A cold glass of Swiss beer and a freshly baked bretzel (a.k.a. brezel or pretzel). Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? We enjoyed this pairing over the weekend in Rapperswil at the third annual Craft Bier Festival. My husband is a beer enthusiast, and our trip served as a belated birthday present.
Held in the Rapperswil Castle, the event featured 32 different kinds of beer, along with delicious Swiss bratwurst and bretzel. A typical Swiss street food, you can find bretzels in Brezelkönigs and bäckereien throughout German-speaking Switzerland. However, across the Röstigraben in Suisse-Romande, we see them much less frequently.
All of us sampled the delicious bretzels at the bier festival, but our 2-year old son did not. We couldn’t be sure they were free of his allergens (milk, egg and almond), and we certainly don’t ever want to take the chance—particularly when traveling. I packed along a separate bag full of allergy-friendly food for our trip, so he never ate anything during our time in Rapperswil that wasn’t prepared or provided by us.
Before we left for Rapperswil, I emailed a hotel that’s part of a large international chain to inquire about ordering an allergy-friendly meal at their restaurant. My son hasn’t had a hot meal at a restaurant for nearly a year, since we’ve been cautious and hesitant to trust someone else to prepare his food. A large majority of this restaurant’s online menu had items free of his allergens, so I thought it might be a safe option.
While the hotel wrote that its restaurant could prepare a meal free of my son’s allergens, it would be difficult for them to avoid cross-contamination. The one menu item they could safely serve him was french fries. I appreciated the prompt and honest response. It would be challenging for most restaurants, I’m sure, if they aren’t used to preparing allergy-friendly food—particularly if requested to do so during a busy time or without advance notice.
Even though the hotel provided the phone number for the restaurant and said I should contact them directly, I felt like the response did not warrant further investigation. Maybe I should have called to talk with the restaurant, but I was lazy and hoping to find a place that seemed a little more familiar with and willing to accommodate patrons with food allergies. And, I should have contacted more than one restaurant. I will have to try harder next time, especially as it gets closer to winter and an outdoor picnic with homemade sandwiches become less feasible.
For more information, Allergy Eats in the United States has compiled a great list of resources and tips for dining out.
While my son didn’t get to have bretzels at the bier festival, I wanted to make sure he could try a dairy and egg-free version back at home. I’ve always thought homemade pretzels were too time-consuming, but I made them yesterday morning, and they were really quite easy. These will definitely be a new staple recipe in our household. Now I just need to improve my pretzel-shaping technique…
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups of flour
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
2 teaspoons salt
olive oil for greasing
4 1/4 cups water
9 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt (or sesame, poppy, etc.)
Dough: In a large bowl, mix together water, sugar and yeast. Let stand about 8-10 minutes until it foams. Add flour, margarine and salt and stir together until dough forms. Knead for about 5-10 minutes until the dough become smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Boiling: Boil the water and baking soda in a large pan. Cover baking sheet/s with parchment paper and grease them with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Pull out long strands and form into pretzels, put onto greased paper.
Place each pretzel in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and place them back on the same greased and paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with selected toppings.
Bake for 12-15 minutes at 225°C/450°F. Best served warm.
Finding a safe place to eat when traveling with food allergies can be challenging, and the following are resources to try and help make it easier.
- For Switzerland, you can check out my growing list of allergy-friendly restaurants. If you have other suggestions for Switzerland, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For the United States, check out AllergyEats, a great online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants, and you can share your own reviews.