Thursday, October 06, 2011

Allergic Travel

So, yes, I might have mentioned in a previous post that NAH kicks some sense into me every now and again. Our upcoming anniversary trip to Washington is a big deal, and well, to be frank, I just don't want to spend it worried about anything. It's been a long time since we were able to go away together.

Yes, he told me everything would be fine. I just have this (OCD) need to ensure that. A few days ago, my college roommate (we're meeting her for lunch on Columbus Day before we head home) selected Ted's Bulletin on Capitol Hill as a lunch spot for us to get together. To be fair, she originally picked Founding Farmers, but their menu didn't leave me with a lot of comfort (everything was buttermilk this and seasoned tomato that--yikes!). I love this woman. Didn't have to explain more than that it didn't appear terribly me-friendly, and within seconds, the menu for Ted's was in my inbox. It's classic American food, has great reviews, and looks to be a good dining experience. However, I wasn't satisfied.

Therefore, I did what I always encourage you to do, my allergic readers: I contacted them. To be fair, the menu looked safe enough that I knew I could show up and eat something, but why settle for only one or two options? I sent an email through their website informing them of my allergies and asking if it was safe for me to order off of their breakfast menu. I worry incessantly about the olive oil problem, because especially these days, it's in everything (no joke, even some cold cuts now). I didn't hear back, chalked it up to the upcoming holiday weekend and how busy restaurants in DC always are, and thought nothing more of it. I am Allergic Diner, warrior woman; I was going anyway. This morning, I received an e-mail from the EXECUTIVE CHEF informing me that none of their breakfast foods would be problematic for me, but to please not order anything in his restaurant that contained pasta or used salad dressing.

I almost jumped out of my chair in joy. An executive chef emailing little ole' me? Really? Wow. Just like that, a little of my travelling anxiety chipped away. I cannot wait to return and write a review of Ted's Bulletin for all of you. I feel like one of those NBC television spots. "Asking is half the battle....The More Your Know!"

Planning Ahead,
Allergic Diner

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Disney Dining Plan

Several months ago, the wife of one of NAH's friends (someone whom I would consider a friend), started beating me over the head with the idea suggesting that we should take a girls' trip to Disney. I buckled under the pressure, said yes, and we scheduled a last-minute trip to Disney World last month. To her credit, she found a GREAT deal, and we got a free dining plan. I was impressed, but equally nervous. In visits past, I've avoided the dining plan because I didn't want to order off of a set menu or have limitations placed on my already-narrow list of foods that are safe when travelling.
Well, I am here to report that I could not have been more wrong (feel like I'm saying this a lot on here recently). For one thing, you can eat anything on the menu when you're on the dining plan. She sent a list of my allergies to WDW, and they blasted it to all of the restaurants at which she had made reservations for us (I had perused to read menus and give her a list of Allergic-Diner safe places to eat). I was impressed. More so, every restaurant in which we ate acknowledged my allergies upon our arrival at the hostess stand, and every one sent the chef - that's right, the chef - out to talk to me to make sure I could eat...and I could!

I had three of the best meals I'd had in my life at the Captain's Grille at the Yacht Club Resort, Raglan Road in Downtown Disney, and the La Cellier Steakhouse in Canada. Their chefs were knowledgeable, and extremely friendly, and I am terribly grateful. I had a vacation where I was eating seafood, and steamed vegetables, not turkey sandwiches and hot dogs. In fact, I didn't eat one turkey sandwich THE ENTIRE TIME we were there! I also had good meals at the Sci-Fi Dine-In theater in Hollywood Studios (after having to repeat my allergies multiple times, but to the chef's credit, he introduced me to a salad dressing I'd never considered: lemon juice), and the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. I even got to hug Eeyore at the Crystal Palace. Crossing that off my bucket list!

Having said all of that, I have no idea how anyone eats in these restaurants without the dining plan. Our meals easily averaged $30-40/pp. Nuts! I realize I'm not a foodie, but that's just egregious by me. However, I ate healthy, and I was well taken care of, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Thank you Disney,
Allergic Diner

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thank you, Anonymous....

I posted a few days ago about an upcoming trip to DC and about my concern over not being able to find some allergy-friendly restaurants ahead of time. I reached out to you, my blogosphere, in the hopes that someone out there still would be reading after all these years and could point me in the right direction. Ask, and ye shall receive....

Thank you, Anonymous. Your recommendation of is a load off my mind. Of course, a little conversation with my darling husband last night that went a little something like this didn't hurt either:

I'm really concerned about our trip to DC. It's four days of restaurants and takeout and trusting waiters/chefs, etc., and I cannot seem to find allergy info for the city. This won't be like Disney, and I'm worried.

You do realize we went to school there for four years, right?

Yes, but do you remember the attacks? And the medicines? And some of those horrible nights?

You know far more now than you did back then. We have a host of places we ate at successfully all those years ago. I checked; a bunch of them are still open. You're making too much of this.

Normally, a comment like that would upset me greatly, but the truth of the matter is, he's completely right. I can say that here because I don't think he's among the faithful still reading. If you are, dear, I apologize. YOU ARE RIGHT. See, I know what questions to ask. I know what precautions to take. I know that if all else fails, I'm with a man who will get up and leave a restaurant if there's nothing i can eat and/or if the waiter/chef fails to make me believe I can eat there safely...and that's no small thing, trust me.

