Tales from the A1: The One With The Gluten Free Paradise

My new project at work requires a new commute, straight up the A1. 3 hours on a Monday, 3+ hours on a Friday. This road is a fairly maligned road, and people generally don’t have anything much nice to say about it. I thought that, seeing as I have to do this drive no matter what, I may as well liven it up as best I can. To that end, I’ll be stopping at a new place along the A1 each week and writing about what I find there. Sometimes I may choose the place based on careful research and planning, sometimes on a whim. I can’t promise it’ll be interesting. But it will all be true.

Last week, I chose to stop at a place called Retford. When I relayed to S where I was, he thought I’d made the place up. This isn’t a destination on many Great British Isles tour lists, or even in many Great Britons minds, but a three-second Google search for ‘gluten free’ (imaginative, I know) before I left work and wifi placed a red pin full of promise in this particular town.

I trundled in from the A1, stuck behind a slow-poke, and realised I’d come to a market town. Cool. I mean, half the stalls were empty but it was quite late in the day, and there were some nice old buildings poking up over the stripy awnings.

I carried on walking. Next I found the high street, which was pretty unremarkable. Just like most high streets around England, with the usual selection of Superdrug, Iceland and Poundland or Poundworld or one or other of those. I was just beginning to lose my nerve when some interesting boutiquey type shops appeared, and then after crossing a road, my canalside goal. The Bay Tree.

The Bay Tree is a cafe located right next to a car park, which looks a bit odd when you come in from the road. However, the other side of it is right on the canal and it’s got a quiet outside seating area, surrounded by lavender. It also has an extensive gluten free menu, so says the internet. I found a spot outside overlooking the canal, and with my book and an iced tea for company I was very happy. 

The gluten free menu is indeed decent, and varied. They’ll also change dishes from the ordinary menu to suit, as well. Then I realised they had gluten free lasagne on the menu. Lasagne is one of my favourite dishes and it’s just such a faff to make myself that I rarely do it. It’s not hard, but it just takes so long – especially when your prescription lasagne sheets require par-boiling. Anyway, despite the extensive choice, it had to be lasagne.

Soon enough I was tucking in to a lasagne which was as delicious as I’d hoped. Even better, they had a chocolate sponge cake for pudding which came with a little jug of custard on the side.

As I sank gently into a sugar coma, enjoying the sun and watching the cygnets and the fishermen nearby, I felt an extreme sense of relaxation. As anyone with a food allergy or intolerance will tell you, it’s so amazing to be able to eat somewhere without fear of getting ill from your food. How could I not be relaxed?

Happy people walked by, and someone on the table next door was distraught to learn they’d run out of teacakes. It was beginning to cool off so I reluctantly headed back to the car. 

I arrived back home a couple of hours later, and remembered that I’d asked S to defrost something from the freezer for us to eat that evening. Of course, I’d requested one my  favourites – a home-made lasagne…

The question is, how far would you go for a good lasagne?




  1. 21st July 2015 / 09:19

    Ohhhh my goddddd this looks amazing! I actually make lasagna quite often because I can pop it into the oven and one lasagna can feed me the whole week (in theory, if I don’t just eat it all in one go, whoops). But lasagna is SO hard to find in a restaurant, probably because you can’t just use the same sauce and throw gf fusili in. 😉 Never have I eaten so much fusili as I have since becoming coeliac.

    Aisling | aisybee.

    • 21st July 2015 / 09:38

      Ugh fusilli. What I wouldn’t give for some farfalle, or even a decent macaroni. One day! For me the issue with lasagne is the whole making the mince, making the bechamel, par boiling the pasta… and even then it takes another 40 minutes in the oven. Maybe I need to get slicker but it seems a mammoth effort for me! Also I’m very good at eating a week’s worth in one sitting! If you ever find yourself within striking distance of Retford, I’d highly recommend making the trip. It was so. good.

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