food tours with the hackney hostel: macaroons, focaccia, and one hell of a churro

macaroons from laduree in paris

we’ve had a steady stream of friends and family rotating through the hackney hostel over the past month, which has meant many a fantastic food exploration throughout london. having some of my favorite people in town has been wonderful, not in the least when your houseguests bring you delicious treats straight from paris like these insanely decadent macaroons from the famous ladurée shop.  from the top:  salted caramel, chocolate, rose, and pistachio. amazing. thanks chris and ant!

of course, no visit to the hackney hostel is complete without visiting several markets. we made the absolutely essential saturday morning hangover stop at the toasted cheese stall at borough market, then hit up the usual suspects like scallops and bacon, fresh oysters, strawberries and cream, lamb burgers, halloumi veggie burgers, and all those old friends. a new discovery was the focacc-with-many-deliciously-unexpected-ingredients like the one i purchased with leeks, pine nuts, and ricotta. i’ve started experimenting with making focaccia, which i’ll post about someday, so it was inspiring to see all the inventive combinations. my most recent visitors – anthony, dan, and christine – show off my focaccia here. you can’t really see the bread, but you can see their excitable foodie delight (especially anthony’s).

ant dan chris and the focaccia

later that day, dan and i went to the opening of the beautiful pavilion at the serpentine gallery thanks to his friend sam, part of the design team.  well done sam.the serpentine gallery pavilion

after our swanky gallery visit, dan and i went to a me and dan and the yellow brollyswanky dinner at a fabulous anglo-french restaurant called le cafe anglais.  now judging by the photo we may not look like we belong anywhere swanky, but believe me, we looked sharp.  sadly, i didn’t take any photos at the restaurant so you’ll have to use your imagination to envision dan’s rabbit rilletes with toast and pickled endives,  which was a cute little pot of cute little shredded rabbit cooked in fat until tender. we had to dig through about a quarter inch of solid fat to get to the deliciousness within. i had an amazing fish soup and then a gloucester old spot pork belly while dan had grilled plaice fillet with roasted tomatoes. i’ll most definitely be going back there.

sunday morning found us back at my usual weekend routine of columbia road flower market and brick lane upmarket, where i had the best okonomiyaki of my life. i may only have had four of these japanese cabbage-base pancakes in my life, but this one blew the rest out of the water. little bits of sweet corn, crunchy cabbage, tangy japanese sauce, and a crispy layer of fried cheesiness on top with a gentle sprinkling of dried seaweed. yes, it looks like a hot mess but it’s delicious. come visit me and i’ll show you.


ant, chris and i also filled our bellies with roast hog sandwiches with rocket and apple sauce and then sampled our way through indian wraps filled with spicy goat curry, arancini rice balls, just-made doughnuts, freshly battered fish and chips, and so much more.  i love how everything is made in front of you at the market – everything comes straight off the grill or straight out of the hot oil and goes right into your mouth.  i acknowledge may not be exactly a good thing for you, but it sure tastes good.

but the highlight of the freshly made treats? anthony’s churro, which came directly out of the hand-rotated churro-and and the churromaking machine (gotta get me one of those) and into the deep fryer. once out, it rolls like a happy puppy in a bed of cinnamon and sugar, then receives a direct injection with a crazy churro-injection machine, filling the empty churro with an insane mixture of half chocolate and half homemade dulce de leche in one decisive downward motion.  seriously, i don’t know who invented these wacky machines whose only purposes are to make hollow spiral churro tubes and then fill them with cavity-inducing gloppiness, but i applaude their ingenuity. that’s on the level of the cotton gin and the internet.  holy week’s-worth-of-calories-in-a-deep-fried-sugar-sprinkled-chocolate-filled-stick.  note the compromising photo of anthony on the right, before he succumbs to the incredibleness about to invade his mouth.

food tour from the hackney hostel over. coming soon, farm tour with a big ass pig and a decisively male donkey.

5 Responses

  1. annie says:


    oh man. i love churros. remember the ones we got in tj? from that kid and his cart. mmm fried dough. love it almost as much as i love puppies.

    AND swanky date with DANIMAL?! i’m jealous.

    can’t wait to see you dude.

  2. Amit says:

    it looks like anthony has a mexican penis in his mouth.

  3. ant says:

    there’s not a ‘no homo’ nor ‘…pause’ substantial enough to nullify the damage done by that photo. whoa my god. also. eating has already become 800% less exciting since touching back down in the states.

  4. mei says:

    annie – i thought of the exact same thing. mini churros. in a bag. OMG.

    amit – don’t judge, wait till you try your own sugar-coated mexican amigo.

    ant – there is NOTHING wrong with passionate love between a man and a churro. don’t let any of the haters tell you differently.

  5. Christine Turner says:

    thank you for the fabulous london food tour! i’ve been thinking about that toasted cheese ever since.

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