Hooray for Carluccio’s

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I’d been invited to go for a meal with one of Matthew’s colleagues and her brother, who was visiting from the US, and found out it was at Carluccio’s. Hm – Italian food: not always great for those who can’t eat saturated fat, but it is part of the “Mediterranean diet” region, so we’ll see. I had a look at the menu and identified one of two things I could eat, but I learned recently not to make assumptions, so I took the precaution of calling them.

Bonus point one: the chap who answered the phone was matter-of-fact and welcoming. He assured me that I would just need to ask for the allergy menu, and that they could tweak many of the dishes to suit me. He left me feeling that I was very welcome to visit the restaurant, not a weirdo or a pain.

We got there a bit early, so I took advantage of being the first ones there to quiz the person who seated us about the menu. Now, bear in mind that this was 7pm on a Saturday evening in bustling BrindleyPlace, in a full restaurant. The person I was talking to turned out to be Nicole, the restaurant manager …

Bonus point two: Nicole went through EVERY ITEM on the entire menu, including the dessert menu, identifying the few things I couldn’t have and the many that they could tweak, swapping butter for olive oil, leaving things out … so I actually had a CHOICE. This almost never happens to me.

Nicole assured me that our waiter would understand, and she said to ask for her if there was any doubt. She left us with a gluten-free menu for another member of the party (they do a dairy-free menu as well. A whole menu. For each type of requirement. A whole page menu) and me with a smile on my face at the thought of A CHOICE.

When our waiter arrived, he understood what I needed, made no fuss, no mention of “Oh, just treat yourself” (that annoys me so much. To a stomach ache? Yum! If you don’t eat fat for a while, your system does not like it when you do), just matter-of-fact and friendly service. He assured me that my mushroom pasta would be made without butter, and so it was.

Come pudding time, and …

Bonus point three: I had a CHOICE OF PUDDINGS. One special, one on the menu. And although the one on the menu did offer that old favourite, lemon sorbet, there was mandarin and melon sorbet, too.

Bonus point four: We were confused as to why sorbet wasn’t on the gluten-free menu. Surely … The waiter agreed that it seemed odd: but he still took the time to pop to the kitchen and find out that, no, it wasn’t gluten free. How many other places would have assumed and not checked?

So, a good meal, no drama, nice food and I didn’t feel I was having a limited choice or stuck with something dull and dry. The price came to £47 for M and I but that was three nice courses, drinks and a tip: I don’t think that is that bad for a good meal, and the experience of having my dietary requirements accepted as normal and not made a fuss over was wonderful!

There are branches all over the UK which is great news – I am confident that the attitude will be similar in other branches, too.

Well done, Carluccio’s Birmingham – I will be back!

Carluccio’s website.

cholesterol coverThis is one of a series of posts about places to eat and food suppliers who are useful for my cholesterol beating diet (set out in my book). Read more by using the High Cholesterol category or sign up to receive email alerts on the blog (see the right-hand sidebar for links), and read more about my book.

Vegan cake = good cake for those who eat fat free

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cakeWe popped to the King’s Heath Farmers’ Market today, mainly to buy some soap, and my eye was drawn to a chalk-on-blackboard sign that read “Vegan cake”. Because vegan food doesn’t use animal products, as long as it doesn’t contain vegetable oil, it’s often very good for we low-fat eaters. I meandered slowly ran to the stall and questioned the stall holder about the ingredients.

Flour … almond flavouring … coconut … sugar … spices. Whoo hoo!

I had a lovely chat with the stall holder, Joan. I explained why the cake was good for me, and asked her how she invented it. Oh, it’s been around for years, coffee morning after Church, that sort of thing, and she decided to make some to sell. There were little bits to try, and even though I’m not the biggest coconut fan in the world, cake with coconut in that I can eat is miles better than cake I can’t eat. Joan’s keen on feedback and we talked about other flavours and ingredients she could try – cherries, spices, and I truthfully said that if she made a Jamaican ginger cake flavour version I’d buy the whole thing. I also suggested a) doing whole cakes to sell and b) including “no fat” on her little sign.

I also told Joan I’d tell my blog readers about her cakes. She’s at the Kings Heath and MAC Farmers’ Markets every month; she hasn’t got a website yet but you can email her. I’ll add the website on here when it’s up and running.

Do you have a flavour you’d like to see? Would you buy a whole cake from the stall or via mail order? Pop a comment below and I’ll make sure Joan hears about it. Hooray for our vegan friends and the added benefits for those of us who eat fat-free!

cholesterol coverThis is one of a series of posts about places to eat and food suppliers who are useful for my cholesterol beating diet (set out in my book). Read more by using the High Cholesterol category or sign up to receive email alerts on the blog (see the right-hand sidebar for links)