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“If you are gluten free, you won’t ever have to read a single label” says Louisa, founder of the The Gluten Free Shop at Hellesdon Barn, Norwich. Recently opened this July, it is a physical representation of everything that me and my own venture, Gluten Free Gathering aims to be. Heavily biased towards small, independent, local products and producers, Louisa has pulled together a stunning range of foods that are ALL GLUTEN FREE.

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With a flurry of coeliac diagnosis in her family over the last couple of years, and her own gluten free living, and as many people do, Louisa initially began selling her own made GF cakes. But in the end, her long term dream to open a shop of her own ended up catering to her family needs for really good gluten free food. And the Norfolk Gluten Free Company was born.

Catering for every conceivable gluten free occasion and beyond, the bags and boxes grace stacked vintage fruit crates to create a cosy gluten free heaven. With cakes from local free from legend Pippa Kendrick, a broad selection of freshly baked loaves from legendary Wheat Free Bakery, plus their donuts, cakes and famous tiger bread, and pasta from small pasta specialist Drossa, it is difficult not to ram your basket with everything.

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The benefit of shopping here, apart from it all being gluten free, is that Louisa is working tirelessly to stock brands that are normally largely mail order. I myself rarely shop online direct with small, independent companies because the cost of delivery makes the final cost prohibitive. Added to this, the wall of dispensers filled with every conceivable gluten free flour. So next time you need just 50g of 5 different flours to make that cake, it will no longer cost you £50 to buy all the flours and you won’t be left with bags of the stuff you really have no use for! Then there is a freezer packed with loads of brands so that you can fill up your freezer at home, or defrost en route like I did. Pastry, cakes, tarts, pies, sausages and loads more. There really doesn’t seem to be anything that is missing… even GF ice cream cones, which I have never seen (and forgot to buy!).

What I loved most about this shop, is it shows the true diversity in the gluten free world (and there were none of the usual supermarket suspects padding out the shelves on my visit!). It shows that there is more to a gluten free life than the tiny section of the supermarket aisles. I loved Louisa’s passion and friendly approach to the business, citng that many of the products are also dairy free, although she admits to not knowing them all off the top of her head (!?).  Plus, the pricing is really rather competitive, and even cheaper than places like some health food stores. So there really is no reason not to go. Oh, apart from the fact that it is in Norwich…. We really could do with a shop like this in every town. Just make sure you head there if you are in the county. It is wonderful and a real pleasure to shop there.

Plus, they are just shaping up for Christmas… I tried one of the Mince pies in the cute courtyard cafe which uses many of the products from the shop… Yes it was still November, but it was research!

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