Wonderful Wednesday 11

15 June 2016

This week is, thankfully, going by quite quickly. I say thankfully as I'm typing this on the train home from work having time recorded copious hours today, which also included a lunchtime webinar on tax. Apparently tax *does* have to be taxing....who am I kidding though, I enjoyed it! #IHTnerd

I'm usually far more organised with my Wonderful Wednesdays but this week it just was not to be, hence my frantically catching up with it on my commute home. Although, come to think of it, I normally post this really early in the morning and have the whole of Wednesday ahead of me, whereas now said day is practically already over and we're officially closer to the weekend! Boom, another Good Thing. I won't wibble on any longer though and simply share some of my highlights from the last 7 days...

♥ Brunching adventures... I'm not a lady who has regular brunching adventures. My Saturday mornings are incredibly precious to me and, frankly, I'm usually exhausted so they tend to involve me dragging myself into the kitchen and slowly coaxing myself back into life with copious cups of tea and Saturday Kitchen. But last Saturday I was up and in central London for 10am (!) where I met my very dear friend H for brunch at Beyond Bread in Fitzrovia. Beyond Bread is an entirely gluten free bakery and I'd read all sorts of wonderful things about Danish pastries, which I haven't tasted for quite a few years now.

I tell you folks, it was worth dragging myself out of bed for and grumbling my way into the shower. We both opted for the avocado on toast and, my word, the bread was like no gluten free bread I've tasted before. SO good. After keeping a nervous eye on the counter lest someone snaffle all the Danishes while I was eating, I then rushed up to the counter and chose a raspberry custard Danish to follow. It was worth the wait. I'm thinking about it now, I could eat AT LEAST another one right now. Gulp.

♥ Sunday roasts... It doesn't seem right to be having a roast at this time of year but the weather is so all over the place that it seemed perfectly appropriate this weekend. We cooked a roast chicken and it's the gift that keeps on giving - we've been eating it in various different ways all week so far and made a stock from the rest of it on Tuesday night, ready for the perfect risotto. I'm excitedly planning it already... As I write this, my mister is cooking a homemade curry with the final remnants of the chicken and once off the train, I shall be scurrying home excitedly.

♥ Post-rainy rambles... Sunday was so rainy and cooold down in London! In between the rain showers, the mister and I popped out to pick up the ingredients for our roast and on the way back I snapped a shot of this beautiful bloom that was covered in perfect tiny rain drops. It was quite difficult to capture because every time I raised my phone, the wind seemed to want to prevent me capturing the image as it would blow the branch back and forth. Got it though! Definitely worth the branch face to snap it.

♥ The soaring beauty of M83... About 800 years late to this party but this week I've discovered the amazing gorgeousness that is M83. I've been listening to 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming' (specifically volume 2) on repeat for most of this past week and I'm transported to a happier place each time. It's particularly wonderful as I walk home though the park and makes trudging through the rain an almost magical experience. I am in no way exaggerating. Buy it, folks, and begin with the last track ('Outro') - turn up the volume and enjoy. In fact, if I can manage to get this YouTube link to work, have a listen:

You are SO welcome.

♥ Happy Valley... Or not so happy as it turns out. It's good though. Another party I'm hilariously late to but I've heard a lot of good things about this from various people and spotted it on Netflix so thought I'd give it a try. Two episodes in and I'm struggling to get my head around the lovely chap from War and Peace being such a scumbag. Sob! Has anyone else watched it?! 

It's almost Thursday, my lovelies! Hope your weeks are all going splendidly!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo and Emma - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Gluten Free Adventures in Düsseldorf

12 June 2016

Strawberries, asparagus and the tastiest potatoes I've ever eaten!

I don't know why I haven't visited Germany before, it's surprisingly close to England really. The flight time from London Heathrow to Düsseldorf is only 55 minutes - shorter than my commute used to be! Before we left, I was quite worried about the food...it does have quite a wheaty reputation after all.

