UK Chronicles of a Pinay II: Nom Nom English FoodOctober 5th, 2012 | Posted by in Trotting Territories
Iknew very little of English cuisine. Aside from fish and chips, I just assume that they don’t eat rice and feed on meat just like the Americans. A few weeks before my UK trip, I started to trim down on rice so I wouldn’t have rice-withdrawal-syndrome there. Nonetheless, I did enjoyed mouthwatering dishes! Read on and see what my favorites are and other dishes I recommend.
BEST FISH AND CHIPS (F&C)
I came to UK thinking about eating the best F&C. Found it! I just hope I’ll also find that quality in the country.
- F&C at a pub near Trafalgar Square. I and Couchsurfing fellows ate in a pub after our free hugs event. It was good enough to fill my hungry worms but I’ve tasted better.
- F&C at The Bell. This was included English countryside bus tour. It was also my first F&C in UK. The F&C was a bit dry but the peas were good.
- F&C at Horse Guards Parades. We were in the volleyball game while eating this. It was bleh because the fish was not warm anymore and the peas was too mushy for me.
- F&C at Fresh Thinking. THE BEST!The cod fish had a thin and crispy breading and its meat was soft and warm inside. You can really taste its freshness. I love the garlic dip served with the chips. It was fine that the mashed peas was in a small serving since I did get to focus on the fish. The restaurant had their aquariums where you can see what you want to eat.
BEST TEA/COFFE PARTNER: STRAWBERRY TART
After eating at Patisserie Valerie’s, I am now consciously looking for the best strawberry tart in the Philippines. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water again. It is ”a rich butter pastry tart with melted dark chocolate coating. Fresh strawberries on a plain vanilla sponge along with whipped cream and custard finished off with a strawberry jel.”
Please let me know if you have an idea where I can get this here in the Philipines!
Before you get to see my favorite dishes in UK, below is a list of the food that I was able to eat. I wanted to put Phat Thai in the list but I’ve already tasted an equally satisfying dish in Greenbelt. The ones with “*” are still recommended even if they didn’t get to my top choices.
MY TOP THREE
Roasted Pork (The Canteen in London)
This, combined with Apple Cider, was the best dish I ate in UK! The pork was so juicy and tender that I didn’t realize I easily finished two strips of it. The roasted potatoes were crunchy outside and soft inside. Baby carrots and greens were fresh and complimentary to the dish.
Fillet of Sea Bass (Howies in Edinburgh, Scotland)
I entered this restaurant not knowing what to eat. The waiter approached and recommended their catch of the day. Good thing I listened because I was looking forward to eating a very good meal before I leave Scotland.
What’s a Beurre Blanc? It’s a butter-based emulsified sauce. No wonder I loved it.
Pomodoro Pesto Lagera (Pizza Express found anywhere in UK)
Before watching The Phantom of the Opera, I needed a meal that wasn’t heavy. I wanted something light and enjoyable. Then I remembered Good Earth Cafe, the place where my love for thin crust vegetarian pizzas started. When I looked at the menu of Pizza express, they had vegetarian pizzas. Chose the pizza with ingredients that I was familiar with. Watched the musical with a very happy stomach.
I made a point to eat in restaurants at least twice a week. Out of the 13 restaurants, 5 suggestions came from friends, 3 from family, and others were based on my own hunches. Restaurants I tried were:
- Patisserie Valerie (very colorful pastries and good coffee),
- Nando’s (self-service family restaurant with artistic ambience),
- Fresh Thinking (great fresh fish and well cooked dishes),
- The Bell (countryside restaurant but not that great food),
- Olive Oil & Oregano (good food court choice),
- The Canteen (nice place to sit and have a conversation with beer),
- Pret a Manger (good if you’re looking for healthy takeaway food),
- The Everest Indian and Nepalese Restaurant (good ambience and food),
- Jimmy Chung’s 7 days Chinese Buffet (too familiar),
- Al Balad Lebanese Cuisine (too unfamiliar).
MY TOP RESTAURANT: THE CHURCHILL ARMS
This is the most charming restaurant I have seen. It’s a fusion of an English pub and a Thai restaurant, a combination of two admirable cultures from two different zones. It’s also the first pub with a Thai restaurant in London.
The place highly recommended by my couple family friend who used to hangout there a lot when they were younger. They mentioned that on peak hours, guests are only allowed to sit down for an hour because of the volume of people. Lucky for me and my friend, we were early enough to enjoy more than an hour of admiring the place.
At first, you wouldn’t think that this is a pub because of the hanging flowers from top to bottom, inside and out. It seemed more like a garden cafe. But lo and behold! When I entered, I saw a wide range beer collection and further inside is the Thai restaurant.
The pub was adorned with Churchill memorabilia because his grandparents used to come very here often. The Thai restaurant decorations was even more lovely. It was full of framed articles about butterflies, hanging plants, the blue mirror window, and other quirky stuff. It was perfect for family or friend gatherings.
ORDINARY DAYS FOOD
If there’s one word to describe English food, that wood be SIMPLE. I think UK’s gloomy weather makes potatoes happy but not other plants. Looked it up, the country has a variety of only 33 vegetables and fruits combined (which is less than the Philippines’ count for fruits alone). Lola Carnay, my foster lola in UK, said that most of London’s vegetables are imported from India.
Moreover, meat rules in England. Bacon, sausage, steak, pork, chicken, lamb, and all things brown dominate meals especially breakfast. I actually didn’t get to eat fresh fish in any house that I lived in UK.
Last observation, beer is a must for any social function. I’m not a beer drinker but this country made me appreciate and drink Stella Artois, now a preference. When they’re in a pub, most of them outside with a pint of beer in hand. No finger food! They also allow beer drinking while watching in the games in the Olympics.
How do English people go about their everyday life? How is it different from ours? Find out in the next post