Sunday, April 24, 2011

Travels and Tastes - London

So here I am, back from an amazing trip to the United Kingdom.  United as it may be these days, England and Scotland truly feel very different, having such a long history of separation.  So I will present may travels and tastes in different installments as I am sure the Scotts will appreciate.

England.  London of course is not representative of the whole country’s feel, such as New York cannot give you a sense of United States.  Bit ohh, what a magnificent city, full of hustle and bustle of tourists and natives alike.  With a pub on every corner full of the workforce at the end of their day, spilling onto the sidewalks to take in their customary pint.  As an American you feel almost at home but still confronted with the sights and experiences that are truly European, feeling the city that has hundreds more years’ worth of history than your own.   Visiting the sights that bear the graves and marks of kings, queens and great historical figures gave me chills and perspective on the present.  Really, our modern world may look different but it is essentially fighting the same old battles.
Since this blog is still devoted to food and food experience, I will skip over some of the narrative and go straight to it.  London’s food is the food of the world, Indian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Chinese, you name it… I couldn’t try to eat all of it in three days….  But I tried.  Little Moroccan place in the middle of Soho, was surprising, true to the tastes and unique. 
We ate a more traditional English place serving Scottish Lamb (which I will talk about later) and some of the best stake I ever tasted.
The truly unforgettable food experience came at the Borough Market, which I wanted to visit for months now.   Unfortunately I had crush my son’s hopes of getting to the Greenwich Observatory and Naval Museum to visit it, but you cannot be at two place in one.  And I am sure you will agree that this one was more important.
Borough Market is a collection of mobile, semi-mobile and permanent store fronts selling anything edible. Hundreds of them.   If I die and hope to go to haven, I would like to end up in the middle of this particular place.  Game meats of every kind imaginable, local cheeses of all sorts, produce from local farms, seafood which freshness and abundance you cannot dispute… and you get to taste and smell everything.  Not only do they advertise the origins, but they tell you how the animals where raised, what particular farm they came from.  the “organic” and “grass fed” is not even announced as it is the norm. Prepared foods include anything from the hoagies filled with game meat of any kind, to duck confit and huge curry pots being stirred right in front of your eyes.   All kinds of oysters, from tiny ones to the ones, the size of my head, shucked right in front of you.  Raw honey which tastes like my childhood.   Eggs, fresh, organic, from whichever creatures that gives them.   Milk that was milked this morning, from the farmer’s cow, and nothing has been done to… not pasteurized, not skimmed, pure real raw milk, can you imagine? 
Homemade fudge in flavors one only dreams of.
Turkish delights in such abundance and combination of flavors that my head was spinning  and I couldn’t choose the ones to try.

Yeh, these are the oysters… even my kids tried them, although I do have to agree that it an acquired taste.  They smelled of the ocean and where kept not on ice but on the bed of seaweed.

Gorgeous, huge wheels of melty cheese for the spuds and hoagies. 

The game

And the beer... goes well with the game.

Here is where they have been hiding the real lavender

Duck stew, to buy or to taste
And the wild mushrooms… at this point I almost fainted… from excitement.

The milk, the way the nature intended.
After having experienced what is the London’s Borough market, I was in agony.  I couldn’t take any of it home to cook, not even back to the hotel as there was no fridge and we were scheduled to depart for Scotland the next day.   I got a few spices just to feel like the day was not a pure waste, but the memory will stay with me forever.  I feel mixed emotions knowing that the place like this does not exist anywhere in the States and certainly nowhere in the driving distance from my house.  On one hand, I would love to have access to all this gorgeous food, on the other I am afraid I might go broke.
London did not disappoint the gourmet in me.   Next stop is rolling hills of Scotland, where the free grazing sheep live and where whisky is not just a tourist attraction, but a way of life.  So first class train ticket in hand I am off…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, LOVED IT!!! we want to hear more of these...