Monday, July 21, 2014

Restaurant Review: Harrison's Harbor Watch Restaurant in OC Maryland

Last week I posted about our fun trip to OC Maryland. I wanted to share more with you about our restaurant experience. Since we rented a beach house with our extended family, we ate in most nights which made it easier from a food allergy perspective.  The one night we went out to eat, we had a positive experience at Harrison's Harbor Watch restaurant.

This wasn't our first time there. We had a positive experience there last year too. Harrison's offers beautiful views of the inlet, Assateague island (where the wild ponies roam) and ships coming in and going out to sea. They also have been great with food allergies.

After we handed the waiter our food allergy card, the manager came over to us with a kids' menu she updated to include all the options for little guy to eat. We've NEVER had that kind of service before. It was such a nice treat to see all the possible options.

I was so excited by it that I of course took a photo :)

Little Guy ended up ordering a plain burger, veggies, potatoes and applesauce. It was the "best burger" he ever had...and that's a direct quote. (I think he was really hungry! :)

Don't ya just love that allergy stick?  It's the same one that I took a photo of last year during a beach trip!

The only thing I would have changed?  The fact that the sides came out all together on a big tray with no allergy stick in them (only the burger had them on). It made me feel less confident that the sides were safe for Little Guy, so I made sure to ask the waiter about them.

Little Guy ended up only eating the burger a few veggies, plus some Surf Sweets gummy worms on the boardwalk that I brought along (in a BIG bag of treats that I made sure to have for him!). 

Did a restaurant ever update a menu specifically for you or your child? I know many restaurants like Red Robin have books ready-made for customers to reference. But I thought this was great customer service!

DISCLAIMER: My reviews are only reviews of our unique experience at these restaurants. They are not an endorsement of safety when eating at these restaurants as each restaurant, staff and kitchen are different. Please do your own research and take all precautions for you and your family when eating out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beach Vacation and Food Allergy Planning

What's the secret to a wonderful beach vacation with family (and views like this)?
beach trip vacation food allergies

Planning, preparation and fun!

But as you know, going on a vacation or trip takes a little more preparation and planning than usual when you have food allergies.

Last week we stayed at a beach house with 7 other family members. We all had a wonderful time together and also had a successful food allergy friendly experience for Little Guy.

What are the main things that I prepped?  Well, beyond LISTS and LISTS of everything we needed to take and remember for the trip....

I baked a double batch of pumpkin muffins from Sophie-Safe Cooking the day before we left to share with everyone in the family.
beach trip vacation food allergies

I baked a loaf of food allergy friendly egg-free, dairy-free (and gluten free) bread two days before. We use King Arthur Flour, Gluten Free Bread Mix. It's STILL Little Guy's favorite bread. (Deep breath exhale of frustration). More on that in another post.
OC Maryland food allergies

I bought a FRIO pack to make sure Little Guy's Epipens stayed at the correct temperature at the beach. During other years we kept the Epipens in a thermos in the shade of a beach umbrella. This year we tried something new and I was VERY pleased with the FRIO pack. It was simple to use and it made me feel more at ease without having to worry about the Epipens getting too hot at the beach.

Ocean city maryland food allergies restaurants
Frio pack to make sure the Epipens stayed cool at the beach

I normally would have researched restaurants before our trip, but since we've had a few good food allergy related experiences at restaurants in OC Maryland the past few years, I felt comfortable in knowing where we could go. We only went out to eat one night at Harrison's Harbor Watch restaurant, and we had a great experience. I'll write a separate post about it!

I brought a lot of food to the beach (including items I knew I might not find at the beach grocery store like coconut yogurt, Sunbutter and safe soymilk), but I also planned meals beforehand and wrote a shopping list for the beach. My list included things like meat, fresh veggies, fruit, brown rice, etc. 

One of the nights we all had the same food allergy friendly chicken chili meal with avocado and safe tortilla chips. Thankfully everyone was very satisfied!
beach trip vacation food allergies

And all the kiddos had dairy free So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream with mini Oreos on top. A definite treat!
ocean city maryland food allergies

We all had a wonderful trip in general and love the family and beach time. Here are a few pics of the beautiful community where we stayed in OC Maryland.
ocean city maryland restaurants
A few of the bayside part of the resort looking at the beach area where the kids loved playing.

oc maryland beach vacation
Lots of fun at the beach and pool here.
food allergies oc maryland
OC Maryland and the setting sun.
beach trip vacation food allergies
The kids loved playing by the bay. 
food allergy ocean city maryland
Fishing off a pier was fun too.
traveling food allergies
We all had fun playing in the water! Some days we went to the bay, and some to the ocean.
food allergies traveling
A beautiful sunset. We felt like we were on an island in this picture!

