All posts tagged: London

Worm Noodles and Roast Crickets – Eating Insects.

A few weeks ago I was offered the chance to nip to London for BBC East Midlands’ Inside Out for the Great Food Club magazine. The offer was entomophagy (which, to you and I, is eating insects). How could I resist? Actually, I was intrigued, sounded like a blast, (I’m easy pleased…) so I didn’t need asking twice and this Sunday I headed down for tea. On the serious side, the programme is considering whether or not we should increase our consumption of insects in an effort to feed the growing world population and reduce the negative environmental impacts of farming animals. Insects are highly nutritious, low in fat and high in protein and are, in fact, already eaten in many parts of the world, and have been for Millennia. The extent to which their value can be captured on an industrial scale to provide a protein source either on their own or as part of animal feed or human food production is not yet clear, but in the West, and Europe in particular, probably the single …

Eating out in London – random musings on the great, the okay and the rest

We had some fabulous food on our recent stay to London, Adam Handling’s The Frog in Spitalfields, Smoking Goat in Soho and the Oystermen in Covent Garden were the highlights. We had some pretty good sushi (I am no expert on this, has to be said) at Eat Tokyo in Camden and a fabulous pizza in Neal’s Yard. All these have their own posts on the blog if you have the time. We had some not so good stuff – my taco at Greenwich Market was a particular low-light, soggy, gritty and taste free (see separate post).  and I had a not unpleasant but distinctly underwhelming salt beef brioche in Convent Garden Market. Popped to a couple of nearby café for breakfasts, I didn’t record the names for posterity and mostly I watched the rest of the FWF eat the food, but we had some decent fry-ups, and I discovered that a  “Liver Breakfast” is a thing. I think this is a fry-up with liver (I’m hazarding a guess here, but for sure most of the cafes in …

Street Food in Greenwich – not everything I ate recently was wonderful.

I didn’t actually know there was a market in Greenwich, so you live and learn. I haven’t been to Greenwich since I was a kid but it still seemed so familiar. I guess those old naval buildings appear in so many films, that you feel you know them, even though I think I was about 10 when I was last there. The Clipper from Bank was fast and with great views of the city in the sunshine, you have to wonder why people don’t commute this way more often.        Anyway, I was here to see a friend, so no time to admire the Cutty Sark apart from a fleeting glance through the glass dome that surrounds the ship’s hull. Great idea – tried hard to convince Plymouth they should so something similar with a copy of the Mayflower once upon a time….anyway enough of that. Greenwich Market, where I met said friend is a sort of artsy crafty affair, very pretty, lovely atmosphere. Good pub. It also, I discovered, has the ubiquitous street food …

Passing through Neal’s Yard? Homeslice Pizza- perfection.

So you know, you just wander around a small bit of London and the history and stories of the town never cease to take you by surprise. I know Seven Dials quite well, but not as well as I thought. I mean, how come I had never actually wandered into Neals Yard and Monty Python’s old gaff? Well with a bit of time to spare before a hair appointment, we popped in for some lunch. The sun was shining, the crowd was mingling and the smell of freshly cooked pizza was just that bit too much to resist. It was ages until dinner, in any event. Homeslice Pizza was buzzing, the place was rammed, queues were out the door, the woodfired oven was on full and the pizza smelled divine. Homeslice is rooted in streetfood, starting as precisely that (as so many do now, and it’s fab) and now has 3 permanent sites in Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Shoreditch, so not a chain and I think it shows in the sheer quality of the pizza. Do something simply …

The Smoking Goat, Soho

So, here’s another gem, this time in Soho. Nestled between any number of guitar and musical instrument shops that stretch the whole length of Denmark Street is the entirely unassuming Smoking Goat. The ‘Goat describes itself as “Thai Barbecue” but it is as far from the usual fare that this implies as I’ve seen. Moreover, they specialise in using rare-breed British meat. Again, with much owed to Thai street food, (the guys behind this place travelled extensively in the northern regions of Thailand) this amazing food has transitioned perfectly. The Smoking Goat is small with around 20 covers at the front (if you include eating at the bar) and some more space at the rear (10 maybe?). The food is to die for, honestly, the flavours, textures and execution were just fabulous. Like The Oystermen in Covent Garden and, indeed, Rok in Shoreditch, I love the intimacy of these little places, each having a distinctive vibe and located in interesting places and characterful old buildings. I am pretty much done with stuffy formality and reverence when I’m …

There is no “r” in the month. But what the hell. The Oystermen, Covent Garden.

