Manchester’s Unicorn Grocery

unicorn outside

South Manchester’s Unicorn Grocery in unlike any supermarket I have found in the UK.   It seems completely foreign.

It is perhaps telling that it is situated in Chorlton, one of the most affluent areas of Manchester, where rock stars (most of them former rock stars, for the sake of accuracy) and footballers live alongside rich hippies and aspiring poets.  There’s probably a few employees of the BBC there, judging from the lack of regional accents. Chorlton essentially being an imported home-county, which I observe because it doesn’t really feel Mancunian at all.  And it has a village green.

Class may have something to do with the rudeness of some of the people you find in Unicorn, knocking you over, walking into you oblivious of anything but their NEED, their real dire need, to procure some obscure organic nut butter.  Jollying you along in the queue for the checkout in the hope that you, with your far more inconsequential purposes, will just hurry up and leave.  The atmosphere is actually not all that bad in the place, which is very bright, warm and colourful – it’s just noticeable that there’s usually one or two pushy mothers in there who only care about themselves.

Speaking of class, anyone who makes the switch from non-organic food shopping soon realises that money is a big factor in the organic food industry… which makes some people suspicious of whether or not the industry is just a massive scam.  It is certainly very easy to spend money in the Unicorn. However, if you maintain a strict relationship with your budget, it is also possible to do almost a week’s shopping there for about £20.

Two days ago I did my Christmas food shop there, and bought a massive bag of kale for 86p.  Some of the foods also have a non-organic variant, for example the dates, which enables you to buy big bags of pitted Iranian dates for 83p.  I don’t know of anywhere you can get dates that cheap (if you’ll excuse the unintended pun).  The vine tomatoes I bought, though perhaps not as ripe as they could have been, had a strong fragrance, making them a refreshing change from what you find in Tesco.  I was a little disappointed to find the sprout stalks not to the same excellent standard they were last year -but then organic shopping is often about being there at the right time, and I think I got there in between stock replenishments, as far as the sprouts were concerned.

The range of gluten-free supplies is fantastic, (though these are the £ burners) and the deli usually has very nice soups and cakes.  Gluten-free and diabetic friendly pies, burgers, sausages (all vegan/veggie), pastas, noodles… and I should mention the quinoa is the tastiest I’ve bought.  Popular health brands like Dragonfly, Happy Kitchen, Meridian, Clive’s and Laura’s Idea are all to be found in the Unicorn.  Going there has become something of an occasion.

Cool Chile Corn Tortilla

24524_1

I bought these today from Unicorn Greengrocery in Chorlton.  And I can safely say they are fantastic.  Nice and soft but not too flimsy and doesn’t taste like cardboard, unlike some of the supermarket gluten-free tortillas.

Simply put one in a warm pan and fry for a short while.

I had mine with the Laura’s Idea Bean Feast.  All in all it was a far better experience than my recent visit to Barburrito…. and far cheaper!  The only thing missing was salsa and sour cream.

They can be bought online from here:  http://www.realfoods.co.uk/product/24524/cool-chile-corn-tortilla-gluten-free-13pcs

My Review of Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza

When I heard that Domino’s were finally due to start serving Gluten Free pizzas, I was a little excited.  I used to enjoy the veg supreme and volcano pizzas, and ordered them whenever there was a deal on, (as there often is in the student areas of Manchester) or I felt the urge to treat myself.  I even had them a couple of times since my decision to rule gluten out of my diet.  Such is their evil mono-sodium-glutamate filled allure.

The pizza bases went on sale last Monday, though I was almost expecting the branch I phoned to tell me they’d sold out or hadn’t been able to stock them yet for some reason.  Of course, everything was fine, the only downfall being that the GF pizza bases are only made in small size. ‘ That doesn’t matter’ I said, and ordered the small Veg Supreme.

After the half an hour’s wait (plus delivery man checking with his boss that I had already paid over the phone like I’d said) I was ready for my pizza!   I opened the box and noted that it was an inch or two or few bigger than the free ‘personal pizzas’ I pretend to be a student for at the start of each new academic year…  I took a bite…

And it is safe to say that, at £11.99 a pop, which almost no pizza in the world is worth, it was a huge, gigantic let down.

The crust was noticeably warmed-from-frozen.  The toppings tasted no different than if I had gone out and bought a cheap bag of veg and loaded its contents onto the pizza.  The one redeeming feature was the garlic sauce, which just about made the pizza taste like normal Domino’s pizzas.   However, I did not order garlic sauce as a main dish.

Perhaps I should be less harsh – it is good that Domino’s are conscious of their coeliac and gluten-intolerant customers, many of whom have been looking forward to this new development as much as I was…. but the recipe they use still needs improving if it’s to stand-up to the quality of their fresh pizzas.

So my advice is this:  save your money and buy a frozen Genius tomato pizza base, which were about £2.99 last time I checked in Tesco.  Then buy whatever cheese and veg you want, pile that on top, and cook it in the oven for the 12 minutes necessary…  it will be just as good, if not better….. and find a good garlic sauce!

Happy Kitchen Brownies

I will start this off by recommending what is perhaps my favourite food-alternative, although really it is a food in its own right:  the Happy Kitchen Brownie.

 Happy Kitchen have sadly announced the closure of the canteen in their East London bakery (the bakery is still open).  Luckily they continue to make the best, richest brownies I have ever tasted –  so good even my dad likes them.

There are four lovely flavours:

chocolate on its own,

chocolate raspberry,

chocolate orange,

and, my favourite, the Pecan Brownie.

All are vegan and completely free of gluten.

I buy mine from 8th Day in Manchester.  They are thankfully available online from several website, including Goodness Direct