Harrod’s food hall, London

While in London I made a quickie trip to Harrod’s food hall. This is only a tiny portion of what you can find there.

pizzeria

pizzeria

Easter chocolates

Easter chocolates

When I saw this one I got excited. And then I saw the “jelly” part and I cringed a little inside.

Cured ox tongue with jelly

Cured ox tongue with jelly

bakery and a Krispy Kreme

bakery and a Krispy Kreme

We bought a loaf of this to share. I think it gave us mild food poisoning. 😦

foccacia

foccacia

These Princi Rustici were yummy – basically mini stuffed croissants.

Princi Rustici Ham and Princi Rustici Spinach

Princi Rustici Ham and Princi Rustici Spinach

These were yummy too. They were basically cheese flavoured, flaky and buttery short bread.

cheese straws

cheese straws

mini fondant cakes

mini fondant cakes

And which photos didn’t I take? Well there’s a sushi bar, ice cream, cheese store, fancy chocolates, charcuterie, a huge selection of teas and coffees, and so on. A one stop, expensive shop!

Harrods on Urbanspoon

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New World Chinese Restaurant, London

This is London’s Chinatown. Well, a part of it, at least. It was still decked out for Chinese New Year, and was taken at the end of February.

Chinatown, London, England

Chinatown, London, England

We were assured that we could get authentic dim sum over at New World Chinese Restaurant, so we headed over there one rainy day.

New World Chinese Restaurant

New World Chinese Restaurant

We were greeted and quickly seated at a table upstairs. And unfortunately that was the extent of the good customer service that we received for the rest of the meal. The serving staff were rude, indifferent, and at times completely ignored us even when we waved our hands frantically in the air and called out in Cantonese and Mandarin. This is one of those places where you feel like you will get better service if you get up and fill your teapot with hot water yourself. Food is served on traditional metal push carts.

dim sum

dim sum

The dim sum available was pretty standard – spring rolls, duck, noodles, eggplant and shrimp, pan fried dumplings, xlb, etc. The food was fine but not particularly outstanding. In fact, I probably could get equal or better dim sum here at home. It definitely did not compare with anything that you can get from Vancouver.

more dim sum

more dim sum

There was one standout dish though – the curried squid. It was battered, deep fried and served as a dry dish, unlike most curried squid that is found at dim sum restaurants, which is generally not battered or fried and is covered in curry sauce. The batter was crisp and wasn’t greasy, and the curry taste was strong without being overpowering.

curried squid

curried squid

New World Chinese Restaurant
1 Gerrard Place, London

New World on Urbanspoon

Brick Lane’s salt beef beigels

Yes I said beigel, not bagel. If you’ve ever been to London’s Brick Lane, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. At one end of the street (far from the many Indian restaurants and sweet shops that frequent the Whitechapel High Street end of Brick Lane), sits two little competing establishments that specialize in hot salted beef served on a fresh beigel. Each has their loyal fans, and their differences basically add up to a Coke vs Pepsi type of argument. One, called the Beigel Shop, has a bright yellow sign and the other, the Beigel Bake, has a bright white sign. Both are open 24 hours, and are a favourite for fulfilling late night/drunk hunger pangs.

Beigel Shop

Beigel Shop

Beigel Bake

Beigel Bake

We stood there on the dark street, and looked at each other in puzzlement. Which one to pick? Both had plenty of people going in and out of them. In the end we went for the Beigel Shop’s yellow signs, as at the time the service seemed to be moving at a faster pace than the other one.

menu

menu

Just look at those prices! I think this was probably the cheapest meal I had while in London.

rest of menu

rest of menu

There are also a wide array of desserts. Nothing too fancy – mostly bars, cookies, cake, etc.

dessert case

dessert case

They assemble each sandwich on order, and tailor the toppings to your taste. (Although, more with a surly look rather than a smile, but that’s supposed to be part of the charm of these places.)

beigel sandwich assembly

beigel sandwich assembly

And here is the finished product. It was a good-sized sandwich… about the size of a hamburger.

salt beef beigel

salt beef beigel

The buns all have the traditional bagel hole, but that’s where the similarities end. These beigels are soft. So soft that they’re actually fluffy and more closely resemble a hamburger bun than the harder, denser bagels that we’re used to in Canada and the US.

beigel bun

beigel bun

Once your teeth sink past the soft bread, they hit the hot salted beef. It’s tender like true Montreal Smoked Meat but not as spicy. Mixed with the sharpness of the mustard and pickle, each bite of the beigel is sure to satisfy any craving for meat or salt.

inside the beigel

inside the beigel

I debated ordering another one or going to the other beigel place to try their version, but eating one was plenty of food for me that night.

