Cream tea or not cream tea, that is the question? 

I’ve spent the last week trying to organise a cream tea with friends.  This ought to be a straightforward task, but it has proven challenging to say the least!

I stumbled upon Gracie-Ann’s Tea Room whilst trying to find somewhere for lunch with the girls.  Located at Port Solent in Portsmouth I was excited to find a local small business amongst the chain restaurants that dominate Port Solent.  Situated on the first floor of The Trading Post, this little tea room has a lovely view of the marina. 

What really drew me to Gracie-Ann’s is that they advertise on their website that they cater for allergies. I previously contacted two other tea rooms in the area.  One said they couldn’t cater for me and the other didn’t even bother to respond.

I always like to discuss my allergies in advance with a new venue.  This gives the venue ample warning and gives me confidence in the venue. I initially contacted Gracie-Ann’s through their Facebook page, and they quickly responded asking me to call to discuss the booking.

I called the same day on my commute home, but found that my phone signal kept cutting out and the conversation just wasn’t working.  I was in and out of meetings and a round of telephone tennis ensued over the next few days, until I finally spoke to someone on the Friday to confirm my booking for the Saturday.  Five minutes later she called back to say that unfortunately the gluten and dairy free scones we’d discussed had an egg wash and they were unable to make just one eggless scone. I was disappointed but I thanked her for letting me know. Suddenly I heard another voice in the background and she announced that they could cater for me after all as the kitchen could do a Vegan scone! Excellent! I made my booking but made a backup plan just in case the Vegan scone wasn’t available.

I was thrilled that upon arrival the waiting staff had been prepped about my allergies and I was served the biggest fruit scone I’ve ever seen, with strawberry jam and dairy free spread on the side. The scone was warm and unctuous, and was washed down nicely with a pot of tea with soya milk. 

As an aside, Gracie-Ann’s also does a beautiful range of herbal/floral teas which look simply stunning, although these aren’t included in the cream tea.

I only have one criticism, which is that the tearoom was very noisy, to the point where I was struggling to hear my friends and was almost having to shout to be heard. I’m used to tearooms being quiet and peaceful places, but unfortunately there was a large hen party which increased the volume.

Will I go back? Definitely! 

If you’re looking to make your own Vegan scones, try this recipe that I found on Pinterest: Vegan Scones


Photo credit: Wallflower Kitchen 

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Tried and tested: Creative Nature Superfoods Raw Cacao flapjack 

Hooray!!! A raw energy bar that doesn’t have nuts in it!!! 

I found this little beauty at the counter of Vital Ingredient, and couldn’t resist trying it out.
I was feeling a little peckish before my kickboxing class yesterday so saw this as the perfect opportunity to try it.  

The texture is good. It’s not dry like some raw energy bars, which makes it easy to eat before and during exercise.  The cacao nibs give it a nice little crunch.  It’s not too sweet, as there is no added sugar, just the sweetness from the dates and cacao.  

I’d like to try this on a long run before I say for sure that’s it’s a good energy bar for me, but in terms of an Allergy Girl-friendly snack it ticks all the boxes! 

Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the bar itself, I’d already hoovered it up before I remembered to get a picture! 

Tried and tested: Itsu Coconut Crush

As someone that is ridiculously allergic to fish, egg and nuts, Itsu wouldn’t be my first choice for lunch. It seems that nearly everything they sell has salmon, egg or peanuts in it (apart from the Teriyaki chicken rice, which is delicious, must must be avoided when on a low carb diet).  This is a shame, as there is an Itsu right by my office, and the food always looks so fresh and tasty.

I happened to find myself mooching around my local branch one lunchtime, as I often like to see if there are any new Allergy Girl friendly options. A few items caught my eye, especially the Coconut Collaborative Little Chocolate Pots which I do like to indulge in from time to time.

Now, I don’t usually venture near to the counter unless I’ve committed to purchasing something.  There are always these interesting looking items to tempt the purchaser to add to their order, but I never feel like I have the time to browse these items and check the ingredients, as there’s usually a queue of hangry (hungry/angry) people behind me. 

I was in luck and there was no queue, so I had a rummage through the treats on offer, and stumbled across this little green box.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the words “dairy free” and “Vegan.”  My expectations were low as I assumed this would mean there were nuts in the recipe – a lot of Vegan recipes use nut butters or almond flour.  I picked up the little box and scanned the ingredients on the back.  No nuts!! Yay!!!


As per usual I waited until my train ride home to test this little morsel. I like the packaging, it perfectly shows off the chocolate inside and (for someone who isn’t often allowed to eat nice things) feels like a gift boxed treat. 

The packaging is easy to open, but getting the chocolate out wasn’t the easiest feat. If I had a napkin or plate it would be fine, but trying to avoid dropping it on the scummy plastic tray table on the commuter train was tricky, as the chocolate was slightly melted, and the filling wasn’t that firm. It was a warm day, and it wasn’t kept in the fridge (although Itsu don’t display them in the fridge, so one would assume they don’t need refrigeration).  If I purchased this again I’d definitely keep it in the fridge instead of my handbag. 

The chocolate is nice, just a thin layer that isn’t too bitter or too sweet. The coconut matcha filling is soft and slightly creamy, which is nice as desiccated coconut can often be too dry and crumbly.  I’m not sure if the matcha gives mucha to the flavour, but it’s supposed to be good for me, so I won’t complain.  

At around £2 a portion (depending on whether you buy in store or have it delivered) this is possibly slightly overpriced.  Compared to the Protein Haus Vegan Bounty bar I tried a few weeks ago it is better value for money (but does contain more sugar, so if you’re avoiding sugar I’d go for the Protein Haus one). 

In terms of a convenient, healthy(ish) snack, this is a winner. Will I buy it again?  Definitely!! 

Tried and tested: Ombar Centres Coconut and Vanilla

Growing up, my earliest memory of dairy free chocolate was a carob Easter egg that my mum bought at Holland and Barrett. It was nice, but very plain compared with the fabulous Cadbury’s and Nestle eggs I saw in the shops.  At Christmas, Allergy Boy and I would hunt through the tin of Roses trying to find the Bournevilles, which we didn’t really like (they were too bitter), but ate anyway because we didn’t want to be left out.

When we got a little bit older we found that we could eat After Eights and Fry’s Peppermint Cream, so it was lucky we liked mint! 

Dairy free chocolate has come on leaps and bounds since the 1980s.  Dark chocolate has never been more popular, and with the recent craze for clean eating and raw foods, cacao and coconut milk are adding another dimension to my chocolate experience (not to mention inches to my waistline)!

Grabbing a dairy free salad-to-go from Vital Ingredient in Trump St, City of London, I couldn’t resist trying one of these Ombars.  Dairy free, no refined sugar, raw chocolate, coconut and vanilla, no nuts – perfect for Allergy Girl!


So I’m sat on my commute home trying to forget about the inconvenience of the Waterloo upgrade by testing this little chocolate bar, and it’s a dream! 

It’s been in my bag, so it’s a bit squidgy to touch and probably could have done with spending some time in the fridge, but that doesn’t deter me. I break off a chunk and find a gooey, creamy centre. On first appearance the centre doesn’t seem overly generous but it’s so rich and creamy that it’s plenty.


The chocolate itself is creamy, the coconut flavour not overpowering as it can sometimes be.  The hint of vanilla comes through, but if I didn’t know it was there I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you it was vanilla.  That aside, I can’t complain other than to say damn you Ombar, I could be easily tempted to go back for more! 

P.s. While writing this I discovered that Ombar autocorrects to zombie on my iPhone! 

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!