High Woods Country Park, Colchester

The Allergy Brothers love visiting High Woods Country Park.  They will spend hours dragging around huge logs to make dens.20180116_123903

Another benefit of visiting here is the little café in the High Woods Country Park Visitor Centre.  It’s very small with a couple of tables inside and some picnic tables outside.  However, it stocks a really amazing range of Allergy Brother-friendly products.  Allergy Little could choose from the whole range of Bear Paw and Yoyos fruit snacks, crisps, and juices from Cawston Press.  They also stock vegan flapjacks.

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The Olive Branch, Wivenhoe, Essex, UK

A crucial part of the Christmas story is people making long journeys from the Middle East and finding themselves without accommodation.  It seems in keeping with the season to review a Syrian restaurant in the UK.

The Olive Branch (1a Station Road, Wivenhoe, CO7 9DH; 01206 615741; website) is in a fairly unprepossessing building.  Despite this, on a Friday lunch time on a cold, drizzly December day, there was nearly no room at the inn, or tables in the restaurant.  Luckily, the customers were feeling positive, and strangers ended up sharing tables so everyone could fit in.

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I (gluten and dairy intolerant) visited with my friend (severe nut allergy).  When we stated our food needs, there was absolutely no sign from the welcoming staff that this was in any way a problem, and it wasn’t.  The only physically uncomfortable feeling was eating slightly more than we should have because it was so delicious!

We ordered a platter for two, and were given the choice of vegan or vegetarian.  My friend had a hankering for halloumi so we went with the vegetarian option.  We were so eager to get stuck in that I forgot to take a photo so the platter is already looking a bit wrecked in the photo.  Our platter consisted of hummus, falafel, marinated halloumi, tabbouleh, warak inab (vine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables), marinated olives, baba ghanouj, midammas (seasoned fava beans in a sauce), green salad, and pickles with flat breads or, in my case, toasted gluten free bread).

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To accompany the platter, we had freshly squeezed orange juice and minty lemonade.  The food was excellent.  This is the sort of vegan restaurant to take a confirmed carnivore to.  They will be so excited by all the different flavours, textures and spices that they will completely forget that there is no meat in the meal.  The only things I can think of to improve this meal are that, although it was great to have gluten free bread available, it would have been nice if it was more like the flatbread normally served; this would be perfect.  The only improvement to the restaurant would be moving to a slightly bigger building so more people can enjoy this fabulous food.

 

Review of 2015

The Allergy Brothers blog has only been running in this format since August, but we are very pleased to have had nearly 3000 views by nearly 700 visitors.  It’s also always fun to log on and see where our visitors have come from.  This year, we have had visitors from the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Sweden, Romania, Switzerland, France, Japan, Slovenia, Italy, India, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Turkey and South Africa.  It really does seem like food brings us all closer together.  I like to think of you all sitting around a very large, virtual kitchen table while we all taste some new foods together.

Our most popular posts of 2015 were:

A review of The Den Café in Colchester

A review of Caffe Sala in Colchester

A review of the Food Maestro app

A review of Aldi Lubecker Chocolate Hearts

A review of Osem Instant Chocolate pudding with Aldi rum truffles.

Happy New Year!

 

The Den, Vegan Cafe – Colchester

Vegan food can be really helpful if you have a dairy or egg allergy. As a great bonus, this vegan food was delicious too. I had a flat white coffee and a smokey chickpea salad. Both were delicious. The salad was so generous and filling that I didn’t get to try the low gluten cupcake I was intending to eat. I will just have to return for cake and coffee another time!

I found the owners to be very allergy aware. Items without gluten in the recipe are marked on the menu as low gluten rather than no gluten because they are concerned about cross contamination in their small kitchen. I thought that was honest and showed an understanding of how small quantities of gluten can potentially affect people. They were also happy to spend some time reading ingredients lists with me and I think we found something the Allergy Brothers could eat and drink at The Den!