Month: May, 2009

An Organic Box Scheme (A British Take on Community Supported Agriculture)

sup peeps. some of you might already know that i write sporadically for a site called Eat.Drink.Better, an awesome website on real, sustainable food that is part of Green Options Media. GO Media is a green blog network that recently became a part of Virgance, co-founded by a great friend and super-all-around amazing guy, Brent Schulkin. here’s a post i wrote for Eat.Drink.Better a few weeks ago that i’d like to share here. [shameless self promotion warning!] even better, you can click here to read it on their site to support EDB and make me rich to the tune of about .0000001 cents per click.  fund my cheese sandwich addiction! loooove mei.


I feel like I’ve finally settled a little here in London now that I am the proud recipient of an organic fruit and vegetable box scheme from a local company called Growing Communities. These box schemes are the equivalent of what we call Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes in the States. As other writers have mentioned on Eat.Drink.Better, it’s a great way to support local farmers and have good produce around to eat!

I feel blessed to live in the same area as Growing Communities, because it means I get access to their boxes of local and organic fruits and veg (the nickname everyone gives to vegetables here). You have to live or work in the neighborhood of Hackney in order to be a part of the scheme, which I’ll explain below. Their box scheme is particularly cool for a couple of reasons: Read the full article »

random food porn: salmon hand rolls, fried pig's ears, a belly full of tayyabs, and extreme scotch egg eating.

are you hungry? i am (shocker).  i’m currently roasting the potatoes, onions, and carrots from my organic veg box scheme in the oven with rosemary and sage from the garden (and by garden i mean five potted plants, two facing imminent death).  while those cook, i’m visually  stimulating my appetite, and hopefully yours, with photos of some recent things i’ve eaten.

we’ll start with the salmon, avocado and sesame hand roll from a sushi stall at the sunday upmarket at the old truman brewery.

salmon hand roll

delicious fresh salmon rolled right before your eyes! i’ve noticed there’s a lot more japanese home cooking here than in the states, where japanese restaurants are primarily sushi-focused. i went to an amazing okonomi-yaki (japanese pancake) place this week, which is apparently the only one of its kind in europe. post on that, plus videos, coming when i get my act together.

next up, fried pig’s ears! i have trouble turning down food items  that are: a) weird, b) things i haven’t tried before,  c) an unusual part of an animal, d) a local delicacy or traditional food and e) deep fried. the following item satisfied all categories (although some people might debate the use of the word ‘delicacy’), so obviously it needed to be in my mouth.

fried pigs ears from albion

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a lovely secret supper at salad club

thelovely look of salad club

it’s been a weekend of firsts during my first weekend chilling on the solo tip in london, as my siamese twin chris is back in the states for a wedding. the never-been-done-before rundown:

1. my first halloween ball in may in the vaults under london bridge dressed as a corpse bride (let’s be honest, there may not be a second one of those).

2. my first time standing on the prime meridian of the world and touching a 4.5 billion year old meteorite at the greenwich observatory and planetarium. sweet.

3. my first secret supper!

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around the world in 80 million bites: roast hog, octopus balls and injera at the incredible sunday upmarket

truman brewery on brick lane

continuing my series of posts on london’s amazing markets, i’m now going to deluge you with photos and effusive/obsessive words on the fantastic global bazaar of eats available at the sunday upmarket at the old truman brewery on brick lane. chris and i have hit up brick lane every sunday since we moved to hackney, but didn’t make it all the way down to the upmarket the first weekend as we were distracted by various household and junk items at heavily discounted prices (read: dug out of someone’s attic or stolen off the back of a truck).

luckily, we kept walking south the next sunday and happened upon an adorable stall of japanese food. impressed by the setup and unable to turn down anything involving street food and a deep fryer, we ordered the special donburi of assorted fried items and a slab of salmon on a bed of rice with salad and teriyaki sauce. YUM.

japanese food stall

having happily filled our bellies, we then turned a corner and walked down a narrow alley lined with stores and restaurants  into ely’s yard,  a huge lot filled with picnic tables, food stalls and tons of people. we then realized that a whole new world of food was before us and i mean LITERALLY a whole world – i’ve never seen food from so many different countries and cultures in one place in my whole life.  off the top of my head, i recall peruvian, japanese, thai, sri lankan, turkish, argentinian, russian, ethiopian, moroccan, peruvian, tibetan, chinese, spanish, brazilian and caribbean. oh yeah, and mauritius island food. SERIOUSLY? the two of us wandered around for ages with our mouths open, drool spilling unattractively from the corners, wishing we were cows and had four stomachs to fill with international delicacies.

picnic tables at brick lane upmarket

since we were both stuffed with friedness, we just wandered and ogled and took mental notes of what to eat when we returned the next weekend. which is exactly what we did, eamon in tow and stomachs ready to do some global adventuring.

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more highlights from borough market and reasons why london is great: the second saturday

in what is quickly becoming a weekly tradition, i followed up last week’s vaguely hungover borough market trip with an even more hungover borough market trip the next saturday.  i already mentioned the enlightening food tour and the toasted cheese of the gods from this visit already, but wanted to share a few more photos because the market is just that awesome.

here are the highlights of this lovely saturday market trip, plus a few reasons why i am falling in love with london.

highlight# 1: the biggest vat of thai green curry with mussels ever seen.

biggest vat of green curry ever

if this isn’t a category in the guinness book of world records, it should be. then i could compete to be the person who consumed the most thai green curry with mussels ever. super stardom, here i come.

