I know all my fellow gluten frees will sympathise and understand how challenging it can sometimes be when eating out especially when it’s for a friend’s birthday and you have no choice on the venue / menu! It was my best friends birthday recently and when she sent out the invite I immediately checked the venue online and the food on offer. It was for brunch at Bunga Bunga, an Italian restaurant in Battersea and initially there looked to be no gluten free in sight. The fixed menu consisted of bread with cured meats, fruit and pizza, pizza and more pizza! However, my lovely friend had already contacted the restaurant for me and they were fairly accommodating, suggesting several salad options and pointing out the cured meats and fruit would be OK. They also suggested that I could bring in my own GF base and they could add the toppings which sounded the most appealing option (who wants salad when you can have pizza?!) so I got straight onto the Internet to see where I could order a base from.
I remembered Venice Bakery (http://www.venicebakery.co.uk ) from the Allergy Show back in June so I had a look on their website . I was immediately excited to find out they did ‘proper’ bases – large, 12 inch ones which were thin and crispy. This is due to the fact they also supply bases to restaurants and pizza chains meaning they are authentic as they get.
Not only are all their products gluten free and vegan but they are also free of soy, egg and dairy and are approved by Coeliac UK. They are priced at £3.79 for the large bases I got which may seem pricey compared to supermarket brands but the quality is excellent and they are so large you could feed 2 people with them, much bigger than the ones you see on the high street. I ordered 4 bases so I had a nice supply, two plain and two seasoned ones (the seasoned ones are infused with Italian herbs). Their online ordering system is easy peasy and you pay via paypal and my order arrived well before the 3-5 day estimate. Delivery charge is £4.95 so I would suggest buying a few products to spread the cost or spend over £30 and delivery is free. They also store really well (up to 2 months) or even longer if you pop them in the freezer.
As we arrived at Bunga Bunga, our waiter was expecting me and my GF base and took it off my hands. He asked what topping I wanted and presented me with a menu of options. Here came the first problem, he didn’t know which of the toppings contained gluten so had to ask around to see if anyone knew. Instead I edited one of the flavours ‘The Englishman’s Italian Breakfast’ removing the sausage but keeping the remaining toppings of egg, mushrooms, tomato and pancetta which the chef said was fine. Unfortunately the second issue was that they were going to cook my pizza in the same oven as every other pizza- therefore I would not recommend this place for coeliacs and would warn other allergy sufferers to be careful. Luckily I was fine, I felt the staff did all they could considering they do not advertise or usually cater for gluten free diets. I had no ‘glutening’ on this occasion and more importantly the pizza itself was extremely tasty! Here is what mine looked like compared to everyone elses…
The base was just like one you would expect in a restaurant and had a nice crispy edge but soft and chewy middle. Even though the pizza was laden with numerous, delicious toppings the base held itself together and didn’t break apart. Despite being very hungry, the pizza is too big for one person so my friends happily helped me out to finish it and they were equally impressed with the taste especially when I told them the base was also vegan and free of dairy.
I cant wait to make my next one!