Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dairy Free Travel: A Wedding Weekend

Traveling with a food intolerance or allergy always requires some sort of planning and bringing of extra food.  I thought this would be a good time to share with you how I survived a weekend away from my kitchen.

This past weekend was one of our very best friend's wedding.  It was a much anticipated event- he is not only our best friend, but one of my husband's fraternity brothers, he was our Best Man in our wedding,  and he is our youngest daughter's Godfather.  Since my husband was one of his groomsmen we needed to be there on Friday evening for the rehearsal. This meant we would be gone from Friday morning to sometime on Sunday.  That's at least 7, maybe 8 meals plus snacks that I had to think about. For 5 people.  The good thing was we were headed to Charlottesville, and since we already know the area pretty well we had a plan as to what restaurants we could eat at.
A few days before we left I called the hotel to see if they had refrigerators or microwaves either in the rooms or available for use.  (Some hotels may not have them in the rooms, but you can request to have  a "Microfridge"  brought to your room upon arrival).  Sure enough, the rooms all already had fridges and microwaves.  That already made planning easier!
Before we left I made sure I have enough food to get us through no matter what was going on.  We hit up Target (I love that they have groceries now!) and I got:
  • Single serve cups of Frosted Flakes (they are dairy free) for breakfasts
  • A loaf of dairy free bread and single serve peanut butter cups for lunch
  • Chex Mix ( it's our favorite road trip food)
  • Small bags of animal crackers
  • dairy free peanut butter crackers 
  • Shelf stable almond milk
  • Powdered dairy free coffee creamer (Not the same, but it works in a pinch!)
  • Healthy Choice Pasta meals 
  • Snacks for the girls: Pop snacks for the toddler, raisins for the bigger girls
  • Take and Toss cups and utensils for the kids (mostly the toddler)
  • Paper plates 
  • Banana chips
That bag of peanut butter pretzels was sent to my by my Foodie Pen Pal Beth.  I had kept them hidden specifically  for this trip!

I decided to get these Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers just in case the food at the rehearsal dinner or wedding was not dairy free.  They weren't bad, not the best, but they work in a pinch.  It's better than starving, which I can tell you from personal experience is not fun.

I sent an email to one of Charlottesville's most famous restaurants- Bodo's Bagels- to ask if they had an allergen menu.  I explained that I had an intolerance to dairy.  I got back a response less than an hour later- talk about service! Turns out all of their bagels were vegan.  And while they did not have an allergen menu, they would be happy to answer any questions when I got there.  So guess where lunch was Friday? Yup- Bodo's Bagels.  I got the BLT on a plain bagel and it was so good!  There are no words to describe just how good their bagels are.

The rehearsal dinner was at the Boars Head Inn.  I have been to quite a few weddings and social dinner events over the past 5 years, but this is the first time  I have gotten to eat and enjoy my meal at a function like this.  The dinner was set up buffet style, and when I asked one of the wait staff if there were any dairy free options, she went to the kitchen and had them make me my own plate- completely dairy free! The best part- it was the same thing everyone else had, just without the cream sauces on the meat!  Normally I'll get a vegan meal which is hit or miss, or they just won't understand what "dairy" means and will bring me food covered in butter.  This meal was AMAZING!  I had 3 kinds of meat- all three that were on the buffet: roasted chicken, baked salmon that was to die for, and roast beef. They also brought rice pilaf (I happen to love rice pilaf.)  There was so much food on my plate I could not eat it all!  My husband commented that I should have taken a picture of it-oops.  Here's what it looked like after:
Obviously it was delicious  because the plate is almost empty!

Saturday we had most of the day to run errands or just relax. After a rather late start and an absolutely horrific cup of hotel coffee, we headed out for some lunch.  Guess where we went?  That's right- back to Bodo's Bagels.  This time I opted for the roasted turkey with lettuce, tomato, mayo on a plain bagel.  

