Camden Market in Camden, North London, is a street food hub. Technically six markets (according to Wikipedia) the main street food market is in Camden Lock, up by the canal. You have to push your way through hordes of tourists and tat stalls to get there on weekends, especially Sundays, but it’s worth it! There are plenty of gluten free options available in the regular market, as evidenced by these reviews by The Coeliac Plate and Kim McGowan in the Londonist.
For the last few years the lovely people at Camden Lock Market have been running a gluten free food festival over a weekend every few months. The most recent one was last weekend (14-15 May), and there will hopefully be another one either in September or at Christmas. Or if we’re really lucky, both! They rebranded this time so the festival is now called Against the Grain, with the hashtag #beigerage to emphasise colourful food. The May one is usually tied to Coeliac Awareness Week and this year included talks by the Coeliac UK Youth Group. This review will focus on the stalls I’ve visited in my last few visits to the festival, especially last weekend. If you want a review of another coeliac’s visit last year, check out Gluten Free in London. Word of warning for the festival: go hungry.
For my main dish I went for risotto from Risotto2Go. They do gluten free risotto at a number of festivals, mostly music ones, and this was their first time at Camden. I was very excited to hear that they will be at Citadel Festival (Victoria Park in July) because I’m going and was very worried about finding gluten free food! I stupidly (or smartly, take your pick) didn’t check on the size of the risotto before ordering and went with a large because I was hungry. Which ended up being SO LARGE. I had the chicken and pea risotto. They also had mushroom risotto but I can’t eat mushrooms, and they were advertising arancini (fried risotto balls) but had sold out before I got there. So definitely want to try the arancini at Citadel!
I also had to stop by the stall of Artisan Gluten Free Bakery for some of my beloved fresh bread. They were selling bread and brownies faster than they could bring them in from Islington so I was very happy to get a loaf. And possibly a peanut butter brownie too… They’ve been at all of the Camden gluten free festivals and it’s always great to see more people enjoying their bread.
I was actually very restrained this year (mostly because we’d hosted a Eurovision party the night before and had no room in the house for more food), but I resisted buying anything other than Thornley’s spice blend. I make most of my own sauces at home but thought they would be great for a night when I was rushing. They were giving out tasters of the chili so I couldn’t resist.
There were obviously lots of other stalls that I didn’t visit. Though it could be hard to find them, the market was very crowded on Sunday lunchtime. Would be nice if they could move the gluten free area somewhere that was easier to get around/see all the stalls, it was in a narrow passage. Other stalls that I saw at this festival included: Feed Me Primal (great paleo food, they’re also at markets around London. A full review will follow); Lab Pizza; Cupcakes and Shhht; Louisiana Chilli Shack; Maize Blaze; and From the Earth.
On my last visit, in September, I visited a few of the stalls that I just mentioned. I’m trying to branch out at every festival, got to catch them all!
My main meal in September was from Louisiana Chilli Shack, when I had their white chicken chilli on nachos. The entire stall is gluten free and they do a range of chillis, including a vegan one, with nachos and rice for sides. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes so the white chilli was amazing, really flavourful without being overly spicy. They’re going to be in Old Street Station from May 23 – June 19 and I’m definitely planning to stop by.
My boyfriend went for grilled meat and potatoes from Maize Blaze. I personally would have gone for their gluten free empanadas, but if I drag him all around London for gluten free food I can’t really complain about his meal choices. Still need to try them though!
I also caved and bought myself a cupcake from Cupcakes and Shhht. They do gluten free and vegan baked goods, available in Camden all week and at their cafe in Elephant and Castle. Couldn’t resist the perfect raspberry on top.
While there aren’t quite as many free samples as the Allergy & Free From Show I would definitely recommend the Camden gluten free festival to any coeliacs or other gluten free-ers in the London area. And I really hope they continue to do it on a regular basis!