First Week in London - Notes and Ramblings
I've just transferred from NY and wanted to share some of my experiences so far. These are in no particular order.
Fentiman's Lemonade is so unbelievable good, I wouldn't do it justice here. I love the mix of sour lemons, aromatics, and slight funk. It is utterly perfect as a beverage. My only gripe is it is so difficult to find.
I lunched over on Edgware road at Ranoush Juice on a rec from a co-worker. Damn, what an unbelievable lamb doner. The meat was succulent, lamb-y and tender. It had hints of spicing which NY Middle Eastern joints don't use. Cinnamon? Cardamom? I could tell, but it worked really well. The doner was well sauced with just enpugh heat from the hot sauce. It was so good, I wondered if I had merely been hungry and that had clouded my judgment. I walked up Edgware northbound and stopped into a place half a block from Ranoush on the spur of the moment. I had another doner there. Not really as flavorful meat, and lack luster in presentation. This perversely heartened me, as I realized my taste buds where spot on in their feeling at Ranoush.
Friends took me out to Patara in Soho. Didn't really try much, but the lamb shank in red curry was wonderful. The curry came quite spicy as requested and was rich and flavorful. The lamb was appropriately fork tender and again had excellent flavor. Nice presentation too. I had to admit, I was pretty impressed.
Here's my Seinfeld moment. What's the deal with pre-packaged sandwiches here? Why are they so pervasive? Perhaps coming for a arguably one of the premier sandwich cultures in NY, perhaps my expectations are too high. Even so, generally these pre-packed sandwiches are abominations.
Had dim sum at New World. I wasn't very impressed. Shu mai skins were too thick and gummy. The sticky rice was one-dimensional and lacked required elements like scallions. Couldn't eat much as I was alone, but won't be back.
Also shopped at a random Hanging Meat joint on the north side of Gerrard (sorry, can't remember the name. They did have a sign out front proclaiming the hiring of an noted chef for hanging meat). Got roast pork and cuttlefish. Cuttlefish was quite good, but the roast pork was disappointing. It was a bit dry, and just not that flavorful.
Just got back from a visit to Borough market. Holy cow, is this a food Mecca or what? I loved every moment of it. It was so spectacular from the outset that I questioned my decision to live in north London. I totally dug the atmosphere, the vibe, and the grub! Here's a shortlist of what I grabbed:
- Various artisan cheeses. I has really impressed with the variety of UK origin cheese. Great flavors and textures. I couldn't tell you which ones I got where though.
- Pie's from English King's. Haven’t tried these yet, but got a game and pork to try. They look great.
- A piece of wild board sausage from Sardinia. Tender, fatty sausage that looked great and tasted better.
- Salted fresh butter
- German snack sausages and liverwurst. I haven't tried these yet.
- Gigantes and harissa olives from Borough Olive. Both taste very good but frankly, I was shocked at the price tag of 9 quick for two small tubs..
- Fresh English granny smith apples. Great.
- Baguette from degustibus. Smelled excellent.
I also ate:
- A burger from Northfields (on a rec from the board). Frankly, I was unimpressed. Dry meat, not much flavor. Nice thick pieces of good cheddar on top though.
- Sausage sandwich from Roast to go. Excellent flavored sausage, balanced hints of fennel and parsley.
- Pint of medium hard cider. Wasn't a fan of this, but I think that was more about me than the cider. It had a scent which was unpleasant to me.
The worst part about the trip is that I'm still in corporate housing with no real cooking utensils. I had to pass lots of fresh veggies, fish (which looked awesome) and meats. I can't wait to explore the market more.
NY'ers are proud. It takes a lot to say this, but we have no farmers market which rivals the variety, size, atmosphere and quality of Borough. What a place!
That's all for now. Thanks for reading the ramble. Looking forward to exploring more!
Welcome to London! Another good market to try is Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturdays from 9 to 5. A little less hectic than Borough and good people-watching. You can walk back along the canal which is really nice on a good day.
You are right about the sandwiches...and wait til you get familiar with all the toppings...mini-shrimp, egg salad, avocado, and rocket (arugula). Man, do they love their rocket here. Sometimes I'd do anything for a turkey sandwich. (They are not impossible to find. They're just not everywhere.)
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Next time you're at Borough Market, make sure you try Bourne's Cheshire cheese. It's made on the farm about 30 miles from where I live. The Bournes make the 400 mile round trip each week to sell at Borough. They usually offer three - "mature", organic and blue. All are good.....mature is wonderful.
Luckily, they also sell at my local monthly farmers market, 10 minutes drive away.
re: Brit on a Trip
Just wanted to let you Londoners know that they are trying to close down Borough Market. There is a petition that you can sign, although I don't have the link here. I was just there the past week and loved it. Try the chorizo sausage sandwich! Also, we had a good burger at Black and Blue which is near the sausage stand. The other great burger was at Eagle Cafe.
Get yourself over to the Green Valley Middle Eastern market. All kinds of wonderful cooked items to take home, or for a picnic or quick lunch. Next to Borough Market, it was my favorite place to graze. The closest tube stop is Marble Arch.
36 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 5QF
Oh, and don't miss their ice cream! If I'm remembering correctly my favorite flavor was called, simply, Milk.