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(Everything Except) Bangers and Mash

October 7, 2011

London offers a rich selection of cuisines. The place is known for its fish & chips, lamb pot pies and Guinness, but they also have some of the best Indian food in the world. Being a food lover I had to sample as much as I could and now of course, I get to tell you all about it Smile.

1. Peruvian – Tito’s (fresh food, large portions, good price)

After a 10 hour flight and more than 36 hours without sleep, we were delighted to find this little Peruvian spot near our first hotel. I went with grilled fish and sweet potato and Eric chose a mixed platter of steak, fritos, rice, egg, veggies.

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2. Street Eats

I try to stick to healthy choices for my home cooked meals, but when I am on vacation it’s time to explore, indulge and sample unique dishes. The smell of hot honey roasted peanuts from a street vendor lured me from miles away. All the stuff we buy from the US stores fails in comparison to this deliciousness. When browsing through a market around the London Eye, I grabbed a snack of chocolate hazelnut cake. Did you know that real happiness comes with whole hazelnuts in it? Winking smile

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I was not expecting warm weather in September, but I surely was glad to see parks full of ice cream trucks. Best part is a mini Flake chocolate bar sticking from the top.

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3. Pubs

London is full of pubs. I had a brilliant idea to suggest a pub crawl from city center back to the hotel about 3 miles away. 5 minutes into it and we already hit three pubs. We had to modify the rules a few times in order to actually make it back. Interestingly enough, a lot of the pubs turn out to be chains, so they serve same menu but have different names. All Bar One was our favorite, which had over 15 European beers on tap including my two favorites Grolsch and Hoegaarden. I am not a big fan of dark beers, but being in London we had to try Guinness and not just regular one, but Black Currant Guinness which had a lovely sweet taste to it. Obviously this was not meant for the locals (the Hilton being the only place that I saw it at was a real giveaway) and our cab driver cringed at my taste, remarking “What a way to ruin a perfect fine ale!”

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One thing Londoners can’t make is nachos. The two platters we tried were pathetic, with barely any toppings. London nachos don’t use Mexican-style tortilla chips, but instead have thin fried crisps. But anything will do after a couple of pints. And yes, Eric might have “drank” some nachos with his beer after accidently dropping a few in his glass.
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3. Traditional

Fish & Chips is actually served as a single large piece of battered and deep fried fish (not fish sticks or fish nuggets that Americans eat); we had it a few places, including at Canteen near the London Eye. I am convinced that even the crappiest place in London can make the best fish and chips you can find in America (with the possible exception of the halibut we had in Oregon earlier this year).

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I visited Israel a few years ago where I first experienced Houlumi cheese, but my search for Houlumi salad has been unsuccessful since then. That is, until I saw it on a menu at one of the random pub chains we stopped in at. Of course I had to try it. It was bleak in comparison to the giant salad I had in Israel, but it was Houloumi cheese nevertheless.

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Eric ordered a lamb pie, mash and veggies which were delicious. The pastry was fluffy and crisp, lamb was tender and juicy. Mash well, it was mashed potatoes. The meal was so divine that it put  Eric into a food coma.

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The tea with scone and jam thing is totally not as common as you might think. Londoners seem to prefer cappuccinos and freshly baked croissants (who can blame them?). Marks and Spencer’s actually imports their dough from France so you can just imagine how amazing their baked goods are. So I only had a fruit scone once, at the Orangery restaurant near a royal palace. I also had a hard time finding bread pudding, so I went with sticky pudding instead (sponge cake with dates, butterscotch syrup and vanilla ice cream). Oh sweet galore! I am sure my dentist will have something to say about it.

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4. Ethnic

Believe me when I say London is known for their Indian food. Their chicken takki masala was out of this world, even at the pub we frequented near our hotel (Wetherspoon’s Liberty Bounds).

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On the other hand, the Chinese restaurant we stopped at in Soho’s Chinatown wasn’t our cup of tea. It was highly rated by the guide book, but it was not really the Chinese food we are used to.

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On the other hand, Eric was a big fan of Haz, a Turkish place near the Apex City Center hotel, where I had roasted lamb with apricots and almonds.

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5. Cambridge

Our trip to Cambridge took our dining experience to a completely different level. There were less ethnic places to choose from, but way better traditional restaurants and Brasseries.

At the Cambridge Chop House, Eric and I shared a lamb shoulder. This picture does not do justice to the size of that serving. We were stuffed to the brim but more than half was leftover. Apparently not many restaurants allow take out (you need a different license to let people take food out), so Cambridge restaurant owners’ dogs must be well fed.

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This, my friends, is the duck breast served over sweet potatoes with a very fancy sauce, served at D’Arry’s Cookhouse. We followed with a Cheese Platter for dessert. How European of us! My mouth is watering right now as I am remembering this dinner.

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Cambridge is also where I discovered the traditional Cornish pasty. What a strange tourist posing with food!

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Is it weird to post more pictures of food than historic sites when visiting Europe?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2011 10:49 am

    Grolsch & Hoegaarden are two of my favorite beers too! Everything looks so yummy – how did you find time to eat it all? It looks pretty similar to my Chicago trip last week, I think we ate our way through Chicago which is what I always do.

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