Saturday 2 November 2019: The Allergy and Free From Show North.
6:00am. I’m awoken from a deep sleep by my alarm mercilessly chirping away on the bedside table. My immediate thought is to launch my phone out of the window, roll over and go back to sleep. But then I remember why I chose to set my alarm for such an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning. It was Free From Show day. And if it’s the case that the early bird catches the worm, then today it’s true that the early bird gets first dibs on loads of gluten free goodies!
The drive over to Liverpool from Coeliac Man HQ went by relatively quickly, thanks I assume to the majority of the country deciding that staying in and watching the Rugby World Cup final was a far better way to spend a Saturday morning than negotiating the country’s motorways. Liverpool greeted us in traditional fashion by absolutely bucketing down with rain. We also managed to time our arrival just as hundreds of kids dressed as superheroes were piling into the Liverpool Arena for a Marvel live show. Clearly I didn’t make the cut for an appearance, maybe next year!
After battling for a car park space we finally arrived at the exhibition centre, donned our lanyards, and headed in for a morning of free from goodness! It was Rachael’s first time going to a show so it was great to have her there to show around, and get double the amount of freebies of course. Talking of which, our first stop was to go and collect our show bags which are given out to all guests for free! This year they contained a loaf of BFree bread, a bag of Schär Delishios, some coffee things which I immediately donated to Rachael as I’m not much of a coffee drinker, and copious amounts of discount vouchers!
If you’ve never been to a Free From show before then let me set the scene. A big exhibition centre is set up with loads of stalls dedicated to more free from brands then you can shake a gluten free breadstick at. Most brands hand out free samples of their products for you to try, and the majority also have special offers on so that you can buy their products for much cheaper than in the supermarkets. There’s also an area for talks from a range of industry experts, and sometimes they have cooking demonstrations too. Basically it’s like heaven on Earth for coeliacs!
My initial thoughts from our first swoop around the room was that it was slightly smaller than last year’s edition, with a couple of big name brands notable in their absence. However, there was still more than enough to get stuck into. One of our first port of calls was the Wildcraft Bakery stand. Wildcraft absolutely stole the show last year with their fried gluten free doughnuts and range of sumptuous cakes and pastries. This year they mixed it up by offering churros, which I’d never eaten in my life before, so I couldn’t wait to get involved! Thankfully they more than lived up to expectations and were an absolute treat. We also picked up one of their famous whoopie pies, and a Bakewell tart to take home which were equally delicious.
Next up on my hit list was a visit to the Fodilicious stand. As well as being coeliac I also loosely follow the low fodmap diet to help keep my IBS under control. As such I was really keen to speak to Fodilicious as they were a brand I had discovered through Instagram but hadn’t had chance to sample any of their products before. They offer a range of gluten free and low fodmap ready meals which can be delivered right to your door, and on the day they were giving out samples of their delicious cookie buttons snack. Check out my Instagram or Facebook pages if you’d like to win yourself some packets to try! (Giveaway closes Sunday 10 October 2019).
Another great part of the Free From shows is the opportunity to discover brands that you’d never heard of before. The pick of these for me this year was an Australian brand called Liberate who make the most amazing gluten free crumpets I’ve ever tried! They’re hoping to launch in UK supermarkets soon, so definitely keep your eyes peeled and check them out when they do.
It’s become something of a tradition for me to pick up a Voakes gluten free pork pie for my lunch whenever I attend a show. Not being one to break tradition, I did just that and it was as delicious as always! I also swung by the Juvella stand to take advantage of their 3 products for £5 offer to get my freezer stocked up with bread, and with that we were pretty much done.
A trip to the show in Liverpool wouldn’t be complete without a wander around the beautiful Albert Docks area of the city. Liverpool is one of my absolute favourite cities in the world. Thanks in no small part to being home of not only my beloved Everton Football Club, but also one of the greatest bands ever to have graced this earth.. The Zutons. (Oh and some lads called The Beatles? They’re pretty good too.) Rachael had never visited the city before so it was great to check out all of the tourist spots and have a quick wander around the Tate to see some art that no one really understands. A fab end to an excellent day, I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
Coeliac Man out. X