Friday, 30 August 2013

Deli Divine - The Deli with a Difference!

Have you ever wished you could walk into a shop and be free to eat anything within it? Or, is your dream to be able to open just such a shop yourself? Well, that was Debra's dream. And recently she fulfilled it, when she opened her own shop Deli Divine

Et voila!

Here's what to look out for!

Having been a coeliac for a fair old time (twenty years in fact), Debra's shop is dedicated first and foremost to goodies that are gluten free. However, many of the products that she has in stock are dairy free as well. 

Visiting the shop the other day, I was delighted to discover many products are also soya free. Bonus!! 

Based near the entrance of a small industrial estate in Netley, near Southampton (don't switch off, there's something for everyone here - she also sells online), Debra's shop is packed with breads, pies, cakes, biscuits, packet mixes, desserts, preserves... you get the idea, right??

I first came across Deli Divine, when I visited The Allergy Show a few months back. Well, I say I came across - I didn't get close enough to examine the stand as it was completely surrounded by folks eager to get their hands on the products Debra had on sale.

Some of the produce stocked is by well-known gluten free brands, such as Isabel's, and Moo Free, but there's also newcomers such as B-Free and smaller producers as well. There were even a few of the elusive but very highly-regarded Foodamentalist  products. These I was keen to see, as I have heard so much about them but have been unable to sample, until now, due to geography (The Foodamentalists are based in Cheshire). 

Genuinely great pastry!
I really couldn't walk away from Deli Divine without buying an award-winning Foodamentalist Pork Pie, and I have to say the pastry was amazing - I never knew you could make gluten, dairy and soya free pastry so well! I only wish I could get my hands on the doughnuts they make!!

In fact, I came away with a whole stash of free from goodies (don't tell The Hub - bank balance and all that), that I can't include here, as I haven't managed to taste them all yet, but the Baked to Taste Lemon Drizzle cake has to get a mention, as I had that today. I honestly don't think I've ever tasted one better.

A handbag-sized delicious slice!
I think it'll have to go on my list of things-to-take-to-a-do-when-you're-worried-about-what-you'll-eat. 

I've only recently come across Baked to Taste, but I love them already. They deserve a whole blog post of their own. As well as cake slices, they also make a range of pies and ready-made pastry, many of which are also stocked by Debra (they're also on the menu at Celiacs Fayre). 

My bag was actually fuller than this!!
If you live within range, and wish to visit Deli Divine, it's not as hard to find as I thought it would be - it's a few miles off junction 8 of the M27. The directions I got from Google Maps were pretty clear. However, I would advise avoiding rush hour and any time after 3pm in the afternoon, as Hamble Lane can get rather busy!

Shopping online is perhaps a bit less tricky for most, especially if yo don't live anywhere near the shop! The website is easy enough to navigate, and there's free delivery on orders over £35, but if you visit the shop, you may well find a few extra products in store that aren't available online. And also, you get the added bonus of meeting the delightful Debra - with her extensive product knowledge. Having sampled and experimented with with many of the products herself, she's more than happy to pass on the odd tip or two!

The shop is perhaps a little bit of a way for me to go for regular visits, but many of these products are stored in the freezer - which obviously extends their shelf life. So as long as I can get them home still frozen, I can fill up my freezer and they'll be ready for when I want them, but, there's always the online option. Also, unlike your normal Health Food Store (with the exception of shops such as Whole Foods Market and Food for Thought) Deli Divine has a range that's worth the journey. However, with Deli Divine you also get a Free From shop run by someone who knows, if you know what I mean! 

P.S. If you're considering making a trek to visit the shop, for yourself, there are a number of local attractions, especially for history buffs! Netley is quite close to Southampton (which has a branch of IKEA), but Netley itself boasts a small ruined abbey (great for photos, exploring and picnics) and the Royal Victoria Country Park (once the site of a military hospital). Or go back towards the M27, the other side of which is Manor Farm Country Park, where a BBC series 'The Wartime Farm' was recently filmed. A bit further towards Portsmouth (home of the Naval Dockyards), is Hamble, a really cute waterside backwater. So, you can pick up your provisions from Deli Divine, then go out and explore - go on, you know you want to!

Deli Divine has unfortunately had to close (April 2014). This is really sad, as so much effort and thought went into setting up this business and it was a great way of getting hold of some lovely products that the supermarkets just don't stock. However, Debra has some new plans in the pipeline for something else. I'm waiting to hear more and wishing her all the best!

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