Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Tesco - The Lifestyle Food Fair

I'd not planned on doing any other blogs until my USA posts had finished but I don't want people to miss out on the fantastic thing that is the Tesco Lifestyle Food Fair.

It took me by surprise yesterday as I only found out about it because I was looking for a product that was being stocked only in certain Tesco stores. 

I'd seen BFree tweet that they were stocking more of their range in certain Tesco stores around the UK. I love the BFree wraps and I'd seen that they also did bagels that were dairy, gluten and egg free. Their other items (except the wraps) contain eggs so no good for me. The thought of a toasted bagel made me want to hunt them down.

The closest Tesco stocking the new products to me was the a Tesco Extra in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Off I went. It's a bit of a drive away and not my usual branch so I wasn't used to its lay out.  On spotting a FreeFrom sign on one of the aisles I headed over. Much to my surprise (with slight shock) and then excitement I realised that the whole aisle was filled with freefrom food. Even more to my surprise there were brands that I'd been buying in the usa which I've never seen stocked in the uk.

I found myself stood in front of shelves containing Enjoy Life products, these are free from the top 8 allergens and very popular in the usa. On another section were Earth Balance products, again very popular in the usa for vegans and gluten free. Unfortunately none of my beloved cheesy puffs on the shelves but seeing those brands made me happy enough. 

It turns out that from 2nd June 2014 to 31st August 2014 The Lifestyle Food Fair has been launched in 77 stores across the UK. I was lucky to find this just because I was searching for bagels. The aisle was full of different brands and products. I'd never seen so much freefrom food in a UK supermarket. It really was exciting. It looked like they were still waiting for some of the stock to come in as there were some empty spaces with labels but non the less it was an epic selection. 

I just hope it proves popular and they decide to keep all the brands permanently. It would be horrible to enjoy all these amazing choices and then have it taken away from us. 

Please comment below if a Tesco in your area is taking part to help others locate and spread the word.

 Just I case you were wondering I found the BFree bagels and they are bloomin fantastic. They are so like the real thing, you would not tell the difference!

Hope you find one of these Tesco stores and enjoy!!

Enjoy Life Selection with places for more!
Earth Balance Selection again with places for more

My goodies 
half way down the aisle

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Suitcase Haul USA Eats

So I traveled to Orlando with 2 1/2 suitcases and come back with 4! Oops!
Travelling in Premium Economy works to my advantage as we are allowed two suitcases each. The last few years we've been to America we have taken one suitcase each then brought a cheap hold all type case from Walmart for around $20 to bring back. This year we decided to take the two bags we'd previously brought in our luggage so we could reuse them. 

When I go to America I not only like to eat as much freefrom stuff as I can while I'm there but I also like to bring as many of my favourites back as I can. This takes a bit of clever packing to get things back in one piece. Before I go on to what I brought back here's a few ways I transport things home. 

I make sure everything is wrapped in two carrier bags (I save these from all our shopping trips during the holiday). Things that can be packed in the suitcase that aren't too fragile I wrap in clothes or put between layers of clothes. I've successfully brought a bottle of sweet tea vodka and a carton of cashew milk back by using extra carrier bags and ensured they were in the middle of a well packed suitcase with study sides. Do this at your own risk though. I like to take with me a small insulated cool bag as I always bring back items that need to be kept cool. I fill this with my purchases and add in some freezer packs (brought from Walmart). Again I wrap all in a carrier in case of any leakages. Up to yet I've had no problems doing it this way. Anything more delicate I put in my hand luggage as long as the airline allow it (mainly crisps).

My two small cool bags and freezer packs

Suitcase Haul

So above is this years haul:

