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Shopping in London as a native

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What's the scoop? There's a chance we will be moving there. Is there kosher bread in the regular markets? Or do you have to shlep to the bakeries in GG. How about other basics that aren't meat/cheese?

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  1. I believe most shomer kashrut people buy from bakeries, but they are not restricted to GG. There are frum communities all over the place and most would have a least one bakery nearby.

    You should check out the London Beth Din website. Compared to the US, very little has a visible hechsher, although way better than when I lived there. Most people have a copy of the Beth Din guide at home, but they also have a lot online.

    1. It's quite a modern country, actually; supermarket-type bread is now available in ordinary British supermarkets. This will be convenient for you when you weekend in the Cotswolds or go hiking in Yorkshire. Plus, the rest of us will gain a London-based chowhounder who can keep us up to date on the restaurant and take-out scene.

      Seriously, London, lucky you.

      1. Yes, they have kosher sections in supermarkets but the bakeries are by far better quality.

        1. Just make sure you get a big raise. Everything is amazingly expensive. But yes, I am jealous too.

          13 Replies
          1. re: SoCal Mother

            Thanks for the responses and the nice thoughts, Adina and SoCal, especially. It's a huge undertaking to imagine right not but if all goes well, we will be there in six weeks!

            I was there a couple months ago, as you might remember, totally coincidentally, but the house we stayed at was vegan so I didn't go shopping with kashrus in mind.

            1. re: DeisCane

              Best of luck.
              Depending on where you need to be, there are lots of nice communities beyond the core groups of GG and Hendon.

              1. re: njkosher

                Yeah, we're doing the full scope of research right now. We want to be closer to town anyhow so we'll probably end up in St. John's Wood or South/West Hampstead.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  A young girl from England came to live here in California and she solemnly told me:

                  "I had to learn the way you talk here. You call biscuits 'cookies,' you call crisps 'chips,' you call chips 'fries,' and if you want to speak to your mummy you need to say "maaaahhhhmeee." "

                  So you need to reverse that. Oh, and a jumper is a pullover sweater.

                  1. re: SoCal Mother

                    If a binary decision needs to be made, e.g. where to go for lunch, *never* suggest "let's toss for it". (I once had a boss who had spent some time in the UK, and made that mistake.)

                    1. re: SoCal Mother

                      If we're getting into slang, learn pants vs trousers. Pants are what men wear under their trousers. Women's legged apparel is also trousers.

                      I once caused a newly-emigrated British classmate considerable concern and embarrassment when I told him I needed to press his pants when the dress rehearsal for our play was finished.

                      1. re: CloggieGirl

                        We lived there for a while some years ago. Soon after we arrived I planned a birthday party for my 6 year old. I wanted her to have friends, so in my eagerness to ensure that the children would show up, on the invitations I wrote that I would pick up the children, and bring them home after.
                        A number of puzzled parents told me that their children did not need to be picked up because they could walk quite well.

                        It seems I should have offered to fetch their children rather than pick them up.

                        1. re: CloggieGirl

                          But if something is pants, it's lame.

                      2. re: DeisCane

                        I am english. To the best of my knowledge there are no bakeries/ kosher shops in the areas you mentioned but if you are ok eating stuff with a vegetarian logo on it (some people are, but id check before serving it) you wont have a problem in any of the local bakeries.
                        Also, excellent Indian vegan/ veggie places. The bakeries, btw, are amazing. Each one is actually different tasting unlike the bakeries in the USA and Israel which i find all taste the same. The bakeries are in GG, Hendon etc. I should also tell you that Hampstead really isn't far from Golders Green and the drive is very easy. Born and bred in London, so feel free to ask me any questions!

                        1. re: marissaj

                          We are hoping to go without a car, so there's that.

                          Thanks for the input though.

                          1. re: DeisCane

                            Also, come from London, if you need any help.

                            1. re: DeisCane

                              Public transport isn't bad at all from Hampstead to Golders Green. AFAIK, St Johns Wood is not on the northern line, but Hampstead is (not sure what/ if st.john woods line is); the GG (golders green) train station isn't far from the kosher eateries in GG nor from Hendon. Even Edgware is on the Northern Line if you want to go further afield!
                              That said, if you won't have car, and it is important to you to be near kosher restaurants and bakeries I highly recommend you perhaps look into living in a more Jewish area. If I was to move to the UK now I would be looking at Finchley. Lovely traditional/modern orthodox community, very friendly, affluent, lovely high road with a couple of kosher eateries, walkable to Hendon, Tesco on main road etc... Let me know if you want my email or any
                              more help.

                              1. re: marissaj

                                Thanks for the input. We still want to be closer to town but your feedback is helpful.

                  2. Some branches of Waitrose e.g. the one in the Brunswick Square in Bloomsbury have kosher sections (matzo, kosher wine, etc), though it's small, and presumably other mainstream supermarkets too depending on the area (e.g. some supermarkets have Polish food sections if they cater to a Polish community).

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: limoen

                      BTW, it's official. We are moving next month.

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        Besha'ah tovah umutzlachas.

                        1. re: DeisCane

                          Wow! Is this an term-limited posting, or a possibly more enduring relocation? You can tell me to MYOB, but I am curious. Settling in is so very different when there is an expectation of staying, than when it's two-years-then-back-to-the-home-office.

                          1. re: AdinaA

                            It's for three years.

                            We found an amazing place in Hampstead that is close to both the Hampstead and South Hampstead shuls as well as the new JCC. Less than a 10 minute drive to GG and less than 20 minutes on the tube to central London.

                            1. re: DeisCane

                              You've picked the perfect place (biased as I am from there). I hope you enjoy living there. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know.

                              1. re: DeisCane

                                Altogether perfect. I'm green with envy.

                                1. re: AdinaA

                                  Thanks for the good wishes, all. We are very excited. I will do my best to keep chowhounds posted on the London dining scene.

                                2. re: DeisCane

                                  Wow, that's a perfect location.

                          2. Selfridges has a fairly substantial kosher section in their food hall if you're ever in central London and need lunch/groceries and sells Grodzinski baked goods in the bakery section.

                            Adafina is the kind of schmancy place that serves pre-prepared food in St Johns Wood.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: brokentelephone

                              Thanks. I had heard plenty about Selfridges for our spring trip (totally unrelated!) but though I'd seen Adafina mentioned on the web here and there, I couldn't get any good background. That's great to know as we will be there a lot for my daughters' school nearby.

                            2. We lived in st john's wood right near Primrose Hill Park/ a couple of minutes from the Zoo and Regent's Park. We used to walk over the hill to South hampstead synagogue. Every friday my wife would help up to GG to get some great challah. My daughter (18 months when we went there and 3.5 years when we returned to the states) went to an israeli gan, so learned hebrew with an israeli accent, (which she still retains when she speaks Hebrew), and came back with a high street british accent. (and british vocabulary). we shopped a lot around the high street, and had great time.

                              1. Has anyone been to the new restaurant 1701, where the old Bevis Marks restaurant was?