We turned up there today at around 11.30, somewhat later than we intended, but as happens sometimes, life intervened. The event is held at the Perth Convention Centre, and if you arrive by car there is generally good, if a little expensive, parking in the Centre itself. Bike parking at the Convention Centre Car Park is atrocious, just catch the train instead, because it's shocking.
Public transport to the event is also very good, with both the Busport and the Perth Esplanade Train Station right next door to the Convention centre. It would be better on Saturday, rather than the Sunday. As we were well aware from our experiences last year, we would be lugging anything from six packs of beer to kilos of flour, we decided to take the car.
About 1/4 of what was going on...
Tasty Bite the prepackaged Indian meal manufacturers were present, with a stunning display, and tastings plus products I've not seen in the shops. They too were also aware of people's need for carrying capacity, especially with the show specials they had going, and were actually selling rolly trollies for $20, good quality ones too!
Most stallholders had show specials - very reasonable prices significantly cheaper than buying at the supermarket, and this is one good reason to come with a pack mule or two, everything being under the one roof and at these prices things get right tempting. And it seemed, just saying....some shopkeepers toward the end of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, would rather give you more stuff, because they don't want to have to lug it back to Melbourne or Adelaide or wherever.
Once again, the whole feeling at the expo was one of a very close excitement. Because everyone knows why everyone else is there it's quite normal to strike up a perfectly natural conversation in a queue, there's a strong sense of community. A young lady - not a plant, came up to us out of the blue and recommended the Simply Wize French stick, (which is actually awesome) and it turned out she'd been diagnosed at almost exactly the same time as Rob, and was so grateful for the existence of the expo, because it was a chance to see what was out there so very easily.
The Simply Wize French Stick bread mix is from Momentum Foods and compares favourably to traditional French sticks. It really has that crunch. It does have Soy and Egg White though, be aware, if this is an issue for you.
Free tastings are pretty much de rigeur at this Expo. Go in feeling peckish, and you'll find that you'll very easily snack your way to fullness well worth the price of admission, which was $12.00 for a non Coeliac Society member, cheaper for concession, children and there was a family pass too.
If you felt like a more substantial meal the Tempting Thyme Cafe had a stall set up at the back with some tables and chairs. I had their delicious vegetarian lasagne with salad and Rob had Moroccan chickpea curry. Very nice. They don't have a website, but if you're near Inglewood you can drop in on them at 885 Beaufort Street, at the corner of 9th Avenue.
There were some interesting talks on, one I would have liked to see was "Dining Out Gluten Free" but we missed it. One talk we did catch from the Coeliac Society was "A Taste of Label Reading."
This was a very well put together presentation which gave us the low down on Australian Food Labelling and how it relates to allergens in general, as well as how it relates to gluten.
Australian Labelling Laws have changed recently.
In Australia, if it says "Gluten Free", then you are safe. It will have NO detectable gluten. End of story. Now sometimes there's confusion, because the recent changes mean that all allergens have to bolded in the ingredients list. So sometimes you have something that is labelled gluten free, and then you see "Wheat" in the ingredients. This just means that the wheat product has had the gluten the hell refined out of it, but they must still list it as an ingredient allergen. It was very informative.
As I'm recovering from illness, I coughed most of the way through it, so sorry about that, you know the person at the back who always coughs? That was me, my apologies. I'm not infectious, it's just that the cough is being persistent, and at the most inconvenient times.
One of the Coeliac Society Volunteers remarked on how many new food vendors were here this year. It's a good way to see what's coming up and what new stuff is out there.
I hasten to add, I'm only describing a few! There are too many to describe here, and some we did not have a chance to examine too closely. This is no insult to the many vendors, every one that I saw was enthusiastic, helpful and even though it must have been a very long two days for them they were untiringly happy and a pleasure to talk to.
Now this is going to be a very Australiacentric review, so most of this is going to be pretty local focus stuff, but at least you can compare it to things in your area, wherever you might be.
So on to some people who let us photograph them, and we'll talk about them and their products. Some of them have even agreed to be email interviewed, so we'll be hearing from them later, to find out more.
If you were a vendor at the Expo, and would like me to ask you some questions, let me know at leeece at gmail dot com and I'll happily post Q&A here.
But first... the entry. There was a bit of a queue for the tickets, but once you'd got them you were clear to have your showbag (within was a bunch of the usual flyers, plus a good lot of discount vouchers from Coles, a big bag of Mrs May's Almond Crunch, a couple of Smooze! Fruit Ices and a form to fill in to enter a draw for a nice holiday.) Picture of myself with helpful Coeliac Society volunteer.
You will notice that I'm only 'lightly encumbered' - this was on the way out.
