07 May 2010

Please sir, I want some more...

I elbowed a few young French girls outta the way to get at the cupcakes.

Admittedly, London has not been historically known for its culinary offerings. Meat and fish fried beyond all recognition, soggy vegetables and bland, flavourless meals are what comes to mind, but in reality the British food scene, with its stars Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, is changing in leaps and bounds. No longer are you limited to fish n'chips and a fry up (although I had both and they were marvelous) and Indian curry - the world's food has come to London, and the old favourites are getting a dose of refinement. Here's a sample of what I ate:

They tried to make me go to Rehab, and I was like "hang on, lemme finish these eggs."

You've got to start the day with a proper British breakfast Fry Up. Now, if I ate meat, this already monstrous plate of food would be further laden with hunks of ham, blood pudding and bacon, but I think that this is still pretty divine. A forkful should consist of a little bit of every item, enrobed in the runny eggyolk and then schmeared with HP Sauce. Bliss. I got this one in Camden, at a pub called the Elephant's Head in Amy Winehouse's stomping grounds.

3 course meal.

Snack time! Pints of beer in London are not the delicious, creamy, delicious pints that I think of when I pop into a pub for a Sunday afternoon tipple with my pals - there are no delicious cream ales or dark honey lagers. The beer is half flat, and is served just above room temperature and has that sort of flavour that pissy American beers like Budweiser have. That said, there is something oddly pleasant about it, even though I had to keep telling myself that it was not last night's warm forgotten party beer. *Shudder* Before London, I liked my beer ice cold, fizzy and yummy - like Granville Island Winter Ale, or Belgian Heffweisen. I still do.

Hello Oyster. You horrify me a little bit. But in a delicious way.

Maldon Rock, French Prestige and Gigas Rock oysters.

For my birthday, S took me to a lovely gastropub called The Commander, an old pub that has been renovated to be a bit more light and airy and specializes in fresh seafood and raw oysters. I love oysters. I love their briny, fishy little bodies swimming in vinegar and garlic and slurped up with their salty ichor, half chewed and half rolled around in your mouth like a swallow of fresh sea. We had 3 different types, and they were all different; one was big and vulgar and abrupt, announcing his ocean-y flavour a little too loudly, and the other two were more delicate, like pretty little jewels. We followed the oysters with a great salad that included roasted shitake mushrooms (we had just watched this documentary, so I really enjoyed them) and then I had a pan fried Scottish salmon fillet served on a bed of dill and squash risotto. The whole meal was genius.

All four foodgroups: potatoes, sauce, pastry and cheese. Mwah!

Ahh, is there anything (other than fish n'chips, which I forgot to take a photo of!) that is so quintessentially British as pie and mash? We found a lovely chain called Eat that specializes in seasonal, fresh and organic food and rather than the stardard "steak and kidney" pie, they had these wonderful, homey sweet potato and goat's cheese pies with mash and veggie gravy. I ate this twice, it was so good. Although, if you served me a man's show with mashed potatoes and gravy, I would eat that too.....

You shouldn't leave me unnattended with all of this food. Like, for serious.

Tuna and onion salad in the foreground, cod and crab croquette in the rear.

Pintxos (peen-choes) are an phenomena that you find in the Northern Spanish Basque region, and famously in San Sebastian, a town I visited on my 18 year old "backpacking fail" trip. Little bites of savoury food, like canapes, are placed directly on the counter at all of the local bars (and there are hundreds, teeny standing room only affairs) the idea being that you pop in, grab a glass of wine of beer, eat a few pintxos and move on to the next bar, each of which specializes in a specific type. Walking down Neal St in Covent Garden, I noticed a tiny pintxos restaurant and we sampled six - all of which were good, and a few really great. I wish Vancouver had a Basque restaurant, but alas we don't. Business opportunity, anyone?


And finally, I will leave you with cupcakes. They are called "Fairycakes" here and these ones at Camden Market were so cute that I couldn't resist (not that I even remotely tried to...) I won't lie - they were a bit stale, but so pretty that I willed myself into loving them. It worked!

1 comment:

Struckbylightning7times said...

I love your blog. Whether it's your pictures, your excursions, or your writing, everything seems to come together beautifully in a fun and enjoyable way. It is delightful entertainment!

Thank you,

Your (not trying to kiss ass, though it may appear so) faithful and appreciative reader.