After much anticipation I finally got to visit the Allergy show on it’s last day. It was the second year of visiting and this time I was far better prepared due to my research via twitter. I got an early train and met my mum who is gluten free at Earls Court. We were ready to catch the slow train as we call it to Olympia. We arrived as planned not long after the show had opened. I was surprised as it was not as busy as I had anticipated. We were greeted with freebies which made a great start to the day.
On entering the show my mum thought that I was like a kid in a sweet shop as I was all hyped up and excited with anticipation. I knew exactly which stands I wanted to visit during the day. Our first stop was the cafe for a much needed cup of tea and coffee, mine was black of course. I was surprised as I thought that there may be alternative milks available to pop in various drinks if required, but I couldn’t see any. Whilst queueing my mum got chatting to a friendly man who was participating in the back care part of the show. He explained that the reason the show was in a larger hall this year was because this had been incorporated into the show. My mum was surprised by this, I smugly replied I know I’ve already done my research.
Once hydrated we hit the show. My initial impression was that I was surprised that it seemed to be predominantly aimed for people who follow a gluten free diet as opposed to those with other allergies or intolerances. Were more visitors here than previously because of lifestyle choices as opposed to allergies or intolerances surely not? I did not let my initial thoughts effect the excitement of the day. As I knew exactly which stands I wished to visit I let my mum look around and explore the variety of stands that were suitable for her gluten free diet. My Mum was taken aback by the new companies that she was not aware off and the variety of choice available to her. She visited a variety of stands sampling many products. This included a variety of biscuits and at one point even jam sandwiches. At this stage I started to become a bit miffed as I had yet to find something new that I could actually sample and enjoy. Being positive I still was looking forward to the stands that I knew I could stock up on the variety of sweet and savoury treats that I had grown to love.
Lunchtime soon arrived at this point we decided to stop for a refreshment break. My mum just had a coffee as she was pretty full from all the samples that she had been trying in the morning. I found it quite hard to have anything suitable for my dairy and lactose free diet. So I opted for a cup of black Earl Grey tea.
Now it was time for what we called part 2 of the allergy show. I was pretty hungry so headed straight towards the Venice Bakery stand. Result I was not disappointed my memories of last year’s pizza were the same, just perfect. I sampled both their cheese and tomato and cheese and onion pizza in addition to their garlic flatbread. It was at this stand last year that I discovered MozzaRisella. I now by this cheese when I visit bigger towns such as Guildford and stock up on it and make my own pizzas at home. I totally enjoy it and have yet to become bored of it. As luck would have the Genius stand was opposite.I have grown to love their new products recently. So I I toke the oppurtunity to enjoy their samples, several times. In particular their lemon cupcakes the perfect a compliment to pizza and garlic bread. Oh and of course I stocked up on their items at £1 an item it was rude not to. Sadly, the fruit loaf had sold out.
Then it was onto the lovemore stand. Again I sampled the products that I was able to, again knowing I would enjoy them anyway. I hoped to stock up on their O’Choco biscuits however they had already sold out. Oh and double disappointment no mince pies either. Well I just have to stock with my usual online shop and wait until nearer Christmas for the mince pies never mind.I thought it was time to try some more savoury treats so we wandered to the Ten Acre crisps stand. We sampled all of their flavours more than once I have to confess. I thought they were like kettle crisps but only nicer so I ended up buying 10 packets.
Next on my list was Ruby’s of London. I had read comments and seen pictures about their doughnuts bought at the show on twitter and didn’t want to miss out. We bought the last two chocolate doughnuts one had sprinkles on top the other nuts on oh and two chocolate brownies. These were to be eaten once we had arrived home, we had half a doughnut and half a brownie and all I can say is that it was well worth the wait.
We then visited the stands of products that I regularly purchase.I popped along to the Alpro stand hoping to maybe sample their new gingerbread puddings. Sadly this was not the case. I was disappointed as they just seemed to want to promote their single cream. I found the guy at the stand quite patronising when I informed him that I was aware of the cream and that I had had it for several years. On a positive note they were giving out the recipe ideas for free from people to try at home, and it’s always good to have a new recipe ideas.
Next stop Ilumi. I discovered Ilumi brand at last year’s allergy show. I have a supply of their products as a backup plan for when needed and love their soup. I was surprised that they did not have the stand. We hunted around the show we finally found them by the Greens stand. I tried some samples well it would be rude not to and stocked up on their products which were at a bargain price of £1 each.
Then it was over to Kirsty’s. I visited this stand not only to try their samples of their products which I know I already love to but enquire about the new products that are meant to be coming onto the market. I plan to launch two new products at the end of year after September this being a lasagne and a chicken noodle dish I believe. Both low in calories and perfect for the 5:2 diet, result. Sadly they advised that supermarkets will be stocking the new products that may stop selling old ones such as sausage and mash. I was gutted as it’s my favourite product. My mission to contact Ocado and request that they reconsider as it’s a regular in my online shopping trolley. I was unable to stock up on my favourite sausage and mash at the show and sadly it is already sold out.
Finally we visited the supermarket stands. I was disappointed by Sainsbury’s as they had no current or new products on display or any food to sample. They had chocolate coins to take away and rice cakes coated in milk chocolate not good for somebody who follows a diary and lactose free diet. On a positive note they informed me that they will be restocking them mint chocolate discs from around September onwards in new packaging. I can’t wait as they are one of my favourite chocolate. Next for Asda or what can I say. On approaching the stand I was impressed to hear that they wish to hear from free from customers who have had positive experiences from smaller suppliers to encourage closer working with them. However as the conversation progressed they were showing them examples of working with smaller free from companies only going to state that you can buy them cheaper from themselves rather than the person that supplier directly. It is great that they wish to supply free from products but not so good that they then try and undercut these businesses. I feel passionately about supporting small businesses and this conversation made me walk away from the stand feeling very disappointed. And finally Tesco’s this was the most impressive of the supermarket stands. They had a good selection of free form products for people to sample. I have to confess to have trying all the ones that were my suitable for my dairy and lactose free diet. My mum discovered the coffee style dessert and was suitably impressed. No doubt we will be sharing packets of these in the future.
In summary I had a great day at the show with my mum. We both picked up products at bargain prices to take time and enjoy and we will be back next year.I felt a little disappointed by the fact that the show seemed to be geared towards people and a gluten free diet and less for other allergies or intolerances. Sadly, there also appeared to be a lack small independent businesses compared to last year. I think it is great that free from food is becoming more readily available, but hopefully not instead of but in conjunction with small businesses.