June 4, 2012

Dairy Free Moroccan Cuisine in the City Centre!!

Not too long ago F. and I celebrated our 3rd year anniversary. He surprised me by booking a table at one of my all time favourite restaurants, El Bahia. Although every restaurant outing is a Food Allergy Blog occasion for me I decided to not bring my camera along as  it was a special day and I didn’t want to ruin the mood by asking TOO many questions about food intolerances ie: More questions than I need to ask and pulling out my massive camera and telling F. ‘Don’t touch it yet’..‘one more minute...just a second’...
However, I will delightedly tell you about the side line of the Dairy Free wonder that occurred...

I’m always Dairy Free.. no matter what test or diet or trial that I’m doing, I am ALWAYS Dairy Free because it is a genuine food allergy as opposed to an intolerance or suspected culprit. So of course I explained to the waiter my requirements and at first he proudly said that I can eat anything on the menu because ‘we don’t use any type of Dairy ingredient!’...obviously my warning lights went off and my doubtful face appeared... ‘Not even in the desserts? the ice cream? butter?...hidden ingredients?...etc etc etc ??’ and he confirmed NO! None at all, well except for the ice cream and desserts of course! 
But then it all took a big turn around because after ordering he came back to us to apologize and say that the Bastilla dishes (made with filo pastry) were brushed with butter... he was very very sorry and got us to change our order... I went with Kobiza (Fresh Leaf spinach reduced in a coriander, garlic and lemon base) to start and the Fish Tagine (Catch of the Day - Cod -  marinated in sharmoulah and served with vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce) which was Amazingly beautiful!...So tender...So flavourful...  and my Vegetarian F. went for a starter of Makoda (a blend of mashed potato, fresh spinach, parsley and coriander on a fruity tomato sauce) and the Vegetarian Cous Cous (A selection of fresh vegetables traditionally flavoured and served on a bed of cous cous).. And this is where the waiter went beyond the normal: He also advised against it when F. ordered a side of pita bread with his couscous dish because supposedly the two different forms of wheat can cause indigestion and bloating (who knew?!) And when serving F’s cous cous dish he said that actually there is Milk/Butter in the cous cous and so as tempting as it may be,  I should not take a taste! I thanked him so much! No waiter has EVER advised me against trying somebody else’s dish when I hadn’t asked about it - It was the cherry on top for me!

All in all the anniversary meal was very lovely and became one of the meals that I will  remember forever because after we finished eating the main course F. doubly surprised me by asking me to marry him!!! ...Or rather, if I would ‘like’ to marry him ;) Of course the answer was a tearful yes! Supposedly, he had been carrying the ring around in his pocket for two weeks looking for the right time  - swoon! - 

The moral of this little story is that even though the waiter was wrong at first and I was doubtful, he did make a complete turn around and helped me beyond the average all while continuing to be helpful and friendly and making a lot of jokes ie: when it came to dessert he held a menu up between me and F. so that I couldn't see and therefore wouldn’t get tempted by the amazing dessert F. ordered... only temporarily of course, but very funny! I comforted myself with yum yum yummy Moroccan Coffee (Traditionally brewed with five spices - ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon and sweetened with sugar) :)
I know that some of you will think that that’s not good enough, and that he should have known those details beforehand but I say that yes, he should have, but now he does, he did take it seriously and was obviously in full communication with the chef. And I can tell you and pre-warn you that the couscous and the filo and all the desserts definitely contain Dairy. And remember that if something sounds too good to be true - ie: Dairy free filo pasty in a restaurant - it probably is so order something else. 

And now F. and I have begun the Food Allergy Friendly Venue search!! and Cake Maker Search!! All Extremely Exciting!!!

El Bahia Moroccan Restaurant
Location: 37 Wicklow St
                   Dublin 2
Tel: 01 677 0213

Opening Times: 
Lunch (During Summer) - Fri - Sun 12:00 - 15:00
Dinner - Mon - Sun 17:00 to late