The Mainea of Maine

One of my favorite things to eat are bagel sandwiches. When we first got to Augusta, Maine and I began looking for places I could eat Bagel Mainea popped up several times, and each time I figured it wasn’t worth my time to call. Where I’m from most bagels have soy in them, why I don’t know – but they do, and thus they are a delicacy I simply cannot indulge. Finally after a couple of days where hubby found me drooling over the photos of all the bagels, he talked me into calling them.

Bagel Mainea table markers so they can bring you your food. This is my favorite.

Hallelujah they do not use oils of any kind in their bagels, and to make it even better…they use real butter on their toasted bagels. (Cue the hallelujah chorus sung by angels.) They are a full service deli, having boars head meats and cheese that they will slice to order. Add into the mix a plethora of bagel sandwiches to choose from, and more ‘flavors’ of bagels than I’ve ever seen – all made fresh, and I was in a literal heaven.

My favorite bagel is the Everything bagel, and theirs took it to new heights in my estimation the kosher salt mixed in with everything, made it amazing. When I added to it with their Harmony fillings, minus the humus because they weren’t sure what kind of oil was used, and this bagel sandwich loving girl and found her new favorite breakfast/lunch place. It helped that they served decent coffee, and offered milk substitutes other than soy, and they were OK with me bringing in my own coconut milk for my coffee! The Harmony consists of Turkey, ham, cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado you seriously can’t get much better than that. Well the humus would be a great addition, but I’ll wait until they aren’t as busy so I can find out exactly the kind of oil they use, but still the sandwich is phenomenal without it, so I’ve got nothing to loose.

My favorite before soy, and I’m an even bigger fan since my soy allergy.

If you are looking for breakfast, coffee, lunch, whatever…This is an amazing place. The employees are very helpful, and willing to do the leg work if needed to find out about allergies. Plus their place markers, so they know where to bring your food, are as unique as they are. We were the comic for a Freudian slip more than once. Also, another nice touch are their hot beverage cup protectors. You get to choose what panoramic view you put on your cup. I chose poppies, butterflies, and a field of wild flowers. Whatever strikes your fancy that day, from bagels to your cup decor they aim to please. I can’t wait to return!

Every unique touch just adds to the experience. Pets are welcomed on their porch, and as I said they are willing to look into their food for your allergy if you point them in the right direction.

A European Dining Experience in Colorado

In my never-ending quest to find restaurants who understand my food allergies and take them seriously, I stumbled across this gem. My Husband’s favorite story to tell of his time in Europe is how laid back the dining experience is. No hovering, no rush, and no hurry to turn over a table. “When you walk-in they expect that you are going to be there for the rest of the night.” I finally understand what he means.

 

Due to my food allergies I always call ahead to ensure I can eat at a new restaurant, and Chef Ben took my call seriously and made the time to answer my questions. When hubby and I arrived I was cautiously optimistic, and in return was blown away.

 

Chef Ben was experimenting with some new recipes for rolls (they are attempting to make all of their offerings in house including the bread), the rolls are amazing and I really hope those make it to an every day offering. It is a rare thing for me to be able to eat the rolls offered; that alone would ensure I come back again and again.

 

I was hoping to be able to have their Caesar salad, but thankfully they were on their toes because I couldn’t have it nor could I have their port  dressing (because of my food allergies), which was offered on their wedge salad…however, Chef Ben was also working on a new vinaigrette. I put my taste buds at the mercy of Chef Ben and ordered the Local Organic Green salad with the Blood Orange Candied Shallot vinaigrette! Oh! My taste buds were so happy! It was worth the risk.

There are a few things on their menu subject to change. Their Peacemakers Punch is just such an item, it is different not only every night but also each batch. You are literally at the mercy of your bartender, so ask what’s in it if you are trying to avoid certain ingredients. On this night I was in luck as there was no pineapple in the punch, no indeed, I had a delightful concoction that I can only describe as lavender lemonade. And it was heavenly.

peace makers punch in the tall glass and their version of a mule.

Hubby got their Hogan’s mule; it was a bit tart for his taste but the apple garnish made the drink absolutely delightful.

 

When I said the experience was completely European, I wasn’t exaggerating. We were seated, and served water; with an explanation that dinner was made from scratch and only once we ordered it. Thus it takes a little more time than we might be accustomed to.   Then my husband got up to go to the bathroom and whole process stopped till he returned. We had questions about the drinks menu so we got that settled and only then were we brought the dinner menu.