This won't be an exhaustive commentary - as we were staying with family we were able to buy food at the supermarket and bring it home, which helped as I did eat a few salads while out and about just to be safe.

I googled 'gluten free Düsseldorf' when preparing for the trip but couldn't find a lot of resources out there. A Thai restaurant kept popping up but, more excitingly, an entirely gluten free patisserie - Isabella Glutenfreie Patisserie. We decided to visit on Saturday for a sugary fix before wandering around Düsseldorf. It's in a really lovely part of the city, across the river from the older part of town. I snapped this picture on our last evening, when my brother in law pointed across and told me that that was the part of town where we'd had cake. It was just after an enormous storm. Aren't the clouds and light beautiful?!

But back to the cake, oh my goodness it was really worth the trip! We'd had lunch before leaving but I think next time I'd eat there because the sandwiches looked really tasty and the bread itself was also delicious. The cakes though, just look at them. We decided to choose a different cake each so that we could all try them - even the wheat-eaters with me exclaimed at the amazing selection before us. I chose the American cheesecake, my mister opted for the mango mousse and my brother in law chose the strawberry tart, and we grabbed a table outside to sit and enjoy them over coffee.

My word, they were absolutely amazing. The cheesecake was the best I'd tasted since being diagnosed coeliac but I've marked out the strawberry tart all for me the next time we're able to visit (thank goodness for relatives in Düsseldorf!). It tasted like the patisserie I remember from trips to France when I was small and it had a small perfect strawberry mousse on top. Melt in your mouth delicious.

As you can see, even narrowing down the above three choices was difficult...

If you're planning a visit, there were a few places to sit outside if you're lucky enough to visit Düsseldorf while the sun is shining but there were a  tables inside too so it's a good place to stop for lunch. Make sure you leave room for something sweet!

Isabella Glutenfreie Patisserie
Arnulfstraße 4, 40545 Düsseldorf, Germany

Isabella's was definitely my gluten free highlight of the trip but that's not to say that I struggled elsewhere. As I said above, we ate at my sister and brother in law's a lot and they also put on a BBQ on the Sunday for us. We found that a lot of the German sausages were naturally gluten free and even
found a gluten free beer in the supermarket. Clearly, I wasn't able to fully experience the German beer halls and while one place we went to made me feel really awkward by choosing wine over beer (apparently it was just the guy's sense of humour but hey, way to make a coeliac who in a perfect world wouldn't have to *choose* the gluten free option feel welcome) we went to another place and it was such a fun experience, despite not being able to enjoy the beer. There were plenty of other beverages to choose from!

Not an authentic German cuisine but another place we visited, that I wholeheartedly recommend, was Okinii - a Japanese restaurant. Apparently Düsseldorf has Germany's largest Japanese community and so it's a good place to go to for fine, authentic Japanese food. Granted, I can't eat most Japanese food anymore (sob!) but this place offers an all you can eat option. A tablet is left on the table and you can each choose 5 options, which are brought to you fairly quickly, and after a few rounds you have to wait at least 15 minutes or so before ordering more. I was very content to choose from the sushi/sashimi options and it was so so tasty. The tastiest sashimi I've had in a long time.
Immermannstraße 35, 40210 Düsseldorf, Germany

This was just a short trip and won't be our last, so I'm looking forward to discovering more of what Germany has to offer by way of gluten free options. I won't feel as concerned the next time either - people had some knowledge of what gluten free food entailed and there were options around, even if at times I had to order outside the box slightly. But hey, travelling as a coeliac means you have to do that sometimes and not relax in a restaurant until you know what options there are and what you're going to get!

Please do let me know if you've been to Germany before and can recommend some particularly good places to visit. We're hoping to return before Christmas to take in the Christmas markets - have I brought up Christmas too soon?! I don't care, I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Wonderful Wednesday 10

8 June 2016

This Wonderful Wednesday has been very much needed, I tell you. Coming back from holiday last week, even though it was just a short trip, made the two days back at work feel like a lifetime and this week...well, it feels interminable. I knew that would be the case, it's always the way after a holiday, but knowing that in advance doesn't make it any easier! I'm already excitedly looking forward to our next little trip but that's a while away so until then, I'm counting down the days to Friday.

