Another school break. It does seem sometimes like there’s never a full week of school. For spring break this year, we took advantage of my new energy level after heart surgery to introduce the girls to New York City. It’s a short trip that somehow involved a train, a plane, and an automobile. No joke. It also involved 14 meals that I had to pull off without a microwave or refrigerator.
First, I have to thank @nonuttraveler and @allergyeats, not to mention the many bloggers who headed to NYC themselves, or who contacted Sloane Miller for advice that I swept up. We aren’t quite at the point where we’re comfortable in random restaurants---in part because of cross-contamination risks and in part because we’ve certainly encountered people and places locally and traveling who think that food allergies equals only gluten free, or only nut free.
So traveling light doesn’t usually work for us, because we just make our own food wherever we go. It’s certainly economical. But, NYC. There’s got to be someplace we can try, right? I’d done my research of and outreach to establishments, but we had to balance the friendly places with not just locale but also other family member preferences. For example, we found a safe potato dish at a local diner but the group overall preferred a sit-down restaurant spied on our way around Midtown that morning.
We did pull off some vegan/kosher bagel sandwiches for lunch and a great morning coffee stop, though. Ess-A Bagel was a hike from our home base, but it was near enough some sightseeing moments to give it a try. We found people out the door at 11 am but stuck with our plan and joined the line. I'm so glad we did; the food was amazing, the staff was precise, and everyone's food was individually wrapped. Hard to beat NY bagel sandwiches.
Jo and I had special morning time together at Rex, a Counter Culture coffee shop in Hell's Kitchen. They made her a blueberry rooibos tea, sold (some safe) artisan chocolates, and encouraged her---one of the staff had childhood allergies, too.
We didn't make it to so many other places on our list---including suggested places like Bill's Bar and Burgers or Nizza. And we added safe places that caught our eye for next time: Grom's Italian ices, Blossom DuJour vegan foods (how did we miss this?!) in the Columbia Circle Turnstyle shops, and more.
For the bulk of the trip, I aimed for small and portable. We had quick-cooking packets of steel-cut oats, baggies of almonds (our safe protein and fiber filled nut), strips of fruit leather, and, I’ll say it, beef jerky. My one concession to packing small was a loaf of bread (for real); I got the idea from another food allergy blogger, Mamacado, who ordered all-beef burgers at a restaurant and used her own bread. I loved it; we used our slices for jelly sandwich lunches on the go (with jam packets from hotel breakfasts).
We prepared for that unsafe dinner stop, too. When we tried a place that was not allergy-convenient at all, I brought dried ramen noodles, a pouch of salmon, and an orange. We "ordered" an empty bowl and some hot water and...dinner made on the go!
The trip went so well, and you may have seen our grateful selves on Twitter. Just in case it didn't, though, we stayed across the street from a hospital in a residential area of Midtown (and all four of us know how to administer epi). ;-)
In all seriousness, travel and trusting strangers is a big step for our food allergy daughter, and she has to do it on her own one day. I’ve seen, just like most of you likely have, the reports of kids whose food allergies have held steady into adulthood and wreaked havoc in college, or at a first job. We can’t prevent accidental anythings in life, from car accidents to unknown food ingestions, but, as parents, we all try to guide our kids into good choices that serve them in their future.
If I can teach my almost 10 year old to speak up for herself
at a restaurant, to share her allergy needs with a buddy or colleague, to not be embarrassed to ask someone to wash their hands please, and to carry and use that pen without
(or with minimal) hesitation, then I can at least rest easy
that I gave her tools to wander independently.
Her verdict after the first exposure to the Big Apple? Can we go to Chicago next?!
And, for our return trip to NYC, I already have favorite and new safe foodie places picked out.
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy