Tag Archives: London

Photo Tour of Borough Market in London


Borough

englandThere is nothing we love more than a good market, and London has them in spades. Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in London, and the current iconic glass and metal structure was originally built in 1851, and after additions over the years it was refurbished at the beginning of the 21st century into its current form. Though it was originally a wholesale market, Borough Market today is a mishmash of food stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to meat pies to olive oil to tapas under one roof. Though we are always fans of food from all over the world, it was especially great to see all of the local British foodstuffs available for sale, especially the cheeses. We pieced together a light meal (very reasonably priced for London) from various stalls, after wandering around and taking in all the sights and smells.

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The best Pasteis de Nata in London

united_kingdomportugalOne of our first stops in London was the venerable British Museum, where they had a delightful museum cafe run by the local cafe chain Benugo (various locations throughout London). Imagine our surprise when we saw the iconic Portuguese pastry, the Pastel de Nata, being advertised proudly front and center alongside muffins and scones, as a “Panata.” We certainly weren’t expecting to see one of our favorite Portuguese treats in this location! The panata from Benugo was actually pretty good, and once we saw our favorite treats there, we started seeing them in shops all around town. Who would have thought it would be so popular in London?

Panata

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Our Official Afternoon Tea in London at the Park Terrace Restaurant

united_kingdomTo finish up tea week, we are going back to the source: London! When reading up on tea history for our trip, we finally learned the difference between a high tea and an afternoon tea. High tea is a heartier meal and is actually considered less sophisticated than the lighter afternoon tea, which has small finger sandwiches and pastries. After much deliberation, we selected the setting for our official London teatime: the Park Terrace Restaurant at the Royal Garden Hotel (2 – 24 Kensington High St, London W8 4PT). This modern but elegant restaurant featured a view of Kensington Palace grounds, which sealed the deal.
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Front and center at this tea time was the tea, which we really appreciated. To help us make up our mind, the tea butler (who knew there were such roles?) presented us with a tea tray with little glass jars of each of the dozen or so teas from Emeyu. We selected the Pu-erh Chai Tea, and the enigmatically-named Leaping Tiger tea – white tea with mango and cornflowers. Other selections included a blooming jasmine and amaranth tea, red fruit infusion, and Lapsang Souchong as well as Japanese and Chinese ceremonial teas. Moreover, we were impressed that the selections even came with brewing temperature instructions. After we ordered our tea, our little tea sandwiches came out in quick order: tuna, chicken, tomato salsa, cheese, and egg salad. These were classic tea sandwiches, simply prepared on crustless bread. Not terribly innovative, but perfect for an authentic London tea experience.

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Then came the high multi-tiered dessert tray, the perfect emblem of a classic tea time. Naturally, there were scones – two cinnamon and two raisin – which were delectable, as was the Devonshire cream we slathered on them. Why can’t we make scones like this at home? In addition to the scones, there were a staggering amount of desserts. First, unexpectedly were four slices of pound cake: chocolate, lemon, banana and cranberry nut. Basically, we used these as additional vehicles for the Devonshire cream, though they were tasty in their own right. Crowning the dessert tray were elegantly-presented petit fours: raspberry layer cake, a tiny dark chocolate tart with a white chocolate straw, lemon cream cake, and a coconut canele. Everything was delectable and perfectly formed, especially the photogenic multi-layered raspberry cake and the chocolate tart.
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We relaxed in the elegant setting, taking in a view of Kensington Gardens. And were we ever full – we were totally floored by the amount of food. The restaurant actually even gained a piano player at the end of the tea, which added to the ambiance. We were very pleased by our tea at the Park Terrace, it was a classic experience without being overly formal or stuffy. At £26.00 per person, you can have the classic tea experience without succumbing to exorbitant London prices.
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A Photo Tour of London’s Brixton Market

united_kingdomWhere can you find a hipster coffee house alongside a shop selling African waxprint cloth and stalls selling Caribbean produce and Jamaican flag cellphone covers? Brixton Market! Brixton Market in South London is one of the more unique market conglomerations we have ever come across, and we loved every minute of it. Upon exiting the Brixton tube stop you are almost immediately plunged into a bustling market atmosphere, seven days a week. There are actually two parts to the market, the open air stalls lining the streets and the covered market arcade areas. One of these covered areas, “Brixton Village,” has more permanent little shops and restaurants with seating that overflows outside. There is a heavy Caribbean influence in Brixton, but you will find global gems from all over the world alongside Jamaican and Trinidadian food and produce, including Portuguese and Indian grocery stores. Though the market is open daily, there are special theme days, and even a flea market. Here’s a little photo tour of what it is like to walk through Brixton Market on a sunny but brisk Friday afternoon.

