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Looking for Assorted 'British' foods and a Rant :)

Hi all

I'm hunting for any place in the Boston area that might be making
any savoury pies on a daily basis - like chicken/cornish pasties/ sausage rolls/steak and kidney pies/beef and onion/veg pies/cheese and onion pies etc..
Ditto any places that are not doing ridiculously overpriced 'fish n chips'
(went to Elephant and Castle and tried their fish n chips, which was barely passable - luckily I stopped them from putting damn chutney on everything. What IS it with sugared foods here? (They also use canned baked beans that are sweet as hell, and have no place in any genuine British food. Grrr.

I'm going through withdrawal symptoms, coming from South Africa, which is a mix of UK/Dutch/French and African foods - to nonstop sweet products everywhere with hardly any savoury or salty foods available, outside of various 'ethnic' stores.. (been making my own biltong, for instance - which is a superior form of jerky)
But I'm craving normal tasting foods which don't seem to be easily available here.

Also - any cheese geeks here - can someone explain why the cheese that is called 'cheddar' in the US, behaves differently than EU and African cheddar cheese, when heated? (The stuff here turns to runny water, and loses all consistency when heated - very weird.)

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  1. Pies sweet and savo(u)ry: Petsi Pies in Somerville, lots of posts here on the site. Not exactly in the British style, but very good nonetheless.

    1. There's plenty of "British" food here, but it's typically labled as Irish. Many of the pubs around town do a decent breakfast with black and white pudding, bangers, Heinz beans, etc. . . The sweet beans are the boston baked beans, which are delicious but not always what you're looking for. The Tir na Nog has a good one and also fantastic fish and chips.

      There's a South African restaurant in Provincetown called the Karoo Cafe (I think) and while I'm fairly sure it's closed for the winter, they may be able help you find some of the ingredients you're craving. Some of the stop and shops also have a passable selection of food from Britain and Ireland. You could also try some of the East Indian shops.

      Much of traditional New England New England food actually falls into the savory catalog, as does Quebec food. I had a thread a while back called "fatty, salty, starchy" or something and there's a thread called "cretons" which has some ideas for Quebecois food.

      No idea what the cheddar issue is.

      1. American "cheddar" is not all the same. The most common types are from Wisconsin, NY and Vermont. The supermarket versions of these are not processed quite like genuine English cheddar, though some of the finer Vermont cheddars (like Grafton or Shelburne Farms) are very fine renditions.

        1. I was wondering this myself after reading a great Chowhound thread on meat pastries:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345055

          I'm embarassed to say that I can't think of a British pub in Boston, there's got to be some. I did a quick search and found this place mentioned on a page from the consulate:

          THWAITES MARKET
          36 Railroad Street
          Methuen, MA 01884
          Tel: (978) 683 2429

          "Retailer and importer of British meat pies and meatballs, pork pies, sausages, scotch eggs and faggots." Another page I saw said they have 24 types of meat pies, noticed that Thwaites is a UK company so maybe they're all imported rather than made locally.

          4 Replies
          1. re: steinpilz

            Did a quick pub search, there's Cornwall's at Kenmore (which looks so terrible I've never gone in) and Elephant and Castle downtown - which I have been to, they have a great English beer selection, and happened to talk to a Brit who was in town for a conference and staying at the hotel. I didn't try the food but the description I read says they have all the classics you mentioned.

            1. re: steinpilz

              You're not too far off on your judgement, Steinpilz. Been to Cornwall's a bunch of times ahead of taking in a Sox game. Good beer selection, lively bar area but the food was highly forgettable pub fare.

              1. re: Sal Monella

                Agreed, awful food, but they have Strongbow on tap!

            2. re: steinpilz

              No, no, no Thwaite's is not importing their pies! This is a fourth generation Yorkshire family business - the old granfer made pork pies in his kitchen and peddled them to bars - they were so popular he opened a market and the rest is a most interesting history! It's a butchery and you can get poloney and tomato sausage, etc., etc. And it's a bakery and you can get English pork pies - and also all these other flavors which come from other ethnic cuisines - very important because the area where Thwaite's is located is largely Hispanic. This market has survived and thrived by satisfying its customers' needs while continuing the authentic food it's old customers return for. They also do Canadian style pork pie (tourtiere) proving a nice opportunity to compare! No, I'm not a relative, but my Dad grew up in Methuen and we've shopped there all my life!

            3. Thwaites market in Methuen makes pies in the British style....they at least have pork pies, and seem to have a number of others (I was only there once, but the pork pie I had was very good, like a Cornish pie).

              In the US, the term "cheddar" for cheese is used very loosely. There are some producers of proper cheddar-style cheeses, but what one usually sees in the supermarkets is not that. Good cheese shops, including Whole Foods, sell real cheddar.

              I'm not sure what you mean about the sweet stuff and "normal tasting foods"; I don't like sugar in my food unless it belongs there for balance, like in Thai food, but I don't seem to have encountered the problem you're mentioning.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Zatan

                " (I was only there once, but the pork pie I had was very good, like a Cornish pie)."

                Huh? I don't think I understood your statement. The meat in pork pies should be dense and solid surrounded by gelatin and then thick pastry - and is usually served cold. Usually made in a big size, then sliced like pie. With cornish pies (pasties), the meat (i've only had ground meat)and veggies are loosly held together with a gravy in a enclosed pocket of pastry -and is served warm. I understand there can be differnt variations of these, but they seem to be completely different things to me.

                I guess my question here is do they make real pork pies there or some bastardized concoction?

                1. re: LStaff

                  Speaking of pork pies, an old boss used to bring in these insanely rich pies w/pastry on the bottoms. The pork had been finely pureed with savory herbs, spices, shallots etc. It kept it's integrity at room temp & cut like a creamy, dense cheesecake. Anyone seen anything like these?

                  1. re: LStaff

                    hmmm, though the one I had was still warm, and though I think they have both small, single serving sizes and larger ones, it was delicious and otherwise fits your description of a pork pie above (dense meat, some juices that were turning to gelatin). It's been a long time since I had a Cornish pastie so forgot the difference.