1. Chex cereal quickly became a favourite. The cinnamon ones were amazing so I brought home a few other flavours too to try. They are rice based. More GF/DF/EF cereals needed in UK!
2. Earth Balance Cheese Puffs. My all time favourite American crisps. They are just like Wotsits but gluten free and dairyfree, win!
3. Bobs Red Mill, I actually brought the pancake mix to use while there but didn't get round to it so brought it back along with a pizza base mix to try. 
4. Enjoy Life soft baked cookies. I tried the chocolate ones while I was there and loved them so brought back a pack of Choc and Ginger to try. Recently found these in Tesco on the Lifestyle Aisle if you'd like to try.
5. Lucy's Lemon cookies. I loved these so had to stock up. Lucy's are available in the UK wholefoods stores.
6. K-Toos are my favourite Oreo alternative. They are dairy, egg and gluten free and yummy.
7. Justin's Peanut Butter cups. These are the dark ones as they contain no dairy. I found these in Wholefoods. They are a great Reece's alternative. 
8. Daiya. This is my favourite dairyfree cheese but sadly it's only available in America. I actually brought back double of what's in the photo. This is what I pack in my cool bag with ice packs. It is amazing. It melts and stretches just like proper cheese and has a great taste. They also have some cream cheese spreads and a selection of frozen pizzas (I would have brought those back if I could). No trip to America is complete without a stash of Daiya. 
9. So Delicious Cashew milk. I tried this while there and I loved it. It was a fab cocktail base too with iced cake vodka and a drop of cookies & cream milkshake flavouring. 
10. I found a few other items to bring home that happen to be free from everything I have to avoid. One being a chocolate mint whipped peanut butter. It's a limited edition that I found in Walmart. I found little bottles of milkshake flavourings and ice tea flavourings to use in drinks. The token American sweets, on this occasion Laffy Taffy and grape ice cube chewing gum. Two squeezy tubs of grape jelly (jam) and some cold brew Twinnings iced teas which I found at Epcot in the British shop (unfortunately not available in Britain tho!)

I could have brought home a lot more but I didn't have the space. Boo! 
As I always say, America have an amazing selection of foods for special diets. I think they have a lot bigger range than the UK. I hope more of their brands make it over to the UK because everyone would love them. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Virgin Premium Economy Flight

After spending 16 days in glorious Florida it was time for our flight home. Boo!

I knew I had to try and eat at least one proper meal before our flight just in case I had to rely on snacks until I got home. As I said in my previous post about Cookes of Dublin, We decided to stop at Downtown Disney to grab a quick scallop & chips take away on the way to the airport. That was me happy. I'd also baked a Daiya pizza while still at the villa and sliced it up to put in my bag Incas I needed a quick safe snack.

Flying home we were in the Premium Economy cabin. After a pretty good experience in Upper Class on our flight out I was interested to see how Premium Economy differed. As I said in my first post, I'd notified Virgin Special Assistance of my intolerance's before flying and they'd noted it on my booking. 

Early on in the flight we were served an evening meal. I was more than pleased that they had remembered my details and I was given a tray with my meal marked with my name and Dairy, Egg and Gluten free. I received a rice cake instead of bread. It was just a plain one with a small tub of butter alternative. I received a leafy salad with some lemon oil dressing for my starter. It was ok as far as lettuce and a tomato goes. My main course was lemon chicken with rice and veg. I was happy with this, nothing special but tasted nice and was filling enough. For dessert I was back to a fruit salad. Yes boring but again safe and filled a little sweet hole. Over all I was happy enough with what I was given. 

Towards the end of the flight we were served breakfast. I didn't quite have a positive experience with this. I was served a Gluten Free meal and possibly Dairy Free (it wasn't marked like my earlier meal) but I think it also covered vegetarian as it was Scrambled Egg (no good for me), Spinach, Beans and tomato. It also came with a mini muffin which was identical to my husbands so definitely not gluten, dairy or egg free. I obviously couldn't risk touching any of this and luckily wasn't hungry anyway so my husband was happy with an extra meal. He actually enjoyed it. 

I'd say the quality of the meals in Upper Class were definitely better which would be expected. I found the service was friendlier and more understanding too in upper class but maybe that was just down to the different cabin crew. The ones on the way back back didn't seem as approachable. 

Both main meals in both classes were tasty and filling. It's just a shame that the 2nd part of the dining later in the flights seemed to slip in both classes. Lucky for me it is just an intolerance and yes it wouldn't be nice to eat something I shouldn't and it would make me ill but for allergy sufferers you'd need to have your whits about you and ask questions if need be. The original email i received from the special assistance dept did say that anyone with serious allergies that required an epi pen should contact them further. Singular allergies/intolerance's would probably be fine but multiple foods seem to be a bit more difficult for them to cater for.

