Visiting Brick Lane Beigel Bake in London

Brick Lane Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane
London E1 6SB

united_kingdomBrick Lane Beigel Bake is an institution – a window into the Brick Lane of 30 years ago. We first heard about this shop several years ago, and were looking forward to trying it when we were in London. We were not disappointed!  It seems like nothing has changed a bit in the preceding decades, from the battered sign to the linoleum floors. The bagels, spelled in the UK as “beigels” also seem to have been unchanged for years and that’s a good thing. The entire store is literally stuffed with bagels (according to Wikipedia: 7,000 a day). Piled up behind the counter were scores and scores of fluffy bagels, and one of the staff’s buzzing members was completely dedicated to just cutting bagels (definitely a full-time job).

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They certainly do a swift trade, and the prices are listed in a helpful by-the-dozen price chart. Beigel Bake is open 24 hours a day, and though there are sometimes lines, there were only a few people in front of us on an odd 7 PM weeknight. You can by a plain bagel for 50P (extra charge for a cut in the bagel – no joke), or get them filled with a variety of sweet and savory fillings for a little extra. Cream cheese was an obvious choice, but we were also happy to see peanut butter, not a common sight in Europe at all!

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The heartiest fare are the Salt beef sandwiches (£3.70), cut freshly from a huge chunk of beef in the window, and placed on a split bagel. This seemed to be by far the most popular choice, and almost everyone walked away with a salt beef sandwich in a little paper sack. We opted for the slightly lighter salmon and cream cheese, plain cream cheese, as well as a bagel topped with peanut butter. The bagels were delicious and had a nice, light texture: soft but still chewy. This is definitely not a place to relax: you eat at the counter standing up or take your bagels to go. We decided to stand at the counter and take in the busy atmosphere, all the while marveling at how we managed to get a meal in London for under £6!

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The Design of the Turkish Tea Experience

turkeyWe write a lot about food on this blog, but we don’t often touch on the design experience related to dining. When it comes down to it – there is a lot of design involved in every step of the eating experience – from the restaurant/kitchen, the table setting, right down to the shape of a teacup. Fast Company has an interesting piece by John Brownlee about what role design plays in the Turkish tea experience in particular.

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Turkish tea by Estorde

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Kerbisher and Malt, modern fish and chips in London

Kerbisher and Malt
164 Shepherds Bush Rd.
London W6 7PB, United Kingdom

united_kingdomThe neighborhood fish and chips shop, aka “the chippy,” is a British institution, so we figured out it was the proper place to kick off our London food tour (and start our recap, too). I had bookmarked many “best fish and chips in London” list, links and guides, however it was almost overwhelming deciding where to go. Everyone seemed to have a slightly different idea of what made the perfect chippy, and they ran the gamut from 1950s linoleum cafes to plush restaurants serving elevated British cuisine. One of the choices that bubbled to the top across lists was Kerbisher and Malt, which was a more modern, but still simple, rendition of a chippy. We were staying in Shepard’s Bush in West London, so it was a bonus that we were able to walk over to the restaurant (okay, maybe that was a big selling point, though Kerbisher and Malt offers several locations around town).

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Kerbisher and Malt was simple and atmospheric, covered in white subway tiles and with modern wooden tables and iron chairs, with a slightly nautical vibe. The menu is simple, you choose from the selection of  fish and add on the side dishes including the classic mushy peas (£1.60) and chips (£1.90). There are also burgers, shrimp and fish sticks. The fish options available were Haddock, Cod, Coley, Plaice and Pollock, which ranged in price from £5.80 to £6.90. The fish was a la carte, but there was one combination deal, a small order of Coley with small fries and one sauce for £5. For the two of us, we ordered the aforementioned  small meal with curry sauce and Haddock £6.70 with fresh herbed tartar sauce (extra £0.50). Another important disclosure – this was M’s FIRST fish and chips experience, so the pressure was on to make it a good one. We pulled up a chair outside to wait in anticipation for our order.

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As we saw the server walking to our table, we were astounded by the size of the meals, the “small” meal was huge, and the regular size was gigantic. Though the prices may be a little higher than your corner chippy, you certainly get a lot for your money. The fish, in both cases, was tender and flaky, with tasty, crispy (not greasy) breading. The fries were fresh cut and came out piping hot and golden, though they could have been a bit crispier. The sauces were both homemade, and though vastly different, both complemented the fish. Who would have thought a red Tikka Masala-like sauce would have gone so well with fish and chips? However, I guess it makes sense, since they are both British! M highly enjoyed his first fish and chips experience, and vowed to follow up soon with another (or a classic Wisconsin fish fry). Happy and satiated, we felt confident to conquer the rest of the British food world after our auspicious start.

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Off to London!

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Fellow British Explorer, Paddington Bear

Off to London, with mini stopovers in Brussels and Copenhagen. If you have any recommendations, let us know! See you in a few weeks!

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Old School Italian Grocery in Miami: Laurenzo’s

ItalyWe are obsessed with old school Italian groceries, and we absolutely pine for an offshoot of our gold standard, Tenuta’s to open in Chicago. Laurenzo’s (16445 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160) is Miami’s answer to Tenuta’s, an old-school 1960s era supermarket with a little restaurant inside and a prodigious selection of olive oil and cheese. We were on our way to Hollywood beach for the day, so we decided we needed to pack a perfect picnic. Fortunately, Laurenzo’s had everything that we needed. We wandered the aisles, spending some extra time in front of the cheese counter, where we spied imported mozzarella and provolone. The baked goods selection was also pretty impressive, with a rainbow selection of Italian cookies and house-made cannoli. We could have piled up a basket or two of food, but we tried to keep our appetites in check. Check out the photos below of our wanderings through the store (and of course, we’ll definitely be back next time we end up in Miami). We ended up buying some crostini, buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto. These are our typical picnic fixin’s, but not typical beach food. We still think it pairs pretty well with the sun and sand!

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The deli counter at Laurenzo’s

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Pannettone and Italian Cookies

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Stay and sit for a while at the cafe.

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Cheese, cheese and more cheese.

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Not your typical beach picnic, but delicious!

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Cheese in London: Neal’s Yard Dairy

One of the things we are looking forward to most in London is the vast variety of British cheeses (and nice cheese shops). The video below is from Neal’s Yard Dairy, one of England’s foremost artisinal cheese shops, which specializes in local cheeses from all around the British Isles. We can’t wait to visit! In this short video below, we get to visit some local producers making St. James, Tymsboro and Montgomery Cheddar cheeses. What are some of your favorite British cheeses to recommend?

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London Calling

EnglandWe are on our way to London at the end of this week, with brief stopovers in Brussels and Copenhagen. We are excited to go to afternoon tea, sample international cuisine (especially Indian food), and amble around the food markets. We are also very excited about sampling some fine British cheeses! What are your favorite places to eat in London?

The Luardos Food Truck in London

The Luardos Food Truck in London

 

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