Friday, 29 May 2015

Orlando Supermarket Haul 2015

We are lucky that within 5 mins of our villa we have a Publix Supermarket (think Morrisons), a Huge Walmart (think Tesco Extra) and 10 minutes away a Super Target (cross between Asda & Sainsburys). 
We always go shopping on our first morning to stock up the fridge. We don't eat in the villa all the time but we like to have liquids, snacks and a few meal options on hand. This year we did the main shop at Publix and then got a few remaining bits from Walmart. 

Everything is very well labelled in the USA but I do find it harder to find the free from products as they aren't always together and can be mixed in with normal items. The dairy free milks are easy to find in the chilled section. Don't expect to see many small cartons like we get in the UK, they are mainly the large family sized cartons. They have a lot more choice in types and flavours too. I liked that I could buy big cartons of Cashew milk that hasn't made it big in the UK yet.

They have a huge range of dairy free ice cream too. This photo was a section of one of the freezers, there was another shelf under these with more choices. They have the nut milk based ice cream plus the Lactaid which is their lactose free range.

Walmart did have a decent sized section of free from products but I did have to read the labels as like here they may be gluten free but doesn't mean they are free from everything else. 

These are a few specifically dairy, gluten & egg free products I purchased. I like the Amy's pizzas, the cashew milk was nice and creamy and I love the blueberry Vans waffles for a quick breakfast. The gluten free wraps were great too, they were just on a rack with normal wraps so luckily I spotted them. 

We visited Target a few days later and I found some nice items that I didn't see in Publix or Walmart. Some of these items were to bring home too. I really liked the junior mints (flattened poppets) they did have may contain dairy warning but I was fine.

These burritos were a great find as they were pretty good and a great little snack.

The chicken pot pie was also a nice find. The pastry was nice and crispy and the filling was tasty.

This wasn't a specific free from item but I thought I'd include it as I really enjoyed it. Edamame hummus is really good. 

This was our full shop from Walmart & Publix. Obviously some things aren't free from (ie husbands donuts) but there is plenty of food that is naturally "free from". I always get the Tostitos scoops with a big tub of salsa. yum!

I know some people go on holiday and never cook or venture into a supermarket but food shopping is definitely a highlight for me. I love seeing all the different products available although I always think that U.S. Supermarkets make ours look boring with the amount of different stuff they have. Or is it just because it's a novelty to me?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Virgin Atlantic Flight...Not Quite Right

This year we booked our flight to Orlando again with Virgin Atlantic. We made the booking online and due to only being able to pick one type of "Special Meal" I emailed the Special Assistance department to advise that I needed a Dairy, Egg and Gluten Free meal. I did the same last year and although it wasn't perfect it was worth doing. This year I had a reply to say that Dairy & Gluten wasn't a problem but they couldn't guarantee egg free. Fair enough, Egg is pretty easy to pick out so it didn't bother me too much. We flew from Manchester to Orlando.

In preparation for the flight I picked up some snacks that I could put in my hand luggage in a small cool bag. At least then I'd have something for the airport if need be and the plane. We ended up with a 4 hour delay so they came in handy although Virgin did supply us with £10 food vouchers so I used it to stock up with more snacks in Boots such as edamame, fruit jelly, carrot & hummus and crisps. One tip is make sure you eat any fruit and veg before you land as there are on the spot fines in America if you are found to be carrying fruit/veg into the country.

So the outbound flight didn't go quite as well as expected. I was served a "Nut Free" meal. After looking at it for a few minutes I asked the air steward if it was also classed as gluten free & dairy free as that's what I'd ordered. He wasn't sure so took it away. It contained a starter of salad, a main of stinky boiled veg and an apple crumble. Hmmm. He returned with it apologising but he'd checked and the starter & main were fine but he'd swapped the pudding for a "First Class" starter of Tomatoes & Mozzarella. At this point I was beyond pointing out that it had cheese on it so accepted it and gave it to my husband. It did look very nice but shame. Did I eat any of it? Except for a few salad leaves and carrots from the starter, no. I wasn't going to eat a bowl of boiled to death veg. Bleugh.

While everyone was being served afternoon tea I was given a tray of fruit. The steward said he'd added the banana and orange. He did ask me if I'd eaten enough and showed some concern. I cant eat oranges so I settled with the banana and picked out the grapes.