Overall though I was really impressed with Virgins service and the effort they did make to accommodate my intolerance's. I would 100% travel with them again. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Victoria & Alberts at The Grand Floridian

We decided to book a special meal for our last evening in Orlando. It was also a late wedding anniversary present to ourselves. 

As Disney do special diets so well we decided to book their best restaurant Victoria & Albert's at the lovely Grand Floridian hotel.

I booked this meal a few months before we actually travelled as Disney restaurants do tend to get fully booked quite far in advance. I did it over the Disney website and again you can point out food allergies/intolerance's. I did email the Special Diets department too to double check that they'd be able to cater for all the foods I have to avoid (mainly Dairy, Egg, Gluten, Strawberries, Coconut & Mushrooms). It wasn't a problem.  

A few days before our reservation I was contacted by the restaurant to double check everything I had to avoid. They were very thorough in finding out exactly what I needed to avoid which was very promising. 

So on the night of the meal we got suited and booted (men must wear trousers & jacket and ladies a nice dress or trouser suit) and headed off to the Grand Floridian. The booking included valet parking so we were greeted in the hotel foyer and our car parked for us. Very posh. We walked through the beautiful hotel and upstairs to the restaurant where we were greeted by the receptionist. 

The restaurant was lovely, nicely lit with a harpist playing in the corner. We had two servers who looked after us for the evening. One of the servers said the chef was very excited to be cooking for us and he had a few surprises planned. How nice. We were offered the "water menu", well, I only thought there were two types of water! Still and sparkling, apparently not! Haha. 

The server handed us our personalised menu's with our names, Happy 2nd Anniversary and date printed on the top (nice touch). My menu had been tailored to cater for all my intolerance's. I had never seen so much choice. We were having the 7 course menu which I think is standard. The server explained every single option including a description of the meal and ingredients. Every single thing on the menu sounded devine, it was a hard choice. 

So here we go...

Course 1. Amuse Bouche. We did not choose this course, the chef had created it as a surprise.
It was a delicious Salmon dish which I think was slightly Asian inspired. 

Course 2. I chose Pintade Fermiere Verrine with Fuji Apples and Walnuts. 
This was pheasant in various ways with amazing sweet apple sauces. Delicious. 

Course 3. Marine Scallop with Snow Peas
Need I say anymore, I was obsessed with scallops on this holiday so this choice was a no brainer for me. Gorgeous.

Course 4. Palmetto Farms Quail with Asian Pears
The other option for this course was Berkshire Pork, I'd not gone all the way to America to eat British meat so we both chose the Quail. My dish did slightly vary from my husbands but was equally delicious . The quail had a lovely filling with nice crunchy vegetables. 

Up until this course my husband had been served various types of bread and butters. The server was very apologetic that the bread they usually serve special diets contained egg. It was not a problem to me as I'd got to eat 7 courses without filling up too much. To my surprise the chef had decided to create a rice based roll and served it with the most flavoursome olive oil. It was so nice. The bread was warm, slightly sweet and had a bit of pepperiness. Yum!

Course 5. Roasted Duck with Fennel and Leeks
The duck was so succulent and everything on the plate was so so tasty. The fennel and leeks were really nice with the duck and sweet potato balls.

Course 6. Tasting of Sorbet.
Wow! I was served three sorbets, Blueberry & Tea, Passion fruit and Guava with an apple crisp. They were amazing. 

Course 7. Mixed Berry Gateau
As most allergy people know, dessert can sometimes be a let down, especially as you get used to being served endless fruit salads. This dessert was the total opposite. The chef had taken the time to create a special Gateau and it was amazing. It was a sponge layered with berry jam and fruits and encased in a delicate chocolate swirl and served with berries. It was Devine. Best dairy, egg and gluten free dessert I've ever been served. 

After the meal we were served tea and coffee. I chose a mint and chamomile tea. It was brewed in a really quirky way. Apparently these contraptions were designed especially for queen Victoria. They were mesmerising to watch. As the water heats it travels from the bottom glass to the top where it percolates the tea or coffee. Once the heat is removed it all trickles back down into the bottom flask to be served. 