And in the meantime, here are some highlights from the last week...

♥ More new furniture... I was exclaiming delightedly about our new bookcases and day bed to one of my dearest friends a few weeks ago, mentioning that next up on our list was a wardrobe and chest of drawers - yes, we are the type of people who choose book storage over clothes storage and I'm comfortable with that. She told me that she had a chest of drawers and dressing table that she was looking to get rid of, both perfectly good but she just doesn't need them anymore. So on Thursday, she drove over and dropped them off and it feels so great to be able to unpack some clothes! I'm also really excited to have a dressing table, which was quite low down on the list of priorities, something I thought I would love but wouldn't get for quite some time.

Ignore the shoe boxes in the corner...
♥ Spring cleaning...slightly belatedly. On Saturday morning I woke up (far too early) and after lying there feeling grumpy for a little while for dwelling on work on a Saturday morning, I decided to give the house a big clean. I even soaked the shower curtain in bleach! I was so proud of myself, the place looked great...although not for long as lobster soon found its way round most of the kitchen. Not by itself though, if you're thinking of an Annie Hall-type scene.

♥ Super fun Saturday... Ahhh my Saturday afternoon/evening was SO MUCH FUN. Our friend B came over with the above-mentioned lobsters and a few suggestions about what amazing dish we could make with them. (I say 'we', ho ho ho.) After a little deliberation, we decided that a Goan curry would be the perfect Saturday evening treat and popped to the supermarket to pick up the other ingredients we needed, together with some snacks and drinks. The afternoon was spent catching up, listening to music and laughing a whole lot, before the boys starting cooking. I was thoroughly spoiled and it was absolutely amazing. They paired it with a lemon pilau rice and we had some poppadoms too - in fact, my one contribution to the evening was making a cucumber raita.

B did say that he only did the above for a mention in this week's Wonderful Wednesday but hey, for a meal that good, I think it's a worthy exchange.

Another highlight of the evening was watching Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight', where during the introductory credits I mis-read 'Channing Tatum' as 'Stockard Channing'...and spent a very confused few hours waiting for Rizzo to pop up in a western. Oops.

♥ Sipping coffee in the garden... Sunday saw the welcome return of some sunny weather in London! (Perhaps I can't finally put my winter coat away for a few months?) I brewed some coffee that we'd brought back with us from Germany and brought it out into the garden, where I sat contentedly with my book....before retreating back inside to cool down.

♥ Sunday night baths... I was feeling a little stressed on Sunday so my mister ran me a lovely bubble bath and I soaked for a while, listening to Jessica Mitford on Desert Island Discs way back in 1977. There's something deliciously comforting about it and so funny - it's one of my go-to comfort listens. It really helped my shoulders to drop slightly before the new week began...that and lovely new bed sheets. The ultimate cosy.

♥ Gluten Free Hobnobs! Big news in the gluten free community this week as McVitie's announced that they've developed some gluten free hobnobs - both original and chocolatey! It's been an age since I had a hobnob and I'm so excited... They're due in the shops in early July so I shall be keeping my eyes peeled...

How has your week been, you lovely bunch?

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJo and Emma - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 09

1 June 2016

It feels slightly strange to actually be writing this post on a Wednesday! Normally I try to write bits of it throughout the course of the week, jotting down things that have made me smile, before trying to tie it all together and finish it off on a Tuesday evening. But this week I've been in Germany (yay!) - we got back to England last night (isn't it coooold down south?!) and thankfully I had booked the Wednesday as annual leave too so I'm sitting at my kitchen table, sipping a coffee and nibbling on toast covered with lashings of Nutella, clearly trying to make my holiday last as long as possible.