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i'm moving into borough market and never coming back: the first saturday

borough market sign

if you didn’t realize this already, i have a deep-seated and somewhat obsessive love for markets.  luckily, i appear to have moved to the world capital of excellent markets here in london. i’ve already mentioned the broadway market and the columbia road flower market, both located within a convenient five minute-long hungover shuffle from my flat.  the next few posts will discuss  other recent weekend marketing visits: the incredible foodie nirvana of borough market and the international eating paradise of the sunday upmarket at the old truman brewery off brick lane.  i’ve already raved about a few highlights from each (toasted cheese ridiculousness and pud baps) and i have a number of upcoming posts about specific stalls/stores but i’d like to give a broader overview so you know how much amazingness is going to come at you when you come visit me. right fam? WHEN YOU COME VISIT ME. that means book tickets now.

we’ll start with borough market. there is such a ridiculous amount of amazingness at this place that it’s almost overwhelming.  luckily, just one toasted cheese sandwich to the face and i can take on anything. i’ll start with my first weekend there with fellow go gamers chris and sasha. we got there a bit too late to take on the toasted cheesiness, so we cheered ourselves up by eating pizza sandwiches. yes, it’s pizza AND a sandwich.

pizza sandwich stall

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eat my pies! i mean andy's pies. and his scotch eggs and pud baps…

hellooo scotch eggs

if you’re seeing this photo back in the States, you’re probably thinking, GOOD LORD mei, what in god’s name are you eating over there? well, my dear friends, welcome to the wonderful world of the scotch egg.  the traditional scotch egg, as shown above, is a hard-boiled egg removed from the shell, surrounded by minced sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. if you’re still recoiling in horror from that photo, come over here and try one, because it’s  really seriously delicious.

i should stop here and say that the traditional scotch egg is not always delicious and is quite often pretty nasty. as andy, the maker of this delicious scotch egg told me, they’re usually sold at service stations (gas stations) and overcooked, mushy, and full of scary meat. thank god someone is addressing this important issue and that someone is andy.  as the chef/creator behind eat my pies, andy is bringing back the retro british delicacies with an impressive attention to ingredients, an innovative fusion of food cultures, and an emphasis on the thoughtful preparation of well-loved but often poorly manufactured classics. he also referred to a slow food-like philosophy on making simple food with good ingredients, an idea that he says lost traction during the war when fresh ingredients were scarce and led to the overprocessing of ingredients and glorification of fast food. i’m hoping to chat more about this with him when i’m not staring distractedly at a bountiful array of deep-fried things i can put in my mouth.

andy of eat my pies

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the breakfast club: bacon butties, BLTs, and the best bathrooms ever imagined.

holy BLT

i’ve found my new favorite place in london. i know i gush a lot, but this time it’s the real deal. i have fallen in love with the breakfast club and its newest incarnation in hoxton, just a short jaunt away on our trusty steed, the 55 bus.  it’s not just the food (which is excellent, as you can see by the BLT above), it’s not just the vibe (which is super cool, as you can see by the lettering above), it’s a general sense of thoughtfulness, maximization of enjoyment, and attention to detail, as you might be able to tell from the photo above).  i’ll explain.

chris and i were on the never-ending hunt for free wi-fi this morning since our internet isn’t getting set up until friday (thank GOD – it’s been two weeks of poke-my-eyes-out bureaucratic phone tree customer service hell).  all of our favorite places were either 1) not open yet, b) too far out of the way, c) not serving real breakfast, or d) just not getting me excited. then walking near old street, out of the corner of my eye, i suddenly spotted a little sign for the breakfast club tucked down an alley near hoxton square.

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a crowning achievement in sandwiches and a hot cheese avalanche from kappacasein

toasted cheese sandwich from kappa casein

you’re looking at what i feel quite comfortable saying is one of the best sandwiches on the planet. behold the toasted cheese sandwich from kappacasein, a small stall with a big reputation in london’s famous borough market.  regard the oozy, gooey mix of montgomery cheddar, keen’s cheddar, and ogleshield cheeses that i kind of want to rub all over my face, or perhaps bathe in, if that weren’t socially unacceptable. feast your eyes on the impeccably browned poilane sourdough bread and note the subtle purple and green glints, hinting at powerful flavors, of five types of onions. these nine ingredients, assembled in a short stack and quickly toasted in a hot  press, form a warm and crunchy slab of  toasted cheese perfection.  OH MY GOD SO GOOD. truly, this is a crowning achievement in sandwiches.

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a fascinating, gag-inducing yet hunger-stimulating food walk of london

i just spent the most fantastically fun and educational food day wandering around london on a food walk and then exploring the mindblowingly incredible borough market. we’ll get to the borough market food porn in a later post, but for now be prepared to be inundated with a history of london eating, from the filthy and disgusting to the sublimely delicious, thanks to today’s food walk.

what’s a food walk, you ask? my absolutely cracking british friend michelle, who i met at sxsw, invited me on this guided tour where you walk around the city with someone versed in a subject like shakespeare’s london or hidden pubs in the city and other topics of that sort. she did a beatles walk with her mum, which is actually something i would like to with my own mum when she comes to visit in june. the point of this walk was to talk about the role of food in london’s history and then end up at the famous borough market just south of london bridge. our guide, ann, was a lovely and knowledgable woman who was very funny and full of random tidbits of history and food trivia. she reminded us of someone’s very british aunt who would welcome you into her home and serve you tea. and as michelle pointed out, it would most certainly be from a proper cup and saucer and not a mug.over the course of two hours, ann dropped mad science on the edible history of the city. here are some of my favorite gems of information to pass on to you, dear readers.

ann the tour guide in vinopolis

here’s our wonderful guide explaining a bit about london’s highly alcoholic history.

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