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Maltese cuisine in London at Parparellu

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We often talk about how finding food from small island nations can be difficult. However, we finally pinned one down- Malta. When we were in London, we actually found a Maltese restaurant with a lot of good press, Parparellu (93, Fulham Palace Road, W6 8JA London). Parparellu is located near Hammersmith, in Southwest London, and is a bright, cheerful and modern restaurant. We knew we were in the right place because there was even a Maltese Cross-shaped cake displayed proudly in the window! Upon entering the store, we were immediately greeted by the friendly Maltese proprietor, Joseph Pace, who helped explain all of the items for sale.

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Maltese goods for sale at Parparellu

Along with a large glass deli counter of prepared foods, there were soda, wine and snacks from Malta for sale, as well as a freezer full of take-and-bake goods. Joe assured us that everything is made fresh in the store, except for the pastizzi – which are made in Malta and shipped over frozen. We were really impressed by the large variety of pastries and prepared dishes for sale, and though some seemed similar to Italian or Greek food – all being Mediterranean neighbors- others were completely unique and new to us. It is worth noting that Parparellu also serves Illy coffee, so we took the chance to get a quick pick-me-up.

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Our favorite treat was the pouch-like qassatat pastry (£0.85), filled with either tuna, spinach or ricotta. We went with the ricotta. Another traditional Maltese pastry on offer was the pastizzi (£0.95), a lobster-tail-like delicate pastry filled with mushy peas and ricotta – and we thought mushy peas were just a fish and chips thing. For some more substantial mains, we got a takeaway box filled with feta and cucumber salad and couscous with golden raisins (pay by weight). We were completely impressed by how nice and fresh everything looked, and were also tempted by the baked macaroni-and-bolognese timpana. To finish up, we selected from among the vast array of Maltese cookies, including a Maltese take on the cannoli – spelled with a “k”. We were a bit overwhelmed by all the cookies, but Joe suggested that we try the Kwalezimar: chewy almond paste cookies flavored with orange blossom water.

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Our Maltese Picnic Lunch (l-r): Pastizzi, feta salad and couscous in box, qassatat, and kwalezimar

After picking everything up we went to a park that was somewhat near to our AirB&B – the Kyoto garden of Holland Park. We dug into our food, and managed to attract the attention of squirrels and some peacocks while doing so. Everything was fresh and delicious, and not too much worse for wear after a tube ride. The pastries were definitely standouts, with tender, flaky crust, and flavorful fillings. The mushy peas even had a hint of curry flavor, which we were not expecting, but appreciated. We are so glad we visited Parparellu to finally get a taste Maltese food. Now if only we could find some stateside….

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Our favorite Tea Shop in London: Postcard Teas

PostcardTeaunited_kingdomTea in London is serious business, as you may imagine. We went to the big name tea stores, but often felt they were more flash than substance. However, Postcard Teas (9 Dering St, London W1S 1AG) is the perfectly understated answer to the glitzy superstore. Postcard Teas’ stock in trade is in providing a curated variety of teas from small tea farms all over the world. Now these are really small farms, less than 15 acres. Postcard Teas is tucked away on a side street right off of the hustle and bustle of Oxford street. The store is truly an oasis of calm, and is very beautifully arranged with 60 tea varieties in cute tins alongside an assortment elegant handmade teapots from Japan. Taking up one wall of the store are all of the tea varieties available.

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The 60 teas available at Postcard Teas range in type and price from tiny tea estates throughout Japan, China, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and Korea. Most of the teas are black, oolong and green, but there are also purh-eh and flavored teas. The choice is almost overwhelming, but the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. Even for such specialized teas, the cost is pretty reasonable. We also appreciated the nice artwork on all of the tea ins, which each come with information about the provenance of the teas and brewing instructions. The amount of care that Postcard Teas puts into informing its customers about tea is very apparent – they even offer classes!

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You can pay to sample any of the teas (£2), but the fee is waived if you end up purchasing the tea itself. This is not just dipping a teabag into some boiling water though. Each tea has a specified steeping time and temperature and the gentleman who helped us at the store prepared our tiny cups of tea with the precision of a surgeon. We sampled the rich English breakfast tea that is a mix of Indian, Japanese and Chinese teas. We also tried a delicate Darjeeling from the Mineral Spring Tea Farm in Darjeeling, India. We really liked both of our choices, and it was remarkable how different each was (Darjeeling is on the left, English breakfast on the right).