And I had to stop at Dunkin Donuts for a  decent cup of coffee.

 I decided to call the caterer for the wedding to check and see what I would be able to eat at the reception.  The wedding and reception were outdoors at the 4H camp the Bride had spent her summers at growing up. In keeping with the outdoorsy theme they had BBQ from the best BBQ place in that part of the state.  The woman I spoke with was incredibly nice and went through all the ingredients for everything on the menu.  Turns out it was all safe except for the bread (No surprise there! Here's a hint- breads, rolls, muffins almost ALWAYS have some sort of dairy in them). 

The wedding was probably the most beautiful I have ever been to.  It was not fancy at all, but the setting was just so perfect for the two of them.  It was outside in a hilly field with  trees on all sides, under a small arch surrounded by their family and close friends.  It was truly about THEM.  It was simple, and there is beauty in simplicity.   They are two people that were truly and without question put on this earth to be together. 

Dinner and dancing were in a pavilion  just feet away from where the ceremony was held. It was decorated with paper lanterns, paper umbrellas over the lights, and candles. 
The only picture I have of them- I brought the wrong card in my camera so I had to use my phone.
Dinner was buffet style and it was delicious!  Pulled pork BBQ, pulled chicken BBQ, 2 pasta salads, baked beans, fruit platters, veggie platters. It was kid friendly ( always a plus when the kids are included!) and just laid back fun.  
Dancing with their Uncle Ed.  The only thing they really wanted to do- get to dance with him.  
  Our girls were given a very special job of handing out kisses to all of the guests.  They were thrilled that they were asked by their Uncle Ed and Aunt Ginny to be a part of the day.  
Handing out kisses to some of our college friends that made the trip to the wedding as well.  It was great to catch up with them!
The party ended with a bonfire and old friends catching up.  It's funny how so many years can pass by, but still there are some things that never change.

Sunday we packed up and headed home, but first we stopped off at Bodo's Bagels again.  This time we got lunch, ( A BLT again- it's my ultimate favorite) and 2 dozen bagels to bring home.  Before we hit the road we stopped off at UVA's campus to wander around, take some pictures, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Maybe someday one of my girls will be a student here... maybe.

Our oldest is learning how to use my camera.  She does a decent job!

Planning ahead and having your meals with you, or options for meals means the difference between a good trip and terrible trip.

Do you plan ahead when taking trips by bringing your own food or calling restaurants to see if they have options you can eat?


  1. There is some very good advice in here Steph!

  2. The advice in this post is great. I like how responsive the restaurants and hotels were about your allergy and keeping you informed/answering your questions! sounds like you ate well. I love being prepared :) especially when you're rewarded in the end with an easy situation like how this vacation turned out to be! You and your man and your girls are all so cute!

    1. Thanks so much!! I have gotten over my embarrassment and just call places now or ask the waitstaff or management. It is so much better than starving, or ending up really sick because I just didn't know what was in the food. The longer I'm dairy free the better I am getting at it:-) While I don't pack the healthiest foods, any food is better than no food! And I pack things that will stay fresher longer.

  3. so glad that your travel eats worked out so well!

    1. Thanks Sarah! It really was a tasty trip this time:-) We love going up there, sometimes we stop at Chipotle too since they are a great dairy free option. I can't wait to go back- I need more bagels;-)

  4. Yayyyyy, glad you were able to bring the pretzels :) I don't make calls but I obsessively check menus online so I know what to order ahead of time (or else it can take forever to decide!). I also bring snacks and bars, etc etc. GREAT PICS!

    1. Those pretzels are soooo good at 11:30pm!:-) They are good anytime actually, but definitely a great late night snack.
      I check menus online to0 and have a list of DF options. It's nice to have variety though.
      I'm working on my photography skills- or lack there of. I just got that camera so I am still getting used to it. But it's fun to play around with it. My MIL said I should frame the one of the Magnolia bloom and I might- it would go great in my master bathroom.