So as promised – a few key highlights from V Delicious and the Allergy + Free From Show.
Let’s dive straight in with The Chocolatier. Oh. My goodness. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite justify treating myself to a bar for the price at which they were selling – though every one of their bars and truffles was a thing of beauty and I have no doubt that they are entirely worth every penny. I would pay just to look at them, to be honest. I tried just a smidgeon of Dark Salted Caramel Spread and it set my world on fire. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it. Silky smooth, rich and warm, but not sickly or overpowering, it is everything that chocolate should be. Why do I have such expensive taste?
I had one other stunning chocolate experience over at the Pudology stall. Totally prepared to purchase some, I should have gotten my act together and gotten over there sooner as they were sold out. Luckily they still had a bit of one last sample left, so I had a spoonful of their Chocolate Pud and it was enough to convince me that it is worth going out of my way to get my hands on some of these.
Just a couple more nice experiences to mention – then I’m done, I promise! I tried a bit of He-Be‘s Power Breakfast Mix of soaked oats, chia seeds, sprouted buckwheat and goji berries, with a little added coconut sugar. The sales attendant at the stall was really chatty and friendly and filled me with an urge to buy their products. The mix itself was a bit bitter and distinctly healthy-tasting, but I kind of liked it in a weird way. Again, I couldn’t quite muster up the courage to spend the money on something I knew I could make at home, but I did head back right at the end (whilst trying to dodge the pushy security guards) resolved to buy some – and once again, having been reminded of the price, left empty-handed. I think they look like a nice company producing high-quality products though, and would still be curious to try more of their stuff in future.
Lastly, just before leaving, I stumbled upon the Frank Food Company and their natural snack bars. Staying away from being just another “mushed up fruit and nut bar” they add a little pea protein and pea fibre to their bars and cover them in raw probiotic chocolate, so they are that little bit more satiating but also decadent. Once again – the difference between me buying a product and me not buying it – the staff were all really friendly, smiley and enthusiastic. At 8 bars for a fiver, I jumped right in with one of every flavour (though the oat & chocolate was my favourite) and a few doubles – and they chucked in another three bars as it was the end of the expo. They made me a very happy girl!
Overall, despite the rude security guard, and disappointingly uninterested and somewhat unhelpful staff at a few stands, it was a good experience and I’m glad I went, though you can tell the free-from market in the UK is still highly underdeveloped. The whole thing was crammed into a small hall of the expo, and there wasn’t much of a “buzz”. Maybe just because it was Sunday just before closing and the retailers were tired, sold out, or gone altogether? Who knows. This isn’t a bad thing, it helped me hold on to my money! In the end, for a total spend of £8.50 (£10.50 if you count the Tube fares), I ended up with a decent haul of goodies.
I got given that jar of Bob the Builder pasta sauce randomly – I’m actually more excited about it than I’ll let on because I never buy or use pasta sauce. Also picked up some Hale & Hearty flapjacks because once you taste them there is no resisting a box of them (even though one staff member at the stall – clearly a higher-ranked one as she was barking orders at the other two – did everything to discourage me from giving them my money by thrusting a flyer for their newly-launched fish fingers in my face despite me having asked which of their sweet treas were vegan). Aaaaand also a little treat from The Free From Bakehouse to send to Rachel (who sent me an amazing parcel a couple of months back) in this month’s UK Vegan Food Swap.
Of course, I tried plenty of other samples of various things, some good, some not-so-good, some heavenly – and I missed a bunch of others – but I think the above is what stands out and what I will remember. I will also remember that the friendly ladies at Glamour Puds promised me vegan-friendly desserts by next year, and that Clive’s Pies are vegan (except for the one that contains cheese – but hopefully they met the people at Vegusto and might get a little cosy and consider a vegan cheese pie…?), and that there is a quicker way to get from Shepherd’s Bush to Kensington Olympia than walking all the way up and through Holland Park. So all is definitely not lost, even when you are on a free-from diet!