This was my 3rd Free From Festival 2019 hosted by Free From Events and third time definitely is a charm. The last two years have been located at Spitalfields Market, but this year was back at Brick Lane in Whitechapel. I loved this venue; it was great to have the two levels with a less chaotic area or talks and demos. I also like the outside market with a little secluded picnic area to munch on some of our finds.
Disclaimer: some of the products featured in this post about the Free From Festival 2019 were gifted in our press ticket bags and both Bethany and I were given free press entry tickets in return for a bit of social media love, however I felt the event deserved a post all of its own to share the wonderful independent finds we made.
So indulge me for a moment while I tell you about the day Bethany and I had and talk you through some of our favourite finds.
So what is the Free From Festival 2019?
In a nutshell it’s an accessible marketplace for small businesses to show off their free from wares. Some other events are quite pricy to pay for plots or stands so personally I think that whilst this event is much smaller, the brands are mostly ones I’ve not seen before or see rarely. Also, the setting just feels far more intimate and the public have more chance to talk to the brand owners which is lovely to hear the backstories of their products and passion each producer has for their brand.
It’s worth noting that while this event isn’t on a huge scale, Bethany and I spent 5 hours there soaking up the talks, demo’s and generally eating out way round each stand. We went around twice to some stands because they were so friendly to talk to.
This year marks the 7th event in London and this year there were 50 exhibitors (the first ever London event in 2014 hosted 12 companies). It’s not just a free from festival, it’s a gluten free festival too (but more about that in a minute)
Who would benefit from the Free From Festival 2019?
Are you gluten free?
Yes, this is for you, everything is 100% gluten free.
Are you vegan?
Yes, there are vegan products, but this is not a 100% vegan market.
Are you allergic to any Top 14 and more?
No, in my opinion this is not a safe environment for anyone with severe allergies due to cross contamination concerns – but this is my opinion, you can go at your own risk.
Going back to the 100% gluten free comment; it was a lovely moment when Bethany and I stood at the Norty stand getting a mocha and a latte. Beth was looking at all the delicious looking cakes and cheesecakes on the stand with a forlorn look in her eye. “these all look so lovely”, she said. I replied, “well would you like to choose one”? Her response was “they can’t be gluten free, they’re too pretty to be something I can eat”. Her face when I told her it was ALL gluten free was a picture. A post I wrote recently to celebrate Coeliac Awareness Week called 10 reasons I know my daughter has Coeliac Disease talked about those heart-breaking moments when you tell your Coeliac child they can’t have something. This was the total opposite YOU CAN HAVE EVERYTHING. You should see the huge daft looking grin on my face whilst I type this.
The important bit; what we found (and ate)
I think the best way to approach this is to work through the brands in the order we met them. So to start off we checked in at the My Free From Kitchen stand and grabbed a few products that I know Bethany likes. My Free From Kitchen aim to cut out the hassle of driving from store to store to get all your free from essentials and instead allow you to shop in on place. I’m all for making life easier so I will most certainly be checking out their website.
Katerina’s Pantry was next although this was more of a social visit then tasting her wares (I already love her vegan crackers) which incidentally go really well with I AM NUT OK artisan cheese. They just happened to be situated opposite Katerina’s stand. How fortuitous!
Next was the one and only Free From Fairy. Vicki is a close friend so again a social visit and a sneaky nibble of her jam tarts using her unique wholegrain gluten free flour, rude not to really. Actually later in the day Vicki accused Kate (aka Gluten Free Alchemist) and I of putting her off her cooking demo, it was all a bit of fun of course…she’s lucky, I had planned to start off a Mexican Wave!
We simply had to make a pit stop at Norah’s Brownies. Bethany commented that she’s never had a doughnut (I’ll pretend I’m not offended she doesn’t remember my own baked doughnuts) To be fair, Norah’s bakes were simply stunning. Beth and I bought a doughnut each and agreed to eat half and share half, so we got to try both flavours. Goodness me they were good, better than that, they were gorgeous. Funnily enough we didn’t actually go for a brownie – oh well, next time.
Davina Steel’s stall was next. Davina has an inspiring back story to her diagnosis and despite what life threw at her she’s had the great attitude to blow that for a game of soldiers and get on with it. The crostini smelled divine, and I did have a nibble (despite egg white being in the mix – I know, I know, I keep doing it to myself). I was particularly intrigued with the scone mix; I know a few brands who’ve dabbled with the idea but nothing has come of it so I’ll be sure to report back on how we get on with the mix. Oh, and Bethany said the bread she tried was the best she’s ever had. So, you’ve been told!
Behind us we saw The Raw Treats Boutique. Now if you’ve checked out any of my recipes, you’ll know I make my own bliss balls of all varieties. Bethany had one of these samples and stated for everyone to hear ‘they’re much better than yours mum’, yeah, cheers for that Beth! I must agree; they were delicious and simple to make too.
The next stop was Norty, but I’ve told you about them already, and after that we decided to rest our feet and watch the demo by Ansje Germann of Jakes Boost on how to make a quick and simple salad dressing using one of their multi award winning nut butters. This was followed by the Free From Fairy.
Nearly there, we were really flagging by now, there was so much to take in and Beth’s blood sugars were doing weird and wonderful things (as they always do at these type of events).
The last few stands we went to were Arctic Power Berries, Nourish and Areapas & Cachapas. Arctic Power Berries fascinated me, how one teaspoon of each powder was equivalent to a handful of berries. But what really got me excited was my little grey cells working overtime on what I could do with the powder. The colours these powders add to bakes, smoothies and desserts is a sight to behold and all I can say is watch this space…my notebook of ideas has been busy since the festival.
I had to stop at the Nourish stand, partly due to the coconut macaroons that were wiling me to draw near, but also the owner, who had her baby strapped to her, so cute, the baby was lovely too! I weighed up the flavour combinations and opted for the Passion Fruit flavour. Oh boy was I right to choose this one. I have a sweet tooth, but not too sweet so these were perfect; sweet coconut macaroons with a slightly sharp twang to them. Of course, I bought a packet to bring home with me, again, rude not too!
Last stop was the Areapas & Cachapas stand. Bethany remembered them from last year and she enjoyed the meat and rice in this authentic Venezuelan street food so I promised we could do the dame again this year a grab a meal plate to share before heading home.
I’ve not written about all the exhibitors and it’s not because we didn’t enjoy talking to you or love your samples, it’s just that my 40+ brain cannot hold all the info it used to and this little blog post is now edging towards the first edition of a book!
For all the exhibitors on the day follow this link to the Free From Festival website Free From Festival Exhibitors
Are you a Free From Brand?
Where can I apply to exhibit for next time?
The next event will be in Bristol on Saturday, the 23rd of November. To apply please fill out the application form here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PVX7L87
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I really love to read your comments and feedback and will always comment back. Do drop a line in the comment section if you liked this review, I would love to hear your thoughts, even better, if you went to the festival and took a picture do tag me using the hashtag #Glutarama on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so I can be nosey and see what you found. Subscribe to my email list so that you get all my reviews and recipes straight in your mailbox.
If you’ve only just happened across my blog Glutarama, then you may also be interested to know this is not the main topic I write about, the majority of my posts relate to free from recipes and food reviews, as our family are affected by Coeliac Disease, egg, dairy other intolerances it keeps me busy in the kitchen, but boy do I have fun experimenting for my family and followers.