Beigel Shop
155 Brick Lane, Spitalfields
London
(yellow sign)

Beigel Bake
159 Brick Lane, Spitalfields
London
(white sign)

Beigel Shop on Urbanspoon

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.

Hampton Court Palace and the Tudor kitchens, London

Warning, this post has many photos of the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace — some of which are blurry due to lack of time, lack of light, and the need for more (and better) lenses for my SLR camera.

Hampton Court Palace, located on the outskirts of London, was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey. It first became famous for being a favourite palace of King Henry VIII, and later on was the subject of King William III and Queen Mary’s massive rebuilding and expansion project.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Visits to Hampton Court Palace are set up in a way that you can “experience” a special day in the life of Henry VIII’s life; throughout my visit, actors in full costume played out parts in Henry’s court and got everyone involved in the wedding day of Henry and Catherine Parr.

Hail Britannia!

Hail Britannia!

The palace’s Tudor-era kitchens are extensive, which was needed in order to feed the approximately 1000 people of Henry’s court. Many of the rooms have fake food in them to illustrate how the kitchens worked. This is the pie room. The pastry was used as a preservation and cooking tool, and the pastry itself was not eaten. (The soundtrack from Sweeny Todd kept running through my head as I stood in this room. 😉 )

Pie room

Pie room

On the other side of the room was a Tudor stove top/slow cooker/fireplace.

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

When you climbed the short staircase, you found a giant built-in pot filled with something that looked brown and goopy. Gruel? Porridge? Pie filling? Use your own imagination.

gruel

gruel

This walkway in the kitchens served as a natural refrigerator; the walls and placement blocked out the sun, but allows the cooling rain to filter into the hallway. It was quite cool all along this passage, which had doors lined all along the way that led to larders.

natural refrigerator

natural refrigerator

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Rainforest Creations, London

Rainforest Creations is a stall found on certain days at Old Spitalfields Market, as well as at stalls in the Chelsea, Hammersmith and Alexandra Palace markets. They also recently opened permanent spot in North Kensington. They specialize in organic, raw, vegetarian (and I think vegan) food, with Caribbean flavours.

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations - side view

Rainforest Creations - side view

I ordered a £5 Rainbow Box, which was stuffed with a selction of Tropical Coleslaw, Caribbean Sunrise, Red Quinoa, Wild Rice, Mung beans and Lentils, Chickpeas,  Angel Kale and Avocado salads, as well as sprouted hummus, an Akashe Ball (kind of like a falafel), and dressing. Everything was placed in a take out box, and served with a little wooden fork.

Rainbow Box

Rainbow Box

It was a little hard to pick out the flavours of all the individual salads as they were all in close quarters, but everything tasted fresh and crisp, with some salads having a mild curry flavour and some salads having some satisfying crunch. The box was quite large too, and could easily feed two people (or one very hungry person). This is the kind of meal that you’d love to have on a hot day. I loved that it was good value, as well as being healthy and tasty.

Rainforest Creations
www.rainforestcreations.co.uk

Pret A Manger, London

There are a couple of different sandwich chains that are scattered all over London. I visited one called Pret A Manger for a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Royal Academy of Arts for their Real Van Gogh exhibit (which was one of the best special exhibits that I’ve seen in a long time, by the way).

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger

It was really, really busy inside. And yes, they sell porridge for breakfast! I found the sign interesting but I never did try it for myself.

sandwich cooler

sandwich cooler

Pret serves a number of different sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, pastries, coffee, tea, etc. The line up was pretty long for the hot food but I grabbed a quick, ready-made sandwich instead. I had a plethora of options to choose from. Posh cheddar and pickle? Pole and line caught tuna? Crayfish and rocket (a.k.a. arugula)?

Baguette and drink

Baguette and drink

After much thought (and while sneaking photos of the sandwich cooler), I finally settled on the  Topside of Beef and Rocket on an Artisan Baguette as well as a Vanilla Bean and Honey Yoghurt drink. The baguette was filled with slices of medium-rare beef, English mustard, red onion, and peppery rocket. The yogurt drink (or should I spell it yoghurt) was made of yogurt, apple juice, honey and vanilla. You could even see vanilla bean flecks throughout the drink. Everything in the meal was fresh, preservative-free, and delicious.

And bonus, I even managed to snag a table once I paid for my meal!

Pret A Manger
Various locations throughout the UK, Hong Kong, and a few in the USA
www.pret.com

P.S. As I left I noticed the building across the street – Fortnum & Mason, a high-end grocery store, tea shop and department store that was founded in 1707. I didn’t have time go in and explore though, so unfortunately I only got a shot of the outside.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason