Friday, 2 September 2011

London (UK)

London was the last leg of our Europe Trip and it was such a relief to be able to communicate in English again! We were pretty tired at this point considering we blitzed through 20 cities in 9 countries in 34 days.
View of Westminister Palace from the London Eye

Tower Bridge

Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace

Big Ben, London Eye and Protesters...

When we started our trip, one of our goals in each country was to take in the local cuisine.
So what better way to take in British cuisine than to go to a real English restaurant in the historic Covent Garden?
Porters English Restaurant
The London Particular (Split pea soup with speck)
After weeks of eating Italian bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and more recently crusty French bread, we were ecstatic to finally go back to soft bread and BUTTER!
 It was thick and hearty - the speck (or smoked bacon) added a nice touch to the soup.
Bottom: Steak and Kidney Pudding alongside a generous helping of mash potatoes
I probably should have remembered my dislike of kidney and liver before attempting to eat this; the steak part was delicious, I loved the suet pastry and I thought it was really well done - but I had a terrible time with the kidney part of the dish.

Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pie and side of vegetables
The white wine sauce was delicious and creamy and brought the chicken breast, mushrooms and leeks together nicely. The puff pastry was really nice as well. Really enjoyable
Spotted Dick
We ordered this for giggles. It's actually a steamed sponge with sultanas and crème anglaise.
And it turned out amazing! The sponge was nice and warm and with the crème anglaise, it was so delicious. The British know their desserts.

We loved Porters English Restaurant so much, that we came back for our last meal in Europe:
Fisherman's Pie and baked potato
Cod, salmon and prawns, in a creamy dill and parsley sauce with creamy mashed potato and cheddar topping
Another hit! Despite the small size of the pie, it was quite filling and delicious with all the seafood inside and the hard cheddar topping. The baked potato wasn't loaded the way I was expected (I've been spoiled by American and Canadian restaurants and their green onion, sour cream, bacon and cheddar baked potatoes), but it was a hefty serving.
Steamed Syrup Sponge
We couldn't resist after seeing the tagline: "Wickedly delicious, maybe why Britain hasn’t been successfully invaded since 1066!"
I'd almost agree - the Brits are amazing at their sponge desserts - maybe the best in the world?

The Vegetarian's Paradise
Before we arrived in the UK, we did not know that London had so many Indian restaurants. After eating so many meat dishes on our journey, we were craving some vegetables. We found The Vegetarian's Paradise restaurant near our hostel (Generator Hostel). It was nice to eat something different - we finally got to eat Indian vegetarian dishes and the best part of this was that it was a buffet!

Charbonnel et Walker
In the food section of Harrod's, there's a Chocolate section (and it's like heaven for chocolate lovers).
We saw Charbonnel et Walker and couldn't help being drawn in by "the Queen's truffle maker"

Charbonnel et Walker hold a Royal Warrant as Chocolate Manufacturers to the Queen
We couldn't resist buying a few to try: milk chocolate, pink Marc de Champagne, Marc de Champage, Bucks Fuzz, vanilla, dusted caramel, dusted strawberry and cappucino.
They were delicious and worthy of the title for sure!
My favourites were the milk chocolate and dusted strawberry. I loved the sweetness of the chocolate. I'd really recommend trying them when you're in the UK (we bought a ton as souveniers).

We also took the time to explore the markets of London - they were each so distinctive and fascinating (huge difference from St. Lawrence market in Toronto):

Borough Market
Fish and chips (in this case haddock) in Borough market
Fantastic! The haddock was crispy and it was such a huge portion along with the chunky deep fried chips.

On our trip, we made a friend from Australia who lived in London. We contacted her when we were in town and met up with her to grab lunch at the Saturday only Broadway Market next to London Fields.

Broadway Market
Assorted Fudge!

Halumi box (Veggie burger) 
Despite what it looks like, it was really good!
Some caramelized onions, carrots, beets, potatoes and assorted other veggies.
Conclusion: There's so much to do in London and it always seems like you don't have enough time in the city. The musuems have free admission, the people are super friendly, the food is delicious and best of all - everyone speaks proper English (with a charming accent too)!