To get to the point where Center Parcs had decided to offer a tasting session must have taken a lot of planning and thought. In fact, the Executive Chef, James Haywood, had previously challenged himself to see what it was like to be a diner who required gluten free food. He ate gluten free and blogged about it here. The experience left him "feeling like a second-class citizen" but this, fortunately, didn't deter him from the challenge to offer gluten free food across the Center Parcs restaurants.
The Grilled Cajun Swordfish was lovely. The zesty lime added just the right amount of 'zing' and was also served with a refreshing green salad.
Having read the Menu prior to the event, I was keen to learn what a slider is... turns out it's a mini burger. We had a lovely selection to try, in specially baked mini buns, to provide a flavour of the burgers. The burger was moist, tasty and very well cooked. The food presentation was really appealing.
Following the burgers, was the Mustard-brushed pork loin, served on a skewer with a mini hasselback potato and sour cream dip (which I dolloped over...)
Prawn fajita shells were really well received too... the sizzling platter and clever moulding of the shells was a really eye catching way to present the food. The prawns were moist and spicy and the shell remained crisp.
By this time, I was definitely starting to feel full up but the presentation of the Grilled Tandoori Salmon was really eye catching and my senses were back in action. It was a lightly cooked, spicy dish presented beautifully and is from the Rajinda Pradesh menu.
Finally, it was time for dessert. What a platter of goodies we were offered. Flourless Chocolate Torte that was rich and smooth accompanied by a tart raspberry compote - delicious (I ate the lot). Dutch Apple pancake with cinnamon sugar and vanilla ice cream - tasty, very tasty. A mini slice of Daim cake - always a hit with me. And, finally, Ultimate Chocolate Pancake with chocolate ice cream - the ice cream was fabulous. What was most interesting about this course, was learning that the Pancake House has a range of gluten free options - I would NEVER have thought of even going to a pancake place as simply would not expect them to cater for those needing gluten free food.
Overall, it was a really enlightening day. There was a good exchange of views, many opinions shared about products that work well and plenty of suggestions (hot chocolate, marshmallows and waffles, please!) made. The event was well supported by the Center Parcs team and I hope they learnt as much as I did.
The villages that Center Parcs have within the UK are definintely somewhere to consider visiting if you have dietary needs to take into account when looking for holiday/short break destinations. As a family, we're planning to visit Woburn Forest later in the year... and have already started preparing J and trying to sort it out. I feel confident I won't have to worry about taking the contents of the fridge to see us through our stay by bringing our own gluten free food... and, hopefully, we'll also be able to eat out safely and have snacks JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!! What a lovely thought.
Many thanks to all at Center Parcs - it was a real pleasure to be part of this.