There is a jolie (and jolly) restaurant in the newish Kensington Street district of Sydney called Bistrot Gavroche. Quintessentially French. The food. The wine. The staff.
Brunching there the other day, TML spotted a large inscription in glossy ceramics almost filling one wall. Can’t miss it really. It said, to the best of our memory, by that time rendered somewhat rosy by the local pink wine:
Il n’est de vrai bonheur que celui qu’on espere. Give or take a letter or accent or two.
It means close enough to: “There is no true happiness but what one hopes for.” Give or take a translator’s quirk or two.
There are some unexpected pleasures in life, but surely the most satisfying pleasures are those you imagine clearly in anticipation and then have perfectly delivered.
Conversely can you imagine the disappointment of not being able to have just what you are looking forward to.
That happened to Rowena Dillon.
Bumping the bland
Rowie loved cakes and desserts and cute little sweet snacks.
But she couldn’t enjoy most of the ones she saw because she’s a coeliac. Can’t tolerate gluten.
In the year 2000 after a dramatic few weeks including a serious accident, a change of cities and a retrenchment she sat alone on Balmoral Beach and made herself a promise.
She would be the one to make a change.
On a mission to bump the bland from gluten free treats, she started small, including attending local growers markets, and soon discovered how many people thought like her. Not just coeliacs, who had genuine medical requirements, but many others making lifestyle choices. From her unique kitchen came a whole range of delicious delights that were wheat, yeast, dairy and gluten free.
Today Rowie’s Cakes with their red and white striped packaging are delivering sweet (and savoury) satisfaction to people all over the country, and Aussie institutions like Woolworths and Qantas now love to serve up her ideas. You’ll find her in Thomas Dux and on Tiger Air where her vegie burgers are really taking off.
She’s making gluten-free dinner rolls for Aria and the Paddington Inn and brioche rolls for Churburger. She just scored a great coup in providing for the new International Convention Centre.
Naughty tasting treats can be good for you
How can naughty be so nice? Rowie has the answer and it lies in the flour.
In her first cookbook Indulge which has recipes for people with special diets, she explains how to use flours made from grains other than wheat, such as the Aztec favourites Quinoa and Amaranth, as well as tapioca and corn. Also how to combine oils, vinegars and coconut as replacements for eggs.
Her second book The Power of Flour is now published.
The Power of Flour
In the introduction to The Power of Flour she explains how gluten free cooking is not only an art but a science.
Gluten is the rubber band of cooking and baking. It is the rise and fall, the give and pull. To make delicious food without it, you have to master different ingredients and methods. You have to know your flours. So this book introduces you to fifteen of them. Some you obviously know, some you may not even have heard of. She tells you what is good about each one and how to use them in savoury and sweet dishes: soups, salads, pies, tarts, mains and desserts. The recipes are mostly simple and easy, cheerful and fun like the gal herself. If you do have digestion issues this book will liberate you from boredom. If you just want to cook a little healthier, a little more interesting, jump right in.
What a gal!
We spoke to Rowie as she was at home preparing for a significant birthday party. Chirpy as always she confides, “As much as I’m exhausted I never let up. As I promised myself years ago on that beach I’m determined to be the best at what I do. I’m so happy all our customers love us. My passion is paramount and so is persistence.”
In the middle of the countless hours in her kitchens she is also writing another book. Exhausting indeed. We’re lucky to have her working so hard for our pleasure.
The Power of Flour is published by New Holland Publishers of London, Sydney and Auckland.
You can read more about Rowie, the Queen of Gluten-Free Indulgence at www.rowiescakes.com.au