As you know, I’m an ostreophile. I love a good oyster (and, no, no chewing, just a push up against the roof of the mouth and a swallow, see earlier posts and please God, don’t cook them), so the opening of “The Oystermen” in Covent Garden just the week before our most recent visit to London put this squarely on the “hit list”. The Oystermen is small, like the Smoking Goat (more of that superb place later), located on Henrietta St just beside Covent Garden Market. Small, as in, maybe 20ish covers? but perfectly formed. Simple, fresh, seafood, trendy, bearded owner and chief shucker.  Not only am I a fan of oysters, I love a fresh boiled crab. I can dissect one with alarming alacrity, even if I do say so myself. Keep your boring, expensive lobsters and give me a good old fashioned brown crab.  I was at home the moment we walked in. I started with the oysters, (natch). Half a dozen, 2 of each type (the FWD can’t cope with the texture *rolls eyes* so she passed). Maldon Rock, Blackwater …

Eating out in Shoreditch – Pitt Cue, Rök & Som Saa, and breakfast at Ruby’s

So, I pretty much ate my way round around Shoreditch over a couple of days last week. In order to justify such excess, I offer this as my recommendations should you find yourself kicking your heels in the City of London and in need of sustenance. My hit list had included Pitt Cue, Fish (at Borough Market) and Som Saa. Two of these feature, Fish was replaced with the sublime Rök, which I stumbled upon when heading somewhere else and there were a couple of random additions. First up  (and a random addition) Busaba Thai, on Old Street, this is a chain, it seems there are 16 of them. This might explain the service. This was a “we’re tired and starving, what’s close?” choice, rarely a good basis for a restaurant decision, but needs must and all that. Spacious and dimly lit, with large shared tables, the interior is clean and modern with the odd nod to Oriental style, (paper lanterns) but it is subtle and not in your face. As there was barely anyone …

Channeling Rumpole on Fleet Street

Well, you couldn’t really stay just off Fleet Street and not step back in time to a world of gossip, intrigue, scoops and plotting that was (still is?) the culture of the English Press. Although most of the papers are long gone and the presses moved out, their ghosts still haunt Fleet Street, the shadows of signage on the grand buildings, faded painted titles on the walls, the pubs and bars that hosted the press barons and hacks, and of course the eponymous Street remains short-hand for our newspaper industry even though most of it is long gone and much of it is dying on its feet. Ever read Rumpole of the Bailey? or Private Eye?  You’ll recognise this place. The “Pomeroys” of the books –  El Vino. It reeks (only figuratively of course) of a culture of portly, red-faced men, polishing off a bottle of decent red from about 11 in the morning bemoaning the world and putting it to rights, or those leaving the (truly astonishing) St Bride’s Church, the “journalist’s” Church to …

Holborn, History and Tapas

Holborn is not our usual haunt, but, for reasons I won’t bore you with you, we spent a week (with a hiatus in the middle) in this part of London for the first time. It is a fabulous area, particularly if you are a fan of legal history or Charles Dickens – each corner, each building, every nook, cranny, street-name and Church evokes our legal history, Fleet Street casts its long shadow of journalism and print making (visit St Brides Church and be amazed). A stroll down to the River through the Inns of Court, Blackfriars, Chancery, from the Knights Templar to the Pickwick Papers, legal and literary history is all around you. What isn’t all around you, unless you look very hard are too many amazing restaurants (I am ready to be corrected here, of course). Random restaurant picking generally goes two ways for me – “what a wonderful find, aren’t we lucky!” or “Christ, what a waste of money, only ate it because I was starving”. Somehow both are more satisfying than spending …

Get this. Padella – handmade, delicious & affordable pasta – yep, affordable London

If I had a set of drums, I’d do a drumroll before starting this post, or possibly a trumpet fanfare, if I had one of them. Probably fortunately, I don’t have either. Why the excitement? Affordable (yes, properly, really, genuinely, affordable), delicious, authentic, handmade pasta in Southwark. Padella is situated just at the entrance of Borough Market, it doesn’t take bookings but is open all day, so if, like us, you pitch up outside peak hours, you don’t have long to wait (10 mins in our case).There is an open kitchen, and bench seating by the window and at the counter, with some tables to the rear. We sat at the window, all the better to watch the world go by, and it certainly does.. The menu is gratifyingly limited, with a handful of starters and main courses and just 3 desserts. The portions are perfectly judged, I am fed up with being served so much food that I have to leave half of it, or avoid a starter and sweet simply to make room …