 

As is my process I did have the waiter check on the two entrees I had chosen for me to eat so I could then choose which one I wanted. Thankfully I could have both of them so I just had to make up my mind. This process took time, as it should, however, Sean and Chef Ben made sure I knew that they were taking my food allergy seriously.

Horseradish crusted salmon

 

Once dinner was done, we were brought the dessert menu and at that point my night took a decided turn for the better. I could have dessert, and not just the Crème Brule; I could have all but one of their offerings plus or minus an ingredient or two. I got their chocolate stout bread, with passion fruit sorbet the perfect complement to the sweat and dense cake. Hubby had their bread pudding, claiming it was the best bread pudding he had ever had, and that is saying something as it is his favorite dessert and has had it in every location he has ever traveled to and with his military career that is an extensive list of bread pudding locations.

 

We have a new location for special nights out. Since you pay for quality you can expect a hefty check at the end of the night. However, you can also expect to not mind one bit, because you know you ate a quality meal made from quality ingredients.   Be sure to check them out when you are in the area.

 

Checkout my reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor!

Coffee paradise 

Never have I had as flavorful and beautiful cup of coffee in my life, and since I love coffee and go to any coffee place that looks interesting this is a huge feat.


Press coffee offers almond milk as a substitute for milk, and when I asked what was good a vanilla latte with almond milk was suggested.  I agreed and headed out to sit with hubby and the dog at their outdoor seating area.

Tobacco free was the second good news of the day for me.   

The coffee was as wonderful as it looked.  Hubby got his usual iced sweetened latte and a ham and cheese croissant. It was a perfect start to our day. Overcast, and cool, under a tree so old that it had to have stands to help hold it’s branches up.

tree branch brace tree branch brace hanging basket img_0349 img_0350 Chaz hanging out on hubby's lap img_0356 img_0357 img_0358 img_0359 img_0360 there is age in beauty an old old tree

Located at 606 W French Pl, San Antonio, Texas 78212 It is a small area, great for working (inside or out depending on the weather) and the coffee is worth repeating.

You can view my full review at TripAdvisor.com

The Land of Enchantment

Being from New Mexico I can say this, they have the best red chile sauce anywhere and their sunsets are amazing.

Through our journey to see Hubby’s parents we are taking the longer route through New Mexico to stay with some of my family, and so I can get my sopapilla fix on.

This is a very important thing as they are typically fried in oil I can’t have and they just aren’t ‘right’ in Colorado.  I never get a golden pillow of delight begging me to grab the honey jar and meld them together in the perfect after dinner treat.

Instead, when ordering sopapillas in Colorado, you get one of two things: a rock hard pillow that could possibly chip your tooth if bitten into or a flat and floppy piece of…square dough…at least I think it’s dough. Another downside to Colorado’s sopapillas is that they come with cinnamon and sugar, strawberries and whipped cream. And if you are brave enough to ask for them plain with honey the look you get is one reserved for tourists who “don’t know what a sopapilla is”.

It’s so annoying that I stopped asking for them at the end of a meal at any “Mexican” restaurants in Colorado.

Thus our trecking 4hours (round trip) out of our way so we could stop in Albuquerque at the corner of Lomas and 16th Street where Monroe’s is located.

While I can’t eat any of their meats, their red chile cheese enchiladas and sopapillas are just what a New Mexico girl needs when she’s in the area.

If you are planning a trip to Albuquerque give them a call 505-242-1111 and talk to them about your allergies. If you don’t have allergies and simply want to taste a plate of pure heaven stop in and see the lovely folks at Monroe’s on Lomas.

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Nemo’s Coffee

If you dislike big brand coffee shops, that can be found in almost every town. Abhore the cookie cutter chains where every coffee shop looks alike. And if you are looking for a quirky, locally owned coffee place…Then I have the perfect place for you when you come to Colorado Springs.

NEMO’S is the place to you want to go for great atmosphere, wonderful food, and coffee that will keep you coming back for more.

The Anderson’s run the place offering organic coffee, substitutes for milk: soy, almond and coconut. More than most other coffee places in town, trust me I’ve checked.

They also offer a plethora of other goodies to stave off the hunger pangs. Sandwiches,salads, biscotti, and Hubby’s favorite…the sausage breakfast burrito with salsa.  If given the option, Hubby will choose to go to Nemo’s to get me coffee so he can have his favorite.

Nemo’s is a coffee house and your favorite lunch spot all rolled into one locally owned pretty package.

