Sunday, April 25, 2010

UK Food Adventures - Part One

I posted on Borough Market last week, but I didn't have a chance to mention all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful places I ate while traveling in England and Scotland.

I have never flown an international flight, so I was very curious as to what the Virgin Atlantic meal would be.  I ate the salad, fruit, and roll, but took one look at the "lasagna" and passed.  I did enjoy getting a glass of wine though.
The same day our flight landed, we hit Borough Market, and then we stopped by the Tate Modern and I snacked on some tasty crisps (aka chips) called Crips.  I tried Sweet Thai Chilli and although I was drawn to these baked chips because of their awesome squirrel packaging, I am really glad I got them because they were a great flavor.  You should definitely visit their website just so you can see all the other animals on their other crisps.  It definitely reminded me of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The following day we made our way to Busaba Eathai, an absolutely delicious thai restaurant recommended by a friend.  Busaba is dark with large, low square tables filling the space.  They have communal seating, which was actually nice.  It was fun to see what everyone was ordering.  I started my meal with the Pandon leaf tea served with cashew and coconut cookies.  The tea was earthy and nutty, and was nice will a spoonful of honey.  Then our meals came.  I got the green vegetable curry with jasmine rice and my friend ordered the jungle curry with coconut rice, and we split the por-pia jay (vegetable spring rolls).  I just loved the presentation and the serving ware Busaba used.  Both dishes were very tasty and I would definitely make a trip back if I was in London again.
Later that evening we walked by Parliament ran into a very friendly squirrel.  We were in the middle of opening my favorite British candy called Maltesers, when the squirrel jumped on us to get a taste of our treat.  I wouldn't think of sharing, and the squirrel finally left after harassing us for several minutes.  It was quite the spectacle, as other tourists were taking photos of us with the crazy squirrel.  And I thought Union Square squirrels were nuts!
The next day after eating a terrible breakfast of a rock hard croissant and a disgusting English breakfast (toast, sausage, bacon, eggs, baked beans, and mushrooms), we headed to Harvey Nichols.  
My coworker had told me about the Fifth Floor Market.  Harvey Nichols is the equivalent of Barneys New York, but on the top floor there are three restaurants (Robo Sushi, Fifth Floor Restaurant, and Fifth Floor Cafe and Roof Terrace).  I didn't eat at any of the restaurants, but took time to explore the market.  The Fifth Floor Market is filled with tons of products like tea, jams, sauces, and other goodies.  Along with the perimeter was a deli, fish, cheese and fruit and veg counter.  I enjoy the concept of having a market at a high end department store and being able to pick up some things you need, but over all it was just a Dean and Deluca and nothing really special.  It was still fun to see some of the specialty items.
Mustard in tubes and elderberry jam with gold flecks.
Teapigs Tea, which I picked up for some people.  Very tasty and the cutest packaging.
Whoa.  Pod Bites.  Still regretting I didn't buy any.
We tried to hit up a fish and chips place, but sadly it was closed at the time, so we stopped by an organic grocery store and had the worst smoothie of my life.  There were some adorable boxes of tea though.  I wish I had bought some.
Dr. Stuart's.  Such beautiful and unique drawings.
Make Us A Brew!  Hilarious.
Later that night we went to E & O Restaurant (standing for Eastern and Oriental).  It was a very trendy and posh setting with wood slated walls, a low lit bar, and a swank eating area.  We sat at the bar for a couple hours and then tried to get a table, but it was filled with reservations, so we waited another hour to be seated.  We started with edamame and then split the tuna roll special which was absolutely delicious.  Then for my meal I got steamed toothfish in black bean broth and my friend got the orange miso duck with shiitake and asparagus.  I wasn't that impressed with my fish - to the point that I didn't even finish it.  Chunks of fish floating around in broth just isn't my thing, but my friend said the duck was rich and delicious.  Late in the night I woke up with food poisoning, so definitely will not be going back to E & O and in fact it has been difficult for me to even want to eat fish again.  To read a perhaps less bias view of E & O, click here to see what the New York Times had to say.
After composing myself, it was on a train and off to York - a totally dreamy little city.  It was so nice to meet up with friends Nino and Daura who showed us around town.  After working up an appetite, we settled at very cute vegetarian restaurant called El Piano.  The restaurant was decorated with Spanish flare and vibrant colors.  We ended up ordering sangria and tapas - which included dahl, corn fritters, falafel, onion bhaji, tabouleh, and a jade salad - all served in little pine boats.  I loved the spidery-looking onion bhaji and the tabouleh.  Overall, my stomach went to bed happy and it was off to Glasgow early the next morning.  
More to come on Scotland later...for now check out some things from last year: Ramps are back at the Greenmarket, and you can make this tasty potato pancake with ramps.  Or you could warm up with this sweet and spicy lentil soup or make this lemony angel food cake to brighten up this rainy Sunday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Borough Market

While in London a couple weeks ago, a made a visit to Borough Market.  Borough Market is a large venue found under the railway viaducts of Borough High Street, filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, baked goods, as well as plenty of other delicious treats.  It is open Thursday through Saturday, but I happened to go on the very busy Saturday.  I thought the Green Market in NYC was crazy on a Saturday, but Borough Market took it to a whole new level.  
The streets were filled shoulder to shoulder with people, sampling cheeses, cider, and fresh pasta.  I was sad to say that I was too late to snack on any vegetable empanadas or falafel, so I had to settle on mediocre winter vegetable soup.  
Still my friend had a Cumberland sausage sandwich from Baxter's Cafe.  We wandered, or should I say we were pushed around the various vendors, and were truly amazed by the amount of different food.  Every vendor I came across was extremely friendly and happy to share a sample.  I loved the fresh mushroom ravioli that was sauteed in butter right in front of me from La Tua Pasta.  I sampled some chocolates from Dark Sugars, which were good, but not great.  And then we got some cider, which isn't worth talking about, but they did have clear cups made out of corn.  I am all for the bio-degradable products, but these cups were seriously flimsy.  Every time I grabbed my cup, I was afraid I was going to squeeze it too hard and the cider would gush out.  
We ended up grabbing a table and watching the market slow down into the late afternoon.  Overall, not all the food we tried was wonderful, but I was just so glad to go and see something that New York City really needs.  That is why I am so excited for the New Amsterdam Market to open up in June.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What is Wrong With America...

This is the KFC "Double Down" sandwich.  No bread.  Just fried chicken breasts, cheese, bacon, and the Colonel's special sauce (aka mayonnaise).  540 calories.  KFC will start serving it on Monday.  Seriously messed up.