Friday, 25 July 2014

Dairy free treasure hunt...

'Stop the clock!'

Today, I'm Anneka Rice... and I've been hunting for treasure - dairy free of course!

Remember Anneka? Blonde, clad in (tight) bright jumpsuits, leaping from helicopters, following clues, in search of treasure, on behalf of studio-bound contestants. She was a presenter on that eighties TV programme - Treasure Hunt!!

Well, OK, I'm not blonde, clad in jumpsuit, enviable figure etc. and there's definitely no helicopter in sight, but I've found some treasure!

'What?' You may well be wondering...

It's this: 

My treasure!

For me, personally (and you may not agree with me), it is one of those 'Holy Grail' products - you know, akin to one you used to LOVE and haven't been able to eat ever since you've made the change (gone dairy free I mean - not the menopause, just in case you're wondering)!

My absolute fave yoghurt of all time in my pre dairy free days was a Morello Cherry Muller Fruit Corner. Have you ever tried one??

I didn't have it all the time - but now and again, I would allow myself one as a treat.

Well, now I have found my dairy free equivalent - the Morello Cherry version of Co Yo. It's thick and it's creamy with the delicious sweet, yet slightly tart, compote of cherry layered beneath.


Yummy!

I've enjoyed plain Co Yo for some time, and not just as a yoghurt. I love using it in place of sour cream in fajitas, or as an accompaniment to apple crumble, or some other fruit dessert, in place of cream or custard.

BUT this Morello Cherry Co Yo I can enjoy just for being itself, and believe me, all 125g of it can disappear pretty fast!

Now you know I rate it for flavour, what else might you need to know?



What's in it?


Ingredients:
Coconut Milk (87%), Morello Cherry (12%) (Cherries, Natural Fruit Etracts of Apple, Grape and Carob), Tapioca starch, Live Vegan Cultures.

And, crucially for me - what's not in it is: dairy, gluten and soya. The fact that there's no added sugar is a bonus!

What I would like to see in it is some added calcium - it's one of those things that dairy free peeps could really do with!


Where can I get it?

I first came across it at The Allergy and Free From Show in London, but obviously that's once a year and I couldn't transport any home with me, as I couldn't keep it cool. Although plain Co Yo is now available in  larger branches of Tesco, along with a few others, the cherry version has not yet made it onto the shelves. However, I gather that pretty soon it might become available through Ocado. 

For the time being, I've managed to persuade my nearest Health Food Shop to stock it - they're good like that - they're very open to suggestions. It seems to have paid off for them already, because it's been flying off the shelves of their fridge!! Consequently, I've had to wait a few weeks to get my hands on some, but today... today I managed it!!

If you want to get hold of some, I suggest you try the same!


How much is it?

This is the bit that is the hardest to talk about - especially with other Free From mums, who, I know, are trying to balance the budget. We all know, from experience, that Free From products come at a price. 

BUT, back to the actual cost... in my Health Food Shop it's £1.99 for 125g. I'm guessing this is probably more or less what you'd be charged elsewhere too!

It's true that Co Yo is a lot more expensive than 'normal' yoghurt, but bear in mind that this is the dairy free yoghurt equivalent of artisan bread or chocolate - it's not produced on the same commercial scale as 'normal' yoghurt, so it's going to cost!!

Co Yo is, in fact, the only completely dairy free fresh coconut probiotic yoghurt, that I know of, in the UK. Another firm makes coconut yoghurt that claims to be dairy free, but they produce their yoghurt in a factory where products made from cow's milk are also made. My daughter, being so sensitive to dairy, is unable to have this other yoghurt - it does NOT work for us! I have been assured that this is not so with Co Yo. 

So I reckon I'm paying for peace of mind - that there's no risk of cross-contamination. 

As a special dairy free treat... I think it's worth it!


Related Post:




Heaven in a mouthful? Co Yo Coconut Yoghurt

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Life's a Dairy Free Almond Breeze!

If you're dairy free, a grown up, love coffee, are fine with almonds and Carageenan, and you haven't bought this product yet, I've got to ask you, 'Why on earth not?' 

Especially as they're only £1 each in Tesco at the moment!

If, like me, you've been dairy free, breast feeding for a whole lot longer than you imagined you would and are feeling a little left out by life as a result, this is the perfect little 'Pick-Me-Up.' An ideal dairy free refreshment too, for combating the recent heat wave!

