added sugars. No added salt. No nutritionally bankrupt starches. No additives, preservatives or potentially gut bug killing emulsifiers.
I look forward to the nourishing pleasure of every meal.
That said, if there was a place that sold the type of meals I make for myself, oh hot damn sure, I would welcome the opportunity to reduce my food preparation burden. Do you know anyone whose kitchen resembles a military operation for batch food preparation? That is my kitchen. I work longish hours, I have interests, my food preparation time needs to be efficient lest it dominate entirely my free time.
But really, there *isn’t* anywhere that does this.
There wasn’t anywhere that did this.
There is now.
What is Farmstand?
Farmstand caught my attention as a new 100% gluten-free place to eat in London. That alone was enough to prompt a visit but I discovered that Farmstand offers far more than *just* a safe place to eat for a celiac or wheat or dairy allergy sufferer. The *far more* comes in the form of fantastic fresh, flavorsome food, locally, ethically and sustainably sourced. It is a place you can enjoy great tasting food at and feel confident that you have also made an environmentally friendly choice and one which is good for you.
Here is a big win too. In recent years the term “refined sugar free” has become oh-so-popular. I believe it is meaningless and will explain why in in a separate post. What I admire about Farmstand is that instead of claiming their food is “refined sugar free” they simply tell you straight the few products that have sugar added – this is their sweet muffins, chocolate bars and hot chocolate only at time of writing.
The closest thing I can pick out to compare Farmstand to is Leon. Take Leon, make it small, personal and friendly. Convert the entire menu to being gluten, wheat and dairy free. Convert the entire menu into a buffet style choice (with pre-made take-out boxes also available). Oh, and whilst I wax lyrical about the food, the physical venue has some great features too if you are eating in. Primarily, the seating is limited enough that this place will never get very noisy like so many places in London inevitably due. You can sit and relax and have a conversation with your dining partners. Oh, and the bathrooms? Wonderful. I do not have a habit of taking pictures of restaurant bathrooms, but these were just too nice!
Food, Glorious Food!
I chose Puy Lentils with Wild Mushrooms and Chervil, Roasted Artichokes with Capers & Parsley and Split Fava Beans with Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seeds.
Balanced protein, carb and fats? Check
Lots of Fibre? Check
Low glycaemic index carbs? Check
Rainbow of colours? Check
Organic, seasonal produce? Check
Flavorsome? Oh wow yes. I think of flavour as comprising taste, mouth-feel and aroma. The tastes were distinct and each to be savoured. The mouth-feel ranged from pleasing crunchiness, chewiness and velvet-iness, just where it should be from the diversity in the bowl.
I also sampled both a savory muffin and once gifted it by Steven the Founder, part of a sweet muffin. The savory reminded me of my favorite butternut squash muffins (home-made) and was very clearly very freshly made with quality ingredients. The sweet muffin was beautifully moist and sweetness from the sugar added did not overwhelm the taste of berries within. Super.
Finally, I did of course sample the gluten-free brownie. This was made for Farmstand by Elements for Life. Call me a hopeless foodie, I was almost hooked as soon as I saw that the first ingredient was Ecuadorian Arriba Raw Cacao Butter. How many brownie-makers will actually tell you the country of origin of their cacao? Heck, how many chocolate makers even do that? Okay sure, all the artisan makers, but most of the big brands do not and why would they? They will be using blends optimized for consistency, not taste. Anyway, was it nice? Yes, it was a dense, chewy, gooey-ish, rich sort of brownie, not at all cake-like, which is my personal preference. There was just a little bit of resistance, a bit of bite, just enough tease to tell you that there was something of delightful substance ready to reward your tastebuds.
Would I return?
I would go every day. I would subscribe to a Farmstand food service to provide most of my meals if I could. Flavorsome, varied, sustainably sourced gluten free food accompanied by exemplary business practices provide a compelling proposition. So, go to Farmstand, yes, then return. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
However . . . there still isn’t anywhere close enough to *me* that offers this kind of food. Come to Canary Wharf Farmstand, come to Canary Wharf.