When you walk in mismatched table and chairs greet you, along with a couch for relaxing, shelves ladened with books invite you to pull out your favorite and curl up on the couch or easy chair and read to your hearts content.  All while enjoying your favorite cup of coffee, or tea.

If work is your aim, then pick a table, as I’ve done to write this article. Spread out a bit and let the creativity flow.

Nemo’s is the place I prove to myself just how much I enjoy my creature comforts. Though I have options of things to eat and drink I typically get the same thing…a caramel swirl with coconut milk. The only variation being whether it’s iced or hot.  Another favorite is the homemade biscotti (I highly recommend their white chocolate macadamia nut), they even offer gluten free options.

Hubby’s favorite drink is a sweetened iced latte, and of course their sausage burrito.

When in doubt ask about your allergy. Tracey is very knowledgeable about what exactly goes into the food she serves.  Check out their website, she make most of her offerings from scratch, to the point that she even grinds her own wheat.  Talk about attention to detail!

Go get your turtle power and let me know what you thought of the place. You can go inside or drive through, which ever you choose you won’t regret it.

Nemo’s is located at 2114 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80909  719-635-2745

www.nemoscoffee.com

5 Things I Do Before Trying A New Restaurant

When you have food allergies, no matter how severe, there is one thing that strikes fear in your heart like none other…eating at a new restaurant.

Here are a few steps I take before trying a new restaurant.  They aren’t fool proof, and it doesn’t mean that you will be able to eat anything you want on the menu, but they should save you a few uncomfortable evenings after diner.

1. Look them up on line especially pay attention to their menu. If they have instructions at the bottom…* eating undercooked…yada, yada, and it also says to “alert your server if you have food allergies”… then in my experience you should be in luck.

2. Call them, but not at a peak time.  If you google the restaurant during their peak times should be listed.  When you call them ask, specifically, to speak to a chef or the kitchen manager. Do not just talk to whomever answers the phone, if they aren’t aware of food allergy severity or if they aren’t a part of the ordering process they will not be able to thoroughly answer your questions.

3. Get a name for when you go into the restaurant. This way you can give your server the name of who you need to talk to concerning your allergy.  I always call, then double check when I get there.  You can never be too careful.

4.  Get a card listing your allergies, your allerigst should be able to help here. If not there are companies who will make them for you.  This makes it easier for your server. They can take the card back to the kitchen so the chef can come out and quickly lay out your options.

I’ve been asked several times if I had a card, which I don’t because of the nature of my allergies, it’s hard to list out what I’m allergic to.  Often people assume that since I’m allergic to soy, so long as there is not soy sauce I should be fine.  But that isn’t the case. I have make sure there’s no mayo, or that the restaurant only uses real butter as opposed to a margarin butter blend. And the list goes on and on.  Never be afraid to repeat yourself.

5.  Keep your expectations in check. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a new restaurant and had one of two things happen.

I either found I could only have one thing on the menu, or that the chef would have to make something not on the menu for me. Which I have to tell you isn’t such a bad thing.

OR

I can have anything on the menu, that isn’t asian inspired, and I’m so overwhelmed I can’t decide.

Conclusion

While I’ve come to appreciate the chef who is willing to go off book, I typically get food that is so good I’m willing to eat the same thing every night for a week.  It’s not always that easy.

Once when on a trip we went to a seafood restaurant in Las Vegas.  I had called a head and talked to the chef, so they were prepping an area in which to make my food and we had settled on what would be made for me.

We were on a field and track trip so there was a rather large group of us going.  When we got there, I spoke with the chef again confirming that I could eat what was being offered.  While I was doing this the server came and took everyone else’s order.

Once my order was confirmed: pan fried trout (a personal favorite), steamed asparagus, potatoes and brussel sprouts, and an olive tapenade.  I sat back and enjoyed the conversations going on around me.  As everyone’s orders began coming out, seafood platters, crab cakes, a bunch of deep fried goodness I sat there calmly waiting for my food.

The chef brought it out himself.  After confirming everything looked ok, the chef returned to the kitchen and I looked up to many pairs of eyes staring at my plate.  One of my friends raised his hand, while looking at my plate and proclaimed, “I think I have food allergies”.  HA!

I must admit it was one of the best meals I had had up until that point in my food allergy journey.

On the opposite side of the coin, we recently had a new restaurant open here and I made the mistake of calling during their opening night.  I checked for peak times and none were listed, I quickly realized why none were listed.  Anyway,  I talked to someone in the kitchen who was very frazzled, and she asked that I email, but also said that she would get some answers and call me back.

