Tag: british food

canteen has great british food: apricot cobbler, mushroom pie, and other surprises

apricot cobbler with custard from canteen

if my keyboard shorts out from all the drool slowly dripping from my mouth, i fully blame canteen and this ridiculous apricot cobbler.  good lord. this dessert is amazing. warm jammy apricot, fluffy sweet breadiness and your very own mini pitcher of creamy custard. mmmmmmmm. as if things can’t get any better, i spy a neal’s yard dairy cheese plate behind it….

i’ve had a wonderful deluge of visitors over the past few weeks (christine, ant, mom, aunt julia and uncle dick, lexi, sarah, peter, drewstew, becky, and dan…whew!) and our major tourist activity has been eating our way across the city. i enjoy forcefully disabusing people of the all-too-common belief that england has terrible food by shoving something amazing in their mouths.  the old spitalfields market location of canteen turned out to be the perfect restaurant to put this tragically untrue myth to rest once and for all, seeing as their motto is ‘great british food.’ but just how great it was even surprised me too.

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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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fun with british cuisine: the amazing adventures of bubble and squeak

don’t bubble and squeak sound like two adorable and mischievious muppet-like cartoon characters who gallivant about the english countryside and innocently find themselves stuck in amusingly entertaining situations? i’m making myself try every new dish i see on a menu here in london, which meant a heaping plate of faggots with bubble and squeak at a pub last sunday.

here’s what i learned. bubble and squeak is actually a sort of hash brown-like rectangularish patty of leftover mashed potatoes and myriad other vegetables. it’s thought that the origin of the name might be from the sounds made when one makes the dish. i kind of like this idea. what i REALLY like is the name of a similar dish of leftovers from the scottish borders called, no joke, rumbledethumps. i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried.

rumbledethumps is obviously the mean, furry, 8 foot tall ogre living in a cave in bonny scotland that terrorizes poor bubble and squeak until they learn that the poor guy is just misunderstood and all he wants in life is friends to sit with him in his dark damp cave and share a cuppa tea.  perhaps on another adventure, the impetuous explorers bubble and squeak encounter the lovely but cursed swedish princess pyttipanna and save her from an unknown but obviously terrible fate.  in case you haven’t figured it out already, pyttipana is another virtually identical dish in sweden which literally translates to ‘leftovers in pan.’ whooo, new career as writer of children’s-books-based-on-bizarrely-named-european-dishes, here i come!

oh and in case you were wondering, faggots are meatballs. usually made out of offal, in this case made out of pork liver and belly. and in case you’re also wondering, the faggots will not make an appearance in the children’s story. here’s a visual of all of the above, plus peas.

faggots-with-bubble-and-squeak

speaking of peas, my first fish and chips dish in the UK came with a side of mushy minty peas. they tasted exactly as advertised.

fish-and-chips-with-homemade-tartar-sauce-and-mushy-minty-peas

served on newspaper? check. homemeade tartar sauce? check. a monstrous fried thingy that looked remarkably like fried cuy aka guinea pig? check. hot, greasy, and fantastically delicious? check, double check.

fish-and-chips

speaking of checking, kickass czech beer abounds in london. here’s me and my dave, a friend from nyc and new companion for edible excursions, downing some staropramen like champs.

dave-and-i-drink-czech-beer

thanks to dave we also sampled champagne truffles (wooo shot of alcohol), a bar of 100% cocoa (a complex taste sort of like coffee…and dirt) and a straight up all-out british breakfast. bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, poached eggs, and surprise! fries! we were not informed of the presence of fries on the menu, but who doesn’t enjoy surprise fries?

british-breakfast-with-surprise-fries

NOM NOM NOM. well done so far, london. absolutely cracking. definitely the bees knees. more eating to come…

the truth about uk-us food relations: baked beans and hot pockets are well bum.

besides all the drunken revelry and go game shenanigans at sxsw, the best thing about the week has been all the smart and fascinating people i’ve met from all around the world. chris and i have been hitting up all the uk events to network and make connections to prepare for our london office opening mid-april and we were lucky enough to meet an incredible array of welcoming, knowledgeable and helpful people. we set up meetings and exchanged information with people from the british government, matched wits with some game designers and other creative peeps, and did some work and some rickrolling with some brilliant folks from the bbc.

after several days of improving international relations and solving world peace, i have taken away two important factoids regarding food and drink consumption in the uk.

  1. flat out, these brits can drink me under the freaking table. after countless bottles of beer and endles shots of sambuca, jager, and tequila, i was a blathering mess of incomprehensibility and the brits could probably have made a rather convincing and well-crafted speech at parliament. i am a bit frightened for my liver when i touch down on british soil.
  1. i have discovered the ultimate dividing line, the unbreachable gulf of understanding between british and american culture, and no, it has nothing to do with football vs. soccer or whose pop stars can more spectacularly combust in embarrassing public breakdowns. no, my friends, the answer is in fact, wtf is up with the baked beans!?

regard, if you will, the flyer for the great british breakfast I went to at the end of sxsw:

british-breakfast-baked-beans

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