Friday, June 27, 2008


Hi All....
As my company hits busy season I've had less and less free time in the evenings to post. Please accept my apologies. This weekend I'm having a college-reunion of sorts in Chicago. Upcoming reviews to expect in this column: Berry Chill, a lactose-free frozen yogurt shop! Taste of Chicago, the mammoth food festival that draws millions each year, Orange, a brunch restaurant in the city, and maybe even a review of my trip to the Chicago Green Market. It's a lot to squeeze in one weekend, but we're going to try to do it. I'm packing my comfy walking shoes and I'll check back in with you all on Monday!
Happy Eating,
Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Take me out to the ballgame...

Non-Allergic Husband (NAH - as I shall revert to in this blog because some confused people have no idea who Big Guy is. For that I apologize, he shall hereafter be referred to as NAH) surprised me on Monday with Phillies Tickets for the following night. So we raced home from work on Tuesday and made it to the Phillies/Reds game with about 5 min to spare.

I always finds baseball games interesting from an allergy point of view. Just about everything is labelled, but how much could I actually eat? The new Citizens Bank Park Stadium in Philadelphia offers a bevy of options, but I'm not exactly a cheesesteak kind of girl (which, yes, I know is sacrilegious, but they just can't stand my stomach, or vice versa). In my last couple of trips I have scouted out options, and I am pleased to report that I have successfully eaten the following:

A superpretzel

Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade

All-Beef hot dogs

Cotton Candy

It's a surprisingly small list, but given my previously acknowledged love of hot dogs, it works. Better yet, Tuesday was dollar dog night! I, of course, insist on getting the hot dogs from the stand where the sign says "all-beef hot dogs," even though somewhere in my head I have to acknowledge that they are the same hot dogs being sold at the stand next door (which does NOT say "all-beef"). It just tends to ease my nervousness. Or qualifies me to be a crazy person. The jury's still out.
Pat Burrell hit a two-run homer, Ken Griffey (Cincinnati Reds) pinch-hit (and was walked because there was no way Philadelphia was going to let him score his 600th home run on OUR turf), and we won the game! A sold-out crowd and a fantastic allergy-free "all-beef" hot dog evening.
Fast forward to this Friday night, when my company goes to a minor league baseball game. Even though we get bracelets to the picnic area as part of our tickets, I will insist on going to the stand and purchasing the hot dog from a place where the sign says "all-beef." Again, crazy, perhaps, but it's $3.00 that goes a long way towards easing my nerves and allowing me to enjoy my food. Besides, how do I know they're not feeding us the cheaper, filler-filled (can one say that?) hot dogs because it's an all you can eat picnic. I'd make that decision if I handled the food ordering for a stadium that ran this promotion. Ergo, I will purchase the food, despite the bracelet.
I will be away this weekend but returning next week with more fun-filled (not filler-filled) stories of my adventures in allergy land. Enjoy the warm weather,
Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ahh, Barbecue

As an allergic diner, I've never uttered the above words. Never. Please don't misunderstand, I love a good hot dog on the grill as much as the next person, but I can't exactly go gallivanting off in search of the best barbecued ribs, pulled pork, and fried chicken. I'm allergic, and yes, as its been pointed out many times, I know I'm missing out. I just can't exactly tell you what I'm missing out on.

Big guy, however, loves all things barbecue, especially fried chicken. He is to fried chicken what I am to stuffing! So when we got allergic fiance's NYC birthday invite that included this restaurant, Rack and Soul, he was ready to go.

Barbecue restaurants always worry me. So much risk for cross contamination. So much tomato and oil and spice everywhere. I was relieved to see that there was salad on the menu. Ah, salad. Safe, non-contaminated, and on one plate. When our party was seated, everyone started ordering off the good part of the menu, and I'll confess to feeling a little bit left out. Collard greens, black eyed peas, crawfish, chicken livers, macaroni and cheese, and home-style mashed potatoes, and that was just to start!. Big Guy had an order of fried chicken, and opted for the macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, figuring that if he was going to do it right, he was all in. I couldn't bring myself to order a salad to pick at amongst the plates of all this marvelous food, and thankfully, we weren't eating until 8 o' clock at night, so I had passed the hunger period (with a fairly large bag of skittles at the movie!).

Big Guy gave me his restaurant review in typical Big Guy fashion, "Very Good."

And that dear readers, sums up my olfactory experience at Rack and Soul.
~Your Allergic Diner

Monday, June 02, 2008

New Jersey and New York City in the span of 24 hours....

Well, the bad news is that there was no foray into the Cheesecake Factory.

The good news? My non-allergic friend found a sushi place in the area and we went there instead. I highly recommend Mikado (find menus and southern NJ locations through this link). The sushi was excellent, the atmosphere nice and peaceful, and the service attentive. It was wonderful and well worth the long drive! Unfortunately, this allergic diner did not care as much for the movie we saw, Sex & The City. I realize that I may be slaughtered by womankind for this, but it was just "ehh." Ah well, you win some you lose some.

So that was Friday night, and Saturday morning Big Guy and I were dragged out of bed by the alarm to make the train into NYC for allergic fiance's birthday party. We met both our friend and her allergic fiance at the Arte Cafe at 73 & Columbus. We were a little waterlogged. Hah. As we exited Penn Station a grumpy woman to our right remarked that she might as well be waiting in line for an ark! Nevertheless, we arrived, somewhat soggy, to the Arte Cafe, a place where we've eaten before and had spotless service and spot-on food. Not to mention excellent attention paid to allergic detail, of course.

This time was a little different. I'm a big fan of their pizza, and the chef usually makes one for me, sans seasoning, oil, and of course, tomato sauce. It's a wonderful brick-oven thin crust that has cheese, mushrooms, and garlic, and smells better than any garlic bread I've ever had. I was so very crushed when the waiter informed me, up front, that the chef could not accommodate any major special requests today, as he was incredibly busy. He was kind enough to go double check with the chef after I showed my med-alert bracelet, but came back saying "the chef apologizes, but he has already mixed the oil into the pizzas(?)"

Just when I thought the meal was ruined, and by ruined, I thought that there would be no food, so how could I indulge in their endless-mimosa brunch (?), our waiter came to my rescue. "Tell me what you're allergic to," he said, and I did. He pointed to a meal on the menu that was grilled chicken with a salad that has tomatoes. "I can get this for you without tomatoes," he said. "Great! And please tell them no oil, and no spice as well." And with that, we ordered our unlimited drinks and set about enjoying a wonderful occasion with good friends.

When the orders came, and we were all on our second drink, I had Big Guy taste test the chicken for me, because it looked like there was oil on it. There wasn't, and my salad was blissfully dressing free. Interestingly enough, the piece of grilled chicken had been flattened out to look as if it were a piece of pita bread, and the salad was on top of it (where's a camera when I need one?). It was positively delightful. They have fantastic berry muffins that they serve you in place of bread during brunch, and they were snapped up by our table at once. Big guy had eggs and toast, friend had a wonderful brick-oven pizza, allergic fiance had a panini sandwich, and I had my chicken and salad. All because a waiter took the time to help me. It was a wonderful start to the weekend!

~Yours in the quest for safe food,

The Allergic Diner