Adventures of Allergy Girl en España: Part 1

I recently spent a few days in the resort of Pineda de Mar, which is located several miles outside of Barcelona.  Pineda is a small resort, and we used it as a base camp for IRONMAN Barcelona, which Mr Allergy was competing in.

On route from Barcelona to Pineda we stopped for lunch at a small beach cafe in Mataro. There were a number of eating establishments along the main drag, but most were fish restaurants, which I had to avoid unless I wanted to end up resembling a puffer fish! 

The menu had a good selection of hot and cold bocadillos (sandwiches), and was printed in Spanish and English. I have a little bit of Spanish, so can usually get by, but what I found really useful was that this menu showed the allergen symbols for each item.  Many restaurants in the UK don’t have this, so I was astounded to see it in a small Catalonian beach cafe. Brilliant!!! 

I enjoyed a lomo (pork loin) boccy, which was served in warm crusty bread, spread with tomatoey garlicy olive oily stuff that went really well with the pork.  

To top it all there was a fabulous view and warm sunshine ☀️
I just wish I could remember the name of the restaurant! 

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The Wine Cellar Bar & Bistro, Chelmsford 

I had a fantastic lunch today at The Wine Cellar in Chelmsford town centre.  

Hidden off the main road, down a little alley near the church, you wouldn’t immediately know it’s there. A slightly tricky climb down the narrow staircase brings you into a gorgeous quaint, cozy cellar.
I ordered a pulled pork panini from the extensive pick and mix sandwich menu, which is brilliant for people with allergies.  The panini was delicious and filled with BBQ sauce, caramelised onions and soft, meaty pulled pork. Mmm. 

I also ordered a portion of onion rings “for the table.” The chef made some special onion rings with lemonade batter as I’m allergic to the usual batter he uses (which has egg in the recipe). 

The waitress was attentive and completely understood my allergies.  If I’m ever back in Chelmsford I would definitely eat here again.  Highly recommended!! 

Tried and tested: Hemsley + Hemsley bean and bacon hash

I recently treated Mr Allergy and I to some new cooking books by Hemsley + Hemsley. 


The recipes always look so nice, and they’re good for you, so that ticks several boxes.  As with all recipe books I buy there are probably only about 30% of the recipes that I’m not allergic to, and others I can tweak. This particular brunch recipe didn’t need tweaking, so I thought I’d give it a go.


The best thing about this recipe is that there are no fussy or difficult to find ingredients. I either already had them at home or picked them up at Tesco.  It doesn’t take a huge amount of prep and is pretty quick to cook.

The ingredients suggest an onion or a leek, but I decided to use both to give it extra bulk and add one more of my 5 a day! Had a bit of an accident whilst chopping the onion but I can’t blame the Hemsley sisters for my own stupidity.  I can safely say I won’t be doing that again!


I used a small tin of chopped tomatoes, but next time I make this I probably won’t use them.  They tasted good, but they made the hash slightly soggy. I would prefer it a bit more bubble and squeak-like.

I was quite happy with the overall result though, and Mr Allergy was grateful for a filling, healthy meal after just having completed a middle distance triathlon. I’d say it’s a winner!

The Golden Lion, Winchester: A roaring success

I went out for lunch yesterday with my family.  My sister in law and I chose a pub just outside of Winchester with a really nice looking menu. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that the whole world and his dog would be out for lunch on the first Sunday of the school holidays and our choice of pub was fully booked.  My sister in law phoned around and managed to find a space at The Golden Lion in Winchester. 

At a glance the menu looked quite limited. The usual lunch menu wasn’t available on a Sunday, as the pub explained, they focus on roast dinners and don’t open up the whole kitchen.  I didn’t fancy a roast, so I thought I’d see what was on the Vegan menu.  My readers will know that I’m not Vegan, but being allergic to dairy, egg and fish, Vegan food can sometimes suit me, although I have to be aware of nuts. The menu is colour coded with little smiley faces, each colour corresponding to a different allergen, which is a novel idea, but no good if you have allergies and are colour blind like my brother! Some of the colours looked fairly similar on the paper, so I personally would have preferred symbols, words or letters. However, on the plus side this pub takes allergies very seriously.

I passed the Vegan menu around the table and two of us ended up ordering the olives and ciabatta with olive oil and balsamic dip as a starter. This was meant to be a dish for one, but there were so many olives that even with Mr Allergy’s help we couldn’t finish them all! There were three slices of fresh ciabatta, which was about right for one, but it could have done with a little bit more of the olive oil and balsamic dip. 

For my main course I decided to skip the meat (which is unusual for me, I like meat), and ordered the falafel burger in a pretzel bun. I’m not sure what made this a pretzel bun, it tasted just like any other bread but at least it wasn’t brioche. Everywhere I go now burgers seem to be served in brioche, but I noticed even on The Golden Lion’s standard menu they don’t use brioche, which gets the thumbs up from me (they also have a ‘skinny’ option with no bun, and a gluten free one).  

The falafel was absolutely delicious, it was bursting with fragrant herbs and the mango chutney worked really well with it (I wasn’t sure it would when I read the menu). 

The burger was definitely the star of the show flavour wise, but not wanting to be outdone, the chips were served  in a mini fryer and the side salad in a tiny colander.  This was quirky. The chips were easy to eat from the little metal basket, but there were far too many of them. The salad was pretty tricky to eat as I couldn’t cut the food in the little colander. In hindsight I probably should have tipped the salad onto the plate, but then what would have been the point of the colander? 