I have to confess, one of the things I love about this product is that it's a proper grown-up drink! I also love the fact that it has not been made with soya milk first!



A grown-up drink, not dissimilar to other 'normal' versions!

What do I mean by that? Just that, speaking as a soya free bod (I'm intolerant to soya) everything dairy free seems to be made first with soya - until someone catches on and thinks,  'Oh! why don't we make that with coconut milk or almond milk instead?' This 'catching on' can sometimes take a fair bit of time!

Made by Almond Breeze, an American firm, whose almond milks can be purchased in most good, large supermarkets, there are two flavours: Mocha and Cappuchino. I've tried both and both hit the spot for me - that's even though I thought I wouldn't enjoy the Mocha as I'm not usually a huge fan of mixing my coffee with my chocolate! But, actually, they don't taste that much differently from each other, although the Mocha may taste marginally sweeter.

So...

What's in them?

Mocha ingredients: 
Spring Water, Raw Cane Sugar, Almonds (1.4%), Fat-reduced Cocoa, Acidity Regulator: Dipotassium Phosphate; Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Stabiliser: Caragennan, Gellan Gum; Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin. High Caffeine, 11.5mg/100ml.




Cappuccino ingredients:
Spring Water, Raw Cane Sugar, Almonds (1.4%), Acidity Regulator: Dipotassium Phosphate; Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Stabiliser: Caragennan, Gellan Gum; Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin. High Caffeine, 11.5mg/100ml.




In addition, they state they are:
  • Free from Dairy, Eggs and Lactose.
  • No soya, Peants, Gluten or MSG.

What about the caffeine?

Well, it's made with coffee, so it stands to reason there's caffeine in these drinks. 40mg of caffeine per 100ml, to be precise. As each bottle contains 250ml of iced coffee, that's 100mg of caffeine per bottle. 

To put this into context, there's 32mg of caffeine in a can of Coca Cola and 150mg of caffeine in a Starbucks Grande Latte although this was contested by Chemical and Engineering News who reckon said latte contains 330mg (WOWZERS!! 

If you're pregnant, it's recommended, by the NHS, that you drink no more than 200mg of caffeine per day. 

For those who are breastfeeding, there is no clear advice. NHS advice recommends drinking caffeine 'occasionally,' i.e. not everyday, but other places suggest otherwise. Personally, I'd follow Kelly Moms advice, which is  to take your cue from your baby - if it's not sleeping, cut down the caffeine!!


Where can you get them?

I've only seen them in Tesco, so far - in the chilled section, alongside all the 'normal' iced coffees, rather than the 'Free From' section. They can be found in Tescos of all different sizes, which makes them quite handy, to get hold of. In my Tesco, they're quite close to the cow's milk.



Sold alongside 'normal' iced coffee!


How much are they?

Normally they're priced at £1.29 but right now they're on offer at £1. I hope the fact that they're on offer doesn't mean they're struggling. I hope they're around for a lot longer yet, as I genuinely think that even if I didn't have to be dairy free I'd enjoy drinking them. 

As for me, whilst they're on offer, I'm buying them like they're going out of fashion! Well you've got to make the most of an offer like this, haven't you?

As it happens, they slip down the throat so well, I've just drunk two whilst writing this post! Oops!!


If you looking for other Dairy Substitutes, such as milk, cream, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, why not check out this page on the blog:





Friday, 11 July 2014

My Allergy Show 2014 Highs... and Lows??

Well, that's it for another year! The Allergy and Free From Show is over!             

*sigh*

Well unless you're heading to Liverpool in September of course!

Bit far north for me, though!

I think I made the most of my time there though!

Last year, I complained about the lack of space. It was good to see that the Show organisers had taken this on board!

This year, the London Show was held in The Grand Hall at Olympia... which was great!! 
SO much more space than last year!! 

See...

Obligatory show interior pic - all the best blog posts have 'em ;)

...all that lovely green carpet!! Well, that's the Free From bit!

The space was also shared with the V-Delicious Show, The Back Pain Show and Love Natural Love Organic but there was room enough for us all! It was definitely worth planning my visit ahead though, 'cos I realised that some bits that I might have considered 'Free From' were included in the V-Delicious Show area or the Organic area.

