Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Toronto in the Spring

Okay, this isn't really about my seasonal allergies. Actually, they're much better in Toronto than they are in some cities in Southwestern Ontario that will remain nameless.

Instead, this is a quickie blog about the new dermatologist I'm trying out. Well, I've pretty much decided he's the one.

Briefly, I had one for about 20 years. He retired. They don't make doctors like him anymore which is sad. He was simply brilliant. My first attempt at finding a new dermatologist ended badly. While I got an appointment in one business day, that singular appointment was enough for me to never go back. Didn't look at me, didn't look at my skin. That's like going to a dentist who never asks you to open your mouth.

Enter, CBC Radio 1. A brief, but totally worthwhile, radio interview later, I emailed my family doctor and asked for a referral to AvantDerm, located at 45 Mill Street in Toronto. They have an ethnic skin focus (I'm brown), but also focus on the traditional stuff like eczema. Plus, they have a cosmetic practice, which interests me since I'd like to do the whole laser hair removal thing one day (that's another blog for another day).

Anyway, the clinic is beautiful. Everything is custom and the atmosphere is lovely. Plus, the staff clearly know what customer service is about. It's been a long time since I've been in an office with that kind of vibe. On top of it, the doctors are quite nice. Attentive, kind and they looked at my skin!

After my quick tour of the facilities, I was even more hooked. I'm not the kind of girl who gets swayed by superficial things like distressed wood and chandeliers. But, pair that with customer service and sound medical knowledge and I'm there.

One more bonus, they give you printouts describing your condition as well as ways to treat it. Simple but stellar.

If you're interested or know someone who might be, check out the site.

In the next blog, I'll get back to the food allergy thing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eating Out (and Well) with Allergies

I have been travelling across Ontario and a bit of Quebec for the past little while. Nothing extensive, but I've hit Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal on a few occasions over the past year.

Why this is relevant is because I'm a devotee to the following restaurants and bakery which are both allergy-friendly (depending on your allergy) and vegan/vegetarian-friendly.

Restaurant No. 1
Fresh On Bloor, Toronto
No eggs. Dairy- and nut-free options. Dairy and nuts on-site.

Fresh on Bloor (there are two others in Toronto, but that's the best one) is free of most animal products. They have cheese and milk on-site, but there is no hidden dairy. If you have a nut-allergy, they have some nuts on site, like most vegetarian & vegan restaurants. However, they are much more accommodating than a restaurant like Fressen which is heavy on the nuts. If you have a severe nut allergy, it may not be worth the risk.

Restaurant No. 2
Zero 8, Montreal
No fish/seafood, peanuts, nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, soy, wheat.

Okay, it's a bit of a trek if you don't live in Montreal, but totally worth it. They do not have any of the main eight allergens - as defined by Health Canada, on-site. Not even vinegar because it has gluten. It's a bit of an upscale vibe, but still a great place to bring kids or have a nice date. I've been four times. It was good, better, amazing and better, in that order. In other words, the quality is a bit inconsistent, but it's never anything less than good. The portions are large and the dessert choices are plentiful and amazing. The wine and drinks list is great and I must recommend the caipirinhas. My only issue with Zero 8 is that it's in Montreal. Like their Facebook page for information about their take-out menu and feel free to email them and beg them to expand into Ontario. The website has an English version, but the Facebook page is in French.

Bakery No. 1
Auntie Loo's Treats, Ottawa
No dairy or egg. Gluten-free and nut-free options. Nuts on site.

Oh, Auntie Loo, I'd move to Ottawa for you. This vegan bakery is a haven for those of us with dairy and egg allergies. She does have nuts on the premises, but there are plenty of recipes without nuts. While she's very careful about orders, if you do have a severe nut allergy, best not to risk it. If you don't, have fun trying all the different kinds of cupcakes as well as cinnamon buns, Nanaimo bars, cakes, croissants and so much more. She even has gluten-free options! Auntie Loo (a.k.a Amanda Lunan) is friendly and brilliant and I love visiting her cute and heavenly-smelling shop on Bronson Avenue. While she's only been open for a little over a year, I have become a devoted customer. No occasion (real or made up) is complete without one of her treats. Like her Facebook page for info about new desserts and chances to Take the Cake at an amazing price.

In my next post, I'll list a few more great (and not great) restaurants and how I manage to survive eating out. I'll include a snazzy template too!

C'est tout! Enjoy!