Mr Ana and I travel and eat. We eat a lot. Doesn’t have to fancy food (although we do enjoy a good degustation occasionally), but it has to be nice food. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be yummy. Here are a few things we got the chance to try…
The Borough Markets near London Bridge has been around since the 11th century, and is a well known spot to visit when in London. We decided to visit the market to have lunch one day, and strolled around a huge range of food stalls. From Thai curry to Raclette melted cheese (I really should have tried this one!), the options seemed endless. As I wasn’t so hungry, I settled on a simple meal of Italian sausages made by a local butcher in a bun. Delicious!
While still recovering from jetlag, my brother suggested we visit the nearby Exmouth Markets in Clerkenwell. A 10 minute stroll from my brother’s apartment and we entered the pedestrianised street lined with food stalls. My nose was attracted to a particular stall that was grilling sausages. The smell of the sausages was an attractive advertisement, and clearly everyone thought this as there was a line of around 10 people waiting!
It was one of the best sausages I’ve ever eaten – coarsely ground pork with just the right amount of moisture, a healthy dose of herbs and a bit of spice (pepper), all wrapped in a little pita bread with grilled onions. YUM. All for just £3.
Another stall that had quite a few people waiting was a BBQ set up in front of a butcher shop – Medcalf. We had a choice of lamb or beef hamburgers and we chose beef. After waiting for around 15 minutes we got our burger and added some fresh greens and cheese. And tomato sauce of course! The beef pattie was very plump – the butcher used such a good cut of beef that it was served medium rare. The beef mince was not from odd cuts, but rather a premium cut of beef with a bit of fat added in (otherwise you’d just be eating minced leather – and no one wants this). Another great choice!
While in London we wanted to hold a sushi night at my brother’s place (he is a terrible cook, but we came to his rescue!). Our Japanese friends from Norwich were also visiting, so we got up early (ok, earlish – 6:30am) and made our way to Billingsgate Market. UK’s largest inland fish market, we wandered around hundred and hundreds of stalls searching out some fresh ingredients. Some octopus to make some takoyaki, king prawns to cook, and of course – a lobster for sashimi! We even named him Cameron – after a friend who couldn’t travel with us to London (Mr S has since visited London, so it’s all good). Cameron the lobster was delectable, but probably not quite as nice as the crayfish you can get in New Zealand. We had an awesome sushi night!
On one fine day in London (well, fine for London, which isn’t saying much to be honest), we decided to head out to Greenwich with a picnic lunch. No, we didn’t make something at home and pack it. Why do that when there are so many take away lunch options at a reasonable price in London??? So we headed into the Exmouth Market area and visited Necco, this little Japanese eatery place. We picked up a few bits and pieces, including a green tea tiramasu… All very delicious, but my favourite was the katsudon. And the tiramasu of course!!!
Ah my madeleines… My brother took us to St John’s, a local restaurant that has been awarded one Michelin star. It specialises in cuisine made from innards – not my favourite type of food. Mr Ana happily ate some bone marrow and I don’t even know what else, but I stuck to the ‘boring’ menu options of pork. Not that memorable. But one thing that I really, really enjoyed, were their madeleines. Freshly baked in their bakery, it takes exactly 12 minutes to cook. The edges of the madeleines are slightly crunchy, and the inside is light, fluffy and steaming hot. The BEST madeleines ever! We ate them probably 3 times during our stay in London. I could easily eat 5 in one sitting (more if I didn’t have to share!).
My brother also suggested we try this little French bistro on Upper Street in Islington (again, not too far from my brother’s apartment – clearly he had tried a LOT of restos in his local area). A very busy little bistro serving straight forward French food, it is very popular with the locals. Why? Well the food was yummy of course. But the price tag that went with the food was also very attractive – mains at a flat price of £7.95 is ridiculously cheap for French food, even if it’s not fancy and complex. I had a roasted pork loin with stewed apple and wilted cabbage, which was lovely and tender and went well with the gravy. I also squeezed in a slice of dark chocolate tart, which was sooooooooooo yummy. Delicious chocolate ganache with a crunchy base, it was simply divine. And it was just £2.95. Thanks!
We went to quite a few pubs while in London, including a pub (sorry forgot the name) in Nottings Hill. It was such a lovely suburb, and we went here especially to eat their fish and chips. The fish was lovely and crispy, and came with homemade tartare sauce… yum. Even though I was stuffed, my brother and I ordered an apple crumble to share. Individually baked, the crumble was crunchy and cinnamon-y, while the apple was tart. It went perfectly with the vanilla ice cream. I had to be rolled home after dessert.
Now, a few things frequented Ana’s shopping list at the local Waitrose – one was a few bags of Kettle chips. Now English kettle chips – the variety of flavours available were much better than Australia, and you had a few brands to pick and chose from. My favourite was sea salt and pepper, Sunday roast, roast beef, and a bunch of others that I can’t remember. My fondness of English kettle chips is so great that my brother will bring me a few bags when we meet next month in the US – my brother’s pretty cool huh?
I also fell in love with Fentiman’s botanically brewed beverages. I started with a Victorian lemonade, which I admit was a little strange with the ginger flavour. However Fentiman’s ginger beer was the best! Refreshing with that little burn from the fresh ginger flavour. I know ginger isn’t everyone’s favourite – but it was seriously yummy.
Another pub we frequented was the Eagle in Farrington. The first pub to offer bistro style meals – a trend that took off very quickly, the menu continuously changes. I tried ridiculously fresh asparagus (it was the start of asparagus season in Europe), steak, sausages, and Mr Ana had some freshly grilled fish. I couldn’t bring myself to try warm beer though. The Eagle has a great casual vibe and decent food for less than £10.
I also tried some Indian food from Mirch Masala – while it is a chain restaurant, the local one we tried had plenty of locals digging in. And yes, curry in England is yummy!