SO, the date dawned bright and fair, but my 'date' stood me up!!! She was required elsewhere - 'Mum's Taxi' duties lured her away. Oh well!! As a result, I ended up travelling up to London with The Hub and 'Baby'. They enjoyed Allergy Adventures activities, then disappeared off to the Science Museum - leaving me to roam at will!!

What did I get up to??


I listened and learned:

This year, I opted to devote some of my time to the Spotlight session on Food Allergy, featuring Dr Adam Fox and Tanya Wright. It cost £10, but was well worth it! 

Dr Adam Fox is a well-renowned expert and talks a mile a minute. His talk was jam-packed full of really useful information! He covered aspects such as understanding when food allergy might realistically be outgrown (takes longer than previously thought), assessing risk in terms of how likely a fatal anaphylactic reaction might be as well as in avoiding allergens and how to induce tolerance of an allergen - all very worthwhile topics!! I'd definitely recommend attending his talk, another time.

Tanya Wright, a specialist allergy dietitian followed - her talk entitled: 'Coping with Children that are Challenging to Feed.' Some of what she shared wasn't new to me, but the section on how allergic children can have food aversion really struck a chord with me! Food refusal has definitely been an issue for us, so it was really interesting to hear about what might be causing this and how this problem could be tackled. 

Tanya Wright's talk was followed by an interesting Q. and A. session in which the good old question about allergies and bad behaviour came up! I know a lot of us 'Allergy Mums' have found our children's behaviour challenging when they have had an exposure to their allergen, so my ears pricked up at this bit! 

What I found interesting was her explanation for this - that the behaviour was actually a signal that the child was experiencing a reaction of some kind that perhaps they couldn't express, or was 'normal' for them, but was actually discomforting them. I don't know about you, but that really made sense to me!!


I lurked:

I was hoping for a chance to catch up with some of the allergy peeps from Twitter, some of whom were on the Allergy Adventures stand. However, each time I went by, they were all busy - but that's a good thing eh?


Allergy Adventures in action!

I was also hoping to catch Peggy of Glamour Puds too, but each time I visited she was deep in conversation with her customers, so I purchased  an 'Allergy Show Special' Bakewell Tart from her assistant and moved on!

Very good it was too!


Yes, dear reader, I ate the lot! 

I'm looking forward to being reunited with some of her other creations in Tesco, very soon!


I lunched:

After the talk, it was definitely time for lunch! Short of time in the morning, my plan for taking a wrap disappeared, so instead I headed for the 'Free From Cafe,' which was tucked away near the back of the Allergy Adventures area.

To my delight, I discovered I could get a gluten, and dairy free lunch (I had to guess at the soya free bit, as I couldn't see a proper label).


Healthy and Free From!


I also grabbed a packet of Ten Acre Salt and Vinegar Crisps - gluten, dairy and soya free! Result!

I actually didn't need these - I just grabbed them because I could!!

As I made my way through the cafe I saw the table with cutlery, napkins etc. bore two kinds of dairy free milk. Wouldn't it be great if all cafes did this? 


Anyone for dairy free milk?

Sadly the other cafes at the venue did not :(

There were other Free From options available though!

Debbie and Andrew's sausages sold gluten and dairy free hot dogs - not soya free unfortunately, as the rolls were Dietary Specials, and made with soya protein, so no good for me, but the stall seemed to be doing a roaring trade.

Vegusto dairy free cheese, meanwhile, had dairy and gluten free 'cheese' sandwiches available for those who can tolerate cashews (I can't).

The Vegusto sandwiches looked 'normal'!

And various Vegan options (therefore dairy and egg free) were available too! 


I looked around:

My tactic this year was mainly to avoid buying anything that needed to keep cold, anything I could buy locally (unless it was priced too good to miss) but concentrate on things that were new (that I would be unlikely to find elsewhere) or that I would otherwise have to buy online and pay postage for!

This was my final haul:

All the best blogs have these pics too!  ;)

So I visited: 
  • Lovemore - they had nearly sold out of their O'Choccos, which I love
  • BFree - I wanted to get hold of one of their new Fajita kits as well as their bagels
  • Venice Bakery - their gluten, dairy soya and nut free pizzas  (with Mozzarisella) were definitely NOT to be missed!!
  • Warbutons - loved their spiced fruit loaf samples


Pleased to see the dairy free, soya free margarine!