I was disappointed that the portions were so large, as there were three dessert options on the menu and I was looking forward to trying the millionaire’s shortbread, but I just couldn’t eat any more food!

This is clearly a pub that not only understands the law regarding allergens in food, but tries to make the choices offered as interesting as possible. I would recommend this pub, and suggest if you’re feeling adventurous like me, try the Vegan menu.  You might be surprised at how good it is! 

Hidden in plain sight: The Trading House, Gresham St

I walk along Gresham St in the City of London every day to get to the tube. I’ve probably noticed the unobtrusive sign or the menu moderately displayed on the wall.  But I’ve never really ‘noticed’ it.  In my quest for Allergy Girl friendly lunches I looked at several menus for bars and restaurants in the vicinity and my fellow eaters and I decided to give The Trading House a go.


Upon arrival my first impression is that the venue is quite dark. And there’s a step down almost immediately when you enter, so take care, especially if it’s a bright sunny day outside. The deco is interesting; probably what you would call Art Deco, with lots of tropical looking plants and the odd taxidermy zebra head on the wall. The feel is of a comfortable safari lodge from the 1920s/30s.  The building itself is magnificent, but really you’d expect nothing less nestled in between the Guildhall, St Lawrence Jewry and the London Central Courts. 

Following the usual question, the waitress swiftly arrived with the allergy menu. This was an A4 grid listing all of the menu items down one edge, the 14 major allergens listed along the top and a dot in each square of the grid signified that the allergen was present in the dish. Simples! 

The rest of the group were having starters (and I wouldn’t usually at lunchtime), so I chose one of the dishes from the ‘Nibbles’ section, pork crackling.  On arrival it was no ordinary dry bowl of pork fat. The portion was pretty big for a ‘nibble’, but I wouldn’t complain. The crackling was still slightly warm and topped with sliced green and red chillis. Alongside was a little dish of apple sauce, which was delicious. I pigged my way through the bowl of crackling, which left little room for my main. I could imagine this dish would be perfect for an after work snack with a beer or glass of wine, and would be perfect for sharing. You could order a few of the little nibbles and pick at them throughout the evening.

Sticking with the picky things theme I decided on the deli board for my main. This was approximately £11 and you could choose any four items from a choice of vegetables, cold meat, cheese and warm dishes.  This comes with an individual fougasse bread (which I had to Google, it’s a traditional French bread). I went for the hommous, roasted red and yellow peppers, lamb meatballs and honey roasted ham. 

The fougasse bread was delicious, particularly when dunked in the fresh, garlicky hommous.  The peppers were slightly blackened and drizzled in olive oil, which was the perfect pair for the hommous.  The lamb meatballs were almost cold when they arrived but the staff quickly swapped them and were extremely apologetic.  They came in a tomato and bean sauce which had a nice smoky, spicy kick to offset the garlic and oil from the other two dishes. With hindsight the ham didn’t work with the rest of it, and olives or prosciutto probably would have been a better combination. 

Unfortunately there were no dishes on the dessert menu that were Allergy Girl friendly, they all featured milk or eggs. Had I had room in my tummy for more food I might have been disappointed but I couldn’t have fit any more food in if I’d tried.  I ordered a chai tea instead to finish off my meal, and it was the perfect finish. 

I would highly recommend this restaurant for people with allergies and I’m certainly looking forward to finding another excuse to visit. Perhaps next time I’ll go for one of the speciality kebabs or half roasted chicken. My only criticism is that the allergy menu isn’t currently available online. 

Panfried chorizo on sourdough toast

Lunchtime.  Lunches can be terribly boring for someone with allergies.  The choices are generally very limited. Soggy salad? Dry sandwich? Not for Allergy Girl!  This is a great weekend treat (and a firm favourite of Mr Allergy).

I first tried this one sunny June day.  Having just completed the Portsmouth Sprint Triathlon in my best ever time (still a snail’s pace, but I tell myself it’s because I only have little legs), I fancied something substantial to eat.  Somehow we stumbled across chorizo on toast, and it was a revelation.

Mr Allergy and I love chorizo. It’s a major food group in the Allergy household. It goes with everything and improves everything it touches (apart from white clothing, this should be avoided at all cost). 

Here is my take on the fabulous post-Triathlon dish that changed my world. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

(Serves 2) 

Approx 1/3 chorizo ring, thinly sliced lengthwise (note some chorizo uses milk in the recipe so check the ingredients if you need it to be dairy free)

1-2 chargrilled red peppers (piquillo or similar from a jar), thinly sliced

Olive oil

1-2 handfuls rocket

Sourdough loaf 

Method 

  1. Heat a frying pan and fry the chorizo until browned. You shouldn’t need to use oil as the chorizo usually kicks out lots of oil. If you do need oil, olive oil is my oil of choice,
  2. While the chorizo is cooking, slice and toast your sourdough. I do this in the toaster on a low-medium setting.
  3. One the toast is ready, assemble your masterpiece. I like to put the chorizo on first, next add the peppers and top with the rocket.
  4. Drizzle the chorizo oil from the pan over the top of the rocket and serve.
  5. Add olive oil or your favourite condiment. It works well with chilli and garlic oil, or garlic mayonnaise for those that can eat mayonnaise. 
  6. Enjoy!!