I'm also clearly trying to bring 'lashings of' back...I don't think I've ever seen it anywhere other than in my favourite Enid Blyton books ('lashings of ginger beer'!) but I always remember that her descriptions of picnics used to make me feel so hungry and it therefore seemed apt for my Nutella-based breakfast. Yums.

So without further ado, and before I reach for the Nutella jar again, here are some of my favourite bits from the last week...I'm not going to make it too Dusseldorf-focused because I want to do a separate post on that, to include the amazing gluten free café I discovered while we were there.

♥ Kindness of strangers... This was my first trip to Germany and we met some really wonderful people while we were there. As we were driving home from the airport on our first day, I spotted lots of little vans with strawberries on top selling, wouldn't you know, fresh strawberries and amazingly delicious freshly-picked white asparagus. We stopped to pick some up and, while we were talking together, the lady who ran the stall gave us some fresh cucumbers, one for each of us. SO tasty!

♥ Holidaying with my mister... You know how it is, during the week you're at work all day and have a snatched few hours together in the morning and evening, most weekends are generally filled with tasks and from time to time you're meeting up with your own friends... I love holidays for many things but also for the fact that I get to spend some time just adventuring with the mister. We were staying with his sister and her husband who live in Germany so this trip was a little more of a family break but it was still wonderful just to get away together.

♥ Sweet treats... I thought about separating these into different categories but then realised that my list
would be about 8 pages long and only sweet-based, so I decided to group them together. Oh my goodness, I have enjoyed some sweet treats this week! Beginning with Nutella for breakfast - I know I can buy it over here but would never have it as a child and always associate it with holidays to Europe and besides, if I got into the habit of buying it in England it would officially be the end of the world for me and any hope I may have of eating vaguely healthily. This would then be followed up throughout the day by some form of Kinder chocolate, perhaps with a Haribo chaser. We've brought some back - shameless Instagram plug of my suitcase snap! - and not all of this is for our colleagues at work. Hopefully I can make this last at least until the weekend. At least.

♥ Holiday reads... I popped into WHSmith at the airport to pick up a couple of books, knowing I wouldn't get much of a chance to read during the holiday but I'm looking forward to finishing them off over the days to come. I know I'm about a year late to 'The Girl on the Train' but I've heard good things about it and thought I'd read it before the movie is released to try to avoid spoilers, which I haven't picked up on so far. The other, which I hadn't heard anything about was 'The Improbability of Love' by Hannah Rothschild, which I'm about halfway through and I absolutely ADORE IT! It centres around a woman who stumbles across a dirty forgotten masterpiece of a painting in an old junk shop and is drawn into the tumultuous world of London's art scene as she tries to discover the secrets behind the old painting. One review I read mentioned 'skulduggery in the London art world' - how could I not choose this book after reading a review including such a fabulous word?! - and it's a really engrossing read. I'm trying to make it last while at the same time I just want to spend every minute reading it.

♥ Vicarious pet ownership... One of the biggest highlights of visiting my wonderful sister and brother in law was the fact that they have a cat and a dog. A tabby cat and a young cocker spaniel to be precise. I was in heaven. There's something so special about a dog rushing to greet you after a busy day out and this few days with them has only amplified my longing for a dog. Even getting attacked by mozzies during a dog walk and the smell of hot wet dog after she plunged into every stream/lake/puddle she could find didn't put me off. It wouldn't be fair for me to get a dog now though as I work too long each day so I'll just have to snatch these moments where I can. Folks with pets (out of the Wonderful Wednesday crew, I'm looking at you Michelle, Kate and Jo!), more pet-based posts please so I can vicariously live through you!

♥ Competition excitement... Last but by no means least this week was finding out on Monday evening that I'd won lovely Emma's Blogiversary bundle! I was just starting to pack up my suitcase, dreading flying home the next day, when I saw the wee Twitter notification pop up. Such a lovely surprise and made the thought of travelling home and back to normality just that little bit sweeter...

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmma and Kate - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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