  • Orgran - their gluten free pasta was really well-priced at the show
  • Barkat - makers of the only dairy, gluten and soya free digestives that I know of, that aren't made with oats!
  • Vegusto - I wanted to try their cheese sauce, which, unlike their cheese, does not contain cashew! It can be kept out of the fridge for 48 hours, so was perfect for transportation!


It looks like sausage, but trust me, it's not!

  • Isola Bio's dairy free milk and cream - their range has really expanded, which is brilliant. They are not fortified with calcium, though, as they are Organic.


A small selection

  • Focaccia Per Tutti - a sensation at the 'Free From Food Awards' this year. Sadly, they were so popular, that there wasn't much left on their stand, by the time I got there!
  • Hotch Potch - one of my finds at the Wessex Ceoliac Fair last Autumn (they make gluten and dairy free Scotch Eggs) were also on my list but were so popular that they had SOLD OUT, by the time I reached the stand! Boo hoo!
  • Ms Cupcake - a Vegan bakery, which made everything gluten free for the Show and quite a few offerings that were soya free too!! If you've never tasted her wares, trust me - this is amazing (and it's in her cook book)!! 


A Nanaimo Bar!

I did also find time to visit old faves Pudology and Co-yo, but didn't think I'd get them home. However, I learned that it was best for them that we buy them locally at Tesco - each sale is a 'tick' that counts towards their viability as a product on the shelves of the supermarket. I have to say, I loved the new cherry Co-yo - will have to look out for that one!


I left: 

By about half past three, although I would have loved to have hung around for a bit longer, my trolley and a big bag were bulging, protesters were lying all over Kensington High Street, and so it was time to go and rescue The Hub, who was stranded at the other end, with 'Baby,' who was threatening to fall asleep!!


Loaded!!


By then... I was pooped, anyway!!

Back again next year?? I certainly hope so!!


Related Posts:


Fancy a date - at the Allergy and Free From Show 2014?



The Allergy Show - Mission Accomplished





Monday, 23 June 2014

Eating out dairy free and gluten free? Just ASK!!

I first came across ASK Italian years and years ago, when I was in my first teaching post. Somehow the teaching staff went out for a meal together (can't remember why - it could have been one of our 'Escape Committee' get-togethers). 

In those days, the 'ASK' chain was new, interesting and a bit on the funky side.  

My key memory was devouring a piece of their Banoffee Pie - I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted!! I mean... what's not to love about caramel and cream??

Scroll on a few years and due to 'Baby's' milk allergy, I'm dairy free all of a sudden!! And then gluten free as well. Surely, one of the last places I'd be looking to eat is an Italian-style restaurant. Y'know pasta, cheese sauce, etc. etc.

Right??

WRONG!!

Interestingly, I'd heard a few whispers, on Twitter, that they were able to provide gluten free pasta. SO we looked into it and they could!! AND, looking at their menus online (see here), it seemed, to The Hub, that they could do dairy free too! 

SO, on our wedding anniversary, with 'Baby' in tow we thought that whilst we were hanging out for the day, in the historic city of Winchester, we'd give them a try!!


Winchester High Street

We indulged in a bit of meandering at first. 

Winchester's ancient West Gate

I love Winchester. It's a gorgeous place to be, on a sunny day.

ASK Italian's restaurant in Winchester is pretty gorgeous too! When I was a student in Winchester, it used to be a very nice tea shop, but the building itself obviously dates back further than that!


A building with a history!

Somehow they've manged to fuse the ancient and modern within the interior really well.


A Tudor building with some modern twists

I love the scattering of knick knacks too:

Anyone for coffee??

As is our custom, we skip the starters - we're only here for lunch, anyway.

Baby's meal is a simple Spaghetti Al Pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce), embellished with a few of The Hub's chips.

Pasta and chips!

Okay, so it's not the most nutritional meal, but then that seems nigh on impossible if you're a child eating out anyway - particularly if you're dairy free - so many places serve Spaghetti Bolognese made with milk!

'Baby' seems happy enough with what she'd got though!

Meanwhile, for once, I have a choice!! There's more than one thing on the menu that's suitable for me!!

Gluten free options are marked 'NGCI' or 'Non Gluten Containing Ingredients'. This isn't always acceptable to the gluten free, but this restaurant chain appears to be approved by Coeliac UK - according to a sign by the door.

Choice!

I select the Linguine con Frutti di Mare. I've often watched The Hub eat something like this, with envy.

