Wednesday, 29 September 2010

British Cheese Week

British Cheese Week is upon us, which would have made me very happy since I love cheese, but since I became lactose intolerant, this is not such a happy event, in fact, it just serves to remind me that I can't eat (much) cheese.

However, I have been known to make the odd exception for cheeses that I love, and cheeses that are low in lactose (or virtually lactose free, such as hard aged cheeses).

Here's my top list of good British cheeses (but for cooking I almost always use Grana Padano, an Italian cheese very similar to parmesan with a strong flavour and hard texture):

- Black Bomber: A very very very strong Welsh cow's milk cheese with a black rind. Great for cheese sauces so you get the flavour without having too much fat or too stringy a sauce
- Cornish Yarg: A westcountry traditional cow's milk cheese covered in stinging nettles. I recently tried Yarg with wild garlic, accompanied by cider, which was just the most amazing taste combination, really complimentary. Although not as low in lactose as Black Bomber, I love it so much I allow myself a couple of small pieces and deal with minimal symptoms
- Applewood smoked cheddar: As it's a cheddar cheese, this is low in lactose and the tastiest smoked cheese ever! Perfect with crackers, but again, in moderation
- Lactofree cheeses: Semi-hard and soft (spreadable) cheeses with no lactose in, perfect for baking, sandwiches, topping pasta and pizza, with crackers, with cider, on toast, everywhere! The best thing about the Lactofree cheeses is that I don't have to limit myself!

I've also found lactose free versions of emmenthal and gouda in Europe, but that'll have to wait until European Cheese week ;) (By the way, Belgian cheeses are among the best in Europe, better even than French cheeses. If you ever get the chance, try them!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Festival food again - the outcome

I'm back from Waveform and glad to say it didn't rain much. I had been looking forward to being pleasantly surprised by the food choices available to me (lactose intolerant, soy protein intolerant, allergic to nuts) but unfortunately this was not the case. There was actually only one place suitable for me to eat at, Tibetan Kitchen, which was delicious, filling and really good value. I ate there every day and even got some food to take home for post-festy dinner! I did get a bacon roll from the tea tent one day, but the entire festival ran out of bacon on the second day :(

It was only a small festival so there wasn't much in the way of food places. There was a Thai stall which looked good but I didn't trust the open kitchen to be safe enough in terms of cross-contamination from nut ingredients. The other food places were overwhelmingly vegan (apart from the cheese toastie wagon), so I couldn't have the soy pancakes, or vegan cakes as they all had soy ingredients in. By the last day there was only vegan breakfasts available, and I thought £6 for onions and mushrooms was a bit steep as I wouldn't be having the vegan protein options.

So, to sum up, this festival was great for vegans and lactose-intolerant folk with plenty of variety and interesting options, but when you add a nut allergy and intolerance to soy protein into the mix it becomes a minefield again.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Festival food again

The last festival of the summer season is on the horizon (starts tomorrow in fact!) and once again I'm looking forward to being pleasantly surprised, and relieved to find food stalls catering for my lactose/dairy free diet.

The festival I'm going to is Waveform which is an eco-friendly sustainable festival (yes, lots of hippy vibes!) which aims to use no new energy in the staging of the event and insists that all food traders use local produce wherever possible, and that all food packaging is compostable or recyclable. They even have people going through the bins at the end of the weekend to pull out anything which didn't get put in the recycling/composting bin!

It's largely because of this hippy vibe that I know I'll be in safe hands food-wise all weekend as there tends to be a brilliant provision for vegans at these smaller, hippy-ish festivals.

I am still going to take some food with me for convenience, where else am I going to get a hobnob and dairy-free chocolate spread sandwich at 5am except my tent?!

I hope anyone else going to either Waveform, Bestival or any other event this weekend has similar happy experiences :)

Monday, 6 September 2010


I made these cupcakes from Happy Sugar Funtime last night but substituted the milk/soy milk in the frosting for the juice of half a lemon and the zest of a whole lemon, then grated Green and Blacks Maya Gold over the top for a choc/citrus cake.

They're going down very well in the office, it's a combination I can recommend! The cake mixture is excellent - gives a very light moist sponge which you can make fudgier by using more brown sugar than caster (I used light muscovado sugar as it really makes a difference).

I think next I'm going to try substituting the hot water/cocoa mix with hot chocolate Oatly/cocoa as I've found Oatly makes cakes really moist and spongy...