Eating my way through England

 

Now I know this isn’t strictly a cooking post, so forgive me for rambling. I do, however, have another 4 hours at the Korean Airport before I board for the last leg of my trip home and with it, I’m going to blog. I’ll post photos when I get home because, yes, I was that person who took photos of all my food (mostly) before I started eating it.

London was amazing. I packed so much into my 6 days there that I hardly feel like I sat down or slept. I fell in love with the tube, such instant transport gratification! After having to tediously plan my journey’s in Australia for fear of being abandoned in a station for the following 6 hours the ease of jumping on the tube was simply phenomenal. I particularly loved the way they always said ‘mind the gap’ and would go off in peels of giggles at this- clearly marking me as a tourist, if my hoodie, glee at being on the tube and map attached to my hand didn’t already do that! It was in London that I also discovered the delights of dining alone. Now I’d always thought that eating alone was one of the most depressing things one could do. But focusing on your food and little else is really quite luxurious.

My first day in London and I’m running from the Houses of Parliament to the Natural History Museum to meet my dear friend. A Cornish pastry goes down a treat- oh you can taste the butter in that pastry! The filling was rich and meaty and tasty- just the thing for a starved tourist to grab whilst getting off the tube. It is today that I discovour that transport is not difficult and far from planning my trip I can simply look for the signs which are inadvertently around the city, along with maps at 10m intervals so even people as geographically challenged as me can find their way. And lets be honest, even if I was going the wrong way I’m bound to run into a tube stop eventually- they pepper the city like the waiter peppered my pasta the other night. As I’m wondering around London Bridge in the morning I find a painted piano by the river- apparently the council has put these throughout the city for people to play- fantastic idea I think, and it makes me think of my brother who I know would love it too.

Day two finds me at a little cafe drinking tea in England. It isn’t amazing tea but the experience was great. Following this I went horse riding around Hyde Park, a surreal experience. I had the most beautiful big chestnut who I’m sure was at least half warmblood. Running off to the Tower of London I felt the familiar grumble of hunger, but so much to do! No time to eat! Passing all the pubs was crazy and I did almost go into one to have traditional fish and chips but I waited instead. The tower was amazing, the beefeaters giving a great tour. Crown jewels were sparkly as expected and all in all it was one of my favourite places. Then it was the Camden markets for me which was another of my favourite places. A warren of hidey-holes and shops the atmosphere was great. For lunch I had Spanish tapas after I had a taste of the chicken. Surprisingly the green beans were the best thing there! Cooked in lemon juice and spices they were explosions of flavour. The same was similar for the squash and the chicken was divine. Running off to the London Eye I discouraged an ENORMOUS line. Thinking that I didn’t come to London to stand in line for 3 hours I wandered along the river Thames coming across a second hand book stall where I bought the Constant Princess, a wonderful historical fiction. I also went through some of the area where the London Festival was being held and saw a truly beautiful poem by Sophie Hannah:

Leaving and Leaving You

When I leave your postcode and your commuting station,
When I leave undone the things that we planned to do,
You may feel you have been left by association,
But there is leaving and there is leaving you.
 
When I leave your town and the club that you belong to,
When I leave without much warming or much regret,
Remember, there’s doing wrong and there’s doing wrong to
You, which I’ll never do and I haven’t yet.
 
And when I have gone, remember that in weighting
Everything up, from love to a cheaper rent,
You were all the reasons I thought of staying,
And you were none of the reasons why I went.
 
And although I leave your sight and I leave your setting
And your seperation is soon to be a fact,
Though you stand beside what I’m leaving and forgetting,
I’m not leaving you, not if motive makes the act.

Then I stopped at this great restaurant and had traditional English fish and chips with mushy peas. Now I have no idea why they eat mushy peas with their fish and chips, for me that is something that should be on a pie. And although I have no qualms about the taste of peas with chips, it really didn’t add anything to the experience for me. I did however, adore the serving of the chips with both tomato sauce and mayonnaise as well as the ample vinegar and salt provided. i was a little shocked how much vinegar I had consumed during the meal, but really, my mother probably wouldn’t be, I’ve always been like that! It was a lovely meal, made all the better by a nice rose and the view of the Thames and topped off with a lovely hot chocolate. I then met my dear friend and when to see Les Mis- wondering feeling in the theatre- so much smaller than I expected but I enjoyed it immensely.

Day three had me venturing off to Salisbury (why are none of the places in England pronounced phonetically- I sound like a lunatic sounding them out when they say nothing of the sort!) and Stonehenge. Lots and lots of travel but worth it. The stones were much more fascinating than, lets face it, a bunch of stones dropped in the middle of nowhere should be. They had a kind of surreal quality to them, although I think this would have been even greater had there not been a hoard of tourists traipsing in a circle around them listening to audio guides. They were magnificent and I would love to know more about how they got there. Apparently a millennium project to replicate the journey of one stone failed when it sank, as stones tend to do. Lunch that day was a grand (wow the Irish is coming out in me) sausage roll that I then tramped all the way up a hill into a field to eat. It was lovely to have some peace and as long as I kept the stones to my back (with all the tourists) I could imagine I was completely alone. Again, buttery pastry- the English know how to court an early heart attack! But yum! When I got back to Salisbury I wandered into Tesco, thinking to buy some prawn cocktail chips that a friend had told me about. I did indeed buy these, but happened anon the deli section where they had the off cuts of cheeses, perfect for one person. So I left with some brie, smoked cheese, apricot cheese, ploughman’s cheese and some other cheese that ended up being disgusting and I have clearly blocked from my memory. To go along with this I bought an enormous loaf of bread with cheese on top owing to the fact it was cheaper than the small ones (go figure), a block of pate and a tub of olives. I took these down to a small park/village green when I read Harry Potter and munched my delicious picnic. Towards the end the pigeons were coming close and I fed them the rest of my bread- pigeon onslaught! It was great fun.

On my last morning in London before catching a plane to Ireland I stopped in at a little English restaurant and had the most beautiful fat sausages with potato mash and caramelized onion gravy served with a pot of tea. It was a fantastic meal and great feeling in the restaurant.

Which leaves me with yesterday morning, my very last morning in London. I went down to the Portebello Road markets, which, after the Camden ones, were a little disappointing. I did find the most beautiful vintage bear who is making the trek back to Australia with me. His name is Edward. I think he’ll like it better back home as his hair is all coming out and he must be cold in England! I got a falafel wrap with hommus from a street vendor which was delicious! I did wish it had a bit more lemon in it, but there are few foods I don’t which had either more lemon or cheese. I had a discussion with a few new friends about cheese, and my theory that there are very, very few things in which some type of cheese does not go with. Then I went down to the Hummingbird bakery, which I must say, I was a little disappointed in. I got their Friday special, the rhubarb and custard cupcake and although the rhubarb inside was tart and sweet and lovely, the cupcake was slightly dry and the icing didn’t really taste like, well, anything, much less custard and rhubarb. Their hot chocolate was great, but I didn’t really go their for that. But it was nice all the same.

And that, my friends, was London. I’ll update you on Ireland soon 🙂

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