July 15, 2011

A Sunny Day in Malahide with an 'Itsabagel' Allergy Free lunch

Last Saturday the sun was shining again in Dublin (Summer 2011 has been bliss so far!!) so F and I were trailing the house trying to come up with somewhere to go or something to do that would keep us entertained while enjoying the warm gift from the sun god when F struck gold: Pitch & Putt in Malahide! Yes! We would go to Malahide, play Pitch & Putt and hopefully find a food allergy friendly lunch somewhere in the village before maybe take in a stroll along the beach if the clouds stay at bay.
My golfing career has been marked with repeat failures in Nerf Golf, Mini Golf, a Driving Range (where I couldn’t get further than 2 meters!) and now Pitch & Putt. Few things in life are certain but one thing I can guarantee is that I suck at golf. I like to play any game so my failure rates didn’t concern me too much but it can become frustrating when you suck as bad as I do. Anyway, we took the DART from Tara Station to Malahide, walked up to the main street, turned right, walked a few yards and crossed the road for the golf course. There is tennis and cricket there too (I love the look of all the cricket whites on field!) and paths for a stroll all around the castle. €14 later we were both set with a pitcher and a putter each, 4 golf balls, a pack of bamboo tees and a scoring card heading for hole 1 out of 18. F is not awesome at golf but he is at least twice as good as I am. I started to improve around hole 11 or 12 but then I got way hungry and impatient so my score started back on its journey to shame. By hole 18 F had 50 and I was at an impressive 102. But this didn’t matter a toss because it was lunch time at last!!
We strolled around the village, which has a lot of different cafes, restaurants and flower shops. Sadly the health food store has been closed and transformed into a book store but things started to look up when we found an itsabagel branch. If you remember from Surround Yourself in Gluten Free & Dairy Free Cakes, Beauty and Art at IMMA, ‘itsa…’ is an allergy friendly chain. There are Itsabagel branches in Malahide, Fitzwilliam Sq, Arnotts, Sandyford and Dun Laoghaire. They serve gluten free and dairy free cakes with a choice of salads, soups and bagel sandwiches. I had a quick look at the ingredient lists of a few of the other bagel flavours (the bagels are stocked in bulk on shelves and so the ingredients are visible while you wait in line to order) and most of the bagels, if not all contain sugar, maize (corn) and vinegar but they all seemed to be Dairy free (note: always double check before ordering because ingredient lists are prone to change).
F ordered a dairy free vegetarian lentil soup, a vegetarian bagel with goats or feta cheese and a coconut juice. A problem that I have had with bagel bars in the past (esp. the bar in the Dundrum shopping centre) is that they are sometimes unwilling to deviate from the set menu of sandwich options so I was very happy when my alternative request was met with a ‘no problem’. I ordered a dairy free self-designed option of a plain bagel, lettuce, roasted red peppers and hummus. Sadly dessert was not an option for me as I’m refraining from sweets and sugar despite the sugar in my bagel but I did take a browse and just like at IMMA there was a flourless cake and a dairy free option.
We took our lunch out to a super comfy bright green couch which was in an outdoor covered non-smoking patio and sipped, munched and chatted to our hearts content free from potential sun burn and smoke inhalation but happily lapping up the fresh air and warmth (note: there is a large outdoor smoking area just beyond the patio).

After we had lounged for quite long enough F and I headed to the beach where the sandals came off immediately and my feet got naturally pumiced on the sand. The water wasn’t half as cold as I expected so I took the opportunity to walk along the shore and across all of the inlets that I could. The largest one barely made it to my knees (I’m 5’11” for depth reference) so it was an ideal swimming pool for little ones and/or coward feet dippers like me because you could still see the bottom for any potential crabs!

And that was our sunny Allergy friendly day out in Malahide. Itsa… is a great chain which doesn’t feel too mass produced and lets you sit around for ages while you work up your appetite to try one of their allergy free cakes. The branch at IMMA was very helpful and showed me the actual ingredient lists for their cakes so I have no doubt that the Malahide branch could help you out in a similar fashion should you require some extra information.

1 The Diamond, New Street
Co. Dublin
tel: (01) 845 6744
web: www.itsa.ie
Opening Times: Mon - Sat 09:00 - 18:00; Sun 10:00 - 18:00

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