We thought the meal had ended when we were served a final treat. My husband was served a plate of handmade chocolates and I was served some hand made jellies. I was also given a beautiful fresh red rose. 

At the end of the meal you are presented with a gift bag containing a printed copy of your menu. They had also gone to the trouble of arranging an anniversary gift for us which was a lemon and poppy seed loaf cake from Babycakes Bakery. How amazing is that. 

The whole experience was amazing. The staff were so helpful, friendly and knowledgeable about all the food they serve. The chefs are very very talented which shows in the high quality meals they serve. It truly was a fantastic night. For a special occasion or even just a treat I would highly recommend dining at Victoria & Albert's. It's not cheap but it was worth every single penny.

It was the best meal I have EVER eaten. Absolutely delicious and each course was a taste sensation.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Busch Gardens

I'd never been over to Busch Gardens so food wise I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd read on their website that the best place to caters for special diets was the Crown Colony House. Downstairs is a quick service area although with massive queues it would hardly have been quick! I did notice stands near the tills full with the GF To Go packs the same as Discovery Cove. 

We decided to head upstairs to the waiter service restaurant. It was a nicer atmosphere and away from the hustle & bustle downstairs. The outside balcony had nice views over the park. On reception were some Allergy Cards. You filled out the cards with your details and then pass it onto the server. This was then passed onto the chef to ensure everyone was aware of your dietary needs. I asked the server if it was possible to have the garden salad with chicken and no dressing. He said he'd check with the chef just to make sure the chicken had nothing in it I couldn't eat. Few minutes later another server came out to confirm the chicken would be fine and offered to add a raspberry dressing to my salad which was safe. Yes please! It was a lovely salad and the dressing was great (I've even recreated it at home). It wasn't a bad price and again it was a great meal. I thought the allergy cards were a great idea too. Sometimes it's easier to write things down in plain English rather than have to explain to everyone. The servers seemed very cluded up on special diets too which is always reassuring. This park also has stands selling the rainbow Ice dippin dots for a nice ice cold treat.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Epcot Eats

We spent one afternoon at Disneys Epcot park. We found ourselves in the Land Pavillion as we'd just riden Soarin and felt ready for some late lunch. Within the Land Pavillion is Sunshine Seasons quick service kiosks. There are a number of different counters selling alsorts of different foods. This was great as my husband could choose anything he wanted and I could find something to suit myself. I went off to the Grill counter. I asked the server which options were Dairy & Gluten free and she called out the chef to confirm. The only thing I couldnt have was the mashed potato and some buttered vegetables. I chose the grilled chicken with rice and bbq sauce. It was a great sized portion, the chicken was really succulent and it was a really tasty meal. You can also find a display with a small selection of free from snacks in Sunshine Seasons. I noticed they had the boxes of Enjoy Life cookies and brownies. 

I must say compared to theme park meals in the uk and even Disneyland Paris the Disney parks in Orlando serve great value food with generous portions. We didn't feel ripped off like you sometimes do in uk parks. 

Thumbs up! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Babycakes...Animal Kingdom

I was really sad to hear a few moths before our holiday that the Babycakes store at Downtown Disney would be closing. This was down to re-imaging works taking place to create the new Disney Springs area. For the last few years I've visited Babycakes to get my cupcake and donut fix. Their bakes are all Glutenfree and Vegan so they were a perfect treat. 

Babycakes items can still be found at certain locations around Disney. Here is the list on their website

I was lucky enough to be having a morning at Animal Kingdom this year so I had my fingers crossed that I'd be able to get a donut. 

Animal Kingdom it's self it pretty great for food allergies. It has a special diets kiosk in the park called the Gardens Kiosk. Here you can get information on where to eat safely at various restaurants/quick service locations throughout the park. It also stocks a good selection of free from snacks. These snacks include Babycakes donuts yay! 

I chose a cinnamon sugar donut which was very nice :) yum!!