I emailed them asking about their menu, and never heard a thing back.  It’s rather disheartening, but I will not eat there. Hubby has asked a couple of times about it, but since I do not have answers I will not be eating there.  It’s that simple.

What are some steps you take to ensure you don’t take a hit when eating out?

Joanie’s Deli And Bakery

 

What does a girl do when she is told by her doctors to eat more calories, especially if she is a rabbit food loving freak?  Why she finds places that serve BIG yummy salads!

Can you say fresh?
Can you say fresh?  And can you say YUM?!

OK, so my doctors didn’t want me eating more salads they wanted me to eat more calories than a salad has to offer.  But when you are a rabbit food lover who has very specific food allergies, you do your best to eat what you love…because then you’ll eat more in a day, which is the over arching goal of eating more…right?

Oh. So. Yummy.
Oh. So. Yummy.

During some of our weekends –  when we have to be out the house so people can look at our house – we would go up to Woodland park and stop for lunch at Joanie’s before heading back to the house, or out into the mountains for some light hiking.

Woodland Park is a nice drive up Highway 24 from Colorado Springs, not so long that you feel as if you’ve been in the car all day, just for a salad…but also not so short that we couldn’t be out of the house for the  2-5 hour window needed.  The longer we needed to be out the more we would do, after eating.

One great thing about Joanie’s Bakery and Delicatessen, other than the fact I can eat what I like even with my food allergies, is that we can take Chaz with us and sit on the covered patio.  It’s away from the street, and well protected. So it pet friendly, provided you don’t take them inside. (Though we have been told that they just might make an exception for Chaz…”because he’s so cute”. However, we don’t want the health department to close them down, so we keep Chaz outside.)

He's ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.
He’s ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.

I can actually sit outside, kind of, and enjoy my meal. A very rare treat for me.

See that first seat on the left? Yep that's my favorite spot at Joanie's.
See that first seat on the left? Yep that’s my favorite spot at Joanie’s.

Plexi glass protects us from the smoke the wind might bring in, and the over hang keeps the afternoon sun from reaching me.   I couldn’t eat breakfast there, with the dog, because I wouldn’t be able to sit outside. But once the sun reaches noon the porch is shaded and lovely.

Joanie’s is located at 110 East Highway 24, Woodland Park, CO  719-686-9091.  They only use Boars Head meat and cheeses for their salads and sandwiches, and their staff is very knowledgable about what goes into everything – even their salad dressings.

So if you have questions go in and ask, they’ll tell you exactly what they use. For example…knowing that soy is in practically everything, but not in most mustards, I get their honey mustard dressing.  They only use canola oil in their dressings, but if there is mayo or soy sauce (duh) in the dressing it’s a non-starter for me. So that takes their ranch and asian fusion style dressings, and the blue cheese, out of the equation (I just don’t like blue cheese) leaving their honey mustard or vinaigrettes for me to enjoy.

Now their vinaigrettes are lovely, but since I typically get a Chefs salad,  there is lots of protein to be had – a must for my picky body – I get the honey mustard.  It is a better paring with the bacon.

Once I had the Chef with their raspberry vinaigrette… again the vinaigrettes taste great, but for me they aren’t the best paring with the bacon.  The honey mustard gives you a nice zip and zing without over powering the meat…bacon.

Hubby loves their sandwiches, he’s had their version of grilled cheese, the Roast Beef Melt and many others that I don’t remember. Why?  I’ll let you ask.  Because I can’t eat them.  I cannot envy something I’ve never tried, and thus I find them unmemorable.  However, my I can eat anything hubby enjoys their sandwiches.

So if you fall into the I can eat anything category, be sure to check them out also.

I have even gone with a vegetarian friend of ours, and she was able to get exactly what she wanted…catered to her liking.  We both left satisfied, and ready for our trip back down the mountain.

For Labor Day hubby and I grabbed the dog and headed out to get a late lunch and so I could get photos for you…in case you are like me and need a visual aid from time to time to ensure you are where you think you should be.  Though Woodland Park isn’t that big still I want to be thorough.

And since I am a foodie who forgets to take photos of their food…I had a purpose in going there…I took my phone and my camera.  Try not to drool on your electronic devices.

 

Next time you are in Woodland Park, checkout Joanie’s if its time to eat.  Let me know what you had and what you thought.

 

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Modern Market

Shop Handmade – Kitchen & Dining

If there is one place in town that is my ‘go to’ place when I need food Modern Market is that place.