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The coolest aspect is that you can actually send a “tea postcard” (£8.95-12.50). You can select from one of their tea varieties and put it in a special envelope and mail it directly from a little red postbox right in the store, to pretty much any location. You pay the extra for postage and they take care of the rest for you. We sent ourselves the tea postcards and a few weeks later they arrived – what a nice souvenir! We would highly recommend Postcard Teas to any tea lover visiting London, they truly promote the very best of global tea culture.

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Dia de Los Muertos Macaron Display in London

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Dia De Los Muertos Macaron Display – photos by Ganache Macaron

Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead is becoming more popularly celebrated and recognized around the world, which means that a whole new variety of creative treats based on the day are emerging. One of the more interesting Dia de Los Muertos themed creations we have seen is a macaron-themed Day of the Dead display in London. The display is located in the Covent Garden branch of Wahaca, an upscale Mexican restaurant. The macarons were created by Ganache Macaron and the designer Katherine Burke. We think they did a pretty amazing job, and our favorite has to be the giant sugar skull inspired macaron that is the centerpiece of the display (above). If you happen to be in London the display will be up until November 3rd.

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Dia De Los Muertos Macaron Display – photos by Ganache Macaron

 

 

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A Visit to Ottolenghi in London

Yotam Ottolenghi’s 2010 vegetable-forward cookbook “Plenty” was one of the most talked about releases in past few years, making vegetarian cuisine beautiful and exciting. Now, with the release of the follow-up cookbook, “Plenty More,” Ottolenghi is again on everyone’s lips. However, before the cookbooks, there were the restaurants. Ottolenghi has a restaurant and three delis scattered around London. The delis particularly intigued me because they offer his signature food for carry-out by the kilo. Having gorged on sweets and fried food in London thus far, it was time to order a bit healthier.Ottolenghi

I visited the Ottolenghi branch in the impossibly posh neighborhood of Belgravia (13 Motcomb Street London SW1X 8LB). The Ottolenghi store was bright and airy, and much like his cookbooks, everything was presented perfectly. The windows were full of deliciously fresh treats, and upon entry, the food was piled enticingly on large trays. I was frankly surprised at how beautiful everything looked. We are not talking about a Whole Food buffet, this stuff is art.

Ottolenghi

One downside, the ordering system was a bit confusing. Some items, like muffins or desserts are sold individually, while the vegetables were by weight, however it is important to note that you do NOT do this yourself, you have to request a paper takeout box (large or small) from the person behind the counter who will then put the food in the box for you.

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The desserts looked particularly tasty, including fruit tarts and a sunken chocolate cake. However, I was trying to be especially healthy so I skipped dessert altogether and went with a few of the veggie salads. The first dish that caught my eye was the curry roasted cauliflower with tahini, hazelnuts and pomegranate arils. The second salad I chose consisted of roasted sweet potatoes with Ras-al-hanout yogurt and pumpkin seeds. Other options included a new potato salad, a quiche with leeks and bacon and char-grilled broccoli and chilli. Now, I couldn’t totally avoid the “treats,” so I also picked a savory muffin with pesto, goat cheese and tomatoes.
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Around the Belgravia shop there are no public parks, so I took my carryout box to the V&A museum to eat in the center courtyard. Everything was light, delicious and unique. The sweet potatoes with yogurt sauce was impossibly complex, and the pomegranate and cilantro really worked as a topping. However, the savory cheese-filled muffin was the most delicious of all! Ottolenghi is a great option for lunch, and gives me some further inspiration to try the cookbooks to bring the dishes to this side of the Atlantic.

Ottolenghi

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Sedap, Malaysian Nyonya Cuisine in London

malaysiaWe ended up at Sedap (102 Old St, London EC1V 9AY) thanks to a concert that never occurred. We were in the impossibly trendy Shoreditch waiting for a concert that was supposed to begin at 7, but by 8:30, the show had no signs of starting, and was being filled with more young teenagers than a One Direction concert. We decided to just cut our losses and grab a bite to eat. We had heard good things about Sedap’s unique take on Malaysian cuisine, so we decided to give it a try. Located within walking distance of Shoreditch, in a much more low-key (and less trendy) area, Sedap serves authentic Malaysian Nyonya food in a simple, serene setting. To contribute to the calm, there was even a little fountain in the corner where we were sitting (It was dark so unfortunately the picture did not come out at all).