Gluten free pasta - deep joy!!

As they serve gluten free pasta (okay it's not linguine, it's fusili, but at least it's a pasta I CAN eat), it's no longer off limits, but all mine!! If you're able to eat ordinary pasta, you won't know how good this feels. It's such a simple thing and I don't understand why more places don't serve it - in it's dried form, it can easily be stored in the cupboard for ages (if it's not called for), without going off!

It's satisfying and tasty. I'm happy!

Who needs a dessert?

Well 'Baby' apparently!!

We note that one of the children's options - the Strawberry Meringue Stack - is basically hazelnut meringue with strawberries and ice cream and wonder, if we ask nicely, if they'd be so obliging as to serve it without the ice cream...

It appears they will!!  



'Baby's' dessert - just to warn you - different restaurants present it diffidently!

'Baby's' turn for deep joy!! And we, who've watched her miss out on dessert on so many occasions... enjoy her delight... over our coffee. 

And good coffee it is too :)

Since then, we've visited ASK Italians in other towns and cities. It's become our favourite place to eat - just because 'Baby' can have a dessert.

We've also discovered that if we're hungry enough we can have a starter too:

Spot the 'NGCI'!

I try out Insalata Ottima - a nice little salad with chicken.

It's actually quite generous!

I like it... but unused as I am to having a starter I feel a little stuffed, by the time my main course appears!

'Baby' it seems can have garlic bread strips (we ask for it minus the garlic butter and dip) along with some vegetable crudites. Okay, they're a bit like posh bread sticks, but enough to keep her happy, whilst we wait for the mains.

Ho hum! Don't think 'Baby' will be eating the veg!  :(

Along with one or two or The Hub's Panzerottini Pancetta. They're dairy free too, apparently, so The Hub orders some, just in case! I can't have them, of course, as they're basically balls of dough.

It also seems that 'Baby's' not the only one who can have dessert. I can too - a gelato. Not all the gelatos are dairy free, but my choice - Raspberry Sorbetti is! Okay, so it's not the Banoffee Pie of my distant memory, but it is light, fruity and refreshing.

I may not order it every time, but it's certainly nice to have the option!


Related Posts: 




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Eating Dairy Free and Gluten Free in Resort Hotels at Disneyland Paris

If you were to ask me which Disney character I most resemble, although I would like it to be something more glamorous (like Elsa from Frozen), if I were perfectly honest, it would have to be this chap:


Eeyore!

It may well come across to you that way, as I share about our experiences of eating at Disneyland Paris, but I'll leave that to you to decide.

The thing is, I'd heard such good things about the Disney resorts in the States, that I assumed/hoped/expected that Disneyland Paris would deliver the same goods - especially as its based in a country that prides itself on its gastronomy. 

You'd certainly expect good things if you read this, on Twitter:


There are a lot of places to eat, at Disneyland Paris, it is true, and we didn't investigate all of them. We did experiment with eating out in well-known franchises, such as The Rainforest Cafe and also in the Resort's restaurants and hotels. But, as for those sixty allergies?? Well I saw sixteen mentioned in the allergy guide, so I'm a bit puzzled about that one!

As it happens, we soon came to understand (it was spelled out to me by staff at one of the resort's restaurants) that the truth is that although they can provide safe food for those with allergies, the choice is not on a par with what I hear about Disney in the States, from other bloggers, such as Nicola. 

What follows is our experience... staying half board. We could have stayed elsewhere and travelled in each day, or stayed in self-catering. Both of these later options will inevitably make your day longer, as you will have further to travel to get in to the parks. Which is why we had opted to stay within the Resort. Hopefully, this post will help you decide which option would be best for you and your family, if food allergies happen to be an issue.

If you look at the website for Disneyland Paris and investigate allergies, you should find this in pdf form, see here.

Hmm!

It outlines the options for those with food allergies at Disneyland Paris. If you are your child is at risk of an anaphylctic shock from exposure to food allergens, you may well be grateful to see this booklet. I can see it would be very reassuring. Planned by a dietitian, it may well be nutritious and balanced, and there appears to be some choice, but when you speak to a member of staff about food allergies and you get handed this:

Yes, that is ice! It's frozen! 

a box of frozen food (I kid you not)! Words fail, even me! 

And I'm not usually stuck for words.

'Baby' loves Frozen, the movie, but not frozen food! This was no place to 'let it go'!