Loose Produce are one of our local bulk retailers. Their catchphrase is "By the teaspoon or by the truckload!" They are a very gluten aware bunch of people, and they even have a little cafe. They are the first place we found Dr Schär breads, and have a good frozen section of GF produce.
If you're North of the River though, you may find that Weigh'NPay is a bit closer!
Dr Schär, by the way had a big stall at the Expo, and we were able to pick up some sponge finger biscuits from them! And we thought that tiramisu was forever denied to us! Some IGAs carry them, Prima Fresh in Stirling do too, and it sounds like the Re Store might well be getting them as well.
These guys do crumbed chicken tenderloins, crumbed fish and other oven bakable products. I'm pleased to report in terms of seafood sustainability their wild caught flounder fillets are just the thing. Both the flounder fillets and the chicken tenderloins are good eating, too, so I bet the rest of the range is worth trying. It's a privately owned family company which they like very much, because it means they can really focus on trying to do the right thing. I might catch up with them later and report back here, if they're willing.
Sorry about the blurry pic, my photographer was being jostled and was weighed down with produce. He did very well considering! Thanks Rob!
Springhill Farm are quite exciting. By the time we got to photograph them the locusts had also decided that they were A Good Thing and had descended in force carrying pretty much all their produce away. From gourmet slices and biscuits, to Rocky Road, to a delicious well crusted bread mix, Springhill are onto a really good thing. They're one of the people I intend to catch up with later. I'll also try to let you know how their bread mix bakes, the sample (oh those everpresent samples!) that we tasted was pretty good though.
One thing that I'm REALLY interested in with them though is their fundraiser packages. I'm SO sick of the same old tired chocolate boxes going around. I mean Caramello Koalas just don't do it for me. So, all you fund raiser types at there, have a look at this! They do both standard and gluten free rocks. I'm going to have to find a worthwhile cause just so I can flog one of these around.
Well and Good have a great bunch of cake mixes and ones I always look out for. Their products are free from wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, egg and soya. Their all purpose cake mix we've used for my amazing peppermint and chocolate birthday swirl cake and the yummy coffee and walnut cake. Good stuff. The happy fellow above there, whose name I didn't catch, unfortunately, remarked to me that it shouldn't have to be that we HAVE to eat something, but that we WANT to eat something. And let me tell you, I certainly want to eat their products, so they've succeeded there.
These cheery folks from Food for Health do a great "The Gluten Free Muesli" and their GF muesli bars are pretty good too. Their muesli is a bit less airy than other mueslis I've tried. They were selling big bags of muesli for the same price as the much smaller boxes in the supermarket, very good for us, we seem to go through a lot of muesli.
Country Life Bakery would like everyone to know that they're going to be altering their packaging soon, so don't worry, nothing has changed except the packaging, it will be altered, as you see there on the website, to show more of the bread. The information will be on the back. I'll give them an extra plug, because they have one of the few low GI breads on the gluten free market here, and I was actually picking it for taste before I eventually realised it was low GI. 5 loaves for $20 with an extra one thrown in if you filled in their survey, how good is that!?
Alternative Bites was there, of course, with a tempting array of fruit tarts, sausage rolls, lamingtons and bread. They tried to tempt us, but by that stage we were so full of samples we had to regretfully refuse. In fact, last night I had one of their delicious apple pies for dessert.
Tireless, cheerful volunteers from the Society were there to answer every question. Thanks folks, it was a great show, and I'm really looking forward to next year! This year was great, despite my being not quite 100%.
Orgran had a big, beautiful display, with heaps of new products. That's one for you international readers, I'd be surprised if you couldn't find their products in your country. Their Outback animals are very moreish!
It was good to see Billabong Brewing there again this year. Although I think I strained my neck carrying a couple of sixpacks of their gf Apple Beer away with me. They do four GF beers, as seen, somewhat blurrily (no, my photographer doesn't drink!) below. You can order these online using the link above.
That's the Billabong Blonde, the Billabong Ginger Beer, The Billabong Australia Pale Ale and The Billabong Apple Beer.
The nice chap from Peppercorn Food cheerily agreed to have his picture taken, and even more cheefully sold 5 packs of various delicious sausages and burgers, with a bonus cooler bag for $25. You really do get a bargain at these Expos!
And we staggered out, laden and happy. We bought a lot of stuff I've not even mentioned, got given some samples of lupin flour and tasted some delicious baking made with it...
Really a worthwhile visit.
As I said, I'll be following up some of these companies and see if I find out a bit more about them. Feel free to make suggestions on what I should ask!
Also, if you'd like me to make a correction or you'd like to clarify something please let me know at leeece AT gmail DOT com
Not in Perth? Perhaps you can attend and give your impressions at one of the following: