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!