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Sedap’s Interior

Nyonya cuisine (sometimes called Peranakan) is the result of the intermingling of indigenous Malay, Indonesian and Chinese techniques and ingredients, and is rare to find outside of Malaysia and Singapore. When we visited Singapore in 2010, we tried Nyonya cuisine for the first time, and we instantly loved the complex and diverse flavors. Sedap’s menu was pretty concise and we saw some dishes we had not seen since our trip to Singapore, which was welcome, including the emblematic Hainanese chicken rice, in a chili and soy sauce (£8.80). Also on offere were several Laksas, including Singapore Laksa, thin vermicelli noodles with fish cakes andshrimp in a curry sauce (£8.95). “Laksa” is a common type of dish in Nyonya cookery and refers to noodles in a soupy coconut milk curry (of which there are many, many variants).
???????????????????????????????We ordered one of our favorites from Singapore, Prawn/Shrimp Lemak (£8.70), and a new-to-us dish: Beef Rendang (£7.95). Both dishes came out pretty quickly and were perfect portions to share. The Rendang was advertised as being in a spicy, “almost dry” curry, meaning it was more of a thick paste that coated the meat. Not a photogenic dish, but spicy, flavorful and tender. The prawn lemak was a coconut milk curry, with plenty of lightly spicy soupy-ness and a strong lemongrass flavor. Both dishes were flavorful and complex, and had clearly been cooked to order. Overall, we found the food at Sedap to be unique and reasonably priced (for London) for the quality. We wish we had more time in London to explore more of Sedap’s Nyonya dishes and flavors. But even if we won’t be back for a while, we encourage people to get off the tourist track and try something new beyond the typical curry.

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Guyanese in London: Umana Yana

guyana_flagWe love Caribbean/West Indian food, but our local options in Chicago are somewhat limited to Jamaican food and a Trinidadian spot or two. However, our trip to London provided us with the rare opportunity to sample Guyanese cuisine and we jumped at the chance. The ultimate Guyanese dish is the roti, an unleavened bread popular in Indian cuisine, which was brought to the West Indies by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. The beauty of the roti is in its role as a wrap, that can be filled with nearly anything! We learned about a couple of roti restaurants in the Brixton area which seemed to be located in food trucks or markets, and were near-impossible to track down. However, we heard great things about Umana Yana (294 Croxted Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9DA).

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Umana Yana is located south of the Caribbean-flavored area of Brixton, definitely off the tourist track. The name “Umana Yana” comes from a famous monument in Guyana whose name means “meeting house of the people” in the indigenous Wai-Wai language. The shop was tiny, but fully stocked with rotis and curries of every stripe, including chicken and eggplant, pumpkin, oxtail and goat (among many others). The curry was kept in small containers separately in the refrigerated counter, so you mix and match, or take your options to-go, which seemed to be a popular option. There was only one table inside, so we took advantage of the nice weather and waited for our food at a table outside. Aside from the huge variety of curries there were other Guyanese appetizers, including poulourie (fried green pea dough fritters) and bara (lentil fritters).??????????????????????????????? We decided to split a Goat curry on dohl puri, at the behest of the chef/owner Deborah. We really enjoyed the dohl puri, a roti filled with chickpeas, which was unusual and different from a garden variety roti (we ordered one of those on the side too – see above). The rotis were made fresh to order, and were like thin, rich naan: soft and a little flaky, but not too greasy. Unfortunately the curry was not too photogenic, but it was certainly delicious. To finish, we recommend washing your meal down with a delicious, floral sorrel drink. It also bears mentioning that the owner of Umana Yana, Deborah is a sweet as can be, and made us feel incredibly welcome. If you are in search of Guyanese food in London, Umana Yana is the real deal.

 

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The flat white coffee experience in London

New Zealand FlagIn my years of coffee drinking, it is rare that I come across a wholly new espresso drink, however when I heard of a flat white about a year ago, I was intrigued. A flat white is like a latte, however made with two shots and “velvety” milk that is prepared with a micro-foaming technique. The flat white hails from New Zealand, but it has made quite the impression in London, where it is on almost every coffee shop menu, and has even infiltrated Starbucks. We also noticed a smattering of cafes billed as “New Zealand-style.”??????????????????????????????? I decided to go to the pioneer of flat white coffee while in London, the aptly named Flat White cafe in Soho (17 Berwick St, London W1F 0PT). The menu is very simple, consisting of only a few coffee drinks and a pastry or two with a special focus on the eponymous drink. There were expats behind the counter and filling the shop, one particularly pleased grandmum expressed her pleasure at being able to get a proper flat white. The cafe is quite small, and many just pop in for a flat white to-go cup. I placed my order and waited at a small table inside.