I hope in future Babycakes will have another store located somewhere in Disney as they have so much to offer allergy sufferers. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Cookes of Dublin

After visiting Raglan Road I knew I had to get my scallop fix again. This time we decided to try Cookes of Dublin which is joined to Raglan Road. This is a take away (there are tables inside and out to eat at) rather than a waiter service restaurant. Cookes of Dublin do a number of Gluten & Dairy free battered items such as Scallops, Fish, Prawns (shrimps) and onion rings. When ordering at the counter I asked the cashier for GF/DF/EF scallops. No problem. Everything is cooked to order so there was a 5-10 minute wait for our food but at least you know it's going to be served fresh and hot. 

I received 5 big white juicy scallops served with a nice size portion of chips and the yummy chilli jam. They were perfect. I still couldn't get over how big their scallops are in America. 

We actually also stopped off at Downtown Disney on our way to the airport for our flight home so we could have them for the last time. We should have renamed it Scallop Sunday as all 3 Sundays we were in Orlando we ate scallops. Yum!!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Wholefoods Orlando Haul

Hands down one of my favourite stores to shop at. I love them in England, although I can only visit when in London,  but they are extra epic in America. So many different brands and options for special diets. I could spend hours looking round quite easily. We went to the Wholefoods on Turkey Lake Road, Orlando. 

I had a few items on my list that I had to buy. I was re-united with Earth Balance cheese puffs which are (in my opinion) a dairyfree version of Wotsits, yum! I found a different Amy's Pizza which was bigger in size and Spinach flavoured. I really liked this and my husband (a "normal" pizza eater) thought it was tasty too. I found the new Daiya brand pizzas. These are also free from Dairy, Egg and Gluten. I chose the fire roasted vegetable one which was super good. We seriously need more dairyfree pizza options in the UK. I got a few sweet snacks, old favourites and new. I also spotted the So Delicious Cashew Milk which I was really excited to try as I love cashews. It was a lovely creamy milk. I actually used it in a cocktail with iced cake vodka and some cookies & cream milkshake flavoring. Yum! 

I did have to restrain myself as there was only so much frozen stuff we could store and eat while there. I'm happy I got the things I'd been looking at on the internet for months and months drooling. 

I did miss off the Piping Gourmet Whoopie pies as they were in the freezer. I was really impressed with them. I chose the chocolate mint ones which were really really nice. I ate mine straight from the freezer which was great as it was like a cakey ice cream sandwich. They can be defrosted too before eating. I hope they make it over to the uk as I think they'd sell really well in the free from community. 


Friday, 6 June 2014

Splitsville Eats

We'd booked to go bowling and eat at Splitsville Lanes which is located at Downtown Disney. I'd seen their menu online which is clearly marked with Gluten Free options (there's a lot) so all I had to do was check for Dairy & Egg too. The server was really helpful and double checked with the chef that my choice would be suitable.

We shared some Edamame for starters which are usually always a safe bet as they are steamed or boiled. 

For main course I chose the Fiesta Chicken Bowl.  Great choice as it was delicious. A generous amount of sticky sushi rice topped with chicken in a sweet sticky tataki sauce with "fiesta" veggies and topped with avocado. It was a huge portion so really good value and very filling :) 

You can see the menu here
Splitsville Orlando Menu

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Fast Food Eats

It's not always easy to find fast food that suits multiple food intolerances.

My favourite fast food in America is Chick-Fil-A. There's a few options (their website lists all ingredients & allergens) but I'm quite happy having their grilled chicken nuggets and waffle fries. Dipped in their Polynesian sauce they are a tasty DF/EF/GF treat. 


"Beignet synonymous with the English "fritter", is the French term for a pastry made from deep fried choux paste" Wikipedia 

Yes, I didn't have a clue what they were either but I knew I had to try them. I'd read about them on the GF & DF in WDW blog and knew I had to have them while I was in Orlando. 

You can find these beauties at the Disney Port Orleans resort in the Sassagoula Floatworks Dining court. Ordering them was easy, I just asked the sever at the bakery counter if I could order allergy free beignets (pronounced ben-yay) and they called over the chef. He filled in the little yellow allergy note and went off to create awesomeness. I was given a pager for when they were ready. At around $3 they were a bargain. 

They are like a hot steaming sugary pillow of deliciousness. A cross between pastry and doughnut with a hollow inside. It did cross my mind at one point that they would be even more amazing dipped in melted chocolate. They were that good that we went back the following week for more :) 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Mickey Waffles

Disney World is the best at catering for food allergies and they make sure that no one misses out.