This was in a resort hotel restaurant.

Please note, there was no starter and definitely no choice. It was that box of food or nothing - or so I was led to believe by the staff member I spoke to. He spoke limited English and I even less French. Lack of language skills or no lack of language skills, one thing was made clear - there was no room for manoeuvre!

Absolutely none!


La Cantina
As we were staying half board, we had vouchers we could use at resort restaurants - one for each person, for each day. 'La Cantina' is the name of the restaurant which serves the resort hotel 'Santa Fe.' The hotel 'Santa Fe' is themed around the Disney 'Cars' film characters. 'Baby' loves this film. We had considered staying at this hotel, before opting for the New York, which had a swimming pool, whereas the Santa Fe did not ('Baby' loves swimming). 'Baby' had been disappointed that we weren't staying at the 'Cars hotel,' so the next best thing, we decided, was to visit for food. 

It was a good job there was a small play area, in the dining room, to which 'Baby' was drawn like a magnet, because that deflected slightly the fact that her mother was holding a frozen meal and wondering what to do with it.

It was another guest at a nearby table who noticed my distress, as I explained things to The Hub, who pointed me in the direction of the microwave by the side of the room. 'I think you're supposed to use those,' she said (or words to that affect - English wasn't her first language). 

Meanwhile The Hub, who is not a demonstrative type and does not normally like to create a scene, had attracted the attention of some staff member or another and in his frustration was banging the frozen meal on the table, in order to demonstrate that in its current state it was completely inedible.

The staff member made some half-hearted attempt to heat the meal, but we had to finish heating it up ourselves, as it was still covered in ice particles, when it was handed to us.

I was completely flabbergasted that a paying guest was expected to heat their food for themselves... and in a microwave that worked only in 45 second bursts... and then eat it out of the plastic tray it came in. I might as well have bought some food from Ilumi and heated it myself!

I am guessing that the hands-off approach of the staff was to prevent cross-contamination, but to have to heat food in a microwave that other people presumably heated baby food and milk in? Who knows what splatters of cross-contamination lurked inside - that might then be transferred to the plastic tray?? 

La Cantina served food buffet-style

I helped myself to a clean plate from the servery (it turned out 'La Cantina' served food from a buffet) and scraped the food off the plastic tray and onto the plate. Once heated, it looked a little dry, but it wasn't too unappetising. However, it wasn't a large portion by any means! Being a pre-schooler, she doesn't need too much, but bear in mind that these portions would be served to the allergic child or adult alike.

We took a risk and supplemented the food with boiled rice from the buffet (luckily we were some of the first to arrive, so it was relatively untouched).

Beef with olives (plus rice).

'Baby wasn't that keen. It was a good job that she didn't have siblings to contend with, who had unlimited choice. As it was she helped herself to some ham from The Hub's plate. I wasn't happy, as I know that some cooked hams are cooked with dairy, but thankfully she survived!!

I ate the beef with olives. Despite looking dry, the beef wasn't tough and it actually tasted alright.

Dessert was interesting! 

I had to approach the staff again. 

I was pointed in the direction of this, 'apple compote':

Apple sauce anyone??

Yes, that's right - the apple sauce placed bang smack between two options containing dairy.

Perhaps not! Cross contamination risk, from people slopping it about, maybe??

Thankfully, there was another option:


Safely sealed in their own packaging!

Also thankfully, and to my complete surprise, 'Baby' who doesn't always like bananas was more than happy to eat one on this occasion.

The Hub, mindful of 'Baby's lack of choice, skipped dessert.



The Manhattan
The following night, we opted to eat in a restaurant at our hotel. The Manhattan Restaurant.


It certainly looked nice!

We hoped that as it appeared to have a more plush appearance, there might be a better experience.

Well, we had table linen and table service and we didn't have to heat it ourselves, but the food was straight out of the allergy menu, once again!

There was a pile of bread on the table. It looked very appetising. Not knowing what was in it, I had to keep 'Baby' off it. She wasn't impressed! Luckily, we had some ciabatta left over from our trip on Eurostar, I'd brought it down to the restaurant, to keep her busy, whilst waiting, so she had some of that, instead.


Lovely looking bread - but only The Hub could eat it

Bearing in mind that this restaurant was the same at which we had eaten breakfast, I was disappointed not to be offered some of the allergy free bread that we had at breakfast, instead.

