I was beginning to dread the eating out bit of my trip to Wales when not only the venue for my husband’s graduation, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) but also a restaurant in the town told me they were unable to cater for my allergies.

I’m severely allergic to wheat, dairy, soya and wheat. I also avoid tomato, celery, broad beans and kidney beans due to lesser milder reactions.

I know I’m tricky to feed but I’m really not choosy. I am very happy to have a simple salad, a steak with no sauce or anything a chef recommends just to be easy.

When circumstances necessitate the table picnic

CAT, which is a completely vegetarian workplace, responded saying this:

‘I can see on the booking form that your wife has a nut and dairy allergy as well as some that you would like to discuss with us. We try to be as accommodating as possible with dietary requirements and can provide dairy free and nut free dishes but if her nut allergy is so severe that traces of nut can cause an attack we think it’s safer she bring her own meals as we frequently prepare nuts in the kitchen.’

When a venue isn’t happy to cater for me I’d rather not get into discussions and negotiations. I respect their honesty and would rather any caterer told me if they felt I might not be safe. However it was a little embarrassing getting out my Co-op picnic at the table when everyone else tucked into the lovely pizza, quiche and wraps provided. In CAT’s defense there were quite a few gluten free options available.

However I really enjoyed my salad, honey smoked salmon, humous and Eat Real lemon and chilli crisps.

For those of you traveling to Mach (much easier to say and many of the English locals call it that) you will be really impressed with the MASSIVE Co-Op which is the biggest one I’ve ever seen and also a really excellent Health Food Shop called Dyfi WholeFoods. Between them Co-op and the health food shop provided me with a lovely picnic. You could get dairy free spread (Vitalite in Coop), milk, gluten free breads, cakes, cakes, everything you could possibly need really.

Excellent cafe provided freefrom lunch – Maengwyn

It was very very wet in wet Wales this weekend so we sought shelter in a lovely little cafe called Maenqwyn one lunch time. It’s a really simple cafe with no pretensions and is really good value for money. They do all the breakfast and lunch options you might expect but for me they provided a plain jacket potato with some fresh cooked chicken which they cook and slice themselves with salad. It was hot, tasty and filled me up. Just what you want on the go from a cafe so thank you! Service with a cheery smile and really helpful staff.

The Riverside Hotel, Pennal – 9/10 for allergen free food

I had one of the best freefrom meals out I’ve had in a long time in this lovely country pub. They were really helpful on the phone and email when I booked and went through the menu with me. I was able to enjoy a delicious duck salad to start…

Totlally freefrom Crisp, tasty duck salad with orange and balsamic drizzle

Crisp, tasty duck salad with orange and balsamic drizzle

For my main I had some really fresh and perfectly cooked sea bream with huge juicy prawns and a salsa verde.

Totally freefrom Sea Bream and prawn salad

Totally freefrom Sea Bream and prawn salad

I can’t thank them enough and just wish I could have stayed longer and had dessert. The chef had said he could do me a meringue nest with fruit and sorbet. Check out the Riverside Hotel in Pennal here.

Our B&B were also really friendly and helpful, agreeing to cook the mushrooms in oil instead of butter so I could enjoy them. They didn’t have anything special organised but that was fine. We didn’t go hungry as you can see.

I will definitely be visiting again. I love Machynlleth, the people, the scenery, our B&B and the places we ate and even the wet, wet Welsh weather.

Also worth noting if you are planning a visit and are coeliac or just avoiding wheat, Number 21 on the high street do a lot of gluten free options.

This is proof that you CAN eat out on the hoof with little planning. The cafe were able to rustle something up and the picnic was a success in the face of adversity. Phoning ahead and planning is always best but you don’t always know where you’re going to be every day for every meal! More to follow on a great little cafe in Leominster which we visited en route to Wales…


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