Saturday, March 24, 2007

March 24, 2007: Allergy Block open day

Allergy Block is a great shop around the corner from where I live, filled with products for people with all kinds of food allergies and intolerances, as well as vegetarian items, natural cleansers and organic groceries. They've scored more than one mention in the pages of this blog, and every time I visit I like to browse all the shelves because there's a good chance that something unexpected will catch my eye and follow me home.

On Saturday they held a special open day, with a store-wide 10% discount (and a handful of much bigger discounts too!) and stands from a number of their suppliers promoting their products and offering free samples. As you would have picked up from the picture above, I made the most of the reduced prices! Pictured, clockwise from the left are: a litre of organic milk, a packet of the sage & marjoram vege sausages that I recently discovered, some roasted organic cashews, organic vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, a jar of chilli capsicum salsa, gluten and wheat-free sweet chilli and kaffir lime biscuits, and some vegetarian Thai style cakes.

The salsa and gluten-free biscuit purchases were inspired by the samples that I tasted out the front of the shop. The biscuits are part of a local range of wheat-free biscuits (sweet and savoury) called Decadent Alternatives. At $5.30 (the usual non-discounted price) for a 100g pack, these are definitely decadent in price but a worthy treat for gluten-free eaters. No such problems here, I'm happy to say, yet I still couldn't resist taking home some of the savoury ones! The chilli capsicum salsa is also known as Kangaroo Punch and is made by the Chilli Factory. This supplier had at least a dozen different sauces, salsas, chutneys and the like, all rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for heat.

In addition to the stuff I bought and tasted, I also scored a number of free samples. As I paid for my goodies, some organic fair trade ground coffee sachets and another one of drinking chocolate were tucked into my green bag. But the biggest haul of all came from the friendly and generous John, representing Willow Confectionery...

He was the first person I encountered on the street as I approached Allergy Block, offering me a sample of his nut- and egg-free chocolate and chatting about its cocoa content and the Easter rush on their products. Then he thrust two handfuls (over 300g!) of his chocolate samples on me before I moved on. As he registered my bewildered look, he gave me his card and assured me that the Allergy Block staff wouldn't accuse me of shoplifting as long as I showed that to them. I was more concerned that Michael wouldn't believe my story that a "supplier" forced this chocolate on me in the street at no cost. (And who would believe such a story from an addict, really?) While this experience has probably positively biased my judgement, I can tell you that the dark chocolate is pretty tasty for its modest 50% cocoa content. And it brought a smile to my face to see a few excited kids with limited diets dancing around the display of allergen-free chocolate bunnies inside.

I've obviously been a fan of this shop for a while now and it was great to see it full of people trying something new or discovering alternatives versions of foods they thought they'd be cutting from their diet. As well as a one-day spike in sales, my hope is that Allergy Block have made a lot of new long-term customers.

Update 10/5/10: Allergy Block, which has been our convenient supplier of so many vegan-friendly, gluten-free and other goodies seems to have closed down. They were originally heading to new premises in Moonee Ponds, but that appears to have fallen through and the business is no longer trading. It's very disappointing.


  1. yumm it all looks so delicious. I love chilli factory its my absolute fave I always have about ten bottles of random chilli items on my sheleves just waiting to be used and when i see them at the easter show or good food and wine show etc...i go abit crazy...what can say they are so useful and i can not wait for the sydney good food and wine show...

  2. I was really impressed by how many different things the Chilli Factory had on display! And all with taste testing. :-P

  3. The Chilli Factory is now selling in the USA. Check it out.

  4. Thanks for the link, Mike, and good luck to the Chilli Factory in the US market!