The place to go for a quick healthy meal.
The place to go for a quick healthy meal.

While not nationwide, it has a number of locations in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and on the East coast in the Washington D.C. and surrounding areas.   Their motto is eat good food, but not too much.  However, if you are a freak like me who is often told by my doctors that I need to eat more, it is a haven of food I like that I can eat a lot of.

If you have food allergies let them know when you get the counter, they have a three ring binder that is filled with each ingredient used in every single one of their dishes.  I was so happy the first time I went into the restaurant, because of this binder.  While I have two favorites, their BLTA and their Roman Salad (no tomatoes).

Click here to find one near you! Hopefully you are able to find one, I have yet to find something I didn’t like.

MacKenzie’s Chop House

Located in Downtown Colorado Springs, 128 Tejon St. Colorado Springs, Co 80903. And reservation are recommended (719)635-3536). It is the place to go for a nice, if pricey meal, but then again... you get what you pay for, right?
Located in Downtown Colorado Springs, 128 Tejon St. Colorado Springs, Co 80903, and reservations are recommended (719) 635-3536). It is the place to go for a nice, if pricey meal, but then again… you get what you pay for, right?

Yes, I am a foodie. Want to know how I know? When I go out to eat and my plate is placed before me…I forget to take a photo of my plate to show you just how yummy it looks. I’m too busy eating said food. Ugh 😋

MacKenzie’s is our celebration spot.  There are few places in Colorado Springs that I can eat more than a salad (and then only if I bring my own dressing), and even fewer that have the proper ambiance.  Most are noisy and we come home smelling like whatever they specialize in. Not what you want after a night of celebrating.

MacKenzie’s Chop house sets the perfect tone.  Conversations are muted thanks to the dark wood walls, and thick leather seats.  While they have out door patio seating, their smoking area, and a bar area, when you enter the restaurant seating area the hubbub dies to a murmur.

You feel like you are the only ones there, most of the time, tucked into your area enjoying your time with friends and family.  The servers are very professional, taking care of you but not intruding on your time with your guests. And the food…well, it’s so good you forget to take pictures for posterity.

While I don’t mind an adult beverage from time to time, I’m not big on drinking when we eat out.  I like the good stuff and that means a high bill at the end of the evening.  I would much rather spend the money on the food than booze, because believe me their steaks, and their salmon are amazing!

However, I have it on good authority, their drinks are amazing!  Hubby got a couple of different martini like drinks when we celebrated him finishing his MBA, and said they were wonderful and you got a good amount for the price.

Now stop me if you’ve heard this before…

Hi, I have food allergies, I’m allergic to ____… and from then on, it’s one trip after another to the kitchen for the wait staff to ensure you don’t have grounds to sue them at the end of your meal.  No one wants an ambulance crew disrupting their guests dinner.

I have found a few tips that make it easier for me.  Instead of starting off with the above, I look at the menu while waiting for my water or tea or whatever I’m drinking with my meal, then I pick 2-3 things I want to eat.  So when the wait staff return with my beverage I tell them about my allergy and give them my choices to check with the Chef.

I have heard of cards you can get from your allergist with a list of things you can’t have: corn, peas, peanuts…etc,  but since my soy allergy encompasses more than the usual soy products (Soy sauce, edamame) my allergist hasn’t offered me one.  Plus when soy is in everything…mayonnaise, margarine, flavor mixes, thickening agents, face creams…even ice cream, it wouldn’t be a card I could easily put in my wallet.

Picking out a few things to focus on has helped me tremendously.  I typically ran into one of two scenarios. I either could have my pick of anything on the menu; something that was very overwhelming when you are accustomed to only having salad as an option. Or I was only allowed a salad, or something on the grill.

By picking two or three things to focus on, keeping in mind what I can usually choose from, it keeps me from being overwhelmed by tons of choices.  And typically I pick something that can easily be altered and made soy free to order.

Anyway, back to the food.  On this occasion, a night out with our daughter celebrating her making it through some tough testing so she has options where furthering her education goes, I got their Roasted Salmon.  And I loved every mouth watering, buttery, bite.

Our daughter got the New York Strip, and hubby got their tortellini (which is unusual, he’s very much a steak and potato man) but he said the tortellini was wonderful and just what his tummy was wanting.

I would highly recommend them for your next special night out.  Check them out online, and enjoy the step back in time – oh, and the food too,  only try to get photos of it, and send them to me here.