Thursday, 16 October 2014

Melbourne - Our Gluten Free Sojourn


We  OK 'I' have always been a little apprehensive about venturing outside of our comfort zone since we boarded this gluten free bus.  After all, we have had some not-very fun glutening episodes with our girl that have previously rocked the holiday vibe. And not in a good way.  Yeah that.

BUT you can't live in a bubble forever can you.  Well you probably can but where's the fun in that.  Not if you don't have to anyway.  Because that would be.. well.. STUPID.  


We have stuff to see, cool things to do, people to meet and best of all delicious gluten free food to eat and all of this OUTSIDE of our suburb.  It's out there.  Our mission: GO. SEEK. FIND.

I had my big girl pants on.  We were breaking out of this gluten free comfort zone.
Naturally I did a lot of research.  I mean A LOT.  

We were going on a real life HOLIDAY.
WE WERE MELBOURNE BOUND! 

Qantas kicked things off nicely.  Upon checking-in ~ "2 Gluten Free meals Mrs Hart?" Yes indeed.  
Too easy.  Aside from the in-flight entertainment (loosely translates to HEAVEN when travelling with kids), everyone with their OWN channels and OWN headphones and OWN choices and.. subsequently no arguments.  I settled in with the latest copy of Australian Gluten-Free Life.  I was set.  "Come Fly With Me.. Come Fly.. Come Fly Awaaaaaaaaayyyy.."

Qantas did good. We had gluten free bread, we had Mediterranean Lamb & vegetables, we had Rowie's Cakes and Good Lord we even had Salted Caramel Ice-cream thank-you very much.
I was loving this.   You might even say the corners of my mouth were even curled in an upward fashion.

Our first night saw us experience the delights of Mrs Parma's on Little Bourke Street.  
Mrs Parma's have full disclosure on their menu and website about possible traces but I had done my research, was informed and prepared.  Upon divulging our Coeliac status,  the staff member politely explained whilst they could not claim to be a 100% gluten free kitchen because of the fact that they use wheat products in the same kitchen, they would take great care when preparing my gluten free meal.  I can happily report no adverse effects.  What a great start.

Cafe Andiamo Strawberry Crepes
The next morning saw us walking the streets of the bustling CBD, discovering magic and hidden laneways at every turn.  And then we found it.  Degraves Street and the Holy Gail that is Cafe Andiamo.  Degraves Street like many Melbourne laneways has an uncanny resemblance to Diagon Alley.  Harry Potter fan or otherwise, you will love it.  The cafes and the hustle and bustle is fabulous.  The aroma of delicious coffee is all consuming.  So what led us here?  Strawberry Crepes my friends. Strawberry Crepes.  All gluten free and all as perfect as your imagination is allowing you right about now.  We frequented this establishment almost every day of our sojourn.  The kids ~ Coeliac and non-Coeliac alike, were lapping this culinary excellence right up and so was I.  The silence of breakfast satisfaction to the nth degree was truly golden.  I relished these morning moments while I slurped my superb coffee. And oh it WAS superb.  These Melbourne baristas have nailed the coffee thang. 

The rest of our stay consisted of ambling through the Queen Victoria Markets, people watching in Federation Square with a cheeky wine to accompany a late lunch at Transport Bar Federation Square, a tram ride to St Kilda for a look-see, some serious retail therapy in the CBD ~ a personal favourite The Emporium (the place is seriously A-M-A-Z-I-N-G), a trip to The Melbourne Zoo and frequent visits to Southbank of an evening to discover all the gluten free delights on offer - and there were many.  We experienced amazing buskers, artwork and friendly faces and help wherever we went.  The weather was also pretty fabulous.  I know right??

Gluten free is abundant in Melbourne. Not only that but there is a great understanding of gluten free, safe food prep/cross contamination issues in general.  These folk are really switched on where gluten free is concerned.  Hallelujah!


SpudBAR Fan

SpudBAR was a fav with my daughter.  With a 100% gluten free menu how could you go wrong?  Seriously yum.  We also enjoyed the likes of THRIVE in The Emporium and old favourites like Grill'd (various Melb locations).  Evenings saw us savour the delights of Bluetrain (Southgate Complex, Southbank) with various gluten free options and a very good understanding of GF prep and cross contamination issues, World Restaurant and Bar with various GF options and a separate fryer for chips :)  We also enjoyed a delicious GF risotto and wonderful service at the fabulous Tutto Bene - Southgate Complex (mid level), Southbank.  Fantastico.



Hopetoun Tea Rooms 
If you're in Melbourne, have a sweet tooth, are looking for a bit of extravagance and have the time ~ be sure to check out the delectable Hopetoun Tea Rooms (Block Arcade - CBD).  This place is the Aladdin's cave of cakes.  I'm not kidding. Decadent and delightful and lots of gluten free options.  Perfect for afternoon teas with mothers and daughters,  grandmothers and granddaughters or just with that someone special. 



Please understand this is a personal record and reflection of our wonderful experiences dining out in what is a fabulous destination for the gluten free traveller.  Please be vigilant about reading labels and assessing risks and make your own judgement about where you choose to eat - taking into account any possible cross contamination issues.  Menus change, Management changes.  Things always change. That's life.  Do your research, ask questions & make informed choices.  Be on top of your game.  Look after your health.  If in doubt, leave it out.  This is a priority as a person living with Coeliac Disease and will make for an extremely pleasant holiday.

Special thanks go to some especially lovely people & information sourced from -
The Australian Coeliac (September 2014 Issue), The Coeliac Plate (a fabulous website and reference point), Coeliac Victoria and Tasmania who went above and beyond to provide some invaluable information via email before we left and then delivered an information pack to our hotel,
Gluten Shmooten (an informative gluten free eating-in-Melbourne guide including fish & chips!) and finally Jas from the perfectly gorgeous The Gluten Free Scallywag - a wonderful blog that is worthy of some serious pouring over, who sent me a lovely email with the gluten free heads up for Melbs.

THANK-YOU!

I would also like to make special mention of the very sweet shopkeeper at a certain IGA 24 hour store on Queen street in the CBD who chased me up the street shouting "Miss! Miss!" just so that he could give my 2 littlies a Chupa Chup (GF of course) 'on the house' after frequenting his establishment on a few occasions.  WOW I love your people Melbourne.

I love your funky vibe. 
I love your bustle.
I love your FOOD.
I love your TOWN.

Until we meet again...