And here are some other beach and food allergy posts you might find helpful:

OC Maryland Food Allergy Friendly Restaurants

At the Beach: Traveling with Food Allergies

Traveling with Food Allergies: What I packed on our beach trip

Here's the link to the Frio pack we used:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Making Eating Out Safer and a New #1 Seller Recipe!

Going out to restaurants is supposed to be a fun and positive experience, right?

For people with food allergies, it can still be fun to participate in the atmosphere, company and food that's safe for them. But it takes more planning and communication than most people realize.

We've gone out to eat many times with Little Guy, and each time, it's a little nerve-wracking. We do research on the restaurant before we go. We also tend to stick with many of the same restaurants with which we've had great experiences in the past.

But what if you had the power to encourage your favorite local restaurants to be more food allergy aware?

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) recently launched SafeFARE as an online resource center that offers tools for diners with food allergies. The goal of SafeFARE is to make dining out safer for families managing food allergies. 

On SafeFARE you can find:
  • Tips for before and during your visit to the restaurant
  • A customizable “Food Allergy Alert” chef card
  • A “Find a Restaurant” feature that enables visitors to locate allergy aware restaurants in their area. 
The SafeFARE database of food allergy aware restaurants is just getting started and you can help it grow! If your family deals with food allergies, FARE urges you to tell your local restaurants about the SafeFARE program and the benefits of allergen training. 

Below are two ways you can help: 


  • BECOME A SafeFARE ADVOCATE! Download this flyer from FARE and share it with restaurant staff and managers to let them know how to become a food allergy aware restaurant. Download and print the flyer and share with your local restaurant today!
  • WATCH FARE's new Food Allergy Teamwork PSA and explore the SafeFARE website. This new PSA presents the importance of teamwork between those dining out with food allergies and restaurant staff.
Now for some delicious FUN...

Chicken Thighs with Pepperoni Sauce are pictured here. Chef Mike has created this dish with both chicken thighs and wings! Excerpted from http://crazygooditalian.com
One of the chef's in the Food Allergy Teamwork PSA, Chef Mike Isabella, is a professional chef, restaurant owner and a competitor on the TV show, "Top Chef". 


Chef Mike kindly shared his #1 best selling recipe at one of his restaurants. It’s a great family recipe that is not only free of dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame, but of soy, shellfish, fin fish and wheat – all of the major allergens. 

This dish is proof that you don’t have to be a fancy chef to create something flavorful and memorable for your friends and family.

Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Chef Mike Isabella:

Chicken Wings with Pepperoni Sauce *
You can’t write a book called Crazy Good Italian without including pepperoni. I serve this sauce with chicken thighs or flatbread at my restaurant, Graffiato. It’s our #1 seller. 

Pepperoni Sauce
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
Active Time = 1 hour, 20 minutes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
6 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Pepperoni sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat the sauce before you are ready to use.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 4–5 minutes until soft and translucent. If the garlic begins to brown, lower the heat.
  2. Add the pepperoni and sauté for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate dry sauté pan, toast the fennel seed over medium heat for 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan often to prevent burning. Add the chili flakes and toast 1 minute longer, then add the toasted spices to the pepperoni mixture.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and increase heat to bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée for 2–3 minutes or until smooth.
  5. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a mixing bowl, using the back of a spoon or a silicone spatula to help the sauce pass through.
  6. Finish the sauce by stirring in the red wine vinegar.
Chicken Wings
Serves 4 as a small plate
Active Time = 40 minutes
Inactive Time = 2 hours, 30 minutes

8 whole chicken wings (about 2 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs rosemary
Peel of 1 lemon (no pith)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups pepperoni sauce 

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove and discard the chicken wing tips. Then, cut each wing into two pieces: find the joint and cut at the joint to separate the drumette from the wing.
  2. In a large glass mixing bowl or other nonreactive bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and lemon peel. Add the chicken wings and stir until well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the wings from the refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Stir in the salt.
  4. Place wings on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet to allow for even cooking. Don’t rinse the marinade from the wings, but do make sure there’s no garlic, rosemary, or lemon peel on the chicken—they will burn.
  5. Roast the wings for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Pour 3/4 cup warm pepperoni sauce into a large mixing bowl, add the wings, and toss to coat. Transfer wings to a serving platter and serve the remaining sauce on the side.
* As always, please check ingredients in all packaged and canned goods.

Please leave a comment if you do visit www.SafeFARE.org to access the restaurant database, helpful tools, information and resources about food allergies. I'd love to know what you think and if you do contact a local restaurant or try this recipe from Chef Mike!
 
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