British snacks (and booze too!)

One thing I like to do when I go to a foreign country is snoop around and test out some snacks that you might not find out at home. Here are a few from my stopover in London.

The 99 Flake – a soft ice cream cone with a Cadbury Flake chocolate bar stuck in it. I actually didn’t have any this trip (was too cold at the time), but I still remember the first time I had one. It was while on a day tour of the Scottish Highlands and I spotted a little stand selling them in a little Scottish town we stopped in for a quick potty break. The cold of the ice cream makes the thin layers of the Flake a little brittle, and you can use the Flake to scoop up your quickly melting ice cream. This photo was of a stand that was just outside of Hampton Court Palace. The poor guy inside must have been freezing!

99 Flake

99 Flake

I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but I’ve really become attached to hard ciders. While it’s harder to find a quality cider here are home, over in England they are everywhere. I was told that I should try Bulmers because they were better than Strongbow, so I picked up a bottle of apple cider and another one of pear cider. They were crisp without being overly sweet and I enjoyed them, but I was a little let down by the pear cider because it didn’t taste of pears at all and was almost indistinguishable from the apple cider.

Bulmers ciders

Bulmers ciders

When you go to another country, you gotta learn the snack lingo. Over there, chips = French fries and crisps = potato chips. I think my favourite so far is still the Walkers Worcester Sauce crisps, but I tried a few other ones this time. Also in the photo is an orange Fanta. I love drinking Fanta over there because it tastes more like Orangina than orange soda. And I was intrigued by finding a Fanta Zero, so I bought it to see if the flavour changed a lot due to the artificial sweeteners (wasn’t bad but the real thing is still better). The crisps pictured here are Quavers (cheese flavoured potato chips in a corn chip shape), Walkers Max Paprika (ripple chips) and Wotsits (cheese puffs). The Quavers were kind of salty and bland. The Wotsits weren’t as cheesy-tasting as my favourite Hawkin’s Cheezies and they weren’t as crunchy either. The paprika crisps were good and did taste exactly like paprika.

Fanta Zero and crisps

Fanta Zero and crisps

As a treat one evening, our hosts made us some apple crumble topped with THE best non-dairy ice cream that I have ever had. Lactose, cholesterol and gluten-free, Swedish Glace tasted no different from a regular ice cream and had a creamy texture. I really, really wish you could buy it here!

Swedish Glace

Swedish Glace

While I was in London they launched these new Marmite cereal bars. I managed to snag a sample (and coupon) as I passed by on my way to the Tube. Interesting marketing campaign, huh?

Marmite cereal bar

Marmite cereal bar

Marmite, in case you don’t know what it is, is a yeast extract that is often spread on toast.

Marmite coupon

Marmite coupon

If you’ve ever tried Marmite (or the Australian version Vegemite), then you will know exactly how this thing tastes like. NASTY. I took a bite of the bar and then spit it back out. One of our local hosts insisted that “real” Marmite on toast was much, much better, and I didn’t like that either. It’s definitely an acquired taste.

bar close up

bar close up

I’m almost done the London posts! There are a few more to come, and then I’m moving on to Morocco.

Soft-boiled eggs

The excellent Cooking for Engineers blog has posted a step-by-step guide for the boiling time needed for different consistencies of soft-boiled eggs: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/249/Soft-Boiled-Eggs. They also have a guide about how to soft-boil an egg: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/239/Soft-Boiled-Eggs.

If you haven’t been to Cooking for Engineers before, it’s a great place to find recipes that lays out EVERY step needed to complete the dish. Fantastic for beginning cooks, and for those who need detailed instructions.

For my soy sauce soft-boiled eggs, I would say that the photo at the 7 minute mark is probably closest to the consistency that is needed for my recipe, although I know some people in Malaysia eat them when the egg whites are still soupy.

Soy sauce soft-boiled eggs

One of the first things I learned to cook was the first thing my Dad has taught all his kids to make: soy sauce soft-boiled eggs. (Frankly, I think he taught us so that he can get us to make them for him instead of making them himself!) I thought this was just one of my Dad’s odd food preferences, but apparently they’re eaten this way quite often in Malaysia and Singapore.

Soy sauce soft-boiled eggs
Soft-boil eggs in water; I generally prefer having the whites close to fully cooked, but some people will use runny whites. In either case, the yolks should be as runny as possible and warmed all the way through. If the eggs are too hot to handle, use cold water to cool them down a little bit. Crack open the egg shell and scoop all the contents into a bowl. Add soy sauce (preferably dark soy sauce) and white pepper to taste, stir, and eat while still warm. It’s a delicate balance between having not enough soy sauce and having way too much of it, so be careful when seasoning.

And yes, this is for another entry in the Steamy Kitchen contest. :)

Kaya toast

Kaya is one of the few Malaysian foods that I had quite often when I was young. I remember it being incredibly sweet and as a result hadn’t eaten it in years, but a few months before my Malaysia trip I had a craving for some kaya and picked up a jar from a local Asian grocery store. Kaya is basically a creamy coconut jam, and surprisingly enough it doesn’t seem as sweet as I remember. It still packs a punch though, so I found that a little goes a long way. You can eat it on crackers, but in my opinion the best way is on toast, like any other regular jam.

Kaya toast
For best results, spread a thin layer of kaya on slices of bread, and toast in a broiler. This warms up the kaya as well as makes the bread crispy. Or alternately, toast the bread in a toaster and add the kaya afterwards.

Like any jam, you can of course make kaya yourself. Or be lazy like me and buy it from the store.

Ok, I know this isn’t much of a recipe. I was originally going to just do a post about kaya only, but when I saw the 15 minute recipe contest on Steamy Kitchen, I couldn’t resist.