However, Anonymous also came to my rescue, and for that, unkown reader, I thank you. AllergyEats (I am not affiliated, I am not being compensated for this review, I simply am an allergic patron in cyber land) is pretty damn impressive. Even though the site appears to be new (relatively speaking), I already found a list of places that he and I can eat with a little less anxiety on my part. Heck, I might even see my way to having a cocktail!

Your Allergic Diner

Monday, September 26, 2011

On saying yes...

So, my trip of last month was postponed, and this past weekend I packed myself up and drove south to see my friend. I pushed my reservations and my memories aside, and we had a wonderful, spirited, hilarious, endearing girls' weekend, one that ended in a promise to see more of each other. She is none the wiser to the reason I never pushed harder to be a part of her post-college life, and we had a fabulous time together, allergy-free, hospital-visit free, and spent most of it on her couch, catching up. I am so very thankful for the good friends in my life, and this visit only solidified that. We did, in fact, eat out at different places, only this time I knew to ask the pertinent questions before digging in. I even had a cocktail, which may not sound like much to my readers, but those who know me know that I only do this when extremely comfortable.

Next up? An anniversary trip to DC with NAH. I'm already perusing menus, and I logged in to The Washington Post only to find that they have removed their discussion boards. How's a girl to find allergy-friendly good dining in the city without the help of other DC natives? Ugh. If anyone is out there and still reading, I'd sincerely appreciate a list of allergy-friendly restaurants when you have a moment. My only bright spot in this is the realization that the world of dining has come a LONG way in the past 10 years, and waiters no longer scoff when I explain an allergy. Heck, a couple of weeks ago, I was comparing allergies with the waitress!

Living. Learning. Eating.
Allergic Diner

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Revisiting a nightmare...

In part of my saying yes adventures of 2011, I was given an invite to see an old friend. However, calling her an old friend doesn't really do her justice. She's the kind of person that I'd like my children to grow up like. She's strong, smart, sweet, pretty, funny, and incredibly compassionate. It is that last quality that was a saving grace during one of my more difficult life moments.

Years ago, said friend an I were on a girls' trip, just the two of us. This is before I saw the stomach doctors, and the allergist, etc. Pretty much, it was back when eating was somewhat of a terrible game of Russian Roulette for reasons that were unkown to me (and GRRR to every doctor in that process who suggested I simply was under stress. Would this have been said to me if I were a man? I digress...).

Nonetheless, we went away on vacation, and out for a nice dinner. That lovely dinner ended with a hospital visit that was seven hours long (not joking), and this wonderful friend stood at my exhausted side through everything, including the bathroom visits, the injections, and the subsequent sleep-it-off day following a massive allergic reaction. I could never thank her properly for what certainly ruined her vacation, and lovely woman that she is, she never said a word.

All these years later, I know it was the tomato, and the cheese, etc. However, that night, all I knew was that I had ruined what was supposed to be a peaceful retreat. I've seen her since in the past years, though not often, as we don't live near each other.

This weekend, NAH leaves for his vacation of golfing, hiking, and beer with the guys. With her sixth sense intact, this friend called and asked me to come out for a visit. So, I did what I swore on this site that I would do. I SAID YES. Am I scared? Certainly. Seeing her brings back reminders of that fateful evening and the unreasonable anxiety that it could happen again. The truth is, it always can happen again, and has little to with her and everything to do with knowledge and vigilance. Unfortunately, when i see her, it's all those years ago, and she's holding my hand while I'm getting a shot and praying to God with all my might just to get me through. However, onward and upward. Fingers crossed for a lovely, incident-free weekend. I hope to post pictures and restaurant reviews upon my return.

Saying yes,
Allergic Diner

Monday, August 01, 2011

Never say never...

I was done, over it. I used this blog as stress relief from a difficult job (seriously, you try nannying a bunch of grown men. Editor, shmeditor...) and it worked for a while. Family, friends, fellow allergy sufferers and even the occasional medical professional would read, lurk, and sometimes comment. Then, the strangest thing happened.

I found myself in a new job, with far less stress, and it was like the allergy embargo had been lifted. For the first time in years, I felt like a new person internally, and as a result, I grew tired of being identified as the allergic chick. I grew tired of having a dear friend grasp the waiter's arm every time we went to lunch to say, "You don't understand, if you pick that tomato off her salad, and serve it to her without telling her, SHE WILL DIE. And that's on you, my friend," (I kid you not). Sweet, sure, but slightly more forceful than I care to be with anyone handling my food.

I didn't want to be the Allergic Diner anymore. I yearned to be a normal person who just could go out to a restaurant without having to review the menu beforehand, and who could trust in the truthfulness of the chef and/or the waiter. Additionally, the more I grew to love my new job, and the freedom it affords me, I found that I especially loved the joy of not having to engage in petty office melodrama. I didn't exactly have stress to release. I found (and continue to find) myself in the rather odd position of just being happy and content. My zest for life is back, my friends, and it is a beautiful thing.

I recently read a blog about the idea behind trying to say "yes" to everything in life. Obviously, it's not something you can do all the time, but it is something I've tried diligently to put into practice in everyday life this year. Fly all the way to San Diego by myself? Yes. Submit a ghostwriting proposal? Yes. Market my freelance business? YES. Food test things that terrify me? Yes. It is this last one that brings me back to this blog, and to all of you.

I will be blogging again, not just about allergies, but about life and my attempts to be fearless, and I hope that you understand that by saying yes to life, and specifically to new foods and places, that I have broken out of my fearful allergic shell. It truly is a beautiful life. Say yes (and forgive me occasionally if I wander off the allergic path I started).

Until next time,
Your Allergic Diner :)