Being an “atopic” girl doesn’t mean that I just think about allergies and atopy all day long. Honestly, I don’t think about it all that much. Labour Day weekend was a great example of how I integrate the fact that I have allergies and atopy and love travelling, eating, shopping and having a great time in general. Nothing in that sentence excludes anything else. This is a bit of a longer post, but I hope it gives you an idea of how anyone with allergies or atopy can live pretty normally.
I arrived in Toronto to meet my younger sister. The plan, have a manicure, have lunch with my sister and then go find her a dress for a glitzy Indian wedding on Saturday!
At Holt’s Salon and Spa, located at the flagship Holt Renfrew store on Bloor Street, I happily sat back and enjoyed my hand massage and Express Manicure. I’ve been there and know that none of the products contain my allergens. It’s always good to check, especially if you have a new aesthetician.
A bit later, my sister and I met up at Fresh on Bloor, near Spadina. This is my favourite Fresh in Toronto. Even though I’ve been there about a hundred times by now, I still let them know about my allergies (leaving out eggs and shellfish, because they don’t have them on site). I emphasized my allergy to cashews, since they use them in a couple of dishes, but made sure they knew that almonds are okay. As always, I had an allergy-free and really delicious meal.
Fresh was followed by RentFrockRepeat on Golden Avenue, just off of Dundas Street West. It’s about a 20 minute streetcar ride from St. Patrick Station. The premise of RFR is brilliant. Rent a designer dress for a totally reasonable price. If you live in or are visiting the GTA, you can go in and try on the dress. If not, the site has detailed measurements and you can even ask for a second size (for free) in case the first one doesn’t fit. They ship the dress out to you and you ship it back. I know! Brilliant! I actually visited RentFrockRepeat a few weeks earlier to try on a dress for the wedding in question. Happily, it went on sale and I bought it. My sister decided to try it out and we spent an hour and half in RFR amongst too many stunning dresses. Everyone there is amazing and friendly. I couldn’t have spent a better afternoon. We were super lucky and met the CEO and Co-Founder, Lisa Delorme. Yes, she’s that stunning in person.
That evening included mobile phones that weren’t turned on and GO buses to suburbia. Thankfully, it also included a great martini from the bar in the lovely Fairmont Royal York and an easy allergy-friendly meal from Spring Rolls in the Bramalea City Centre in Brampton. I love allergy-friendly chains and Spring Rolls is definitely one of them.
Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to inform the hotel that we needed down-free bedding. While the hotel had somehow run out of synthetic fibre pillows, I found that some of the pillows in our room were synthetic and we ended up all right. Definite note for next time though.
If you’ve been following my blog or Twitter feed, you may know that I was expected to sing at a wedding. While I have a Grade 8 in Voice from the Royal Conservatory, I got it quite a while ago. So, even with my two months of vocal lessons, I was nervous. I practiced in the shower that morning and thankfully my voice wasn’t hoarse and my asthma was under control. I will admit that I started off a bit shakily when I started singing in front of a packed church, but I bucked up and asthma-smasthma – I sang my heart out.
Between the wedding and the reception, we need to grab a very late lunch. I headed to another allergy-friendly chain, Moxie’s, also at the Bramalea City Centre. The menu here changes so sometimes I have a lot of choices and sometimes not a lot. This time, I chose the Citrus Chicken to go and when the manager came out to speak with me, she let me know that the dish was totally free of all my allergens! I felt like I’d won a prize! It was delicious and I happily wolfed it down at the hotel.
The reception was held at the Pearson Convention Centre. I called them months in advance to let them know about my allergies. The chefs are made aware of the allergies ahead of time and then on the day, guests are provided with colour-coded cards. I had a red card which listed all my allergies. The salad and pasta were safe, they just omitted the cheese on the latter. And the meal itself, beef, chicken and veggies, were easy and delicious without the sauce. Dessert was a martini glass of fresh fruit.
The top off to a great weekend was brunch at Frank at the AGO. I’ve been here a few times for drinks and appetizers, but never a meal. To celebrate my mother’s birthday, the entire family got together (from as far flung as Peru and Ottawa) and had the best brunch I’ve ever had. When I made the reservation, I let them know about my allergies and was told that it wasn’t a problem. Before we arrived, the server and the chef had a discussion about what would work. I had to reiterate my egg allergy, but once that was done, I found I had quite a few choices on the menu. I ended up with a beavertail bacon sandwich with apple butter which is even better than it sounds.
That was my weekend. Pretty spectacular. I didn’t let my eczema, asthma or food allergies get in my way. I stuck to my regimen – washed my face, used moisturizer, used save shaving tips, and always double-checked food ingredients. That’s the way to live an atopic life!
Want to see pictures or read more? Visit me at Atopic Girl’s Guide to Living or on Twitter at @AtopicGirl.