The return flight was slightly better although at first they couldn't find my meal. The steward offered to make me jacket potato but luckily they found my meal. I pointed out that I wasn't surprised as they'd messed my meal up coming out. He did seem quite concerned. Anyway this meal was a bit more substantial. I had a salad starter, a breast of chicken with rice and veg, a fruit salad and a rice cake. No egg to be seen so all was good.

Now breakfast time arrived. I didn't hold out much hope after last year. I was correct. Fair enough it was dairy and gluten free but it was Egg whites, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms (another thing I avoid). The worst part was I was served the same muffin that my husband was served even though it was written clearly on my meal Dairy & Gluten free. Fail! Needless to say I didn't eat any of it and my husband enjoyed two breakfasts. 

Virgin still have a way to go with their special meals and understanding of allergies. Some things are fine but others not. Surely it would be a lot easier for them to create one safe meal which avoids all the top allergens rather than trying to mix and match. There's so many free from suppliers out there that surely they could do a deal with a company to supply free from snacks. A company like Enjoy Life would be perfect. I love flying with Virgin but their special diet meals need some attention. Fingers crossed things get better in future. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Alnwick, Northumberland Eats!

This weekend we had a road trip up to Alnwick in Northumberland. It's well known for its fantastic castle (used in the first Harry Potter film for the broomstick lesson scene) and its contemporary gardens. 

We decided to go at pretty short notice so we were lucky to find accommodation for bank holiday weekend. We booked a Bed & Breakfast called Bow House. It's run by a lovely couple called David & Beverly. On my booking I noted that my breakfast needed to avoid Dairy, Egg & Gluten. I find its best to do this anywhere I stay so the owners have a bit of notice.

On arrival we were greeted by David who went through my intolerances and showed me everything he'd brought for breakfast. I never expect people to do anything special for me (I'm happy with bacon & grilled tomatoes) but when they do it's really nice and I appreciated the effort they've made. He left a carton of almond milk in the dining room fridge so I could access it when I needed. I had a full breakfast both mornings which was delicious. I had Bacon, Sausage, Grilled Tomatoes and Hash brown. It was steaming hot both mornings and really well cooked. Gluten free toast was also provided.

I'd highly recommend staying at Bow House not only from a special diets perspective, which they are more than willing to cater for (they also have a separate toaster and utensils for allergies Beverly told me) but the bedrooms are gorgeous and every little detail is perfect. It was one of the nicest B&B's we've stayed in and in a great location only a short walk from the main square, castle and gardens. 
You can find their website HERE.

Our first meal in Alnwick was at the Hogs Head Inn which is just off the A1 on the outskirts of Alnwick. They have a printed sheet showing all the allergens contained in every meal. This is also available to view on their website. The server also advised that items such as the fish & chips could also be made gluten free as they have the batter to do this. I chose the Grilled Gammon with pineapple salsa and chips. I must say its the best gammon I've had in a restaurant. It was really juicy, the salsa was really tasty and I loved the chips. 

Our second meal of the stay was lunch at Nood Food. It's just off the market square in Alnwick. It's not a big place but just right for lunch. They cover all sorts of diets and they believe in clean eating. I had a Buddhu Bowl which was Quinoa, 3 Bean Chilli, Peppers, Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach. My husband who does not have intolerances chose the Gluten Free Beer Battered Sea Bass. It came with sweet potato chips and peas. He enjoyed it.

Our B&B supplied a brand of tea in the rooms and for breakfast from Bari tea. We visited their local shop to buy some teas to take home. They have a huge selection of loose leaf teas. The tea shop also has a cafe area. I noticed they cater for gluten free diets and they had a gluten free and dairy free chocolate cake on display. 

If your looking for free from supplies in Alnwick the best shop to visit is A World of Difference. It's an ethical fair trade shop selling gifts etc but they had a full wall of free from supplies such as sauces, flours, savoury items and chocolate. They also had a fridge with dairy free cheeses and veggie products. I treated myself to some Booja Booja truffles and a Moo Free cranberry & hazelnut bar. 

There is a Morrison's store in the center of town and also a co-op express store on one of the main streets in town. These both had a small free from section with breads, milks, pasta, biscuits etc. not a huge selection but enough to get you by if needed.

While walking round the town I did notice that quite a few of the cafes and restaurants had signs in the windows advertising that they did Gluten Free items. I don't think you'd starve if you stayed in Alnwick. I didn't!

Its a lovely place to visit and i'd recommend exploring the castle and joining in on a broomstick lesson.