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After a bit of a wait, the cup was slammed down on my table by a brusque barista. With some expert latte art on top, it looked the part. The flat white was quite good, stronger and smaller than a typical latte. True to advertising, it was topped with particularly “velvety” and smooth milk as opposed to the stiffer foam on a cappuccino. I could definitely tell the difference, though I don’t think it will change my routines. So there you have it – the full flat white experience from the original London pioneers. Maybe this drink will cross the Atlantic (or Pacific) to reach the US soon.

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Exploring the Camden Lock Global Food Market

united_kingdom Many visitors to London, so we are told, cap their trip with a leisurely boat ride along the Thames – a journey which, surely, will take you to some fine culinary destinations. But – and this knowledge is thanks to a trip from our well-traveled friend Robin – London also possesses a series of small navigable canals in the central and northern parts of the city. You can ride, as we did, a British longboat from the back of Paddington Station to the Camden Lock, a leisurely ride through London’s “Little Venice” that took us by grand estates, leafy parks and an assortment of floating homes and cafes. And, prize of prizes, the boat will drop you off at what may be one of our favorite food markets ever: Camden Lock Market.

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Camden Lock Market is large, with a wide range of stores, restaurants, and shops that can get very crowded and touristy. But at this end, nearest to the boat dock, you find “Global Kitchen,” which features a plethora of appealing and appetizing food stalls around a gridded series of walkways. Even at the odd hour of 3 pm, this place was jam packed (the market is open 10am-6pm most days). Our first reaction? Overwhelming. It took half an hour just to find all the options available: Japanese noodles, Argentine grilled meats, Peruvian snacks, West African meals, kielbasa, vegan wraps, paella, cookies, piadina, and more. Everything- and we mean everything- looked good!???????????????????????????????

Choices, choices. L finally opted for South African bunny chow at Boerie en Bunny (£5.5). Operated by a woman who wins the award for genuinely nicest person we have ever met, Boerie en Bunny serves South African curries and fish stews over your choice of rice or “Bunny Chow” – a hollowed out roll (bun – get it?), stuffed with your order. We went with a rich and deeply flavorful spicy goat curry, topped with yogurt and fresh cilantro – a choice that was only made after our amiable friend forced us to try all the options she had available, and then asked us to stay just to taste a her seafood stew (fantastic, and very reminiscent of a Brazilian moqueca).

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Next, we opted to reminisce about our 2011 Istanbul trip with a Turkish lahmacun at Istanbul lahmacun (£5), a pizza-esque dish topped with ground lamb. Lahmacun are a very popular street snack in Istanbul, and we had the good fortune to try a few while were there. The stall owner, from Istanbul herself (authenticity points!) was very happy to learn we enjoyed her hometown, and eager to talk about her life experiences and food in London. The good food matched the owner’s ambiability: our lahmacun was huge, covered in ground lamb, yogurt and veggies, which made for a filling and delicious main course.

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Finally, for dessert we had one dozen Dutch poffertjes (aka “Dutch Pancakes”; £3.5) from a stall of the same name. These little puffs have the appearance of mini dough UFOs or slightly flattened donut holes. The gentleman manning the stall (see photo below) was a complete pro: flipping the poffertjes in the special pan at a lightning speed with a pair of chopsticks. Of course we could not resist topping them with Nutella.

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We ate a lot of street food in London, but the Camden Lock Market was our hands-down favorite! If you are looking for cheap, good food in London you absolutely must go. You can get there by tube, but the boat is even more fun.

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Pastry Post Doc’s English desserts: Bakewell Tart

EnglandWhen we were in London this past month, we were absolutely blown away by the huge amount of international cuisines available (even compared to our last visit 10+ years ago). However, we wanted to give proper attention to English classics including our favorite category of food – sweets. Now, we are no strangers to English candy, but we had not ventured far into the world of desserts, or as they are called locally – puddings. While in London, I popped into a bakery that specializes in English treats to brush up on my British baking knowledge: Peyton and Byrne (several locations, I visited 44 Wellington Street, Covent Garden). The case and bakery racks of this appealing cafe were full of delicious treats including familiar-to-Americans apple crumbles and cookies. However, there were some new treats including the Bakewell Tart, which looked too delicious to pass up.

