Hands down best attention from restaurant staff yet! Bard & Banker is the place to go with food allergies

Bard & Banker

Bard & Banker Restaurant, Victoria, BC

My birthday is Saturday and with allergies, I always struggle what to do for my birthday as I often feel uncomfortable speaking to the waiter or waitress when I am with a big group of friends. I called up a restaurant (Bard & Banker) I had eaten at in the past and had a safe meal and made a reservation. After she confirmed they had the table space I said; “I also have severe, life-threatening food allergies and was hoping I could speak to the manager or chef”. The reply I got absolutely surprised me! Though it was a REALLY great surprise! She said; “Right, are you still allergic to peanuts, nuts, soy, lentils and sensitive to the gluten and dairy?”.

Turns out they had kept my allergies on file for the next time I would visit! I was smiling ear to ear. I said yes and she finished by saying they would take precautions when preparing my birthday dinner. I hung up the phone and took a nice deep breathe and smiled some more. My worrying about dinner with my friends was no longer the same.

Literally 2 minutes later the phone rings… A call from the Bard & Banker. I am asked whether I know what I will want to eat on Saturday night, so they can take the extra precautions to prepare my meal separately to prevent cross-contamination! WOW! I have never heard a restaurant ask that before. My smile was back and the weight I felt on my shoulders lifted. I was definitely feeling relieved and ready to celebrate my birthday. I can’t wait for Saturday! My allergies will not affect the good times we will have. :)

Have you had an experience similar to this that you want to share? What restaurants do you feel the most safe at? How do you rate the safest to least safe restaurants for you or your child? Is it by attention and precautions taken by the restaurant staff? A safe meal? Or by what they have in the kitchen?

Victoria Allergy and Asthma Fair! A success.

Today was the Allergy and Asthma Fair organized by “Protecting Anaphylactic Children Today“. There was a great turnout to this event held at the Esquimalt Recreation Center this afternoon. There were speakers as well as several booths set up with resources and treats. Sara Shannon spoke as well as a Ministry of Health 811 Dietician and an Ambulance Paramedic.

Some of the local companies included Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe, The Market on Millstream and The Market on Yates, Dare Foods, Epicure Selections.

Many of us challenged each other with our spirometry results which was great fun, all thanks to the VIHA Respiratory Health team!

The information booths included:

Allergies Abroad
Health Canada
Asthma Society of Canada & National Asthma Patient Alliance
Allergic Living Magazine
Anaphylaxis Canada
Allergy/Asthma Information Association (AAIA)

If you joined us today, what did you think? Did you return home with some new resources and perhaps new ideas on how to manage either your allergies and/or a loved ones?

Feel free to share comments here!

Buying “clean” food in Victoria and Online!

If you are like me and strive to find products that have the least possible amount of preservatives in them as possible, I highly recommend browsing through Epicure to see what amazing herb mixes and products you can find.

“Epicure does not add filler, additives or MSG to their products. We make it possible for people with allergies to enjoy tasty food without compromising their health! Contact me for specific information about our products or ingredients. Most of our products are gluten free, low in salt, and BC certified Kosher.” - Tricia Sturgeon, Independent Consultant

And while you are at it, check out my most recent page with local places to buy! Lifestyle Markets, Market on Yates, and Market on Millstream are the first few I had time to add =)

Where to Eat out in Victoria, BC

Check out the “Resources” tab as I will be adding more local businesses to this tab over the next few days. If you live in Victoria, there are many great options for eating Gluten-free and great stores to shop at. As always, I can only post about what I know, so if you’ve been to another restaurant or cafe that has wheat-free or gluten-free options, please share! :-)

Discovering our new neighbourhood…

On thursday I biked down to the local pharmacy/post office which I had not yet been too, since our move in April. I was sooo amazed to see their selection of products. I would have to say it was 50:50 with medications vs. traditional remedies, vitamins and some foods. I was extremely impressed that they found a way to “mesh” the natural in with the more western medicine approach, as I take supplements and vitamins and buy soaps and creams that are usually more natural. I was most content by the idea that I didn’t have to go to 2 different stores to get all my “pharmaceutical” and “natural”  items. On a normal grocery shopping outing, we would tackle the market for veggies and free range meats, chain food store for other products, the local health food store and the pharmacy! Well, knowing about this place, we’ve now got one less stop to make!

Do you, like me, read labels and go to specialty stores to find the right hand soap, bar soap, shampoos, conditioners and detergents to buy? I mean most of the shampoos have paragraphs of ingredients containing ingredients you have never heard of, or can’t even pronounce! Wouldn’t it be convenient to be able to get what you need at the same place you buy your antihistamines and inhalers (if you have asthma). Incredible convenience I say!

So if you live in Victoria and are ever in Cordova Bay, I HIGHLY recommend you stop in at Pure Pharmacy on Cordova Bay rd. close to Mattick’s Farm. Or any of their other locations as my guess is they’d likely have the same “feel” to them.

And if you don’t live in Victoria, British Columbia but this idea sounds appealing to you, start looking. Perhaps you can find a pharmacy in your area that has the same type of mission and concept. :-) There must be more out there!

If you know of one or several, please share as it would be a great resource for many out there who may not know.

Spring in Victoria, British Columbia

Many of my friends are expressing that their seasonal allergies are crazier than normal this spring. If you live in Victoria, have you noticed any difference? How about colleagues at work? I even know a few that have NEVER before had seasonal allergies when living in Victoria; who may have had allergies when they lived in other provinces, like Alberta and Quebec, but in moving here with the change of pollens, things seemed to change.

I don’t know EXACTLY why our seasonal allergies are particularly worse this year… More things in bloom at the same time? Wider range in temperatures (rain to sunny and warm, to rain again) ? Maybe there are different kinds of molds out. I do not quite know.

What I do know is that when I moved to Victoria, almost 4 yrs ago, my INSANE seasonal allergies seemed to disappear! I could not have been any happier! It has been soooo nice! Well until now. The stuffy/runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches and congested sinuses, itchy skin and other symptoms have probably gotten to your head. Maybe you had a day or two where your nose was soooo stuffed you were insanely frustrated. Perhaps you keep taking antihistamines and it feels like you are “popping candy” as one of my friends’ said. We have all had days like that, however it is super important that we try to stay positive despite it all, because a negative attitude is no good. Trust me on that one. So when you start to get aggravated, take a deep breathe and try to relax because “it is what it is”.

As I am prone to sinus infections and the constant runny nose doesn’t help, I try to take a proactive approach and use either the Netti pot or other nasal rinses on a daily basis. Actually, right now, I am on it morning and night and it has been helping so much. It may seem like so much work and you may ask yourself why you are doing it if your sinuses are not completely blocked. Answer is… If you wait until they are completely congested, you won’t be getting much of the saline solution through, will you? :-)

So smile, rest up, exercise and stay healthy. And don’t forget to laugh!! Laughter can do wonders.

Do you have other tips to share with readers? I am 100% certain if you are reading this post you or someone you know has been “hit” by seasonal allergies, whether in Canada or any other county in the World! Lets all help each other. Suggestions? Stories? Sympathy? Please share.