This time we were offered one of the starter's from the allergy menu. There was only one option (rather than the two indicated on the menu). It came like this:


Straight from the fridge


Et voila!


It was cold. 'Baby' wouldn't touch it. I ate it purely for the experience. It was very tomatoey. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you were desperate to top up your 'five-a-day'.

For the main course there were two options this time (there's four on the allergy menu). Thinking swiftly, I ordered the meatballs and rice for 'Baby' and the sausages for me - I didn't mind which I had, but thought there was more chance of 'Baby' eating something if she had a choice between the two. 


Baby's meatballs

She did actually stick to her own choice, she seemed to enjoy it but she did tail off after a bit! I sampled some and it tasted better than it looked, but the meatballs were a bit rubbery.

Mine came like this: 



Attractive?

An improvement on the day before in terms of presentation, to some extent - at least there was a plate!! However, the sausages tasted bland and rubbery. The mash was bland too. Without any vegetables, I considered it rather unbalanced as meals go. Good job I ate that starter!


Looking better!?

Meanwhile The Hub was served this:


A simple chicken dinner

He couldn't understand why we couldn't have been served something similar, to this, may be without the gravy.

Dessert was this, for 'Baby':

Cold apple compote

Or this, for me: 

Cold caramelised pear

Both cold again. The apple was basically stewed apple. It was quite grainy in texture and very sweet. Obviously commercially produced, it had none of the flavour you'd get from home made stewed apple. I only got 'Baby' to sample it by bribing her with a dairy free chocolate lolly.

The 'Caramelised Pear' was basically small chunks of pear in a sugary syrup -just like you can buy fro the supermarket. I ate it purely to balance out the lack of vegetables in the main course! You could tell it was real fruit, because small fragments of peel remained on some of the pieces.

The Hub opted for this:

Anyone for fruit?

Again, we failed to see how that couldn't be served to people with allergies, as long as the staff were properly trained in the right kind of protocols.

I looked around. Other kids were eating chips and ice cream. Fortunately I don't think 'Baby' noticed! When we got back to our hotel room, I had a sneaky suspicion she was still a bit empty. Good job I had brought these:


Plastic spoon courtesy of Starbucks

Oh, I forgot to say that the value of the voucher for the meal was €33. 

We discovered, in fact, that the allergy menu would be presented to us at pretty much all of the resort restaurants, no matter how much the meal cost. Even if we booked a table at the Disney Princesses restaurant, Auberge de Cendrillon (which is pretty pricey), as we had been planning to, we discovered that the same meal would have been served. The Hub was not happy about the idea of paying that kind of money for what amounted to a reheated ready meal (however safe it may be), while other little princesses, at close proximity, would be noshing on other delights.

As we discovered you could have a picture taken with a princess for free (well you have to pay for the photos, although you can take your own), by booking a slot at the Princess Pavilion in the park (it's by the 'Small World' ride - you need to queue for a ticket, first), we decided to pass that one up. 'Baby' not knowing about the existence of the Disney Princess restaurant was blissfully unaware of our decision - we made no mention of it, just in case it didn't work out. Which was just as well. If she was a bit older, or had older siblings, or if we went with her cousins, I don't think we would have got away with it.

As for me, as an adult, who could reason about the need for safety - over the lack of choice, the experience was completely dispiriting. I would go as far as to say that it ruined my holiday. I tried to be grateful that I had something safe to eat, but having had much better experiences of eating in hotels and restaurants at home in England. I failed miserably. It was a good job that we had the fireworks and light show to look forward to at the end of the day. It was an amazing experience and I was glad not to miss it. But would I do it this way again? I think not. I'd prefer to save my money for now and go to the States.


The actual thing was spectacular - pictures do not do justice!


So am I an Eyeore, or not? 

Compare our experience, with that of Nicola's (see here) or to get a fuller picture, her blog (here), at Walt Disney World in the States, before you decide...



Related Posts: 



Travelling with the Dairy Free Baby



Breakfast at Disney



Travelling Eurostar with the DFB



Why we're lovin' McDonald's... at Disneyland Paris



Eating Dairy and Gluten Free at Walt Disney World


Further reading:

An American blog post about eating with allergies at Walt Disney World in America

A daily Mail article on how to get a better deal, at Disneyland Paris if you're a UK resident

An article from The Independent on how Disneyland Paris is trying to lure the Brits