One of my favourite things to do is book in at one of the Disney hotels to have Allergy Free Mickey Waffles. You don't have to be a guest at the hotel to do this. I book online and pick the date and time we want to visit. Within the booking you can also specify your food allergies.

We like to have breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe. On arrival you check in at the desk and are shown to your table. They print out your booking which clearly shows that someone has a food allergy. When seated the server lets the chef know, who then visits you at your table.

I told him what I needed to avoid (Dairy, Egg & Wheat) but on this occasion I knew I wanted the Mickey waffles so he didn't have chance to run through my options. I made it quick and easy. 

The chef fills in a little yellow slip with your allergies which he takes back to the kitchen. The food is then brought out with a little wooden stick printed with Allergy.

The Mickey waffles are amazing served with bacon and maple syrup. It's lovely to be able to eat proper American breakfasts like everyone else. They are very filling and I normally end up taking one away with me to snack on later ;) 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Discovery Cove Eats

Discovery Cove is one of our favourite places to visit in Orlando. The last few years they have been great with food allergies so I knew I wouldn't miss out. 

As your day pass is all inclusive you are served breakfast on arrival, lunch and snacks anytime during the day.

For breakfast I wasn't too hungry so I just selected a fruit bowl and apple juice which I didn't need to check ingredients on.

You are advised to go straight to a server at the end of the queue to request any allergy free food. For lunch I spoke to a sever who brought out the chef. He explained to me what options I had. I chose to have pulled pork and fries. He personally went off to prepare my meal and appeared shortly after with a plate full of pork & fries and he'd also put on my tray a few snack boxes which contain allergy free snacks. I always think these are a great idea and they are free of the top 8 allergens. Dinner was really tasty and hit the spot. 

The various snack bars throughout the park had signs saying "gluten free snacks available on request". These again were the Gluten Free "To Go" boxes. They also had some packets of crisps (chips) which were GF/ DF too. 

All in all I was really impressed with how they dealt with food allergies and knew I was in safe hands. 

Thumbs up to Discovery Cove :) 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Raglan Road - Downtown Disney

After reading amazing reviews from GF & DF in Walt Disney World and GF in Orlando  I knew I had to visit Raglan Road. I also knew I had to have the Scallop Forest and Fish & Chips. We had a lovely waiter called Kevin who asked if anyone had any allergies...yep me! I told him I needed to avoid Dairy, Egg and Gluten and his reply was "no problem" he just had to check about some of the sauces. I was quite happy to skip the sauces though. 

The Scallop Forest arrived with a Sweet Chilli Jam. Oh my gosh, I was soooo excited. The huge juicy scallops had been deep fried in a GF, DF, EF batter. They are definetly the best fried food I have ever eaten. The chilli jam made them extra yummy. Nom!

My main was the Fish and Chips. A big piece of white flakey fish again deep Fried in the same batter and served with yummy chips and a wedge of lemon. Mm mm mmmmm :)

I think I declared to my husband that this was my new fave restaurant. The helpful friendly staff and the amazing food made the meal a great experience. 

If your in Orlando near Downtown Disney it's worth a visit. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Supermarket finds

While in in America I love going to the local supermarkets. The ones closest to our villa are the Walmart Supercentre and reasonable sized Publix. Walmart has a small Gluten Free section which has some stuff that covers my other intolerances too. Publix has a slightly bigger area with all their freefrom and healthier option foods. I like to have a supply of snacks and breakfast foods for when we spend time in the villa or for before or after our days out. I love the Vans blueberry waffles which I've brought the last few years too. I buy a packet of Bobs Red Mill pancake mix just in case we fancy some pancakes. The cartons of dairyfree milk are a lot bigger than ours (as is everything in America) and they seem to have more choice of flavours and types. I opted for the vanilla Rice Dream. I love the Amy's GF & DF pizzas, they sell them at publix which is really handy. This year I tried the Enjoy Life soft baked brownie cookies which I loved. They sell them in some of the parks too. I also discovered on the huge cereal isle Chex. They had 4-5 different flavours in the Gluten Free range. The cinnamon chex are amazing. I love America :)
A few bits from Walmart & Publix