Eating out with food allergiesBanana pancakes


About Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a journalist and public relations consultant with over fifteen years' experience. She works with small businesses and charities providing PR services.

With a background as a features writer in the media, Jackie has worked on national newspapers, websites, consumer magazines, trade publications and radio stations all over the UK. For some years, she worked abroad - in Australia, Hong Kong and New York. After returning to London, she worked as an account director at several major London agencies.

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October 11th, 2015

Eating Out with Food Allergies in Bardolino, Italy

“Ho Allergica Al Glutine” (I have an allergy to gluten) and “Ho Allergica A Lattiosio” (I have an allergy to dairy products) are the two phrases you need to know when dining out with an allergy in Italy. Ray and I wrote out these phrases and showed them to waiting staff and it did make a great deal of difference. You can say it of course, but if your Italian accent is anything like mine, it’s better to put it in writing.

Eating out with food allergies at a private function such as a wedding is always a hit and miss affair. It is somewhat embarrassing to explain to the bride and groom that you have dietary requirements, but you just have to tell them or go hungry.

I always offer to call the venue myself. Happily these days invitations usually include a “please let us know if you have any dietary requirements” sentence.

We were lucky enough to attend Kate and Nick’s wedding in Bardolino on the shores of  Lake Garda, which must be one of the most romantic destinations in the world – the mountains, the lakes, clear turquoise skies and vivid blue water. It has it all, as well as a picturesque town with narrow streets and alfresco restaurants. A very special place.

The wedding took place at the Municipio (town hall) .The registrar was pleased they had chosen Bardolino to be married. After the ceremony, he invited them to uphold an old tradition – walking round a large flat table-shaped stone, where the fishermen used to sell their fish. The tradition is that this will bring the newlyweds good luck. After posing for pictures, Kate and Nick dutifully walked round the stone, encouraged by clapping from the wedding party.

We then walked along the bay, enjoying the sensational views to the Bar Mirabello Lido, Lungolago, right on the lake. A glorious setting and excellent for pictures with a backdrop of the mountains. The temperature was a boiling 30 degrees so some people sat in the shaded part of the lido.

That evening we made our way to La Loggia Rambaldi for the drinks reception and evening meal. At the drinks reception, there was a tray labelled “gluten free” with prosciutto, cheese and other cold meats.

The newlyweds had gone to so much trouble to ensure we could enjoy the occasion. It must have been a logistical challenge as there were several guests with dietary requirements – vegetarians, a coeliac, lactose intolerance, a guest who couldn’t eat pasta, bread or rice and of course, us. They did a superlative job.

Our first course was chicken salad followed by gluten free fusilli pasta, mushrooms and garlic – truly scrumptious, tasty and moreish. For the main course Ray was served a plate of Argentine beef which he described as “tender and tasty”.

I had the same meat accompanied by rocket and shavings of grana Padano cheese.

We skipped the sorbet as we were told it contained milk.

For dessert, Ray enjoyed chopped up apple and banana, while I enjoyed an exotic fruit salad. A refreshing end to the meal.

The wedding cake was most impressive with two polar bears adorning the top. (The couple are fond of polar bears and the bride’s favourite childhood toy was a polar bear). It looked scrumptious – mille-feuille garnished with chocolate.

Next day, for lunch we visited Bar Cristallo, Piazza Matteotti, with great views of the mountains. We both enjoyed huge servings of prosciutto with melon.

That evening we visited La Lanterna restaurant, Via Mameli, Bardolino, which didn’t disappoint. While Ray munched on bread sticks (we had checked the printed ingredients to make sure they didn’t contain dairy) another waiter brought me some gluten free crackers by Schar


I had delicious grilled salmon and boiled vegetables, while Ray enjoyed grilled lamb chops, cooked in oil. Our waiter explained the roast potatoes were cooked in butter, so Ray didn’t have any. The flavour of the fish was tender and succulent and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. I also sampled gluten free beer.

Our breakfast at the Aqualux hotel was a sumptuous buffet. Ray chanced upon Bircher muesli (no dairy in the ingredients) and there was a jug of rice milk and soya milk by the cereals. I have got into the habit of requesting soya milk and gluten free bread in advance of trips. Sometimes we’re lucky, sometimes we’re not. In this case we were lucky.

There was also a display of gluten free products by Schar – for example Fette croccanti, wheat free, dairy free wafers and Magdalena wheat free, lactose free, gluten free apricot cakes, as well as Gallette di Mais rice cakes by Natura Nuova

I opted for a plate of cold meat and smoked salmon. When I asked our waiter for gluten free bread, I was presented with warm bread in a plastic covering which needed a knife to cut it open. We did try, but in vain so our waiter came to the rescue. The bread by Schar, although cake-like, was delicious topped with bacon and raspberry jam. Another plus was the Robot Coupe juicer so we were able to prepare fresh juice using raw apples and carrots.

Next instalment: Bologna

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