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Mini Bakewell Tarts by Mary E

The Bakewell Tart, which originated in Derbyshire, is tart with a shortbread crust, an almond filling and a layer of raspberry jam. On our trip, we saw Bakewell tarts in mini bite-sized versions (as above), or as larger tarts cut into wedges (as below). At Peyton and Byrne, they cut the pie into wedges (and top with almond slivers), which seems to make the perfect filling to crust ratio. We could tell the jam was homemade, and it perfectly complemented the frangipane filling. We found the Bakewell Tart to be perfectly delightful, or shall we say – moreish! There is a recipe for the Bakewell Tart in Peyton and Byrne’s book, British Baking, and recipes for traditional and exotic Bakewell Tarts abound online.

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Bakewell Tart by Dan Peters

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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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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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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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Diverse, International Restaurants in London

So the Olympics are officially over – and we are sad (though we are looking forward to Rio)! However, while the international athletes may have gone home, the international food scene in London is only growing. With over 8 million people, London has an amazingly diverse population and food scene. Indian food, arguably the most popular cuisine in the UK, is found nearly everywhere in the city, and there are amazing Indian restaurants for every budget. While London has long been home to South Asian food on Brick Lane and has a Vibrant Chinatown, it is home to many other far-flung cuisines.  London Ethnic Eating is a blog dedicated to exploring ethnic food in the city, turning up eateries ranging from Vietnamese to AlgerianTime Out London’s List of top 50 restaurants includes many international options.

Brick Lane at Night

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Top Food Trucks in London

It is no secret that we are mad about food carts, and we consider them to be one of America’s most important exports. Food cart culture has spread to Paris in recent years and has taken root in London. It is worth noting that food “cart” and food “truck” have very different connotations in British English, with food carts having a somewhat dubious reputation. Not to fear though, high quality and innovative food trucks are on the rise in London, right on the heels of booming food truck culture in the US. The variety of London food truck is admirably vast and street foodies can choose from gourmet burgers, curry, chocolate, Vietnamese, and Mexican, among others.

The Luardos Food Truck in London

The Guardian has a list of food trucks picks in London , along with some mouth-watering recipes from each (we are especially digging the Carnitas recipe from Luardos). Migrationology has another round of 6 picks, including meatballs and hotdogs (sounds a little familiar to Chicago, no?). Another truck that found its way onto nearly all of the lists was Crêperie Nicholas, a fan-favorite for crêpes, served out of a restored 1965 Citroën truck. Southern food has also made its way to London, and the Pitt Cue Co. truck even offers pulled pork. This extremely important development means we could move to London easily, should the need arise. Most intriguingly we are excited to note the appearance of the HMS Flake 99, an ice cream truck that doubles as a BOAT (see below). For the latest in London street food developments, you can keep up with the Eat.st site.

HMS Flake 99 photo by Eater

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The Olympics and British Cuisine

A view inside the Olympic Village Dining Hall – courtesy of The Daily Mail

The 2012 Olympic Games begin today in London, and Britain is using the international exposure to rebrand its still paltry international culinary reputation. Of course, anyone who still believes Britain has terrible food has either not visited London in the past ten years or, if they did, managed to have their heads stuck in the Underground for too long. As Henry Chu of the LA Times noted, London is a very different place from when it last hosted the Olympics (1948), and Londoners today are used to having the world at their doorstep. But just in case you missed the memo, here’s some light reading to catch you up: The New York Daily News is asking whether or not the Olympics can put British cuisine back on the menu, noting that the Olympic Village’s main dining hall contains a number of different culinary zones highlighting the international influences that make up the British culinary menu, including “Best of Britain; Europe, the Americas and Mediterranean; Asian, and Afro-Caribbean” cuisines. Meanwhile, Gavin Cleaver at An Englishmen in BBQ Sauce (he’s a Briton writing in Dallas – get it?) has a celebration and occasional loathing of British cuisine, dishing out gold, silver, and bronze medals (try the curry!) in an Olympics of British food. Lastly, Katrina Heron at The Daily Beast outlines how, as spectacular as the Beijing Olympics were overall, they were an unmitigated culinary disaster, with terrible food that kept running out. Instead, in London, they are trying to launch a “culinary revolution,” insisting that this Olympics presented “an unprecedented opportunity to look at our diets and our health, at our catering industry, at the state of our farms, and to commit to a long-term plan for good food and environmental stewardship.” Internationally diverse, readily available, locally sourced, delicious food? London, we wish we were there too.

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