If you were offered a magical gluten-free shopping trolley and your pick of any food market at which you could fill it up for free, what would you pick? One of the big names like Tesco or Sainsbury? How about Wholefoods, Planet Organic or As Nature Intended? A virtual shop at Ocado?
Let me suggest that the best place to take that magical trolley right now might be the gluten-free and free-from gold mine that is the Selfridges Food Hall!
Selfridges has a great history of offering gluten-free and other free-from products, not least gluten-free doughnuts from the awesome Borough 22 and baked treats from the WAGfree bakery. As of July 2016 neither of these are in store any longer but the free-from range is stronger than ever.
The hall now features a permanent Coori stall – the UK’s first fully gluten-free in-store concession. There is also a non-signposted gluten-free and free-from section of the food hall and together the range on offer is comparable to that offered by far bigger supermarkets and features many products not available elsewhere, many of which are Free From Food Award or Great Taste Award winners.
Let us take a look as part of the Gluten Free Shopping series where I offer an entirely biased review and highlights of food markets.
Coori at Selfridges!
Coori is an artisan producer of gluten-free foods including filled pastas, gnocchi, pies, biscuits and baking mixes. These are available online and from some independent stores and now following the success of a pop-up stand in the Selfridges Food Hall there is now a generously sized and prominently placed concession there to stay, fantastic!
The stall is offering Coori’s own range plus a wide range of baked treats from the Free-From Bakehouse. The offering is diverse, including food ready-to-eat or take-away, fresh and dry and filled pastas, fresh sandwiches, pizza and rarely found gluten-free things like Arancini (stuffed rice balls, for example with eggplant and parmesan cheese) . There is easily enough choice at this one stall to make choice really, really, delightfully difficult.
Food Hall Free-From Section
Free-From Food Award winning ‘The Lab Pizza‘ are my favourite gluten-free bake at home pizzas thanks to their winning combination of high quality ingredients and toppings, no added nasties or sugar, relatively low salt and of course the oh-so-critical great flavour and texture. The bases also feature a proven heat-stable probiotic named GanedenBC which may help contribute to a happy, healthy gut. I do not eat pizza at home very often so when I do I am happy to ‘treat’ myself with Lab Pizzas.
Great Taste Award winning bakery Peace of Cake have a large and delicious slice of their product range stocked here, including the best pre-packed gluten-free scones I have bought. ‘Best’ meaning pleasingly moist, ‘just right’ crustiness on the outside and softness on the inside but resilient enough to be welcoming of anything you might choose to spread on them. Clotted cream and strawberry jam, *of course*, but if you really, really wanted something else, that might just work too ;-)
Hotch Potch are another small artisan gluten-free baker with a Great Taste winning and Free-From Food award shortlisted range of savories. Their sausage rolls, scotch eggs and steak & kidney pies are currently stocked. These sit close to a Selfridges own-range of fresh pastas, including a mushroom filled and spinach and ricotta filled tortellini.
If you are looking for bites to share (or perhaps not share!) then you will again have too many options! There is the full range of tubs from Livia’s Kitchen, bagged bite sized bakes by B-Tempted and my own pick, flavoured coconut macaroons from Nourish. Let me help you here, if you are stuck, just get the Nourish Passionfruit Coconut Macaroons. Once you have them be careful to store out of reach of pets, children and well, everyone else really, including loved ones. Then open the packet, savour the aroma and try with all your might to just eat one! Yes, they are “quite nice”, and that is me deploying in full my skill at classic British understatement.
I am not at all going to do justice to rest of the free-from food range on offer, but will mention one stand-out star. Love cheese or the idea of cheese but dairy-free or vegan? In that case, do treat yourself to the the mouthwatering cashew nut based spreadable cream ‘Cacheese’ from Gozo Deli. Of the flavours, Basil Pesto, Chive, French Herb and Smoked Paprika I honestly cannot even recommend one of them to you. Get some nice bread from Coori, get these Casheeses, enjoy finding your own favourite!
Finally, so long as I have not been there just before you, there *may* be a pot of Natural Vitality Oak Smoked Hummus (or houmous) left available. This *may* be the best mummus in the world. I know, I know, that is a ludicrously bold and reckless claim to make. I *am* willing to undertake a thorough survey of excellent hummus and houmous in order to test the hypothesis.
Food Hall Bakery Counter
Borough 22 doughnuts and WAGfree bakes are no longer here but it seems like whenever Selfridges de-stock something great they replace it with something equally great. The bakery counter has a safely segregated gluten-free section now stocking Pearl and Groove mini-loaves and cakes. Pearl and Groove are a ‘flourless bakery’ and their website has a section called Cake Porn. They clearly know what they are doing.
Hemsley + Hemsley Cafe
Within the Food Hall itself there are several outlets with menu’s featuring gluten-free mains and desserts but . . . nip upstairs to the 3rd floor in order to visit the most excellent Hemsley Cafe. This is a 100% gluten-free cafe / restaurant tucked away in a small island of peacefulness and offering a full menu inspired by the Hemsley sisters approach to eating well.