February 27, 2012

A Trip to the Botanic Gardens - Is there anything Food Allergy Free?

The weekend was just bursting with spring so F. and I decided to take the sunny opportunity to explore my new north-side neighbourhood and see what charms are in store. I think that this last Sunday was extra special because it was forecast as a rainy down day but thankfully for all Sunday pleasure-seekers, the rain held off until Monday. Of course, it wasn’t long before I steered the ship to the National Botanic Gardens which is a favourite of mine, but one that gets experienced far too seldom, so in we strolled to drink up the atmosphere and beautiful grounds...and check out the Garden Tea Room of course! - to see if there was anything Food Allergy Friendly on offer.. The answer is a dubious: ‘Sort of’...

Tourist tea rooms and the likes are tricky places to eat when you have food allergies. You want to go to the beautiful locations but as is inevitable, you will work up an appetite in the ‘far away’ location. The National Botanic Gardens have a nice enough tea room called ‘The Garden Tea Room’. It is set up in a canteen style and there is quite a lot of food on offer but it’s SO busy (at least on a Sunday) that it’s easy to be pressured to keep moving along the rotary belt and feel unable to ask the frazzled staff all the questions that you need.

The desserts are by far the best labelled of the menu items and are first in the line to pick up. Unfortunately, this being Ireland, and the Garden Tea Room being a traditional attraction, everything is ladened with butter, cream and eggs but the minor glimmer of hope amid it all is that there are two stunning looking desserts which are Gluten Free...

The Chocolate Roulade (chocolate, eggs, sugar, Coffee, fresh cream, fresh berries) and the Meringue (egg whites, sugar, fresh cream, fresh berries)

The desserts each have a little card (some of them can be found bunched up at the end of the section) which label all the ingredients. They all seem to be baked in a very traditional homemade manner with plain flours, sugar, eggs, cream and butter being the primary players but that also means that nightshade sufferers, corn allergies and soya allergies are very likely to find some unadulterated beauty of a cake to indulge over (however, do beware of mysterious ingredients like ‘chocolate’ which most likely contain added extras!).
With the exception of the two Gluten Free desserts listed above, I tried to ask about savoury, main course Gluten Free items. The line behind me didn’t rejoice at my questions but the staff, despite their time restraint did ask each other and ran to the kitchen for a moment to confirm but the final response was ‘the roast, the potatoes and the soup’. To Dairy Free they said: ‘nothing’ with an empathic face.

My final verdict: If you are Dairy Free and don’t want to eat chips for your lunch, then definitely don’t go to the Botanic Gardens hungry! For Gluten Free eaters and other Allergen Free options I think that there may well be choices for you but be sure to NOT go during rush hour such as midday on a Sunday, or similar. Aim at a quieter off peak time and be extra, extra careful of cross-contamination because the kitchen and the waiting staff are very busy and the desserts counter is self-serve!
Have you tried the Garden Tea Room Meringue or Chocolate Roulade? I would LOVE to know what it tastes like because it, along with all the desserts, look truly Divine.

The Botanic Gardens are a glorious location in the later spring, summer and autumn. Sunday’s visit was nice, and although the crocuses were up and some of the tulips were peaking out, a lot of the foliage had yet to bud. But a walk by the ponds and river are always lovely, not to mention the toasty palm house and cactus house!

See below for some more pictures of the Botanic Gardens during during Autumn.

The Garden Tea Rooms
The National Botanic Gardens
Botanic Rd
Dublin 9
Tel: (01) 804 0300
Web: www.botanicgardens.ie
Opening Times of the Gardens:Winter (Oct 31 - Feb) mon - fri 09:00 - 16:30; sat, sun, public holidays: 10:00 - 16:30 Summer (Mar - Oct) mon - fri 09:00 - 17:00, sat, sun, public holidays 10:00 - 18:00


Mercury Moonshine Dutchess said...

When I read your posts my eyes glaze with love and fire the echos from ancient fairy ghosts sing beautiful music the walls turn pink and baby blue the ground trembles as stars dance across a galaxy of groovy vibes keep posting baby! X Mercury Moonshine Dutchess "spreading Love Throughout The Dublin Streets While the Moon Shines " Lets dance in georges arcade and spread glitter during the St Patricks Day Parade

Nork said...

Stunning photographs as always!

Aurea@Survival Guide said...

Thanks guys! That's very kind :) :)

Anazar said...

Oh, the Chocolate Roulade!! It's my favorite of them all. It not only looks truly Divine but it tastes Divine too. The cake is slightly bitter, the cream is not too sweet, and the fruits are fresh and juicy. The perfect trio! It won't make you feel heavy after finishing the thick-sliced roulade ;-)